Good News + Good Deeds = Radical Results
Radical Generosity puts faith into action
Keep perspective: Good news + good deeds is just plain scary!
Sometimes what a person says is not what another person hears. A few weeks ago I said, “I have two children. My daughter and Jeanna.” Here are a few other examples.
"Golden, Ripe, Boneless Bananas, 39 Cents A Pound.” "Sure there have been injuries and deaths in boxing - but none of them serious." - Alan Minter, Boxer "How to store your baby walker: First, remove baby." - Anonymous Manufacturer "Two grand slams in a week - man, that's seven or eight ribbies right there." - Bill Madlock, Baseball broadcaster "Men, I want you just thinking of one word all season. One word and one word only: Super Bowl." - Bill Peterson, football coach[i]
Unlike Bill Peterson I really have just one word I want us to zero in on from now to November 28 and that ONE word is generosity! Say it with me folks, GENEROSITY! Gen-er-os-i-ty is defined as, “Willingness to give money, help, or time freely.” Honestly, isn’t that one big honkin’ chalkboard!?! My thanks to Terry White, Terri Murnahan and Lorien Boyer for making this possible. The reason this chalkboard was built is to illustrate continuing lessons on generosity. Today is Lesson #1: One bag of groceries combined with a second bag of groceries produces results that are just plain scary. I mean scary good! You give one bag and I give one bag and another person gives another bag and WOW – we’ve “bagged” a serious problem for some people this upcoming Thanksgiving! Because of our generosity a ton of people get fed. (Please locate the gold insert in your newsletter today!) I have homework for you. Better yet – here are opportunities to be generous. (Nov. 28) Please bring in winter wear for kids you’ve never met. I find that so interesting. You can give something to someone that honestly changes their life – they were cold and now they are warm. But that’s not the only change that can happen! Many people suddenly get interested in God all because someone chose to show them generosity! Our collective giving might be the evidence someone needs to see God. Let me ask you a question? When Jesus was alive did everyone believe he was God’s Son? Not even close! Turn in your Bibles to John 10:31. Now – who needs a Bible today? Westerville Christian is a generous church! We give away Bibles. Just raise your hand real high and someone will bring you a Bible! Many Jews, especially Jewish leaders, did not believe Jesus was anyone except Joseph’s son. It gets so bad – they now threaten Jesus with bodily harm. Look at what happens here in John 10:31. (31-38)
How ironic - Jesus is God. People in the 1st century are looking Jesus in the face, but they can’t see God. Jesus says – if you don’t believe me – my words, than at least believe the evidence – the miracles/the good fruit I’m producing. That was then. Isn’t it shocking? People couldn’t see God. Now move to the 21st century and people are saying, “Jesus – who’s Jesus, I have no idea if he even lived and if he did why should that matter to me?” It should matter to you because Jesus was no ordinary man. (FLUFFY Illustration) 24’ 300lb reticulated python died last Tuesday. Described as irreplaceable. Describe Jesus! Jesus is God’s Son. Your Savior, your rescuer, your Phoenix capsule! But we face today the same problem Jesus faced in the 1st century! Even though he said he was God – people did not believe him. It was the evidence - both Jesus’ words and actions that led people to conclude – he is indeed the long awaited Messiah! I follow this Biblical formula for my life. If you want to see God – look at Jesus. If you want to see Jesus – look at me! Now, who am I? Who are you? We are imperfect, forgiven Christ followers and collectively we make up the church – which is Jesus’ body! And even though we go to church and say that we love God, they need evidence. Generosity is the evidence!
