Summary: Three keys to successfully sharing our faith 1. Deciding not to worry 2. Deciding to stand firm 3. Deciding to live a radically different lifestyle

Kirby Bellars 18-04-07

Christian witness from Luke 21: 5-19

This morning I would like to focus on our Gospel reading.

Story: Dr. Ian Paisley, the fiery Irish cleric and politician was reputed to have been preaching one Sunday on the End Times - and in particular on the Day of Judgement.

As he reached the climax of his address he said that on the Day of Judgement "there would be wailing and gnashing of teeth".

At which point a little old woman put up her hand and said "Dr. Paisley, I have no teeth"

Paisley replied "Madam, teeth will be provided"

It does not unusual for people who preach on these “End Times” passages to engage in flights of fantasy.

But predictions about the end times, like horoscopes are exceedingly popular.

It is interesting that Jesus refused to be drawn into speculation about the end times.

We read, for example in Acts 1:6 how the disciples questioned Jesus about the end times when they asked him about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.

And instead of giving them a reply, he told them that "it is not for you to know the times or the dates that the Father has set by his own authority".... but instead told them to get ready to preach the Gospel to all nations.

If Jesus told his disciples not to waste time speculating about when the end of the world was due, then we have the duty to avoid this same spurious speculation.

I believe it is more profitable to see what lessons are hidden in this passage with regard to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and so I have purposely focussed my talk on that this morning.

I believe there are three key themes in this passage that which will help us to bear witness to Jesus.

Perhaps we should start by defining what a witness is. What is being a witness all about?

A witness is a person who can testify to what he or she has experienced or knows of first hand.

In a Court of Law, the witness is not the defence lawyer.

He or she doesn’t have to explain why something happened.

We have Christians who are well versed in the art of apologetics – that is people who can explain the difficulties of the faith – who can do that for us.

And there are courses like the Alpha course for doing that too

The witness is not the prosecution lawyer either.

We don’t have to try and convince people to make a decision.

We can simply leave that to others – such as the Holy Spirit - to do.

People will ask you why you are a Christian – if your life has something special about it.

In this morning’s Gospel reading, Jesus shares three keys to witnessing.

1. Deciding not to worry

2. Deciding to stand firm

3. Deciding to live a radically different lifestyle

1. Deciding not to worry

The first key to being a successful witness to Christ is that we can decide not to worry about what we are going to say – or what people will think about us..

The Early Church had a real danger of persecution.

Jesus himself was crucified as a

result of persecution. And at the very least Christians would often be excluded from their families for changing religion.

In this country, we don’t face persecution – though many of our brothers and sisters in Muslim countries do.

But do you ever worry what you will say if someone asks you: “Why you go to church?”

Are you scared of being put on the spot in an important meeting?

Are you afraid of making a fool of yourself?

Story: My wife Maddy has a wonderful saying when I worry. She says:

Why pray when you can worry?

What stifles prayer is worry, because worry is unbelief.

Worry is the opposite of faith.

Let’s face it we all worry – but we can also decide to stand firm against that worry.

We can decide not to be paralysed by worry. We can pray for Jesus to take away our fear

2. Deciding to stand firm

The second key to being a successful witness to

Christ is that we can decide to trust Jesus to

look after us.

Jesus went on to say:

“By standing firm, you will gain life” (Lk 21:19)

It is easy to be a Christian on Sunday at Church,

but a real test of your faith comes when you have to stand up for your faith in a hostile culture.

3. Deciding to live a radically different lifestyle

The third key to being a successful witness to Christ is deciding to live a radically different lifestyle. Jesus said

You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me” (Lk 21:16 and 17)

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