Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Recently, my wife Lindsey and I have been talking about getting a new grill.
There was one left at our house when we bought it…but we’re not sure it’ll make it through the rest of the summer even.
There are more things broken on it than working if you know what I mean.
Now, don’t get the wrong impression. I’m no grillmaster.
I make burgers…hot dogs…did I mention I make burgers and hot dogs?
So we started to look for a new grill.
And we, like many people, look online.
And we’re of the firm belief…that one of the best places to look is reviews on Amazon.
I mean…think about it…gone are the days…of having to go to Sears…and ask the teenage boy what his “expert opinion” is on grills.
I can now go online and see what 300, 500, sometimes even 1,000 people had to say about a particular item.
I love Amazon.
We buy a ton of our stuff off of Amazon.
We even bought our TV off of Amazon.
You might say…that’s crazy! You didn’t even get to see what it looked like!
But, after reading what 1,000 people said about, I didn’t feel like I had to.
And to me, this begs an interesting question in our culture.
Because people aren’t just looking for books, TV’s, and grills in their life…they’re looking for answers.
And Jesus is one of the things they’re considering.
And I wonder…have you “reviewed” Jesus for them?
We review movies for them…books…a new item we purchased.
Do they know…from you…firsthand…just how amazing Jesus is?
And in our culture today…where people put so much stock in the reviews of others…what would that do…if they did know?
SET UP SERIES
We are finishing our 1:8 series this morning where we’ve been looking at Jesus’ instructions for how each church can carry out his mission.
It comes from Acts 1:8.
The Book of Acts is a book in the Bible that tells the story of how the church got started after Jesus ascended back into heaven.
And in chapter 1, Jesus gives instructions to the disciples for just how they are supposed to change the world.
(Acts 1:8) – NIV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
This is really a mandate for every church and ever believer.
We’ve been using this diagram to explain it:
(SHOW ACTS 1:8 DIAGRAM)
We have Jerusalem (that’s your city)…for us that’s Blaine
Judea & Samaria (that’s your region)…for us…that’s reaching our reaching through planting new churches
And the ends of the earth…for us…that’s the nations…the places we reach through our missions work in places like Haiti & Rwanda
We’ve looked at the outer ring, and the middle ring, and today…we’re going to look at how Jesus wants us to reach our city.
If you’ve been around here for some time, the one stat that you probably know is that on an average Sunday in Blaine, 48,000 people aren’t in church.
48,000 out of 60,000 people.
This is a city that is deeply in need of Jesus Christ.
And God wants to use us to reach them.
We’ve outlined over the last two weeks our church’s broad and bold vision to reach both our region and the nations for Christ…but our first-love…our first-passion…is reaching our own city for Christ.
Our passion during our first few years of existence has been to help turn Blaine from being one of the easiest cities for people to get lost in…to one of the easiest cities to get found in.
That this would become a city that is so full of people who love Jesus…that it would be one of the easiest cities in America for a person to meet Jesus.
That’s our hope for our city.
But to do that…we need a boldness for sharing the Gospel.
And when we say Gospel…we mean Good News.
It’s the Good News that Jesus Christ died for us on the cross, and by believing in Him, we can be completely forgiven.
But how to we get that boldness?
Boldness for our city?
Boldness for our friends and family that live in this city?
Or in Coon Rapids? Or Andover?
In this county?
How do we get it?
I want to look this morning to the book of Romans.
It’s a letter from one of the great Christian leaders…the Apostle Paul.
And while he’s writing the Romans, he tells them of his passion of sharing the Gospel
(Romans 1:14-17) – NIV
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
He tells the Romans in verse 15, that he’s EAGER to preach the Gospel.
Think about this… He’s saying that He’s EAGER to tell people that without Christ…they are dead in their sins. They are lost. They are condemned. They will not be saved.
He takes it a step further.
In verse 16, he says not only am I eager… “I am NOT ashamed of the Gospel”
Yet for most of us…the #1 thing that keeps us from reaching our city for Christ…from reaching our co-workers, our friends, our neighbors…is that we ARE ashamed.
