Embracing God's Heart for Outsiders
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:14-16
I’ve been thinking about this question today, “Why do we want our church to grow?” For pastors and church members alike, there can be some poor motivations for church growth. If you’ve been involved in churches for very long, you’ve probably experienced some of those poor motivations. But, rather than focusing on the negative today, I’d like to focus on the most exciting positive reason we want our church to grow. Are you ready for it? “Jesus wants His church to grow!” It’s true.
Throughout the scriptures we frequently hear of God’s heart for the outsider. To be sure, God loves His sheep (those who are already His people). But Jesus has “other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.” In the original context Jesus was opening up the kingdom of God to people who were not already Jews. But we continue to read throughout the New Testament that God has a desire and plan to draw people from all different tribes, tongues, nations, and peoples to Himself. God has a heart for outsiders. He cares about people who are lost, confused, rebellious, hurting, scared, lonely, addicted, and the list goes on and on.
Not only that, but He calls us, His people to care about people who are outsiders (who don’t yet know Jesus). The apostle Paul gives us a compelling model of how we are to care for outsiders:
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:2-6
We are called to pray for opportunities to proclaim Christ. We are called to proclaim the good news about Jesus with those who don’t know Him. We are called to live wise lives in front of outsiders, making the most of the opportunities we have to associate with them. Our conversation is to be gracious, well-seasoned with the flavorful and preserving gospel, and prepared with spirit-guided intelligent answers to the questions outsiders ask us.
What an exciting opportunity we have to partner with God is reaching out to outsiders! Would you spend some time in prayer today asking God to give you His heart for outsiders and then opportunities to lead them to our wonderful Savior?