Think of how many times you’ve engaged with somebody about Christianity only to find that the person has already been turned off by “hypocritical” Christians. I once interacted with a mechanic who told me he had “no interest in religion”, and I wondered if this was his experience.
In our post-Christian culture that is hostile and antagonistic to Christianity, how are we to conduct ourselves as we look forward to and pray for a day of visitation from God? The days in which we live are as my friend Mike Bickle describes, both “alarming and exciting.” The reality is that while immorality, dishonesty, homosexuality, and incivility are on one side, urgency, fervency, expectancy, and opportunity are emerging increasingly on our side through passionate and purposeful disciples of Jesus.
Peter the Apostle addressed this same challenge when he wrote his first epistle to believers in the midst of a similar time. He outlined three components that they and we should focus upon to be influencers in the days when God is preparing to visit the land.
“Live your lives honorably (keep your behavior excellent - Amplified) among the Gentiles, so though they speak against you as evildoers, they shall see your good works (observe your good deeds - Amplified) and thereby glorify God in the day of visitation” (1Peter 2:12).
In his letter to the persecuted Christians, Peter called them to provoke curiosity among the pagans by their conduct in three specific realms: government, the workplace, and the home. When onlookers inquired about the quality of their lifestyle, they followed I Pet. 3:15: "Always be ready to give an answer to every man who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you."
Wherever God has placed us, it’s imperative that we be people of authenticity, integrity, charity, and humility. We really are the only Bible that many people will ever read.
Daniel was one who stood up in a fallen culture of idolatry and immorality similar to America today. As a young man, he was promoted to governmental leadership because of his excellent behavior and healthy appearance, being found “Ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers” (Daniel 10:20). Daniel was a statesman leader in four different administrations and one king placed him over 120 officials. “Daniel was preferred above the presidents and officials because an excellent spirit was in him” (Daniel 6:4).
Tertullian, a Christian author, wrote in 200 A.D. that the early Christian community was having a major impact on people turning to Christ because of their excellent behavior in a time of visitation.
– They avoided entertainment like gory gladiatorial spectacles.
– No one was jailed for crimes but only for his faith.
– No slaves were seen in Christian services.
– As plagues hit, they ministered to the sick and dying while the heathen deserted them.
– They cared for discarded babies and wounded cast into the streets.
Onlookers observed, “See how these Christians love one another.” Multitudes were positively influenced then converted. May this be said again of us in our developing day of visitation not only because of private church services but more importantly our engagement and exemplary example in the public sphere.
Observable Good Deeds
Peter exhorted the early Christian community the same way Paul did with those in Ephesus. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
Good works do not save us, but we prove the genuineness of our faith through them.
Opportunities to express God's love through good works are all around. They often provide a pathway for sharing the transformative message of the gospel through our testimony. This is why I offer my personal testimony tract to a few people daily after serving them practically.
Here are some examples of observable good deeds.
– Reaching out compassionately to a single woman in a crisis pregnancy situation
– Engaging in efforts to alleviate suffering and hopelessness among the sick, homeless and dying
– Affording support and encouragement to someone going through an unexpected death, divorce or job loss
– Providing a warm welcome to a new neighbor with a meal and kind offer of assistance in a time of disorientation and feeling alone
– Helping a mother with groceries as she juggles her baby and uncooperative toddler
Time of Visitation
A time of visitation is when there is an in breaking of God to rescue a collapsing people. Although many are currently asleep concerning the serious condition of America, God is stirring the hearts of believers to pray passionately and act obediently for another spiritual awakening. God's 2 Chronicles 7:14 promise to bring healing to our land can happen if we heed His call.
We have seen this in the past on many occasions when God's people awakened to the urgency of the hour and responded accordingly. Reflect upon the many awakenings and great revivals of the past.
When people lament, “the church in America is dying,” I remind them of Lazarus who stunk and actually was dead but whom Jesus raised up four days after his burial. Likewise, God is moving across this land and calling forth a prophetic people to align with His promise for the “harvest at the end of the age” (Matthew 13:39). Our “excellent behavior” and “observable good deeds” in a “time of visitation” provides the powerful catalyst as we share the gospel faithfully today.
Revivalist Leonard Ravenhill said, “The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity!” May we all do our part to influence others to see the incredible harvest for which we all long before His glorious return.
Larry Tomczak, www.larrytomczak.com