Work does not get done without involvement. We can take note of a situation. We can have great attitudes, but it takes a willingness to personally involve ourselves if we are going to put those attitudes to work. However, when it comes to the effort of teaching others, we can feel intimidated. Sometimes, though, our influence can be as simple as reaching out to those we know and love and who need Christ in their lives.
Teaching By Reaching
In Mark 5, Jesus casts a legion of demons from a man, and those demons then drown a herd of pigs. The majority of townsfolk beg Jesus to leave, but the formerly possessed man begs to go with Jesus. Instead, in verses 18-20, Jesus tells him to go and tell others of what God had done for him, and the man does just that.
John 1 records John the Baptist teaching others of Christ’s coming, even pointing Jesus out in the crowd. A couple of John’s disciples begin to follow Jesus. One of these is Andrew, and between verses 41-45, these initial followers of Jesus grow the discipleship simply by inviting friends and relatives to come see Jesus.
John 4 records Jesus visiting a well, encountering a Samaritan woman. While hesitant to trust Jesus at first, the woman begins to believe Jesus is a prophet, and the conversation turns to spiritual matters. When she learns that Jesus is the Christ, she runs back into town and invites others to simply come back and see Jesus.
These individuals all recognize the importance of the message that Jesus saves. They also understand the value of sharing that message.
The Influence of Reaching Out
In any spiritual work, there are factors working for us and working against us. Bringing others to Christ is an uphill battle. Study after study has been conducted about the realities of church survival and the necessary elements for church growth. We know what we have to work on; the challenge is in involving ourselves in the work. Involvement can be as simple as reaching out.
Who do you know who needs Christ in their lives? Can you think of any neighbors, teachers, relatives, friends, fellow sports parents, or coworkers who need Jesus? The problem is that we begin to rule people out based on our opinions of them. We are a culture obsessed with profiling, but the Bible is full of examples of the last person we would expect being the strongest influences. Think again of that demon-possessed man and the Samaritan woman at the well. Think of the conversions in Acts – an Ethiopian treasurer, a Pharisee, a charlatan sorcerer, and a pagan soldier. These conversions illustrate that the gospel is, in fact, for all.
Jesus tells His disciples to look at the opportunities for reaching out in John 4:35. He speaks of the people in terms of a harvest, and Matthew 9:36-37 repeats this illustration, admitting that there are few willing to engage in this large work. The gospel is for all. We simply have to reach those around us, ruling no one out.
Reaching Out in Our Lives
There are three basic things we can do to influence those around us.
- Live it. Our examples serve as our first point of reaching others. We must practice what we preach. Others may wish to learn more about Christ because they see Him in us.
- Talk it. We need to invite again and again. “Come hear this sermon.” “Come this Sunday.” Talk about what you love about your congregation. Talk about what you’re looking forward to. Invite others to study with you, and we have to follow up.
- Practice it. We must put effort into our worship periods our Bible studies. From scripture readings, to song selection, to teaching, to individual prayers, even to punctuality – all aspects of our worship should be our best.
Each one can reach someone. It just takes a willingness to be involved. It starts with our commitment to be involved in the work of our Lord and the work of our congregation. Reaching out can begin with inviting friends and family and following up. It can start by making sure we reflect Christ in our lives. We often hear of the principle, “Each One Teach One,” but, before we can teach, we must first reach.
lesson by Tim Smelser