Tentmaking: knowing God

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Both the Apostles Peter and Paul explain evangelism as being ready to answer questions about our faith (1 Peter 3:14-16 Col. 4:5-6), if nobody is asking it may mean that nothing in a Christian’s speech or conduct suggests that God is worth knowing… con’t…

A common hesitancy many people conjure up when asked to think about evangelism or mission – especially in a personal capacity, are their own feelings of inadequacy, “I’m not” outgoing… knowledgeable… confident… etc, “enough”. Yet as we reflected in the previous article, God grants us (through our fidelity toward Him) grace enough to accomplish His will for us and it is His will that every one of us bring others to salvation. If that is so (and it must be so for God is love) then how may this be realised by us? Weak and fragile vessels that we are? It is in acknowledging, as ever through humility, that it is in our weakness that God’s power may be revealed through the light of Christ within us “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4), for “… we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, and not of us.” (2 Cor 4:6-7) So we need only put our trust in God, recognising that our life is His, and that if we offer it to Him by return, we may yet achieve all that He desires of us, “And Jesus beholding, said to them: With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

Trust in God.

Realising then that there is nothing we cannot do, with God, consider too, as we reflected previously, how we may yet have been prepared for this shared vocation among us. This is discernment. An ongoing revelation of God’s purpose in our lives, that we have only to be open to perceive within us by trusting in Him. While the Church has never taught a doctrine of predestination i.e. that our lives are wholly fated by God, nonetheless, we understand from Scripture that we have, each and every one of us, been known by God “Before I formed thee in the bowels of thy mother, I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee,” and as with the Great Commission “…and made thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 Each and everyone of us was purposed to exist and it is God’s will that each and everyone of us enjoy His invitation to salvation and eternal life with Him and His will that those who have accepted His invitation share it with others too, that they may realise this first principle and objective of mission and evangelism.

To know God.

Knowing then our common purpose and God’s shared will for us, we might also appreciate that where we have got to in our lives today is no accident, if not either entirely by design. Where we are today in our lives has been achieved either by knowing and accepting God’s will, cooperating with Him, or not knowing and rejecting His will, working against Him. This we may have done consciously or subconsciously or even unconsciously… if we have not always been very faithful in our relationship with God, it’s entirely possible that we may or may not have knowingly cooperated with His will for our lives. This of course is true not just for the Christian but for every person brought into existence.  God’s existence does not depend on our perception of Him; agnostics or atheists often have trouble appreciating this truth and even Christians think they can “turn God on/off” in their lives “… for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) So recognising, taking stock of where are in our own lives, we may recognise that there may still yet be a way of effecting God’s will in the circumstances and situations we find ourselves in. Whatever our present situation, whether work, home or personal life, it is a reality of cause and effect that where we find ourselves is no accident. Accepting this is often the key to being able to help others understand the same is also true for them. God’s will, His divine charge to us ref the Great Commission is still of obligation upon us, even if where we are we think is not the ideal situation to be in for mission. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Do God’s will.

The truth of the matter is, God is everywhere, His will is persistently trying to be made manifest in us, through us and by us toward others whom He wishes us to make known to them His love for them “For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.” (Philippians 2:13) So that in the everyday circumstances of our lives, opportunities to effect His will, will be presented to us. Not as great revelations of divine inspiration necessarily, but often in the very ordinary and what many would consider the inconsequential aspects of our daily living, here is where the power of God is often the most effective. Here is why and where we need to be “faithful in little things” (cf Luke 16:10 & Matthew 25:23) for though we may occasionally, when we truly know ourselves, recognise our lowliness before God, nonetheless it is in the lowly to whom “…He giveth greater grace. Wherefore He saith: God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” James 4:6

Serve God in all things.

So in the work place as well as in our homes and especially in our communities, we Christians should strive to live out the Gospel in an attractive, godly, non-judgemental way “So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works” (Matthew 5:16). Showing how our faith in God enables us to embrace hope even in suffering by “being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15) We should example personal integrity both in our relationships with others and in what we do, doing the best we can in our work to “do all to the glory of God” (cf 1 Corinthians 10:31), being quick to apologise and admitting that we are not perfect, yet are striving to please God “For all have sinned, and do need the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Live like a Christian.

“Go into thy house to thy friends, tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had mercy on thee.” Mark 5:19 Now its been proven scientifically, apparently, that when someone tells a story not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too, e.g. sensory and motor cortex. “The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated.” Annie Murphy Paul NYT Now, sharing personal testimony is not quite storytelling, it isn’t fictional, but the retelling of how God is apparent to us, or how we’ve been made aware of God’s presence in our lives, could have the same effect on other people as storytelling. It’s long been said that the best authors write from their own experience, and that the best testimonies are those given “from the heart”. How often have we been moved by somebody describing an event or events in their life? From the awfully tragic to the truly personal, through to the hilarious, in everyday conversations people share what’s happened or is happening in their life. So should the Christian about God in our lives.  So should you. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, it doesn’t have to be pious, it could simply be the quiet sharing of a time when we felt God with us in our life. But this sharing doesn’t need to be forced. It could be given in response to the sharing by a non-believer about an experience in their life, perhaps you went through a similar thing, but your faith helped you.

Tell them. Share.

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