Our Opportunity and Calling
January 28, 2021
This is the final week of our 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting where we have been called to especially pray for our church, our communities, and the world. As we come to the conclusion of this time, I want to encourage you to really pray for NewPointe.
As you have heard me say so many times, the local church is the hope of the world when we are living and teaching the truth of Jesus Christ. The local church is you. It is me. It is anyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as the forgiver of their sins. Yet, if you stop there, you are simply a Fan of Jesus.
Fans of Jesus do not bring hope to the world. If anything, they bring confusion because they are not modeling what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. They are modeling something very deficient and insufficient. For most of them it becomes another form of religion instead of a living relationship with God, our heavenly Father. Instead of being a transforming day to day following of Jesus, it is a stale performance and rule-keeping, which can never offer the world what it needs.
It is only as we prioritize our relationship with Jesus, as we actively get up and follow with daily obedience, doing what He asks, saying what He says, becoming like Him, that we can live out our purpose of being salt and light in a desperately hurting world, devoid of hope.
As we regather, please pray for our NewPointe staff. We are in a new arena. Everything is different and the old normal we knew may never materialize again. Many of the old templates we have used for effective ministry are just not applicable in our new reality. That makes working very challenging and consuming. Pray for our volunteers. In many ways they must be the ones who put legs and feet and arms and hands on our efforts. First steps are always challenging. Not everyone understands the reasons we believe we must do what we do or how we do it, and our volunteers are on the front lines handling questions and frustrations. Also pray for the members of our church family. Let’s pray with gratitude that God has brought us through this wild and life-changing experience to this point of regathering, and that we will worship will full and thankful hearts.
Lasting, let’s pray for the new people who have found within them an urge to connect with “church” and are trying us. We have an incredible opportunity to spread hope and offer healing. Our largest group will remain online for some time, likely for the long haul. We must target major efforts toward them, and that includes our prayers.
Paul told us to “Make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). The Passion Translation of his words in Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes.” What an opportunity!
Before Paul, Jesus told us that as we follow Him through our world, we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We can always be sure not everyone will like us or be happy about what we are doing. But Followers of Jesus don’t run from challenges, hide from problems, or shrink back during tough times. They seize these as opportunities for the Good News.
Researchers have found that 23% of people who pre-COVID-19 were completely disinterested in spiritual things or conversation are now open and interested. We need to be prayed up and ready! “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16).
The world at its worst needs the Church at its best. These are incredible days for the kingdom of God for those who are true followers of Jesus. We should be and can be living lives that attract the world because of our unreasonable love and character.
Francis Chan says, “There is something wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.”
On the other hand, Brennan Manning tells us, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
That can’t be us. Every other religious faith wants to escape the world, but Jesus wants us to renew the world. That must start with a renewal of ourselves as Jesus-followers.
“Nothing can destroy Christianity if we live like Christians.” – A. W. Tozer
As we pray, let us pray earnestly for ourselves as His people at NewPointe, in our communities, and around the nation. Yes, we are in a hard place. But here’s the truth, stated eloquently by John Stott: “We should not ask, ‘What is wrong with the world?’, for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather we should ask, “What has happened to the salt and light?’”
God, may we be that in our world.