I do want to continue this topic of building the church though. I know this is a struggle for many. However, I see in Scripture that there is a joy in those who have been transformed by God's grace that leads them to be a part of Jesus' initiative to build His church. I think this is seen so clearly in the man who Jesus cast the demons out of in Luke 8:26-39. Jesus changes him and although he'd rather go and be with Jesus right then (vs. 38), when Jesus says no and tells him to "return to [your] home, and declare how much God has done for you," he gladly does it. In fact, the bible tells us that he "went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him." I really think this is what we should be like. Why? Because we're led by obedience to Jesus and the joy of the Holy Spirit.
So what keeps me from living this way? I think if I'm honest, it's fear. I want to have a good relationship with my neighbors. I mean, 1 Timothy 3:7 tells me that I "must be well thought of by outsiders." Outsiders certainly includes my neighbors, right? I'm afraid of what they will think of me if I bring up the gospel.
However, as I was reading in Luke last week I came across this passage again. Shouldn't we be more fearful of this verse than of our neighbors/coworkers not being offended by the truth?
Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
The truth is, if everyone is speaking well of me because I'm just saying what they want to hear and am fearful of bringing up the truth of the gospel, then I should really evaluate and worry. 1 Timothy 3:7 (mentioned above) is referring to my reputation. Am I living like Christ or do I have a reputation of doing wrong? Paul's concern is how the church and gospel are portrayed to the world. If it is hidden... it is not portrayed well (or at all).
I know that some people will be offended by the gospel. That has been the case since Jesus walked this earth. It was true for him; it was true for Peter; it was true for Paul; it was true for Stephen; and it will be true of me (2 Timothy 3:12). But am I so joyful that my name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20) that I will arm myself with the same thinking as Christ (1 Peter 4:1), not be surprised or ashamed when persecution comes (1 Peter 4:12, 16) but rejoice that I was considered worthy to suffer dishonor for Jesus' name (Acts 5:41)?
Let it be so, Lord!