Last week I preached a message at a church
in Somerset West called Helderberg Christian Church and this week
I felt that I should preach a similiar message at Stellenbosch
Vineyard where I go... and I also think it's a good partner to
last week's thort so I hope you are challenged...
The theme of the message is 'Outreach' and the prayer that goes
before I started preaching it was simply, 'Holy Spirit, please
come in and break down self in me' so maybe take a few minutes
to pray that prayer and ask God to really come in and do that.
 WHAT IS THE MESSAGE?
A lot of people today have the message
that we are carrying as "Christianity
is cool" or maybe "Jesus is cool." We act and plan
and think as if our purpose is to convince people 'out there' that
this thing we are doing and involved in is so cool that they will
want to come on board and be part of it. By having funkier programs,
louder music, new different ways of presenting the message, we
can let people know that it is cool to be a Christian and they
will want to come and join us.
But you know what? And I really believe this is a message that
needs to hit home in a lot of us. Christianity is NOT COOL. Jesus
was NOT COOL! We've got to have that idea broken out of us and
really start seeking out the Truth again.
Do you think it was cool for Joseph to be thrown into a pit by
his brothers? sold into slavery? wrongfully accused and thrown
Do you think it was cool for Job to have most of his wealth and
animals destroyed? to have a huge portion of his family killed?
to be inflicted with boils (NOT COOL!....so I've heard!)
Do you think it was cool for Daniel to be living in exile with
his people? to be thrown into a lion's den because he simply prayed
Do you think it was cool for Jesus to die one of the most public
and humiliating deaths on the cross? to be betrayed by one of his
close friends? to be denied by one of his closer friends? to have
the crowds who had been following him turn against him and call
for his death? to have the religious leaders of the day plotting
A lot of what Jesus preached and many of the miracles He performed
went against what the religious leaders of the day thought was
acceptible and so they definitely did not regard Him as cool. The
money-changers and animal sellers in the temple that He threw out,
armed with a whip, didn't think He was cool.
Jesus was NOT COOL. Following Him is not cool.
"All men will hate you because of Me (Jesus) but he who stands
firm to the end will be saved." [Matthew 10:22] Does that
sound like a description of cool?
THEN WHAT IS IT?
So if the message is not "Christianity/Jesus is cool" what
"When the Son of Man comes in his
glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne
in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him
and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd
separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on
His right and the goats on His left.
Then the King will say to those on His
right, "Come, you
who are blessed by My Father take your inheritance, the kingdom
prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry
and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me
something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed
clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me."
Then the righteous will answer Him, "Lord,
when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give
you something to drink? when did we see youa stranger and invite
you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you
sick or in prison and go visit you?"
The King will reply, "I tell you
the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers
of Mine, you did for Me."
Then He will say to those on His left, "Depart
from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for
the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing
to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was
a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and
you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not
look after me."
They also will answer, "Lord, when
did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes
or sick or in prison and di not help you?"
He will reply, "I tell you the truth,
whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do
Then they will go away to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."
The primary calling of a Christian is NOT to be an evangelist.
Our main calling is actually not to get other people to know about
Jesus. Our primary calling (and every one of us is called to this
so if you ever wondered if you were called, Yes you are and this
is it) is to be a worshipper!
Think about that for a second: I am called to be a worshipper
And we are talking more than just singing nicely in church - we
are talking about a lifestyle of worship.
""Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's
mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing
to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform
any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by
the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve
what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will." [Romans
Do not conform to the pattern of this world. What is the pattern
of this world? It's about being cool! So this verse reinforces
what I was saying earlier cos we are called to be different and
to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
How do we achieve this? By loving God and by loving people [Matthew
22:37] - everything always goes back to those two which Jesus called
the greatest commandment. What is the message we have to deliver?
Love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind... and love
your neighbour as yourself!
 WHO HAS TO GO?
We like to think there are some special people (we sometimes call
them missionaries or evangelists) who have been called by God to
go. But what does God say?
"Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain
where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshipped
Him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All
authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore
go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching
them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with
you always, to the very end of the age." [Matthew 28:16-20]
We are ALL called to go. Some of us geographically to foreign
towns and countries and some of us in our schools or universities
or the country where we were born. But we are all called to go
and make disciples. So it is not good enough to look at certain
people in your church and say they have been called to go. Because
you have. You have key relationships with people in your family,
in your friend groups, in your work situations and you might be
the only Christian they have access to and the only person who
can point them to God. So whether you stay where you are or move
to another place, you are called to Go!
THE MESSAGE OF THE STARFISH AND WHAT IT'S NOT!
There is a quite well known analogy that has been used in many
talks and camps and last year when I used it at the Newsong Festival
during my talk there, I got a new ending to it. Just before I went
on stage, God really just spoke a final climaxing point to it which
really nailed me right deep in my heart.
As the story goes there is a beach where thousands of starfish
have been washed up on the shore and the tide has gone out and
the sun is baking down and these starfish are dying in the sun.
There is small boy on the beach who bends down and picks up a starfish
and throws it back into the water. Then he reaches down and grabs
another starfish and throws it back into the water.
This continues for a long time and then eventually an old man,
who has been standing for a while watching this strange sight,
goes over to the boy and asks him what he's doing.
"I'm saving these starfish," the
"But look down the beach," the old man says, "there
are thousands of starfish dying here, you will never make a difference."
