Each One Reach One, Part 3:
How to Have a Fulfilling Life
May 18, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Friends, I would like to talk with you today about our third and final part of our series, “Each One, Reach One.” Our topic this morning is “How to Have a Fulfilling Life.”
Wouldn’t it be great if, at the end of the day – whether that means the end of today, or the end of tomorrow or next week or next month or the end of the day in the large sense – we were able to point to something and say, “Of all the things I’ve been able to do and accomplish, I’m glad I did this one. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have lived long enough and learned enough and experienced enough to do this one particular thing which gives me enormous satisfaction and an enormous sense of fulfillment.” Wouldn’t it be great to have that? I bet it’s something we all want.
You have done many things. You have accomplished many things in your lifetime. But is there something particular that we can point to and say, “This has brought me great satisfaction. I’m glad I had the chance to do this one thing”? May I suggest there is such a thing? And may I suggest that it is this – that each of us can say in our hearts, “I have been a witness for Jesus Christ”?
I am a witness for Jesus Christ. Say it with me: I am a witness for Jesus Christ. We can point to this thing with great joy and great satisfaction, knowing that it is an accomplishment that will last as long as anything lasts, something solid, something rich, something good. Longer lasting than any building or thing, being a witness for Jesus Christ has eternal implications. We know not where the ripples of our witness end up. It is an eternal connection to God, to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get up in the morning and say, in our prayer, “Dear Lord, show me a way to be a witness for you today” and to look for the opportunities that come our way during the day to do that?
My dear friends, there are many ways to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. I wonder how many of us here today have been blessed, as I have been blessed, to have a parent or parents or grandparent or aunt or uncle or someone while we were growing up to show us the way to Christ. Oh, how fortunate we are, how extraordinarily fortunate, if we had that blessing! I count it among the richest of any blessings I have ever been given, that my parents, who were raised in Poland and had little more than a grammar school education and were self-made people in America, gave me this particular gift of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, what a blessing! It lasts all of my days and blesses me forever.
If someone has given you that blessing, do thank God for them today, won’t you? Doesn’t it make you feel even more respect for them? Doesn’t it make you feel even more grateful to your parents or whomever it was that blessed you in that way? They have given you a gift of eternal significance. What a blessing! What a great gift! And so, my friends, let us be grateful that we can point to this one thing and say “I am a witness for Christ," even as your parents were to you.
Second, I can’t close this series without asking the question, “Why?” Why do it? Why be a witness for Christ? Of course, we have the Great Commission, where Jesus says, “Go and make disciples.” Go and be a witness for me. That is our Great Commission, and it reminds us that He is with us spiritually, always and everywhere, to the end of time.
So we ask the question, why. Why do it? Why evangelize? Why each one, reach one? Friends, I’ve thought about it a lot, and the best answer I can come up with for myself – and I offer it to you – is simply this: we do it because we care, care, care. That’s why we do it.
We care about Jesus Christ and about His Great Commission and about the great tradition with which we’ve been blessed. We care about furthering that in the world.
We care about our place in the world, and about having significance in our life, and about doing something that is truly memorable and significant. We care!
And third, we care about other people. We care about our neighbors and our families and our children and our friends, and everyone that we would reach with the love of Christ and share this great love that is within us.
Why do we evangelize? Why do we, each one, reach one? Because we care, care, care. Say it out loud. Why do we do it? Because we care, care, care. We want to make people’s lives better, and we know that this will. Oh, my dear friends, do we want to have significance? Do we want to move from success to significance? Do we want to be able to say, “I’m glad I did this throughout my life—I was a witness for Jesus Christ”?
There are many ways to be a witness, my friends. One way is to invite; to talk to people about God. There are other ways, too. The people who take care of this building and these grounds—that’s more than just making things look nice. It’s being a witness for Jesus Christ. People who come here and meet into the night and figure out ways we’re going to reach out into the community; people who come here and meet into the night and figure out ways to keep this place looking great and keep all the doors open and the lights on; they are witnesses! They are making the way open for God to be in people’s lives. And I congratulate you and bless you. This is wonderful!
Come into church on a Sunday morning. Somebody sees you dressed up and coming in the car into the church parking lot—you’re being a witness. You shake hands with somebody and you look him in the eye, and you say, “I’m glad you’re here”–you’re being a witness. You make the church look pretty—you’re being a witness. You’re nice to somebody in the supermarket, and you happen to be wearing a cross—you’re being a witness. There are so many ways.
You receive a copy of a sermon over Visions of Hope. You decide that it would be a message a friend of yours would be blessed by. You forward it. You are being a witness for Jesus Christ.
You mention God’s name in a conversation; you say grace in a restaurant—you’re being a witness.
You are generous. We give financial gifts to the church so that the church can do its work of witnessing in the world. Through our gifts, we enable God to work through His holy church as a witness in the world. Whenever you give a gift to the church, you are being a witness for Jesus Christ.
I leave you with this, my friends, on this ‘each one, reach one’ idea: do it, please be a witness for Jesus Christ, because you care, care, care. And please remember that you never know how far your witness will reach. Don’t ever underestimate it, please.
I close with a story about a man whose name I do not know. I do know that he lived in London in the early 1700s. He was a lay preacher. He preached in a little chapel in a side street in London. The story has it that he never knew if anyone came to Christ because of his lay preaching ministry. But there was this one night; it was May 24th, 1738. It was a rainy Sunday night, a dreary night in London. He faithfully went to the little chapel where he held informal services, on this Sunday night in May.
Into this sparse congregation came a man in a black coat. He took off his tricorner black hat and sat down. This man was broken in spirit. He felt like a total and complete failure. He had just come from a service in St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the choir very somberly intoned, “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O God.” The man remarked in his diary about how the somber song of the choir and the rain of that May night reflected his mood.
He sat in this little chapel on a side street in London, and the lay preacher got up and read from the work of Martin Luther on the book of Romans. He spoke a little bit about the love of God, and how God loves each of us, every one individually. The lay preacher closed his book and sat down. The man with the coat put his hat on and went out into the night. But the man went out thinking about the lay preacher’s words.
And on his way home, on this dark and dreary May night, the man had an experience. Something touched his heart in a new way. And the words that came through that lay preacher illuminated him. He wrote in his journal,
"In the evening I went very unwillingly to a (religious) society in Aldersgate Street, … About a quarter before nine, while the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."
He felt his heart strangely warmed after that sermon, and as though for the first time, he knew that God truly loved him… Even John Wesley. Wesley went on to be the founder of the United Methodist Church. And because of that "one," that leader of the service on Aldersgate Street, John Wesley had his most significant single spiritual experience. And we are here today, and Methodists throughout the world - about 70 million strong - are part of the Methodist heritage that was inspired in Wesley’s heart that night. One good word, 70 million touched for Christ. How remarkable!
You never know. Your teaching of faith to your children, your sharing of a prayer with someone else, your invitation to someone to a church service or special event, your presence at church, your support of your church, your unique way of sharing a spiritual thought with someone you care about —you never know where your blessing will end up!
Take a moment to think about the things you are doing for Christ. See them in this new light of being a witness for Him. Even the things you are now doing for Him will take on a new power and energy.
So join me today, won’t you? There is no more powerful evangelism than, "Each One, Reach One." Let’s all commit our lives to being faithful witnesses for Jesus Christ.
And at the end of the day, we’ll be able to say, “I did something wonderful and lasting. I’m glad to be a witness for God and Jesus Christ.”
God loves you, friend. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2008 Anthony J. Godlefski