Flawed GEMs

On Sunday afternoon the Family Group Leaders of our congregation came over to our place for lunch. We talked about principles and practicals of what it takes to have great evangelistic meetings (G.E.M.s for short) in our homes. I especially found it inspiring to hear the people present talk about the reasons they first came to a GEM and why they came back. It reminded me that God is at work in people’s lives in ways we cannot see or anticipate.

We discussed such issues as; good forward planning, full involvement of the group, engaging topics, well crafted discussions and questions, relevant and non self-righteous sharing, friendliness, lack of religious jargon, and, of course, the important subject of food (yes, it was the men that brought that up). All of these matters are very significant, but as I sit here today I feel called to offer myself a quick ‘however’.
The ‘however’ is this. No GEM will be perfect, so let us not get stressed out if mistakes are made. Indeed, I do not think that most of the GEMs involving Jesus followed all of our practicals. What about the banquet at Levi’s home? Jesus got criticised for eating with the wrong people,

“Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”” (Luke 5:29–30 NIV)

It wasn’t the right kind of GEM for the perspective of the Pharisees, but, mind you, it gave him an excellent opportunity for a lesson.

“Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”” (Luke 5:31–32 NIV)

Or how about the healing of the paralytic? The owner of the house and perhaps many in the crowd cannot have been too thrilled when they felt ceiling dust dropping onto their heads,

“Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralysed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”” (Mark 2:3–5 NIV)

If that isn’t a distraction from the purpose of a GEM I don’t know what is. But, again, Jesus turns a messed-up situation into a powerful opportunity to teach. He does not need perfect conditions for a GEM that glorifies God.
So the next time you are at a GEM and things do not all go to plan, don’t panic. Perhaps God has a different idea on this particular occasion as to how he is going to make an impact on the people present so that they will hear the gospel. The key issue is to keep our focus on what God is doing among the people rather than on what we are doing.

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