Summary: Who influences your view of the people around you? Jesus ought to! A message on witnessing.
THE PEOPLE AROUND US
INTRO: A first-grade teacher asked her students to write a paper about people. A six-year-old girl thought about people she knew ans wrote this. “People are composed of girls and boys, also men and women. Boys are no good at all until they grow up and get married. Men who don’t get married are no good either. Boys are an awful bother. They want everything they see except soap. My ma is a grown up girl with children. My pa is such a nice man I think he must have been a girl when he was a boy...”
That’s how she saw people around her. She had a pretty limited perspective on people, didn’t she? They were influenced by an older brother or another boy she knew. But what could you expect from a six-year-old child?
Who influences your view of the people around you? Jesus ought to! He was talking to his disciples one day about the people around them. He was ready to send them out among the people. READ TEXT!
People really haven’t changed, and in a way, the people around us are just like those around Jesus.
I. THEY ARE SO NEAR THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
The people around the disciples were:
Culturally near the kingdom. The whole Israelite culture was oriented toward the kingdom.
Geographically near the kingdom. Jesus spoke of Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum—cities nearby.
Religiously near the kingdom. They were involved in the religion of the Israelite prophets and priests who prepared the way for Christ.
Chronologically near the kingdom. These were places where “He himself would come.”
ILLUS: I can remember times when I have driven around in an unfamiliar place trying to find a certain address. I would be close to the address I was trying to find, but I was not aware that I was that close. Some people are so close to the kingdom of God, but they do not realize how close.
People around us are:
Culturally near the kingdom. There is an awareness of and normal acceptance of Christianity.
Geographically near the kingdom. The establishment of churches near everyone shows that people are near a church wherever we live.
Religiously near the kingdom. We have some religious people who are far away—religious on the surface. Then there are some people who visit the church that are more faithful than some of our church members.
Chronologically near the kingdom. America has experienced a large increase in membership in Protestant churches, and Bible sales are at an all time high.
But is it enough to be near the Kingdom of God? NO!
ILLUS: Twenty-four horsemen in Peoria, AZ, who usually met and rode for pleasure, organized a search-and-rescue party and became part of the AZ Rangers. They hold regular meetings and study first aid and desert survival courses. They occasionally make weekend rides into the dessert and simulate situations that they might encounter, like treating injured persons or somebody suffering from exposure. Their leader, J. H. Werking, said “If we can save at least one life, the work will be worth it.”
The church needs volunteers, too, that will aid in hunts for missing persons who are spiritually lost and often near death. They need to be rescued. Join up today!
II. THEY ARE SO FAR FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
Because of the scarcity of the disciples. There were too many people for so few disciples to reach. The pastor can’t reach all of the people in the community.
Because of their own attitudes. They were unresponsive. The three cities, though physically near, were farther than Tyre and Sidon, who would have been more responsive.
Scarcity. There are too few Christians who will witness to them today.
Their Attitudes. They are unresponsive to the Gospel message. Sometimes it is easier to witness in a foreign land. But remember—those who have more opportunities to hear and refuse the Gospel will be judged more severely.
Our Attitudes. This is the third thing the disciples didn’t have. The Bible says that “...their blood will re required at our hands.”
CONC: Dr. Harold Freeman, former professor of preaching at SWBTS, tells of a black man who came to Sunday School on a bus and expressed an interest in becoming a Christian. He lived a mile from the church, yet had never heard the name of Jesus. This was in the Bible belt. There are people around us here just like that man. So near, yet so far.