Illustration results for witnessing
In 1981 the movie, Chariots of Fire, won the Academy Award for Best Picture. This Hollywood film told the true story of a devout Christian, Eric Liddell, in a very positive way. I want to just show you a clip of the film. Eric has decided he must forfeit his chance to run in the 200 meter dash at the 1924 Paris Olympics because the qualifying meet will be held on Sunday. His coach, and some others, try to convince him to change his mind.......wow! It is great to see someone who is willing to hold to his convictions no matter what it costs. Yet, think about the stand that Eric is taking. He won’t participate in the race, simply because it is on Sunday. He believes that to run on Sunday violates the Biblical command, the 4th of the Ten Commandments...to keep the Sabbath day holy.
Many of us in this room probably would not agree with Eric’s position. We would have said, "Eric, lighten up a little. Is this really the mountain you want to die defending? It is just one race. There will be plenty of time to go to church before or after the meet. Your decision not to run may keep you from witnessing to others about Christ." Today most Christians see Sunday as just the day we happen to meet for church. Many feel there is really nothing special about the day and going to church on Saturday night or Wednesday evening is just as good. Who is right? Eric Liddell, and other Christians who have been zealous in their efforts to observe the Sabbath, or the many Christians today who have no qualms about playing, shopping, or working on Sunday? How important is the Sabbath?
If some of you are like me, you’ve been waiting with a bit of anticipation for the final segment of J.R.R. Tolkiens, The Lord of the Rings, to be released to movie theatres some time in the near future. If you’ve been following the story on the screen or reading it from the pages of a book, you’ve been introduced to a rather unique character by the name of Gollum, who once possessed a ring forged by the evil Sardon, and now in the possession of Frodo Baggins, who knows that it ultimately must be destroyed in order to spare the world untold evil and destruction. The trouble is the ring has a history of driving those who possess it raving mad, a truth beginning to show itself in Frodo, but clearly witnessed in Gollum who appears totally consumed with the ring, calling it, as others owners have, “His precious.”
It’s really quite despicable to see a creature so absolutely driven and obsessed with something so evil. Perhaps it’s even more troubling when we recognize that this is us, every time our sinful human nature brings us to speak with a sharp and bitter tongue or act out our hateful or lustful desires which we’ve concluded to be more “precious” than the will of our God.
But I want you to keep that image of total consumption, of whole-hearted attention, of obsession in mind. Keep it there because as much as humanity is caught-up in sin, as negatively consumed and driven as Gollum was towards that symbol of evil; our God is positively consumed with us. In God’s eyes our lives are to be treated with the utmost care, so that even our deaths are a precious thing. “Precious in your sight, O Lord, is the death of your saints.”
Our God is not consumed with personal gain, but with ours. He’s not consumed with His own well-being, but with ours. He’s totally wrapped up in the troubles that confront us, death being the culmination of them all. He’s completely devoted to pouring out its remedy. Our life and that which threatens to destroy it completely in hell has our Lord’s whole-hearted attention. It’s His precious.
“Such knowledge is to wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.” – Psalm 139:6
When my I first read Psalm 139:6, my mind drifted back to the movie entitled, “A Few Good Men” with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. Tom’s role as Lt. Kaffee, a hot-shot attorney who comes to the defense of two servicemen, is at its height when he cross-examines Jessep (Jack’s part) on the witness stand. Do you remember the scene?
The exchange went something like this…
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I’m entitled to them.
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessep: You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives...You don’t want the truth.
(Here’s the best part...)
Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
The Psalmist told God that in the deepest parts of his soul he realizes that, “such knowledge is to wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.” And if we want the best out of our transitions, we need to come to some realization that we can’t handle all that God knows about us.
THE AIR WAR
It was said of Desert Storm, “the air war won the ground war.” The fervent, faithful praying of a few in a well-developed prayer center can win the ground war for the troops of Christians going out into their places of work and neighborhoods to b...
What chain letters, many multi-level marketers and pyramid schemes have in common is this. They appeal to greed. It is the theology of Wall Street. In that film, Michael Douglas’ character, Gordon Gecko delivers this speech,
“…greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit… …and greed -- you mark my words -- will not only save (this company), but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.”
The problem is, though that philosophy is popular, and even pervasive, it is fundamentally false. Greed leads to incredible evil. “Wall Street” was prophetic.
Ivan Boesky, David Brace and Faith Metro Church in Wichita, ENRON, EXXON, AIG, WORLDCOM, HALLIBURTON, MORGAN STANLEY - you fill in the names of the companies and individuals who have been indicted.
On the other side of the theological equation is the Gospel, as practiced by Jesus and circulated in a different kind of chain letter by the Apostle Paul.
