They tell me that
being a preacher’s kid can be difficult for a young child because everyone has
different expectations and ideas about how they should act or behave. It can be
a bit daunting at times trying to live up to everyone’s opinion. But sometimes
they can be better theologians than their parents could ever hope to be.
I heard an older
preachers wife tell the story that one day she told her son to go and wash up
for supper. He replied that his hands didn’t look dirty and she began to
explain to him that there were germs living in all the dirt he’d been playing
in. He looked up at his mother and got this really disgusted look on his face. He
said, “Germs and Jesus! Germs and Jesus! That’s all I ever hear around this house!
And I’ve never seen either one!”
That little boy is
not all that different from us. I mean if we can be totally honest with one
another, we would have to admit that we are not really comfortable believing in
something we have never seen. A lot of people are like that.
Remember how Thomas
reacted to the news that Jesus had risen from the dead? John 20:25 tells us: ‘”…he said to (the other disciples), ‘Unless I
see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put
my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’”
Because of that one
statement he has been hung with the moniker “Doubting Thomas” But his only
struggle was having difficulty believing in something he had not seen and
touched. And we identify with that more than we would care to admit.
The point is that
if we are struggling with our faith, then how in the world are we supposed to
share it? I’m sure that all of us have
had to deal with that question. Every one of us have had a crisis of faith
somewhere in our lives, and struggled with how we were to share something we
weren’t sure of.
Well thankfully the
Bible gives us some hints about how we are to tell our story. Look with me at
our text this morning from 1 John 1:1-9.
In this text we will see what John had to say about telling your story. (Read
Here in John’s
first letter we find the Apostle saying: “… I
have seen, I have heard, I have touched this Jesus AND that’s what I’ve been
preaching about.” John says that he believes so strongly in this Jesus that
he was proclaiming “to you what we have
seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us….”
Now, I have heard
my whole life that we would be more faithful, more trusting, more evangelistic if
we, like the Apostle John, could claim to have seen and touched and heard
Jesus. You’d think that it would be easier for us to convince people about
Jesus if we ourselves had actually seen and touched Him.
What we all too
often overlook is that the Gospels repeatedly point out that even when people personally
saw the miraculous power of Jesus, they still rejected Him. Even when they
heard from the lips of those who had personally seen Jesus they still would not
believe. Being an eye-witness to Jesus did not make it easier to convince
people to become Christians.
Today we are called
to live a life of faith, and according to the Hebrew writer if we saw Jesus
there would be no need for faith. We
read in Hebrews 11 that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction
of things not seen.”
Our community is
filled with people who are unchurched and they aren’t necessarily looking for
miracles and appearances of Christ. You see there are people in our community
that have not necessarily rejected God - they’ve rejected “church.”
The question that we
have been called to answer with our lives is not “Is Christianity true?” what
we have been called to answer is “Does Christianity work?”
In other words, just
like the people in John’s day the unchurched today want to hear about what you’ve
seen, what you’ve touched, what you’ve heard.
What difference does this whole church and Christianity thing make? How
does it make your life better? What story are you telling?
It’s like a woman
who ran an ad in the local paper: “Lost 50 pounds! Selling my fat clothes, they’re
in good condition”. She was bombarded with phone calls, but nobody wanted to
buy the clothes, they all wanted to know how she had lost the 50 pounds.
The callers wanted
to know about something that had changed her life hoping that this something
could change their lives too!!! That’s what the unchurched are really looking
for. They want to know if Jesus really works in your life. Now, there are 2 ways I can think of that will help your
friends decide if this Jesus works in your life:
First, people can hear your story.
I believe this is
vital to the life of any church, to be filled with people who have a story of
what a difference Jesus has made in their lives. Some churches have people share their
testimony on a regular basis, but in the Churches of Christ we have been guilty
of staying away from that and I think that it has hurt us. We never talk about it so we never think about
it? So let me ask you:
Why did you
become a Christian?
How has being a
Christian changed the way your life has turned out?
Why are you a
There are so many
of us who have never given much thought to those questions. We never give much
thought to why we are Christians or even to why we first became Christians. We
simply go thru the motions of going to church and Sunday school and Bible
studies. But often times we do these things without a thought to why we do
That’s why for some
Christians, Christianity has become a habit, and even though it may be a good
or even great habit it is still a habit. And a habit is something we can do
with out thinking. That’s why many of us have a hard time explaining to others
why they should love Jesus like they do, because we are not so clear ourselves.
So, the first way
is to help people understand how Jesus has worked in your life, and we do that
by knowing our story.
The second way you can convince them Jesus
works is if they can see Jesus in your life.
