MOVING FORWARD: WORKING OUT YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING.
TEXT: – JOHN 4:39
The Gospel of John is distinctively different from the other three synoptic gospels. Those ones tell the stories John interprets through several accounts of Jesus’ discourses. Only John focuses on distinct theological themes, contrasting and comparing throughout his writing such terms; as life and death, light and darkness, belief and unbelief, truth and falsehood, love and hate.
While each Gospel presents Jesus as the Son of God, John carefully explains that by this description Jesus was “making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18). A number of times Jesus proofed His deity in an unequivocal way. This teaching is to emphatically stress what to be done in order to work out our neighbour’s salvation with fear and trembling and we must have clearly understood who they are.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Working Out: To work out something is to solve a problem to relate a specific and lasting way-out for a particular challenge. This may be by action, or by a relating an information to others. In other words, it is an active effort to be the cause for a relevant and needful event.
Neighbourhood as it is used in this passage refers to a people that can be seen within a community at a particular time. It refers to people who can be seen within a specific area. It can also be seen as those who are closely related to a person at a time which may be biologically, colleagues at work or anywhere. Neighbours for the sake of this teaching should be seen in a broader sense. People who can be seen in our environments can be said to be our neighbours.
Salvation: Salvation is the act of saving something or someone from harm which may be sickness, death or any other harmful prospect. In Christian interpretation, salvation means to get delivered from sin through Jesus Christ. It is absolute deliverance from sin or the consequences of sin through the death Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection.
Fear and Trembling: Fear in this context is constructive and positive. It does not mean to be worried, to be a coward, so it is not an irrational fear, but to have a reverence for something or someone. It is to show respect for or be in awe of something or somebody. Trembling is secondary to fear. It is another and higher level of fear. It is a vibration, a shaking, or quivering for something or someone. Fear becomes a trembling when something unique, supernatural, awesome, or mysterious suddenly happen. However, these words are sometimes used interchangeably because there is a thin line between the two.
KNOWING YOUR NEIGHBOURS
Some people do mix-up this understanding of neighbour in some instances; they think they do not have a neighbour because they live in their apartments alone. Your neighbours are:
- Your colleagues at work. (Even if you are a trader)
- Your church members
- Your family members
- Your friends
- People you see on daily basis
- Those who live very close to you
- Anyone you can help or that can help you
NOTE:– when you meet a person at any time you must ask God what He expects from you to the person. Your meeting is not for meeting sake, but for evangelism or a particular ministration. Don’t abuse opportunity.
Apostle John started his discussion by presenting Jesus as the word of life (1:1-18), he then talked about John the Baptist’s message (1: 19-34), the first disciples of Jesus are listed in 1:35-42 before the calling of Philip and Nathanael (1:43-51), Chapter 2 has the account of wedding in Cana, Jesus at the Temple and his knowledge of Human Nature. Chapter 3 gives the narration of Jesus Nicodemus, and compares between Jesus and John.
Getting to chapter 4, Jesus left Judea, and departed to Galilee due to some rumors and antagonistic attitudes that he faced in the land. But as he was passing through Samaria, he met a Samaritan woman by a well so he asked for a little water from her. Culturally, it is not lawful for a Jew to relate in such a manner with a Samaritan. It has been a long time tradition between them. Jesus revealed her past to her and the woman was dazed to see such a prophet. She became a living witness of the power of God to her neighbour.
PRAGMATIC STEPS TOWARDS WORKING OUT YOUR NEIGHBOUR’S SALVATION
- You Must Interact With Christ In Faith: – Your opportunity to communicate with Jesus must not be taking for granted. You must see it as grace to have a contact with Jesus. That will make you fit to go from his presence to your neighbours (receiving salvation is important). Note that that, “experience is the best teacher”, once you have practical experience of divine power you will greatly witness to your neighbour. If you must stand before people you must have spent your time kneeling before God to grant you strength (receiving power for the service). (Acts 1:8, Luke 9:1). Even Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights before he started to do exploit. However, this requires your faith in him that you have been granted the required strength to fulfill your mandate. (Heb. 2:4, 11:6) (Receiving assurance of the power). Interaction with God here is in stages. i.e. Receiving Salvation – Receiving Power – Receiving
- You Must Testify To All Creatures: – The grace of God on you is not for decoration. It should be a multipliable one. You are expected to yield profit for God. But how could you do this in silence? Jesus started his ministry alone before He sent out the twelve, and then the seventy. Today the ministry is here. So will you continue the task? (Mark 13:10).
