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Corner of Church St and Market St Wollongong Sunday 9am livestream
Engage, evangelise, establish and equip…
As one not well practised in sitting and waiting patiently for the Lord, and with no solid employment plans as 2018 began, I enrolled in a unit of theological study!
Pastoral Evangelism seemed an appropriate choice. It was well aligned with the ‘E’s that we at St Michael’s had committed to, and seemingly helpful in assisting with the pastoral visiting that I had volunteered to try! I could only trust that a sovereign God might somehow use all this in his kingdom economy… engaging, evangelising, establishing and equipping!
Now as September ends, the semester of study is a faint memory and my work circumstances have again changed. In all this, under God, my greatest encouragement has come from a melding of the course content with the practicalities of pastorally caring for those that God has placed around me.
I have come to see that even seasoned Christians need to ‘re-evangelise’ each other when adversity strikes… life’s circumstances can sometimes challenge one’s theology. Reminding each other of God’s salvation plan equips each of us to continue to hope, endure and grow through hardship (1 Peter 1:3-13).
As it turns out, the 4 E’s are not the linear progression that I had at first imagined … sometimes when people around us are struggling our first need is to re- engage with them before reminding them of gospel truths that offer a lifeline amidst the suffering. Different aspects of the gospel can impact upon each of us at different seasons of our lives.
For me, God’s Creation – particularly having our first son – first got my spiritual attention. At other times forgiveness has loomed largest; now, as the birthdays tick by, the promise of bodily resurrection holds my focus!
Yet, despite my fickleness, God continues to show me what a multifaceted treasure that we have in Jesus.
Hebrews summarises this well, calling Jesus both the ‘author and perfector’ (or ‘pioneer and perfector’) of our faith and hope (Hebrews 12:2). This description testifies that Jesus both knows our unique story and has already entered into it to purchase for us a perfect conclusion. Through his perfect sacrifice the price for our not-so-perfect-life has already been paid.
Believers can now confidently hope in future healing (resurrection) together with present power to triumph over earthly suffering. (See 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1: 13-14: a deposit guaranteeing inheritance of eternal life.)
As last week’s morning sermon reminded us, we have been equipped with God’s Holy Spirit to encourage one another in both the good and the bad times and to serve one another in love. Speaking to each other in ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs,’ (Eph 5:19)… singing, listening, talking, reading, praying and practical service all provide opportunities to point each other to our Lord.
Pastoral evangelism can bring Christ and his loving compassion to bear on each relational circumstance and conversation.
So, be encouraged to engage, evangelise, establish and equip so that both good news and good works might advance Christ’s name to each other and to the ends of the earth.