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Tell Them About Jesus
November 26, 1995


When I was 18 years old, and a sophomore at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, the District Superintendent appointed me to pastor two Methodist churches. One was in the open country; one was in a small town. If you've noticed, I am somewhat brash, and tend to rush in where even angels fear to tread, so I accepted with alacrity, joyful at a chance to serve the Lord. I attended classes during the week, and spent the weekends with the congregations. However, I soon had a rude awakening when I began to realize what being a pastor at the age of 18 meant. My predecessor had a rough time. In fact, in one of the churches only three people worshiped on his last Sunday!

One Saturday afternoon I visited with an elderly minister in the next town. He was a retired mailman and was now serving a nondenominational church. He was Dutch, and spoke with a heavy accent. I asked his advice. I asked how I, an 18-year-old, could gain the respect of the congregations. How could I handle the divisive situation? What could I, a kid that is still wet behind the ears, preach to people three and four times my age? How could I presume to know enough? I can still see him as he leaned back in his chair, looked over to me, and said, "Tell them about Jesus. Tell them the old, old story of Jesus and his love. They won't dare fight with Jesus."

I took his advice. I preached Jesus, and they responded beautifully. I had a rich, growing, wonderful three years in those congregations. We had over 25 in each youth group. Some went into the ministry. I'm still taking his advice. My mission is to tell them about Jesus. Our mission, as a congregation, is to tell Merced and the world about Jesus.

Today is the last Sunday of the church year. Traditionally, this is called Christ the King Sunday. The suggested Scripture lesson from the lectionary is the magnificent hymn about Jesus from Paul's letter to the Colossians. Once again, we are thankful for church squabbles. In Colossae they evidently were squabbling about Jesus which prompted Paul to write this letter. Evidently, some Christians in the church were giving cosmic forces of one sort or another equal billing with Jesus. Paul wrote to them to convince them to restore Jesus to center stage, to the center of their faith.

It is Jesus who is the image of the invisible God. It is Jesus who holds all things together, for all things in heaven and on earth were created in him. It is Jesus who is the head of the body, the church. It is in Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. It is Jesus who rescues us from the power of darkness and transfers us to the kingdom. It is through Jesus God reconciles to himself all things by making peace through the blood of his cross. These are the phrases used in the New Revised Standard Version which was read to you this morning.

Last week I was given a gift certificate for Christian Connection. I went right over and purchased a copy of The Message, a new paraphrase in contemporary language of the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. Listen to Colossians 1:11-20 as paraphrased in The Message.

We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul--not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He's set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels--everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

He was supreme in the beginning and--leading the resurrection parade--he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe--people and things, animals and atoms--get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the Cross.

Tell them about Jesus. Let me give you the ABCs of Jesus. Our Administrative Council adopted the slogan for our church, the ABCs in motion. We are an Affirming, Belonging, Caring Church. That's who we are; now let me give you the ABCs of our mission. Our mission is to tell them about Jesus, making it as simple as ABC.

A) Romans 3:23, All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We're all in the same boat. None of us are what we can be. All of us have missed the mark and fall short of the glory of God. Our world is terrorized by war, oppression, and assassinations. Why? Because all have sinned. Our country is weakened by graft, corruption, and greed. Why? Because all have sinned. Our county and city are attacked by crime, gangs, graffiti and drive by shootings. Why? Because all have sinned. Our homes are divided by divorce, competition and jealousy. Why? Because all have sinned.

Do you sometimes feel hopeless and confused, like you are groping in darkness, not knowing which way to turn? Do you sometimes feel lost, forlorn and unloved, as if you don't belong anywhere? Do you sometimes feel alone, separated from people and estranged from God? We're talking about sin. All have sinned. The first step out of sin is to admit the condition.

B) Acts 16:31, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. Believe in Jesus Christ. Believe that in Jesus, you see God. Believe that in the Jesus you read about in the Bible, and the Jesus who walks with you and talks with you is the best picture God ever took. Believe that Jesus, through his dying on the cross, reconciles you with God. Believe that Jesus transfers you from the power of darkness, from the power of sin, to God's kingdom. Don't believe in horoscopes to tell you your future. Don't believe in the power of stars. Don't trust in drugs, alcohol, sex or money to save you. Don't trust in people, systems, theologies, or even religions. Trust in Jesus.

C) Confess your sins, come to Jesus, and commit your life. Three Cs. Confess your situation. Admit your hopelessness and your helplessness. Be honest with God. Pour it all out. Hold nothing back. Get on your knees and let it all come out. Let the tears come, be cleansed. Come to Jesus and receive God's forgiveness. Come to Jesus, know you are loved, and are given second chances.

Then, commit your life to Jesus. Commit is often an ugly word today because not too many want to commit to anything. They don't want to be held to time schedules. They don't want to make pledges. They don't want to be accountable to anyone or anything. They don't want to commit to marriage. They would rather live together, than make a commitment. But, if you don't commit your life to something or someone, there is no core to your life. You drift and are blown by the wind. If you don't know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?

Why commit to anything less than Jesus?

As I reflect on my life, I wonder where and what I would be if Jesus hadn't found me in that little Methodist Church in my home town. I heard the gospel in that little church. I heard the ABCs. I knew that All have sinned included me. I believed in Jesus, confessed my sins, came to Jesus, and committed my life. Jesus has never let me down. I have been blessed with an exceptional wife, outstanding children and grandchildren, a loving, supportive family. I have been blessed with a satisfying and rewarding ministry. Through many crises, Jesus has led me, protected me, loved me, and forgiven me.

My mission is to tell them about Jesus. Our church's mission--you're mission--is to tell them about Jesus. A third-grade girl started coming to CATCH this fall with a friend. She is from a divorced family. Last Sunday she was unable to come to receive her Bible because it was her father's turn to have her for the weekend, and he lives in another city. Tuesday, she handed me this letter.

Dear Paster(sic) Doug,

Thank you for understanding my situation. And also thank you for saving me a Bible. Sunday morning when I got up at 7:05 and found out I couldn't go I broke in tears. But, I got over it.


Our mission is to tell the children about Jesus, and how much Jesus loves them. We are leaping in faith. Jody Kranz is coming to be our Minister of Discipleship. We are taking a big financial leap. Will you leap, so that our church--all of us together--can tell them about Jesus?

© 1995 Douglas I. Norris