May 1, 2016
Text: Acts 16:9-15
Revelation 21:10, 22-5
Draw Me CloseLast week we talked about compassion and the fact that it is more than an emotion- but moves usto action. Evangelism is much the same- It is sharing good news that has made a difference inour lives and we are moved with compassion to tell others. But in the words from the video-when we see it as our duty, it becomes all about us-but when we live it from our spirit- itbecomes all about Jesus- and all for them.“the reason the church exists” CS Lewis said, “is for no other reason than to draw men close toChrist- God became man for no other reason.” That should be our prayer- our zeal, our joy andour compassion. Our faith is all about a relationship with God who has come close to us- whoinvites us to draw closer to Him more and more every day and tell others along the way. Pray.When you hear the word, “evangelism” what comes to mind?- knocking on doors? awkwardconversations? Fear? Anxiety? We talk about evangelism, but like the saying goes: “when all issaid and done, more is often said than done.” Perhaps the reason is because our perception ofevangelism is wrong.One night, the apostle Paul had a vision of a man pleading with him to come help! And what didPaul do? He responded to the call-and immediately left on a journey to try and find that man. Itwas not a simple walk across the street, but a journey that took days and stretched for manymiles. And why would he do such a thing? Because he was convinced that God had called him toproclaim the good news to others- and he had heard the cry of someone pleading to be told- andhe could do nothing less.The word: “evangelism” comes from the root word, “evangel” that means “good news.” In aworld bombarded by horrific news-people need, long for, dream of good news. People sitting inhospital waiting rooms praying earnestly with all their hearts for some good news. Every night,people lie awake- hoping, wishing- praying for good news. There are people sitting on parkbenches and airport chairs and church pews-calling out silently for affirmation that they areloved and of great worth; cries for good news of hope when all they see is hopelessness anddisappointments.Question is, will we hear them- and if we hear them, will we be moved to action? Evangelism issharing the good news that they are loved- that there is hope and a future- news of God’s lovemade known to us through Jesus Christ.The writer of Proverbs said: “like cool water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far land.”
Ever been thirsty? I mean, really thirsty? I haven’t done it for years, but I remember bailing hayin the July heat-and stacking the bails in the hay loft. It was stifling up there. You would breakout into a sweat just being there, let alone stacking bales. By the time I was done, my clotheswere soaked in sweat- and I was thirsty. I didn’t go to the house for a glass of lemonade in icecubes- I went straight for the hydrant and drank deeply from the hose. And then I drenched myhead with cool water from the hose- and then I drank deeply again until I was not thirstyanymore.Sometimes, going through difficult times in life is like working in a hay loft on a hot day in July.You can get dehydrated- thirsty for some good news- any good news. We need to go straight tothe source and drink deeply the living water of Jesus Himself.Today it is trendy to carry around a bottle of water everywhere you go, afraid we might getdehydrated before we get home. Don’t misunderstand me- it is good advice to stay hydrated, butfew people these days are in danger of dying of thirst.It makes me wonder- what if we had the same concern for the hydration of our souls as we havefor our bodies? What if we carried around God’s word with us everywhere we go- in our heartsas well as our bibles- ready to take a sip of cool, refreshing, living water before we ever get tothe point of being desperate for a drink? What if we were ready to share the good news of God’sword with someone we meet along the way who was thirsty for some good news? What if wethought of evangelism in that way? Think of the difference that would make.One day, as Jesus was walking along a pool in Jerusalem called the pool of Bethsaida- and therehe saw a man lying by the pool who had been sick for thirty-eight years. After all those years hehad largely given up hope- and what little hope he had left was misplaced hope. You see, he waswaiting for an angel to come down to the pool un-announced, anytime- and stir the water- and asrumor had it, whoever stepped into the pool first would be healed of whatever sickness they had.He was not alone. Surrounding the pool everywhere you looked lay sick and despondent people-paralytics, invalids, and the blind. All competing with each other to be the first in the pool- allrelying on their ability to beat everyone else into the pool first. But for this man, he knew therewas no way he could succeed alone. He was without hope.The bible tells us that we cannot heal ourselves or save ourselves. No amount of will power ordiscipline or competition to be better than someone else can save us. But then, just when webegin to feel all alone and forsaken, we realize we aren’t alone. Jesus has come to us- just as weare- when we cannot come to him. In fact- He has been there all along.And then He asks us a question that strikes at the very core of our heats- “Do you want to behealed? And you cry out- Lord- you know I do! “then take your eyes off the pool and trust me.Rise up, take up your pallet and walk.”One cold winter’s night, angels proclaimed to shepherds: “be not afraid; for behold, I bring yougood news of a great joy which will come to all the people- for to you is born this day in the cityof David Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Jesus is the gospel-Jesus is the good news we long for. He draws us close-remove barriers thathinder our coming- fears, doubts, hurts, disappointments- all real experiences- but in Jesus- wefind healing, trusting in Him no matter what.Evangelism is coming along side people in their hurts in Jesus name. It is not about a programbut a relationship. In the words from the video- that kind of evangelism is more profound thanpreaching; more personal then witnessing; only persuasive when living it; only honest whenloving others. Evangelism is good news put into action.People need to hear it-tell them. People need Jesus-share Him with them. In Jesus name, Amen.