Great Commission Christmas
December 15, 2022 | Jeff Patton
Imagine with me a nationwide evangelistic campaign that engages millions of people throughout our country. Christ followers are inviting non-Christians to join them for worship at their local churches. Well, imagine no longer because this is the evangelistic opportunity that is gift wrapped for us each Christmas. There is no doubt that Christmas is a phenomenal opportunity for the gospel, especially since Christmas is so popular in America.
Yes, we live in a culture where Christmas is often twisted up with crazy consumerism, sentimental Hallmark movies and drunken holiday parties, but there are some incredible opportunities as well.
As part of our initiative called Love Your Neighbor, we have been trying to take advantage of those opportunities in a way that would honor God. We’ve asked you to identify some “new” neighbors or friends to get to know and pray for. As a simple way of doing this, we’ve encouraged you to do something like taking them some homemade cookies this Christmas.
It’s all part of a long-term investment in building authentic relationships with our neighbors. These types of engagement with our neighbors should be NORMAL Christianity. Biblically speaking, it’s what we do and it’s who we are as believers in Christ. So as Christmas fades into 2023, keep it up as a long obedience in the same direction.
In the context of loving our neighbors well, we are asking God to open a door of opportunity for us to share our hope in Christ. The ground of their hearts is softened by both our prayers (we speak to God about men before we speak to men about God) and our love. The ground of our hearts is softened by pushing through our fears of rejection and by pondering God’s incredible kindness to us in Christ.
God’s spirit quickens our minds with verses like Romans 10:14-15,
"How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Or by 1 Peter 3:15-16,
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
Or finally, by Matthew 4:19,
“Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” (The Message)
Then what? When the time is right and we’re ready, what’s next?
Our job may be to till the soil, water, fertilize, or weed it. It may be to plant the seed. Like the sower in the parable found in Matthew 13, we cast the seed widely and trust God to give a harvest.
Christmas is a time to spread the WORD that Christ is born, that the savior of the world has come, to spread the Good News far and wide.
One writer put it this way: “Much falls along the path and appears to have no effect (v. 19); some is received with seasonal joy, but fades under the troubles of the new year (vv. 20–21); and only a fraction grows into mature, enduring fruitfulness (v. 23).” That’s not on us. Our job is to love, to serve and to speak. God’s job is to save. Our job is to invite, God’s job is to help them understand. Embracing the season’s popularity means treating Christmas like the evangelistic opportunity that it is.
We have two special Christmas Eve services (Friday, December 23rd at 7:00pm and Saturday, December 24th at 3:30pm) to engage and invite the very ones we have been praying for, the very ones we are seeking to love and encourage. Folks, what a grand opportunity!!!
As you take this next crucial step to invite your neighbors to join you at one of our Christmas Eve services, make sure you do three key things:
- Avoid a take it or leave it approach. Make the invitation specific. Let them know this is a very special time for you and your family and you would love to share this “tradition” of attending a Christmas Eve service with them.
- Either pick them up and bring them or be waiting for them outside as they arrive. God will honor this genuine and very personal approach.
- Set up a time to follow up with them soon after the 1st of the year. (More on that encounter later)
Oh…and the most important thing, continue to pray for them. As Tony Evans says, “Prayer is the means by which God has established for God’s people to INVITE (there’s our word again) the spiritual into the physical, and the invisible realm into the visible realm.” He wants to use us but first he must work in us and hopefully he has done both over the past few weeks.
It’s an honor to be your Pastor. Merry Christmas from our staff and Elders!!! Looking forward to seeing you at our Christmas Eve services with a bunch of our neighbors.