Jesus said, “If I be lifted up from the earth,[on the cross] I will draw all people to me.”
How Do We Lift Jesus Up so Others Will be Drawn to Him? That is the huge question facing the church. Back in the day, we sang, “Lift Jesus higher; lift him up for the world to see.” In our naiveté, we believed our spirit-filled praise would draw people to him. But we were wrong. God gladly receives our worship but this does not draw men to us or to Christ.
The Church is Divided on how to do it. Some use creative programs, clever signs or feed and house the poor and homeless. Others just preach the gospel. Some feel it’s both social action and evangelism. Are they drawing people to Christ? Church researchers say most are not.
The Church’s Greatest Success in drawing people to Christ was demonstrated by that band of believers Luke describes in Acts. Thousands came. They didn’t come for programs, to be fed or for preaching. Most were pilgrims from many lands in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. When unlearned Galileans miraculously spoke their own languages they came in droves. In a few weeks others came to see a man born lame, walking around praising God by the power of Jesus’ name. Both were supernatural events. Both drew crowds who were amazed at God’s mighty acts, demonstrated by His people. They remained and heard the gospel preached. Many believed and were baptized. In just a few weeks God added thousands to their number.
Can This Happen Again? A minority of churches in the U.S. believe Christians can and must validate its message to the world by exhibiting God’s supernatural power. We’re blessed to fellowship in such a church.
Pentecost’s Greatest Miracles however, were neither tongues nor healings. a] Firstly, it was the love and unity these Jews had with Jesus Christ and with one another. Jews were divided into many sects, as Christians are today. They were Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes, Scribes and just plain folk. I’ve heard them say, “Get four of us Jews together and you will get five opinions.” Yet when the day of Pentecost came, these Jewish Christians “were of one mind and heart,” obeying Jesus’ command, “love one another as I have loved you.” b] The second great miracle was that thousands of souls believed and were brought into union with Jesus Christ and with the body of Christ in Jerusalem.
The mutual love and harmony of these believers was key in the redemption of many and the rapid growth of the church. Outsiders saw and were impressed at how they cared for one another in practical ways. They were drawn to them by the miracles, but stayed because of the love. Luke reports, “Everyone around was in awe at the signs and wonders… And all the believers lived in wonderful harmony… so that each person’s need was met… enjoying the goodwill of all the people.and their numbers grew daily. (Acts 2: 43, 44, 47).
We All Believe John 3: 16. God’s love gave Christ to us. His love took him to the cross for us. When we begin to demonstrate that same miracle agape love among ourselves, breaking down walls that divide us, we will have our miracles again. Many will commit to Jesus. I’ve seen it three times in my life and pray to see it again. Miracles draw them; God’s love among His people keeps them. Jesus said, our love and unity authenticates our witness to the world.
O Lord, we join with you praying for your church. May we move toward each other in fellowship, that the world might believe. Help us to break down walls and bring your divided body into more unity—the same harmony you have as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN
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