Christians At Large Ministry

What If

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I love to read books about alternate history.  Alternate history is where the world as we know it is not the way it is now.  Its how the world would be history had a different turn of events.  One writer, Robert Harris wrote a book entitled “Fatherland” in which Nazi Germany won WWII.  Another writer, Harry Turtledove, wrote several alternate histories books.  Probably his best know starts with a book entitled “Guns of the South” where the Confederacy won the Civil War and he continues that train of thought over several books covering the Civil War, WWI, WWII and even first contact with an alien species.  These types of books are very intriguing if you are into alternate history.

 

            Basically the premise of this train of thought is “What If”.  What if Rome didn’t fall; what if the South won the Civil War; what if Germany won WWII?  The possibilities are endless.  Haven’t you been curious as to what life would be like if you had just done things differently?  If you had just married your first love or maybe not married your first love.  What if you had just made a different career choice or invested in IBM or Apple when they first started?  Just think of how differently life would be.

 

            Another alternate life is portrayed in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” staring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey.  As you know George’s uncle misplaces $8,000 and after a stressful search George wishes he had never been born.  As the movie continues we see how things and lives were different if he hadn’t been born.  In the Book of Job we see something similar where Job is in misery wishing that he had never been born.

 

 

            When you stop to think about it, how many lives do you think that you have affected in some form or fashion throughout the years.  How many people have you made to laugh or just smile.  How many people have looked forward to seeing you at some time or another?  More than you could possible think.  We should be thankful to God for the life that He has given to us and grateful that He has given us the opportunity to touch so many lives.

 

            Today what I would like to do is to postulate an alternative history, an alternative world for us.  So what if a pivotal figure in history had never been born?  What if Jesus had not been born?  No one in history has ever impacted the world like he has.  What would the world be like if Jesus had never been born?

 

            First of we would not have an intimate knowledge of God.  The prophet Isaiah in stated in Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  Emmanuel a name which means God with us.  If Jesus was not born then we would God could not be present with us.  If God is not present we could not have a one-on-one relationship with Him.

 

 

            Also we would not know God as our Heavenly Father.  Romans: 8:14-15 says that we are the sons of cod and have been adopted.  “…because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of son-ship.  And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’.”

 

            If Jesus had not been born then God could not be our father because it is through Jesus that we are adopted.  We could not pray “Our Father, which art in heaven…” because we wouldn’t know God as a Father.

 

            Without Jesus we would not have a Redeemer.  We would not have someone to take our sins from us.

 

            In 1 John 1:9 we are told, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.”

 

            In this world we know that there are people who will not forgive sins, of wrongs that have been committed.  Grudges are held on to tightly and for a very long period of time.  But God is not like that and He is ready to forgive our sins right now, this very minute.  Not only will he forgive sins but He will cleanse us of sin.

 

            But if Jesus had not been born, there would be no cross.  The whole purpose of His birth was to die on the Cross of Calvary to cleanse us of sin.

 

            Without Jesus there would be no God to Identify with us.  I am very sure that many of us have one time or another felt that how could God understand the pain and misery that we suffer.  He’s God and perfect so how can he truly feel our pain?

 

            He understands how we feel because He became one of us when He came to earth in the form of Jesus, born of a woman and grew up just like you and me.  I sure that he had his ‘spills and chills’ as a young boy and teenager because He had a physical body that gets hungry, thirsty, tired, and hurt just like us.  He felt emotional turmoil just as we do.  In John 11:35 is the shortest verse in Bible, “Jesus wept.”  His good friend Lazarus had died 4 days earlier.  He was sad.  He also understands your temptations.  He was tempted in the desert just at the start of His earthly ministry and I am sure that he was tempted at other times but He did not succumb to them.  But He understood temptation when we are told in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that no temptation has overcome us that we are not able to endure.  God understands.

 

            But if Jesus had not ever been born He could not feel our pain, sorrow, joy, laughter, temptation, and so on.

 

            One of the biggest problems that arises if Jesus had never been born is that the would be no victory over Satan.  1 John 3:8 says, “He that does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  The reason to Son of appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”  If Jesus had not been born there would be no victory.  We would continually be under the thumb of Satan.  There would be no hope of heaven or salvation.

 

            If Jesus had not been born then there would be no second coming.  There would be no hope for the future, no hope of resurrection, no salvation, and no heaven.  We would be condemned.

