Christ’s Method Alone

This is the first part of the discussion for Lesson 4: The Son of God Amongst Us (26 July 2008).

In the introduction I shared this favourite quote of mine:

Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.” Ellen White, Ministry of Healing p 143.

I really like this quote because it focusses on the key elements that we see in Jesus from the gospels. It sets the tone for how we should share the gospel.

1. Desiring the good of others

Do you ever doubt that God really desires your good? That He has your best interests at heart?

It’s always good to refresh our memories about God’s love for us. Can you think of places in the gospel where this is demonstrated? The two that jump out at me are:

a. The parable of the “Prodigal Son”

In this parable we see the father (representing God), overjoyed at the return of his wayward son, doing something quite ‘unstatesman-like’ and running out to meet him.

And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.

His son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

“But his father said to the servants, `Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ Luke 15:20-24 (NLT, emphasis added)

While the act of son’s repentance is important, the father in this story seems more overwhelmed with the sheer delight of having his son back and preparing celebrations! What a wonderful picture of God.

b. The many references to Jesus being moved with ‘compassion’ and then helping by healing or teaching. Here’s just one of them:

And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. Matthew 14:14 (NKJV)

We need to be instilled with a love for people – such that we truly ‘desire their good’. We need the same compassion that Jesus had.If our motivation to evangelise stems from the desire to have others think and do as we do, then we’ll run into problems.

People can always debate theology but no one can question the witness of a Christian who is genuinely driven by compassion for their fellow man. Individuals like this truly ‘shine’ out in a dark world. This type of witness can break down barriers that otherwise would hold firm.

2. Ministering to their needs

Following on from the last point, it is not enough to have compassion from afar. We need to act.

Ellen White notes that Christ spent more time on this earth healing people rather than preaching. She expands on this thought:

There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen. The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit.

God often reaches hearts through our efforts to relieve physical suffering. Ministry of Healing p. 143, 144.

Can you think of individuals in your life who have demonstrated true Christian compassion? How were they most effective in communicating the love of God to those around them?

I can think of one elderly lady at a previous church we visited who repeatedly took visitors home for lunch. She was a lovely person and made people feel very welcome. It was a simple ministry yet a real witness.

Another lady, although herself in her 80s, was active in the local ‘Meals on Wheels’ community service.

Do you think that Christians generally strike the right balance between service and sermonising? How do we rate on this scale?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Otherwise click here to go to the last part of our discussion this week – which picks up on the third and last item of Jesus’ missionary methods, where he invited people to ‘follow Him’.

4 responses to “Christ’s Method Alone

  1. mabeljensen

    Hi – back again after a few weeks absence. I really like the Ministry of Healing quote. I often feel our church focuses too much on the evangelism and not enough on service. Perhaps it is the focus on end-times and the Gospel Commission that has resulted in this. I don’t want to lesson the importance of the Gospel Comission, but we need to remember the story of the sheep and the goats in Revelation.

    • Archos

      Evangelism begins with the body of Christ being compassionate for their neighbors. Jesus demonstrated this in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The issue with the Christian Church at large is lack of compassion for their fellow-beings.

      This can only be explained as the Laodicean effect: “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Notice the last adjective signifying a shameless condition. This sad moral situation is not a picture of the secular world; on the contrary, it is picture of the Church!

      Today the Church languishes spiritually because it lacks vision, not like in the business world but as the prophetic direction of God through His prophets. Business models will never work in spreading the Gospel. God has chosen His disciples, you and I, to do this work. The question is will we step up to the plate and do what we have been called to do?

      Proverbs 29:18
      Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (KJV)

      Jeremiah 29:19
      For they have not listened to my words,” declares the LORD, “words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either,” declares the LORD. (NIV)

      “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me’.” [Ellen White, Ministry of Healing p 143.] V;-)

    • Archos

      Read Isaiah 58, ye who claim to be children of the light. Especially do you read it again and again who have felt so reluctant to inconvenience yourselves by favoring the needy. You whose hearts and houses are too narrow to make a home for the homeless, read it; you who can see orphans and widows oppressed by the iron hand of poverty and bowed down by hardhearted worldlings, read it.

      Are you afraid that an influence will be introduced into your family that will cost you more labor, read it. Your fears may be groundless, and a blessing may come, known and realized by you every day. But if otherwise, if extra labor is called for, you can draw upon One who has promised: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily.” The reason why God’s people are not more spiritually minded and have not more faith, I have been shown, is because they are narrowed up with selfishness.

      The prophet is addressing Sabbathkeepers, not sinners, not unbelievers, but those who make great pretensions to godliness. It is not the abundance of your meetings that God accepts. It is not the numerous prayers, but the rightdoing, doing the right thing and at the right time. It is to be less self-caring and more benevolent. Our souls must expand. Then God will make them like a watered garden, whose waters fail not.

      White, E. G. Testimonies for the Church, Volume 2; 1855; 2002 (35). Pacific Press Publishing Association.

  2. Craig P

    Hi Michelle – the preaching part of evangelism is important, but I’m persuaded by EW’s comments about personal ministry / service being the most important thing in reaching people…

    Hope life is getting warmer in Mongolia these days!

    Craig

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