All of us have asked for a favor. Every person here who is able to understand me has asked for a favor. Most of us asked someone for a favor this week. This week did you say to anyone, "Would you do me a favor?"

When someone asks you, "Would you do me a favor?" what do you say? It depends on who is asking for the favor. If it is a person you know and respect, your likely response is, "Sure!" You trust the person to ask something reasonable. You trust the person to ask something in your ability and power to do.

If the person asking for a favor is a stranger or a person you do not know well, you likely will say, "It depends on what you want," or "If I can." You are not certain the request will be reasonable or doable, so you will not give unqualified assurance you will grant the favor.

What would be your answer if a person you know and trust asked you to do something truly weird and unreasonable. If you knew the person well and trusted him or her a lot, you probably would ask, "Why?" If he or she could give you an important reason for the favor, you might consider it. But your response depends on the reason.

  1. John 1:35-51 provides us some interesting insights into the lives of some fascinating people.
    1. John the baptizer identified Jesus as the Lamb of God.
      1. The next day John was standing with two of his own disciples as Jesus walked by.
        1. One of those two men was Andrew.
        2. John said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"
        3. The two disciples immediately started following Jesus.
        4. He turned and asked, "What are you looking for?"
        5. They answered, "Teacher, where are you staying?"
        6. He invited them to come see, and they spent the rest of the day with him.
      2. Following his day with Jesus, Andrew went to his brother Peter.
        1. He told him, "We have found the Christ."
        2. He then took Peter to Jesus.
      3. The next day Jesus went to Galilee.
        1. There he found a man named Philip and invited Philip to follow him.
        2. Philip lived in the hometown of Andrew and Peter.
        3. Philip searched for his brother Nathanael, found him, and told him, "We (probably meaning Philip, Andrew, and Peter) found the person Moses and the prophets spoke about; he comes from the town of Nazareth.
        4. Nathanael was not impressed: would Moses predict someone important would come from Nazareth? Would the prophets prophesy about someone who would come from Nazareth? Nazareth was religiously insignificant, spiritually unimportant.
          1. It was a small, out-of-the-way town away from any significant road.
          2. God's Christ would certainly come from some place much more significant than Nazareth--maybe like the Holy City, Jerusalem.
          3. But Nazareth?
        5. Philip made no attempt to convince Nathanael.
        6. He just said, "Come and see."
        7. Jesus, not Philip, convinced Nathanael.
    2. I want you to notice the reasons.
      1. The reason John identified Jesus as the Lamb of God was God revealed it to him (John 1:32-34).
      2. The reason two of John's disciples followed Jesus and spent a day with him was John's recognition of Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:35-37).
      3. The reason Andrew found Peter was his desire to share the news, "We have found the Christ (John 1:41).
      4. The reason Philip found Nathanael was to share that they had found the person Moses and the prophets wrote about (John 1:45).
      5. The reason Nathanael went to see Jesus was at his brother's invitation (John 1:46).

  2. Next Sunday, we will experience the results of weeks of work to invite friends and neighbors to come visit us.
    1. We spent much of this month encouraging you to invite friends to worship with us next Sunday.
      1. Why? For what reason?
        1. Is it just a matter of statistics? Are we trying to impress ourselves or someone else with attendance numbers?
        2. Do you think that God will be more impressed with me or the elders or the deacons or you in the day of judgment if 1000 attend here instead of 750?
        3. Is it just a matter of "good business?" Is it just a matter of pointing to statistics to prove that we are growing instead of stagnating or dying?
      2. Is there any reason?
        1. Does a reason have to exist?
        2. Is the reason simply we are supposed to invite people?
    2. Which of these two things do you think impresses God?
      1. The number of people sitting in this room on a Sunday morning?
      2. Or the reason people are sitting in this room on Sunday morning?
    3. Suppose this situation happened.
      1. You invite a friend to worship with us next Sunday.
      2. The person asks your reason for your invitation. "Thanks for the invitation. But why do you want me to come?"
        1. Would your reason be this: "I am just doing what I am supposed to do. They said, 'Invite,' so I am inviting you."
        2. Would your reason be this: "Going to church is a good habit to have, and I want to encourage you to develop a good habit."
        3. Would your reason be this: "We are trying to set some recent attendance records, and I want you to help us set a record."
      3. Would your reason be, "Being a part of that congregation encourages me every week."
        1. "Every week I come closer and closer to God."
        2. "Every week I appreciate Jesus more and more."
        3. "Every week I see my blessings more clearly."
        4. "Every week my understanding of Jesus my Lord grows deeper."
        5. "Every single week my life is more spiritual because of my Bible study and worship."
        6. "I want to share my blessing."

