Sermon Titled “Come And See” by Guest Speaker Reverend Clyde Kakuichi (John 1:29-51) – Sunday 6th October, 2013
Last Friday evening, Koza Baptist Church hosted a leadership conference led by a team visiting from the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention. Clyde Kakuichi is the HPBC Director of Leadership Development and Church Growth, and he spoke to the entire church on Sunday morning about the example of John’s disciples (as recorded in John 1:29-51), who after hearing John’s testimony, decided to follow Christ.
- John 1:32-37: Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.
Reverend Kakuichi made the point that John’s disciples followed Christ because they believed what John said about Him. These men, in turn, told others about Christ and more followed. At some point in our lives, before we became Christians, we also heard about Christ, and in an act of faith and belief, we chose to follow Him too.
As I think back to my first introduction to Christ, I am reminded of a church I visited, not because I had any desire at that time to go to church, but because a group of friends invited me. The church was very small, with maybe no more than thirty or forty members, and so it was hard to slip in unnoticed. But I remember feeling somehow “at home,” not threatened at all, and I welcomed the Pastor’s offer to come and visit me at my home to teach me more about the message of Christ. I wasn’t a “quick” convert, but the seed that was planted was enough to pique my curiosity and cause me to search out more answers. A few years later, in August of 1996, I made the choice to be baptized as a new believer and follower of Christ – all because a few friends had not been afraid to invite me to church.
My conversion experience was much like that described in John 1:32-36. Some friends invited me to “come and see,” what they already knew and believed, and so I went and “heard” the word of Christ, and eventually “followed.” Now, as a Christian myself, I have a desire to also lead others to Christ, but I realize that there are many who will resist my attempts to share what I believe is literally, a life-changing message. So I have to ask myself, “What makes Christianity different, or more appealing, than other religions?”
I actually presented this question to members of my small group last week. I brought the question up because I caught a glimpse recently of how potentially “off-putting” we might be to anyone who is not interested in hearing about Christ. In my neighborhood, there is a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses who frequently come knocking at our door, and as nice and polite as they are, I have to admit that my guard immediately goes up when I see them. I have always felt slightly annoyed whenever they’ve come to our door, and while I am not rude to them, I never invite them in. How then, am I, any different? What would make someone not put up their guard, or feel annoyed, by who I am and who I stand for?
I would like to believe that the answer lies partially in the truth of “Do” versus “Done.” Our small group is currently following one of Bill Hybel’s Evangelism studies, and in the video lesson we watched last week, Bill Hybel scratched out on a piece of paper the words “Do” and “Done.” He was illustrating the fact that other religious groups believe that there are conditions that must be met in order to gain entry into heaven. If you are a Jehovah’s Witness for example, you must abide by the truths revealed in the official Jehovah’s Witness Watchtower magazine. Full compliance includes, of course, door-to-door witnessing and that is not negotiable.
But God tells us that there is nothing we can “do” to earn salvation; Christ has already “done” it for us. He paid the price for our sins when He died on the cross for us, and all we need to do to receive the gift of eternal salvation is to show true remorse for our sins by asking for God’s forgiveness and then making a public confession of faith (in Christ) by being baptized.
- Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins….”
- John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Our salvation is not conditional; we do not have to go out knocking on people’s doors and pushing our beliefs on them. And therein lies the key, I think, to what makes us a little more tolerable to those who have no desire to hear us. Unlike other religious groups, who share their beliefs not necessarily because they care but because they have an ulterior motive, we aim to share our beliefs (as we see opportunities unfold before us), because we legitimately care.
Such care and compassion comes from the renewing of our hearts and minds when we were baptized and “born again” as believers in Christ. Reverend Kakuichi shared about their mission trip to Cambodia, and the response they received when they asked the locals how they perceived Christians to be different. “As Buddhists,” one local replied, “we go to the temple to worship, and to listen to a message that sometimes makes sense but not always, and then we give money and leave. But you Christians come to us, and share with us a clear message of hope, and you give us material gifts that we need and appreciate.”
The Christians I know do not do things like this out of a sense of obligation; they do things like this because they care, and it is in the witnessing of such things, that others begin to see and believe.
And that, I hope, is what makes us different!