JeremyHouck.com

Telling Your Story

1 John 1:1-9

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 Text)

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 Christian?

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 them.

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 different.

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.

In Galatians 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?

People will 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 saying?

 

Questions To Consider

 

Read the Following Texts

John 3:36

John 14:6

1 John 5:11-12

Acts 4:12

2 Thessalonians 1:8-9

 

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 backs?

 

Why is telling your story the best way to evangelize?

 

What is your story?  

 

 



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