God-fearers. Its a name that has captured my attention as I've taught through the book of Acts. In Acts 10 Cornelius the Roman centurion was called a God-fearer. "He and his family were devout and God-fearing, he gave to those who were in need and prayed regularly to the poor."(10:2) The Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 displayed similar traits. Not to mention Lydia in Acts 16, although she was called a 'God-worshiper.'
They were all upright, moral, pillars of society, who sought God in prayer and worship, and were respected by their colleagues. They were seeking God but not yet saved. Some of us would write them off as legalists and conservatives, but in actual fact God seemed to like God-fearers. Their hearts were soft and their minds were open, even though they were still approaching God by their own efforts. This is why the gospel was such good news for them. They found that their religion did not save. Legalism did not work. Moralism did not satisfy. But when they heard the gospel God opened their hearts to the message. (16:15) Once that happened, God used them to open up new doors for new regions for the gospel.
I've come to appreciate some God-fearers in our city. It seems like a very ripe field for harvest. Some have been going to church for years. Many have a faith of sorts, and a strong sense of moral and ethical absolute.
They may be a bit stiff and starchy!
But don't fear them or dismiss them too easily.
Once God opens their hearts to embrace the scandalous message of His grace, and they repent of self-righteousness, they become high-impact players in the kingdom.