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INVEST AND INVITE

investandinvitemain

The story is told of a lady who every Sunday would comment to the pastor about what he had preached. If he preached on prayer she would say, “Oh pastor, I aim to pray more!” If he preached on witnessing she would say, “I aim to share my faith more!” After this happening every Sunday the pastor finally remarked, “With all due respect, you need to quit aiming your gun and pull the trigger!” How true that is of so many followers of Christ who have good intentions but struggle to follow through.

Values drive us but there is often a disconect between what we say we value and whether or not we actually live out that value. Be careful about asking God to guide your footsteps if you are not willing to move your feet! The book of James makes this very clear in 1:22 when he says, “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” He also says in 4:17, “So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.”

Here are some values that churches all agree upon. First, the lostness of man! We know that man cannot save himself and is far from God. John 3:18 says, “Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.” Do we really believe that? If we did, wouldn’t we be doing more to let people know that there is a Savior who loves them and desires a relationship with them?

Second, the length of eternity! The soul of man separated him from the rest of creation because man has an eternal nature. Death does not end our existence! Heb. 9:27-28 makes it clear, “And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment —so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” Should this not make us more passionate in sharing our faith?

Third, the love of God! I love Rom. 5:8 because it says, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” Jesus said that He had come to seek and to save the lost! He also conveyed who He had come to save in Mark 2:17, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Shouldn’t knowing and having experienced the love of God move His disciples into action by showing and sharing His love?

If these are truly our values, why does it not change the way we live? Why do polls say that only 5% of people who say they are Christians ever share their faith? There is a disconnect in far too many churches and Christians between what we say we believe and what we actually practice. One necessary thing is to finally admit and acknowledge the gap between the two and begin to do something about it. Unfortunately, we are always “aiming” to do more but nothing changes!

Many seem to be living in the vast wilderness between aspirational goals and actual behaviors. Andy Stanley has said, “Knowledge alone makes Christians haughty. Application makes us Holy.” The book of James is all about pointing out that the true believer will never be satisfied with merely knowing the word without obeying the word of God. We are challenged to not only be dedicated to studying the word of God but also to the faithful obedience of it’s commands.

What practices do you have in place that show you really do value the lostness of man, the length of eternity, and the love of God? There are two primary things to consider about practices that will help you carry out your values in this area. They are simple and do not require you to be an expert. If we really value people they way God values them we will develop these practices. Luke 15 shows us that God values the lost and as His followers we must value them also.

  •      The first practice is investing in their lives. Think of ways to show and display the love of Christ to those with whom you have contact every day. How can you help them? How can you bless them? Be prepared to build relationships with them by listening to them. Remember, if you want to be a bridge to people for Christ, you have to be willing to be walked on sometimes. Loving people can be very messy but it is always worthwhile.
  •      Second, make sure you invite them to church, small groups, or some activity where they can be loved by others. The invitation will mean so much more when you already have earned a right to speak into their lives. This takes time so do not get discouraged. Keep watering the seed that you have sown and continue investing in them even when they turn down your invitations. Also, invite them to go golfing, fishing, or some other hobby that has interest for both of you.

There are certain values that we all aspire to but that is not enough. Good intentions will never get the job done or complete the task. Goals help us to see what we are working toward but without tbut edged daily practices they will never be reached. What practices will you begin to implement in order to invest in people who are far from God? What can you do daily that will display the love of Christ in a practical way?

Healthy churches are always investing and inviting!