At the end of Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus gives us the Great Commission: Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20). Knowing that we are commanded to share the Gospel with others, it is easy to hide behind a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: Preach the Gospel at all times, use words if necessary.
While our fear of sharing the Gospel has many reasons, I wonder if part of that fear comes from not knowing what to say. In a society where being a Christian is no longer expected or the norm and there are many other good ways to spend our time and energy, it is important for us to be able to share about what it means to us. 1 Peter 3:-16 says, “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” When others see a different approach to life or different values in how we live, are we ready to explain where that comes from? As we go through the season of Epiphany, our sermons are focusing on this question of “Why Jesus?” When we talk about Jesus and what the Bible teaches, we often focus on what we ought to do, but most people are busy enough and have enough to do that they are not look for more things that they ought to do. So instead, let’s consider what difference following Jesus has made in our lives. Reading Matthew 6, where Jesus taught that we should give alms and pray in secret, knowing that God sees, I shared that I follow Jesus because Jesus knows my heart - and loves me. God created each one of us and knows us intimately, yet there is nothing about who we are or what we have done that would keep Jesus from loving us. Last Sunday, reading Matthew 7 about judging and the narrow gate and the golden rule, I rejoice that Jesus loves both sinners and saints. While anyone can affirm the advice given in this passage as a way to be nice and interact with others, this good advice becomes good news when we know that Jesus’ love for us does not depend on how well we manage to follow each thing he tells us. In the next few weeks, we will continue to explore this question “Why Jesus?” and I encourage you to think about why you follow Jesus. What difference has worshiping God and living through the Spirit made in your life? I would love to hear what you think! In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord, Pastor Lecia