Summary: A sermon on sharing Christ with others with respect and gentleness.
“Share The Hope”
By: Kenneth E. Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
In the Gospel Lesson for this morning that Jerry read earlier Jesus, knowing that He will soon leave this world and return to the Father, gathers His best friends, the apostles, together and gives them some important instructions before He leaves.
Listening to their Master speak about His departure, the apostles probably became worried and fearful.
Jesus had become their HOPE.
How could they possibly live in this terribly difficult world without hope?
All of us need something we can hang onto…
…some glimmer of hope that things will get better…
…or that there is hope for a better life…
…or that there is some meaning to this existence…
…by nature, we are energized by hope.
A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship.
Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water.
The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned.
The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then put back in the water.
When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours.
Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!
Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them. (from a sermon by Bart Leger)
There is much power in hope.
We all need hope…
…it’s as simple as that!
So in the 14th chapter of John’s Gospel Jesus, realizing the apprehension of His apostles, responds by telling them that they will never be far from God; God will never abandon them.
First, Jesus promises that He will send the Holy Spirit, Who will serve as their guide and counselor.
The Holy Spirit will live with them and in them.
Next Jesus assures His friends that they will not be left like orphans…
…and then Jesus says something which is very encouraging, awe inspiring…
…something which is very hopeful indeed!
Jesus says: “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
You will realize that Jesus is in the Father, and we are in Jesus, and Jesus is in us!
In other words, “You can’t detach yourselves from Me…we are all intertwined together…I will never leave you…You will never be without Me…
No wonder Christ so often speaks of the Church as His Bride.
Dear friends, do you know that the Holy Spirit dwells in you?
Do you know that Jesus is in the Father, that you are in Christ, and that Christ is in you?
If you know that…
…in the deepest recesses of your souls…
…then, you have hope!!!
In our Epistle Lesson from 1st Peter this morning we are told, as believers, not to be frightened…
… “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”
Some of us are good at telling others what we have and what they don’t have—regarding the Christian faith—regarding the reason for our hope…
…but do we do this with gentleness and respect?
A Christian once made this confession: “Lord, I have prayed for the ‘lost’ but I have not loved them, lived with them or invited them. Lord forgive me. I am lost!”
Some of our means of evangelism have been extremely disrespectful to our fellow human beings…
…and have therefore, not been very successful.
A California-based Christian marketing research company says non-Christians in the United States view evangelical Christians “somewhat more kindly than prostitutes, but with less affection than lawyers.”
Many folks view Christians as being very pushy and very phony with little interest in really getting to know them.
Some imagine churches that are full of people who can’t relate to their problems—because they act as if they don’t have any problems.
Others feel that Christians are too judgmental…that they would never accept “me” because I am not perfect enough.
We are called to love and respect our fellow human beings…
…we are called to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks” us “to give the reason for the hope that” we have.
But we are to do this “with gentleness and respect.”
A pastor and his wife were out sailing one day, when they got friendly with some other sailors.