The world is screaming for our attention with lots of different “voices.” It reminds me of the passage found in 1 Kings 19. Elijah was depressed to the point of despair and even asked the Lord to take his life. Then Elijah was led to a cave to wait and hear from God. Elijah heard the howling of the wind, the rumble of an earthquake and the roar of a fire, yet the Lord’s voice was not in any of those but in a still small voice.
Let’s be honest. All of us are having a hard time staying focused on our purpose (to live and share the good news) in the midst of all the things going on. We have the noise of a pandemic and the clamor of the political situation. Then add to that the voices we have on the news, Facebook and the culture around us. It can be overwhelming. Our challenge is to filter out the voices so we can be open and sensitive to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.
Because of the events, trials and difficulties of 2020, we need to refocus on what it means to be the church Jesus wants us to be. These are the areas that need to have our attention if we are to live out the good news.
1. We need to focus on the Master.
In Hebrews 12:2, we find these words: “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” In a confused and confusing world, Jesus is the answer; in a world that is always changing, he never changes.
In the Bible, every time God’s people turned their eyes to someone or something other than God, they got in trouble. The children of Israel saw giants instead of God. Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the water. Demas lusted for the things of this world instead of the ministry God had for him.
Keeping our eyes on the Master is necessary for the ministry of reaching this world. It is foolish for us to think we can point people to Jesus if our eyes are not focused on him.
Or attention and affection must be on the Lord. The daily discipline of prayer, Bible study and worship will do a lot to enhance this focus. Sometimes God needs to grab our face between his hands and say, “Look at me.” He needs to get our attention back to him.
So don’t let the fog of the world keep you from the face of Jesus. Instead of focusing on the “mess,” look to the master; our effectiveness in evangelism depends on it.
2. We need to focus on the message.
Romans 1:16 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes; to the Jews first, and also to the Greek.”
If we are going to share the gospel, we must first be partakers of the gospel. The early church was instructed to be a witness. Being a witness meant they were to testify to what they had experienced and knew.
Let’s not forget the most powerful tool of evangelism is sharing what Jesus has done for you. The world can argue religion, church or even beliefs, but it can’t argue a life that has been changed by the power of the gospel.
Not only do we have to know and experienced the gospel, but we must believe that it still works, today. We need to be convinced that it is still powerful and produces life change.
The power of the gospel is not in our presentation but in the Word itself. Romans 10:17 tells us, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Going back to the parable of the sower, we know that the seed is the Word of God. If we get the “seed” out it will produce fruit.
Our response is to get as much “seed” (the gospel) out, knowing it is the power of the Holy Spirit through his Word that produces a harvest.
To sum it up, the message is powerful; it is pure; it will produce, and it must be paramount. Only when this message becomes paramount in our personal life and the culture of the church will we see a harvest of souls. The good news still works. Let’s spread it.
3. We need to focus on the mission.
The mission of the church is clearly laid out in Matthew 28:18-20: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
We are to go where the lost are, present the good News, point them to Jesus and baptize those who receive him. Then disciple them, by teaching them God’s Word. This is job one of the church.
In Acts 1, we see how the church can practically achieve this mission. We find 120 followers of Christ meeting together in fear. They were focused on the wrong things (when the kingdom was to be restored). Into this situation, Jesus shows up and reminds them in detail what the mission is. Simply put, be a witness, first in Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, and finally to the ends of the earth.
Notice this mandate was not given to a chosen few, but the whole group —all 120. This is key. The modern church has failed in the mission, because we have relinquished our responsibility to the Great Commission to the professional ministers or to those specially gifted in evangelism. This is so contrary to the New Testament.
We will only become effective in reaching the world with the gospel when we change the culture of our churches. We must equip and encourage everyone to live life on mission. This means being a witness in all areas of life. This begins with our family and friends, then our neighbors on our street. It should include our coworkers and friends, everyone we come in contact with. It will be looking at every contact as a potential for evangelism. The culture will change when each of us starts looking at building relationships for the opportunity to share the good news.
Let’s take an example from the early church and make it our culture today: “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).
4. We need to focus on the means.
We understand what a huge task the church has been given to evangelize the world. How are we to accomplish such an undertaking? First, we must realize that we can never do God’s work in our own ability or strength. In fact, we are warned in Isaiah 31 that sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt, trusting in horses and chariots. If we depend on human strength and efforts instead of trusting and depending on God, we will fail.
Reaching the world with the gospel is a supernatural task that requires supernatural means. The good news is that Jesus provides this supernatural means for us. Look at the Great Commission. We are told to go into all the world, but Jesus concludes this charge with a grand statement: “I am with you to the end.” The truth is that Jesus not only sends us out but promises to go with us. Wow, that is a game changer!
We know in Acts that the power of the Holy Spirit fell upon the church. The power of Pentecost is still the power the church operates in today. We have all power necessary to accomplish what Jesus mandated for his church. We have the power!
Think about the 120 people in Acts 1:15, who without a building or programs impacted the world. They didn’t even have the New Testament. They had no printed page, no means of rapid transportation and yet they filled Jerusalem with the gospel. They were even accused of turning the world upside down.
How is that possible? They had a promise. They had the Presence. They had the power. By the way, we have the same today. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, let’s start focusing on what we do have. We have the means to accomplish and succeed at the mission Jesus has given to his church.
What are we focusing on today? Let’s determine to drown out the noise and focus on what matters: the Master, the Message, the Mission and the Means. If we do this, we will be obedient to the commission and successfully accomplish the task Jesus gave his church. May God help us to stay focused.