46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Every Tuesday morning at 6am, I meet with 7 other guys for a book study. This morning, we were discussing the last chapter of The Shepherd Leader at Home by Timothy Witmer (great book).
We meet at the local Port City Java. This location has a lounge area setup with two couches and a coffee table. We meet here because many of the men wake up, come to the study, then go straight to work. Meeting at a coffee house allows the men an opportunity to eat a breakfast sandwich, muffin or bagel, etc… In the past, I have met with groups that meet at someone’s house or in a room at church, but inevitably, someone is responsible for bringing some refreshments and/or coffee which can lead to being a burden rather than a blessing. Meeting at Port City Java removes one administrative task.
This morning, like every other morning, there were a few people sitting at open tables. At one time during our discussion, I noticed one man reading a stack of newspapers at the table closest to the lounge area. I didn’t think anything of it.
Our discussion this morning was centered on the topic of protecting our children (using the shepherd analogy from the title of the book). We all talked about times when we failed to set up boundaries for our kids, or when we weren’t on the same page with our wives for discipline, or when we punished too harshly for a minor offense. We read and sought to apply Scriptures like Psalm 23, Romans 1:28-31, Ephesians 6:1-3.
We did what we do every Tuesday morning. We laughed, we admitted faults and failures, we encouraged, and we drank coffee.
Right before we finished up, the man who had been reading the newspaper for the past 30-45 minutes gets up, taps one of the guys on the shoulder and says, “I commend you guys.” He then walks out and gets in his car and drives away. We all looked at each other and said, “What just happened?” We chuckled and kept right on going.
But what really just happened? I don’t know. No one knows. Only that guy with the orange shirt knows.
But this is what I think may have happened.
Orange shirt guy arrives to get some coffee at 6:15am and notices 7 guys already there talking, laughing and all holding the same book drinking coffee. He sees one of the guys facilitating a conversation. He hears Scripture being read throughout the conversation. He hears no cussing. He hears no crude talk or stories.
Wayne Cordero (a pastor in Hawaii) encourages his people to meet with each other and have Bible studies in coffee shops, restaurants, and other public places for this very reason. Not “to be seen”, but to “be seen.” No, I just did not type a contradictory sentence. We are not to meet in public places to be seen and take pride in how religious we are (like the OT Pharisees). Rather, we are to be salt and light to our community. The world needs to see Christ followers meeting, reading the Bible, and praying in public rather than being holed up in our fancy churches and state of the art auditoriums. The world needs to see that we are real people who struggle with real problems. The world needs to see that we are complete hypocrites, yet that does not stop us from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The world needs to see men sharing the struggles they have with other men. The world needs to see we are not ashamed of the Gospel we claim is the only way to get to a holy God. The world needs to see men and women who are not ashamed to carry and read their Bible when others are looking. The world needs to see the courageous act of praying out loud in public, not just bowing and closing your eyes for 5 seconds before a meal.
We are to “be seen”, but our intention should not “to be seen”. Let’s think intentionally how we can interact with the world around us.
Some questions to ponder:
Can meeting in public places bring glory to God? (Acts 2:46)
Are we too ashamed to meet in public? (Romans 1:16)
What does the world miss by Christians isolating themselves in private when we disciple each other? (Matthew 5:13-16)
When was the last time you were seen reading your Bible in a public place?
Can meeting in public places bring glory to ourselves? (Matthew6:5)
What should you do if you notice you are beginning to take pride in “being seen” in public? (Matthew 6:6)
Father, our heart’s desire to be salt and light for you in our fallen world. Help us to not be a light that is hidden under a bowl, or become salt that has lost its saltiness. Keep us humble so we do not get puffed up in our own righteousness.
- twitter: @jeffwenzel