From the Evangelist Desk October 2010.
Christ’s Shop Front.
Sometimes I believe that we are the shop front for Christ within today’s society. If we agree that we are a shop front for Christ, what are we selling? What do we have that will attract people into our shop? What is our product range? Do we have any special offers? ‘Buy one get one free, I said buy one and get one free!’
Many people drink to release themselves of the daily stresses of life, but within our shop we have a special kind of 100% proof Spirit that when used correctly can pick anyone up and give them the courage to face the stresses and stains of life again.
John 20:22 ‘And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.’
The Spirit that we are able to offer by the Grace of God cannot be bottled like the liquid spirit of which we sometimes turn. No it is breathed on us and then works its way within us to fill us with the Grace of God.
We have no worries about failing the breathalyser because the more we are filled with this Spirit the more good works we are able to do. Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Do others see this very special free to use Spirit that we are taught about as Christians? Do they see it working in our daily lives? Do they see the Spirit filling our church buildings and brimming out into the community?
What else could we have on display within our Christ shop front? How about the ‘Word’ made live? This is where as Christian’s we bring to life God’s Word spoken through the Bible. We help those less fortunate than ourselves. We welcome and offer assistance to all the modern Samaritans of this world, those who do not know how to believe, or those who just do not want to believe.
Acts 13:44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. What a wonderful conversion rate, nearly a whole city gathered. How would we cope with something like this? In Chepstow if half the town gathered to hear the word that would mean nearly 9000 people. We would have to rethink church and the church building.
Our shop front also offers total and absolute forgiveness of sins through the sacraments, where we are given the privilege of sharing in the Eucharist, which John Macquarrie in his book, A guide to the sacraments, says, ‘Is an outward visible sign of an inward and Spiritual Grace.’ What a wonder to share with others.
What else does our Christ’s shop front have to offer? How about, ‘come in and be at Peace’, spend sometime sitting quietly set apart from this noisy world. We promise not to send anyone to give you the hard sell. Job 22:21 “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.”
It has been reported that our church buildings offer people a chance to spend some time with the Lord on their terms, not feeling threatened by well meaning Christians. Many people will visit a church during their break periods and sit quietly reflecting and finding an inner peace. But if we continue to lock the doors of our churches how are people going to be able to continue this act? How are people that do not understand that God is all around them going to find a space to commune with the Lord?
We also have an abundance of love on the front display of our Christ shop front. A love that accepts all people, that is not judgmental, that is pure and all giving. John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. And 1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Our shop front should also be one of the most welcoming and inviting places that people have ever seen. A place where they want to visit and come in to see what is on offer. A place where they feel that they are being welcomed and cared for. A place where they can feel safe and at ease. Matthew 11:30 “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
We must also remember that we as individuals are also Christ’s shop front. Or should I say we are the shop keepers? We are Christ’s shop keepers alive and vibrant, willing to share the boundless wares of the store, giving freely without conditions.
Remember, we are all ambassadors for Christ and people will view our Christ shop front by what we are displaying. Let us all pray that our shop will attract people and that we will be the good shop keepers, always willing to serve and never tiring.
Yours in Christ.
© Rick Hayes, October 2010