“If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who died believing in Christ are lost! And, if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world” – Paul, 1 Corinthians
Some years ago, when we first moved back to Sydney, the Lord clearly challenged us to go out into the harvest to get more workers. That is, as opposed to going to find other believers to join us in the work. To be frank, we didn’t really listen, until recently.
Some months ago, he challenged us to take on renting the local Community Centre, even if there was just the 2 of us, and see what he would do. We were slow to respond, again. This time though, the Lord has really prodded us to take him at his word, and finally we have been obedient in both aspects. Sad isn’t it, that we take so long to take Jesus at his word. Did he really say that to me?
The Community Centre is right in the centre of where we live, and it is a hub of activity. You can rent a hall, or a room. On a Sunday afternoon, we go out on the streets telling people about Christ, and then run a Discovery Group in the Centre. We have tea and cake and a very interactive Bible study, a Discovery Bible Study. Everyone who comes along is from our meetings on the streets. It is growing, the network seems to be spreading as God keeps putting people across our path. Recently, he has put another couple across our path who share a similar vision to ours, to take Christ to the marketplace and make disciples. Good job, as it takes effort to follow people up.
Today, the Centre cleaner, Nakib, came past and we invited him to come and have some cake. Nakib is from Bangladesh. He sat down, took some cake and we said that we were discussing Jesus. Nakib is a Muslim, it seems quite devout. Within 2 minutes of his sitting with us, he poured out his story – an abusive father who left the family when he was just 2 years old, his father recently lured his brother and he back to Australia after nearly 2 decades of absence. Selling all they had, they have come to study, and looked forward to seeing their father after such a long absence. The horror that unfolded subsequently was painful; he stole from them, abused them, had been living here illegally, and left them penniless, barely able to live.
We quietly listened, and then gently explained the true nature of the Father heart of God. That God loves them, loves all of us, and at great cost to himself, did not spare his Son to save us from eternal separation. We drew a little diagram, the 3 Circles, to help Nakib more easily understand a simple Gospel message. Then we prayed, took his number and told him to come back next week, or call us during the week if he and his brother needed food. We hope he does both. We shall see.
Whether Nakib does or not, I felt Jesus whisper to me, that this is why he wanted us to act in faith in taking on the Community Centre – because of the opportunities that come in and out the door all the time. He wants us to be there to explain him to others, those who seek answers to the brokenness in their lives.
Here’s the thing that we are learning; what we are doing has eternal consequences, never mind the absolute delight we feel in doing the very real work of the Lord. We walk home past gorgeous cars, magnificent homes and spectacular views. But none of that will last my friends, none of it.
At the same time as writing this, I am reading Revelation. If you have forgotten, Jesus promises that he is coming again, only this time when he does the world will not forget. It says there is an eternity beyond this life, when what we perceive of real value will be obliterated never to be raised again.
As believers, we must raise our sights beyond what is in this life, to what is coming. Christ absolutely commands we do so with everything we have. Further, he tells us that we must continually warn others of what is coming, as well as divulging to them the enormity of God’s love. We must be active, not passive.
Sadly, we meet many believers whose only concern seems to be the things of this world – that is, despite all the warnings that such things eventually lead to nowhere.
We must reconsider Paul’s words above, written to believers. Then we need to adjust and act. Oh, and if you remember, please pray for us.
The reward is out of this world.