By Terry Ivy
As we continue investigating the New Testament model of ‘church,’ the next thing which stands out is how the Lord uses all the ‘wrong people.’ Of course, I say this tongue in cheek as only the Lord can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. However, when we compare the members of the early church to the our middle and upper class fellowships, we see a stark contrast.
We leaders hate to admit it…but we target the ‘money people.’ They can fund our projects, support our needs and put our church finances at ease as they immediately come with a dividend. This stings, but time and time again I have seen fellow Pastors ‘suck up’ to those in the community who have financial success, while ignoring and even standing aloof from those who were in real need. To appease our conscience we send outreach into the poor neighborhoods and projects, but we dare not have these poor little unkept families come and smudge up our nice rooms and sanctuary. So we use a place out side our facilities to minister to them. God help us! We are hypocrites.
Therefore, we have the middle and upper class snobbery and statistics show a steady decline of membership among mainline churches over the past couple of decades. The NT church had the lowly, the poor, the outcasts and they turned the world upside down with the gospel. They shook the Roman Empire in a matter of 30 years! What’s the difference between them and our modern church age?
They genuinely offered the gospel to all men… not just the socially desirable ones. Our failure to do the same reveals our lack of understanding what the gospel is. All men fell in Adam. (Rom.5:12,18) All have sinned and come short of God’s glory. (Rom.3:23) God is not willing that any would perish but that all would repent. (2Pet.3:9) God wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Tim.2:4) Therefore, we are to proclaim the gospel and reach out to all. (Matt.28:19, Mk.16:15, Lk.24:47)
What did the NT church get for proclaiming the gospel to all? They got all the wrong people.
The Down and Outers: Outcasts of society who needed salvation.
- Murderer and Blasphemer - Paul (1Tim.1:13, 1Cor.15:9, Acts 8:1, Acts 9:1)
- Fornicators - Cretans (Tit.3:3, 1Cor.6:18)
- Incestuous – Corinthians (1Cor.5:1)
- Liars - Cretans (Tit.1:12)
- Drunkards – Corinthians (1Cor.11:21)
- Idolaters – Corinthians (1Cor.6:9)
- Foolish - Cretans (Tit.3:3)
- Adulterers – Corinthians (1Cor.6:9)
- Effeminate – Corinthians (1Cor.6:9)
- Envious - Cretans (Tit.3:3)
- Lustful - Cretans, Corinthians (Tit.3;3)
- Haters - Cretans (Tit.3:3)
- Slaves - Onesimus (Phil.16)
The Up and Outers: The respected of society who also needed salvation.
- Privileged and Religious – Paul, he is on both lists. (Phil.3:5-6)
- Roman Soldiers – (Phil.4:22 – “Caesar’s Household”)
- Doctors – Luke (Col.4:14)Merchants – Lydia (Acts 16:14)
- Lawyers – Zenas (Tit. 3:13)
- Business Families – Aquila, Priscilla (Acts 18:2-3)
- Chamberlains (City Treasurer) – Erastus (Rom.16:23)
We need the ‘wrong people’ in our churches again. Those who have been forgiven much will love much (Lk. 7:47) and move out to others with a passion and desire to see their friends and family come to Christ. Let us look around in our churches…do you see any down and outers? Any up and outers? Or just middle class lukewarmers? All men, regardless of social class need the new birth in Christ…not just the ones which make us look good.
Let us go out to ALL and compel them to come to God’s marvelous supper of truth, repentance, forgiveness and life. (Lk. 14:15-24) God has always used the wrong people. After all, He uses you and me!
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