Join Jesus’ Mission: Five Practical Principles
On Sunday I planned to offer some practical help on how to engage others for the purposes of the gospel based on our text, Acts 8:26-40, but I ran out of time. If you missed it, you can listen to or read the sermon here. There was too much gospel gold to serve up in one sitting. What follows compliments what has already been said there.
One of the reasons I love this passage is that it shows us so much about the heart of God. It shows us that God loves those who are really, really, really far from him. It shows us that God can use even the briefest, chance encounters to effect eternal change. It shows us that God is weaving a story beyond our comprehension. It shows us that he invites us in to be part of the action as conduits of his grace.
Where Do I Start?
One of the questions I often get is “Where do I start?” Many of you want to participate in God’s mission of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, but you don’t know where to begin. This passage gives us some help to do just that. What follows are five practical principles for joining Jesus’ mission, based on Acts 8:26-40.
#1) Keep it Simple. Don’t over-complicate what it means to live life with gospel-intentionality. You don’t need to carve out 10 extra hours a week. No one has 10 extra hours in their week. Rather, ask yourself, “Where is God already at work?” and then, “What would it look like for me to join him in that?” We don’t know exactly what Philip was doing when he heard the angel of the Lord tell him to head to the desert, but we do know that he was (1) in a place to hear the Lord and (2) ready to follow Him. Are you? Keep doing what you’re already doing, but with ears ready to discern where God is working and a spirit ready to obey. Keep it simple.
#2) Ask Questions and Listen. (Acts8:30,34-35) The very first thing that Philip did was ask a question, Do you understand what you are reading? That’s a good principle. It is easy to assume that we know where people are at and what they are thinking. But, often, the truth is we don’t. If we’re ready to share the gospel of grace, we must also be ready to tangibly demonstrate that same grace by patiently asking questions and listening to others – that’s just love. When the timing is right, they will eventually ask, How can I, unless someone guides me? You’ll be surprised how people will express interest in your beliefs, if you do the same for them.
#3) Use the Word of God. (Acts 8:35) We are told that, beginning with this Scripture [Philip] told him the good news about Jesus. He started with the Scriptures. When possible, we should too. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. The Spirit uses His inspired word to work faith into hearts. There is no other way to say it, other than it is a supernatural work. I experienced this first hand when I became a Christian. This means it is important for every follower of Jesus to, not only have a Bible readily available, but also have some verses that you can quote from memory, such as John 3:16, 1Jn 4:10, Rom 5:8, Eph 2:8-9, Rom 6:23, John 1:12, etc.
#4) Open Your Mouth. (Acts 8:35) This almost goes without being said. Almost. We have to open our mouths. Yes, we need to pray. Yes, we need to demonstrate the grace, mercy and transforming effect of the gospel in our lives. Yes, often others need to know that we care, before they will care about what we know. But, there comes a point where we must open our mouths to communicate the life-changing, world-altering, sin-forgiving news of the gospel. Much wisdom and love is required to walk this tension.
#5) Lookout for Hungry Hearts. (Acts 8:28) If you want to share the gospel with others, look for hungry hearts around you. Who is seeking? Who is asking questions? Who seems to be interested when you talk about church, the Bible or Jesus? Who is going through a rough season of life and potentially more open to talking about deeper things? If there are people around you that this is true of, that’s from God. It’s not a guarantee they will turn to God, but it is a sign that God is stirring faith in them. Act on that. Pray for everyone, but lovingly pursue hungry hearts.
So, where will you start? Invite neighbors over for a monthly BBQ? Ask a co-worker out for lunch or coffee? Be more intentional with that one friend? Adopt a Real Change seller downtown? Pray for greater sensitivity to the Spirit’s movement? Look at everything you’re already doing, and everyone involved in what you’re already doing, and ask, How can I best live every day, ordinary with gospel intentionality? Just start and watch Him work.