By Steven Teo (Agape Sanctuary, Klang) –
One afternoon in 1953, reporters and city officials in Chicago were gathered at a railway station to welcome a 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
A few minutes later, the train arrived and a very tall man with bushy hair and a large moustache alighted. The welcoming committee rushed to meet him and with many compliments, they said how honored they were to meet him.
The man politely thanked them and, looking over their heads, asked if they could excuse him for a minute. Quickly, he walked through the crowd until he came to an elderly black woman who was struggling with two large suitcases. He picked up the bags and, with a smile, escorted the woman to a bus. After helping her onboard, he returned to the greeting party and apologized, “Sorry to have kept you waiting.”
The man was Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the famous missionary doctor who had spent his life helping the poor inAfrica.
An official watching Dr. Schweitzer told a reporter standing next to him, “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen a sermon walking.”
Have you met a sermon walking around out there lately?
Annie Lobert (Founder of Hookers for Jesus)
Some years ago, an American TV station reported on a strange scene in front of a Las Vegas casino. Under the flashing neon lights, a group of women, led by Annie Lobert, were praying that God will lead them to prostitutes in need of help.
Annie, a former prostitute, is the founder of Hookers for Jesus, a ministry to rescue prostitutes from the streets and to bring them to God. She now enlists other ex-prostitutes and volunteers from a local church to reach out to girls on the street and in the casinos. Now in her 40’s, Annie became a prostitute in her teens.
“I was working for 16 years. I know what it’s like to be where they are. Some people think you can never go to church again.”
Her journey out of prostitution came one night when she was high on drugs, feeling suicidal and then having a heart attack. She called out to Jesus for help. She survived and turned her life around and eventually formed Hookers for Jesus. But it took her some time to find a church that she felt welcome in.
“I felt like I was being looked at, that I was being stared at. I just felt uncomfortable like everybody was talking about me. Certain churches judge girls and they don’t let these girls in. Even if they do let them in, they walk in feeling shamed and judged and they feel like they can’t really measure up.”
That changed for Annie when she met Pastor Benny Perez of the Church at South Las Vegas.
“I came and I sat down and I heard him preach and I was just blown away. People in the seats next to me embraced me.”
Pastor Perez said, “For me, this is what pastoring is about.When I read the gospels I see Christ reaching out, loving these people. Loving them where they are and loving them enough to point them in another direction.”
One Saturday night, Annie was in church with some prostitutes she had invited. Following the service, two of the prostitutes were called to the front of the hall for a special prayer, each one surrounded by church members as Pastor Perez asked for God to bring them peace.
One of the girls summed it up aptly, “You walk in the door and you just feel loved.”
Have you seen a church that’s a walking sermon lately?
Walking sermons. That’s what we are whether we realize it or otherwise. The sermons we preach in our daily interactions with society convey a positive or negative picture of our religion. All our sermonizing, all our quoting Scripture, all our talk about how great our God, usually don’t leave much on an impression on the non-Christian world. But how we live out our profession of faith carries impact on the people around us. It’s our actions – the fruits of our belief – that speak louder than our belief.
We say we are saved by faith through grace. Just believe, attend church, give your tithes and offerings. And we are good Christians. But the Bible says otherwise.
We are saved not just to go to heaven. We are saved for good works. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (New Living Translation)
James says in 2:14 – 20 (New Living Translation), “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God.f Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless.
Jesus says we are recognized or identified by our fruits. Our fruits are godly character evidenced through our lives – in all that we do.
Good works are not good words. It’s all about actions. The wow factor for non-believers is not the oratorical skills of the preacher, nor the technical perfection of the worship team, or the size of the church building. Glitzy sermons and music don’t matter to an unbelieving world.
But people are touched when we show by our deeds that we are not just talking but walking our Saviour’s talk.
The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”
Our Christian message is so often drowned out by unchristian actions. On the other hand, our message is amplified when what we preach is worked out in what we do.
But for that to happen, something must happen to us internally first.
When a teacher of the law asked Jesus which is the most important of all the commandments, Jesus’ answer was, ”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 30 – 31)
When the Great Commandment becomes part of our spiritual make-up, there can only be inner spiritual transformation (or should I say revolution?). And that inner revolution first within us will bring forth outward transformation in our daily life. Then we will see God’s love in action through our lives. Then the gospel expressed through our lives will ring true to the world around us.
We are called to be salt and light of the world. You got to shake the salt out. You got to light up the light. It takes actions.
By the way, when was the last time your life’s sermon spoke so loud someone stopped to listen?
When was the last time you were a walking sermon?