sermon

Christian Mission

Excuse me, I need to prepare for this talk.

By Barbara J. Gusew

July 8, 2018

            Able to bring the whole block to Christ in a single Bible Study

            Able to feed 10,000 homeless with one pot roast      

            It’s SUPER CHICK!

            Is this what you think you need to be in order to perform Christian Action?

In the children’s sermon you saw “Super Chick”. That is not what is needed for Christian Action. Christian Action is the action or demonstration that characterizes a Christ-centered life. It is action that flows from us due to our personal relationship with and our commitment to Christ.

Christian Action can happen in many ways, You may think you “don’t do” Christian Action, but let’s think about how it might happen and see if you “do”.

Christian Action is representing Christ and his Church in works of compassion. We see a prime example of this in the familiar story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37. In this story, we see that the Action needed did not come from one whose job description should include “compassion action”. The ones we would expect to, at least “because it’s in my job description” show compassion. But instead, the compassion action flows from one whose heart is truly in step with God – his love of God overflows into his actions. He couldn’t pass by the need he saw, he provided a way to help aid the healing. He left, and came back to ensure that all was well. He was a friend to this man.

Christian Action is bearing witness to Christ wherever you may be, in all you say and do. Your witness may not be spoken words, gospel spoken, but more like the aroma of a sweet candle, noticeable without even knowing where it’s coming from. Or perhaps like the smell of wood smoke from a campfire — even after you’ve left the fire, the smell is in your clothes–you remember the fire, how it felt, how it made you feel even after you’re away from it. Our actions can be that “ aroma’ as well. Keeping people remembering them long after they’ve left our presence.

Christian Action is carrying on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world, according to the gifts given you; making Christ and his love real in the world. We can give God our heart, we can give God our minds but our life in God’s grace isn’t able to stand firm until we give God our hands, feet and legs.

Christian Action is a natural response to the gift of God’s grace. God’s grace comes to us in such a way as to enlighten, unbind, and strengthen us. By Grace, we are awakened to the greatest reality of our lives, God’s redeeming love. By Grace we realize that we have a spiritual kinship with God, because we are made in God’s image. And by that same grace, we come to know that we can fellowship with all people.

It is only natural that if you receive the very best there is – God’s grace, it creates an enthusiasm to pass it on.

Now, each person’s response to grace in Christian action will be unique. No SUPER CHICK needed here. We each give of ourselves according to what we have been given.

  1. We’ve been given the Holy Spirit. This becomes evident in a person’s life. Paul calls this evidence the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Each fruit of God’s grace comes alive in persons and is an avenue of Christian Action.
  1. Paul makes us aware that there are spiritual gifts which are given to us to exercise for ministry. He makes clear, in 1 Corinthians 13, that the most excellent is love, without which all other gifts are empty.
  1. These gifts are not given for private ministry of a few exceptional individuals; they are given to and for the ministry of the whole community of faith.

What qualities and gifts has God given you for sharing Christ and his grace?

 

Now you might say, “I have no idea how to use my gifts. OR Who needs my gifts?”

Well, I’ll tell you, things don’t always just pop out in front of you, so Christian Action calls for a plan.

First, you have to make a plan based on your real situation and resources. It doesn’t happen by accident, but by a decision to show forth Christ’s love in a specific way in word and deed. Ask yourself, “What situation needs God’s love?” What do I need to accomplish this, both personal and physical. And don’t forget to ask, “What will be the consequences of your action?

Think through and pray through your plan of action.

35 years ago I was given the opportunity to go to Mexico as a representative for the New Wilmington Mission Conference as a Summer Service Student. It was a wonderful experience. I’ve wanted to give back to this part of conference ever since. Finally, three years ago, I was asked to be on the SS Committee that would interview and select the groups going in the summer. This was a great privilege. Even better was getting to plan for their orientation prior to them going. This involved planning meals and discussions to build the team emotionally and spiritually and praying with them. It was fun, challenging and exhausting all at the same time.

Step #2. Work your plan. Trust that when you step out in faith, you will experience the strength and support of the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 10:19 it says, “ But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak.”

And don’t be discouraged when things don’t go as you think they should. Remember that God sometimes uses momentary failure for success in God’s own time.

Now, Christian action does not require that every other part of your life gets put on hold. You must keep things in perspective! A Christian does not neglect family, job, church or community in order to do the Lord’s work.

You see, Christian Action is not occasional heroic acts (i.e. not super chick), but a way of life and is done naturally. The rest of life can not stand still while you do Christian Action.   But, likewise, Christian Action can not wait until you take care of all of life’s necessities.

One thing to be sure of, Don’t try this alone! First, the Holy Spirit is available to guide and empower Christian Action. Then, there are committed Christians who are willing to join you in your efforts; even the disciples went two by two. When I first started on the SS committee I had a great chair person that showed me the way. She demonstrated her Christian Action to me and then led the way for me to become the chair a few years later.

