Sermon for Trinity Sunday, June 7th, 2020
The Lessons: Psalm 8; Genesis 1:1 – 2:4; Matthew 28:16-20
The Text: Matthew 28:16-20
The Topic: The Teaching of the Christian Faith
According to Julie Iovine in the New York Times, in the 1990s many owners of small farms in America began to reduce their wholesale farming to a mere sideline and instead started using their property for another purpose: entertainment farming. Other terms for this new way to make a living on the farm are agritainment and agritourism.
Entertainment farmers attract paying customers to their property with country bands, hay-bale mazes, petting corrals, and tricycle courses. City-dwelling families eager for a feel of life on the farm can pay a small fee for admission, food and amusements. It can cost a child $1 to frolic in a pile of straw or pick a flower. Some farms have mazes cut into their cornfields that can take a person forty-five minutes to navigate. Iovine reports that one farmer in Arizona makes up to $15,000 on a good weekend.
In 1994 Alaska and Oklahoma introduced agritourism as official parts of their state tourism policies.
The catalyst for many of these farmers to take up agritainment was economic pressure.
Sometimes a Christian, or a church, can resemble an entertainment farmer. For whatever reason, we are diverted from the central purpose of producing a crop. Fruitfulness is God’s will for every Christian and every church.
– p. 187, Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal: 750 Engaging Illustrations. Grand Rapids, Michigan: BakerBooks, 2002. 2nd Printing, 2008.
In Genesis 1:28, God blesses the man and woman he has created and commands them to be fruitful and multiply and to replenish the earth, and subdue it, exercising dominion over all the other living creatures. In Matthew 28:19-20, a very different kind of fruitfulness is expected when the Lord Jesus commands the Eleven Apostles to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that the Lord has commanded them. This is the Great Commission.
THE GREAT COMMISSION
Obedience to this commission results in a massive growth of the Church. We must understand this spiritual fruitfulness properly. It is not a matter of simply baptizing people and adding their names to a church register. What it requires is teaching people the Christian faith thoroughly enough for them to become disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. This means that we must not teach the Christian faith superficially, and expect those we teach to be lifelong disciples of the Lord.
The Lord commanded the Apostles to baptize new disciples in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We know that there was some Christian teachers in the days of the Acts of the Apostles that did not teach about the Holy Spirit. St. Paul the Apostle asked a group of believers at Ephesus if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed. They replied that they had not even heard of the Holy Spirit’s existence (Acts 19:1-2). These believers had to be baptized again because they had only received the baptism of repentance preached by St. John the Baptist.
Converts to Christianity have to be taught not only the content of the Christian faith, but also the moral teaching and commands of the Lord, for the Lord adds the words, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20a). Also, as Christianity has at its heart a right relationship with God the Father that has been brought about by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross, it is necessary that converts be taught how to pray. So it is that the Church has transmitted the tradition that there are three essential parts of catechesis, or instruction in the Christian faith: the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. But now, since, at least in Anglicanism in this country, rudimentary instruction in the Lord’s Prayer, the Creeds and the Ten Commandments has proved an inadequate guarantee in making lifelong Christian disciples, a new catechism (To be a Christian – An Anglican Catechism, 2019) has had to be published that includes more comprehensive instruction on the essentials of Christianity as Anglicanism has received it. The essence of our faith is to be found in the Bible, and it is to this, and to the Creeds of the Church, that we must return to refresh our knowledge and understanding of our faith. As we read, study and obey the teachings of Christ found in the Bible, and follow the moral law of the Two Great Commandments and the Ten Commandments given us in the Old Testament, and as we teach others the Christian faith, let us remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is with all of God’s people to strengthen, equip and empower them through the Holy Spirit for the work of ministry.
How do you see your role as a Christian fulfilling the Great Commission? How will you share your faith, and your spiritual journey leading to stronger and deeper faith with others who may not yet have come to know Jesus Christ as Lord?