sermon

Love for a Broken World

NT reading:  Acts 1:6-8

Sermon brought to you by Jonathan Cordle from Crossroads

Passion for Jesus; Love for one another; Love for a broken world. This week we’re focusing on love for a broken world.

When look at the world today, we may get various reactions. One may be a sense of despair. If you want to, you can find lots of things wrong with politicians, government; corporations, neighborhood crime. Lots of possible reasons to feel bad about the world today. 

But as Jesus followers, we have an opportunity to see the world for what it could be rather than for what it is. In other words, we can see the world the way Jesus sees the world. In fact this is an awesome prayer: Lord, help me to see the world as you see it.  Help me see the world with your eyes.

20 yrs ago I was fortunate enough to go Disneyworld. Most ppl think of amusement parks they think of kennywood but Disney isn’t just an amusement park.  It’s  a magical place that just blows your mind. They don’t just refer to the rides as “rides,” but rather “attractions,” and they’re tremendous.  There’s Disney characters that walk around the park. Disney’s entire property from all The theme parks to the highway is in the campground are all incredibly clean With no rubbish on the sidewalks.  The whole place provides an atmosphere you’ve never experienced before., it’s considered a theme park. Additionally, every single one of the employees are genuinely happy to be there. Disney World is truly a place of wonder! 

Then outside the walls of this magical Disney World, from what I hear, there is a different world.  Orlando, FL. There’s crime and drugs happening everywhere. It’s plagued with homelessness. You get a sense that something wrong is happening here. You also have islands of affluent neighborhoods right next to these slums where there seems to be a purveying sense of hopelessness. A stark contrast bright, happy, joyful place of Disney World which is soo close – right inside the city.

if you turn on the tv for 5 mins and watch the news you will feel pretty bad about our world. There’s war torn countries.  Tens of thousands of refugees from countries that doesn’t want them.  You have human trafficking. There’s ISIS perpetuating acts of unthinkable violence. You see starving children in the world & natural disasters that wipe out populations of ppl in an instance.  Then we ask, “Why God, are you letting this take place? Why can’t my neighbor find a job? Why is my friend’s child sick?” Lots of reasons to despair about our world.

As Christians, we need to remember what God said whenever he created the world.  He said, “It is good.” Why was it good? Bc he had dominion over all of it. Then he created us humans. Then we experience sin! We didn’t want to have God in charge, but we wanted to be in charge. No wonder things started to break down.  We’re not God, although we think we are.  No wonder things started to break down. Sin is missing the mark of what God’s original intention was.  Things are no longer what God meant them to be—they’re broken. But make no mistake – God wants to transform and heal our broken world. Transform all the broken families, schools, neighborhoods and cities.  He has a plan to transform brokenness.  As Christ followers we are part of this plan. God wants us to be part of this. 

Isaiah 65:17-25

“See, I will create

    new heavens and a new earth.

The former things will not be remembered,

    nor will they come to mind.

18 

But be glad and rejoice forever

    in what I will create,

for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight

    and its people a joy.

19 

I will rejoice over Jerusalem

    and take delight in my people;

the sound of weeping and of crying

    will be heard in it no more.

20 

“Never again will there be in it

    an infant who lives but a few days,

    or an old man who does not live out his years;

the one who dies at a hundred

    will be thought a mere child;

the one who fails to reach[a] a hundred

    will be considered accursed.

21 

They will build houses and dwell in them;

    they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22 

No longer will they build houses and others live in them,

    or plant and others eat.

For as the days of a tree,

    so will be the days of my people;

my chosen ones will long enjoy

    the work of their hands.

23 

They will not labor in vain,

    nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;

for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,

    they and their descendants with them.

24 

Before they call I will answer;

    while they are still speaking I will hear.

25 

The wolf and the lamb will feed together,

    and the lion will eat straw like the ox,

    and dust will be the serpent’s food.

They will neither harm nor destroy

    on all my holy mountain,”

says the Lord.

Imagine a world like Is. 65 where if someone died at 100 you figure that person must of had bad luck.   What would you say about this world God describes? You might say this is the kind of world where God reigns completely & in every nook and cranny of the earth. You’re absolutely right. Guess what?  We absolutely won’t see a world where all wars have ended; there’s no more sick babies; no more cancer; no more hunger; no more poverty and no more sounds of weeping and crying. We’ll never experience this Disney World/euphoric utopian type of planet apart from Jesus’ reign on earth, however as Jesus’ disciples, we can offer a glimpse of this world.  In order to see the world God has in this Isaiah 65, we have to see it with the eyes of Jesus.

First we need the eyes of Jesus. Of course this world won’t be completely realized until Christ comes again but, we can give people a slice of heaven on earth. That’s what we’re talking about today – loving a broken world. That’s what Jesus has sent us to do. God transforms the world through us. People come to Christ and are transformed through our testimony and our actions. 

