Acts 10:34-43, CEV
Our culture often challenges us to articulate what we believe, why we bother to go to church, and who this Jesus-guy really is. It is a daunting task to stand against the forces of contemporary culture and try to offer proof of things that cannot be proven. We are faced with skeptical listeners who do not understand how God and science could possibly co-exist. We are confronted by films and the Internet with endless examples of how humanity is responsible for its own destiny and the world simply came into being without the help of an intelligent designer. How do we deal with these challenges?
This morning, contrary to what many of our friends may be doing, we are standing outside at 7:00 o’clock on a brisk Sunday morning. We could be home in our nice warm beds; that would be so much easier than this. In fact, we could sleep in every Sunday morning if it weren’t for going to church. Why do we bother? Why don’t we just stay home? The text I just read from the Book of Acts helps us with this dilemma in a couple of ways.
First, we hear that God is pleased with everyone who worships him and that God told us to announce clearly the news about Jesus. So, the answer to the question, “Why do we bother?” is because God told us to. Now, that may be a hard answer to swallow for someone who doesn’t believe that God exists. But, for those of who believe, it is the right answer. We come to church, we try to follow Jesus, and we tell God’s story because that is God’s will for our lives. For us, that is reason enough.
The other thing that is helpful in this text is that it gives us the story of Jesus “in a nutshell.” This is a story that we can relate to and that we can remember. This is a story we can share with others. It is clear; it is succinct. I think that sometimes we just get caught up in trying to prove God to others that we get tangled up in that impossible task. God does not need us to prove God’s existence. That is not the point of our witness. God can do just fine proving God without us. What God needs from us is a personal testimony of how our lives have been changed because of Jesus.
That’s really what we get in this text today – we get a simple, concise story that is based on the personal experience of Jesus’ followers. It is the example we should follow as we tell our own story. Jesus did this and Jesus did that and my life was changed because of it. The proof that God exists, that Jesus lived, that going to church matters – the real proof exists only in the lives of people who have been touched by the events we claim to believe. The people who know you, have known you, ought to be able to see the evidence of transformation in your life, in your behavior. This is how we prove God – we show the world that we are different because of our relationship with Jesus. If people drive by this morning and wonder why we’re standing out here in the semi-dark cold of dawn, they should be able to understand if they took the time to meet us. When someone asks you why you bother to get out of bed on Sunday morning, the answer ought to be evident in the way you behave differently because you got up and went to be with Jesus and some of his followers. Everything about us ought to be influenced because we bothered to get up this morning and come to meet Jesus in the sunrise. Everyone you meet ought to notice that you are not the ordinary, cynical, frustrated, world-driven person they are accustomed to meeting.
Because of this connection, because we bothered to get up this morning and show up here, we can say, with authority, “God treats everyone alike. This is how it all began and this is how it will all end. In between, God is pleased with those who worship him, who love him, who love others, and who are willing to try to change the world.”
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.