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Jamie Johnson
4 August 2013

What Are They Seeing?

NOTE: This is a written version of the message I delivered to a group of residents at Kings Daughters Community Health & Rehabilitation Center on August 4, 2013.

Several weeks ago, I was driving on the highway. A car came barreling up behind me, flashing its lights and motioning for me to move. I was going a reasonable speed. I couldn't move over because someone was in the other lane. When that opened up, I moved over. The car then zoomed passed me and that's when I noticed the Christian Ichthus bumper sticker on the back of the vehicle. I was disappointed. Not that a bumper sticker shows what one truly believes, but chances are that the man in the car is a brother-in-Christ. Maybe he forgot about the witness he needs to be, even on the road. The truth is that sometimes I am that man. Sometimes, you are that man. Sometimes, we know what we should do and don't do it OR we know what we shouldn't do and we do it anyway (See Romans 7:14-25). I didn't know the guy, but I was watching. And there are people watching us or hearing us, even when we don't know it or expect it.

The other Sunday, someone came to me after service and shared that they had a nephew who had special needs and received such joy when listening to the bass-line I sing on his so-called "Jesus tapes" and that they calmed him down. I have neither met nor seen this person's nephew. I just show up for worship team practice and sing and it is recorded. Little did I know that those CDs go forth beyond those of us at practice. It brought and brings joy to my heart that music which praises Jesus encourages this young man. It also reminded me again that people are watching or listening. I am reminded that I am ministering sometimes even when I am not aware that I am ministering. Hebrews 13:2 (NASB) says, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." If you are in Christ, as you live out your life, you are ministering whether you realize it or not and you must remain vigilant. People are watching. What are they seeing? If you are in Christ, then you are an ambassador. The Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NASB) that "we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." Are you reconciled to God? If so, are you functioning as an ambassador for Christ? What does an ambassador do? He represents Christ. Are you representing Christ?

Maybe you feel unqualified to minister. Maybe you question your ability to represent Christ. Maybe you are fearful. It's not about our ability or fear. It's about Jesus working through you. Are you trying in your own effort or trusting Him to work through you? Stephen Bishop of North Carolina shares in a devotional reading that he mastered catching crickets as a boy, but then writes the following: "Somewhere along the line, I lost my passion for catching crickets -- and on a much larger scale, for mastering new things. From fear of failure or disapproval, I now stay safely in my comfort zone. In fact, as an adult, I live more like a cricket than a person, hiding and leaping in fear" (May 30, 2013, The Upper Room). Moses was fearful and wanted to stay comfortable. When God called Moses, there was hesitating. Moses questioned in Exodus 4:4 (NASB), "What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say?..." The LORD answered him in a way that should have settled the matter for Moses. Still, Exodus 4:10 (NASB) shows Moses hesitating further: "Then Moses said to the LORD, 'Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.'" Verses 11-12 (NASB) shows the LORD's response: "The LORD said to him, 'Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.'" Moses still hesitated in the subsequent verse: "Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will" (Exodus 4:13, NASB).

Sometimes, we are the same way. Sometimes we look at our own skills or lack thereof. Or we look at the circumstances or our fears. And we forget the words of Christ in Matthew 19:26, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (NASB). God told Moses that He would be with His mouth, that He made the mouth. This doesn't mean Moses wouldn't have to speak. However, it does mean that God would be with Him and work through Him. Moses would at least have to try in God's power and trust God at what He says. We all have fears, hindrances and obstacles, but with God, He can make you the witness He wants you to be. Ask Him to help you and show you and teach you. The least you can do is be open to His work and try.

Last month, my wife and kids went camping and it was during the week where it rained and rained. Sadly, some of the children's books came home soaked. The pages were so wet, they seemed like tissue paper. Though it would be time-consuming and delicate work, I slowly separated all the pages and fanned out the books so they could dry. The pages eventually dried and I pressed some of the books beneath the weight of boxes. And they are in pretty good shape! I remember saying to my son when he asked if the books would be okay: "You won't know unless you try." Good things won't happen unless you try in Christ's strength. Similarly, if we look at our circumstances and put our hands up in the air and give up and not try, it is like saying that God is unable to work through us and use us or that we are unwilling to allow it. However, if you are in Christ, He can and wants to. And as mentioned earlier, if you are in Christ, people are watching or listening, even when we don't know it.

A few weeks ago, I was at a retailer having a promotion giving away a free drink. I stopped by the retailer on the way home from work. I went to the machine and the free drink was empty. I didn't know if more had to be put into the machine. I said something to an employee. She said, "Okay" and didn't do anything about it. In fact, she walked passed me a couple of times doing other things. I then saw a second employee. He was picking up trash that people had dropped on the floor. The thought crossed my mind: This guy is diligent. He cares. He asked me what he could do to help me as he approached. I let him know the machine was out of the free drink. He stopped what he was doing and said he would check to see if they had more to put in the machine. He went to the back room and told me the disappointing news that they were indeed totally out of the free drink. However, he did not stop there. He told me that I could have another drink of my choice for free. This may be a simple occurrence, certainly not a hardship. Yet, it shows how there are two responses to the dilemma. One can either ignore it and do nothing about it OR one can express care and try to make the best out of it. There is a dilemma. This world is lost. What response are you giving? What are they seeing? Matthew 5:16 (NASB) says, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

Luke 10:30-37 (NASB) has a story about varying responses to a dilemma. It is the story of the Good Samaritan. What happened in that story? Let's look at the scripture:

Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.' Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?" And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."

Who needs a response in your sphere of influence? A roommate, a caretaker, a family member, a colleague, a friend? It may be a little thing in just a simple act of how you live your life with a focus on Jesus. And remember that while they need Jesus, so do you. You need Him to fuel you and make God-glorifying work possible. After all, transformation is in Christ alone - His life, death, burial and resurrection. Live your life as one to be seen and one to be heard to the glory of God because someone may be watching and listening. In your life, what are they seeing?

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