Summary: What does it take for Christianity to come out inside of hiding from the world in its closet

I grew up in a home where both my parents smoked. You know how it is when you grow up in it, you get used to the smell and don’t even recognize it. I never really recognized it until Laura and I were married and moved away from home. We didn’t smoke, so when we would go over to the house to visit, and then come back to our apartment, everything smelled terrible. Mom would send home food and I can remember a cake which smelled like a cigarette when we set it on the table…tasted like one too. This is not a message on smoking. I am using this illustration to say, you can tell when I have spent time with my father, you can recognize it because I smell like smoke after a visit. I cannot hide the fact I have been with him. And the same is true when you have been with Jesus.

It is costly to follow Jesus. There is a real danger for Christians that we can come into this building and begin to feel real comfortable, and get inspired being around others who know Jesus. It is a safe thing here…we can talk about the Lord, share testimonies of what God is doing in our lives, sing and shout and get excited about the things of God. But it becomes controversial as soon as we walk outside the doors and step onto the streets of Seattle. Do you know what I am talking about? It is not a modern problem, it has been a problem from ancient times. Peter and John discovered the controversy in Acts 4. They had been taking the message of Jesus and the story of the resurrection from the safety of the Upper Room and the huddle of homes were people agreed and believed the same things, out onto the streets of the city. The result was they were arrested and put in jail. They found themselves threatened and harassed by people who did not see things in the same way they did. But there was an undeniable fact about these followers of Jesus that everyone recognized. Look in your notes, Acts 4:13

Now, when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

When the people witnessed the courage of Peter and John, when they realized these were just two uneducated, ordinary men, they were amazed and they smelled the smoke and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. When you are around someone long enough, you take on their mannerism, you begin to talk like them, act like them, smell like them. And everyone else will recognize it. Have you ever noticed how some ministers are like other ministers in their walk, talk and mannerism? They have taken on the smell of their mentors. And we recognize it. You can smell the smoke lit from the fire. I want to talk to you tonight of the smoke and the fire that is going to spread forth from Ballard Assembly and touch the world for Christ, beginning right here in Seattle, it is time for us to start…

I. Coming Out of the Closet I want to relate with out times with this…

A. A Modern Day Story

Coming out of the closet has been the theme of television and movies in our recent past. Most of us are probably aware of the much publicized Ellen DeGeneres coming out on her now canceled television program. When the producers of the television show Rosanne were writing their final episode ending an almost decade run of the program, they wanted to do something that would rival the shock value of Ellen coming out of the closet. When DeGeneres did her show, she drew a 40% market share the night of her coming out. So the producers thought, what can we do that will grab and shock the publics attention. Do you know what they had Rosanne do? They had her pray. They said that prayer to the American public is as equally shocking as what Ellen did. And can I say this folks, if this is the truth, than somehow Christians have gone deeply into the closet. Lets look at the…

B. Costs and Risks of Coming Out

It is costly to come out of the closet. It is risky. When you expose yourself for what you really are and what you believe it eliminates a lot of other possibilities. I don’t think you are ever going to see Ellen DeGeneres playing the leading lady’s role next to George Clooney in some kind of a movie. When you risk coming out of the closet, it eliminates a lot of other possibilities.

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