Summary: The Fifth Sermon in the 2008 Summer Sermon Series God is.
(The sermon began with the Reader’s Theater piece ‘Who, Me?’ published by Carson-Dellosa Christian Publishing.)
This morning I begin with a visual and active illustration of the challenge of following someone. I need two volunteers… thank you ____________ and ___________! Now, _______________, would you please start following ________________, around the sanctuary?
(Have the follower keep looking over their shoulder as they try to follow the leader…. Then have a tall person get in between them… then have a select group of people along the ends reach out and seek to delay the follower with a request to stop and chat, listen to a joke, sit down and relax. Go for several minutes then stop.)
How is this like following Jesus? (Ask for audience feedback) Many are the distractions and challenges we face in following Jesus just like _____________ did in following _____________.
Some ‘distractions’ are legitimate needs – work and family for example, yet they can get in the way of God from time to time. The challenge for us today as followers of Jesus is to make the intentional effort to put God first and follow Him. How do we do that? Let me suggest this morning that we need to first stop and consider what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
What might have happened if Jesus would have submitted the names and resumes of His 12 disciples to a Management Consultant company who would do a series of tests on them to determine their suitability for serving as disciples? From the Anglican Digest in 2001 here is a possible responsible response from ‘Jordan Management Consultants.’
Dear Sir: Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational-aptitude consultant.
It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education, and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue searching for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.
Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no leadership qualities. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale.
We feel it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus definitely have radical leanings, and both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.
One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. We wish you every success in your new venture. Sincerely Yours, Jordan Management Consultants
Our main text for this morning, one of several that we will examine is Acts 1:8. “But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
As we think about Jesus’ words in this verse of being witnesses and about the humorous (but all too true) contemporary view of the disciples, I think that we need to ask ourselves the question, (Slide 1) What does it mean to be a Jesus follower?
Let me suggest this morning several important tasks that are central to being a Jesus follower.
(Slide 2) First, as defined in our main text, we are to be witnesses. (Has anyone here ever testified in court?)
I have never testified in court but I have sat in a courtroom and it is my understanding that one is not asked necessarily for opinions but for facts and asked what one saw happen. To be a witness is a very, very important task.
(Slide 2a) To be a witness is to tell what you saw happen to someone else or to yourself.
Throughout the New Testament, a witness’ testimony often resolved a dispute to what Jesus or one of the disciples did as a demonstration of God’s power to help people. For example in John 9, there is the story of the man, born blind, who is healed by Jesus who used spit and mud to heal him.
His healing caused concern among the Pharisees’ because healing took place on the Sabbath prohibited by the religious laws of the day. First, they called him to determine what had happened.
Then they called his parents because they found his testimony incredible and unbelievable. Then they called him back a second time and he said to them “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”