By David Hernquist, Worship Pastor
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” -Colossians 4:2-6
So here we are! Home stretch! I don’t know about you guys but this fast has been incredibly powerful for me.
The thing that’s been heavy on my heart is our Identity as Christians in America - not just in our local church but nationally as well.
If you’ve been on Facebook for any length of time over the past week, you may have heard about a football player named Richard Sherman. Richard Sherman is arguably one of the best players at his position in the NFL right now. This past Sunday night he played an instrumental role in securing a win for his team in an iconic NFC Championship game. What ensued was a display of emotion that most sports critics feel went way too far. Personally, I wasn’t shocked by it at all, but as I was watching this all unfold, my focus was taken completely off of the great defensive play that just happened, and was put entirely on Sherman’s behavior. The Seattle Seahawks are arguably the most exciting team in football right now, making their way to the Super Bowl, but instead, all I’m focused on is this guy talking trash and making a scene. Since then, Sherman has apologized and things are more or less smoothed over in my mind as a football fan. But the incident got me thinking: What are we as Christians supposed to be all about?
Well, that’s an easy one right? Jesus said to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). He also said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35). We’re supposed to be all about the life-changing power of Jesus Christ, a Love that conquers death, Grace greater than all our sins, and Peace beyond anything going on.
But what are Christians actually known for? I think that we as Christians are generally known more for what we’re supposedly against, than what we’re actually for. Now, I think intentions are noble when someone takes a stand on a given issue. The intentions can be to point out sin, speak up for beliefs, or make a point. But unless it’s done in love, there’s a great potential for damage to be done. See, you can say the right thing but unless you say it the right way (with the love of Jesus behind it), it can actually come off as the wrong thing. I think the mistake is us putting too much emphasis on how things make us feel, and not enough emphasis on what Jesus says about it and the life changing power that exists in that. Like Sherman taking the focus off of his team, we can end up taking the focus off of Jesus Christ, and put it squarely on an issue. The truth is that the Word of God is enough. Adding in our two cents at the end or putting our own little spin that isn’t in love actually takes away from its potency.
If anyone knows the value of saying the right things at the right time to see people come to know Jesus, it’s Paul. And in Colossians 4:2-6 he encourages us to ”continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison — that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
So, I’m praying for a breakthrough in the American Church. That we put the love of Jesus Christ at the center of everything we do, and in turn glorify God by being a collective testimony of the power of Jesus at work in our lives. So that we can see even more people come to know Jesus. That we can stand together as Followers of Jesus and be the Church we’re called to be. And that as we’re faithful stewards with the opportunities put in front of us, God would trust us with greater opportunities to show His love.