Remember the fifth gospel? That’s you and me. And most people will never read the first four gospels, they will only read the fifth. So if we don’t look like Christ or represent Him well, how will people ever be attracted to Him or learn about Him or come to know Him?
D.L.Moody: “Where one man reads the Bible, a hundred read you and me.”
“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
It’s an interesting observation and I suspect one that is not uncommon in the world today. So many professing Christians are unchristlike in the way they think and speak and live. They live unsurrendered lives. So what sort of image of Christ is being shared with the world?クリスチャンだと告白する者の多くは考え方、話し方、生き方がキリストのようではありません。ではどんなキリストのイメージをこの世に伝えているのでしょうか？
Don’t worry, this is not a Christian-bashing sermon. What I want us to look at today is how can we, as surrendered disciples of Christ, better reflect the glory of Christ in our lives? Put more contemporarily, how can we better present Jesus to the world around us?
1. Know the good 良いことを知る
Critics are very quick to point out the inquisitions and crusades of yesteryear, and the shameful pedophilia and hypocrisy of today in some parts of the church and conclude that they want to have no part of such a thing. This is understandable. There’s no excuse for such episodes. But it’s also somewhat ignorant. We need to know and share how much good the church has done over the years because it dwarfs the bad and this gets little media attention.
* The first orphanages were run by churches.
* Many great universities were founded by churches and Christians (including Harvard, Princeton and Yale)
* The church was pivotal in abolishing slavery
* There are hundreds and thousands of church-based organisations caring for the poor and disadvantaged – the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, YMCA, World Vision, Compassion, Iris Global (housing 1 million orphans), Deaf Ministries International (we support) and so on and so on.
Know the good that the global church has done and is doing – and know also what our church is doing as well.
Let’s know the good. 良いことを知りましょう。
2. Live in Unity – our church! 一致を保って生きる
There are apparently 43,257 Christian denominations in the world today. I haven’t verified this but I’m prepared to accept it. 43,257! How does such division appear to the world? How can Christ be glorified through such division? To be sure, many ‘divisions’ are not really divisions, they’re just differences in methodology which is why it’s so easy to visit different churches around the world and find a home there. But still, there are 43,257 denominations and these just can’t all be explained away.
There’s not much we can do about all the different denominations, but there is something very real and powerful that we can do in our sphere of influence and it’s something that we in fact are doing every time we meet. It’s one of the real strengths of our church: the unity amidst such diversity. Dozens of nationalities and languages and backgrounds and cultures and temperaments and different ages and educations coming together in unity every week, worshipping together in unity, sharing our lives with each other without favouritism or bias. We’re by no means perfect in this but in our simple, sometimes stumbling way, our unity in this church is a powerful testimony of the risen Christ.
Let’s live in unity. 一致を保って生きましょう。
3. Live in joy 喜びのうちに生きる
I believe this is the most powerful and impressive way that we can show the truth and reality of Jesus to a watching world. Knowledge is good and necessary but we’re never going to argue a person into salvation. But joy is infectious. People can see and relate to joy.
Joy is a choice. But joy is not simply choosing to put on a happy face. Joy is the fruit of choosing to spend time in the presence of God. Joy is choosing to walk with God. Joy is choosing to put our eyes on God and not on the world. That’s why James writes, “Count it joy when you meet trials of various kinds”. Because even amidst trials, our eyes are fixed on God. Our joy is untainted.
God’s word to me in the midst of trials: “I have not called you to a life of lamentation. I have called you to a life of joy.”
Let’s live a life of joy. 喜びの人生を送りましょう。
4. Integrate with society 社会に融合する
We cannot reflect Jesus if we hide ourselves away from our society. We must integrate with society if we are to make Jesus known. Jesus Himself was a master of this.
Individually, we are all integrating with society because in Japan there are so few Christians that is virtually impossible to not integrate with society. But as a church, we could do this more, and this is something that we should look at more in the future as our church grows.
Let’s integrate with society. 社会に融合しましょう。
5. Make judgements but don’t be judgemental 批判的にならずさばく
This can be a tough one. And it can be one of the prime areas of criticism that the world levels at believers. T-shirts say “Only God can judge me”[image]. It’s a big meme now. In the ultimate sense, it’s true, but this can be a dangerous philosophy to live by. It essentially says, “No-one’s going to tell me how to live my life”.
Conversation with V. (Jesus: “Don’t judge” vs Jesus: “You’ll know them by their fruits.” If there’s no judging then anything goes.)
We are called to judge one another in the church (but not those outside the church). In fact, if we truly love one another, we will make loving judgements and move to warn or correct a brother or sister who is not living right. The difference between making judgements and being judgemental is this: judgmentalism communicates pride and condescension; making godly judgements involves
based on God’s standards
given in love.
And there’s a big difference between the two. One ostracises, the other binds together.
Let’s make judgements without being judgemental. 批判的にならずにさばきましょう。
6. Care about people, not just souls 魂のことだけでなく、人を思いやる
There can be a temptation for the Christian to prioritise saving souls ahead of simply caring for people. But this is putting the cart before the horse. It’s sometimes said, “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care”. It sounds a bit corny but it’s very true. ただ単に人を思いやることより魂を救うことを優先してしまう衝動がクリスチャンにはあります。
In a similar way, we need to care about people more than we care about being right in a discussion. 議論で正しくあることに気にかけるよりも人のことを気にかけることが必要です。
Consider the following statements:
* I’m an atheist so I don’t believe in God. In fact, I think He is like a childhood imaginary friend you made up to keep you company and give you comfort.
* I believe in evolution.
* I don’t trust the reliability of the Bible. I think they just made all that stuff up about Jesus after he died.
* Christians are against women’s rights. I can’t tolerate a religion that is full of sexism and bigotry.
* Christians hate gays. I believe God accepts everyone.
(If you don’t know how to respond to these, talk with me after the service.)
Do you feel threatened by these statements? (It’s okay if you do.) But what’s most important is not that we just respond in a knowledgeable, Biblical way so that “we win”, but rather we see through the comments to the hearts of the people and show that we really care about them. These issues (above) are important but they are not critical for salvation. We need to show people that we care about them and show them who Jesus really is.
Let’s care about people. 人を思いやるようにしましょう。
7. Show the world who Jesus really is 本当のイエスを世に示す
There are too many misconceptions, misunderstandings in the world as to who Jesus really is.
Ours is not a dormant faith of history. It is a living faith in a risen Lord.
Jesus identified himself in the following way:
The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Matthew 11:5
Jesus said that we would do the same and be identified also by our love.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35
We need to present Jesus to a hostile world through our love for one another, the truth of the gospel, and the power of the Holy Spirit. These are something that we have been blessed with – they are current possessions; but they are also something that we require more of and must continually seek as we step out in faith.
This is crucial and the essence of our calling as Christians. And we can only really receive these when we are fully surrendered to Jesus – completely sold out for Him.
Let’s share the love of Christ with the world. キリストの愛をこの世に伝えていきましょう。
Said to D.L.Moody, “The world is yet to see what God can do through a fully submitted Christian.”