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Lesson 8: The Church as a Window
Video 4 of 4: Salt and Light in a Broken World
Presenter: Bob Moffitt
In our last session, we saw that there is good news now. The good news is God’s people obeying God’s will in every area of their life. That is good news now. The metaphor that we used, the window, is only one of multiple possible metaphors. It might be helpful for us to look at some of the other metaphors that we can develop in Scripture.
For example, in Deuteronomy 4:5-8, the metaphor is a priest. God is calling his people to be a priest to those around them. What does a priest do? A priest is someone who represents God’s intentions to people who don’t know him. God, in Deuteronomy, wanted Israel to be that kind of a priest to the nations around them. God is calling you and me to be that kind of a priest. He wants us to stand in the gap between Him and the people who don’t know him, so that by looking at us they can see the good news of God in our own lives. The metaphor of a priest…This is much more than the priesthood of the believer in which we don’t need to go through a priest in order to approach God. This is intentionally being a priest to those in our lives, who don’t know how wonderful and how beautiful God is. They should be able to see that as they look at us.
Another metaphor, Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus said, “You are to be purifying salt and light.” I’d like to ask, “How many of you like salt?” Everybody raises their hands and I say, “Okay, I have an assignment for you tonight. When you go home for dinner at night, I want you to take a spoonful, fill it with salt and eat it.” And you can audibly hear the, “Aaaah. No.” You said you like salt. What’s wrong?” Well, it’s way too much. Sometimes, the Church is like a spoonful of salt, we’re too much. How do you use salt? You sprinkle it around. You sprinkle it over the things that need to be flavored or purified. You don’t leave it in the salt dish or in the salt shaker. We’re to be light not hid under a basket, when a light that is set on something high, so that it provides light to the whole area. The metaphor of salt and light are two additional metaphors.
Another one, we see in John 17:18. We’re to be an ambassador. Sometimes, we’re like a bad ambassador. What would the country that you’re from do if they appointed an ambassador and that ambassador did not represent the intentions of the government that send it to another place to be an ambassador? It would call that ambassador home. Sometimes, I wonder why God doesn’t call us home, because we’re doing such a poor job of being an ambassador of the Kingdom of God to those around us.
Another metaphor is that of an embassy. Your church should be an embassy, a place where refugees can come when they are persecuted in their own home situation. The church, the embassy, should represent the intentions of our king, our King Jesus.
Second Corinthians Chapter 3, we have another metaphor, that of a legible letter. Paul says to the Corinthians, “You guys are like a letter, a good letter that people can read.” Unfortunately, some of us live in such a way that God’s love letter to the people around us is so illegible, that they can’t even read it. Can the people around you read God’s love letter to them in your life?
Another metaphor, in Philippians Chapter 2, we are to be an obedient servant like Jesus was, sublimating his best for our best, sublimating His best for what his father’s will was. Are we obedient servants?
Another metaphor is that of a good neighbor, 1 Peter 2:12. “So that even though they don’t like our religion they look at us and they praise God because of the way we live.” That’s what a good neighbor is. In my neighborhood, I have a number of neighbors who are atheists, and who are also Unitarians. They just look at me and they don’t like the fact that I believe that this book is really from the word of God. But you know what? I’ve been told by them, I’m not bragging, but I’m just sharing what it is they’ve said, “You’re one of the best neighbors we’ve ever had.” Is that what your neighbor says about you? We’re to be good neighbors; that’s a metaphor.
Finally, in James 1:18, we’ll be first fruits, a taste of something delicious. You can see that also in Romans 8:19 that the idea of first fruits is very interesting. I don’t know what it’s like agriculturally in your place, but in my place, in Arizona, we have some of the best grapefruit, you may dispute this but we do, we have some of the best grapefruit that’s grown anywhere in the country. The grapefruit on the trees don’t become ripe all at once. There’s usually one that completely turns yellow. In our country, it’s not like Latin America where they often stay green, in order for it to be ripe, it needs to be a nice bright yellow. When you see one of the grape fruit on a tree fully yellow, you know it’s ripe for the first time. We have a grapefruit tree in our backyard. I love grapefruit. It’s sweet, not bitter. I go out early in the morning before the family wakes up. I looked up in the tree to find that first fruit, that first grapefruit. When I find it, I pick it, and I stand out there. I peel it back and I take a bite of that delicious grapefruit and the juice runs down my chin onto my clothes. It doesn’t matter, it tastes so good.
What’s our life like? When people bite in to you, is it sweet, is it delicious, or is it sour, like a grapefruit would be before it’s ripe? Is it immature? In Ephesians 4, we learned that as we serve, we take on the fullness of Christ. That fullness of Christ is love. Do the people around you at work, at school, in the neighborhood, in your family, do they taste that sweetness, or are we immature? I didn’t tell you that actually the grapefruit trees aren’t mine, it’s my neighbors but it hangs over at my side of the wall. And she’s such a good neighbor, that she allows me to eat any of the grapefruit that hangs on my side of the wall. Are we a first taste of something delicious? And that something delicious is the kingdom of God. Can people appreciate that from you?
I want to tell you a story. In this story, is the story of a small group that multiplied four times in two years. Almost all of the new people in that small group were new believers. Story is from Africa… and here’s the story.
In the Church called the Watoto Church, a large church, they heard this message. Then they decided to form small groups. In those small groups, they gave them an assignment. The primary assignment was that everybody in that small group should go out during the week and find somebody in need who they could do something for, not necessarily solve that person’s problem but basically address the problem.
