Vrydag 24 April 2015

Sendingweek 2015: Sigbare Christenskap

Hierdie week is ons gemeente se Sendingweek vir 2105. Die tema van ons Sendingweek hierdie jaar is: Sigbare Christenskap. Tot dusver het ons geleer dat bedagsaamheid en vriendelikheid die geleentheid vir ons sal skep om met mense te praat. Om verhoudings te bou op ‘’n daaglikse basis, is en bly een van die mees effektiewe metodes van evangelisasie. Ek deel graag met julle ‘n gepaste uittreksel uit Joseph Stowell se boek, Shepherding the Church into the 21st century. Bl. 40 en 45

    “There are three distinct functions of the church. All we do is measured by them. Evangelism... Go therefor and make disciples of all nations; Identification... Baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and Discipleship... Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.... 
We cannot forget that the fundamental mission of Jesus Christ was to “seek an to save that which was lost.” There was only one compelling interest in the heart of Jesus Christ, and that was to fulfil His Father’s pleasure by reclaiming a lost humans race, hopelessly and helplessly unable to rescue itself. Christ’s singular passion was people, all kinds of people, and their need to know Christ. He took His Redemptive message to the worst kind of people – tax collectors and sinners (Luk. 15:1-2). He crossed racial, political, and gender boundaries to seek to rescue the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). And, though His strongest words of reproof were reserved for the religious system of His day, He nevertheless had a heart for people of the system as individuals, such as Nicodemus the Pharisee (John 3). The people on which he focused His seeking passion were rich young rulers, blind beggars, prostitutes, and white collar thieves like Zaccheus. 

We should not ignore the fact that at the close of His ministry, Jesus Christ said, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” ... not only to our towns and our cities, but to “all nations”. Christ reconfirmed this after His resurrection and before His ascension, commissioning us to be Spirit-empowered witnesses for Him both in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. 

How then do we promote the Gospel in a world that cannot and does not want to hear what we have to say? It’s interesting to note a variety of responses that seem to be prevalent in the church today; from the white-knucled protests and taunts from the sidelines against well-placed and powerful opponents to the cause of Christ, to those who withdraw, faces lifted to the sky, looking for Christ’s soon return; those who are erecting polling booths hoping to somehow shift this culture toward sanctification through political gain; those who have their ratchet sets out and are dismantling the Gospel to remove any offense and to recast it in terms of a “let me make you feel beter” theology; those who have decided to leave their distinctives behind and dabble in the drift... all of which, at best, are less than effective responses and, at worst, compromise the very Gospel we hop to proclaim.

There is a biblical way.

In fact, we must remember how well the Gospel thrived in a culture far worse than ours, where Christians were Christians were more severely marginalised than we are. Theirs too was a highly relativistic and pluralistic environment. The New Testament strategy in this context is simply that we are to be committed to living out the principles of righteousness in such a way that the results of righteous living – our good works – become such a compelling evidence of the reality of our faith that those in a world whose unrighteousness brings disintegration and despair will notice the dramatic contrast and in time come to inquire what it is that has made such a dramatic difference between us and them. This biblical strategy brought ultimate victory over the Roman Empire as succeeding generations practised it with and unintimidated tenacity even in the face of great peril. Both Christ and the Apostle Peter articulated this perspective. As we noted in chapter 1, Christ outlined the strategy when He said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peckmeasure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16)  

Note that the key element of our effectiveness is not so much what we say, but what they see in our lives. When they are no longer willing or able to hear what we have to say, you can count on it that they will still be watching how we live.

Realizing that they had been castigated as the evil elements of society, not unlike our society today, Peter wrote to a persecuted and maligned church that they should, “Keep your behaviour excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). I take the “day of visitation” in this text to mean the visitation of God’s judgement on sinful practices thought the debilitation consequences of their self-styled lifestyles. 

What God is calling us to and what drove the early church was a commitment to create, through their unflinching submission to the lordship of Christ and His righteousness , compelling stories that the world could not ignore. God seeks to create lives so well lived that the effects of relativism and all the slanderous rancour and rumours thrown against us melt and dissipate in the light of what is clearly observed in our lives.

This strategy is far different than the more immediate impact of a five-day crusade or an evangelistic rally on a given night. More and more our culture will be leery of these kinds of Gospel formats, and môre and môre wê will be called back to the strategy of the New Testament church, to live lives so well-lived that the culture can no longer ignore the truth claims of our belief system. The strategy takes time. It requires perseverance in righteousness, and the patience to wait for God to bring His outcomes in His time.”

Toepassing: Soos ‘n ou leraar eendag gesê het, dit is tyd dat ons ons eie huise sal sien as sendingstasies eerder as rusoorde; om mense daarheen te nooi vir bemoediging en vertroosting eerder as om dit te gebruik vir vermaak; om vriende en familie te wys hoe Christenskap in die praktyk lyk eerder as om dit in privaatheid uit te leef. Sien mense jou Christenskap raak, of is jy ‘n “007” Christen?       

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