Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why I am Praying for the Boldness of a Barhopper

Acts 4:31 “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
                The cold driver seat welcomed me as I sat down and turned the ignition. It was time for another Sunday night Bible study with the guys at a local Starbucks. I was completely unaware of the lesson the Lord would teach me through an unusual experience that night. The coffee shop closed right as we were done with our Bible study. We walked outside to hang out and talk in the crisp autumn air. A short while later a jet black SUV with tinted windows drove by and parked on the opposite side of the road from where we were talking. The club anthem music was blaring from the SUV while the bass reverberated off the cement buildings of downtown. A short woman in her late 20’s stepped out of the passenger side of the car and came into view. She was wearing a stylish black jean jacket, had short blonde hair with tints of brown and was fashionably blowing smoke from her cigarette into the air. That's when she (I don’t know her name, so I will call her Claire) shouted to us from across the street saying, “Hey you guys, come over here!”
                All of us looked around at each other perplexed and walked across the street to go meet the woman who called us over to her. When we walked over to the other side of the street we exchanged hellos, then Claire got straight to the point asking, “So how old are you guys?” After she found out we were all over 21 she nodded at the SUV while confidently saying, “Alright, let’s go to the bar.” We told her, “Thanks, but no thanks.” She was dumbfounded we actually turned her down. Claire hopped back into the SUV her friend was driving and said, “Those people are lame. Let’s go.”
                Why is this a big deal? Well, it is the boldest way I have ever been evangelized to in my life, and I see Biblical principles in how she handled her situation, even though it was for a false gospel. Let me explain. Claire and her friend were on their way to a specific destination and wanted to take people with them. They were so determined to have more people go with them to the bar that they were willing to stop driving, get out of the car, initiate and engage in a conversation with five people they had never met in order to persuade them to come to the bar. I am still thinking about the boldness of her actions, and am learning from her example.
As a believer in Jesus I know I am on the road to heaven, just like Claire knew she was on the road to the bar. Her final destination, the bar, was Claire’s focus. As believers we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16b) and our focus should be on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). We should be concerned about what the final destination of the lost will be just as Jesus was concerned about us when we were lost. The Bible commands us in Matthew 6:33 to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” Whatever people seek first in their lives will rule and reign over every aspect of their lives. The actions Claire took were a byproduct of what she was seeking first, a good time at the bar. As Christians we must seek first His kingdom and righteousness and this will influence every decision we make in life.
As believers we should desire to have as many people as possible join us in our journey to heaven, just like Claire wanted to have as many people as possible join her on the road to the bar. This is a direct command of Christ, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). Being obedient to Christ means following his command to make disciples by preaching (Romans 10:14) and teaching them the good news of Jesus Christ.
As a Christian, I should be willing to stop what I am doing in order to talk to people who are not on the road to heaven just as Claire was willing to stop and try to convince us to hop in their car. Because we have the mind of Christ, and eternity is on our minds, we should know and realize what is most important in every situation; Christ. So it doesn’t matter what I am doing, proclaiming the word of God is the most important thing. I need to be willing to stop what I am doing instead of hiding behind being “busy.” It would have been more convenient for Claire and her friend to keep driving to the bar without stopping for anything. But they chose to overlook their minor inconvenience of stopping and getting to the bar a little later in order to invite people to come with them. Christians should overlook inconveniences in order to obey the commands of Christ. This isn’t easy, but we are not called to an easy life, we are called to obedience.
As a Christian I should be completely unashamed of who I follow, where I am headed, and what my life is about, similar to how Claire was completely honest about what she was doing and what she wanted us to do. Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Luke 9:26 also says, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Living an unashamed Christian life by the power of the Spirit should be an aspiration for all of us who believe Jesus is God. Too many times Christians “confess” or “admit” they are Christians as if following Jesus is something regrettable or something to feel sorry about instead of boldly proclaiming what we believe and showing people the joy we have in Christ.
                 I was amazed at Claire’s boldness and how straight forward she was in preaching her gospel to us. Claire was going to the bar. She had the desire to have more people go to the bar with her which prompted her to look and see people who were not going to the bar.  In seeing us she wanted to have us go with her, which resulted in her acting upon her feelings. This is very similar to how we as Christians should be living our lives. We have to go on the mission God sends us on while having a desire to seek out the lost, and we need to look in order to see people in need. Once we see them the Holy Spirit may speak to us, then we must act upon what the Holy Spirit reveals for us to do. Go, desire, look, see, listen, act, and repeat. This is the way of life for a Christian.
Claire’s actions reminded me of some scripture. In Acts 8 Philip has been preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is on a mission to tell people about Jesus and is going to see what the Lord has for him. In verse 26 an angel of the Lord tells him to go to a specific place. Philip obeys, and when he gets there the Holy Spirit says in verse 29, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” By this time Philip has gone on his mission, has seen people in need (because he was looking for people to share Jesus with), and has heard from the Spirit. The next part of the story is incredible. Verse 30 says, “Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked.” This is absolutely incredible! The action Philip takes is to run towards the Eunuch because the Spirit told him to “go to that chariot and stay near it.” The act of running shows Philip’s eagerness to obey God and speak truth into the Eunuch’s life. Philip was extremely bold in approaching a stranger by running after him, and then initiating a conversation with him by asking a question. Philip’s purpose was to share the gospel of Jesus. The Eunuch is saved and baptized on the spot!
So what have I learned? I learned I must be bolder in my proclamation of Jesus. If a bar hopper has the courage and boldness to try to convince people to go to a bar with her, then we as Christians, should have the courage and boldness to talk to people about Jesus so they can meet Jesus.  I must be willing to go on the mission God sends me on while having a desire to find the lost, willing to look for people who are in need, willing to act upon the Spirit’s guidance after I see them, and willing to be rejected by this person. Ultimately, if people reject the gospel we preach, they are rejecting Jesus. This is why I am praying to have the boldness of a bar hopper.

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