This year will be my first year to experience the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. I’m VERY excited….only taken me almost eight years to buy a ticket, but better late than never, right??
Here me out: the carnival atmosphere has a few similarities to the church atmosphere. There’s always a service being provided, there are staff around to inform you, activities to engage you, and people in the crowd are on the look-out for something.
They may not know what that something is, but they’re looking to find it. At a carnival, “it” is probably a good time. At a church, “it” is shaped a little more like Jesus. But the most important thing carnivals and church both have in common is people.
And while the gospel is definitely more satisfying long-term than a funnel cake, it still can be difficult for people to “buy”. That’s where we come in.
If I’ve lost you on this carnival metaphor, here’s the bottom line: we (as volunteers and as Christians) have a responsibility to introduce people to the gospel in a genuine and honest way, being comfortable in imperfection but active in our mission.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”Mark 16:15
Our responsibility is pretty black and white – create more disciples, spread the gospel by loving God’s people. While that seems like a really unattainable task sometimes, you’re already doing it! Your “world” may be your family, your workplace, and even the church! And because you’re in a position to serve, you are spreading the gospel through your service.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.Ephesians 5:1-2
“Imitators of God”… I love that. You’ve heard about the 1 Corinthians 13 thing, right? You insert your name everywhere it says “love” to see if you match up to the cornerstone of Love, and you can do the same with someone you’re pursuing relationally. It’s very convicting and will give you an idea of what you should work on to imitate Christ. (I would look at The Message version of that chapter – it’s my favorite!)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…Romans 3:23
Newsflash: you will never be able to earn the victory or righteousness that is required to enter heaven. But we know that because we know that God, in his mercy, already died to make us clean, defeat death, and tear the veil that separated us from God. We can approach him boldly knowing that he wants us because we’re his children that he created in his image. And finally…
Iron sharpens iron, as one man sharpens another.Proverbs 27:17
Do you know how iron is sharpened? A blacksmith heats the metal and hammers out its impurities, forming it into the shape it needs to become. Iron is typically heat-treated and hammered several times before it’s cooled in water to set it. Being active in the church is the same. You need people teaching you, molding you, setting you up for what’s to come, because that’s what Jesus does for us. And there will be seasons where you need to sharpen someone else. Dull iron is not sharpened by passivity.
My favorite carnival ride is the ferris wheel. Obvious choice, I know, but it just looks so whimsical that it pretty much pulls me like a magnet.
If we think of our service like a ferris wheel, we’ll experience highs and lows. We may even get stuck a couple of times. But you have to know when to stop riding in circles and walk into action.
There are great views at the top, but nothing like the iron-sharpening relationships you’ll experience with those at the bottom.