Maybe you think… “David, that’s too strong”
But to be “ashamed..” is to be distressed about it…to be embarrassed.
And for a lot of us…what’s holding us back…is embarrassment.
At the end of the day, we don’t want to be embarrassed.
Or hurt our reputation. Or damage what a friend may think of us.
So what’s so different about Paul?
He’s not only unashamed. He’s EAGER!
Well, what does he say?
He says, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the POWER of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes!
Let me explain to you in an interesting way how I think Paul can operate like this.
I’ve always felt like some of the greatest movies are escape movies.
Escape from prison….
Or even better, if it’s a good person who was wrongly imprisoned escaping.
Like, escaping from a concentration camp or something like that.
Those stories are just thrilling!
In fact, imagine with me that you were in one of the Nazi concentration camps during WWII.
Maybe one of the work camps. One where you probably would die eventually, but not a death camp…where they killed you upon arrival.
And let’s say you and your friends and family had been there for 5 months, and by now, everyone’s completely lost hope.
Except for you.
And one day, as you’re walking back to the building where you sleep…you see a way out.
A way out of captivity. A way out of bondage.
You notice that there’s a part of the fence that you could actually dig under.
And you’ve noticed that there is this small hoe that is always left out not far from there.
And you’ve noticed that the guards seem to always change shifts from 3:15-3:30 every day, and they never look where this possible fence opening is.
And you KNOW that it will work. You know it.
But when you pitch it to your friends & family…the one’s who’ve lost hope…they ridicule you…they shame you.
They refuse to go with.
But let’s take the story a step further.
Let’s say that because your friends refuse to go with you, you decide to escape by yourself…
And the very next day…you pull it off.
You grab the hoe, dig under the fence, and run away…but not before you slide the hoe back under the fence to its place, and replace the dirt.
But the next day…you’re feeling horrible that your friends are still in there. So you come back at the same time the next day, and you actually dig yourself BACK into the concentration camp.
You quickly find your friends…and tell them they must leave now. Before it gets to 3:30.
And once again…they begin to ridicule you.
“You never left! What are you talking about!
“You and your stories. Always selling hope!”
They even start to verbally abuse you for it. Telling you that it’s just wrong to lie to people like that
Now…let me ask you a question…if that was really you…and they were starting to shame you when you came back for them…
Would you be embarrassed about what you had said to them? Would you feel shame?
NO! No way. Frustration. Maybe. Bewilderment. Maybe. Shame? No.
Why? And this is such an IMPORTANT question…
Because you KNOW escape is possible. You KNOW Freedom is possible. You’ve TASTED it!
In fact, you probably actually felt more shame outside the fence all by yourself…than you did when you went back in to help.
You’re not ashamed because you know that what you’re doing is you’re telling people the ONE way they can live.
And that’s what Paul is saying…He’s NOT ashamed of the Gospel…Because He’s tasted its freedom…it’s the only way that people can be set free!
It’s the only way they can be made right!
Look again at verse 17:
(Romans 1:17) – NIV
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
What Paul is saying is that the GOSPEL tells us how we can be made RIGHTEOUS by faith.
How we can be “made right in God’s eyes” by faith.
Because on our own, we will never be good enough.
But Paul tells us this:
(2 Corinthians 5:21) – NIV
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
So Jesus (who was perfect), took our sin on the cross…and when He took our sin off of us…we got his righteousness.
And we were now clean (not guilty) in the eyes of God.
By FAITH! By believing in Him!
We didn’t have to DO anything! We can’t earn it.
We are forgiven by putting our faith in Him as our LORD…as our Savior.
That’s the Good News!
It’s the best news ever!
It’s news that every person on planet earth is longing to hear deep down in their hearts
And listen, there’s no shame…no embarrassment ( no matter what people say) in telling people how to find freedom.
We’re not ashamed…because we know the way!
