Acts 19 Lesson

Getting Involved In Our Communities

GETTING TO KNOW OUR NEIGHBORS

There is an old expression, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”   The idea behind that statement is that we need to be involved in one another’s lives if we are going to be successful in our efforts to share the Gospel. If we do not know our neighbors, how do we know what they need? How can we serve them?

GETTING INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY

There was a preacher once that gave a brilliant lesson about the importance of getting involved in our communities.   The church he served was in the center of a tough neighborhood with a lot of crime.   This preacher chose to live near the church.

This was a first for this congregation. Because of the high crime, previously no other preacher had chosen to live in the area. They all drove in from the suburbs.

The preacher was active in his community.

  • He ate where they ate and would talk to them as he walked through town,  
  • He knew who was struggling, and what their struggles were,
  • He listened to people,
  • He learned about them and would ask them questions.    

This preacher shared the following with the audience:

“As I got to know people, they opened up and shared personal stories about their lives.   When they would ask for my advice or opinion, I would always quote scripture.   My answers always came from the Bible.   I did not force it on them, they had to initiate the discussion, but when they did, I always quoted scripture.”

That is how this preacher evangelized, by getting involved in his community and quoting scripture.

PAUL’S EXAMPLE

A similar thing happened with Paul and the people of Ephesus, as Luke documents in Acts 19. Consider the following exchange between Paul and the Ephesians:  

  • Paul: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

  • The Ephesians: “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

  • Paul: “Into what then were you baptized?”

  • The Ephesians: “Into John’s baptism.”

  • Paul: “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”

Luke writes in verses 5-7:

  • “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.  There were in all about twelve men.” – Acts 19:5-7.

CONCLUSION 

Because Paul was involved in the community, He knew the right question to ask (“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”), and he asked it. Like the preacher we discussed earlier, Paul’s involvement in the community was critical to his success in sharing the Gospel.

We can increase the effectiveness of our evangelical efforts by getting involved in our communities. If we take a genuine interest in the people around us, God will bless us with opportunities to share the Gospel with them.

Jesus was once asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”

He responded:

  • “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” – Mathew 22:37-40.

This begs the question: “How can we love our neighbors if we do not know anything about them?”

When Jesus was on earth, He did not isolate Himself.   He was out among the multitudes, in people’s homes, and involved in their lives. In today’s world, it can be easy to isolate ourselves and live in our own little bubbles.   With advances in technology, it can be easy to confine ourselves to our own homes and live our own lives without ever getting to know the people in our community. 

That is not how God intended for Brothers and Sisters in Christ to live! Scripture after scripture tells us about the importance of loving our neighbors. To do that, we need to know what is going on in their lives.   As we form relationships with people and they see our love for Jesus, they will ask us questions.   Like the preacher in the story above, our answers should always come from the Bible, letting the scriptures guide the discussion.  

We will end today’s lesson with the following scripture:

  • “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.   By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.” - John 13:34-35.

Comments

John

Agreed. Getting to know people takes work, sometimes a lot of work. It can be hard "putting ourselves out there" sometimes.

But from today's lesson, I see it as work that I do for the Lord. As a servant of God, we do not want to isolate ourselves.

Reply
Dan
John

I agree with you, John. People need God's people to be "shining lights in the world" even though God's people are in the midst of a "crooked and perverse generation" (Philippians 2:15).

Reply
Dan W

When our son and daughter-in-law were missionaries in Cambodia, most missionaries chose to live in American style housing in a different section of Phnom Penh from what the local residents experienced. They determined to live closer to the people, to shop where they shop, to know them.

Reply
John

Just as Paul helped the Ephesians with their Christian walks, if we are lucky, we have had others help us along the way. It is a blessing to be able to support others as they learn about and follow Christ. We all need help and support.

Reply