Jump Start # 2671
Mark 16:15 “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.”
I’ve been reading a book about the rapid and massive growth of Christianity in the first few centuries. The numbers are staggering. The Roman Empire is thought to have been about 60 million in population. Within three hundred years, 10% of the Empire were Christians. If, true, that number would have been six million disciples of Jesus. They were everywhere—in the courts, among the Roman Senate, within the Roman army, and even within Caesar’s household. This has led to the understanding why Constantine made Christianity the state religion, overturning the ban against Christians and their worship.
What is even more impressive is that there was no central headquarters overseeing the expansion and growth of the Lord’s kingdom. There were no mass mailings. There was no email campaign. There was no phone soliciting. No printing presses publishing flyers, documents by the thousands. No PR team orchestrating a positive image. No live streaming. No videos. No podcasts. How did they do it?
Here are my thoughts:
First, they had a message that was real and they believed it with all their hearts. Salvation through the blood of Jesus, the conquering of death and Satan, the hope of Heaven was enough for those early believers to change their lives. This message was talked about. This message was shared. This message was on their minds and their hearts. This message was looked at, dissected, considered, debated, argued and taught. It was taught to family members. It was taught among fellow workers. It was of first importance to them.
Second, they had lives that contrasted the world they lived in. These believers had changed. They were not the way they once were. They stood upon forgiveness. They were kind. They worked hard. They were honest. They feared nothing. Their lives were consistent with the way that they believed. Through this, they were noticed. They were different. They had something within them that others wanted. They had a calm, peace, and joy within them that others didn’t. There was a welcome attraction among them. They were not stand-offish. They were not acting as if they were better than others.
Third, they had a faith that would not stop. Even when facing death, they would not surrender what they believed. This faith was genuine, true and impressive. They worshipped with all that they were. They prayed with diligence. They lived lives that continually honored the Lord. Their faith was not shallow, fake nor pretentious. To the very core of what they were, they believed.
And, what is so remarkable about these three points is that they still work today. Congregations are always looking for the magical tool that will convert the community. What are you doing in evangelism, is commonly asked. What material do you have for visitors, others want to know. Just tell us your secrets and somehow they will work for us. But there is no magic here. There is no wonder tool that a few have that no one else does. It comes down to these same three principles.
We must be preaching powerful lessons about Jesus. Our lessons tend to focus upon us too often. How we feel. How we are doing. What can make a better and happier us. Look at those sermons in Acts. They were about Jesus. Jesus, the Lord. Jesus, the Sacrifice. Jesus, the Savior. Jesus, the King. We must never tire of preaching Jesus. Preach His words. Look in His book.
We must live lives that show we follow the Savior. One sure way to wreck evangelism and kill all efforts is when the members are only playing church. Sure, they’ll show up on Sunday, but their hearts are miles away. Throughout the week, there’s little difference between the lost world and those who claim to be disciples. Bending the rules. Flirting with Satan. Not living righteously. Not being pure. And, what do we see today? Too many disciples are trying to justify social drinking. Too many are divorcing. Too many are obsessed with the things of the world. We are looking more and more like the world and less and less like Jesus. When that happens, nothing will happen in evangelism. We are not of this world. We are not going the same direction as the world. We do not use the same definitions as the world does. This world is not our home—have we forgotten that?
We must have a faith that will not stop. A faith that is strong. It ought to come out in our speech. Are we glorying God with the things that we say? Are we showing that God is more important than anything else to us? It is more than just adding church to our schedule. It’s building lives upon Jesus Christ. It’s being obedient to Christ. It’s following the Lord wherever He leads us.
Jesus wasn’t popular in the first century. It got to a point where Christianity was outlawed and even persecuted. Yet, the kingdom grew. And, now, in a pandemic, and social unrest, it’s time to get our thoughts off of ourselves and how bad it’s been worshipping at home and social distancing and get back to living and even dying for Jesus. The world needs Jesus and we are the means to get them connected to the world.
Seek first…it worked then and it still works today!