In fact, when you feel nervous…just repeat that prayer to yourself.
“God…I’m not ashamed…because I know the way”
“I’m not ashamed…because I know the way”
I know the way out!
Look again at what Paul says in verse 14 of our passage:
(Romans 1:14) – NIV
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish
He’s OBLIGATED. The sense of the word is…I’m in debt…to share the Gospel.
That’s the sense of it.
It’s like tasting freedom that first night out of the concentration camp…and knowing that…. “No…no matter how good this feels…I can’t really sleep at night”
“I have a moral obligation…now that I know the truth…to go back and help rescue my friends & family”
Paul’s eager to do it. Because he knows that’s the only logical choice.
And we’re commanded to do so anyway!
And let me be brutally honest with you: There is no neutral ground
Too many Christians wrongly believe the following concept:
They unfortunately believe there are 3 categories one can be:
1) I can be a SUPER CHRISTIAN who tells ppl about Jesus
2) I can be a normal person who IS a Christian but keeps my beliefs to myself
3) I can not be a Christian
But you see, that middle category isn’t what you think it is.
We feel like that’s a neutral position. But it’s not!
That position is like escaping from the concentration camp, sneaking back in, and then just sitting next to your friends/family day in and day out in the camp…and saying nothing.
Because you don’t want to offend them.
That’s not neutral.
There’s absolutely NOTHING neutral about it.
And just serving them by washing their clothes and bringing them food in the camp…in hopes that they would one day ask you: “You seem like a nice person. Your live seems different. Hey, just curious, have you ever by chance escaped before??” isn’t enough
If we don’t tell them there’s a way to be forgiven… they’re either going to assume:
A) That they’re already forgiven
B) That there is no hope for forgiveness
Saying nothing is NOT a neutral position.
So we need to tell them. Unashamedly tell them.
And one of the things I want you to know is that more people WANT to hear this message than you think.
I think we sometimes wrongly assume that every person is going to be SO ANGRY if we bring up Jesus.
People are hungry for truth.
We see this when our missions trips go out to Haiti…Rwanda…or even our Youth Group to Chicago.
When we boldly go out…people are actually really hungry for truth.
Especially here, in a culture that is devoid of truth.
When I write my messages at Culver’s each week (I know...weird)…I usually just put my Bible on the edge of the table (on purpose)…and you’d be surprise how many people stop by and say, “What you doing?”
Now, often they’re Christians, but not always.
And that’s opened up some pretty cool conversations over the years.
I find that most of us have do have those openings over the years.
For instance, you mention to somone that you can’t come to something at work because you’ve got house groups with your church tonight.
And they say… “What’s that all about?”
And you can say… “Uh…nothing really”
And most of us…out of embarrassment…or shame…we do end up saying something like that most of the time.
But see those as God-ordained doors opening.
Say to yourself… “I’m not ashamed…because I know the way!”
And start talking about Jesus!
SO many people (not everyone), but SO many people are SO open!
Will you let God use you?
Many of your friends DO want to hear.
Some of your family members DO want to hear.
Your co-workers want to hear.
They want to hear your “reviews” on Jesus.
I believe that there are so many ways to do evangelism.
Whether that’s having conversations over time at work…or at a coffee shop
Whether it’s buying someone a book…having them listen/or watch a church message on video
Maybe it is talking to even a stranger you met on the bus…or at a restaurant.
Maybe it’s continually opening up your home…to your neighbors…allowing them to use your mower…your tools…and of course slowly over time…talking to them about God
I’ve seen people in this very church use every one of those!
One of the other ways that we see evangelism working in America is the “come and see” approach.
Many Americans who are interested in God prefer to come and just check out God in a church.
Although that may seem like a big first step, it’s actually smaller.
Because that way…they can check out God…from a place of anonymity…
And this method is still really working in the U.S.
This is why we BOTH train our people for personal evangelism AND encourage you to invite your friends to church to hear the Gospel.
