This is the second week of our series called Door Holders. Connect is a church of door holders. We’re all about serving, putting the needs of other people ahead of our own. We serve and sacrifice to hold the door open for people to connect with Jesus.
Everyone who is part of our church here at Connect is a door holder. Last week we talked about how all our different volunteer teams are essential to helping us hold the door open for as many people as possible to connect with Jesus.
Today, we’re going to get more personal. How can you be a door holder in your day-to-day life?
Let’s pray and then we’ll listen as God teaches us what it means to hold that door open in our lives.
There’s a tiny little book in the Bible that is usually ignored. It’s called Philemon. And as soon as you hear that, you might be thinking, “Philemon? Isn’t that Ferb’s brother?”
The book of Philemon is a short little letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to a man named…you guessed it…Philemon. It’s really short and really personal, so it doesn’t get a lot of attention. But it is still part of the Bible. It is still inspired by the Holy Spirit. And God still uses it to impact His people.
In this little book, Paul told Philemon, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (Philemon 6, NIV 1984)
There are two little words that we need notice here…“so that.”
Paul told Philemon, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, SO THAT you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”
There is a cause-and-effect thing going on here. He told Philemon to share his faith SO THAT he would have a full understanding of faith.
Conversely, when we don’t share our faith, we don’t really understand our faith.
We live in a day where people are okay with your faith as long as you keep it a private matter. It’s a very spiritual age we live in. We are encouraged to have faith in anything or anyone that we choose. But it is supposed to remain private. You worship the god that you choose in the way that you choose, but you don’t talk about it. You definitely don’t evangelize it.
The problem is that this way of thinking stands in direct contradiction to what we see here in the Bible. Keeping your faith private…refusing to share it means that you don’t really understand it.
Christianity was never intended to be a private matter. From the very beginning, it was meant to be shared.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to be this guy. Maybe you’ve seen this guy. I have. Maybe you just shake your head at this guy. I do. Maybe you think that this guy makes the church’s job a lot harder. I agree.
But this isn’t about turning into the street preacher guy. It’s not about walking around with sandwich boards and a bullhorn. It’s not about screaming at people.
This week I watched an online seminar for church leaders. One of the guys that spoke is named Perry Noble. In that seminar, Perry said, “Screaming at people doesn’t work, but if you serve people first, they’ll listen.”
Being a door holder isn’t about being a screamer. It’s about being a servant. Screamers get ignored. Servants earn the right to share their faith.
In Romans 2, Paul wrote, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4, NIV)
God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance. When we serve, when we love, when we listen instead of scream…we model that. We become an extension of His kindness. And we open the door for people to come to repentance. To find forgiveness. To connect with Jesus.
So how do we do that? How do we share our faith? How do we become door holders?
Before we go any further, I want to tackle one final objection that you might have. You CAN do this. Every person at Connect can do this. Every follower of Christ can do this. If you think you can’t, you’re wrong. And it’s probably because you have a wrong idea of what it means to actually share your faith.
We’re going to look at two different stories from Jesus’ life. I’ll tell you upfront, they’re both a little long. Since Halloween was this week, you’ll get this analogy. Normally I break Scriptures down into fun size pieces. You can eat them in a bite or two.
These stories are king sized. But let’s be honest…if you have one house that’s handing out fun size Snickers and another house that’s handing out king size Snickers, which house are you going to? You’re going to the king size house! And if you’re sitting there thinking, “I wouldn’t go to either house because I don’t even like Snickers,” then you need to know that we’ll be offering an invitation at the end of this service. We’d love for you to meet Jesus today.
Let’s get into these stories. The first one comes from John 9. Starting in the first verse, John wrote, “As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.” (John 9:1-7, NIV)
Right off the bat, this story is weird. And gross. Jesus sees this guy who had been blind from birth. Now, Jesus could have healed him with a word. He had that kind of miraculous power.
But instead, Jesus spits on the ground. Uses his spit to make mud. And then slathers the mud all over the dude’s eyes.
How’s that for a beautiful miracle? Instead of looking at the guy and saying, “You may now see!” Jesus looked at the guy and went
. That’s weird. And it’s gross.
