Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reaching out to Others In Jesus’ Name

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  -Acts 1:8 (KJV) 

My wife Andrea and I just returned with our son Ben from a whirlwind tour of two prospective Virginia colleges, the University of Virginia and James Madison University.  Both schools offer academic excellence and a rich tradition of educating the best and brightest students of Virginia and other states.  We were profoundly impressed with both schools.  Either would be a great choice for Ben. Of that we are certain.

Something which quickly captured our attention about the University of Virginia is the history which encompasses the entire grounds of the university.  Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, he chose to design the school with a different philosophy from other colleges of the day.  For example, he chose not to call the school grounds a “campus” preferring instead to call it the “grounds” a term still used today.  Jefferson thought the term campus would be too inclusive of the university.  He desired for the students to always be connected to the larger community. 

As I pondered this I realize this is how we as followers of Christ are to view the church.  Let’s be sure not to cut ourselves off from the larger community, preferring instead to do as Jesus said and be His witnesses nearby, across the region, and all over the world.  Let us always seek to be salt and light to those around us – to people who need to experience the love and grace of the Lord Jesus.  We are to take this light to them demonstrating that Jesus is the light of the world, and through Him we find salvation, peace, joy, and life eternal. 

Too often we have allowed ourselves to be inclusive of the church itself.  It’s easy to become possessive of the church to the point where we almost resent the thought of “outsiders”  coming into our fellowship.  If this has been our attitude then let us repent of such spiritual arrogance.  Let’s make a concentrated effort to get back on track with reaching out to others in the name of Jesus.  The gospel has always been intended to be shared.  The church is to be the center from which we equip believers to go out and reach the lost in bringing them into the fellowship of the church. 

Those without Christ are all around us.  In the name of Jesus let’s be His witnesses in a world which needs to hear about the love of Christ.  Be encouraged and be of good cheer today.  The Lord has a plan and He has called us to go and be a part of it. 

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