Summary: Sermon about communicating the gospel to our culture
Don’t Be Afraid!
Text: 2 Kings 18:17-37
They sure were cute! They were the children’s choir of the Colonial Beach Baptist Church. Each member of the choir was age five or younger. As they entered the choir loft they began to sing: Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows my sorrow.
When the children finished their song, I thought to myself: “How much trouble can a five year old child experience?” I thought about that question again this past week while listening to the news story about the boy expelled from kindergarten—charged with sexual harassment—because he kissed a classmate on the cheek at school. As it turns out, a kindergartner can see a lot of sorrow and trouble, can’t they?
I spoke with a friend about this story. He said: “Bill, I just understand what’s happening in our world anymore! The world is changing—and sometimes it seems so frightening!”
Do you understand his feeling of fear? Do you ever watch the news and wonder what could happen next? Are any of you uneasy, troubled, or worried? Do you ever feel frightened by the massive changes taking place in our world?
What’s happening? What’s causing all of these changes to take place?
Maybe it started with TV. We were all warned about the dangers of television, weren’t we? I was going to ask how many of you remember a day when we only had three networks, but then I realized that some of you could remember a day when we didn’t even have televisions. Well, now, with the development of satellite and cable technology we have been told that most of us will have over 500 different channels to choose from by the twenty-first century. If you ask me, we already have too many. We have ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, CNN, TNN, QVC, MTV, TNT, TBS, UPN, and FOX. We have access to premium channels like HBO, Showtime and Cinemax. Yet despite the increasing numbers of channels available to us, the quality of programming seems to be diminishing. Instead of Dragnet we have NYPD Blue. Instead of Leave it to Beaver we have Beavis and Butthead. I don’t know about you, but sometimes the stuff I see on TV makes me fearful for the future of our society.
Maybe it started with the electronic revolution—with computers, fax machines, the Internet and E-mail. We use to laugh when Captain Kirk grabbed his communicator to talk with “Scotty” aboard the Enterprise. “That will never happen,” we said. Well, nobody’s laughing anymore! Cellular phones have made science-fiction a reality. Yet despite these advancements in communication technology it still seems that we lost the art of talking to one another. Instead we only know how to talk at one another—or at one anothers machines.
Maybe it started with the fast-food industry. How many of you remember a time when entire families would sit down at the dinner table and enjoy each others company as they broke bread together? Everything has changed. Today the family dinner has been redefined as getting take-out via the drive-through window at McDonald’s, Hardees, or Pizza Hut.
Maybe it all started with instant coffee. That’s right, I said instant coffee—followed by instant pudding, instant rice, instant oatmeal and instant grits. What do these products say about our society? They say we are too impatient. Okay, I’ll admit it—sometimes I even complain that the microwave oven takes too long.
I’m not really sure what’s caused the massive changes in our world—but I am certain of one thing: Everything has changed. Things aren’t what they use to be.
The world is changing and the turmoil has sent tremors throughout every corner of human life—including the church. In his book Congregational Megatrends, Jeff Woods writes about the current predicament in which the church finds itself:
Things don’t work like they used to. The church is changing. Evangelism is different. Discipleship is different. Ministry is different. People don’t come to church for the same reasons they once did. People don’t worship like they use to. People don’t have the same loyalties, the same devotion, or the same sense of spirituality. At times, everything in the church appears to be different.
The world is changing. The church is changing. Everything is changing. This begs the question: How can the church fulfill its mission in this ever-changing world? I have found some help trying answering this question in an interpretation of 2 Kings 18-19 offered by Walter Brueggemann.
The Assyrian Empire had been running rough-shod over all opposition. Every monarchy that opposed them had been destroyed—their citizens carried off into exile. Now the Assyrian troops had arrived at the walls of Jerusalem. Judah was under siege.
Hezekiah, the King of Judah, tried to appease the Assyrian forces. He sent massive amounts of wealth to Sennacherib, the Assyrian King, in the hope of avoiding a conflict and preserving his reign. It was a futile gesture. Sennacherib wanted Jerusalem—nothing less would be sufficient.