Summary: This is the second Spring Life message dealing with the need for Christians to reach out to those around them.
Reaching the Unreachable
Spring Life Series
March 16, 2008
Spring Life is an annual emphasis on Church growth and Evangelism. This message is based on materials provided by Wesleyan Headquarters.
T.H. Huxley, a well-known agnostic, was with a group of men at a weekend house party. On Sunday morning, while most of them were preparing to go to church, he approached a man known for his Christian character and said, "Suppose you stay at home and tell my why you are a Christian." The man, knowing he couldn’t match wits with Huxley, hesitated. But the agnostic said gently, "I don’t want to argue with you. I just want you to tell me simply what this Christ means to you." The man did, and when he finished, there were tears in Huxley’s eyes as he said, "I would give my right hand if only I could believe that!"
Huxley would seem to be a modern day example of people that we feel that we might never be able to reach. We feel like we are not able to provide the answers to the questions that so many are asking. In a generation that is screaming for answers, Christians remain silent. We mistakenly believe that most people are unreachable, so we stay silent and we stay stagnant.
Who would you say is unreachable in our society?
• Powerful Politicians
• The extremely wealthy
• The addict who wants to stay addicted
This morning I want to look at a familiar story about how someone who seemed unreachable was reached with the gospel of Jesus. If you have your Bibles with you open them to Luke 19:1-10 (quickview)
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a `sinner.’ " 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." 9 Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 19:1-10 (quickview)
Seeing the Unreachable
Most people would assume that Zacchaeus could never be reached. The truth was simply that no one really wanted to reach Zacchaeus. The people around Zacchaeus hated his guts. He was the essence of everything that they hated about Rome. He represented the Roman government that was oppressing the people of Israel mercilessly. He raised an already heavy tax burden and collected extra taxes to make himself wealthy. Zacchaeus was viewed as a traitor to his country and to his faith. He was no longer considered a Jew. Zacchaeus was seen as unreachable and the thought of him returning to a place of faith was unthinkable.