Storeroom Sermons of David Chadwell

Sharing Jesus
Part One

I want us to prayerfully begin with a reading. Take a Bible and read with me John 1:1-5.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John began writing his gospel (the word means "good news") by introducing Jesus. While each of the gospels were written to a specific readership for specific objectives, they all also shared a common goal. Each of them wanted to introduced their original readers to the man Jesus and affirm God the Father worked through him to achieve God's long-standing purposes. Each gospel identified Jesus as the focal point of God's work. Simply stated, one cannot understand God's work unless he/she understands Jesus.

John's introduction is profound! If you have been a part of the church of Christ for a few years, you likely have heard at least one part of the introduction discussed in a class or a sermon. In a brief declaration, John affirmed Jesus' origin, Jesus' role in creation in Jesus' pre-human existence, Jesus as the source of life, and Jesus as the light. I would like you to focus on Jesus as the source of life and light.

  1. When I was a teen (many years ago), my understanding of what I heard was this: Sharing the gospel is a simple matter.

    1. The process of this sharing was quite simple.
      1. Any caring person would quickly see the genuineness of your message.
      2. All you needed to do was present their need and their responsibility.
      3. As soon as the one receiving your message understood his/her need and responsibility, they would respond.
      4. The core of the concept seemed to be this: factual information presented, plus the presentation of need, resulted in a response (that is quite simple).
        1. Thus, knowledge of the facts resulted in a response to the facts.
        2. Spiritual growth and development was assumed.
        3. Devotion to the church was assumed.
        4. A change in lifestyle was assumed.
        5. It was assumed that if a person was converted, he/she would become "just like you."
    2. Those were simple, convenient assumptions in that situation.
      1. We pretty much lived in isolation.
      2. There were only white, lower middle-class people in the county.
        1. While there were some distinctly poor people there, such people were the minority.
        2. Almost everyone was similar--struggling to improve their lifestyle but not at all regarding themselves as deprived.
      3. There was a total absence of colors, cultures, or languages--only English was spoken, people were white, and only the local culture existed.
      4. The assumption among the younger people (teens) was that even if colors and languages existed, everyone would be the same--just look different or sound different.
      5. Of the thirteen congregations of the church of Christ in the county at that time, twelve were rural.
        1. Only one congregation existed "in town."
        2. It had the only full time preacher in the area.
    3. One of the naive convictions of people who live in isolation is that they are equipped with an uncanny insight that gives them all the answers--and the answers are simple.
      1. Life was simple so problems, by declaration, were simple.
      2. Needs were simple so solutions were simple.
      3. Problems primarily existed because people complicated life by ignoring the simple.
      4. As a result, there was a genuine willingness to help "those who are trying" and a deep confusion when those with complex problems were occasionally encountered.

  2. How the situation has changed most everywhere in the last 50 years!

    1. Whereas "culture" was not even a word I heard in my teen years, it is often a common vocabulary word of almost everyone.
      1. Differences in color often mean differences in outlooks, traditions, values, concerns, and priorities.
      2. Differences in languages also often reflect differences in outlooks, traditions, values, concerns, and priorities.
      3. In our city there is a Buddhist temple, several Moslem mosques, and a group of Jewish worshippers with deep roots in this community.
      4. Recently, I was in our mall in the early evening, and I could have been in any cosmopolitan city of the U.S.A. as I listened to diverse languages--English definitely was not predominant!
      5. In our physical church facilities:
        1. A congregation of Laotians meet weekly with a Laotian minister maintaining an office in the physical complex.
        2. We are building a Hispanic building as we and our Hispanic brethren move toward an independent Hispanic work in our city.
        3. In the original congregation, we have African-American members, Laotian members, Hispanic members, and Native American members, as well as Caucasian members--all of whom rarely miss meeting as a congregation on Sunday morning.
        4. Any person who thinks we are all alike with our different cultural backgrounds simply because we all speak English is either unobservant or pretending.

