For most of us we would say we are responsible in life. We work hard, provide for a family, take care of any needs that come up through out the year, and for the most part follow through on our word. So when asked the question are we responsible...our natural answer would be YES! How about the question of our Christian responsibility to spread the good news?
Most of us wouldn't dare compare ourselves to someone like Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who washed his hands of Jesus. In fact, most people would be insulted by such a statement, however when it comes to sharing the good news and making disciples that is exactly who we are....We are Pontius Pilating Jesus.
Here is five problems that plagued Pontius Pilate then and Christians today.
1. He had a problem with foundation. Pilate never forged the character to withstand adversity. Conflict paralyzed him. So often in our lives we become paralyzed by conflict. In fact most people go out of their way to avoid conflict at all costs. We have a failure to realize that in our position as a leader it is our responsibility to engage in conflict with the crowds when necessary. As Christians we see this play out when sharing our faith. Most Christians never experience the joy of helping to lead someone to Christ because they fear the conflict of being labeled a Christian. So they justify their failure to engage in conflict by making statements like this, "My friends, co-workers, loved ones will see how I live my life as a Christian and that will lead them to Jesus." The problem with this is two things..
1) If Jesus were standing next to you, you probably wouldn't be mistaken for his twin.
2) There is no biblical example of someone simply coming to Jesus because of how someone else lived.
The disciples, the Apostle Paul and even Jesus himself had to engage in conflict with the people to help them move towards them.
2. He had a problem with futility. Pilate perceived that no good would come from the right decision, so why waste time? Apathy proliferates when we sense that action seems useless. So often we throw our hands up in the air and say why bother....For some of us we have literally given up on friends, family and loved ones on coming to Jesus. I know wives who have given up on their husbands, kids....They believe and hold out hope but it's hope without action.
3. He had a problem with fear. Pilate felt preoccupied with survival. If he fought the Jews, he feared the loss of control, image or position. His wife's warnings only added fuel to his fear. Most Christians suffer from the same thing. We fear a change in our perception by others more than we fear God himself.
4. He had a problem with failure. Pilate knew a riot was brewing. The last time it happened, he failed to rise to the occasion and the Jews called his bluff. They knew he worried more about failure than they did. This still plays out today when it comes to sharing our faith. Have you ever told yourself, " I don't know where to begin?' or how about this one, "that is not my job, I am not a trained pastor." For some reason we care more about our failure of getting it right every time when sharing our faith then the person who needs the good news does. They don't even know the news that you are sharing to be able to judge you successful or not.
5. He had a problem with focus. Leaders cannot be neutral or passive over crucial decisions. Pilate picked up a basin and tried to wash his hands of whole mess. As christians called to share our faith we cannot be passive or neutral. We cannot let our focus be deterred by anything. Unfortunately, when it comes to sharing our faith our focus on is everything but the main thing. We have to learn that the main thing is the only thing.
"I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other town also, because that is why I was sent." (This is Jesus talking) Luke 4:34 NIV
It is hard to leave someplace where miracles are happening, lives are being changed, and you fit in like a glove on hand. This is when going and doing God's work becomes really tough. Especially if you have experienced a lot of rejection in the past, leaving a place your welcomed, wanted, needed and valued is like asking for the impossible to be done. This is exactly how Jesus felt in Luke 4:31-44. Jesus was the man in Capernaum. He was teaching people, healing people, driving out demons, he had a recognized spiritual authority, and the people honored him and desired him as they tried to keep him from leaving. Say What! Leaving!
Jesus knew that you cannot reach the people if you are stationary in one place. The only way to reach people is leave. Yesterday, I talked about leaving people when your efforts to witness are having no effect. Today we are talking about leaving people when your efforts to witness to people do have an effect. Notice how hard it is to leave in both scenarios. This is what we are called to do. How selfish do we need to be to withhold the good news of Jesus Christ to people who so desperately need to hear it, because we are in the zone, where we are at and don't want to leave.
Jesus experienced these same feelings of not wanting to leave the people, but that he must. Leaving, boils down to focusing on others more than focusing on yourself. If there was life changing news that you desperately needed to hear, and I had that news but didn't want to come to you and tell you, what does that really say about how I profess to love you. Do you get what I am getting at? I hope you do? Satan is great at manipulating our feelings in such a way that causes our eyes to be taken off the ball. Sure we are doing Gods work, just doing it Satan's way. Can I tell you today, there is a big difference between doing God's work God's way and God's work Satan's way. Satan's way may appear to be godly, and may appear to be helping people. After all, this is really what Satan wants...that is to be recognized as God. However, Satan's way in the end... involves pain, suffering and lives unchanged because the messengers of Christ never made it to their destinations.
Jesus told us to, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15 NIV) Jesus never said, go to a place where you are wanted, desired, loved, have a lot of friends and fit in and reach those people and then never leave to reach anybody else. Leaving is hard. God knows this. Jesus experienced this. When the time comes, Jesus will say to you, my child I can relate to how you are feeling. But the joyous feeling of being involved in the miracle of life change is so much greater then the pain of leaving a place you fit in.
REACTING2PURPOSE, Just say next!
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. Matthew 10: 14-15 NIV
I am going to make a statment that may shock you. You may even find it offensive in your believe of expecting more from a pastor. Are you ready? Jesus never tried to help someone who didn't want to be helped. Jesus never begged someone to accept him. When a person rejected him, he didn't go after that person trying to change their mind. Do you know how Jesus responded...he left. He left the person, and the area when he was rejected.
As a Christian you can't live on dessert alone. To grow in your walk means you have to be confronted with the word and rejection to the word. I bet you can think of a person that you have been trying to witness to for years. You ask them every weekend to come to church. You try to talk to them about God and how God is moving in your lfie. You reach out to help them in any way you can because you feel that maybe one day, they will choose to accept Jesus into their life and all your efforts and suffering for this person will have been worth it. Yes! I said suffering. We all have someone or a few someones in our life like that. Usually they are a family member, which only makes it worse for us because we a special different kind of love for family then we do others. So we justify to ourselves, we love that person and therefore we must stay in the battle with that person...for the sake of our love.
That person you are trying to reach, calls and you feel obligated as a Christian to drop what your doing, leave your family and go and help. No matter what the cost is to you. And here is the best part. You tell yourself this what Jesus would do, all the while you are struggling with not really wanting to be there helping that person in the first place. You probably can't stand their attitude, of which your family notices has a bearing on your attitude whenever you're around that person. You may even notice that your efforts to reach that particualr person seems to bring more strife into your life than your efforts to reach them brings peace and love into their life. That person your trying to reach enjoys your efforts for their pleasure and gain, and you think that if you stop trying to reach them they will look at you as being less of a Christian. Guess what, your right. Odds are they probably will! You can't lead someone to Jesus that doesn't want to be lead to Jesus.
Where did you ever get the idea that Jesus said, stay and don't leave. Keep trying and trying. That idea is a twisted idea from Satan, trying to make you think what your doing is right when all the while, God has millions of people that would welcome you with open arms, and accept the message you have to say about Jesus and his love.
So why do stay and not leave? Because we are afraid of rejection. To move in the right steps towards your purpose you have to be willing to shake the dust off your feet. Leave the rejection behind and move on because the past rejection has no bearing on future acceptance. You are not less of a person because you get rejected by someone when trying to share your faith with them. As a matter of fact you are more of a person, because you did something most Christians won't even attempt to do. That is share your faith. Remember, it is ok to leave, you may not be the person called to reach the person you're trying to reach. You plant the seed and then leave, God will water it.
REACTING2PURPOSE, Just say next!