- You Must Be A Truthful Person: – Who you are can also determine how effective your ministration to your environment will be. Only a truthful person can be accepted without further probe. People may not want to listen to you if you don’t have a good reputation in within your neighbourhood.
- You Must Be A Relational Person: – A relational person is an influential person. Sometimes, some Christians are not courageous to witness to their neighbours because of their character in their respective places. This is a challenge to all Christians who aspires to move the kingdom mandate to the next level to have good relationship with others so as to break new frontiers. Be part of ecumenical groups to make impact and not to discriminate or to complain. Know that if you don’t influence your environment; your environment will influence you.
- You Must Get Rid Of Your Ancient-Wrong Traditions: – traditions are long –established pattern of behavior, practices, and beliefs in a community or group of people, it is often one that has been handed down from generation to generation which has been viewed as sets of precedents that must be followed adequately as custom. Some traditions are good, while some are not relevant to this century. Some things need to be eradicated if we must work out our neighbours’ salvation. Our God doesn’t change but he changes His approaches. We must be sensitive to the need of the time. Remember that the Samaritan woman almost missed her salvation because of the Ancient- wrong traditions she has on her mind.
- You Must Be Opened To Innovations: – Not everything in this century is bad. A good Christian who is passionate for Christ should be ready to learn more. He must be teachable and not dogmatic in his evangelistic approach so as to have a lasting and pleasant impact on others. No one has monopoly of knowledge.
- You Must Allow God Of All Possibilities: – know that with God, all things are possible. God has never gives a man a task without given backup to him first, don’t ever think that you cannot witness to your neighbour God doesn’t call the qualified, but he qualified the called. You must allow God to use you for his work so that he may be glorified in the life of your neighbour and even in yourself. (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27).
SALIENT HINDRANCES TO AN EFFECTIVE WITNESSING TO OUR NEIGHBOURS
SPIRITUAL BATTLE: – Devil is our enemy; he struggles to disturb us from doing the will of the father. Sometimes when you decide to read Bible, fast, pray or witness, he quickly brings something to your way so that you can be disturbed. You need to be aware of this.
TIMIDITY:- Naturally, some people are timid. But the lord has not given us a heart of fear but strong mind. May be you may go for “deliverance”… let’s read 1 Timothy 4:11-12 &
PRESENTATION:- Failure to use the right words during evangelism is another factor. Many Christians abuse during witnessing which supposed not to be. Even Christ was not sent to the world to condemn it but to save the world. Learn how to preach without insulting your neighbour. (Proverb 15: 1)
LACK OF TRAINING: – not all of us we go to seminary but we can all be trained both locally and globally to know how best we can talk to people during evangelism to our neighbours who will not even result to any riot or misunderstanding. Our biblical exposure and practical trainings from the professional s will help us to effectively work out the salvation of our neighbours with fear and trembling. This is also vital.
SHIFT OF FOCUS:- Many have turned witnessing to church advertisement and self glorification. They preach and teach their church rather than proclaiming the goodness of God to humanity. Meanwhile, there are too many denominations which even make our neighbours to see neighbourhood witnessing as means of raising church membership. (1 Timothy 4:14-16).
SOCIAL VICES:- There are so many social vices today like kidnapping, suicide bombing and the rest that gives little or no room for hospitality which wages war towards an effective witnessing. Some are afraid of entertaining or listening to any person that is not well known. This is because several people have pretended to be preachers but they were really robbers and the likes. (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
LAZINESS: – Someone usually says that “Christianity is not for lazy people”. This is true because Christianity is a task. Anyone who is lazy will only be postponing the salvation of his/her neighbour(s) as he will continue to see reasons why he should witness to the neighbour at the moment.
IMPATIENT: – One of the peculiarities of this century is impatient. Nobody has time for anything. And what you will hear so many people saying is don’t waste my time. However, the same sets of people do have time to do some other social things that has little or no profit. (1 Timothy 4 :7-8)
Truly, ministering to one’s neighbour may be extraordinarily tedious in as much as we may be closely related. The reason is because they really know us inside-out, but God is available for us to crown our efforts if we are able to play our own role in the ranch and stay focused in the ministry that has been committed to our hands that is just the panacea to the challenges confronting our individual ministries. I ask God to grant you inner strength and unquenchable passion to win your neighbours to Christ Jesus. Amen. God Bless You!!!
Rev. J. O. Olabiyi
Chairman, Ogun baptist Conference and
Pastor, Igbala Baptist Church,
Ogun State, Nigeria.