Evangelism

Living in the light of eternity

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Are we ready? We know Christ will return but do we think about it? Are we excited? Do we live in the light of eternity? 

At the Renew South Yorkshire conference, it was great to meet together with hundreds of other Christians from sister churches in South Yorkshire to hear from God’s word, ponder, pray & praise God. We spent a large proportion of the day looking at the 2nd letter of Peter. 

When talking about the return of Christ, it struck me how ‘the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance’, 2 Peter 3:9. 

We don’t know the day when Christ will return but the delay that God gives is a time of Him patiently waiting for all people to love him and return to his loving goodness because he wishes that no one perishes and lives without Him in their lives. 

As God longs for this, we should also long for it. We should not be complacent in our telling of the gospel because we don't want our family and friends to perish without him. The knowledge that Jesus is coming back should fire us up to share the good news of Christ for He is coming. Are you ready? 

During the day, we had the opportunity to listen to different people from across the churches in Sheffield as they reflected on how we can make the most of our lives as we live in the light of eternity. 

One way that we can do this is by knowing that God is using all of our circumstances in the past and the present to bring him glory. The good times that we've enjoyed but also the rough times that we often endure. God uses both to bring us closer to him. We aren't to waste our past and our sorrows because God is in control of them. We are to remember them and give thanks that God uses them for our good and ultimately His good.

As the day closed, a story was shared where following a huge meteor storm in the 19th century, a boy turned to his mother and stated “that the sky is falling down” to which the mother replied “Thank God that I am ready.”  As we seek to live our lives in the light of eternity, can you say “Thank God that I am ready”?

Joining the dots between discipleship and evangelism

Photo by  Sergii Bozhko  on  Unsplash

As a church one of the things we’ve been thinking about recently is the relationship between discipleship and evangelism. Often, we think of discipleship and evangelism as separate entities. Discipleship is about our own growth as Christians, whereas evangelism is about reaching out with the gospel. Yet when we read the Bible, we see that this distinction isn’t as clear as we often think it is.

For example, see what Peter writes to a group of Christians in the New Testament:

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11–12, ESV)

What is Peter doing here?

He is urging his readers to live godly lives in the culture and society in which they live. He wants their lifestyles to be honourable when they’re amongst those who don’t know Jesus. This is about discipleship. This is Peter calling these Christians to increasingly live out their faith in the world. To grow in their godliness in every area of life, especially when they are around non-Christians.

But this discipleship has a purpose. This living out of the Christian life is seen by those who don’t yet know Jesus and Peter expects it to impact them. They will see the Christians good deeds, their different lifestyle, and come to glorify God.

The Christians Peter is writing to were literally sojourners and exiles, they were different to the people they lived amongst. There would have been the temptation to try and blend in, to fit in, to look like those around them. As Christians today, we can often face the same temptation, we don’t want to stand out at work or amongst our neighbours. Perhaps you fear what Peter says will happen to you, that people will “speak against you as evildoers.” It’s easier to try and just cross the line into Christianity yet to live our lives as closely matched to the world around us as we feel we can get away with. But not only is this damaging for our own relationship with God and our maturity as Christians, it’s devastating for our witness and evangelism.

We should be those who are growing in godliness and Christian maturity and therefore look increasingly like sojourners and exiles in the world we inhabit. The way we live our lives should look different to those around us, and we shouldn’t be surprised when that brings opposition and even claims that we are evil. But in the end, God uses the witness of our lives to give us opportunities for evangelism.

So where in your family life, your work, amongst your friends and neighbours does your life look the same as theirs? Should it look the same as theirs? In those places are you battling to live the most godly and honourable life you can in every aspect? If not, then what is stopping you?

One final thing, notice here that Peter is urging the other Christians on; perhaps we can be doing the same with one another, encouraging, urging, challenging one another to live righteous and honourable lives for the sake of those who don’t yet know Jesus.