Christian Action must be authentic. It flows from care for persons not from one’s own need to be needed or a desire to get spiritual scalps. It flows naturally from one’s own faith experience and personality, it is not forced to fit some preconceived image of evangelism or witness. Christian Action is not “Better than thou” For many of us it is what naturally happens in our daily lives and we do it so naturally, we don’t even recognize it as Christian Action, but it is.

It has been hard this year not to compare myself to the past chairperson. She was a pastor, she knew how to lead groups in spiritual ways. Those were not my gifts necessarily. But, I’ve come to terms with being my own person, the person God created me to be and I’m seeing that my gifts can be used by God too.

Consider for a moment, areas of Christian Action in your life, individuals you come into contact with, groups, club organizations you associate with, people you know that need assistance and support. One year, we had a neighbor that landed in the hospital and then in a nursing home for rehab. He had a sweet little dog that was in a kennel. We offered to keep the dog for him to save him money and so he wouldn’t worry about her. It wasn’t much, but we did it in Christ’s name, to extend to Tom, our neighbor, God’s grace. <PAUSE>

2 Corinthians 5:18 says “All this is done by God, who, through Christ, changed us from enemies into his friends, and gave us the task of making others his friends also.”

 

Friendship the style of Christian Action.

  1. Reach out to persons with whom you naturally come in contact. Start by making a friend. Take initiative to get to know a person. Understand the person’s life and situation, needs, and strengths. Listen and support.
  1. Be that person’s friend. Share your own life. Be there in tough times as well as good times. Reach out, help, offer assistance and show agape love. Let them see there is a living faith in your life.

Introduce that friend to Christ. Share your relationship with the source of life and love. Your new friend will need to have seen Christ in your life for this introduction to be natural and authentic. Jesus calls us not just to witness but to be witnesses in our words and deeds.

This process, make a friend, be a friend, bring that friend to Christ, will naturally display your personality and the spiritual qualities given you.

  1. Reach out to those who need a helping hand, to people you may not even know personally, regardless of difference. In this way, you make God’s friendship real to people.

Respond to people’s felt needs, and also seek to change the problems that cause the need. Many of you know that Jack and I live in a large older home. We have had the privilege over the years to offer a place to live for many people in need. Some stayed for two weeks, 2 college students stayed the summer, one friend of a friend, stayed a whole year. We opend our home, in Christ’s love, to those in need, naturally.

Listen to those to whom Jesus listened: the very young, the sick, the dispossessed, the poor, the left out. Who we listen to determines what we hear, and what we hear, determines our Christian Action.

Stand with those whom Jesus stood. Do you always stand in safe places, insulated with comfortable surroundings, with the spectators and the powers that be? Or do you step out and risk standing with those who need a friend or advocate? Many of you have recently stepped out to prepare and serve meals at the Pleasant Valley Men’s shelter or at the Table, in the Center in Bellevue. You met people where they were. You ventured to speak to some who may be lonely. Where we stand determines what we see, and the human reality we see determines our response.

Reach out with Christ and grow in God’s love toward all. Like prayer and study, make service a regular part of your life – a discipline, not something you do only when you feel moved. This discipline is most effective for outgrowing self-centeredness.

Christian Action requires that you consider other persons’ welfare as important as your own. Identify with those in need; and do for others what you would want them to do for you. Sound familiar? Matt 7:12 “Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets”

Christian Action involves a commitment to take up the towel and become a servant in union with Jesus Christ. As in John 13 where Jesus washes the disciples feet, we must also be willing to be a servant. Serve in selflessness, without concern for results and recognition. Learn to be creatively obedient to the God of Love.

Remember, Christian Action is a grateful response to God’s grace, empowered by the Holy Spirit, by which we grow in the likeness of Christ. When you are involved in Christian Action, you are authentically living up to the image of God in which you were created — your potential for loving God and your neighbor with your whole life.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pass on the gift of grace you have been given, using the gifts you have been given. Christian Action is an extension of Christ’s work.                                As I said at the beginning, you don’t have to be super chick to accomplish this task. Remember, little guys can do big things too. But little things matter too. Listen to this.

 

God seems interested in little things.

  1.       A widows coin
  1.   The washing of a foot
  1.    The surrender of a small boy’s loaves and fishes
  1. He makes much of little things — as much as He wants to.
  1. He may call us to move mountains once in a while, but the rest of the time He has plenty of molehills to be relocated.
  1. He probable wants more encouraging notes sent – than books written.
  1. More sandwiches shared than sermons preached
  1. More Band-Aids applied than edifices built.
  1. That’s good news for those of us who have only little things to work with.
  1. Like a cup of water, a bedroom, or a chicken. Or a word or deed so tiny that it can’t even be remembered–
  1. Except by the recipient, who may never, ever forget.

Amen

 

 

 

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