Damariscotta Baptist Church
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

06/26/11 Sermon

 Matthew 10: 40-42

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen

When you are visiting friends or family for an extended period of time how good of a

guest are you?

As we’re getting ready for the summer and may take a vacation to visit friends or family I ran across a list of helpful tips in how to be a good houseguest.

Let me share with you some of these helpful guidelines:

First of all, when you arrive and after the handshakes,  hugs and kisses it’s not a good idea to tell them that you have the worst mysterious stomach flu you’ve ever had.

Then when use your host’s phone remember that it’s not a good idea to phone your long lost friends who live in Venezuela.

Then there are the kitchen rules-- It’s a good idea to help out in the kitchen but after eating a prepared dinner for you don’t offer to teach your host how to cook.  When offering to help with a meal don’t order a pizza and offer to chip in for your part.

When removing your dentures, don’t leave them in a glass on the kitchen table.

While it’s important to not monopolize the bathroom as a guest, avoid taking a sponge bath at the kitchen sink.

Then there are the TV rules----don’t change the TV to your favorite program and then hide the remote and claim that it’s lost.  And also it’s important to not pick at your toes or scratch in personal places while standing in front of the TV.

Don’t hand your clothes basket of dirty clothes and say you like your shirts lightly starched.

Don’t get intoxicated and throw up on the host’s cat

Don’t let your children bull-ride on the back of your host’s dog.

Should you break something and are asked about it, don’t stare blankly at a fixed point on the wall for several minutes hoping it all blows over.

And then finally as you’re leaving, don’t tell your host that you forgot to tell them that your kids are bed wetters.

So why bring up these rules of a house guest???

Well in our scripture today we see that Jesus is finishing up his training of the disciples here in the 10th chapter of Matthew.  Jesus has been instructing them to go out and make disciples, preaching and teaching the gospel, sending them out to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.  He also trains them on what to do when people are not willing to receive them; he teaches them that they will be persecuted and hated. In verse 39 Jesus tells them that whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

But then Jesus continues to teach and train them in verses 40 thru 42 by letting them know that there would also be good times as well.  Despite all the difficulties they would experience, there would also be those who would welcome them as guests. 
And as a result of their welcoming them, they would receive the same reward that they had received. That reward was a relationship with Jesus in the Kingdom of God. So thru their hardship the great reward was that others would come to know Christ.

In fact even though each of the disciples experienced terrible hardship and most experienced horrible deaths by the end of their life, it is reported that over 500, 000 people became Christians thru their witness.

Despite those who were antagonistic and resistant to the message of the gospel there were far more who were friendly and welcoming to it.  As they welcomed the disciples into their homes, and were open to receive the message of the gospel, their lives were changed.  Because the disciples were an extension of Jesus and of his Father, those who welcomed the disciples received the reward of Christ and eternal life themselves.

That itself is a message to anyone here today who is not yet a follower of Christ. In order to receive the gospel, in order to have your life changed for the better and receive the gift of eternal life you have to be willing and open to receive the message.

You can’t close your door and have a heart that is like hardened soil that refuses to receive the seed. In order to receive Christ you must be a host who opens the door of your mind and heart and soul to receive the words of the guest.

Of course the big problem we see today is that there are very few who are willing to be guests to un-Christian hosts.  The mentality in our churches today is that if you want Christ in your life: “Our doors are open, come and get it”.  Instead of we Christians going out to be welcomed guests, we want to be welcoming hosts. Instead of us going to those who would be willing to receive the message we want to instead be an attractional church.

An attractional church sticks a sign out in the yard and says here we are, come and get it. An attractional church tries to create programs and marketing tools, and events to get people to come to their church.

But as we see here, Jesus sent out the disciples. He sent them to be guests. They went out into the community; into Jewish synagogues which at that time were like our community centers today---public places.  As people who were receptive heard them they would invite them in their homes to hear more. By welcoming and receiving the disciples they then welcomed and received Christ as we see in the scripture.

Now that’s the message to us Christian disciples here today. It is a message to us that being a Christian is NOT about us coming to church here on Sunday.

As disciples we are sent out. We are called to be guests to un-Christian (or pre-Christian) hosts. To those who don’t know Christ yet we are to go and be welcomed by them.  And there are so many who are open to receive us.

A research study conducted in 2003 showed that of the 160 million Americans who don’t know Christ as their Lord and Savior, 74% are either neutral or friendly to hear the message. (The Unchuched Next Door, Thom Rainer).  Still other studies (as well as the actual numbers and statistics) show us that these individuals who are receptive and friendly to Christians are still not going to come to church. Nor are they interested in being a part of an attractional, institutional church.

Therein lies the rub. Christians don’t want to go out and be guests and non-Christians don’t want to come in to be our guests. 

No one wants to be the guest.

But Jesus calls his disciples to be guests!!!

For us to share the gospel, to follow Jesus’ commission to go and make disciples of others means we have to be welcomed; and to be welcomed  means we have to go out.

But how do we go out?

What kind of guests are we Christians called to be?

Well this is very important subject for us to understand. A major part of the problem that we face today is that we Christians simply don’t know how to be guests. We struggle with the whole idea of sharing the gospel.

