Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, November 23, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

May 28, 2017 Sermon

“Faith Without Words”
James 2:14 – 22
Ted Jansen May 28, 2017  Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        “Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words.”  This anonymous quote makes us think.  You think about the word “preaching” and how we understand it.  We are to preach at all times, and not use any words!  That is not how we normally think about preaching.  We are only to use words in our “preaching” if needed!  So, how do we preach, according to this quote?  We preach with our actions. 
            Faith is “caught” by the love we share rather than “taught” by the words we speak. 
 
2.)        As we think of the day we live in we have lots of information and words that are being communicated.  We receive words and information from our phone, our computer, our tablets, radio and TV.  You can receive a lot of information from these sources and never hear a “live” person talk in front of you, if you don’t want to.  You can get an education, at a High School level, a college degree or other training not attend a class with a live person.  You can do this online.       
As we think about this age of information how does this affect how we communicate the Gospel to people?  The method of giving people more “words” and information is not going to be as effective as living our faith out in action. 
 
3.)        Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary, use words. 
If you are hot and thirsty and someone says to you, “Jesus loves you,” what kind of impression will that give you?  Perhaps a negative one.  You are thankful but at the moment you are mainly thirsty.  That is your primary need.     
If that same person instead of words gave you a cold water bottle when you were thirsty and didn’t say anything what kind of impression will that give you?  I would think this would be a positive one.  Your thirst has been quenched as you wonder, why did this person give me water?    
Both the words and actions are expressions of love.  One offers a caring expression of truth but doesn’t do anything for your thirst.  The other cools you off with water and makes you wonder why someone gave you water.  You might wonder do I have to pay for this water, “what is the catch?”      
 
4.)        Do you believe that our culture pays more attention to negative news or positive news?  
It is sad to hear of another bombing where innocent lives are lost.  The tragedy in Manchester puts to the forefront our minds the negative, the evil, the bad news in the world.  We face this negative and how do we respond?  What do people do? 
People come together to grieve, to hurt, to share love, to offer support.  They overcome the tragedy, the negative with positive love and light.  People bring flowers to share beauty where there has been bloodshed.  They lay these down near where the violence has occurred.  They light a candle amidst the feeling of darkness and death.  People do something positive to communicate that this negative this tragedy will not define them.            
           
5.)        I read an article about our attitudes and how negative and positive things affect it.  Did you know that negative things affect us more than positive things?  When it comes to our attitudes we have to have more positives things happen to overcome the negative things.  For every one negative thought or action you have it takes five positive thoughts or actions to counter that negative.
 
6.)        So, if someone tells you that “you are stupid.”  This negative thought will stay with you until you have been given five positive affirmations.  “You did a good job, I like your outfit, it is good to see you, thank you for being a friend, I appreciate your smile.”  Your attitude is neutral, where you were before the negative comment, because of the things that have happened to you.
            I share that to remind us that we need to give people positive experiences of God’s love to counter the negative that is happening in their lives.  We need to give five different “gifts” of love to others.  People need the love amidst the negative in their lives.       
 
7.)        When we were in Gulf Shores, Alabama, this April one day I got up early to walk the beach by myself.  There were only a few people out on the beach.   I was thinking, praying and thanking God. 
            As I was walking I saw a man come towards me who had a fishing cart with a broken wheel.  He was dragging the cart in the sand to get to a spot by the water. 
I believe God wanted me to help him carry his cart to the spot he wanted to go.   So, I went up to him as he was dragging his cart.  He stopped for a moment and I said to him, “Can I help you carry your cart?”  He didn’t hear me because he didn’t respond.  I figured he had some hearing problems.  I wanted him to know that I cared about him and could see that he was having problems with his wheel.  I wanted to help carry his cart.    
So, I said to him after I asked him if I could help, “you have a broken wheel.”  He understood what I said and looked at me and said, “No S***!  Then with anger he grabbed the cart and started pulling it away from me towards the water. 
I was shocked that he cursed at me.  I wanted to help him.  It bothered me what had just happened.  I realized, or I believe, that he had not heard me and my offer to help him.  I should have kept offering to help him.  What I did when he didn’t respond was that I told him the obvious.  I was this stranger early in the morning who announced that his wheel was broken.  That is all he heard from me.  (Later on I prayed that he had a good day fishing.)      
This experience made me realize that if the first thing people hear from us is the message about what is wrong with their lives, the negative, then we will not be helpful.  I did not help this man because he was angry at me. 
There are people all around us that have things broken in their lives and they need someone to help them pull their cart, not tell them what is broken.   
Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.         
             
8.)        James, the brother of Jesus, wrote to the early church about the importance of faith that is lived out in action.  Listen to James 2:14.  “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?”  Suppose a brother or sister in without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it.  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead.” 
            James wants to make sure that followers of Jesus understand that faith and action go together.  If you don’t offer a practical expression to meet a need in the life of a person your faith doesn’t mean anything.     
            This is affirmed when James says in 2:22, “You see that his faith and actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” 
            We express faith when we offer a practical “witness” of love, because of our belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. 
 
9.)        When I have been a part of Henderson Mission Team to Kentucky the Work Camp Director, Jerry, gives us a welcome and orientation talk.  At some point he says something like this to the teams.  “Thank you for coming.”  Your presence here has communicated love to the people of this community and ministry.  You have put your faith into action by being here.”  Jerry shares that before teams have done any “work.”  He knows that faith put into action by traveling from Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Missouri, New York and other places communicates the Good News of the Gospel.         
            Thank you for being here and your willingness to give people Tangible Evidence of the Lord’s Love.  You communicate faith by your actions.     
 
10.)      I want to share a video clip of people who have received the Lord’s love.  They have written their story on one side of a piece of cardboard in a few words.  On the other side they have written what life is like today, with Christ. 
            Someone, by their words, or actions were used by God to transform these people.  As you watch this let God’s love come to you.  
 
11.)      This morning I will offer a silent prayer with words on cardboard to prepare us to receive God’s love in Communion.  After I share this prayer I will invite you to come as group to the front altar rail and first pew.  I will lead you to take the bread and juice together.       
            (Ted then picked up each card and walked so that the congregation could read the words.) 
 
 
Thank you God.   You are here.           
 
I am sorry for my sin.  I repent. 
 
I remember Jesus on the cross.            
 
His broken and bloody body.
 
Holy Spirit use this bread and juice.          
 
Let your grace come to me.
 
Use me to tell others they are loved!   
 
Thank you God.  You are here.