Summary: Part 5 of a Lenten series focusing on Jesus with this one talking about Jesus’ ability to communicate to a variety of people.
“Jesus Spoke God’s Truth in Everyday Language”
TEXT: Various Texts
Sunday, March 17, 2002
We have been doing a series on “What Makes Jesus So Attractive.” So far, we’ve learned how to know God through putting our faith in Jesus Christ. We’ve learned how to grow in that faith by being connected to him through faith, through prayer, through scripture study and through worship. We’ve learned how to show different aspects of that faith by opening ourselves up to all people, seeing people differently, treating them with kindness and serving with humility.
Today we’re going to learn how to talk about our faith. I know this is a very uncomfortable issue because we don’t want to be like a pushy salesman. We get this image in our minds of talking to people about God, and it’s usually very negative. We usually find reasons or rationalizations for not sharing our faith. We say that we would rather show our faith rather than tell people about it.
We hear that it’s easy to talk the talk, but it’s hard to walk the walk. Well, I challenge that. How many of you have walked the walk perfectly this past week? Is it easy to walk the walk? No. Is it easy to talk the talk? No. Both are hard. Yet, it is our calling and God’s desire for us. We need to both walk and talk. All walk with no talk? People wouldn’t know why we believe the way we do and why we live the way we do. All talk and no walk? Then we are hypocritical and lose credibility. We need both.
We see this with Jesus. What would have happened if Jesus had been silent? If he came down and never said a word? Would we have understood anything? What if there was never a missionary to the United States, no one to ever tell others about what Jesus did for us? Would we be sitting here today? No, we would not.
We need to talk about our faith. It is vital to people’s salvation and ours. Instead of having all these negative images of sharing our faith, we need to exchange them for some new positive images. Instead of using old methods which we find pushy and confrontational, all we need to do is find different methods which are not pushy and not confrontational. I find in scripture three vignettes from the life of Jesus and his disciples that give us possible, plausible, noncon-frontational, doable ways of sharing our faith. We are going to look through a series of passages that show each of those.
The first method for sharing our faith is in Matthew 7:24-28:
I don’t want to talk about the actual story, but I want to talk about what it says. This style of writing is a parable or an illustration. It is an object lesson–a snippet of real life pulled out in order to launch a spiritual discussion. It is powerful, and the people are amazed. Why are the parables of Jesus so powerful? One reason is because they are short and easy to remember. They are easy to visualize. It is contemporary because people knew back then what would happen if you built a house on sand or a rock. It is thoughtful because it makes you use your imagination and apply it to your life and spiritual life. It is simple and people can understand it. People who are outside the Christian faith need to keep it simple and Jesus knew that about his audience. He needed to keep it simple because they had no spiritual understanding.
Billy Graham talked about simplicity. In 1955 he went to preach at Cambridge University in England which is a seat of intellectual learning. Here’s what he discovered:
“For three nights I tried to make my preaching academic and enlightened, but with no effect. Finally, I realized that presenting the intellectual side of faith was not my gift. I began to preach the simple gospel and the results were astonishing. Hundreds of sophisticated students responded to the clear proclamation of the gospel. It was a lesson in simplicity and clarity that I never forgot.”
What is more simple than a story or an illustration from real life? In our day of exploding information, people yearn for a story. Storytelling has become a popular activity for people. Where can we find stories in our day to use to discuss or illustrate the Christian faith? You can find sources in newspapers, books, novels, television shows, everyday experiences, theater or arts. You can use the internet. You know all those thousands of forwarded messages to you that contain wonderful stories? We can also use movies. I think there is no more powerful form of communication today than movies.
Everyone in Hollywood knows that movies are powerful. In an interview with Bill Moyers, George Lucas, who produced Star Wars, was asked, “How do you explain the power of film to move us? Lucas replied, “Film takes all the aspects of other art forms–painting, music, literature, theater–and puts them into one art form. It is a combination of all these, and it works with all the senses. For that reason, it is a very alluring kind of dream-like experience. You sit in a dark room and have this other world come at you in a very realistic way.”