Called to Radical Hospitality: Go and Tell

Ah yes. Tel-e-phone. Tel-e-graph. Tell-a-friend it’s a secret. And then just stand back. …It won’t be a secret long! You know what I mean. So how is it that for so much of the world, and so many in our own community, (‘amazing, 2 outta 3, say the numbers) JESUS remains a secret? Likely, ‘cause so few of us are willing, much less practiced, at even whispering-a-word about Jesus. The statistics tell us. Only 3%-of-us-believers are inclined simply to invite someone else to church, much less to speak to them directly of the Savior. What would happen if we did? I can’t tell you in detail. But I can tell you what has happened when we did. Across this morning, TEN fine souls will unite in membership here. FOUR… because a neighbor or friend, already here, invited them to come! Repeatedly! Well, there you go. (O, and I love it that one family says their little one gave’m constant church hassles. ‘Came here. ‘Got hooked on the music. ‘Asked after the 1st day, “Can we come back next week?” ‘And is now a sit-up-front saint Sunday in/out.) It’s what we’ve been sayin’ for some weeks now. Come and see. Go and tell!

It’s a Bible thing, don’t you know! Maybe John’s Gospel gives us the best glimpse. At the start, Jesus greets, invites welcomes. Don’t miss this. These are not all the same thing. Then or now! Christ greets. Only come near him and he will see you, really see you. See your wants, hurts, hopes, doubts, your faith as-it-is. (He hopes we’ll do as much for each other, strangers or friends.) ‘Member what Linda just read? Jesus welcomes Philip to follow. Phil gets so excited he can’t keep Jesus a secret. He goes & tells Nathanael. Nat’s havin’ none of it. A Savior outta Nazareth? Pshh! Why that’s like a lotta help outta Washington. Not! Like us, Phil’s got no argument for Nat. ‘Doesn’t know all the doctrine. ‘Flops at the fine points about Jesus. All Phil’s got… is an experience! Now, nobody can quarrel when you share your experience. It’s yours! Phil just gives what he’s got. That’s all anyone, even Jesus, can ask of you. “Come and see,” he says. Watch how this works. Jesus sees Nat comin’. ‘Sees him, through and through. ‘Speaks to him in a way that says, “You’re no mere stranger to me.” That’s greeting. When Nat marvels, Jesus invites, “Come closer, I’ll show you more. Friends, this is still the message we need to share. Real invitation always says, come closer. Then comes the best. Welcome! Jesus says to Nat, “You’ll see heaven open, and the angels comin’ and goin’ with me.” Now that’s welcome. That’s what we’re to go tell.

Why’s that so scary? Maybe we just don’t wanna look or sound odd. Afterall, “Nobody else’s doin’ it!” (97% aren’t!) Maybe we’re afraid we’ll start an argument/discussion and be in over our heads. Not to worry. You never need to tell ALL about Jesus. ‘Explain him in full. ‘Know all the answers. ‘Meet someone else’s objections. Just share what it’s like for you to walk with Jesus. That’ll be enough and to spare. You don’t have to be Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, or Joyce Mayer. Just be you: the person Jesus calls friend. …Does the thought of speaking up for Jesus kinda freak you out? Maybe it’s because you’re turned off by the way others do it. Pushy folks. Rude folks. Know-it-all folks. Narrow-minded, often downright mean folks. Not to worry. You can’t be counted in that crowd if Jesus is willing to keep company with you! Remember: God knows even Jesus is known by the company he keeps. For you to be you, while speaking of him, lets others know they can be themselves with him… because they can be themselves with you.

How might this work? Here’s another great Bible story from John.

‘Ever get the feelin’ God just put you someplace? Right place? Right time? Philip used to swear an angel put him on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. Comin’ on: this eunuch in a chariot, the Treasurer of Ethiopia! And he’s readin’ his Bible ‘cause traffic is light and handhelds for distracted drivers are not yet a crime! He looks confused. This’d be like you in a ’95 traffic jam, lookin’ over to see Sec. Treas, Tim Geitner outta his chauffered limo. He’s pitchin’ his Ipad update from Wall Street and ponderin’ a portion of Scripture. What would you do? What would you do? Well, Philip hops the chariot, asks if he can help. “How can I get this… without a guide?” Phil… sits down, fills in this important fellow up to the good news of Jesus. The man believes and is baptized. Great story. And should you meet Tim Geitner on Rt. 95, I’d hope you’d offer him a little religion too. I imagine he can use it about now! But if Tim never comes near, there might be another for whom you could be just like old Philip, climbed up in that chariot. Here’s what and here’s all Philip does. 1st, he just goes where he feels/hears God call him to go. We can do that, you and I. No chariots, eunuchs, important or rich folk required. 2nd, even when he sees a soul in trouble, he has the good sense to wait to be asked to help. Good advice. Wait for the moment to listen and to witness. (Be wise as an angel in knowing when and where to tread.) 3rd, Phil sits down. He’s willing to spend time. Hit and run is never a good strategy, on the road, or along the way with a soul in need. Not then. Not now. always give yourself time to give Jesus space in another’s heart. 4th, Phil tells what he knows, Jesus the Best. That’s all we need to do. 5th, at the last, he seized the moment. He blessed the decision. You and I, we may not be baptizing at home, on the road, in the class or on the job. But we can certainly claim the moment to encourage others to claim the name… of Jesus.

Dare to share, we urge two weeks ago. Come and see, we invited last week. Go and tell, we commission you today. It’s as natural as exclaiming to a friend on a hike, or in a corridor at the mall, “Hey, come ‘ere. You gotta see this!” You don’t have to wait for a chariot to come rollin’ by. Somebody’s gonna say to you, “I wonder why life’s like this,” or, “It all seems so hard.”  When possible, offer a response from a Christian perspective. What a great time to sit close and say, “I don’t have all the answers, but I believe…” Be yourself. What’s good enough for you should be good enough for you and for everyone you meet. Watch for a chance to take the conversation deeper. Don’t you just know old Philip was lookin’ at that seeker’s facial and body language? If someone’s closing down, wait up… for another time. If he or she tunes in and perks up, be prepared to continue. Open up. Own up. Admitting we’re weak and imperfect too helps bond us to those feeling even more so, in the moment. Follow up. Encourage others to do something with the conversation. Offer them the places where you yourself are guided and fed: the Word, prayer, the Church, even this church… where Christ is our foundation, welcome is our heart, and service is our passion. Go and tell!

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