I was out in the neighborhood early this week when I encountered three young men that I had been ministering to on many different occasions. On this particular day I felt I needed to begin with the question, “What is stopping you from following after Jesus Christ?” This was a peculiar question to them and they began to express how they felt they already knew Jesus. So I began to ask further questions about what was going on in their lives. All three were living with women whom they were not married to. All three were satisfied with living this way with no promise of marriage. One young man even said he thought of the woman he was living with as his wife already, but had never gone to get a marriage license.
I gently challenged them to examine how they were living.
I opened the bible app on my phone to Ephesians 5: 1-6 and read it to them. I explained to them that, according to this scripture, if they really were trying to follow and live for Christ it means there should be no sexual immorality in their lives. I said not to be deceived and that the Ephesians passage said there should be no hint of darkness in our lives as followers of Jesus. Lives full of sin have no place now that we have taken Jesus up on all He has promised for all who follow after Him. After this they began to ask questions like, “How can I live like what you say?” and “Is it about my works, then, to live like this?” I then began to teach them that we are saved by grace through faith and that no work on our part can ever help us receive the promise that Jesus has already given us according to Ephesians 2:8. But we must now walk in this new way of life. In order to live in the way of Christ you need to get around other men who can teach you what that means. So out of this meeting I invited them into our men study group on Wednesdays. Each gave an excuse of why their schedules probably would interfere with this group. But I was not deterred. It’s my shepherd’s heart. Jesus was also about shepherding unbelievers 🙂
I believe that the Father’s heart is to pursue after men like these. I believe that is why I have been sent to the North side Kalamazoo neighborhood. This men’s group is just the beginning to capture each one of them for Christ. I believe in the ministry of reconciliation for each person I will encounter. I believe this is about calling Christ’s Church to pursue after the lost. I am reminded of Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus has given us authority to make disciples of all nations. We must teach them to do the will of the Father which is to live our lives according to the truth found in the scriptures and in really knowing Christ Jesus.
Love and Peace,
Pastor Michael Stewart
Vanguard North Church