What was John telling the Church in Sardis they needed to remember? It was the Gospel Message…the Good News of Jesus. We should never discount or dismiss the wonder-working power of the Gospel. For within its message is the Holy Spirit at work in hearts and minds. And when we hear and receive the Good News, it’s then our responsibility to obey and repent. For true repentance is a moral reorientation of our soul…a acknowledging of the error of our ways and a turning towards truth and righteousness…of turning to God.
The Apostle Paul was telling the Church in Corinth to focus on the Gospel Message, not on the person that had presented it. There was disunity and infighting in the Church depending on who they had heard the Gospel from…Paul or Apollos. Paul wanted them to move on from that and rather center their minds on the Good News of Jesus…not on man. For too many times we can get caught up by a dynamic, charismatic personality and end up following the person… not Jesus. For if you think about it, the Gospel Message doesn’t need theatrics or drama for it to be powerful and life-changing. All it needs is an obedient soul sharing its story.
This week our Bible Study Group wrestled with this verse…The Great Commission, and with Evangelism. While we all agreed that Christians everywhere are called to share the Good News of the Gospel with others…we also readily acknowledged the intimidation it can bring. So why are so many of us uncomfortable to evangelize? Let’s look at it from a completely different perspective…so forget yourself and your hangups, and think of it from the other person’s view. Imagine you are a beggar telling another starving beggar where they can go and find bread…you wouldn’t have a problem with that, right? You’d be happy to share that information so they might eat and live. And that fellow beggar would be appreciative of your actions simply because you hadn’t hoarded or hidden the source from him. Telling others about Jesus should be just as easy. For we should be eager to share good news.
The content of the Gospel Message…the Good News of Jesus doesn’t change. What does change when you share it with others is the context and circumstances surrounding it. When people see you going through difficult times with grace and peace…they’ll be very curious. They’ll be watching you and wondering where you get your strength and hope. It’s then that you can share the Gospel Message through your personal struggle… which can only have an tremendously powerful impact on the listener.
God didn’t have to do it. He didn’t have to send His one and only Son to suffer unspeakable torture and death on a cross. But God did. Titus 3:4-5 tells us, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” It is only because of God’s immeasurable grace and mercy…and His incomprehensible benevolence towards us that we are able to call ourselves sons and daughters of the Most High King. God didn’t have to do it…but He did.
Ezekiel was in a valley covered with the remains of a vast army. As far as he could see, there were skeletons lying in piles. So when God told him to speak to these corpses, Ezekiel probably thought to himself, “You want me to preach to the dead?” In a word, Yes! And God wants us to preach to the dead also! He wants us to speak life and hope into people’s lives that are perishing because of sin. He wants us to share the Message of the Good News of Jesus to those who have never heard it. For anytime we declare the Word of God to the world around us, His Word is set free to work and give life to those listening…even if they seem to be ignoring us! Ezekiel probably thought preaching to the dead would be a total waste of time…but he didn’t realize the life-giving power in God’s Word. And so he watched in amazement as that vast army took a collective breath and rose to its feet.
Paul is thought to have written this letter to the Philippians during his first Roman imprisonment. He wanted them to be encouraged whether they ever saw him again or not. Paul especially exhorted them to stand firm in one spirit…something that the modern-day Church should take heed of. When there is infighting, discord, and division, the Church cannot function as it should. For when we are not standing firmly together in unity…contending for the Gospel as one…the message of Salvation through Jesus Christ is lost in the muck and mire and turmoil within the Church walls. Paul reminds the Philippians, and us, to lead our lives in a manner deserving of the Gospel of Peace.