Offer the Doorways
The teaching aspect is for the purpose of giving people a vision so they don’t cast off restraint. Looking back over 20 years of the whole church being together where we live, I have to say that much of the teaching, even up until now, has been about making sure everybody understands what the Bible says about all of these things. “Repent for the kingdom is at hand.” What does God say the kingdom is? Those of us who know God well enough can share what Jesus, Paul, John, Peter and James says about these things.
When we lay things out like that, we’re priming the pump. We’re letting people see something so they will have the strength to repent because they’ve seen the kingdom. So yes, that’s one thing that’s incumbent upon you—the responsibility to make sure that everybody, including all of your acquaintances, have the most opportunity possible to know what God said about these things.
That’s easy on some level, but it’s also hard work. You can’t be lazy about it and assume everybody is going to just get it. “Go into every nation and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19). Go into the highways and byways and compel them to come in. And while you’re out there making disciples, Jesus says, “Teach them to obey everything I commanded you.”
The process involves shedding the light of the Word of God into the nooks and crannies because there’s been a famine in hearing the Word. You see people acting like dead men lying around on the street licking the dirt and you wonder why. It’s because there’s a famine in hearing the Word. One responsibility we have is to impart the vision of the kingdom so that we can have the strength to not cast off restraint and to repent.
Another part is not only the teaching, but being engaged enough in people’s lives to actually have an opportunity to do what we’ve been talking about. What if there’s somebody that I see and talk to only once a month and I show up at their house and say, “It seems apparent that you have a big problem in your marriage.” They will probably respond with, “Get away from me. I don’t want to hear that and you don’t have a right to talk to me.”
But what if you had mowed their lawn the day before? What if you had bought groceries for them two weeks before that? What if another time you had taken their children to the zoo with your family? Then in the course of being involved with them, you say, “By the way, would it be okay with you if I mention something as an opportunity for you to get to know Jesus better? I’m not coming down on you, I promise. I’m giving you a doorway to experience more of Jesus. Would that be okay?”
What kind of person would turn down that offer? :) But if you just show up out of the clear blue and say, “You have a problem with your family”—it would take a fairly big person to receive that. They should be able to receive that, but it would take a pretty big person to accept something like that out of the blue. I get that opportunity from time to time where out of the clear blue, people tell me how wrong everything is with me. Okay, that’s fine, I can take that.
What did David do when Shimei was shouting curses at him after David had left because Absalom had taken his throne away? Shimei was shouting curses down and David’s men said, “Should we go kill him?” And David said, “No, there’s something I need to learn from this. He might be mostly wrong and certainly his spirit is bad, but leave him alone because God can teach me through this” (2Sam. 16). David was a big person to receive something like that out of the blue. And we probably all need to be that big in regard to loving the Truth.
We ought to be able to handle those “out of the blue” situations, but most people just don’t have the context for doing that. We can get busy opening up the pathways for these things by being a Family on a bigger level even with people that are marginal. You’re caring about them and you’re involving them. You find ways into their heart, and the trust level increases.
Instead of coming down on them, you precede the conversation by saying, “If there were three doorways, and I told you which doorway would lead to a whole bunch of treasure, would you be mad at me for telling you about that doorway? If you want to experience Jesus on a higher level, you’ll want to get rid of some sin. You’ll want to treat your wife with more respect, more honor, and more patience. I’m not being mean to you. I’m only letting you know there is a doorway with riches behind it that’s still untapped. However good you think you have it now, there’s at least one more door. Actually there are a few more doors once you get past that one, but why not go for the treasure? Nice talking to you. See ya.” :)
Can you see how that’s not accusing him? You’re not attacking him. You’re simply letting him know where the treasure is. That’s the New Testament. In the Old Testament it was a whole different world. If a child was disobedient, you stoned them. But in the New Testament, it’s about doorways. Jesus said, “Come follow me. I’ll make you fishers of men. If you’ll leave everything, I’ll give you something better. If you’ll forsake everything, I’ll give you a pearl. If you plow the field, there’s a treasure there, but you need to sell everything to buy the field.” It’s all about the opportunity that He’s offering to us, and that’s how we present it to each other too.
Jesus wasn’t coming down on the rich young ruler when He said, “This one thing you lack.” Jesus cried over him, He wasn’t coming down on him. He was saying, “A doorway is here for you with more riches than you could ever dream of. A whole new life awaits you if you’ll get rid of this thing. But you’re grabbing on so tightly to this stupid stuff that moth and rust destroy and that thieves break in and steal. You’re letting go of the treasure that is really treasure.” Jesus cried over the rich man’s response, and that’s got to be our attitude as well.
Plant the vision and then involve yourself and engage on a practical level with the attitude of, “Come, follow Me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” It’s not a police state of trying to get people to do the right things. It is a passion that everybody would become rich in heavenly things that last.
When you have that kind of attitude and heart, only an unregenerate, unsaved person could still reject the invitation. And if they reject it, it won’t be because of misunderstanding, but it’ll be because they just don’t care and don’t really want it. In that case you’ll probably have to push them on down the road until they learn their lesson the hard way. Even then, the point is still the same: “Someday you’ll see what a trashy life it is without Jesus and you’ll see that you’re just fooling yourself and pretending. One of these days you’ll see it. And when you do finally see it, give me a call.” So even then, it’s still an invitation. But in the meantime I can’t treat them like there’s nothing wrong because there is something wrong. But there is still an invitation.
Can we move into the lounge area?
Wherever you lead, we’ll go :)