I preached a sermon based on Isaiah 6:1-13, 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 and Luke 5:1-11 at a retirement centre on Sunday with the above as a theme. I thought it well to publish some of the thoughts here and not on the sermon-blog. The crux of the sermon is based on the church's evangelical approach being incongruent with what we celebrate during Epiphany. So, here goes:
1. The church is lying when it sells Jesus like a neatly packaged deal.
Our faith is a faith of revelation. All that we can do is to respond in faith to God's gracious act of revelation. The kind of evangelism that knows what God looks like and what people should look like is prone to fall to its own assumptions. Christian evangelism is therefore not concerned with selling a certain brand of Jesus or Christianity, but its sole purpose is to testify to the revealed God. We believe that Jesus is the full revelation of God and therefore the mystery of Christ plays as important part of the church's proclamation as our inherited understanding of Him.
2. The church is lying when it creates a minimum requirement for membership.
Much of Christian proclamation concerns making people aware of their unworthiness. It is easy to proclaim a message of judgment, hoping that the recipient would turn in their faith. As if God needs an ego-boost!!! What about, if the church stops telling people how bad they are, and focus more on how much God loves them. People feel bad already. People need a Saviour, not a God who rubs it in. Perhaps it is easier for the church to proclaim a salvation based on condemnation, for somehow, we can't stand the thought that God would love someone else as much as what God loves me. Look at Isaiah. He stood gob smacked in God's presence. He admitted his guilt, but instead of God saying "Yes, I know and you will stay like this", he is healed and sent.
3. The church is lying when it claims that Christianity is something extra to our daily existence.
Guess what. Jesus climbed in the boat, made a difference where it mattered and spoke in images that people could understand. True Christian evangelism makes a difference where it matters, it doesn't force people to stop being them and become like "us". Were the disciples even really listening to what Jesus was saying on the shore? What turned their minds? Jesus was relevant right there!
Something for the church to think about in our witnessing. God reveals (Deus dixit for the Barthians), we respond, God loves (Incarnational), God works.