Sermon for Sunday January 14th, 2018, the Second Sunday after Epiphany
The Lessons: 1 Samuel 3:1-10; John 1:43-51
Text: John 1:43-46
Topic: Bringing people to Christ
Today’s Second Lesson illustrates how disciples are called to follow Christ as Lord, and how they call others to follow Him. All that Jesus said to Philip was “Follow me” (John 1:43). Philip obeyed at once, and followed Jesus, living in his company as a disciple. Philip is so deeply convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the one whose coming Moses and the Prophets prophesied, that he finds Nathanael and tells him so. When Nathanael skeptically asks if anything good can come out of Nazareth, Philip simply responds, “Come and see” (John 1:46).
The above events show two ways in which people become Christians: one through the call of Christ to an individual; the other through the witness of disciples to family, friends and acquaintances. Of course, in both of these ways the call of Christ is sounding. As St. John was writing his Gospel account, the importance of disciples’ passing on their faith to family and friends needed to be emphasized. St. John showed through this historical account that right from the call of the first disciples, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was being shared by the disciples with friends who would become disciples, like Nathanael. Philip found Nathanael and invited him to come and see Jesus. How would the Church have grown without both the preaching of the Gospel and the personal witness of Christians to people whom they know, and even to strangers?
PASSING ON THE FAITH
How many of us have really reflected on how we can share our Christian faith with others? One of the primary ways in which the Church expects Christians to share their faith is by sharing it with their children, teaching them to read the Bible, lead a Christian life and to pray. The Prayer Book should be used at home to teach prayer, including the Lord’s Prayer, as well as the Ten Commandments and the basic creed, the Apostles’ Creed. The failure of many Anglicans to bring their children up with a love for God and others, a knowledge of the Bible, understanding of it, and a working knowledge of their Anglican faith, has led to a widespread Biblical illiteracy and the drifting of many Anglican families away from their faith.
LIVING AUTHENTICALLY FOR CHRIST
All of us today must be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks us to give a reason for the Christian hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15). This means that we must know what we believe and why we believe it and what it means to us to believe it. How can we expect people to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ if we don’t know why we ourselves believe in Him? We may need to sit down one day and go over the doctrines of the Apostles’ Creed and re-acquaint ourselves with them and the Biblical passages that support them.
More than this, our lives must reflect the living presence of the Lord Jesus Christ through his Holy Spirit at work in us. This living presence of God is revealed primarily through the love of God that we show others in all our relationships. It is this love by which all people will know that we are Christians (John 13:34-35). For us to be living authentically for Christ, we must be sure that we live daily in His presence, praising Him and worshiping Him as well as reading and obeying His word, the Bible.
If our lives are just the same as the lives of non-Christians, in that we show no obvious love for God or for others, how will others be drawn to Christ or to the Church?
Therefore let us all be determined to be like the early disciples who shared their faith with those whom they knew, and even strangers that they did not know. Even when there were times of persecution, as there were after the death of St. Stephen (Acts 8), Christians scattered throughout Samaria and Judaea began preaching God’s word.
SHARING THE FAITH TODAY
Western society is growing more and more ignorant of the Christian faith. How important it is that we share our Christian faith both through a life dedicated to Christ and through our words!
Here is an example of how one can begin to share the Christian faith today:
Pastor Wallace Hostetter of Rochester, Michigan, went for a haircut one day. His barber was a young Muslim woman. In the course of their conversation, he told her he was a pastor, that he believed in Jesus, and that later in the day he was going to perform a funeral.
She replied, “Once I was supposed to cut a dead man’s hair. They were going to pay me $150, but I wouldn’t do it.”
“I don’t like to touch the dead. I am afraid they’ll sit up.”
“I know one who did,” said the pastor.
“Ugh! You’re kidding.”
“No, I’m not,” he replied.
Then he told her about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When his haircut was done, she asked, “Are you going to keep coming here?”
“Yeah, I’ll come back.”
She said, “I’d like to know more.”
What practical steps can you take to share your faith in Christ with friends, colleagues and family? Perhaps a few of you can form a prayer group, or a group which studies the Bible, or Christian books that present the Christian faith, or a defense of it.