  3. The challenges in sharing Jesus are enormous!

    1. Recently, I began (again) reading What Every Church Member Should Know About Poverty by Ruby K. Payne and Bill Ehlig.
      1. What they share is enlightening and frightening at the same time.
      2. They discuss and illustrate the hidden languages and hidden rules of the poor, the middle class, and the wealthy--and these languages and rules are silent!
      3. The different ways that people in different socio-economic groups think regarding "every day" matters is astounding.
        1. The different groups do not approach living and life's needs in the same way.
        2. They do not value the same things.
        3. They do not learn in the same way (different groups approach their perception of needs in totally different ways)--cause, plus effect, and drawing a conclusion or conclusions, is meaningless to some groups.
      4. Some groups do not approach life with "a plan."
        1. If you do not learn how to plan, you cannot predict.
        2. If you cannot predict, you do not identify cause and effect.
        3. If you cannot identify cause and effect, you cannot identify consequence.
        4. If you do not identify cause and effect:
          1. You do not end impulsive acts.
          2. If you encourage impulsiveness, the end result is often criminal behavior.
    2. To conclude that just putting out facts that concern us will evangelize people is thinking that misses the reality of our situation in our country as well as the world.
      1. Why should your view of life and death be my view of life and death?
      2. What do the concepts that concern you mean to me?
      3. Why should I trust your facts?
      4. Why should my daily life change?
      5. Why should I concern myself with the future?
      6. Why should I concern myself with what happens after death?
      7. Why should the thoughts that concern you concern me?
      8. Why should the values that concern you concern me?
    3. Here is  one example of failure (as a congregation) to understand that different groups learn and perceive on a different basis:
      1. Congregations assume that if a person understands enough to be baptized (which in most cases is very little), the person knows enough to understand what it means to be a Christian.
      2. Then the same congregations often are in constant struggle and turmoil as baptized-but-unconverted people constantly champion values that are decidedly unbiblical and unchristian as people reflect little or no interest in being Jesus' disciples.
      3. Such congregations are commonly consumed with internal struggles to the extent that they become virtually paralyzed.

  4. We as Christians, individually and congregationally, desperately need a more biblical view of evangelism and conversion.

    1. There is an enormous difference in being convinced of some "facts" and wanting to be Jesus' disciple.
      1. Consider a contrast.
        1. A troublesome view:
          1. "I need to believe? Okay, done that."
          2. "I need to repent? Okay, done that."
          3. "I need to be baptized? Okay, done that."
          4. "Now what can I expect from God? No serious sickness in my family, right? No tragedy in my family, right? Opportunities for prosperity, right? A lifestyle I really enjoy, right?"
        2. A biblical view:
          1. "Jesus Christ can show me how to escape the effects of my mistakes and focus me on the eternal, both in this life and in my death."
          2. "Through him my life can have a hope-filled meaning and purpose available nowhere else in nothing else."
          3. "In him is freedom from every wrong I have done and from the fear of dying."
          4. "I believe in the resurrected Jesus Christ."
          5. "I turn from the life I have lived."
          6. "I want to be baptized so I can enter a different existence."
          7. "I want to be Jesus Christ's disciple to express my appreciation for his allowing me to be a part of God's family."
          8. "I want to be a disciple; I want to learn how to live; I want to serve; I want to use life for something eternal, something besides me and my desires."
          9. "I want God to remake me as a person and use me."
      2. Could you contrast a congregation filled with the people first described and the people last described?
        1. We will become congregations filled with the people last described only when we become a converted people who place total confidence in Jesus Christ as the way to God.
        2. We will become congregations filled with converted people only when we all seek Jesus as the source of life.
        3. We will become congregations filled with converted people only when we want to be light in a dark society that loves evil and its expressions.
    2. So, I urge you as Christians be Jesus' light wherever you are, in all your life, in all you do.
      1. People may learn differently, but everyone understands a consistent example.
      2. People need to see the influences of Jesus Christ in you as a person who is single, as a wife, as a father, as a parent, and in all family relationships.
      3. People need to see the influence of Jesus Christ in your life as you work.
      4. People need to see Jesus Christ's influence in your life in every community involvement you have.
    3. The essential step in being effectively evangelistic is developing a people who shine for Jesus everywhere, everyday in all they do.

We desperately need disciples of Jesus, not just people who go to church. Which are you?

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