Go Tell It on the Mountain, Over the Hills and to Your Neighbor
December 16, 2021
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"Go, tell it on the mountains,
over the hills and everywhere,
go, tell it on the mountain,
that Jesus Christ is born."
Go Tell it on the Mountain is an African American spiritual song dating back to 1865. It is now known as a Christmas hymn announcing that Jesus Christ is born. When I sing this wondrous song, I think of Isaiah 52:7, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'"
As the hymn begins, it announces that we need to proclaim Jesus from the mountains, over the hills to everywhere. But I often think that the church that so joyously sings this classic during the Advent season fails to see the disconnect. They seldom realize that they neglect to share the good news with the people that the Lord has brought into their life.
Instead of climbing a mountain, or going overseas, maybe we need to begin by crossing our street and telling our neighbor the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to sing Go & Tell it to your neighbor that Jesus Christ is born.
In John chapter four, we see a perfect example of this with the Samaritan woman telling her neighbors of finding Jesus Christ. In John 4:25-26, we read:
The woman said, "I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am He." Immediately she wanted to share her faith with others, so she went into the village and told the men she had met the Messiah.
John 4:28-30 goes on to say:
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" They came out of the town and made their way toward Him."
As disciples of Jesus begin to realize that the Lord wants them to bloom where He has planted them, they will open their eyes to see that the harvest field is all around them. As the Samaritan woman told her neighbors about Jesus, we see the Lord opening their hearts to come to faith in Him. We read in John 4:39-42,
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did.' So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and He stayed two days. And because of His words, many more became believers. They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this Man really is the Savior of the world."
These Samaritans began their spiritual walk by trusting in what their neighbor said. "Now we know!" was their happy testimony and the joy of a faithful neighbor who told them about Jesus.
I wrote the Go & Tell Evangelism Workshop to help disciples of Jesus not only begin to pray for their neighbor's salvation but also learn how to tell them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I received this testimonial from Lance, who took the Go & Tell Evangelism Workshop and began to pray for his neighbor Ray. Lance did not tell it on the mountain, but he told Ray across the street. Here is Lance's story:
Several years ago, a new family moved in next door, right at the same time we were preparing to sell our house. Ray was friendly from the start, and he seemed genuinely disappointed when he learned we were actively trying to sell. It was easy to see that Ray needed Jesus from the first interaction. So, I began to pray for his salvation.
A month later, we found our next house and were mere hours from putting our house on the market and locking in an offer on the new house. Then something strange happened. Our realtor called and said the seller had backed out, sold to another buyer, and had no recourse. It didn't seem fair or logical, and we were very disappointed, so we decided to end the search and unpack our boxes.
Over the next two years, Ray and I swapped stories about home improvement projects. He would text me to ask how I remodeled this or that or where an electrical or plumbing line ran. Beyond our house similarities, Ray's preschool son was the same age as my preschool daughter, which resulted in several outdoor conversations as the kids played together.
Many days a week, I would stop to pray, asking God to draw Ray to Himself, that Ray would seek to know Him, that Ray would believe the Scriptures, that Ray would believe in Christ and become saved. There was zero evidence of spiritual interest in all my interactions with Ray. His God was making money, evident by the long hours he worked to serve that master.
Recently, Ray and I went to breakfast. After an hour of good food and conversation, I told Ray about a man in our church who went into cardiac arrest right at the start of the sermon. Thankfully a nurse and a defibrillator were close by, thus saving him from certain physical death.
Ray then shared that he had been in a severe car accident five years earlier and had almost died. So, I asked the question, "Ray, what if you had died that day? Where would you be now?" Ray asked, "What do you mean, like heaven or hell? I don't know."
"Ray," I said, "would you like to know where you would've gone?" "Yes," he said. So, I asked him if he was a good person, to which he answered the way most lost people do, with a confident "yes." I went through several of the 10 Commandments, which are God's mirror, to show us how far from perfection we fall, revealing our need for a Savior.
Ray answered "yes" to all the questions about lying, stealing, blaspheming, adultery, and murder. "Ray, if God were to judge you by the standard of His law, would you be innocent or guilty? Would you rightfully deserve heaven or hell?" In these moments, you could see on Ray's face the heavy conviction of sin, and with a broken heart, he answered, "I'd be guilty, and I would deserve hell."
"Does this concern you Ray," I asked, even though I already could see the answer in his eyes. He uttered a "yes," and then I got the opportunity I'd been praying for the past two years, the chance to tell a broken Ray about the good news of the gospel.
After I shared what God had done for guilty sinners by sending Jesus to die in our place, Ray started asking questions. We talked about grace, forgiveness, salvation, and the cross for the next ninety minutes.
"What are you going to do Ray," I asked? And then Ray uttered the most life-changing phrase known to humanity, "I want to accept Jesus."
I offered to lead him through prayer, but Ray wanted to do it, and it was the most simple, beautiful, heartfelt cry for salvation I've ever heard. When he said, "Amen," I said, "Ray, do you know what just happened? Jesus saved you from all of your sins, even the ones that nobody knows. God has forgiven you and granted you the gift of eternal life." Ray smiled and said, "I know, I feel like a weight just fell off my shoulders."
A couple of weeks later, our family was roasting s'mores in the backyard fire pit. Ray and his son stopped over for a few minutes, and the conversation somehow went toward an event that didn't happen two years earlier. Ray asked me if we possibly missed the opportunity to move so that he could be saved? My wife chimed in with a tear-filled, "Yes, Ray, that was God's plan! I'm so glad we didn't move, and there are others on our street who need to hear the same message about Jesus."
"Go, tell it on the mountains,
over the hills and across the street,
go, tell it to your neighbor,
that Jesus Christ is born."
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