Have They Heard of Your Faith? by Rob Haynes
Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you … Ephesians 1:15-16a
At World Methodist Evangelism, we are committed to helping people show and share the love of Jesus. While that may be easy to say, it is much harder for many people to do. I know several folks who will gladly tell you all about a great movie they saw, a book they read, or a song they heard. However, those same people—though they may be devoted followers of Jesus—may be hesitant to share their strong faith and their love for God’s people. Yet, telling of the wonderful things we’ve learned in Jesus is way more important than the latest movie, book, or song. For many, it can be simply overwhelming to know where to start. I get it. However, that does not mean it is impossible to learn how to begin.
The church in Ephesus learned how to share their faith in Jesus, and it was closely tied to the demonstration of their love for the people in their community. It was so strong, in fact, that Paul heard about it though he was many miles away. Paul had planted this church and was staying in regular contact with them. Well, as best as he could in that day and age. From our contemporary perspective, we may look back at the churches in the Bible as full of Super-Christians. While there were certainly many faithful people, they had their challenges and difficulties. Ephesus was a cosmopolitan community, full of various pagan religions. The book of the Acts of the Apostles tells us that they were so committed to these pagan deities (and against Jesus) that they rioted at the idea that Paul would suggest they abandoned those deities for the One True God. (see Acts 19)
It was probably not easy to be a Christian in ancient Ephesus at the time of Paul’s letter. The church at Ephesus did not respond with despair and hand wringing. Nor did they huddle up and hide, looking into one another. They practiced a faith in Jesus. Just like in Ephesus, many in the culture today are proclaiming that they will follow the gods of their own design and choosing, rather than the One True God.
The Ephesian church demonstrated a faith in Jesus that was so infectious, it overflowed in their love of the people. Faith moves beyond mere belief. The integrity of our faith is evident in the living out of our beliefs. This is best done when we take seriously the fact that Jesus, the Messiah, calls us to live a transformed life that reflects the Bible’s teachings more and more every day.
Faith in Jesus is the humility to see the world as it is and the audacity to believe that God is working, even now, to bring the kingdom inaugurated in Jesus of Nazareth. To do so means that we move confidently in the assurance that God wants to transform us into windows of the Kingdom for others. Which leads us to the second thing Paul mentions: Love for the Saints.
The people of the church in Ephesus were at odds with many of their neighbors. But look at what made the difference: Their love for one another. A love that has that same bold audacity that Christ wants to—and will make—a change in other people. Do the people outside the church—those who would not consider themselves part of the church or a follower of Jesus—know that the church loves them? Or that God loves them?
Who has heard of your faith in Jesus? Or the Love for the People? Who is giving thanks for it? Living in the same fear, operating out of the same panic mindset that we see in the world, does not represent the Body of Christ well. Who wants to give thanks for that? That’s everywhere in the culture today. Rather, the Scriptures point us to something greater: the Mission of the Kingdom of God. That’s a big task, and likely the reason that many feel overwhelmed when sharing their faith. Maybe the solution is in how we view the problem.
In 1939, George Dantzig was a graduate student in California. He was studying statistics with Professor Jerzy Neyman. At the beginning of one class session, Dr. Neyman wrote two examples of unsolvable problems on the blackboard. George happened to arrive late to class that day and mistakenly thought the unsolvable problems were their homework assignment. He wrote them in his notebook and went to work. Eventually George solved both problems. Later, an ecstatic Dr. Neyrnan knocked on George’s door to share the news. A bewildered George apologized, thinking the assignment was overdue. That’s when Dr. Neyman informed George that he had solved two of statistics’ unsolvable problems. “The problems seemed to be a little harder than usual,” George later recalled. George Dantzig went on to earn his PhD in statistics and develop systems that continue to shape our world today in the areas of transportation, energy, and business. But the origin of his impact on the world can be traced back to those two problems and his attitude towards them: In his own words, “If someone had told me they were two famous unsolved problems, I probably wouldn’t have even tried to solve them.”
The beauty of sharing our faith is that it is not an unsolvable problem. Rather, Christ has already provided the solution. In His divine wisdom, he has asked us to be a part of the Mission. He is asking us to come to the problem with available hands, willing hearts, and faith in Him. Let Christ do the rest. Then others will hear of your faith and your love for the saints.