Summary: A sermon prepared for our annual Community Outreach Emphasis Sunday
Community Evangelism: Spectators or Participants?
Matthew 9: 35 – 10:20
We are now in the midst of one the hottest seasons of the year. No, I’m not talking about the weather and its accompanying temperatures. After all we have just finished having summer this past week and autumn is upon us. And also some trees up on the mountains in Grant and Tucker counties of West Virginia are already turning red and dark maroon.
The season I am referring to is none other than one of America’s favorite pastimes: football. We have to admit that most of us love to watch a first-class football game. I know for a fact that we have some die-hard fans here in this congregation that will not miss one home game of his or her favorite high school team. Several will not miss a single game even if they had to leave work early on Friday afternoon and travel a few hours to get there. And then if the team makes it to the playoffs and eventually the championship, that means spending more time on the sidelines cheering on the team of choice.
Some of us go beyond just the local pee wee, youth league or school teams to follow the big guys of college caliber or the teams of the NFL. We will spend hundreds of dollar to be able to attend a pro-game in Pittsburgh, Baltimore or Washington or various other franchises. It is nothing for us to spend all day Saturday or most of the afternoon on Sunday or Monday nights in front of the television rooting on our personal choice of team or player. And as for the Super Bowl: It is one of the nation’s most watched television programs of the year.
When it comes to the sport of football we are hooked! We love all the tackles, fumbles and interceptions. We can’t wait for the team to break out of the huddle to see what play is next. As the team nears the line of scrimmage we anticipate each player to be in the right place and ready to cross that line with great determination to at least get another first down, if not a touchdown.
It is nothing for us to sit on the edge of our seats or stand or even jump up and down during the play. We scream to the top of our lungs to cheer the players on the field as to encourage their fullest participation in the game. And if the opposing team makes a worthy play we tend to “boo!” with great enthusiasm as well.
In between plays we either speak to surrounding fans about the previous play or speculate with one another as to what play the coach will chose next. Sometimes we go as far as to think of ourselves as the coach that is leading the team to victory and yell play suggestions from the grandstand. It is not even uncommon for us at times chose to blurt out an explicative or two to voice our opinion of goofed plays that cause a loss in yardage.
And then there are the referees: They never seem to make any correct calls on the field. Most of them need glasses or need to revisit the rule book, we say. No matter where they may hail from they never are unbiased as they should be, especially if our team is the one that looses the game. What justification do they have in making the “hometown” boys suffer the blow of a loss?
We get so worked up over a few ounces of air wrapped in pig-skin, don’t we? We definitely are fans, the great spectators that sits on the bleachers or stand beside the sidelines expecting the tremendous win of the season. We watch players become injured, coaches become angry and referees become belittled all over an oblong, brown ball and who makes the best use of it to win the big game.
What about the game of life? Are we any different when it comes to whether an individual knows how to make all the right moves on the field of life to become a receiver of God’s love and compassion? Do we get concerned about who achieves and who fails in discovering a true relationship with the Christ in the end-zone of life? Or do we just sit on the sidelines (sit in the church pews) watching the world (the lost) pass by and allow their souls to be tackled by satanic forces and therefore struggling to secure the saving grace of the gospel of Jesus? Is the church nothing more than a bunch of spectators or is it a full participant in this game reaching out to the community about us with the message of God’s love?