One of my favorite things to do is participate in our Alpha group each semester. I love being around people who are exploring faith and trying to decide what they believe about Jesus. From the very beginning of our church, we have strived to create an environment where people can come and take things at their own pace. We will nudge, ask questions, and pray for you; but at the end of the day, you have to make your own decision to follow Jesus.
From the time I first made a decision to follow Jesus, I had an internal desire to share his Good News with other people. My mom recently found and showed me a little booklet I made when I was in early grade school. The booklet shows the plan of salvation and offers people a decision to follow Jesus at the end. She said that I used that book on my grandpa. Apparently, I told him if he didn’t turn to Jesus, he would go to hell. How would you like your seven-year-old grandson telling you to turn or burn?
I’ve gotten more gentle with my methods over time. Over the next two days, Peter is going to give us a much better approach—one that’s much more in line with how we do Alpha as a church.
Remember, Peter is writing to a group of mistreated followers of Jesus. They lived with constant threats and concern for their lives. As mostly peasants and slaves, the majority of them were constantly mistreated. Somehow, even against this backdrop, they were called to influence those around them with compassion and love, and be a shining light for Jesus.
Peter encourages the Christ-followers to be eager to do good. Have you ever noticed how a person who is eager to do good sticks out? My kids’ responses to my requests to take out the trash or clean the dishes span a wide range. Sometimes I’m met with the look of disgust, and other times they are compliant. What’s really surprising is when they do it without being asked. That’s being eager to do good.
An employee, a friend, a child, a spouse, a house-worker who is “eager to do good” shines. Their life sticks out because it is uncommon.
When we live like this, we will still encounter moments when we’re treated unjustly. When we find ourselves in unjust situations, Peter reminds us that our applause, approval, and advancement comes from God. Every eager-to-do-good moment of your life is captured on God’s feed.
We don’t need to live with fear; instead, we replace our worry with worship. What if I could make a choice to turn every moment of worry into worship? When I don’t know the future, I can trust and thank God that He has a solution in mind. When your boss skips over your hard work, you can still give glory to the God who sees it all. You can replace your fear of lay-offs with a trust in the Lord who has you in His hands.
When we live like this, people will ask us questions. Our neighbors, family members, co-workers, and friends will be curious. Then, we are called to have a response to their curiosity. Have you ever noticed how certain people’s lives have a way of making us ask questions? Sometimes their lives are confusing in a weird way. Other times people are so different that you want to get close and know why!
Where does this come from? It comes from a real and abiding connection to the living God. It flows out of friendship with God. It is the result of a deep awareness of grace. The life that piques curiosity is filled with the HOPE of Jesus’ ability to sustain us in the most difficult of circumstances.
Let’s all put down our judgmental approaches and recognize that the greatest gift we can give the world is a flourishing relationship with God—one where we’re ready to do good and we trust God to bless and reward our faithfulness.