Summary: A sermon about sharing your faith.
(After showing the 3:42 Youtube Video)
That's Atheist Penn Jillette who is one half of Penn and Teller, a duo that has been headlining Vegas shows for years with comedy and the art of illusion.
Penn has never been shy about his disbelief in God.
Yet in that video blog we just watched Penn shares a story about the time a gracious Christian businessman gave him a Bible as a gift.
And he really appreciated it.
Still, many of us have probably had bad experiences with folks who have tried to "convert" us through hard handed tactics or have "seemingly" looked down on us in a way that may seem "self-righteous," as they tried to get us to "believe the way they believe."
And experiences like these, may cause some of us to "shy away" from evangelism all-together because we don't want to treat others in a similar way.
A cartoon in the New Yorker Magazine shows a man sitting alone on a seat, wearing a tee-shirt that says: "ASK ME ABOUT MY RELIGION."
The caption above the cartoon reads: "Another way to keep an empty seat beside you on the train."
Although, if it is done with love and a sincere respect for the thoughts, ideas, beliefs and opinions of the other--humbly and without judgment--speaking to the person sitting next to you on the train or the airplane about Jesus can be very fruitful.
And I speak from experience.
A number of years ago, on a flight from New York to Los Angeles I sat next to a young man who was of a similar age as I was.
He was reading a certain "Heavy Metal" magazine that I was very familiar with.
We got to be pretty good friends on that 5 hour flight.
And I told him all about my Christian Conversion experience, how it had changed me, and so forth.
I didn't know whether he was much interested in this aspect of our conversation or not.
But after we had gotten off the plane, and were waiting for our luggage...
...he came up to me and asked me if I had any informational material about Christianity that I could give him.
He said that he wanted to learn more about it.
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning Jesus gives us what is referred to as the Great Commission: "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I've commanded you."
But how are we supposed to go about doing that?
I think the "how" is something we get a bit confused about.
One thing we must not miss in the Great Commission is the last sentence, where Jesus says: "I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age."
So, at the very least, we don't evangelize alone.
Jesus is with us.
And Jesus is the One Who convicts the hearts of persons.
And Jesus is the One Who provides persons with the gift of faith...or the ability to believe.
And Jesus doesn't force people to believe.
But, amazingly enough, God has chosen to use us in bringing about the "making of disciples," and the "teaching or bringing up of" disciples.
And what greater privilege and responsibility could there possibly be in all the earth?
That being said, Jesus' followers probably shouldn't try and force people to believe either.
It really won't work anyway.
When Jesus was talking with Nicodemus about being born again, in John Chapter 3, He spoke about it as the work of the Holy Spirit.
And He said, "God's Spirit blows wherever it wishes...It's the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
For some reason, it seems, that salvation happens according to God's timing.
We can plant seeds.
We can even watch as someone makes the decision to follow Christ.
And we are to help people along in that process.
But we can't force people to accept Christ.
If we think we can, we will be extremely frustrated Christians, to say the least.
But we are to "make disciples" in partnership with God.
Have you ever seen those signs on businesses that promote some "deal" they are trying to sell, and then in the last few words the sign reads: "Come in and ask us how"?
I've often been tempted to just walk into one of those stores, go up to a clerk or manager and simply say: "How?"
And after the perplexed store attendant looks at me funny and asks: "How what?," I would reply, "Your sign instructed me to come in and ask you 'How?'"
Anyway, Jesus commands His first disciples and Jesus commands us to "go and make disciples..."