Two thirds of the New Testament comes from him, from his Missionary Journeys and his, for lack of a better phrase, “Letters and Papers from prison.” His letters, which we count as Biblical truth, circulated from prison. They changed the world and the people in it. He wrote to places like Philippi, Corinth, Thessalonica, Ephesus, and Rome. I have been there.
“Pray for me,” he wrote from prison, “so that when I speak, I may make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.”
And he did make the Gospel known, sometimes at great cost. He was imprisoned multiple times for his witness to Christ -- in Jerusalem, Caesarea Philippi, in Rome, under house arrest and then again in Rome at his death.
Many say the movie; "The Passion of the Christ" is too violent. Yes, it is violent. But it also is historically very accurate. People complain about the graphic way Mel Gibson portrays a Roman scourging. But it is historically accurate. One witness to a Roman scourging gave this description: "The sufferer's veins were laid bare, and the very muscles and tendons and bowels of the victim were open to exposure." This is why Jesus was dead when the soldiers came to break his legs.
The depiction of the Roman soldiers is also accurate. In the first century, Roman soldiers were the best soldiers in the world and very brutal. They had crucified thousands of people. Also if they failed in carrying out a crucifixion, then they themselves would be crucified. Today we know when the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear and water and blood came out, this meant Jesus was dead. In a dead body, the blood separates from the serum thus looking like blood and water. Brothers and sisters, make no mistake at all...Jesus was dead!
I remember an old “Dragnet” television episode back in the mid ‘60s, when the arguments about the dangers or relative safeties of marijuana use were in full bloom. The main character, Sgt Joe Friday, was expounding to a young suspect the harmful effects and results of heroine sale and use, and how in his business he witnessed many times, that so-called innocent marijuana users often graduated to worse things. He ended his tirade by saying, “You want to know what I think of marijuana? I judge it by the company it keeps”.
Christians, people outside of the church do not understand the church. They do not know Jesus; they have absolutely no knowledge of the Holy Spirit; they do not care one iota for the will of the Father; but as they look on, and hear that we call ourselves ‘Christians’, and watch our lives, they will judge us by the company we keep.
And when they look at a church body and witness gossip and judgmental-ism and condemnation, and formalism and ritual, but no love and no peace, they will see no need whatsoever, to separate themselves from the life they have in order to join what is there. They will go away with a shrug, saying, “They are no different, so why waste my time?”
DEAD IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS
Several years ago a movie came out called “Death Becomes Her”. I don’t recommend it. It was dark humor at best, but the few funny parts weren’t worth the cost of the movie rental; much less, a theatre ticket.
But the basic premise of the movie turns out to be a great illustration of the condition of all mankind outside of Christ.
Here is a summary as brief as I can make it: two very vain women want to stay looking young forever. So they accept a potion from some mysterious voodoo-type woman, and drink it.
What the woman doesn’t tell them, is that when they die their bodies will stay animated, although they will then begin to decay.
Obviously, early in the movie both women meet an early ‘demise’. After that, no matter what happens to them they stay animated (‘alive’, if you will), but the damage done to their bodies by falling down stairs, or getting shot, or whatever, stays. As the movie progresses they are using more and more makeup to cover their decay ~ reattaching limbs with glue, or whatever,...not dying, but forever dead.
Like I said, the movie is supposed to be a comedy. But don’t laugh.
Because in reality, this is all of mankind in the eyes of God. We are trying to preserve by natural means what is already dead. We are dead in sin without the righteousness offered in Christ Jesus. We can try to act a...
In "Witness," (Harrison Ford, Kelly McGinnis). John Book is a Philadelphia policeman protecting an amish boy who has witnessed a murder by another policeman. Near the end, Book is leaving the farm, the reason the grandfather gives his daughter is that "He’s going back to where he belongs." Emphasizes the fact that we don’t belong to the world.
There is a moving scene in the movie Dr. Zhivago where the Comrade General is talking with Tanya about a traumatic experience in her childhood. He asks her, “How did you come to be lost?” She replies, “Well, I was just lost.” But he persists and asks again, “No, how did you come to be lost?” Tanya doesn’t want to say, but finally gives another cursory explanation: “I was just lost. My father and I were running through the city and it was on fire. The revolution had come and we were trying to escape and I was lost.” The Comrade General kept pressing: “How did you come to be lost?” She still didn’t want to say, but finally blurted out: “We were running through the city and my father let go of my hand and I was lost.” Then she added plaintively, “He let go.” This is what she didn’t want to say. The Comrade General said, “This is what I’ve been trying to tell you, Tanya. Komarov was not your real father. Zhivago is your real father and I can promise you, Tanya, that if this man had been there, your real father, he would never have let go of your hand.”
Witnessing is just telling people what their real Father is like. The message that we have to give to the world is that they are lost only because the false gods t...