Let’s go back to our chalkboard – remember one bag of groceries + another bag of groceries = radical results. Kindness just freaks people out! You can also say Good News + Good Deeds = Radical Results or pretend my chair is row boat. My one oar is faith and my other oar is action and when you put faith and action together people see Jesus in YOU! That’s what this series is all about – helping people see Jesus in all of us! Well, I’m not real concerned about people seeing Jesus in me. Seriously? If that’s true you’re in need of a healthy dose of perspective. Paul gives us the perspective we need in Ephesians 5. I know we just finished a series in Ephesians 4, but here’s what happened. I just kept reading. So let’s pick up where Pastor Reggie began last week with verse 32 in Ephesians 4. (4:32-5:2) Now drop down to verse 8. Go back to our biblical formula. Good News + Good Deeds = Radical Results. People are in desperate need of good news and if you are a Christ follower you either are or SHOULD BE a good news dispenser. “Greg, what do you mean by good news?” Let me give you some good news. All campaign/election commercials will end this Tuesday. Couldn’t come sooner for me - now go vote based on your Christian convictions. Good news for Bengals fans - the Browns don’t play today. Good news – researchers have concluded that chocolate can be healthy for your body. Now before you get too excited - it’s small amounts of dark chocolate![ii] The Apostle Paul also gives us good news! Find Ephesians 5:8 again. In this one verse Paul goes from past to present, from bad to good, from evil to righteous and from darkness to light. He gives us perspective about our lives. This is what we were and this is now what we are![iii] What we were was nothing short of darkness, but what we are is nothing short of light! John MacArthur helped me better understand spiritual light and darkness. Light has two components: Intellect and morality. Light intellectually is truth. Light morally is holiness, so to live in light means to walk in truth and in holiness. Darkness has the same two components: Intellectual darkness is ignorance (what you believe) and moral darkness is evil - that is the things we do![iv] Well, what did we used to do? Let’s take a “darkness tour!” Find verse 25 in Ephesians 4. Darkness is lying. Darkness is uncontrolled anger. Proverbs 29 says a “hot-tempered man commits many sins.” Darkness is stealing. Verse 29 says darkness is destructive talk. Someone posted this prayer on Facebook. “Lord, please put your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth” Verse 31 describes darkness as bitterness, rage and malice. Verse 3 in chapter 5 describes darkness as sex out of control. Verse 5 says darkness is made up of immoral, impure and greedy people. And what do immoral, impure and greedy people have to look forward to? Find Ephesians 5:6. Nothing but God’s wrath! Now that’s not good news – so what IS the good news? God poured out his wrath on his only son! The punishment that was meant for us was heaped up on Jesus. Once we were darkness – but not anymore – we are now light. Intellectually we believe in God and morally we fear God. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” But he physically left this world, so now WE are the light of the world. How can we help people see the light? For me – it starts with the right perspective. This is what I once was, BUT for allot of people. This is what they still are! They are still trapped in darkness. They are not following God or could care less about God so how do we help them see the light? For some it takes more than good news. They need to experience a good deed. The good deed helps them hear the good news. Open your newsletter for me. Carolyn Shonkwiler wants to provide shoeboxes for kids who normally get nothing. To do this good deed, she needs your help. Allison Hayest wants to provide throw blankets to senior adults in Centerburg. To pull this off, she needs your help. HOW Greg? How am I supposed to give like this? Consider Hannah Salwen’s solution. While waiting at a traffic light with her parents in Atlanta, Georgia, Kevin and Joan Salwen's 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, saw a black Mercedes coupe on one side and a homeless man begging for food on the other. Hannah turned to her father and said, "Dad, if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal." Even as they pulled away, Hannah insisted she wanted to do something about the inequity. "What do you want to do?" her mother asked. "Sell our house," Hannah replied.
Eventually, that's what the Salwen's did. They sold their luxurious home, donated half the proceeds to charity, and bought a modest replacement home. Though the sacrifice was great, the benefits have been greater still. A smaller house has meant a more family-friendly house. Kevin said, "We essentially traded stuff for togetherness and connectedness…"
The entire project is chronicled in Hannah’s book, entitled The Power of Half. The aim of the book isn't to get people to sell their houses, but simply to encourage them to step off the "treadmill of accumulation"—to define themselves by what they give, and not just by what they possess."[v]
Do you like Chipolte? You can get a boorito for $2 after 6PM. Come in to any Chipotle after 6pm Halloween Night, dressed as a horrifying processed food product and Chipotle will give you a burrito, bowl, salad, or an order of tacos filled with freshly cooked, naturally raised ingredients for only $2.
That sounds tempting because I do like Chipotle. So does my wife Tricia. One time just before we were to order, Tricia asked me, “Do you want to split a burrito bowl? I thought, “Split all that Chipotle goodness? No way. But we did and it was plenty. Truth is we split allot of things now. I/we don’t need the additional food and it saves us ½ the cost! How can I give to other people – tap into the power of ½.? I know “downsized” is not a word we like to hear, but could you downsize your lunch today? Could you live simpler so others might simply live?
[iii] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Ephesians, 206-208
[iv] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Ephesians, 206