  3. To you, how important is it for your friends to find and experience what you find and experience in Jesus Christ?
    1. When you invite someone into your home, what do you do to make them feel welcomed and appreciated?
      1. "Honey, our company should be here in fifteen minutes. It is time to get ready."
        1. "Let me move the car in position to block the driveway so they can't pull in."
        2. "While I move the car, be sure all the doors are closed."
        3. "Whatever you do, don't straighten anything up. By the way, did you remember to make it hard to get to our front door?"
        4. "Remember, ask them to sit in the worst chairs we have."
        5. "Whatever you do, don't be friendly or make them feel welcome--they might get the idea we would like for them to come back."
      2. Next Sunday, we need to keep some things clearly in mind.
        1. Be aware, be friendly, be helpful.
        2. We will have a visitors parking section; help us reserve it for visitors.
        3. Come in as few vehicles as possible--even car pool.
        4. If you have a friend come, please sit with them and help them feel welcome.
        5. If you do not have a visitor, sit in some of the special seating we have out.
        6. Sit close to the front.
        7. Make it obvious that we are happy for people to be here.
    2. Why? Because we want our friends and neighbors to come back. Why?
      1. So we can impress them with a preacher? No.
      2. So we can stand out statistically in the community? No.
      3. So we can feel good about how many people are coming? No.
      4. Because the most important thing that can happen in person's life is to follow Jesus? Yes!
        1. Nothing brings the powerful blessings to life as does following Jesus.
        2. We want friends and neighbors to come because we want to encourage them and help them follow Jesus Christ.
        3. We want people to see the hope that exists in Jesus, and to come because they want to share the hope.

  4. Peter wrote the letter of 1 Peter to Christians who were suffering real pain because they followed Jesus.
    1. Even though they did good things and blessed people, those who hated Jesus Christ and Christianity caused them suffering.
      1. Peter said many things about a Christian's attitude toward the suffering other people cause.
        1. He told them to remember that Jesus Christ suffered for them (1 Peter 4:1).
        2. He told them to rejoice when they suffered so that they would rejoice when Jesus returned (1 Peter 4:12,13).
        3. He challenged them to entrust their souls to God by suffering with the attitude God wanted them to have (1 Peter 4:13).
      2. The statement I want you to listen to closely is found in I Peter 3:13-16
        Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
        1. Peter said, "When you suffer, have the heart, the attitude, and the outlook that cause people to ask, 'How can you do that?'"
        2. "How can you do good things for other people and suffer?"
        3. "Where do you find the hope to keep on doing good?"
    2. We rarely suffer because of our faith in Christ. At no time have Christians had it better than we do.
      1. Yet, I want the same thing Peter wanted.
      2. I want our hope in Jesus Christ to be such a force in our lives that people see our hope and ask about our hope.
      3. I want us to be able to explain our hope.
    3. If that happens, certain things must be true.
      1. We must be controlled by faith in Jesus, not by fear.
      2. We must not be intimidated or troubled by suffering.
      3. Jesus must sit on the throne of our hearts--he rules us every day.
      4. We must be gentle and reverent.
      5. We must keep a good conscience.
      6. We must have godly behavior.
    4. When people see us committed to being that kind of people, when they see us with that kind of hope, they will want to come; they will want to find in Jesus what we have found.

[Prayer: God, help our reason for worshipping You be found in Jesus Christ. Help us be hungry to share Jesus with others.]

Have the kind of faith and hope in Jesus Christ that make others want to find what you found in Jesus.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 29 April 2001

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