The Importance of Being the People of God

I think the sermon for Sunday is done except for a few transitional paragraphs.


Here is the introductory paragraph that will go before what you read yesterday.

I tried to save some money during the last snowstorm. Instead of calling someone with a big truck and a snowplow to come and clear out our long driveway, I decided to get in the Blazer and drive up and down the drive for twenty minutes trying to make a good trail to get through. I did a pretty good job. I’ve only fallen off of the trail and got my car stuck a few times, and none of those times, thankfully, were anything that going in forward and reverse for five minutes couldn’t handle.


Here is the second half that will go immediately behind what I wrote yesterday.

When Lindsay’s Grandma Tootie was on her deathbed, the family decided that I would be the one to go in to her and share the good news of the kingdom of God. She had always been a little cynical toward the church except for when they had bingo there, so I was very hesitant to go in there and share with her. Grandma Tootie was the type of older person who wasn’t afraid to share her mind, so I was worried that she might tell me off or something like that. I had no idea how it would go. After much prayer and consideration of what she needed to hear, I went in and shared with her today’s passage along with a few others. I told her that she had probably seen many Christians who claim the name but don’t live as if they are redeemed. She, in her long life, had probably seen more fake Christians than I can imagine. But I shared that God is still God and he shouldn’t be judged by the failures of his people who he is quick to forgive.

After sharing with her and praying with her, she responded that she wanted to be one of God’s children. We baptized her and shared her first communion with her less than one week before her funeral. It was one of the most touching moments in my life.

Now, I’m not up here trying to say that this passage is the ultimate evangelism tool. I don’t think it is. But I do think this passage contains the secret to the ultimate evangelism tool, living the Christian life together as the people of God. If we were to examine the other side of this passage we will see what God wants out of us, to become people who don’t just claim to be his people but really are.

God is looking for a group of people that he doesn’t have to tell non-Christians, “Judge between me and my people.” He wants a group of people that he can say, “Look at them. You can see me through them.” Are we willing to step up, make the sacrifices necessary, and be His people?

Notice that it is people and not person. A faithful Christian’s witness is often thwarted by the witness of people who call themselves Christian but refuse to live out the Christian life. Each member of the body is important to the effective witnessing of the whole body. We are not individual Christians living separate lives from one another but Christians that form one body together. Take for instance the vineyard illustration. If there was some good grapes in a vineyard full of bad grapes, would it really matter? It wouldn’t if I was the one eating the grapes. After five rotten grapes in a row I would move on. At some point I think all of us would give up on the vineyard.

If I was a grape seed in training and was trying to find the Master of grapes in order to mold me into a grape worthy for a king, I would not seek after the farmer in charge of a vineyard with thousands of rotten grapes. I would see the rotten grapes and move on. I wouldn’t want to be like them. There is nothing more detrimental to the witness of the Christian faith than lukewarm or even cold Christians. But on the flipside of that, there is nothing more effective for evangelism than Christians being the people of God, living our lives together in Christ, and loving one another as if we truly are brothers and sisters in a healthy family. We are called to be the people of God.

Let me read some passages from 1 Peter.

1 Peter 2:9

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

We are to proclaim the mighty acts of God.

1 Peter 2:11

“Beloved I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.”

People that don’t know God and even malign us as evildoers will eventually glorify God because of the way we conducted ourselves around them.

1 Peter 3:1

“Wives in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands, so that even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

Wives are win over their husbands without a word but with the conduct of their lives.

1 Peter 3:13

“Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”

We need to always be ready to share with people the reason why we do what is right. This presumes that the people of God will be doing what is right.

As many of you already know, I sell games for a living. Board or card games are one of my favorite things in the whole world. We sell many obscure and unheard of board games - mainly European imports. When I’m trying to sell one – if all I do is explain what it is about, I will never sell it. However, if I place the game in their hands and explain it to them, the chance of me selling it goes up. If I have the game set up, and show them how it works, my chance of selling it increase a little more. If I play a game with them and teach them the game, my chances of selling it increase even more.

We are wired to respond to action. We get words all the time. We are trained that actions usually don’t lie but words often do. A fake Christian can tell you all about the theological truths in conversation. A genuine Christian can show you the love of Christ in their life.

Now, we have to be careful, especially those of us who have ever worked in sales. Jesus should never be turned into a sales pitch. Nothing about church or Jesus should ever be turned into a sales pitch. We are not trying to sell people on Christianity. We are just trying to be faithful to God, which inevitably draws people to Jesus. Too often we make the goal of our lives evangelism or something else. We try to take the work of God into our own hands. The goal of our lives should never be evangelism or anything else, it should be loving God by being the people He intended us to be. In being people that God can say, “Look at them and see me,” we will inevitably be used by God to bring people to him. We will be used by God to do all of the lesser things that we sometimes make our spiritual priority.

God wants the world to know Him. He wants our neighbors to know Him. He wants our co-workers to know Him. He wants to shine wherever we go. We need to make sure that we are living our lives in such a way that we aren’t an obstacle to the work of God but are actually participants. We need to make sure we place the U-Haul trailer behind the car, rather than in front. Have you ever seen anyone trying to drive with a U-Haul trailer in front of the car? Everything has its place. But the most important thing we should focus on is us loving God by being the people he planned for us to be.

Life is often like driving down a snowy, unplowed driveway that has only two tire trails for us to drive through. My father’s four wheel drive blazer made a path in our driveway. It was up to me to keep my car in that path in order to get through. It is like that with our lives in Christ. We can either stay focused on the way that is prepared for us or we will have a very rough time ahead. Sometimes we might get stuck. Sometimes we might get stuck so badly that we will need others to help us out. Whether we are stuck in a rut and need some help getting back on the trail Jesus blazed before us, or just temporarily sidetracked, or trying faithfully to abide in the rut, I hope we all will be reinvigorated in our focus to be the people of God and stay in the path Jesus blazed; our lives will be much more fulfilling and the souls of our neighbors unknowingly depend upon it.

Watch out for the potholes.