A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35) …the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Rom 5:5)
AT CHURCH, I HEARD STRONG PREACHING on being a Christian witness to a lost and dying world, long before I was saved at nine in a bean market in October 1943. So, when I got saved, the next day I went to school excited and told my cussin’ buddies I had been saved and wanted them to go to the bean market and hear Preacher Dan Graham preach. That’s all I knew to do so I repeated it every day that week until they had had enough of it.
AT MORNING RECESS, A SPUNKY BOY PUT ME ON THE GROUND while a circle gathered around. We were at least half-way friends. We had gone through several shouting matches on the playground over Chevrolet and Ford. Jimmy was a Chevrolet Man and I was a Ford Man. We would stand facing each other and take turns shouting at each other: “Chevrolet!” “Ford!” “Chevrolet!” “Ford!”
HOW DO YOU BRING CLOSURE TO SUCH PLAYGROUND NONSENSE? Nobody wins such a shouting match, but there was a great deal of pleasure to be had in shouting at each other. Putting me on the ground and demanding that I pray something was a new twist in our normal shouting matches.
HE DEMANDED THAT I PRAY SOMETHING. “Pray!” Well, I saw he meant business and I didn’t have a clue what I should pray. I was nine years old and all my praying experience was to listen to the adults say phrases they had learned from long years of going to church. But it was either pray or get a bloody nose. So, I prayed: “Lord, get this S.O.B. off of me!” As soon as it was out of my mouth, I knew that was NOT the way praying should be done.
BUT, BEFORE I COULD THINK IT THROUGH and pray something more Biblical, he was satisfied that I had prayed well-enough, released the iron grip he had on my wrists against the ground, and got up. He had won. He had forced me to pray. He was satisfied with a pagan prayer. The bell rang and it was back to the classroom. That was the strangest thing I had been through in my whole life. That was the first time I had ever prayed for anyone. I had not made much of a Christian impression on him.
THAT WAS THE FIRST INKLING I HAD THAT EVERYONE WOULD NOT BE HAPPY when somebody gets saved. I didn’t know beans about being a witness to a lost and dying world. But this is a typical story of what happens when people get saved and want to share Christ with their circle. They may not engage in a schoolyard brawl but reaching out to someone the first time will be strange and the listener may push back.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF PEOPLE we need to witness to. Our first circle is the people we know best and this is where Christians do most of their witnessing. Witnessing to strangers with tracts is much easier than witnessing to family and friends we know. Family and friends know too much stuff about us and may push back.
The words of Jesus in our text today are suited to our efforts at reaching people in our closest circles. I’ve always liked good preaching and good Christian reading. Recently, I came across this comment by J. Vernon McGee that fits our topic for today. It will take the rest of our space to use all of it.
“NOW HE GIVES TO THEM A NEW COMMANDMENT. Some folk would seem to think that He said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you are fundamental in the faith." Now friend, I believe in being fundamental in the faith, I believe in the inerrancy of the Word of God, in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that He died on the Cross for the expiation of sin; that He died a substitutionary, vicarious death for the sins of the world. I believe He was raised bodily and ascended back into heaven and that He is coming personally to take His church out of the world.
“BUT I WANT TO SAY THIS, AND I WANT TO SAY IT VERY CAREFULLY: believing those things does not convince the unsaved world outside. The world is dying for just a little love. Jesus says that His disciples are to be known for their love.
“WHEN I WAS A BOY, MY DAD DIED AND I WENT TOR WORK to support my mother and sister; so, I stayed with two aunts and a bachelor uncle. One aunt was a Baptist and the other a Presbyterian. My uncle was an unbeliever and a beer drinker. Every Sunday he would get up just in time for the noon meal. For dinner every Sunday we heard all the Baptist dirt and the Presbyterian dirt. Years later, when my uncle was in the hospital, one of my aunts wept and asked me, "Vernon, why doesn't he come to Christ?"
“I ALMOST TOLD HER. Friend, may I say, we do not win the lost by being Christian cannibals. "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another" (Gal_5:15).
THIS IS THE TYPE OF THING THAT IS TURNING THE UNSAVED AWAY from the church today. This is the reason they don't come in to hear the gospel. They hear the gossip before they can hear the gospel! Do you realize that the most important commandment for a Christian is not to witness, not to serve, but to love other believers?
TERTULLIAN WRITES THAT THE ROMAN GOVERNMENT was disturbed about the early church. Christians were increasing in number by leaps and bounds. Because they wouldn't take even a pinch of incense and put it before the image of the emperor, the Romans felt they might be disloyal. Spies went into the Christian gathering and came back with a report something like this:
"THESE CHRISTIANS ARE VERY STRANGE PEOPLE. They meet together in an empty room to worship. They do not have an image. They speak of One by the name of Jesus, who is absent, but whom they seem to be expecting at any time. And my, how they love Him and how they love one another."
NOW IF SPIES CAME FROM AN ATHEISTIC GOVERNMENT to see whether Christianity is genuine and they came to your church, what would be the verdict? Would they go back to report how these Christians love each other? (McGee) Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
AUGUST 22, 2019 - THURSDAY
A.M. Psalm 119:49-104 P.M. 1Corinthians 4
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Memory Verse:
And he said unto them, go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15)
Song for Today:
There is a Fountain (4:39) (Gaither Group- 5,151,930 views) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PasK3ZFAOPE
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