It seems that the news media plays a role in the lives of many of our make-believe superheroes. From the Daily Planet from which the editor Perry White chronicles Superman’s latest exploits to the editorial pages of J. Jonah Jamieson who bitterly denounces the actions of Spiderman. Even on TV you have the Incredible Hulk, Bill Bixby, pursued by Jack McGee, an investigative reporter set on getting the real story.
Yet it seems that those who controlled what passed for media in the first century missed the coming of the greatest superhero of all time—our Amazing Emmanuel. Because of this God set up his own group of broadcast journalists and they were an unlikely group to be certain. That first group of reporters was none other than the shepherds to whom the angels announced the birth of Jesus.
Today things may be a little bit better. Comic strips like BC, removed from The Oregonian, and Bill Keane’s comic strip, Family Circus, are two unashamedly Christian comics. In one of Keane’s Christmas cartoons the children were setting up their nativity set, little Dolly held up the baby Jesus and declared, “Here’s the star of Bethlehem!” Yet each generation God raises up those who will be the sharers of His good news and it is usually, s the common person, the lowly, the unwashed, the unsavory. And that includes those of us, here today, who know Jesus.
It can be a daunting task to even think that you have been entrusted with the responsibility to tell others about Jesus but the fact is you have; and so have I. So let me take you to back to journalism 101 for a refresher course on good reporting. Do you remember the 5 W’s and H? “Who, What, Where, When, Why and How” these are the questions a reporter asks so let’s see what the answers can tell us about our Amazing Emmanuel.
Who—Who is it we’re talking about? Who do we tell the news to? Our first answer is Jesus. We’re talking about someone so amazing that there is no equal.
The obvious answer to the second part is “everyone” but that’s a stretch. You and I probably won’t meet even half of the people living in China, let alone all those in Southwest Portland so lets narrow down our answer to those who we know. Those with whom we have a relationship will be our starting place.
I understand the hesitancies that we need overcome to do this. Among them is the fear that those we tell this news too will think we are some sort of religious nut or fanatics. But the fact is, that many of these people know that you say you believe in Jesus and they are watching you anyway.
Here’s the starting for us. Jot down the name of those people whom you know need to hear the news that God loves them unconditionally.
What—What do we tell them? We tell them about God’s love. We tell them about the difference that Jesus has made in our personal lives. We tell them about the experiences we’ve had with Jesus that solidified God’s love for us in our hearts. A good place to start is with Christmas itself. You might hear the complaints about all the expense and stress and simply say, “I understand. I’m just glad I found a better reason to celebrate Christmas.” You might ask someone a question like, “Why do you suppose we’d celebrate the birth of baby who was born some 2000 years ago?”
Remember the quote President Kennedy uttered, “Ask not what your country can do for your but ask what you can do for your country”? Well to paraphrase it God might say, “Ask not what you can do for me, but ask what I’ve already accomplished for you.”
It was in December of 1903, that after many attempts, the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were successful in getting their “flying machine” off the ground and into the air at Kitty Hawk.
Thrilled over the accomplishment, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine: “We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas.” Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, “How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas.” He totally missed the big news—for the first time in human history, man had flown! Don’t miss the news that we’re supposed to be telling others.
Where—the idea is to talk with people in the natural setting of everyday life. D.L. Moody, great evangelist, was led to the Lord in a shoe store. Others have found Christ on retreats, in prison and even in church. Bill Hull writes, “Christians must open their eyes to the opportunity of the harvest and the privilege of working in that harvest. We must stop putting off the harvest by arguing the tit is just around the corner.”
In a culture where church is a non-issue consider that there are no commands for the unbeliever to attend church. There are, however, many commands for the believer to go into the world and to live out his/her faith among the unbelieving population.
When—Is there a better time than another? Sure there is. There is the right time and any other time. The problem is that we will never with 100% certainty know when that “right” time (kairos) will be so we have to just grit our teeth and try. We listen for the Holy Spirit. We look for opportunities. We listen with our heart as well our ears and I promise you that you’ll know when you are to say something.
