Monday, November 10, 2014

Come and See

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It's amazing the number of seed thoughts one conference can supply.  I don't think Exponential West 2014 is any different than any other conference in that respect.  At least if God's there.  Usually God highlights a few things from a conference and has other seed thoughts at the ready. This time, God has me focused on the whole conference.  So, till He changes that, that's how we'll roll.

We'll take a look at some thoughts from Pastor Larry Osborne.  He's one of the senior pastors and a teaching pastor at North Coast Church in Vista, California.

“When people come into contact with the church, they should be changed not touched!”

That goes along with his statement that those who quickly drop everything to follow will also be the first to bail out.  It got me thinking about the apostles.  They had a strong emotional connection with Jesus.  So, they were, theoretically, "all in".  But look at their performance.  

Those closest to Jesus had relatively consistent teaching from Him.  Yet, they didn't recognize the full seriousness of what was coming, when they were in the garden of Gethsemane.  Otherwise they would have fought the demonic oppression that had them sleeping while Jesus sweat blood.  Peter told Jesus, at one point, that he'd follow Him through anything.  Yet, Peter is the first to deny Christ -- three times before the cock crowed, as Jesus said he would.  After the crucifixion, many of the disciples left their call and went back to fishing.  The rest of the close disciples were gathered in the upper room, hiding in fear.

What we see are a group of followers who were touched, but hadn't been fully changed, yet.  And they hadn't counted the cost of following.  We're not saying that they should have ignored the call of God because it was too hard.  But they also hadn't prepared themselves for the possible consequences of following Jesus.

Pastor Osborne said that those who stick know the cost and the consequences of their decisions. The disciples had spent a ton of time with Jesus, but their emotions pushed aside the thoughts of the negative things He warned about.  So, what we see is Jesus on the shore, telling the fishermen where to get the best catch.  Once those disciples realized Jesus had risen, they all joined the disciples that had hidden in the upper room.  But now they started paying attention to what Jesus was saying.  And they understood the cost in contrast to the eternal benefits.

It's very much like the early part of His ministry.  Several followers of John the Baptist came to Jesus to see if He was, indeed, the Messiah.  Jesus answered them, in John 1:39,  "He saith unto them, 'Come and see'. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.".  In other words, be sure who you're connecting with and what the consequences might be.  Which ties in another point Larry Osborne made.

Pastor Osborne that there are no barriers to "come and see" evangelism.  Ideally, we go out evangelizing in one form or another and everyone we meet accepts salvation.  In reality, very few get saved.  And it's often because they've accumulated a variety of misconceptions about Christianity.  But being invited to visit the church is very non-threatening.

We want people to understand the results of their decisions, positive or negative.  Jesus, in the passage we just shared, didn't tell the disciples of John the Baptist that they had to immediately believe in Him or else.  He said, "Come and see.".  And, like everything else Jesus did, that was very individual and personal.  Jesus was very confrontational on other occasions.  So, we don't want to make either confrontation or invitation a pat formula.  We want to do what's most appropriate for each individual.  We want to see the barriers to salvation and discipleship melt away.  Which may not always be as instantaneous as we'd like.  But we want to see them come to a real and lasting relationship with the Living God.

There's a difference between confessing a real relationship with God and professing a relationship whose only reality is based on emotion that can change with circumstances.  When all the possibilities are understood, what's real becomes evident.  So have you been changed or just touched?  Is your faith lasting?  And when you meet others, do you show them what will change them instead of just touch them?

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