After Jesus rubbed this spit mud all over the guy’s eyes, He told him to go wash in a specific pool. The man obeyed, even though the request seemed crazy. And after he washed in this pool, he was able to see. It was a weird, gross, miraculous move of God!
The story goes on. John writes, “His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
“How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.
He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” (John 9:8-11, NIV)
When Jesus does something in your life, people will notice. You can’t hide it. You were never meant to hide it.
This guy had been healed by Jesus, and his neighbors took notice. They started asking questions. And he answered them by saying, “Jesus. He’s the one that healed me. He’s the one that changed me. He’s the one that made a difference in my life. It’s all Jesus.”
The story goes on. “Where is this man?” they asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said. [His answer is a key part of the story. We’re going to come back to it.]
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight.
“He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents.
“Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
“We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” [That’s some good parenting right there, isn’t it? His parents were scared, so they threw their son under the bus.]
A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
[Now, here is the crux of the whole thing.] He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:12-25, NIV)
Jesus did something miraculous in this guy’s life. It was something that couldn’t be hidden. It was out there. It was plain for everyone to see, which brought on the questions.
And this is where a lot of us get tripped up. Earlier I said that a lot of people here today believe that they can’t share their faith. And one of the biggest reasons is, “I don’t know enough. I don’t know enough Bible. I don’t know enough theology. What if they ask me a question that I can’t answer?”
Think about what happened to this guy in our story. Jesus healed him. People noticed and they started asking questions.
His neighbors asked him a question. How did he answer? “I don’t know,” he said.” (John 9:12b, NIV)
When the Pharisees asked him a question, he said the same thing. They said that Jesus was a sinner. “He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know.” (John 9:25a, NIV)
Jesus had done something incredible in this man’s life, but there were still questions that he couldn’t answer. And that’s okay. He didn’t have to have the answer to every question, because he did have the one answer that mattered.
“Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:25, NIV)
People were asking him all kinds of questions about Jesus…questions that he couldn’t answer. But the only answer that mattered was, “Here’s what Jesus has done in my life. I don’t know everything about him. I still struggle with some doubts myself. I still have lots of unanswered questions myself. But here’s what I do know…I was blind but now I see!”
Having the answer to every question is not a requirement to share your faith. You really only need the answer to one question. How has Jesus changed your life? How are you different because you met Christ? What difference has God made in you?
People may ask you questions you can’t answer. But in a culture that is filled with fake and phony stuff, people are hungry for something real. And if the change that God has made in your life is real, you already have the answer to the most important question.
Now, check out this story. It’s one of the craziest, most fascinating stories from Jesus’ life. And you can stop you’re worrying, because it’s not as long as the first one. You’ll still get out in time to beat the Methodists to Cracker Barrel.
This story is found in Luke 8. Starting in verse 26, Luke wrote, “They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs.
When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man.
Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.
Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened.
When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured.
Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. (Luke 8:26-37, NIV)
Jesus meets this guy that was possessed by demons. A lot of demons. So many demons that when Jesus asked their name, they replied, “Legion.”
That’s a military term used by the Roman Empire. In the Roman army, a legion of troops numbered 6,000. We don’t know if there were 6,000 demons present, but you get the point. Jesus is dealing with a guy who was possessed by a huge demonic force.
But one Jesus is more powerful than every demon put together. He casts the demons into a herd of pigs. The pigs run into the lake and drown, but the man is saved. He is rescued. He is free. Because that’s what Jesus does. He saves. He rescues. He frees.
But the people in this region got freaked out. When Jesus starts to work in peoples’ lives, things can get crazy. And messy. And even scary. That’s why a lot of churches don’t really care about growth. They don’t really care about evangelism. They really don’t want a lot of “sinful” people to come in, because that would mess everything up. They are content with the way things are because they’re comfortable. Things are manageable. It’s safe.
When Jesus is at work, none of those things are true. It’s not comfortable. It’s not manageable. And it’s not safe. And because that’s true, a lot of churches simply invite Him to leave. And one thing that we learn from this story…if you ask Jesus to leave, He’ll leave.
