When I heard Tom say that especially these days we must be the church outside of the walls, I was thrilled. Why? I’m sure those at Ebenezer UMC remember me repeatedly saying that we must be the church outside of the walls. How thrilling to have someone affirm ones words and sermons!
Tom spoke on “Advent with a Warning.” Specifically he spoke about all the varied violence in our society. An “Advent with a Warning” challenged us to Celebrate Jesus and his birth and to be aware of the innumerable ways violence is propagated in our society.
Today, let’s turn to an “Advent with Love” by reading John 3:1-21. This scripture speaks many things, that’s for sure.
One of the most well known verses in the Bible is located in verse 16 of that chapter. You may know it by memory or at least know what it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV).
Folks, there is the Advent message! Due to his love, God became man and according to scripture, he lived among man, as man, and died as man, then whose resurrection validated him as God Incarnate, the Son of God, who forgives our sins and gives life everlasting with him in heaven.
Such is Advent with Love. Such is the coming and birth of the Messiah because He first loved us! (1 John 4:19)
On our Web site is a button on the left-hand bottom that reads PastorsHeart. On your own, please go there and read what it says.
Today, I’m focusing on number 4: “Sharing the saving grace of Jesus Christ with others.” Since God shared Jesus, his One and Only Son, with us, who actually suffered and died for us, then is that not our example of being the church outside of the walls? I think so.
Moreover, I think speaking a witness about Jesus in the world is precisely the Advent message of Jesus and the paramount meaning of being the church outside the walls. This is the first step.
OK, I know some people think that we cannot share Jesus, or our faith, in the workplace, be it in schools or business. But that is simply not true. If someone can find a way to tell others about their wild and sinful weekend — which is a taboo for teachers, professionals, and job-sites — we as Christians can find a way to work Jesus into our conversations.
Having served in the military, in academia and in public education, the Lord has given me opportunities to share my faith and specifically to share Jesus. He does the same for each Christian.
That’s right, I said, “He does the same for each Christian.” We only need to seize the opportunity.
The reason one person shares Jesus and another Christian doesn’t, boils down to two things. One reason is not recognizing opportunities to share Jesus, and the other is missing a love of sharing Jesus; missing Advent with Love.
“Oh but Pastor (or Preacher), I might offend someone.” Have you ever heard, or said, that statement? I’ve heard it too many times to count.
That sentiment really lives among Christians. Such offense is a difficult issue for me because I fail to understand why people get so offended so quickly! Sometimes you get to the point of actually not speaking to some people because of their tendency to become offended, or read something into the situation that isn’t there, or think that they are the guardian of Political Correctness; I recognize why Christians don’t share Jesus - some people are afraid.
When I say “share Jesus,” I do mean in a verbal, non-apologetic and even direct manner so that there is no doubt what is being said and heard. Such a tendency is a matter of the heart of the one being offended; they miss Advent with Love. With love of Jesus and his mission, every day is Advent, every day is Christmas.
The other is missing a love of sharing Jesus; missing Advent with Love.
People in love - aren’t they amazing? People feel so free to talk about their husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, their pastor (oops, that could be a paradoxical danger). We tell others how much we love this person or that person.
Why don’t we tell others about Jesus? An interesting question isn’t it?
While you think of your reasons that others don’t tell about Jesus, allow me to offer this thought: at the root is a lacking of love; a lacking of love of Jesus; a lacking of recognizing Advent with Love; a lacking of the love of sharing Jesus. If you love Jesus enough to share him, believe me, the rewards of sharing Jesus far out-weigh any fear of offending others.
Just a few days ago, the Lord told me to share a Jesus Blessing with a young man. The opportunity was there.
Only moments before the time came, I heard him cussing up a storm. Such an outrage could scare someone into not sharing Jesus.
But, by the grace of God, He honored my obedience. This young man’s eyes were a piercing blue that would make young women swoon, but they turned mushy as I told him what Holy Spirit told me to tell him.
We departed with him thanking me for speaking Jesus to him. My soul felt raptured.
Love Jesus? Share Jesus.
— William H. Thrasher, Ph.D.Pastor, Ebenezer UMC, Odenville