How do we know that our desire for our neighbors to come to faith will have success? What resources do we have to encourage our mission in this beautiful but broken world? Is our will or passion enough? Do we simply pull ourselves up by our boot straps? As Jesus was preaching and teaching in the first century, he came across many people who needed hope and empowerment for God’s mission. God’s Mission you said? Yes, God is on mission in our city, nation, and world!
In John 4:1-42, we see Jesus’ heart for a Samaritan woman trying to hide her shame drawing water from a well in the hottest time of day. While talking with Jesus, she finds that He is indeed the Messiah, and He wants to give her “living water” that will not run out (John 4:10). Jesus, surprisingly to her, does not discriminate based on ethnicity, or sex, and is not limited to geographical barriers. Indeed, the God-Man Jesus Christ came to this adulteress woman who was trying to hide herself. Jesus further confesses that “a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23). The Father is seeking people to worship Him! The effectiveness of our witness comes from the pre-action of God. We cannot change anyone’s heart, only God can. We cannot save anyone, only God can. From this section of Scripture, we see that God is seeking worshippers. Do you believe that God is at work in our city and in our lives? Let us take this confidence into our neighborhoods and work places and families!
“Our mission in this city, nation and world is only successful as we orient ourselves to the ways God is already at work!”
A New Opportunity!
This fall at HSAC we are committing again to meet together in small groups. It is apparent that God is drawing us together in order that his truth and love might be worked deeper into our hearts and lives. One opportunity we have this fall is a very important national holiday – namely Halloween. Do you know, this is the ONLY holiday where your non-believing neighbors come to you and knock on your door? Doesn’t that seem like an awesome opportunity to bless your neighbors? At the most minimal level, it gives you an opportunity to meet your neighbors if you have not already.
Caution is needed here, because this holiday may provoke different viewpoints on whether or not Christians should partake. My conviction is that we ought to take secular holidays and seek to redeem them towards a Christian world view, much like early Christians did with Easter and Christmas. For example, one of the original theories of the atonement (Views of what actually is accomplished by Jesus dying on the cross) was called Christus Victor, or Christ is victorious. What this theory suggests is that Jesus’ death on the cross defeated the forces of evil which held human kind in their dominion. Thus, someone relying on the work of Jesus can trust that any evil spirits or demons have been conquered by Jesus and we no longer need to fear them. We are encouraged rather to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6), because they do have some influence in this world (Christus Victor is pictured as the featured image on this article!). The Apostle Paul writes that Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15). With this view in mind, we can think of ways that our costumes point to this reality, and we can champion the work of Jesus! For instance, we can dress up like the saints of old and discuss who they are and why we believe they are alive in heaven. Who would you like to dress up as this Halloween? Maybe St. Francis, or Mother Teresa, or an angel? Maybe you have a set of armor to discuss the armor of God? Inviting discussion about these realities is always a wonderful idea! More than that, our children need heroes again to look up to, one’s that have fought the fight of faith well and are still looking on within the “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1).
How can the way we partake in Halloween invite conversation about what Jesus did on the cross?
Furthermore, if dressing up is not on your radar, you can simply seek to be a blessing to your neighbors who show up. Some families have set up a large pot of apple cider and sat outside with friends inviting their neighbors to sit with them and talk if they have time. Maybe some of us might want to have some special games in the yard for the children to play as they come by. It is also possible to invite them to your small group as the Lord leads you. Loving one another in a public place is always an evangelical move. Community calls out to people because so many of them are displaced and without genuine community. We all yearn to belong and share meaningful time with people who care about us. Again, always keep in mind that God is at work and is already calling people to himself. I hope some of these thoughts will help you begin the discussion as to how we might reach out into our neighborhoods on a holiday where people actually come to your door!!