And [cue Christian cheesy analogy ending]
the boy bends down and picks up another starfish, looks at the
old man and says, "I'm
making a difference to this one," and throws it back into
the water, and then picks up another one, "I'm making a difference
to this one," and throws it back in.
The message of this analogy is meant to be that each of us can
make a difference to one person at a time and our responsibility
is not the whole beach.
I don't want to knock that message cos there is definitely some
truth in it, but the closing line God gave me as I sat there ready
to go on stage and speak was this,
WHAT IF ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WERE MEANT TO BE ON THE BEACH WERE
ON THE BEACH?
And that hits hard. What if the whole church was on the beach
throwing starfish back into the water. Then suddenly you start
to see a difference being made to the whole beach and all the starfish.
What if all the Christians in the world realised their calling
to reach out to others and started doing so? What if self was killed
in each one of us and we stopped caring about money or sporting
achievement or promotion or things and started focusing on loving
God and people with ALL our heart and soul and strength and mind?
Imagine the impact of that.
 HOW DO WE GO?
This is the last point I am wanting to make and I am going to
quote a passage from one of my favourite authors, Terry Pratchett,
who is not a Christian as far as I know. He writes satirical fantasy
books which are very funny and yet which often, in their humour,
contain deeply satirical and spot-on commentaries about different
aspects of life.
The book I am going to quote is called 'Carpe Jugulum' (seize
the throat) and it's naturally a story about vampires. The two
characters in this passage are Granny Weatherwax who is a witch
and Mister Oats who is a young priest of a god called Om - he has
just started out as a priest and is quite nervous and just trying
to do the right thing. This conversation takes place between the
two of them and for me it is one of the strongest commentaries
on Christianity I've ever read:
"They walked on in silence. A shower
of hail bounced off Granny's pointed hat and Oat's wide brim.
Then Granny said, "It's no good
you trying to make me believe in Om, though."
"Om forbid that I should try, Mistress
Weatherwax. I haven't even given you a pamphlet, have I?"
"No, but you're trying to make me think, "Oo, what a
nice young man, his god must be something special if nice young
men like him helps old ladies like me," aren;t you?"
"Really? Well it's not working.
People you can believe in, sometimes, but not gods. And I'll
tell you this Mister Oats..."
He sighed. "Yes?"
She turned to face him, suddenly alive. "it'd be as well
for you if I didn't believe," she said, prodding him with
a sharp finger. "This Om...anyone seen him?"
"It is said three thousand people
witnessed his manifestation at the Great Temple when he made
the Covenant with the prophet Brutha and saved him from death
by torture on the iron turtle-"
"But I bet that now they're arguing
about what they actually saw, eh?"
"Well, indeed, yes, there are many
"Right. Right. That's people for you. Now if I'd seen him,
really there, really alive, it'd be in me like a fever. If I thought
there was some god who really did care two hoots about people,
and who watched 'em like a father and cared for 'em like a mother...well,
you wouldn't catch me saying things like "There are two sides
to every question," and "We must respect other peoples
beliefs." You wouldn't find me just being gen'rally nice in
the hope that it'd all turn out right in the end, not if that flame
was burning in me like an unforgivin' sword. And I did say burnin',
Mister Oats, cos that's what it'd be. You say that your people
don't burn folk and sacrifice people any more, but that's what
true faith would mean, y'see? Sacrificin' your own life, one day
at a time, to the flame, declarin' the truth of it, workin' for
it, breathin' the soul of it. THAT'S religion. Anything else is
just...is just bein' nice. And a way of keepin' in touch with the
She relaxed slightly, and went on in
a quieter voice. "Anyway,
that's what I'd be, if I really believed. And I don't think that's
fashionable right now, 'cos it seems that if you sees evil now
you have to wring your hands and say, "Oh deary me, we must
debate this." That's my two penn'orth, Mister Oats. You be
happy to let things lie. Don't chase faith, 'cos you'll never catch
it." She added, almost as an aside, "But, perhaps, you
can live faithfully."
Her teeth chattered as a gust of icy wind flapped her wet dress
around her legs.
"You got another book of holy words on you?" she
"No," said Oats, still shocked.
He thought: my god, if she ever finds a religion, what would
come out of those mountains and sweep across the plains?"
Talk about seizing the throat!
That's it pretty much, except for the response. And I know I've
used this in a thort a long time ago, but there are a lot of new
people since then and so if you have made this commitment before,
then use this as a reminder and stock take on that.
But basically I want to leave you with these two statements which
can be turned into a prayer for you to make to God, but ONLY if
you really mean it, and I must warn you in advance that if you
pray this genuinely, then it will change your life for ever!
GOD, I WILL GO WHEREVER YOU WANT ME TO GO! GOD, I WILL DO WHATEVER
YOU WANT ME TO DO!
I encourage you to take some time on this - do some business with
God and then, if you really mean these statements, make them a
prayer of commitment between you and God. Then maybe go back to
last week's 9 questions and see if there is anything that needs
to be done there.
If there is anyone reading this who doesn't feel like you can
make those statements honestly and genuinely for whatever reason,
then you must ask yourself this question: Can I really call Jesus
Lord? Because those statements basically are a simple summing up
to some extent of what it means to have Jesus as Lord of your life.
They are not an option. They ARE Christianity!