But here at Connect, we are committed to being a church of door holders. We are committed to holding the doors open for people to connect to Jesus. We are committed to holding the doors open so Jesus can work in their lives. So they can be saved. Rescued. Freed.
And that means that things in our church are messy. We aren’t a church where everything is wrapped up in a nice, tidy package. We aren’t a church that knows exactly what will happen next. We are a church that has learned to be okay with the mess.
When people come into our church, they bring all their baggage with them. They bring their pain. They bring their doubts. They bring their hostilities. They bring their sin. And we are perfectly fine with that.
Jud Wilhite said, “Ministry is messy because sin is messy–get over it, get a mop and get to work!”
We will always be a church that invites the mess because Jesus seems work best through messy people…and messy churches.
But the people in this story couldn’t handle what Jesus was doing, so they invited him to leave. But what about the man who had been freed from the grip of all the demons?
Look at what Luke tells us next. “The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” (Luke 8:38-39, NIV)
Jesus had done something amazing in this guy’s life, so naturally he wanted to stay with Jesus. But Jesus did something that might seem a little mean. He sent him away. He literally told this man to go away. But look at why he told the man to go away…because this man had a mission. The mission was, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”
Notice what Jesus didn’t say. He didn’t tell this man to go preach exegetical sermon. He didn’t tell him, “Go learn how to parse Hebrew & Greek.” He didn’t tell him to go discover the answers to every question that people might ask.
Jesus’ command was simple: go tell your story.
Door holders are storytellers. They are people who are willing to tell their story. They want to share the difference that God has made in their lives. They are willing to tell people about what Jesus is doing in their lives.
And every single follower of Jesus can do that. Maybe you can’t stand up and preach a sermon. You don’t have to. Maybe you can’t explain difficult and confusing passages of Scripture. You don’t have to. Maybe you aren’t very good at debating theology. You don’t have to.
All you have to do is be willing to tell your story. Is your story messy? Is it broken? Is it very, very far from perfect? So is mine. And so is everyone else’s story who follows Jesus. But our story isn’t about how good we are. It’s about how good God is. It isn’t a story about how we saved ourselves. It’s about how Jesus saved us in spite of us. It isn’t a story about how everything in our lives is now puppy dogs and sunshine. It’s a story about how life is really hard, but we have a God who walks through it all with us.
That’s my story. That’s your story. And that’s a story worth telling.
Psalm 107 says it so clearly. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…” (Psalm 107:1-2a, NIV)
God never intended for you to keep your story quiet. He redeemed you, which means He bought you back. Jesus died to pay your ransom. He ended your slavery. And then He rose again to give you a brand new life. To set you free.
And now His desire is, “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.”
One of the most powerful prayers you can pray is, “God, give me opportunities to tell my story.”
Now, I’ll tell you this…don’t pray this prayer if you’re not serious, because God will answer. And crazy things can happen when He answers. But if you’re serious about being a door holder, you’ll pray this prayer…and you’ll welcome the crazy opportunities when they come. And in the next couple of weeks in this series, we’re going to talk about those opportunities. But it all starts with you and me being willing to tell our stories.
You have a story worth telling. You may not think it’s dramatic. You may think it’s actually kind of boring. But if your story involves Jesus…if it involves God working in your life…it is automatically a story worth telling.
Is it a risk? Sure. Will some people ignore you? Yes. Will some people even mock you? Absolutely. But is it worth the risk? Without a doubt.
We take the risk because like we said at the beginning, we’re servants. Servants always put other people above themselves. Servants are willing to risk being hurt if it opens the door for someone to connect with Christ.
Next week, we are going to actually hear from some people who are part of our family here at Connect. They are going to tell you their stories. We are going to get a front row seat to see how God is working in them and through them.
But the point is that every Christ-follower has a story to tell. And it’s a story that people who don’t know Jesus yet really need to hear.
“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” That’s our mission. That’s how we become door holders. And if everyone at Connect commits to being a door holding storyteller, we won’t even believe what God will do.