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“Come and See” Evangelism, Part 2: Jesus’ Love Through Us

January 20, 2012

I said that inviting people to “come and see” Jesus requires the love of Jesus in our hearts, and that this means, first of all, love for Jesus.

It also requires the love of Jesus for others – his love flowing through us.

Following a sermon on evangelism one family thought they had better do something to share about Jesus with their neighbours. So they invited their neighbours to dinner the following Friday night. When it came to the meal, the hostess was keen to show their neighbours that they upheld Christian standards in their home. so she asked little 5 year old Johnny to say grace. Little Johnny was a bit shy, and responded, “I don’t know what to say.” There was an awkward pause, followed by a reassuring smile from the boy’s mother. “Well darling,” she said, ” just say what Daddy said at breakfast this morning.” Obediently, the boy repeated, “Oh God, we’ve got those awful people coming to dinner tonight.”

Well, that attitude won’t reach too many with the love of Jesus!

But it doesn’t have to be like that!

Remember, the invitation to “come and see” is first offered to us, as it was to Andrew and John.

Joel D. Kline writes:

Come and see — see with eyes of faith, allowing oneself to be transformed by Christ’s Spirit. Is this not what Marcus Borg had in mind when asserting in his book, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time? “Believing in Jesus…is the movement from secondhand religion to firsthand religion, from having heard about Jesus with the hearing of the ear to being in relationship with the Spirit of Christ.” It is a matter of firsthand encounter with God, trusting that similar words spoken by God to Jesus at the time of baptism are also spoken to us, “You are my beloved daughter or son.” And once we are anchored in that kind of love, we find the strength and power to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, going the extra mile in relationships, witnessing for peace, extending arms of reconciliation, offering acts of compassion and care, serving those in need. As Henri Nouwen writes, “Only when your roots are deep can your fruits be abundant.”

When Jesus is in our hearts, then we have Jesus’ heart for others, and it is a natural part of our relationships to invite them to see him in our lives.

Kline again:

Come and see. No arm twisting. No gimmicks. No Bible thumping. No apparent pressure. Just a simple, forthright invitation — come and spend time with Jesus and with those he is calling to join with him in living and proclaiming a new way of being.

Again, I would remind us, that this living out our discipleship takes place in community. And so, it is especially appropriate and powerful to invite people to “come and see” Jesus as he manifests his presence in the community of disciples. Here, I believe, is a way we can share the Good News as Anglicans in a way that both we and those with whom we share find non-threatening. Here you are, on a cold and snowy day like this. If your relatives, friends, or neighbours should happen to ask, “Why on earth do you go to church on a day like this?!”  you can answer, “Come and see.” When someone asks, “What difference does it make to belong to a Christian community – when you’re sick or lonely or struggling with the pain of bereavement?” – you can say, “Come and see. Come and see a community where we love God and one another, and unite in loving service together for the wider community and whole world.”

Like Nathaniel, many of those with whom we talk will be sceptical, even dismissive. Our response must be like Philip’s: not defensive or argumentative, but inviting – an invitation to show them living out the Good News. When our roots go deep down, people will see the abundant fruit that shows Jesus’ presence in our midst, giving us hope, and giving us love.

(adapted from the sermon at our January 15 Services)

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