Help people see God
Four Challenges - Challenge #4: Help people see God!
We are here today for one reason. To worship God our Father and Jesus our Savior. Thank you to everyone worshipping God here in person and to everyone worshipping God online. To those watching online, if you are new to Westerville Christian, which makes you our guest, please fill out our online connect card at the end of this service and we will donate $5 in your name to the Pregnancy Decision Health Center. PDHC is a place where women in a crisis pregnancy can find hope in Jesus Christ.
But it’s not just hope, it’s also help. Women receive tangible help like counseling, diapers, pre-natal vitamins and ultrasounds. When we help another human being they often see God. Today is the final week of a series called Four Challenges. Change doesn’t happen without challenge. Challenge #1: Get near God. This happens best when we GATHER. Whether we are together or alone with God. Challenge #2: Be bold for God. Do you want to GROW in your faith? If the answer is YES, ask the Holy Spirit to help you bring God up in any conversation. You never know how people will respond. Challenge #3: Trust God. Have confidence in God. Trust Him so much that you are willing to GIVE God 10% of your income and live off the rest. Challenge #4: Help people see God. Wherever you GO! When you go home. When you go to work. When you get on social media. Help people see God. But we do have a problem with that.
A little girl is at the kitchen table drawing a picture. Her Mom asks her, What are you drawing? And she says, I’m drawing a picture of God. Her Mom looks at her and says, “Honey, no one has ever seen God and her daughter replies, “They will when I’m done.” I love her confidence. But picture or not, no one has ever seen God. God said this to Moses in Exodus 33:19. (Read 19-20) That is, until God sent Jesus. John the Apostle said this about Jesus in John 1:17. (Read 17-18) Jesus made God visible. The Apostle Paul said it this way in Colossians 1:15: The Son is the image of the invisible God… How? It’s by who Jesus is, by what Jesus said and by what Jesus did. Let’s move from John chapter 1 to John chapter 6. John provides evidence that Jesus made God visible. This is John 6:1. (Read verses 1-2) Signs is another word for miracles. An action that transcends the laws of nature.[i] In John chapter 2 Jesus goes to a wedding in Cana of Galilee. At this wedding, prompted by his mother, Mary, Jesus turns 120 to 180 gallons of water[ii] into wine. The only people who saw it happen were the servants. I wonder if at least two servants looked at each other and said, “Wow, only God can turn water into wine.” Jesus made God visible. The second sign or miracle Jesus performs is in John chapter 4. It went like this. (Read 43-54) When this father received word that his son was alive, I wonder if he wondered, “Wow, only God can heal a boy he’s never seen before.” Jesus made God visible.
Jesus performs two more miracles in John chapter 6. First, he takes five loaves of bread and 2 small fish and feeds more than 5000 men. Add one woman and one child and now it’s more than 15k people. That always makes me smile. Jesus used the contents of a happy meal to feed more than 15k people. Did Philip or Andrew wonder, “Wow, only God can take a few loaves of bread and make it so many.” Then Jesus decides to walk on water. This is John 6:16. (Read 16-21) Did Peter or Judas wonder, “Wow, only God can walk on water.” For us to understand that only God can defy the law of gravity.
Many of the people who ate the bread and the fish become Jesus’ groupies. They get on boats and follow him across the Sea of Galilee. They are thinking, if Jesus fed us once, maybe he’ll feed us again? This is John 6:25. (Read 25-29) To “believe” means to trust Jesus, to have faith or confidence in God’s son. It’s to take Jesus at his word.[iii] What God requires for us is to believe that Jesus is the Christ and by believing in Him we receive eternal life. Bread brings temporary life. Jesus brings eternal life. That’s why Jesus said the first of 7 “I Am’s” in verse 35a. “I am the bread of life.” Eternal life begins the moment you consume or put your trust in Jesus. But our problem today is the same problem people had back then. Look at what the people ask Jesus in verse 30? (Read vs. 30)
What sign? He’s already given them four signs. Let’s review. He turned water into wine. He healed a dying boy without seeing him, plus, He walked on water. BUT most importantly, Jesus fed these very people (thousands of people) using just a happy meal. What will he do? He’ll die on a cruel cross to forgive them of their sins. He’ll die on a cruel cross to forgive us of all our sins. What would it take today to get you to believe that Jesus is the Christ?
