Mark – God is On Our Side!
Where there are two or more pastors, the first question asked among them will invariably be, “How many did you have on Sunday?” The pastor with the greatest number will have the biggest smile while the others begin to make excuses for why their number is less.
UGH!! WHY do we do this?
I once had a conversation with a friend who didn’t attend church and was not a believer…yet. In our conversation that led to our work in our church, he asked, “Can ask an honest question of you guys?” I responded, “Sure!” I was thinking I might be getting closer to persuading him to believe in Jesus when he threw me into another thought that still haunts me to this day because it is still true! Here is the question: “Why are church groups so competitive with each other? It’s as if getting people to go to YOUR church was the name of the game.” (He was a sport’s enthusiast so this is how he explained his position.) “Aren’t you all working for the same boss/coach?” “Is your Jesus better than the Jesus of those in another church?” GOOD question. We had a great conversation that followed!
Sometimes churches get caught up in all kinds of activities with hearts that want to attract people to their church so they can hear about Jesus and be saved. Initially the motivations are pure. But if the “prize” is greater attendance over people finding and following Jesus as a result of their efforts then all that work might be in vain.
Serving in a growing church, I am learning that people are drawn to the first impression they have of the people inside whose heart’s desire is to tell you about Jesus and how He restored their lives. Some people give church a try because these same people are the same at work as they are at church! New concept for the unbelieving world!
People are drawn to smiling faces who greet them with total acceptance and genuine friendliness that let them know in the first few minutes of arrival that they matter to God and to His restored people. People are drawn to God’s Word spoken relevantly with clarity, with “how to live” along with “who we are in Christ” and who we should be.
People are drawn to helpful, loving people who are willing to help them through their messes because the helpers have been through some messes of their own and it has humbled them. People love joining into worship of Jesus, whom they are just getting to know well, through joyful, sincere praise and reverent, humbled prayer in Jesus Name.
It is the Name of Jesus that draws people unto Himself. It is Jesus. It will always be Jesus. Let us remember that…always. It is not a competition. It is a unity of community of those who know Jesus, all working together to tell HIS story of what He has done, is doing and will do for all who want a better, more purposeful life in Christ, our Lord.
Jesus sets His disciples straight on the issue. He sets us straight.
Mark 9, NLT
Using the Name of Jesus
38 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”
39 “Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. 40 Anyone who is not against us is for us. 41 If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded.
42 “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. 45 If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one foot than to be thrown into hell with two feet. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.’
49 “For everyone will be tested with fire. 50 Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other.”
What do we learn?
1. All that we are and all that we do must be done in Jesus Name. All that we are is ALL because of Jesus.
2. We are not in competition as believers. We are all on the same team…In Jesus Name.
3. Anyone not against Jesus is for Jesus.
4. Do no harm. Don’t hinder what God is doing in the lives of people seeking Him. Encourage in Jesus Name.
5. Be salty…in Jesus Name.
Dear Heavenly Father, Savior and Lord,
Your Word always makes us think. Your Holy Spirit convicts and challenges us as we read Your Word. May all we do this day be done in Your Name. You are God and we are not. Help us to do no harm but to encourage. Help us to be just enough salt to season the world with a “tasty” look at You in us! We’re all in this together with You.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe! I believe others believe, too!