SHARE CHRIST WITH YOUR NEIGHBOR
Among the many traditions of Southern Baptist churches, one of the more enjoyable is the custom of “pounding” new staff members. If you are unaware of this practice, the idea is when a new pastor and his family arrive, they are entering a new house with empty pantries and a bare refrigerator. With the help of the church, a pounding ensues. It may sound bruising, but in reality, it is a blessing. Church members bring a variety of items such as sugar, coffee, tea, flour and other staples. I can speak from experience — poundings are awesome. For example, thoughtful gifts like paper towels, laundry detergent and even light bulbs go a long way in making a new family feel welcomed and appreciated. The ones giving the expressions of hospitality enjoy partnering with others, meeting a need and expressing Christian love.
Love others by telling them about your experience with Christ. (40–42)
The greatest gift you can bestow on your neighbors is the news of Christ, His love for them and what He has done in your life. Our neighbors are not looking for a sermon or a theologian with all the academic answers; they are looking at us. They are watching how we live, how we react and the words we say. The challenge for each of us is obvious. We must daily demonstrate Christ has made a pivotal difference in our lives. Sharing Christ with people should not be an isolated event; it is an intentional way of life. There should not be a “Jesus switch” we turn on or off, but instead the message of Christ should permeate all we say and do.
Invite others to “come and see” about Jesus for themselves. (43–46)
We all have probably been around people telling a story about an interesting place they have visited, and it sparked an interest in us to experience the place for ourselves. They may go into great detail of things to see or events to attend once you arrive. They share vividly, wanting you to have the great experience they had. That is evangelism in a nutshell. I am still of age to appreciate the legacy of Billy Graham. I will never forget hearing him in person when I was 12 years old. God used him to share the gospel with untold millions of people around the world. While that is an incredible legacy, your friends and neighbors do not need a Billy Graham crusade to hear about Jesus — they need you. In these verses, Philip fervently shared with Nathanael he had found the one true Messiah, Jesus, the One who had been written about and prophesied for many years. “Come and see,” Philip exclaimed. We do not have to have all the answers, but we must be compelled to get others to Jesus.
Trust God to work in the hearts of others. (47–49)
By now, summer gardens have produced for the last time this year. With some rain, sunshine and work, a garden will yield results. However, none of it would be possible without the effort of planting seeds. Seed planting is precisely what we are called to do as believers. We can pray for our lost neighbors, love them and serve them, but only Jesus can save them. Seed planting is both our great pleasure and calling. Salvation is a God-sized solution to a man-made problem. You are His messenger to your neighbors. His message is grace and salvation. The world “pounds” on people enough as it is. Instead, let us be people who proclaim the hope we have in Jesus. More proclaiming and less pounding will make an eternal difference.
By Bobby McKay
Pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Brookhaven, Mississippi