By David Lee, BCM/D Executive Director
Have you ever heard the old saying, “Your ears must have been burning. We were just talking about you”? People talk. They talk about you, and they talk about me. And regardless of what we say, most of us think it is important what people say about us. Companies, for example, spend millions of dollars trying to find out what people are saying about them and their products.
I even know of churches that have invested in research as to what the people in their communities were saying about them. What do you think people in your community are saying about your church? I hope they are saying the same things that were said about the churches in the First Century.
I hope they are saying what people said about the church at Antioch in Acts 11:26. There, the believers were first called “Christians.” The people in the community were mocking them. But in mocking them, they paid them the greatest of compliments. These early believers were behaving so much like Jesus that the people who saw them associated them with Him.
I hope the people in your community are saying about you what was said about the men sent forth from the Jerusalem Conference in Acts 15. “These men risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Literally, they “gambled away their lives.” Imagine what could happen if every believer in our churches put it all on the line for Jesus.
I hope people are saying about your church what Paul said about the Macedonian churches in 2 Corinthians 8. Paul’s collection for the struggling saints in Jerusalem in the predominantly Gentile churches is a prototype for our Cooperative Program. Even in the midst of hard times and persecution, the Macedonian churches gave liberally to the point of sacrifice. It was a spontaneous giving motivated by the grace of God and their sensitivity to the needs of others.
I hope your community is saying about your church what Paul said about the Corinthian church’s effect on the Macedonians in 2 Corinthians 9. Again, the backdrop is the collection. Because of the Corinthian believers “enthusiastic” giving, they had inspired other believers in Macedonia to give sacrificially. “Enthusiastic and cheerful giving” is contagious. We should be at least as enthusiastic about Christ and the work of his church as we are about the Ravens and the Redskins!
I hope they are saying about us what they said about Paul and Silas in Acts 17:6. The King James Version refers to them as “these who have turned the world upside down.” The impact the early church made on the First Century world is amazing. I wish we were so vibrant, so Spirit-led, so committed to Christ, that our churches would become the primary topic of conversation—not because of our problems, but because of our impact on peoples’ lives.
T. R. Glover, in his book The Jesus of History, discusses the triumph of Christianity over the ancient world. He said that those early believers were enabled by the grace of God to do three things: 1) They out-lived the world. 2) They out-died the world. 3) They out-thought the world. That may still be our best strategy.
I have an idea. Why don’t we start living such Christ-like lives that folks identify us with Him? Why don’t we take some risks for the kingdom? I mean let us actually do some things that may cost us and may not even work! Yet, we are willing to be obedient and take the risks anyway. Why don’t we motivate statements from our community such as, “You are not going to believe what those Baptists are doing now”? Why don’t we become so generous that our churches become known throughout the region as “churches that really care”? Why don’t we get so excited about the work of Jesus that the biggest thing happening on the weekend is not a sporting event but worship at our churches? And why don’t we set out today to turn this world upside down for Jesus Christ whatever it takes?