You’ve written down some names of people with whom you might share the news of God’s love now jot down what it is that you think they might need to hear and how you will know when the right time to say something will be. For example…Billy needs to have a sense of peace in a world where the job market is passing him by. When I see him at the gym and he says something about how hard it is to find a job I’m going to ask him if he’d mind if our church pray for his job hunting. That’s one example of what we’re talking about.
Why—why should we tell others? Because people who have experienced God’s love want to tell others about it. The meaning of the word “angel” in Greek is “messenger”. Does it strike you as funny how God turns a bunch of shepherds into “angels”? When they “go and see for themselves” they return praising God. It’s there personal contact with this Amazing Emmanuel that sets them on a new path, an angelic path.
How—do you tell others about Christ? Our instant society with microwave Cornish game hens and instant pudding has caused the Church to become convinced that “evangelism” is all about buttonholing, arguing and riding someone till they “give their life to Jesus”. The fact is that most people become ready over a period of time as Christ touches their life in a series of instances. Coming to faith, isn’t so much an event as it is a process. Consider then that “sharing our faith” isn’t sprint but a relay race. Our story, our experience, our words, even our lives is only one of several touches in the lives of the person who we are sharing with.
We’ve been talking about the news media and Jesus so let me share with you something you may have heard years ago by 60 Minutes Harry Reasoner. He reported,
Eleven years ago I did a little Christmas piece and it seemed like a good idea to repeat it. The basis for this tremendous burst of buying things and gift buying and parties and near hysteria is a quiet event that Christians believe actually happened a long time ago. You can say that in all societies there has always been a midwinter festival and that many of the trappings of our Christmas are almost violently pagan. But you come back to the central fact of the day and the quietness of Christmas morning, the birth of God on earth.
It leaves you only three ways of accepting Christmas. One is cynically, as a time to make money and endorse the making of it. One is graciously, that’s the appropriate attitude for non-Christians who wish their fellow citizens all the joys to which their beliefs entitle them. And the third, of course, is reverently.
If this is the anniversary of the appearance of the Lord of the universe in the form of a helpless babe, it is a very important day. It is a startling idea, of course. The whole story that a virgin was selected by God to bear his son as a way of showing his love and concern for man. It’s my guess that in spite of all the lip service given to it, it’s not an idea that has been popular with theologians. It is somewhat an illogical idea and theologians like logic almost as much as they like God. It’s so revolutionary, a thought that it probably could only come from God that is beyond logic and beyond theology. It is a magnificent appeal. Almost nobody has seen God and almost nobody has any real idea what he is like, and the truth is that among men the idea of seeing God suddenly and standing in a very bright light is not necessarily a completely comforting or appealing idea. But everyone has seen babies and almost everyone likes them. If God wanted to be loved as well as feared, He moved correctly, for a baby growing up learns all about people. And if God wanted to be intimately a part of man, He moved correctly, for the experience of birth and family-hood is the most intimate and precious experience that any of us will ever have.
So it comes beyond logic. It is either a falsehood or it is the truest thing in the world. It is the story of the great innocence of God the baby. God in the power of man has such a dramatic shock toward the heart that if it is not true to Christians, then nothing is true.
So if a person is touched only once a year, the touching is still worth it. And maybe on some given Christmas some final quiet morning, that touch will take. The touch of God coming into this world as a vulnerable baby.
If Jesus is more than just a name to you or if you’re at a place in your life where the love of God is something you need and want more than you can explain let me invite you to come to this table and eat and drink with us because it is here that we see, smell and touch what God’s love is like. It is here at this table that we are reminded of the cost of God’s love. It is here at this table that we come face-to-face with the question of what do we do with Jesus. So let me invite you to come and eat. Come and grow strong. Come and discover the grace of our Amazing Emmanuel. Come and be transformed so that you too will be unable to do anything else but share His with others.