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The following was just sent to the Gospel Community I lead. I pray that you find it encouraging.
About an hour ago John drove past our house. John was one of our neighbors with whom we spoke on the night we went into the neighborhood to pass out invitations to our Halloweenie party (Halloweenies = hot dogs). I was in the front yard so John stopped to ask me how the night went. He wasn’t able to make it to the party and he apologized for that too. I told him not to worry because we were planning on having a pancake breakfast in the front yard sometime after Thanksgiving. He laughed. At first I thought he was laughing at the idea of cooking pancakes on a grill in the front yard. But then he asked the question…
“Why do you guys do this?”
I wish I could tell you that I made the right play. I wish I could tell you that I told him about that hope of Jesus that lay with in us. To my shame, I did not. I failed. I told John that, like him, we have hope for our neighborhood. I told him that we love people and we want to see things go well where we live. He liked that answer but I was ashamed. He pitched me a softball and I struck out.
I began asking the Spirit for an opportunity to recover the opportunity and give John the actual reason why we do what we do. And about 15 minutes later God gave me the chance to speak. In the intervening conversation, from the moment I balked until God opened up the door, John spent the better part warning us about the people on our street who we need to avoid and what houses are known for slinging dope. When the occasion naturally presented itself, I told John, “You know, the other reason we do what we do is that we believe God is about the business of restoring things. He restores stuff and he restores people. That’s why we like the neighborhood. We want to see it restored and we want to serve the people who live around us. We want them to understand that they are loved and worthy of dignity.”
His follow up, “Where do you guys go to church?”
We spent a few more minutes getting to hear his story and his church experience. He’s de-churched and has a bad taste in his mouth for the hypocrites he’s known in the past. That’s why we’re here, gang! John has heard gospel doctrine but has not experienced a genuine gospel culture. We are the light of the world in our neighborhood. A city within a city. My gut says that John will come to the gospel message because he’ll eventually see the gospel of the Kingdom of God his heart was created to desire. He’s groping for God and God is not far from him.
You all had part in this! The body came together with all the right parts working in their proper order. The administrators planned, the servants served, the intercessors prayed, so that the evangelist would have room to speak!
God willing John and his wife will be spending dinner with us on Thursdays very soon.
John did not hear the fullness of what God has done for him in Christ but he came very near to the Kingdom of God this afternoon.
Reflect on these this week:
Matthew 5:13-16 and 1 Peter 2:11-12, 3:15-16 — These passages speak about how our righteous obedience creates both the light of the Kingdom and the opportunity for us to speak of the gospel that gives us hope. Remember, our gospel ethics have a missional purpose!
Psalm 139:13-16 and Acts 17:26-27 — These passages tell us two things. First, God has intricately made each of us. We are each gifted in very different but significant ways; all for the sake of bringing God glory. Second, God has chosen the places where we live and the times that we would live there. He’s chosen those things for our neighbors too, and they’re groping for God. Let’s, together, in community, show them that God is not far from any of them!