Pastor Jason, in a recent sermon, you mentioned “service in Christ’s name” as one of the four benchmarks C3 emphasizes to help people make Christ the center of their lives. How do we so, when our culture is increasingly opposed to the name of Christ?
Well, the text for our discussion is Matthew 10:42, where Jesus tells us that giving even a cup of cold water in His name will be rewarded.
I think that a first reminder is to be aware of, or to have an expectation of, suffering (when we serve in Christ’s name). Not that we have a desire for suffering, but we shouldn't be surprised. We are in I Peter now and we learn about “being maligned for the gospel”, not because we are abrasive but simply because we are bearing the standard of Christ. So, that is an expectation we can have, even if we are serving.
However, I have found that living a life of service can bridge the gap between an unbelieving world and a believing church. So, by “giving a cup of cold water” it becomes evangelistic in the sense of those who are watching. That is a valuable thing in our community and in the church in general.
In I Corinthians 16, Paul states that he would remain in Ephesus because “a wide door for effective work has opened for me”. Then, he adds, “and there are many adversaries”.
So, for Paul, the opportunity and opposition were not mutually exclusive. Rather, they blended together. In the same way, we can have a wide door open for service and yet encounter many adversaries.
Knowing that can help us. Knowing that people won’t always appreciate our service can encourage us.
We have to remember that people generally know who we are and what motivates us. They are not surprised if we mention Christ, even if they don't like it. So, we don't stop doing what we are doing.
Of course, there is a way to be purposely abrasive. We don't need to do that. Instead, we should be winsome. Yet, we should not be afraid to mention the name of Christ.
It requires a kind of boldness that we might have felt that we didn't need until now, or at least that we haven’t used until now. It allows us to unashamedly remind people of what we trust in—especially when we are asked or observed.
However, we are instructed to do so with gentleness and respect. So, in responding that way we can set an example for the world. If we are able to talk about why we are helping tutor kids or helping orphans or whatever, with gentleness and respect, I think that is important.
I have had those kinds of experiences in discussions about adoption, and that being tied to a pro-life ethic, or that being part of my Christian faith. People generally nod and are appreciative and it stops there.
But, and this is the important part of serving in Christ’s name, I think, it plants seeds for later conversations. When they have a spiritual question or have something to pray about, they call me. Even in Little League and helping with kids’ sports, I have seen where people know who I am and then feel free to call me for prayer.
So, attributing our service to Christ plants seeds. Others may water the seed, but God causes growth. We plant seeds all around and, as Jesus explained, we then wait for a later harvest.