So what I thought I would do today is like the earlier humorous tips I gave at how to be a house guest, I want to give 3 serious tips at how we are to be welcomed guests:

Now the first tip I want to give is one that is absolutely critical in order to be a good guest to non-Christians. This is essential and yet somehow missing----

This first tip is that we have to be guests--- who love.  Now this seems so simple and yet for many of us our actions aren’t really showing that we love others.  The very fact that our churches are attractional institutions who say if you want Jesus, come and get it yourself shows that we are lacking love for those who don’t know Christ.  We live in such an individualistic, self-centered culture. And instead of us being salt and light to this culture we have let the culture penetrate its ways into our beliefs as Christians.  We see it in an emphasis that is concerned only with our own personal salvation.  Instead of a seeking love for those who are lost (like Christ sought after us) we can become consumers who selfishly take Jesus’ offer of salvation for ourselves and we’re done. Everything else is optional to us.  But as we see in this scripture, disciples of Christ are extensions of the God who loved us so much that he sent his son as a guest to us. We are indwelled with the one who told parables about a widow who sought frantically for one lost coin and a shepherd who never gave up on the one lost sheep.  Disciples of Jesus have within their DNA a love for the lost. We don’t just sit inside our church walls and call ourselves Christians. Instead we are out in the world as guests looking for an opportunity to be welcomed by those whom we love.  So how do we develop that kind of love for people? Well it happens thru a life of prayer.  So many churches today are just going thru the motions not being transformed thru a life of prayer.  A true love for others comes thru the power of prayer. Thru prayer our complacency and our lack of care for others is destroyed. Thru prayer we are standing in the very presence of Christ and his care and concern for every human being becomes crystal clear to us.  Thru prayer we become the guests who are filled with love for our pre-Christian hosts.  If you don’t have a real love for those who are lost, ask yourself how’s my prayer life? There’s probably a connection.

Now once we are equipped with a love for the lost, thru this life of prayer, another tip in being a good guest has to do with how we act as guests to our hosts.

About 20 years ago when it was only Cindy and I and our oldest son Trey we lived in an apartment complex in Memphis, TN.   And it so happened that our apartment complex was a target for a group of Southern Baptists from the mega church Bellevue Baptist Church.  We invited them in our door and they sat down and within 15 minutes I showed them the door out.  They came into our house and started their so-called evangelistic witness by telling Cindy and I that our son 4 year old son Trey was going to hell and proceeded to argue with me on other theological issues. They were condescending and judgmental but they smiled and I think they told us that they loved us!  This group of 3 or 4 individuals needed some training about how to be a guest. And we all do!  

What happened here, is that they came to our home and wanted to be the host.  But to be a welcomed guest calls us to take a different approach. As Christians we are indeed called to go and make disciples of others.  But we don’t make disciples by way of a condescending monologue. Instead we grow our relationships thru dialogue. That means we are listening to others.

Thru a loving and caring relationship we speak in their language, we see them as fellow travelers not an “us versus them” mentality.  True guests aren’t concerned with the number of conversions or number of new members---instead they are focused on the number of conversations they’re having.

True guests don’t go fishing for the lost from the banks, they swim with them.

True guests don’t tell them they need to believe before they can belong, we instead tell them that they can belong before they believe.

You know I think a lot of Christians have been afraid to be guests because they thought they need to be knowledgeable hosts who were supposed to convince and convert people or drag them to church.

But true guests are about building personal relationships first.  It’s thru those relationships first, that we can invite people to come and belong even before they believe.

I’ve been reading a book lately titled the “Externally Focused Quest”. And the book gives many illustrations about building personal relationships with individuals as well as non-religious organizations within a community.  The authors make the point that many individuals who are not Christians are doing Christ-like work in the world. By partnering with these organizations, the church can build relationships with people who share the same common goals we have whether they believe as we do or not.

After all, since we’re about doing God’s work to help people in need, why shouldn’t we embrace opportunities to work together.

I was glad to see us involved with the Pirate Rendezvous dinner and Pirate breakfast. The Pirate weekend raises money for the Lincoln County Family Holiday Wishes. That’s something that we care about as well.  It’s thru these kinds of partnering, working side by side with other organizations as their guests that we are in a place to make friends. And who knows someone might like to be a part of our body of believers because we care for the same things that they care about.      

When we are respectful and caring and compassionate for others, we are in a place where pre-Christians may come to welcome us and therefore welcome Christ.  

Now the last tip I want to make about what kind of guests we are called to be is to remind us that we are called to be guests who rejoice in God’s reward.

We are to be joyful.

In our scripture we see that Jesus reminds the disciples that as they are welcomed by others that he as well as the Father are being welcomed too.

Jesus is reminding them that even thru all of the hardship and difficulty that they were not alone. They had the promise of the reward of eternal life because of who was dwelling within them.

And not only did they have joyful assurance, they also had reason to rejoice in the fact that as others welcomed them, receiving them by offering a cold cup of water, that they would also receive the reward of eternal life as well.

I have to say that I get no greater joy than when someone I have shared with has either come to know Christ or has decided to commit to Christ in a new way thru our relationship.

It’s so wonderful to see people receive the reward and then go on to share that reward with others.  As guests we are called to be joyful in our witness. Thru the assurance of the One who sends us we are filled with grace and peace.

We have the reward of the resurrected Christ and the fire of the Holy Spirit. He shines and glows within us and draws others to us that we might pass it on. ……

Today, we are being reminded that while being a Christian can be a difficult life, there is also a great reward.

For those who have not begun the journey, today Christ is calling you to open the door and welcome him by welcoming in a Christian friend.  Ask them to share where Christ has made a difference in their lives. And be open to receive the transforming power of the gospel.

And for those Christians who have a “come and get it” host mentality, Jesus is reminding you that to be one of his disciples means you are to be a go and make disciples guest.

He is calling you to love the lost and the hurting; to be a relational friend who cares and listens and to be filled with the radiant joy of the reward of eternal life to share with others.

Today, let us go into the world as individuals and as a congregation. And let us be a welcomed guest.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen