Seriously. What If we began again…?

I have said many times that books by Scott Sauls should be in the hands of every single Christian without exception. I concur with our friend Christine Caine when she says, “I love everything Scott Sauls writes.” Scott’s latest, Irresistible Faith: Becoming the Kind of Christian the World Can’t Resist is no exception. On a personal note, Scott has become a deeply trusted, unwaveringly faithful friend to my husband and I. When we have hard questions that are wrestling us down, when we need prayer or a pastor’s counsel, Scott is the friend we turn to. Scott has faithfully, time and time again shared with us insightful wisdom, glasses-of-cold-water refreshment and encouragement, and an extraordinarily humble and vulnerable heart that beats like Jesus. The following words are a representation of his mind and heart, and is an adapted excerpt from Scott’s latest, direly needed book in a time such as this. We cannot esteem, appreciate or highly recommend Scott Sauls enough. It gives us joy to welcome him to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Scott Sauls

I have two daughters. To say that I am proud of them and of their endeavors would be a supreme understatement.

One such endeavor for our oldest daughter, Abby, was to build a thriving babysitting business starting in her mid-teen years.

To achieve a competitive edge (as every formidable babysitter aims to do), Abby went all-in with two simple, life-giving practices that would soon make her services irresistible to the parents and children she served.

First, she would stay off her phone and make eye contact and play with the kids until bedtime. For this, Abby became a superhero to all the kids.

Second, after bedtime she would tidy up the home—especially the main living space, sink, and kitchen—so that when the parents returned, everything would be in better shape at the endof the evening than it had been at the beginning.

For this, Abby became a superhero to all the parents.

As you might imagine, she gained a lot of loyal customers as a result. Before she knew it, she was getting more babysitting requests than she could handle.

These two simple examples provide a picture of how Jesus’ mandate to become the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and a city on a hill—or what I am these days calling Irresistible Faith—is made practical.

Irresistible faith can work in virtually any area of life, in all the places where we live, work, and play.

All it takes is some intentionality and faithfulness about a few things.

It means being fully present and engaged, and pursuing available opportunities to leave people, places, and things better than we found them—all for the love of God, who so love the world that He gave—whenever and wherever we have opportunity to do so.

 Irresistible Faith doesn’t have to happen on a grand stage. In fact, most of the time it manifests in the daily, ordinary stuff of life.

It would be fair to say that if the early Christians were taken out of the world, their neighbors would have sorely missed them.

And yet, as Christians everywhere look for small and ordinary ways to “leave it better,” the cumulative impact can have staggering effects.

Consider Jesus and the disciples. They gained favor and influence by living among their neighbors and colleagues—including those who were poor, marginalized, and forgotten—not as some power-driven or partisan “moral majority,” but as an intentional, creative, love-driven, life-giving minority who, to the chagrin of the emperors of Rome, found a way to love Rome better than Rome loved Rome.

Even Emperor Julian, who sought to exterminate Christians from the face of the earth and by virtue of this earned the nickname, “Julian the Apostate” in the history books, bemoaned in a letter to a friend that he could not defeat Christianity, because the people of Jesus tended to Rome’s poor better than Rome did.

It would be fair to say that if the early Christians were taken out of the world, their neighbors would have sorely missed them.

By and large, Christians in twenty-first-century America have let this servant-oriented way of life slip away.

Instead of living as disciples of Jesus in the world, we have in many ways become disciples of the world.

Instead of leaving marks of the kingdom on the world, we have let the world leave its mark on us.

Instead of denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following Jesus, we have instead allowed ourselves to deny our neighbors, take up our comforts, and follow our dreams.

But what if, collectively, Christians began again to love the world around us as we ourselves have been loved by Jesus?

What if, collectively, Christians began again to live in such a way that if we were taken out of the world, the world would weep, and weep, and weep some more because of the loss?

What if, collectively, Christians began again to live as salt, light, and a city on a hill, such that the world would again see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven?

Seriously. What if…?

WHAT IF . . . ?

What if Christians rather than buying things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t know, instead began to deploy money—as well as time, energy, and mindshare—that we do have on things God has determined the world does need in order to love people whom God knows and loves — to the end that God receives glory through our obedient, Irresistible Faith, and that in this, we receive our greatest joy?

