Sermons

Summary: The first commandment in the Bible is to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). There is physical fruit, which God was talking about when He commanded Adam & Eve. There is also spiritual fruit, which Paul describes here.

What makes the Gospel grow?

Colossians 1:6 In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

The first commandment in the Bible is to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). There is physical fruit, which God was talking about when He commanded Adam & Eve. There is also spiritual fruit, which Paul describes here. The fruit is love and faith based on our hope in the truth of the Gospel, and people joining together in this quest for a fruitful life. So, what is it that makes the Gospel grow?

Stories of Faith

Last week a couple on our campus was baptized. I’ll call them Joy and Santosh. They came to Bangalore from another country, and came to Jesus from another religion. They faced difficult times in their country, losing their business, struggling. They moved here looking for a new start. After 10 years of marriage they had not had a child. They went to priests from their religion and saw no benefit. They went to several doctors, took medicines, underwent treatments. Finally the doctors said, nothing was working, & they couldn’t help-the last resort was a procedure Joy and Santosh simply couldn’t afford. A few of the people on our campus had been telling their stories-about the changes Jesus had made in their lives. They began reading the Bible and attending services at a local church. Last year on Father’s Day, all the fathers stood for prayer-Santosh cried-and prayed that God would give him a child. He told the story at his baptism. This year at Fathers’ Day, he held his newborn son in his arms. He has been glowing since his son was born. When they came to our campus they both were typically dower with harsh eyes. At their baptism they radiated the joy of the Lord.

Stories of faith are powerful. They transform us from the inside. I’ve referred before to Mary Helen Imordino-Yang’s research at USC concerning how inspiring stories move us in the same system that drives our digestion-our limbic system. Some people have called this limbic resonance. Such experiences also actually rewire our brain. When we share these stories we are literally physically transformed-our brains become more like one another-we are more likely to learn how to get along, we are inspired to change the direction of our lives. Sharing stories of our faith is powerfully and positively transformative. The Colossians had a transformative faith. They also had transformative love.

Transformative Love

Jesus said “they will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). I’ve seen in the past various evangelistic strategies (I’m defining evangelism here as drawing people to Jesus) -the old 4-Laws of Campus Crusade, “Evangelism Explosion”, showing the Jesus film and such. Jesus seemed, instead, to advocate proclaiming the Good News in words (stories of faith), then proclaiming it through love. The most powerful evangelistic method isn’t a method at all-it’s a community of love. There is nothing that is more magnetically attractive to people than spending time with a group where they see and experience people with diverse cultures, languages, education, wealth, status, and colors joining together, worshiping and loving God, and caring for one another genuinely. In the early church there was no evangelism separate from the formation of a loving community. Paul saw this community of faith and love in the Colossian church-that community caused the Good News to grow and bear more fruit. This brought Paul great joy.

Prayer for Today

Father,

Teach me to share the story of Your love in me. Teach me to love others. Give me the strength to allow all I am to be shared with a community of faith and love. Teach us to be the embodiment of Your great love for the world.

In the name of Jesus, the One you sent because you loved the world so much, so everyone that believes in Him need not die, but can inherit everlasting life.

Amen

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