Summary: This sermon was preached on Pentecost Sunday and challenges the church to become "Dangerously Christian!" (Len’s Sweet’s phrase).
Who would have ever thought that going to church would be dangerous? But it has become exactly that in some places.
Simon Loh, a pastor at Faith Assembly of God in Singapore, visited a hospital to pray with a church member who had contracted SARS. Soon thereafter, Loh discovered that he, too, had the disease and on March 26, Loh, 39, died.
As news of his death spread, many people stayed away from church. Those who came wore surgical masks and declined to shake hands, fearing they would catch the sometimes fatal malady.
In Toronto where Priests use a common spoon to distribute the sacrament the church insists that they will not remedy the way they do things for they believe that nothing deadly can be transmitted through the Holy Cup.” The only thing they request is that members use common sense in helping to prevent the disease. If you don’t feel well the church requests that you stay at home. A doctor in Toronto said, "The most important and effective means is to prevent individuals with symptoms of SARS from coming into the church."
SARS has scared people away from church because of a fear of what they might catch at church. The church in an area affected by SCARS can be a dangerous place. Unfortunately, in most churches, people don’t have to worry about catching anything at church because there’s nothing that’s being spread. That wasn’t the case in the church of the New Testament.
In our text this morning we find a church that is highly contagious and in fact very dangerous. A church which is so contagious that it affects the community around it and in fact turns its community upside down for Jesus. We find a group of people who are so passionate about their love for Jesus that they are contagious. A group of people so on fire for God that their lives threaten others. A group of people so in touch with God and each other that the Holy Spirit works through them in miraculous ways.
I want you to once again open your Bibles with me to the book of Acts. Last week we began this series on the church and discovered that God is calling us to the edge. That God wants us to take our faith to the ends of our worlds. Remember that those edges do not always signify geographical locations but must start with our own personal lives, with those areas in which we are uncomfortable but to which we know God is calling us.
This week I want to look with you at the events of Pentecost. Pentecost for the Jews was the feast when they celebrated the giving of the Law to Moses at Mt. Sinai. It was on Pentecost then that the disciples were all together in the upper room. The same upper room where we left them last week. You’ll recall that they had been told by Jesus to wait in Jerusalem for the gift that the Father would send them. So there they are waiting. And suddenly the room is filled with the sound of a wind. Imagine what that would be like. They couldn’t tell where it was coming from they could only hear it. As they’re sitting there wondering what’s going on, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks and they started speaking in a number of different languages. They couldn’t understand each other but as this commotion continued we’re told that those who were staying in Jerusalem for the feast heard them speaking in their own native tongues and came running. They were amazed! Here, these foreigners who had made long journeys to Jerusalem were standing listening to men speaking about the mighty works of God in their own languages. Some supposed they were drunk but Peter quickly put an end to that line of thinking with a powerful speech which he made. He clearly explains the Gospel to these people and boldly declares the good news about Jesus Christ. The people accept his message and that day some three thousand persons were saved. 3,000 people in one day! Can you imagine? It’s amazing what God can do when we are ready to be used.
These apostles, who previously had not had the courage to even stand up with Jesus when he was being persecuted were suddenly changing the world. Peter who had denied that he had even known Jesus was now preaching to the multitudes. What happened? What caused such a significant change? And how can we experience that same kind of life-giving, life-inspiring change in our own lives?
I believe there are at least three elements which are essential in the life of a person who is dangerously Christian. These are characteristics which are present in a person who is poised to impact their world significantly: