Summary: Talk 7 in a series of 8. This talk owes a great deal to Bill Hybels book Becoming a Contagious Christian. Don’t try to be anyone else, just be youself. Find out how God wants YOU to share Jesus with others.
[Note to the Reader: This sermon owes a great deal to the excellent book by Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg entitled Becoming a Contagious Christian]
St. Paul writes, ‘There are different gifts, but the same spirit’ (1 Cor. 12:4); and later in his letter to the Corinthians he writes these things: ‘The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts’ (1 Cor. 12:12); and ‘if the whole body were an eye where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be’ (1 Cor. 12:17)? Verse 20: ‘As it is, there are many parts, but one body’. Verse 27: ‘Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it’ (1 Cor. 12:27).
We are the body of Christ. We are one body, made up of different parts, people with different gifts, each one valued, each one different, each one essential; and at one point Paul writes, ‘those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable’ (1 Cor. 12:22)!
So we come to week seven of our series Making Jesus better known. Today’s message is Be Yourself.
In seeking to make Jesus better known to our friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues let’s be ourselves. Let’s not seek to be like anyone else other than Christ Jesus himself.
After the crucifixion of Jesus, when he died on our behalf for the sins of the whole world, and after His resurrection, and after God sent the Holy Spirit to fill believers with a new power; after all of that God had a plan A to reach people for Christ. God’s plan A is you and me. Yes, you and me, and just in case you’re wondering there is no Plan B; only plan A.
Jesus says to us, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19); but do we sometimes hear that and think, “You can’t possibly mean me”? Well, I believe that God does not make mistakes, and yes, he does mean you and me. He made you to be you. Psalm 139:13, ‘You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb’.
In his book ‘Becoming a contagious Christian’ Bill Hybels writes this: ‘God knew what he was doing when he made you. He did! He custom-designed you with your unique combination of personality, temperament, talents, and background, and he wants to harness and use these in his mission to reach this messed-up world’. In a nut-shell, find the style of sharing your faith that fits you. Find out how you can best communicate the love of Jesus to others and then put it into practice.
In a smaller nutshell: Be yourself; but that immediately challenges the way we tend to do things in business, in employment, and in the Church. I’m sure many of us have been in situations where we’ve thought, “How did I end up doing this job? I don’t like it. It was a job, it was being advertised, I applied, I got it, and now here I am. If only I could find a job that I enjoy; a job that ticks all the boxes. Is there such a job?” In case you’re wondering, I believe I found the one for me.
Unfortunately this also happens in the Church. We advertise vacancies for a secretary to the Church council, or a youth leader, or an office volunteer, or a children’s worker, or a cleaner, and sometimes willing people offer themselves; but sometimes we approach people and excuse the cliché but we’re trying to squeeze square pegs into round holes.
Referring to the distribution of spiritual gifts by God’s Holy Spirit, The Bible says that ‘[God] gives them to each one just as he determines’ (1 Cor. 12:11); so perhaps we need to start turning the process around. Find out what God has gifted you for. If you don’t already know, find out what you are passionate about, consider your abilities, your experience, and your personality, and then use those discoveries to find out what role God has in store for you. That way, we should get a much better fit of people and roles, in business, in church, and in sharing our faith – making Jesus better known to those that don’t yet know him.
In the Bible, when it came to sharing faith with others, we find a whole variety of styles, and perhaps you’ll spot yourself in one or two of these:
1: Peter’s confrontational approach
He could be brash, upfront, and in your face. When Jesus asked the disciples who they believed him to be, Peter spoke up, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” (Mt. 16:15). Shortly after this Jesus began to explain that he must travel to Jerusalem where he would suffer at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, but on the 3rd day be raised to life (Mt.16:21). Upon hearing this Peter rebuked and challenged Jesus; now I find it hard to imagine being a 1st century disciple and challenging Jesus, but that’s what Peter did, and on this occasion Peter was just plain wrong. On another occasion he got out of his fishing boat when he saw Jesus walking on the water (Mt. 14:29). No wonder he was the one to preach the first proper sermon in the early Church.