Our guest post this week is from our friend, Gary Liederbach. Gary is a husband to his vivacious wife Nancy, father to his beautiful teenage daughters Paris and Milan, friend to many, and faithful servant of Jesus Christ. Gary also pastors One Direction Community in Madison, Alabama. ODC is a missional community of disciples who gather in house churches; ODC’s mission is to relationally reach out to those who society would label “un-churched” by living out Jesus’ commandments to: Love God, Love Our Neighbor, and Make Disciples. (ODC’s Website: https://onedirectioncommunity.squarespace.com/). Thanks for sharing with us this week, Gary!
Last night during Community Dinners — more information about this gathering available here. I looked at all the empty chairs that a hungry person, both from lack of physical and spiritual food, could be sitting in at our table and receive both foods. During Monday Night Worship that followed. Find more information about that here. I prayed over this and asked the Holy Spirit to help me discern why seats were empty. He led me to this passage I was not expecting because the passage was directed towards me.
“Knowing their thoughts, he (Jesus) said to them, “…Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:25, 30)
The persecuted church in China is growing, and they are gathering. When you look into it, one of the reasons for growth is that every Christian there tells someone daily about Jesus. They are compelled to share the Gospel each day with at least one person. When asked why this is, they say that the Government officials and others who are persecuting them, throwing them in prison, and trying to eradicate the church, daily do not share the Gospel. Each day our persecutors refrain from speaking the name of Jesus. If there is a day we do not share the Gospel or tell someone of Jesus, whose side are we on that day? Who do we align ourselves with: Jesus or our persecutors? Are we on the side that gathers or scatters? “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30). Jesus knew their thoughts. He knows yours and mine as well.
If every day you are nice to people, do what is right, treat them fairly and show them respect but never share with them the Gospel, your friends and popularity will increase, but your ministry will decrease. You appear to be gathering, but to what? You are, in reality, scattering. Jesus said the following about when we come before him one day, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me,” (Matthew 7:22). His main and only concern is that you know HIM! His heart is not about the nice things you did, but did you know him? His desire for you is not to simply introduce people to kindness but to introduce people to Him! What is the benefit to all the good you do for someone if you never gather them to Jesus and they are scattered from his presence when he states, “I never knew you.”
I hear people say, “Share the Gospel, and at times use words.” When I hear this I sigh inside. That is like saying “feed the hungry, and at times give them food!” How wrong would it be to invite a person who is perishing from starvation over to your house for dinner, treat them kindly as a guest, share a delightful evening with them, and yet never serve them a meal? Then wave at them as they leave your home as starving as when they entered! How wrong is it to invite a person who is perishing spiritually into a relationship with you, treat them like a friend, spend quality time with them yet never share the Gospel with them? Then hug them before you walk away from them as spiritually dead as when you met them? Paul tells us, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved,” 1 Cor. 15:1-2
Say a church of 20 people commits to sharing the gospel like the Christians in China – to share Jesus with one person a day. They each do this and fail 98% of the time to lead a person to faith. With a failure rate of 98%, only a 2% success rate, at the end of one year that church would grow to 146 people. If those 146 members share once a day, and still have a pitiful 98% failure rate, at the end of year 2 that church would have grown to 1,065 members. Same failure rate, and at the end of year 3 it grows to 7,780. Failing 98% of the time, at the end of year 4 it grows to 56,794. And at the end of year 5 it grows to 414,596!!! With a 98% failure rate! This is how the church in China is exploding. This is how Jesus intended our churches in the west to explode. You can’t build churches big enough and fast enough to keep up. It is a spread of the Gospel walls cannot contain!!! Guys, we do not have to be good at it. We can fail 98% of the time! What we need to be is obedient. What we need to be is not against Jesus but with Him. We need to be on the side that gathers, not scatters.
Take time to pray today. Read this passage again:
“Knowing their thoughts, he (Jesus) said to them, “…Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12 :25, 30)
Reflect on your life and level of obedience. Whose side are you on? In what ways are you for Jesus? In what ways are you against him? In what ways are you scattering? In what ways are you gathering? Who is Jesus calling you to intentionally gather?