By Stephen W. Hiemstra
Sermon presented in Spanish at El Shadai, Manassas, Virginia, June 21, 2018. (Sermón: Más Atrapado Que Enseñado)
Good evening. For those who do not know me, my name is Stephen W. Hiemstra. I am a volunteer pastor and Christian author. My wife, Maryam, and I live in Centreville, Virginia and we have three grown children.
Today we continue our study about co-workers in evangelism. We are blessed to be a blessing to others. And as Christians we know that we can best bless others when we share the Gospel through our daily lives.
We praise you for creating us in your image and loving us as your children. Be especially present with us in this time and place. In the power of your Holy Spirit, bless our praise and send your Holy Spirit ahead of us as we extend your light in the Georgetown South Community. In the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Today’s scripture lesson comes from the Book of Genesis 12:1-3. Hear the word of the Lord:
“Now the LORD said to Abram, Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:1-3 ESV)
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Which of you have had mysterious problems with your computer or, perhaps, your telephone?
This past week as I was writing this sermon, my system began, without any input on my part, to use a different keyboard, the international standard, ISO, when in the USA the ANSI standard is normally used. After three or four hours of research, I could not correct the problem. It is difficult to change the default configuration of this system because at this point I am not an expert in this field.
Because we have complex personalities, we also have default configurations. (2X) It is difficult to change them, even when we do not want to accept our default configurations. Our default configurations consist of our daily habits and hopefully of our Sunday habits (Smith).
In the writing of the Apostle Paul, this is the difference between the new person in Christ and the old person of the fleshly nature. (2 Cor 5:17) Our default configuration is exactly the same concept as Paul’s old person of nature. This was the source of much pain for Paul, as he wrote: “Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Rom 7:20 ESV) But, our hope arise because we were created in the image of God and want to become like God in Jesus Christ, our role model.
We are blessed to bless others (2X, McDonald)
We discover this concept of blessings in the covenant of Abram and God in Genesis 12:1-3. This covenant is interesting because Abram needed to leave his family, his tribe, and his country—all the sources of security—at a time when the world was very dangerous. And for the most part, Abram never experienced the promises of God during his life. (2X) He traveled around the Promised Land, observed it, and was buried there. It is like being promised a barbecue to receive only the sweet aroma of it. Yet, “he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” (Gen 15:6 ESV) We receive the same promises of God through Abram and we need to bless others, exactly the same as Abram.
How do we know this? We know it because we are created in the image of God and Christ has told us: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (2X; John 20:21 ESV)
We are blessed to bless others (2X)
For many years it has been said that Christianity is more caught than taught (2X). At lease three stories make this point.
The first story concerns the first letter of Peter, where the most famously quoted verse is: “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15 ESV) The thing is that the rest of the book focuses on lifestyle evangelism, as it says.
“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Pet 2:12 ESV)
Works like hospitality speak directly to the heart without words. As you know, works speak louder than words alone. (2X)
The second story arose in the fourth century when we see that Saint Patrick was famous as the first successful evangelist in Ireland. His success was not anticipated because Patrick, as a teenager sixteen year old, was kidnapped by Irish pirates and sold as a slave in Ireland. For the next six years he worked as a slave caring for his master’s cattle in the Irish wilderness. Later, he escaped and traveled abroad to study to become a priest. Much later, he returned to Ireland as the church’s first missionary bishop and evangelized the Irish out of love for them. His love of the Irish was obvious and his evangelism focused on offering hospitality. In the end, Patrick and his companions planted more than 700 churches in Ireland (Hunter 2000, 13-23).
The third story is more recent. In the city of Rio de Janeiro there are many young people caught up in the gangs of the drug culture. In Brazil they call young people with mixed blood (blacks and Indians) as the “killable people.” Many of them die from the violence, but those that survive and are incarcerated by the police also don’t have much hope. In the jails, the police do not feed them or offer medical care. For the most part, the gangs control daily life in the prisons. In this hellish world, there are few visitors, not even Christians, but those that come are mostly Pentecostals who provide food, medicine, and worship services. As a consequence, the gangs respect the Pentevcostals, providing security for their services and allowing young people who really come to Christ to leave the gangs (2X; Johnson)—the only option other than a body bag.
As we have seen, hospitality can be more than just food. In these stories, it can be a faith journey.
Finally, we are blessed to be a blessing to others. Because our blessing is Christ Jesus, when we share the evangelism in our daily life, we bless others most effectively. After all, the Gospel is more caught than taught.
Thank you for your forgiveness and your presence in our daily lives. In the power of your Holy Spirit, grant us strength for life and the wisdom to share your living Gospel. In the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Hunter, George G. III. 2000. The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
Johnson, Andrew. 2017. If I Give My Soul: Faith Behind Bars in Rio de Janeiro. New York: Oxford. (Review)
Suzanne McDonald. 2010. Re-Imaging Election: Divine Election as Representing God to Others & Others to God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (Review)
Sermon: More Caught than Taught
Other ways to connect:
Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.
Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018