What if, in the spirit of Jesus providing wine at a wedding feast (John 2:1–11) and of the audacious, forgiving father throwing a grand feast for the entire community (Luke 15:11–32), Christians became known for hosting hospitable, inclusive, and life-giving parties for friends, neighbors, colleagues, strangers, and strugglers (Matt. 22:1–14)?

What if, in the spirit of Paul intelligently and winsomely engaging Greek academics with the truth of the gospel, Christians became known for engaging in thoughtful, enriching, challenging, and honoring discourse about God, humanity, and life (Acts 17:22–34; Col. 4:6; 1 Peter 3:15)?

What if, in the spirit of the early church’s care and provision for vulnerable children and women, women experiencing the trauma of abuse and fear associated with an unplanned pregnancy began to think first of local churches, not local clinics, as comprehensively life-giving places of comfort, counsel, and care (James 1:27)?

What if, in the spirit of Scripture’s vision for marriage and sexuality, instead of condemning the world for its broken sexuality, Christians exemplified the beauty of biblical marriage by having biblical marriages — the countercultural kind in which mutual love, respect, and submission are tenderly shared between husbands and wives (Eph. 5:22–33)?

What if, as an answer to the loneliness felt by uncoupled men and women both inside and outside the church, Christians became known for nurturing communities in which every person, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status, is given the full experience of family(Matt. 12:49–50; Rom. 8:15)?

What if, in the spirit of Scripture’s vision for doing justly and loving mercy, Christians became widely known as the world’s firstand most thorough responders whenever a friend, neighbor, colleague, or stranger experiences tragedy, such as divorce, unemployment, a crippling diagnosis, a loved one’s death, or a rebellious child (Micah 6:8)?

What if, in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, Christians became widely known as those who rescue from danger, bandage wounds, and provide care and shelter to those who have been beaten, abandoned, and left for dead by the cruelty of human selfishness and greed (Luke 10:25–37)?

What if, in the spirit of Jesus’ life and teaching, Christians became widely known not only as the best kind of friends but as the best kind of enemies—responding to persecution with prayer, to scorn with kindness, to selfishness with generosity, to offense with forgiveness, to hatefulness with grace and love (Matt. 5:1–12)?

What if, in the spirit of Jesus, Christians once again became known as those who welcome sinners and eat with them—such that sinners begin to say of Christians, “I like them, and I want to be like them” (Luke 15:1–2, 11–32)?

What if, in the spirit of the early church, Christians once again began to enjoy the favor of all the people—not because of how like the world they have become through assimilation and accommodation, but because of how unlike the world they have become through their lives of love and good deeds?

What if Christians once again, collectively and comprehensively and universally, lived such compelling lives that the Lord added daily to their number those who were being saved (Acts 2:42–47)?

And what if—and this is ever so important in consideration of these other what-ifs—we realized that the pressure to make such things happen is completely off our shoulders because the ultimate responsibility and power for change has been placed squarely on Jesus’ shoulders.

Jesus, and only Jesus, holds the keys for unlocking the flourishing of the people, places, and things that He not only created but sustains and restores and will ultimately perfect in glory. “He comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.” And “of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7, emphasis added).

Indeed, we are the salt of the earth, the city on a hill, and the light of the world—but the light we shine is His light and not our own—just as the moon, having no light of its own, nonetheless was created to reflect the light of the sun in such a way that it illuminates the darkness of night.

His light is available to us every single day.

To begin, all we have to do is walk outside, bask in it, and receive it.

And we do this, watch out. Because when we do this, we just might become the best kind of dangerous.

 

Scott Sauls is senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Before CPC, Scott was a lead and preaching pastor alongside Tim Keller with New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. He lives in Nashville with his lovely wife, Patti, and daughters, Abigail and Ellie. He blogs regularly—seriously bookmark him—and can be found being humble light on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

About Irresistible Faith, Raechel Myers, Founder of She Reads Truth says, “As our family’s pastor, Scott consistently challenges us to be ‘people of the book.’” Donald Miller says, “I miss the kind of church Scott is describing in this book, and I don’t think I am alone.” Gabe and Rebekah Lyons wrote, that Irresistible Faith “is an antidote to much that is wrong with our western, American version of Christianity.”

I deeply concur. Irresistible Faith: Becoming the Kind of Christian the World Can’t Resist is one phenomenal, readable, and surprisingly comprehensive book about what it can look like for us to follow Jesus in truth and beauty. These pages echo the heart of God. This is an absolute must-read that I cannot recommend highly enough.

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