Saturday, May 30, 2009

Speak the Language -- Sermon for Pentecost

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ 13But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Pentecost – birthday of the Church. The spirit of God come to each and every one gathered
  • unusual, b/c before now, the spirit of God would be “on” only the prophets – given to the disciples in the upper room when Thomas doubted. (John 20:24).
  • Veil was torn in the temple at the resurrection / God no longer confined to the Holy of Holies, but now moves freely among the people.

How did the spirit of God come? As flames/ and each heard his own language.
  • God speaks to us in our own language so that we can understand
  • Some see this as the correction of the great sin of the Tower of Babel
  • That sin is the building up of the human and a lessening of the Divine
  • Pride, puffing up of our selves, hubris, selfishness
  • Divided us up into “peoples” who compete with one another
  • But no longer, because we are all one church
  • Everyone is welcome – radical hospitality
God speaks to us in our own language
  • Why should we speak to one another
  • When should we speak to one another?
  • how should we speak to one another?
  • what should we speak to one another?
We speak the gospel of Christ – what does that mean?
  • we need to speak the gospel of Christ to one another in a way that reaches their deepest need
  • We tend to use “churchy language” that WE understand but may not be understood by the unchurched
  • Need to learn to speak the Gospel in a what that this world can hear

What do we speak?
  • Follow this train of logic
  • God so loved the world
  • What IS God? God is love (1 John 4:7&8)
  • We need to speak this Love to a loveless world.
  • What the world needs now is love sweet love… it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of…

5 Love Languages – Gary Smalley
  • Word of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Gifts and visual symbols of love
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
Jesus used these languages -- he often spoke word of affirmation -- look at the Beatitudes
  • He gave quality time to his disciples
  • He gave the ultimate gift -- the gift of himself
  • He served all -- look at the Last Supper
  • He healed often by touch...

Likewise, we need to speak in a language that people understand
  • What is their greatest need?
  • We tend to speak of a God who saves through “substitionary atonement”
  • That’s great for us churchy types, but not everyone understands the need to be “washed in the blood of Jesus”
Different theologies of soteriology – the doctrine of salvation
Substitionary Atonement is just one of them
  • Other people believe that it was the suffering of Christ (movie “the Passion of Christ” great example)
  • Some people the moment of salvation occurred at the Virgin Birth.
  • Some people believe that it was the life example of Christ that was the saving action.
  • Some believe it was the teachings.
  • Different denominations relate differently to each aspect of this – we need to become familiar with the entire package – We as Methodist proclaim it’s the Life, Death AND Resurrection of Christ.
I had a good friend ask me yesterday how she could share the Gospel of Christ with someone who just doesn’t “get sin.” The woman believes in God but just doesn’t “get the Jesus thing.”
This describes the majority of people today – they just don’t “get the Jesus thing.”
  • How can we tell them of our relationship with Jesus Christ in a way they will understand?
  • Maybe we don’t need to share how Christ’s blood washes away our sin – because they just don’t “get sin.”
  • Maybe we need to look at their spiritual needs first and then tell them about how the Gospel will meet those needs.
  • For instance, this woman is expecting a baby in July. She knows that this child will need a good community that will help raise it up to be a “good person.” She yearns to be loved – she talked about how she never felt loved by her parents.
  • How do we share the Gospel with her?
  • First, because Jesus never did a “cold call witness” (I did several of them as a teen – I’d knock on doors and say “if you were to die tonight would you go to heaven or hell???” – never really did share the Gospel) – he first entered into relationship with the person. He has conversation, dinner, he healed them THEN asked the person to follow Him. Relational Evangelism.
  • Better to ask a person ‘what are you praying for’ than ‘are you going to heaven or hell??’
  • She is yearning for love – tell her that our God is a God of love – that Jesus is God come to earth with skin on so that He could show us that love. He put on flesh and dwelt among us. He loved humankind. He healed us, he fed us, he prayed for and with us, he lived among us and then he died for us. God’s love reaches across all sorts of boundaries – race, color, age, sex, national origin.
  • Speak the language – this world is yearning for direction, for love, for healing, for sustenance. She is yearning for community. Tell her that in some mysterious way that the church IS the body of Christ now – that the church is here to love this world the way the Christ and God loved this world. That we are here to put hands onto Jesus’ body, to speak Jesus’ words, to teach Jesus’ teachings, to carry the message to all the ends of the world (reference the text) "How Beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News!"- Isaiah 52:7
Last week we spoke of our purpose – to make disciple of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. To fulfill that purpose, we need to learn to speak the language of the current world; a universal language; the language of love.

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