As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord (Acts 13:42-44).
The new school year is here! It’s go time!
Here’s a question for you: What would you do if the whole campus showed up to your first service?
Now, if you’re like me, the first thing you think when you read that is, “That’s not going to happen.” Unless you have a surprisingly small campus, that’s not even logistically possible.
And that’s kind of the point. What if more people respond than you are prepared for? What will you do?
It’s a good problem to have. But how many of you are expecting it to happen?
It’s happened before. It will happen again. It might just happen to you.
At Pisidian Antioch, so many people wanted to hear about Jesus that the whole city showed up. Are you expecting an enthusiastic response?
Because it makes a lot of sense that people would respond with a lot of enthusiasm. The words of Jesus, the teachings of the apostles, are the words of life. Why wouldn’t someone love to hear it? Why wouldn’t someone want to know more?
Our society is cynical to an extreme. And we, as people living in this society, often share that cynicism. And people often respond cynically to the Gospel.
But if we expect them to respond cynically, if we ourselves are cynical about it, we send them the message that it just isn’t true. That it isn’t worth knowing.
If you are cynical in your expectations, people will pick that up from you. And they will be cynical about your message. Because if you expect people to respond negatively to your message, you’re telling people that your message is something to respond cynically to.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Are you expecting God to do something big on your campus this year? Don’t just be vague. Picture scenarios.
The whole campus shows up to your first service. Does that thought excite you or does it make you worry? Do you think of that and say, “Yes! So many people would hear the Gospel of Jesus!” Or do you think, “How would we ever meet everyone?” Or do you think, “That will just never happen because our ministry is….”
Another scenario: A hundred people accept Jesus into their lives and respond loudly and ecstatically at the altar with people crying, shouting and falling down overwhelmed with the Spirit. Reading that, are you thinking, “Thank God for such an amazing response!” Or do you think, “Those people sound like you’re acting weird.” Or maybe, “That sounds awfully messy.”
I will be honest: I tend to look at the negatives first. If the whole campus showed up to my first meeting, I might just have a panic attack, overwhelmed with the number of people and the logistics of getting everyone in the room, making sure fire code is observed, making sure everyone can hear, making sure our leaders are making connections.
If a hundred people are at the altar and acting crazy in their response to God, my first instinct is to think, “That’s out of order. How am I going to get these people to act appropriately?”
And that first instinct is wrong.
If people are genuinely responding to God, on what grounds can I possibly tell them to stop? I should be rejoicing with them, not judging them for how they express their happiness. If all 20,000 students on the Missouri State University campus showed up at our first service, my first response should be to thank God that the students want to hear about Jesus, not to worry about it.
Don’t ever be anything less than enthusiastic about the ministry you do. If you are, you are telling people the ministry isn’t important, or even that it’s a bad thing.
Do you really believe God wants to change people’s lives?
Do you really believe God wants what’s best for these people? That they’ll be better than they were?
Do you really believe Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life? Or do you, on some level, believe our culture’s belief that Jesus is one way, a truth, and a life?
Do you really believe people need to hear the Gospel, believe it, and be changed by it?
Do you really believe it’s the Good News?
If you do, let it show. Remember it whenever you’re sharing the Gospel. Remember it whenever you’re inviting someone to your small group. Remember it whenever you make a new friend.
And if you don’t, pray the words of the man in Mark 9:24:
I believe; help my unbelief!