Ministering Beyond Ourselves*
*The basic sermon I gave Sunday, July 3rd. Any of you who know me well know that I don’t actually say everything I plan to say and add in things as they come to me on the spot, so this really is just the notes.
This morning we revisit the story of Pentecost. It is a story of, excuse the pun, the disciples being set on fire for God. Tongues of fire came to rest on them, claiming them as God’s own. It is a story that gives us a glimpse into the power of the Holy Spirit. 12 disciples speaking to a crowd of people, people representing at least 13 different regions. The Scriptures tell us that each person heard according to their own language. Ok, let’s think about this: What do we know of Jesus’ disciples?
They were regular folks, everyday people. Everyday people of the time were relatively poor and uneducated. It isn’t likely that these men had training in languages other than their own or those of nearby places. Ordinary men didn’t roam the world. They stayed where they were born hoping to live a good life and provide for their families.
Even if each of the disciples had learned one language from a distant place and none of them learned the same distant language, the numbers don’t match up. Languages from 13 regions spoken by only 12 disciples? I don’t think so. So what happened then? Verse 6 says “And at this sound the crowd gathers and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.”
If the Holy Spirit can make a crowd of people all from different places hear God’s message in a way that they understood, what else is possible with a little faith?
Each one of us sitting in this room had been called to something in this life, something that will make a difference for the glory of the Lord. What are some of those things?
You’ve heard me talking about the bible study we just started based on Max Lucado’s book, Outlive Your Life. I received this book for Christmas and had read chapters here and there, but it wasn’t until late April/early May that I sat down to read it cover to cover. Let me tell you, I wasn’t three chapters in before I felt that familiar tug at my heart. My problem is I want to do everything, help everyone, fix every problem. But one person can’t do everything. I don’t have the time, energy, or resources for that.
Mr. Lucado says something in his book that has really stuck with me. “One person can’t do everything. But everyone can do something.” Let’s think about just the orphans of the world. Just the orphans. How many rooms do you have in your house? Think about it. Now, how many rooms do your neighbors have in their homes? How much of that space is “storage?” I have a little room off of my closet that we call “the storage room” which basically means it’s filled with junk that we haven’t decided if we’re keeping or not. How many of us have these rooms? Want if every Christian in the United States took one extra room and put an orphan in it? Think about the difference that would make in the world.
Not all of us are called to adopt. Not all of us have the resources or the ability to take in an orphan child, or an orphaned adult for that matter, but each of us has the ability and the calling to do something. God is pulling at each of our hearts saying, “Do this for me, love this person for me.” Mr. Lucado’s book isn’t about Outliving Your Life through glory or fame for your actions, it’s about living beyond yourself.
When you accepted Jesus into your life as your savior you got the unconditional gift of his mercy and grace, and most wonderfully, his love. That love is now inside of you, like a wellspring of hope. Who are we to keep that hope, that tremendous love, to ourselves? Each of us is called to share Christ’s love for us, by loving others. How are you loving the people around you, the people in your community, the people in the world? When our grandchildren and great-grandchildren look back at the history we are making right now, what actions, or lack thereof, will we be held accountable for?