"Living Questionable Lives"
Not everyone is an evangelist, but everyone can do evangelism. Some have a gift from God of proclamation, but all of us are called to live "questionable lives."
Living Questionable Lives
A. Ever had “one of those days?” You know what I am talking about. It is what my family calls and “Alexander Day.” One of those “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days” where you just want to move to Australia.
B. Our reading began is one of those days. Paul and Silas arrived in Philippi and were teaching the good news of Jesus. They were followed by a girl who was possessed by demon, but this girl was a slave and her owners used her ability to tell the future to make money. Paul cast the demon out of girl; her owner realized his money making days were over. So he brought Paul and Silas up on charges of breaking Roman law.
C. So influential was this man that the magistrates of Philippi had Paul and Silas beaten with rod and put in a dungeon prison with their feet shackled to a stone in the middle of the room. What do you do with that type of injustice! How to get protest movement going in prison? What person do you write to plead your case? Paul and Silas didn’t respond like many would. Instead the Bible simply states that they were “praying and singing hymns to God.” But I want you to hear the rest of that verse, “and the prisoners were listening to them.”
D. About midnight, God caused a miraculous earthquake to take place. An earthquake that broke the shackles of the prisoners and cause the doors to open. As we read, the jailer was ready to take his own life when Paul called out to him and assured him that not only had he and Silas not left, but Paul says, “We are ALL here.” Every prisoner was still there!
E. What happens next is what I want us to focus on this morning. The jailer comes down to them, falls down before them and ask, “Sirs, what must I do be saved?”
I. Living Questionable Lives
A. When people are around you; when they see you on the good days and on the bad days; when you are resting by the still waters and when you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death – do they want what you have? Do you live in such a way that people approach you and ask you why and how you can pray and sing when everyone else is shouting about injustice?
B. I read a book that much of this sermon is taken from. It is called “Surprise the Word” by Michael Frost. From this book I want to examine Bible ways to live a life that others want; a life that evokes questions about Jesus.
C. Two passages made me think about this. The first is Col. 4:2-6. Paul wanted these Christians to pray. First and foremost, to pray. Pray being watchful. Think about that. That is intentional prayer. Pray for Paul that God will open a door for him to proclaim Christ. BUT, the second thing Paul says is for EVERY Christian to make the most of every opportunity, specifically in your conversation SO THAT you make know how to answer everyone. That implies that they are asking you questions. I sat with this and realized I need to live a questionable life. I need to live in such a way that people ask ME why I live, talk, and do what I do.
D. The second was 1 Pet. 3:14-16. There will be people who don’t like you because of your faith. They will think it is either silly, uneducated, bigoted, predigest, or even evil (because you don’t accept their lifestyle). So they lash out at you in words, maybe even seeking to hurt your reputation or finances. But Peter says to Christians who are enduring that type of persecution to be ready to give a defense, an answer, to the question of why you believe what you believe. But give it in such a way that it will be heard; with gentleness and respect.
E. Living a questionable life is not living like the world, but living counter-culturally in the moral and spiritual sense of thinking. It is evangelism by people who may not be evangelists. It is ready to talk, looking for opportunities, and not backing down from truth..
II. Changing The World One Person At A Time
A. Think of the Roman world from 300 years before Christ to 300 years after the church began. You look at that history and you see a culture that was immoral and humanistic. It used religious beliefs to prop up people and behaviors that God never condoned. But in that three hundred years after the ascension of Jesus back into heaven, the church which belonged to Christ transformed an empire.
B. You had great evangelists that boldly proclaimed who Jesus is and what God intended life to be. But you also had Christians whose evangelism was seen by living in such a way that people asked question and wanted what they had. When those questions were asked, the average Christian was able to give an answer as to why they believed what they believed. And the Roman empire was changed one person at a time.
C. They surprised the empire with their lifestyle. Christians devoted themselves to sacrificial acts of kindness, they loved their enemies and forgave their persecutors. They cared for the poor and fed the hungry and they did it in the name of by and by the power of Jesus.
A. People do know you. Strangers do interact with you, even for just a minute or two. What do you leave them with? What do they see in you that would make them want what you have?
B. I don’t have people coming to me saying, “What must I do to be saved?” Maybe it’s because I don’t sing and pray enough. Maybe it’s because I don’t make the most of every opportunity. Maybe it’s because I don’t live the transformed life that reflects the Holy Spirit living in me.
C. But I do know how to live that type of life. Over the next few weeks I want to share with you a few ways that can help us live questionable lives. I want to live in such a way that Jesus is seen in me.