So the way that we bring a slice of heaven on earth or give people a glimpse into Isaiah 65 is by two things.   1. Through good news  2. good deeds.  How do we demonstrate good ? By Serving practical needs. How do we serve practical needs?  Start by taking use of the opportunity you have to serve.… Take use of the opportunity you have. There’s a church in East Liberty that goes into a local park and interacts with the kids there. Additionally, whenever the community comes out, they like to come out as well.  For instance, when the Pittsburgh Marathon happens & half of Pittsburgh is closed they could easily cancel worship that week but instead they go outside where the people are. They have a little worship and turn the opportunity into an outreach opportunity. They hand out oranges to the runners, they cheer them on and celebrate them; they connect with the community. On Halloween, they have a trunk or treat event. The purpose of doing all this? Why are they serving practical needs? Why should we serve practical needs of our community?Not just to make us feel good about ourselves, but bc when the community is out, Christians should be out with good actions and a good gospel message because our message is that God is alive and active and he wants a relationship with each person in our community. 

Rick Warren says, “We never win our enemies to Christ we only win our friends.”  Think about that….. You’re never going to hear a life altering msg from someone if they look down on you. If you have a friendship with somebody who knows that you love them it makes it a lot easier for them to hear your message.  Serving practical needs is part of loving others and our purpose is to build that friendship with the community. 

Also, think about serving practical needs by way of using your gifts.  What do you love to do? What do you do that when you do it, time seems to go by so quickly. You don’t know where the time went because you were doing something you love that you are using your gift/gifts. What do people tell you you’re good at doing. What do people remark and say you were great when doing it?? God wants us to use the gifts that he’s given us. There was a woman who had a medical procedure and called the hospital that was having this done and as she spoke to the man on the other end, she could tell the man was very empathetic and heartwarming through the whole process. Towards the end of the conversation she disclosed she was a Christian and the telephone guy on the other end said he was a Christian also. In fact he saw his telephone job as his ministry. After all, people call in, and they are frustrated, stressed out and often times in pain. He says, “I see this as my ministry to extend God’s grace to the people.” You might think it’s not that big of a deal but if you’re ever that person that needs to make a phone call, you will see how great it is to have someone who cares deeply on the other end of the line. So there is a guy who understands that God wants to extend his kingdom through what he does every day.  If any church body would cease to exist in their particular community, that community should say we would be sad to see them go because our life has been impacted so wonderfully with that church in existence. “Our schools are so much better and our city is so much better bc of them.” Our community should see an impact bc of our existence. What gifts has God given you? What is at your disposal to use for the sake of the gospel. God is asking you to be a part of that. He wants to use you as a conduit to extend his kingdom here in this world. 

There’s a documentary from 2015 called Landfill Harmonic. It’s about a city in Paraguay that sits on a garbage landfill. The villagers took made wonderful orchestra instruments out of garbage and taught their children how to play instruments. The children learned how to play and they played together in huge venues. The film also documents how it brought them worldwide attention. The story appeared on daytime talk shows in the US as well. I invite you to find the trailer online. It’s quite amazing. It’s a great example of transforming something synonymous with garbage into something extraordinary.  Favio Chavez, the Orchestra director for these children, says “The world sends us garbage, we send back music.”  The trailer goes on and reads, “The world saw a landfill. They saw opportunity.”  That’s what we’re talking about. As Christians we take advantage of any opportunity we can find to be conduits of transformation. Can you see things that are in pieces or broken down and not see it as a sad end but see that this could be your raw material?   Raw material that could be shaped and molded and used by God as he speaks life into it.

Lastly, I’ll say that we show people a glimpse of Isaiah 65 not only by sharing the Gospel with our actions but also with our words. In talking about serving practical needs of the community and loving people, remember we are not humanists. We are Christians. Jesus followers.  Humanism is an outlook or philosophy attaching utmost importance to human matters rather than divine or supernatural ones. Humanists stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.  They’re good news is basically, “How great we are, how great we are!” We are not humanists. We don’t point to ourselves but to Jesus. Therefore, we don’t serve practical needs of the community for the sake of ourselves. Ppl need to know this reason – they need to know that Jesus has transformed us. Paul says in Romans 10:14, “How shall they hear without someone preaching to them?” What people need to hear is how Jesus has transformed your life.  Helpful strategy:  Share with someone, your life before Christ; how you found Christ; your life after Christ.   So your life before Christ, how you came into Jesus, and your life after Jesus.  Practice with each other; practice with a relative or friend. What was your life like before Christ; how did you find Jesus; your life after Jesus.

Be a conduit of transformation for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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