Sermon: To Our Community
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”(NIV)
Certain days we never forget some are happy days birthday - first bike - marriage - birth of children
Other days that are very sad: death of a family member; loss of a job, betrayal by a friend.
This is true not only for individuals but for groups as well.
Dec. 7, 1941 –a day that will live in infamy. Those over 80 will remember it well.
Nov. 22, 1963 Those over 55
Sept. 11, 2001 those over 20
On these tragic days it seems that pain and deep sorrow has broken into normality of daily living.
Those happy days remind us of the presence of good, - wow somebody loves me – life is good – I am blessed
Those sad days remind us of the presence of evil, in the case of 9/11 we are reminded of the hatred that people harbor, the battle of good verses evil.
In each of those difficult and painful instances whether individually or corporately, as Christians we turn to God and the scriptures to try and find meaning. Whether it is the death of your loved one or a national tragedy, there is a tension between forgetting completely about them and focusing on them too much.
I wonder what would have happened if you had known the world trade center would be attacked that day. You not just had a hunch but you knew it was going to happen. would you have warned others? Most people would have blown you off and called you crazy but it’s possible some would have heeded your warning and left the building and been saved.
If we believe the Bible is true, it does many things for us: it gives us historical lessons from the OT, it gives us great and precious promises from Jesus in the gospels, it gives us guidelines to live a life pleasing to God in the NT, it does something else: it gives us a glimpse of the future.
John 3:36 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.(NIV)Romans 2:5-11 5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.(NIV)Rev. 21: 5-85 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”(NIV)
There is going to come a great and terrible day when the wrath of God will be poured out on those who reject him that will far exceed the tragedy of 9/11.
I don’t like to think about that. It bothers me a lot. It nauseates me.
In fact it bothers God a lot also.
He says it is not his will that any should perish but all come to everlasting life.
John 3:16 love you so much I will send my son to die for you so you don’t have to receive this wrath. But if you persist in denying me, mocking me, ignoring me, and rejecting me there will be a day of reckoning.
We like to think that everyone is a good person. Lets just all get along – it would be absolutely wonderful if that would happen. Problem is there are evil people in the world – people whose hearts are filled with hatred – terrorists who no matter how nice you are to them think it is their duty to kill you. If possible, be at peace with everyone. Bible tells us that in this life there will always be wars and rumors of wars – always be hatred, greed, jealousy and anger while we are in these bodies.
If you knew the trade centers were to be hit the next day, is it your moral responsibility to warn people? If we believe the Bible that there is a day of accountability coming, is it our moral responsibility to tell people? If so how do we do it?
Along with the great commission in Matt. 28, we find a challenge in Acts 1: 7-8 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”(NIV)
When we try to make disciples without being under the power of the holy spirit it usually doesn’t turn out so good. We are scared and feel totally inadequate to do so. Jesus knows that so he says: I’ll give you someone to help you – the holy spirit – he will tell you what to say. Start with Jerusalem – as a church our Jerusalem is the area around Bayside – we are trying to concentrate on Safety Harbor, Oldsmar in our group outreach.
For you it is where you live – Clearwater, Westchase, Palm Harbor etc. then we reach out from there.
How do we connect with our community in such a way that we can be heard?
Through our life experiences with them, we earn the right to share the gospel.
A. What we don’t do: condemn people – tell them they are wrong – judge their behavior – point out their faults – tell them how much better you are than them. Certain people and pastors do that. Feel real good about themselves – done our duty- but very few lives are changed.
B. We don’t ridicule them
no one likes to be made fun of; to be embarrassed, to feel put down. Beliefs mocked.
Instead we love them, pray for them and serve them in such a way that they know you really do care about their lives more than a spiritual scalp, more than just adding another number to the church but that you desire for them to join you in the family of God.
C. We don’t love the church’s culture more than we love the churches mission.
I love to come to this facility and interact with this family and enjoy each others company and worship together. And if I am not careful, I forget about the fact there is a community out there that needs Christ.
LifeWay Research did a survey about how non Christians felt about Christians – the results were so startling that CNN picked up the story and did a feature on it where they interviewed Ed Stetzer VP of Life Way.
79% felt that Christianity was more about organized religion that about loving God and people.
72% said the church was full of hypocrites who said one thing but did another.
44% said Christians get on their nerves.
In talking about reaching his community, Paul gives us an amazing scripture.
I Cor. 9:22-23 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.(NIV)
This does not mean we adopt the values of the world or engage in sinful behavior so that we can be considered a part of the gang.
It does mean that we engage our culture in such a way that we are heard. Relevance is simply a tool not a goal; our goal is to share the good news of the gospel.
We cannot afford the luxury of staying in our holy huddle while people outside the circle are careening toward the day of wrath. But sharing the gospel cannot be done in an obnoxious, arrogant, and know it all way.
How do we do this?
A. Treat people with dignity
Our great example of this is Jesus; did you know that he never called anyone a sinner. He listened to the voices of the hurting, he broke bread with sinners, he showed compassion for the down and outers and he gave respect to women and Samaritans. Read the gospels; his harshest words were for the Pharisees – those who wanted to be known as the Spiritual elite. He once said your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. What? They follow the minute letter of the law. That’s not righteousness – that’s legalism. He says what about your heart? Do you love people – are you serving them? Are you sharing the truth in love with them?
Story of Jay Woodberry is a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. Tells the story of his daughter in law – in the aftermath of 9/11 many Afghans fled to Pakistan where they were put in refugee camps. A Christian organization noticing that very few children had shoes brought in hundreds of pairs of sandals. Instead of just giving them the sandals, they sat the children down, washed their feet, applied medicine to the sores and then prayed for them.
Some months later a teacher asked her students: who are the best Muslims? One girl answered: the “kafirs” or the infidels. Quite taken aback the teacher asked why would you say something like that? The girl replied: the Taliban killed my father but the kafirs washed my feet.”
Kind of sounds like something Jesus might do.
How do we reach our community?
Serve them individually Many of you are already doing this already. We have different circles of people where we have influence.
…have influence in an office environment where your work ethic and attitude have earned you the right to share the gospel.
….have influence with the homeless where your providing for their material needs have earned you the right to share the gospel.
….have influence in your schools where your relationships have earned you that right.
….have influence among those incarcerated
….have influence among athletes, bikers, fishermen, musicians, or another area of your life where you interact with those of a similar interest as yourself.
Said last week that we Come to Bayside where we learn a framework of truth that transforms us into authentic persons of faith that can go into all the world and share the good news of Jesus.
We serve them through joint efforts
Although we have done that in some ways in the past, had our musicians play for Christmas events, given to non profits organizations that help the needy, provided a free eggstravaganza for children at Easter; we are going to make a concentrated effort to increase our involvement in the community.
Acts of service are not always convenient – it usually means you have to give up something. Acts of service can be messy. Acts of service can be time consuming. Acts of service can be costly but acts of service are a Godly response to a Godless society. It is doing something more than just railing against the evils of society; it is making a difference.