Isn’t it fascinating to realize that without seminaries, church growth seminars, elaborate youth programs, large campuses, and giant screens, the early church still grew at a phenomenal rate? Ever wonder why?
Way before institutionalized Christianity, the first followers of Jesus lived in such a way that caused the world to stand up and take notice! They had a distinctive lifestyle that couldn’t be ignored—it was compelling.
Living selflessly got people’s attention. And still does today.
You might have noticed . . . people don’t like to be ‘evangelized’. They don’t automatically think our truths are their truths. They won’t show up at our church gatherings to hear our ideas and they can’t stand it when we push them to accept our concepts. Yet one truth always remains, people will always be drawn to good news when they see it in action. Though they may not understand everything, GOOD NEWS . . . is always GOOD NEWS when it touches down in real life.
Perhaps people—when they see an active faith—will be drawn to the Good News. Unbelievers need to see the good news in action.
This is what the first believers were all about and what we ought to be about, too.
It’s interesting to note that though an individual may have no idea that he or she should care about salvation, most individuals will acknowledge that they do have needs—or at the very least, that the world certainly has some. It’s also interesting to note than many non-believers feel it’s the job of Christians to meet them.
A USA Today survey revealed that when non-Christians were asked what Christians should be doing in the world, they responded with two top choices:
- Feeding the hungry
- Taking care of the poor
Regardless of what they themselves believe about Christianity, non-Christians believe that a Christian’s life should have an outward expression, putting its faith into practice and acting a lot like Jesus would.
SO WHAT DO GOOD DEEDS DONE BY BELIEVERS ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISH?
Good deeds done by believers genuinely demonstrate the love of God, glorify God, and validate the Good News.
When the communists took over Russia in 1917, they vigorously persecuted the church but did not make Christianity illegal—the Constitution of 1918 guaranteed freedom of religion. But, the Communists did make it illegal for Christians to do any good works. Consequently, the church could no longer feed the hungry or take care of the sick or the orphaned. The state took over those duties.
What was the result? After 70 years, the church in Russia was irrelevant. This small example from history seems to support that what author Eric Swanson wrote is true:
Take away service, and you take away the church’s power, influence, and evangelistic effectiveness. The power of the gospel is combining its life-changing message with selfless service.
Good deeds done by believers make manifest God’s power.
In closing, consider these thoughts from the book Externally Focused Church, by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson:
The Christian faith, for the most part, has been reduced to a philosophy—principles and tenets that we believe and can defend but don’t necessarily practice. It is our actions towards others that separate Christianity from philosophy. It is tying loving God to loving our neighbors as ourselves that puts legs to our faith. So, let’s be radicals and practice our religion.
Will you practice being the good news in action?
How can you be “good outreach” today? How will you put legs to your faith and walk the way today?