How about this? We’ve never seen Jesus. Jesus lived, died, resurrected and ascended into heaven. He’s not here anymore. Jesus made God visible. What will make Jesus visible? His followers. Everyone who believes that he’s the Christ. We make Jesus visible by what we say and what we do. Our 4th challenge today is to help people see God. We do that mainly – primarily by loving people. John said this 1st John 4:9. (Read 9-12)
Loving people isn’t easy. It’s often messy. But when we do, people see Jesus and if they see Jesus, they see God. Here are four examples of helping people see Jesus in your life. They are based off the four miracles of Jesus found in John chapters 1-6. Jesus went to a wedding. I think Mary wanted him to go. At this wedding Jesus performed a miracle. He didn’t heal anyone, but he changed water into wine. How nice. Jesus went out of his way to be kind. The next time you go to a wedding, do something kind. The next time you go to a restaurant, do something kind. The next time you drive anywhere in Columbus, be kind. Triple A is reporting that Road Rage and speeding is on the rise in Ohio. Why? Everyday stress compounded by the pandemic. Jake Nelson, Triple A’s Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy said, “Driving aggressively isn’t worth the risk. When you get behind the wheel, be patient, be kind and obey traffic laws so everyone gets home safely.”[iv] That does make sense.
Here’s another example. Look at this picture. The girl is 5-year-old Mevan Babakar and the guy is a 29-year-old man named Egbert. At just 5 years of age, Mevan left everything, fleeing Iraq during the Gulf War in 1990. Mevan and her parents ended up in a refugee camp in the Netherlands. While she was there this 29-year-old man gave her a bike. She was so overwhelmed by his kindness she tracked him down 24 years later (here she is at 29 and he’s now 53), just to say thank you. Thank you for being so kind to me.[v] What kind of miracle could you do in someone’s life just by being kind!
Miracle #2: A man came to Jesus begging him to help him. His son was sick. Jesus helped him. Would you help others? Specifically, would all teens and those in their 20’s and 30’s, would you go out of your way to help someone today. Maybe you feel lost or depressed because you can’t see past yourself. You can get past yourself by helping other people.
Back in August of 2017 Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, TX. 13-year-old Virgil Smith and his Mom and sister started to see water seeping into their apartment around 2AM so they gathered some necessities and went to their apartment’s second floor for safety. Virgil gets a phone call from his friend Keshaun. He and his family are trapped on the first floor of another apartment. Virgil goes back downstairs and grabs his inflatable mattress lying on the floor. Using his mattress as a raft and his hands as paddles he locates Keshaun and his family. After they are rescued Virgil hears the cries of other people trapped by the rising waters. By the end of the night, 13-year-old Virgil Smith had rescued 17 people.[vi] He helped other people.
What Virgil did was extreme. Helping doesn’t have to be extreme. Help can come in the form of a hug, a prayer, or a text message encouraging someone. Telling them they are important to you. Miracle #3: Jesus fed thousands of people. Would you feed one or two people? Maybe a family? I don’t know why they are struggling or hungry? Maybe someone’s sick. Would you take them a meal? Go buy them Chipotle, drop if off on their porch and give them a call? Miracle #4: Jesus walked on water. Would you walk across the street and check on your neighbor? The neighbors who live across the street and next to my Mom are amazing. They check in on her just to see if she’s okay. They are Jesus to her. Will you be Jesus to those around you? Will you help people see God? The Apostle Paul said this to Timothy. 1st Tim. 6: 15: God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. Jesus made God visible. We make Jesus visible.
My message is done, but let’s keep the discussion going. Get with someone today and ask these three questions. #1: What is preventing me from helping someone else? Is it fear? #2: How will I help one person this week? #3: Why do some people really struggle with believing in God?
Have you ever heard of John Oliver? Oliver is the host of a HBO's Last Week Tonight. One time he was interviewed by Terri Gross. Terri asked him about his faith. "Did you go to church a lot when you were growing up?" Oliver responded, “I did until I was, like, 11 or 12, and I just didn't believe in it. There were some bad things happening then and I just didn't care. I just didn't feel like there were any answers I liked coming from the church I went to … There were kids at school who died and my uncle dying was really devastating to me, and I just didn't feel like … when you ask a hard question and you were kind of brushed off with, "Well, you know, it's God's will." That kind of knocked me out. If that's true then I want nothing to do with this. But you just can't say that it's God's will for these kids at school dying for no reason. That's just not a good enough answer. You've got to wrestle with it a bit more than that.”[vii]
He’s right. Most people who struggle with belief struggle because they hurt. God did something or God didn’t do something OR one of God’s people did something that hurt me. Often what people need is a friend who will not blow off their questions or their hurt. Instead, they listen. Would you be that friend? If you will, you’ll make Jesus visible. Let’s pray!
[i] Logos Bible Software, Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon, John 6:2
[ii] John 2:6 (NIV)
[iii] Logos Bible Software, Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon, John 6:29
[iv] www.dispatch.com, Dean Narciso, Road Rage, speeding on the rise in Ohio.
[vi] Tim Elmore, Generation Z Unfiltered, 1-2