I recently preached at a church from Luke 15 about the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son and the lost brother – a great chapter of the Bible for you to read and reread. It’s one of the great joys of my role with Evangelism and New Churches (ENC) that I get to speak at many churches in this way. I invited people to come back home to God, made possible through Jesus; to be found by our loving God, who has not given up on searching for them no matter how far away from him they may feel.
In Luke 15:10 Jesus says, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents”. What joy there was on that Sunday as seven people became Christians. Seven people who were, as Luke 15 says, lost but now found, and dead but now alive. Seven people who have been transformed by God. No wonder heaven rejoices over even one sinner who repents!
Be encouraged – God is at work, bringing lost people to himself. It is happening in many churches all over the Sydney Diocese and beyond as Christians pray for those who aren’t yet Christian; as they invite people to come to church with them; as they share with people about the difference Jesus has made to their lives; and as faithful churches keep preaching the good news of Jesus, Sunday by Sunday and at special outreach evangelistic events, inviting people to become Christians. Heaven is rejoicing every day!
Last week I met with a group of ministers to talk about evangelism. It was so encouraging to hear about what churches are doing to bring the good news of Jesus to their community. One church had already seen 20 people become Christians this year! How wonderfully encouraging that is.
Twenty people transformed by God and brought from death to life, from being lost to being found.
At another church I have been visiting in the past few weeks, people have been actively involved in reaching out and connecting with their local community, resulting in many conversations about Jesus and people looking to discover more about what it means to become a Christian and to follow Jesus.
People around us are hungry to hear about Jesus – whether they know it yet or not.
We can easily become discouraged as we listen to the media and social media and think that those who aren’t yet Christian don’t want to hear about Jesus and don’t want to be invited to church. But this is not the case. Of course, there will always be people who will reject Jesus and reject our invitations to find out more about him. But every day people are becoming Christians. Lives are being transformed by God every day. God is at work.
Our world is lost and in darkness and needs Jesus. Our God is a loving God who doesn’t give up on people and doesn’t give up searching for people to bring them home to him. He is a searching God, passionate to see lost people found, and is at work in our world, bringing lost people to himself.
So I want to encourage you: do not give up, just as our God does not give up. Keep praying. Keep inviting. Keep sharing Jesus.
Prayerfully look for opportunities to speak of the hope that he brings. Of the joy and peace you have in knowing that you are forgiven, that nothing will separate you from his love, and that they, too, can know this for themselves. Offer to read one of the gospels with them. And invite them to take the step of putting their faith and trust in him.
Be encouraged – God is at work, bringing lost people to himself. Let that knowledge spur you on to bring lost people to him.
The Rev John Lavender is an evangelism consultant at Evangelism and New Churches.