On the way home
from church a little girl who said, “Mom, I’ve been thinking, my teacher this
morning said God is bigger than we are. Is that true?” “Yes, that’s true,” the
mother replied. “He also said that God lives within us. Is that true too?” Again
the mother replied, “Yes.” “Well,” said the girl. “If God is bigger than us and
He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”
Can you honestly
say that Jesus shows thru your life? By being here today you are basically
claiming that you are a disciple of Christ. I mean you made the effort to get
out of bed, brave the heat and show up, that counts for something, right. But
do you just claim to be a Christian, or does your life show that you are
Let me ask it a
different way, if you didn’t tell someone that you were a Christian would they
know anyway? If you never mentioned that you were a member at Park Central
would your life style show that you were different than the rest of the world? I
know I am guilty and you may be just as guilty of the fact that often times
there is not that much of a difference.
And that’s not because Port Arthur, Port Acres, Port Neches, and
Nederland are Godly places. It’s because too many of us gripe, gossip, and
complain just as much as the rest of the world.
5:22-23 the Spirit led Paul to give believers a check list of sorts to see how
we are doing. Paul writes “But the fruit
of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Paul is not saying
that we walk around and check others with this list, this is a personal
exercise. Paul says if you show these qualities in your life, people will see
Jesus in you. This is something that we need to check on a daily basis. And we
cannot try to have more love, or try to have more self-control. Paul says that
if the Spirit is living and thriving inside of us these things will be present
in our lives.
So how do you check
yourself? Let’s just look at the fruit of having joy. Well, honestly do you
feel joy. Now this is not happiness,
happiness comes from things and outward experiences; your children clean up
their rooms without being asked, your husband remembers your birthday without being
reminded, you find a great deal on boneless chicken breasts at HEB.
The fruit of joy
comes from your relationship with God, and is from inward experiences. Do
people see you being filled with joy? When people are around you do they see
you being at peace? Contented with your life? Or do they see you as one who
complains about things instead?
The reason that I
said joy is inward is because if you are breathing there are going to be times
when you complain. In fact, I would guess that many of you have complained at
least once this week. We all tend to complain when life gets uncomfortable or
someone has chapped our hide. But the truth is that there are some folks who
claim to follow Christ but they have developed that trait of complaining down
to a fine art.
I once knew a man
that reminded me of a rose. He did beautiful things for the church. He’d worked
with the youth; he’d been actively involved in outreach for church, worked with
missions. He was extremely talented. He was just like a rose, so much was
beautiful about him. But roses have thorns, and so did he. Whenever you were
around him all he did was complain. He complained about the preacher, the elders,
the song leader, the way the church did this or did not do that. He never
seemed to be happy. He had no joy in his life.
He was just like a
rose. There was so much that was beautiful about him. But being around him was
like holding on to the stem of a rose loaded with thorns. He had no joy in him and
that made him really uncomfortable to be around. Do you know someone like that?
Are you like that?
complain a lot about how things are going at work, or at home, or at church?
They might say “Well you don’t understand my situation. You don’t understand
the type of people I have to deal with!”
And truthfully we
don’t. No one really ever understands what other people have to go thru in
their life and what effect it can have on their outlook on life. But I do know
that joy isn’t so much a by-product of life as it is a choice that we make.
Now there are some
people that just come naturally by these traits of love and joy and patience
and long-suffering. But for most of us this can be a struggle at times. The
reason we can show these fruit of the Spirit in our lives, even when we’re
faced with difficult situations and people around us, is because Jesus shines
in our lives and brightens up even the darkest corners.
John wrote: “… if we walk in the light, as he is in the
light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son,
purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 You see Jesus has the power to just
light up our lives so that the vibrant colors can truly color our lives. And
when people see that in us they see Jesus.
Now, let me close
quickly with this thought. John wrote that “We
proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have
fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son,
Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)
When we talk to
people about our faith, it is easier to invite them to church than it is to
share our faith and introduce them to Jesus. This isn’t a condemnation… it’s
just a fact of life. And because it’s easier for us to do that, we often forget
that our main goal should be to bring
these friends of ours to “fellowship with
the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.”
If we’re not
careful, we can get into the mindset that our goal is to bring people into this
building so that we can pay the bills. So that we can fill the seats. So that
we can make the preacher feel really good.
Having people come
in the door is a great thing. Having them join in fellowship with us a
wonderful thing. But let us never be deceived into thinking that church can be
a substitute for a relationship with God. And so, you should not only invite
people to church, but you should also find ways of inviting them to Jesus by
your story and by your life. Jesus should show thru in what you say and what
you do so that others will know who it is you have fellowship with.
My mom’s mom used
to say, “You may be the only sermon someone hears.” Well if that is true what is your story
Read the Following
1 John 5:11-12
What do these texts
tell us about what Christians should be engaged in?
How do these verses
apply to you?
Remember a time
that you shared the Gospel, how did that impact you?
For many believers
the longer we’ve been a Christian the less we share our faith. How do you
develop a passion to obey these commands and have them impact you personally?
Many churches have
turned to marketing (logo’s, advertisements, etc…) to do the work of
evangelism. What are the benefits of this type of evangelism?
What are the draw
Why is telling your
story the best way to evangelize?
What is your