That was their DNA. Yes, they did Bible study. They had fellowship which usually was popcorn and punch because it was a very poor community. It was basically a Muslim community. This group was started by a couple of women from this particular church, one of the satellite churches of this Watoto Church. They began meeting. Every week they had that one assignment, go out in the community and find somebody that has a need that you can address, not a need that you can solve but you can do something about. They went out.
Within a short period of time, that group of two women grew to about 15. It kept growing so they divided and they had two groups. In within two years, that group of 15 had divided four times and they were close to 50 new group members. Almost all of them had come to Christ because they had been met by a member of that group, who saw them in need and came to them and said, “Can I pray for you?”
One night we were with that group and the pastor asked them, “Tell our visitors your story.” We went around the room about 12-15 people. I don’t remember exactly the number but I distinctly remember the stories. I want to tell you three of those stories.
First one is a young man, and he stood up and he said, “I’m a refugee from the Congo. I don’t know if my family is alive. I got in to university. I didn’t have much money but enough to enroll. But my money ran out. I had nothing for food, nothing for rent. And I was seriously contemplating taking my life. Can you see that woman over there? She saw me. I didn’t know her. She didn’t know me. But she came to me and she said, ‘I can see you’re troubled. Would you care to tell me your story?’ She was a complete stranger. Why in the world would I do that? Hey I’m going to commit suicide, why don’t I just…wait, I’ll tell her my story.” He told her his story.
“And she said, ‘Can I pray for you?’ And I … “Sure, why not?” I wasn’t a Christian, but I thought it’s not gonna hurt or anything. So she prayed for me. Then she said, ‘You know I belong to a small group that meets on Wednesday nights. Would you…we like to pray together as a group for people like you. Would you mind coming to our group and telling your story? And then allowing us to pray for you?’ So I came. I’m surprised myself, but I came. And you know, they had their popcorn and punch, and did a little study from the Bible. And then my friend that had invited me said, ‘Tell your story,’ and I did. And they gathered around me. They laid hands on me and they prayed for me. And that was nice. But then they did something that completely blew my mind.” I don’t know if that’s the expression to use but that’s what he was saying. He said, “They said, ‘How much money do we have?’. And they all emptied their wallets and their purses on a table in the middle of the room. And they looked at me and they said, ‘Would this help?’ I was shocked! These are complete strangers and they emptied their wallets, and they said, ‘Would this help you?’ Of course, it would help me. I’d never seen such love. Wow, I became a follower of Jesus. And do you know what I do during the week? I go around looking for people that might be troubled. And I go up to them and I say, ‘I know you don’t know me but I can tell something is troubling you. Would like to share what it is with me? And would you allow me to pray for you?’ And then I say, ‘You know what? I belong to a group that meets on Wednesday nights. Would you be willing to come? We’d like to… We’d love to pray for you.’”
Next person was a woman with a little five-year-old boy with her. She said, “See my boy?” “Yeah, of course.” “He was very sick. I took him to the local clinic. And they said, unless he gets medical treatment, he’s gonna be blind the rest of his life if he lives. I was really troubled.
“See that lady over there? She’s my neighbor. When she heard about that, she came to my house and she said, ‘I heard about your boy. Can I pray for you? Can I pray for him?’ I said, ‘Sure,’ because I didn’t have the money to go to buy the medicine that my boy needed. She prayed. And then she said, ‘Tomorrow night, I belong to a small group and we meet. Would you mind coming and sharing your story with my group and allow us to pray for you and your boy?’ So, I came. I didn’t know any of them except my neighbor. But I came. And I told my story. And after they prayed for me, they said, ‘I wonder what we could do to raise…?’ They asked me, ‘How much do you need?’ And I told them, ‘I wonder what we could do to help find those resources.’ And you know what they did? They all decided, every one of them, to go back to their house and the next day to talk to their neighbors about my boy, and the money that he needed and ask for contributions from all of their neighbors. Within 24 hours, I had enough money to take my boy to the clinic and get the medicine he needed. Look at him; he can see.”
The next one, wearing a red dress, holding a Bible in her arm like an evangelist, and she said this is my story. “I was in bed ready to die from AIDS. I had gone to the bathroom in my bed clothes. My house smells terrible. And that lady over there heard about me. She came to my house. I just wanted to die. And she came inside, I said, ‘Please, please, don’t try to help me. Just go away! I want to die.’ She said, ‘Honey, I can’t do that. You’re still alive.’ And then she proceeded to fix a meal for me. And then she brought her friends the next day, this group. And I said, ‘Please, I want to die, just let me alone.’ And they said, ‘We can’t do that. You’re still alive.’
And so, these friends, they cleaned my house, they took my soiled bed clothes, and washed them. They washed me. And then they divided up among themselves so that a different person would bring meal every day. The only food I’d had was leaf and grass soup. My daughter would go out and pick leaves and weeds, and bring them home and boil them. And that’s the only thing we had to eat. I was taking antiviral drugs but they don’t do any good because I had no nutrition. But with the food that these people brought to me, I began to get better. And look at me. I still have AIDS, but I’m well enough now to sell vegetables that I buy in the market door-to-door. And you know what I do, as I go door-to-door? When I see somebody troubled I say, ‘Would you like to share with me what your problem is so I can pray for you?’ And I’ll invite them to come here. And if they come, we listen; we pray.”
That group that started off with a couple of women in four years, in two years, grew four times. Almost all of them were new believers. Wow. They were good news. Does God have good news for the present? You bet he does! We are supposed to be the good news by the way we live, by the way we address and we care for others.
Let me give you an assignment, in this slide you’ll see a window with four areas. What I’d like you to do is to list two or three practical ideas that your church or you could implement, in each area of the window, to be good news to the people with whom you interact.