So for instance, as many of you have maybe heard, next Sunday is going to be a great Sunday to put these passages of Scripture into action.
We are going to be lining up Food Trucks outside of the church.
(PUT UP FREE FOOD TRUCKS SLIDE)
And after each service, we are going to be giving away:
FREE Cheese Curds
FREE Mini Donuts
FREE Kettle Corn
FREE Shaved Ice
FREE Roasted Corn
FREE Beverages to wash it all down J
It’s going to be amazing!
Maybe you saw them already, but we have street signs all over that say “FreeCheeseCurds.com” and “FreeMiniDonuts.com”
And starting this morning, we have digital billboards up along 35W and also along Hwy 10 that say “FreeCheeseCurds.com” and “FreeMiniDonuts.com”
All which, redirect to our website with a page about the event
And as much as we love you (which is a lot), we’re not really doing it for you
We want people to come and hear about Jesus.
I’m going to give the Gospel…and we’re going to see people stand up and give their lives to Christ.
So what would happen if YOU boldly (without shame…because you know the way) invited your co-worker? Your friend?
Maybe their lives would change for eternity!
On your way out today, you’re going to get handed five invite cards to help you do exactly that.
We don’t normally even give that many…but we just feel like this is such an inviteable event.
Listen, this is one of the easiest Sundays ever to invite a friend to.
There are A LOT of Minnesotans out there that love cheese curds
But more than that, there are a lot of Minnesotans…that deep down…want to try church again. They want to look for GOD again.
But it’s hard. And they don’t where to go. Or where to start.
And it’s hard to humble yourself…and try again.
But if they’re just coming under this guise of “getting cheese curds”…they might give it a try.
Even if honestly deep down, they’re coming for so much more.
And we believe, that they’re going to MEET “so much more” when they come here.
Who can you boldly, and unashamedly bring with you?
I know many of you in our house groups have been praying for 2 of your friends specifically to know Jesus…every day…for almost a full year.
Maybe this is the time to put “action” to your prayers.
Trust that God has been preparing them.
Don’t just say, “Man, it’s going to be cool next week when other people do this.”
Remember the video we’ve been watching the past 3 weeks.
Don’t let the dream die in your life about God using YOU to change the world.
He wants to use YOU!
Join the adventure!
I could tell you story after story of people in our church who have met Jesus through this evangelism method.
A guy who invited a college classmate to come to Renovation…he surprised him and said yes…and he met Jesus.
A woman who invited her brother to come to Renovation…even though he was far from God…and he came…and over time…gave his life to Christ!
A woman who invited one of her employees at work to come…and amazingly saw her stand up to receive Jesus at one of our services
Some of those people met Jesus right away…some just kept coming back…and eventually gave their lives to Christ
But start thinking…what if God used YOU this way this week?!
If you don’t have a non-Christian friend to invite than your top 2 prayer requests this week are this:
1) God lead me to more non-Christian friends
2) God, what acquaintance could I invite?
What about: Your barber, your dental hygienist, your pharmacist, your daycare provider, someone from your gym, or someone like that.
Hand them a card.
And, I just believe that we’re going to see a lot of people meet Jesus next week.
And I believe that God is going to use YOU to be a major part of that.
And that He’ll get to use you to help follow-up with them.
Maybe invite them to your house group in the following weeks.
Can you see this?
God can do this!
It’s going to be great!
Let’s be all be a part of changing this city for Christ.
If we ALL…together…bring the Good News…things can change.
It doesn’t HAVE to be one of the easiest cities for people to get lost in.
Let’s make it one of the easiest cities for people to get found in!
For no matter what happens…no matter what they say…even if they turn you down…you are merely declaring how to be free.
And know that every word you say…is a seed.
It took a lot of people…and lot of misses…until I gave my life to Christ.
But every person who tried to share…planted a seed.
So go boldly…and I believe next week…God is going to show up here BIG TIME.
Don’t miss it. BE HERE!
And don’t miss out on the opportunity for your friends and family to be here as well.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.