 

            1 Corinthians 15:12 -19 says this, But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”

 

            Without Jesus we might know who God is but then again we might not.  During the time-frame that Jesus was born the majority of the world was into polytheism.  Polytheism is a belief in more than just one god.  The Romans, Greeks, Norse, and a whole host of other had multiple gods they worshiped.  There were a few cultures that did have a monotheistic belief – a belief in only one god.  Zoroastrianism is the belief in Ahura MazdÔ who is described as the highest deity of worship.  The Hebrews also had a belief in one God.

 

            But if Jesus had not been born how it would have affected our world today?  Yes, I’m quite sure that there would be a lot of change other that what we wouldn’t have.  If Jesus had never been born would we still have: Women slaves?  Christian missionaries were a major influence in stopping this practice. What about Infanticide? The early church brought about ending the practice of killing one’s one children.  Gladiators and gladiatorial games – A 5th century monk, Telemachus, is credited as being the pivotal force ending the gladiator spectacles.  How about the practice of eating your neighbor – cannibalism?  The missionary followers of Jesus have been credited for ending cannibalism in many primitive societies.  What about something more recent – slavery?  Although many committed Christians in history owed slaves, it was the Christians who historians credit with being the primary force behind ending international slave trading.  Two-thirds of the American abolition society in 1835 where Christian ministers.

 

            So many things would be different today – compassion and mercy (the parable of the Good Samaritan); education, government – at least 50 of the 55 signers of the U.S. Constitution were orthodox Christians, the idea that all men were created equal is Biblical doctrine, fair trials, etc. 

 

What about work ethics, free enterprise, private property rights?  Our music would be vastly different as the great composers who honored God with their cantatas, concertos, and symphonies would not have known the love of God through Jesus. Art would be different.  No Michelangelo. 

 

            Our world would be vastly different that what we know because the love and compassion that we have learned because of our relationship with Jesus would be non-existent.  I would hate to live in a world without Jesus.  Crime, hatred, sin – all with no hope of forgiveness – just an eternity of endless torment to look forward to.

 

            But thank our loving God and Father in Heaven that never happened.  Jesus was born.  An unknown author penned this and it is so very true.

 

            “He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.  He grew up in another obscure village where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty.  Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.  He never had a family or owned a home.  He never set foot inside a big city.  He never traveled tow hundred miles from the place He was born.  He never wrote a book, or held an office.  He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness.  While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him.  His friends deserted Him.  He was turned over to His enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.  While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had – His coat.  When He died, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave.  Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure for much of the human race.  ALL THE ARMIES THAT HAVE EVER MARCHED, AND ALL THE NAVIES THAT HAVE EVER SAILED, AND ALL THE PARLIAMENTS THAT HAVE EVER SAT, AND ALL THE KINGS WHO EVER REIGNED, - PUT TOGETHER,…HAVE NOT AFFECTED THE LIFE OF MAN UPON THIS EARTH AS POWERFULLY AS THIS ONE SOLITARTY LIFE!”  His life changed the course of history.

 

            OK, we have talked about what the world might be like if Jesus had never been born. But now let’s take a look at another “What if”.  Let’s say that everything is normal just like it has always been.  Philippi Church, the church in the bend of the road, is right where it has always been.  But what if, for whatever reason, everyone who attends here disappears.  Not the rapture because someone might notice that many people disappearing at once, they just are suddenly not longer around – they moved during the middle of the night with no one know.  The building and grounds are still intact, but everyone is gone!  Would the community notice?  Now I am not saying they would not notice individual members or friends gone but would they notice the presence of Philippi Church gone in their community.  Have you made such an impact as a church that the community would notice your disappearance?

 

            Do you, as a church, witness in the community; help the less fortunate; feed the hungry; clothe the poor; read to the illiterate; minister to the elderly; console the lonely and forgotten.  Do you witness to the prostitute; and visit those in prison?   If you just come to church on Sundays to worship and then go home who's life are you impacting with you life and witness?   If the answers to these questions are no, then the community might not notice if the church were to suddenly go away.  As a community church we need to make an impact in the community.  If we were not here would the community notice?

 

            What do you do in the community, as a church that impacts the community?  What community outreach activities can you do to be active in the community?  1. Have a resume' preparation classes 2. Host a community wellness program 3. Partner and assist with a local food bank or open you own food locker.

 

            Who did Jesus minister to?  Did he just minister to His followers?  He he ministered to the lost, those with broke hearts and spirits, the sick, the lame, to those filled with sin.  He didn't minister to just those who he worshiped with in the synagogue.  He went out into the community.  Can we do any less?

 

            The local church needs to be, must be, involved in outreach ministry.  If not, then who will.  Satan already is recruiting in the community.  Are we going to let him have his way.  When we stand before Jesus when out time has come, will we be able to give an account for ourselves?  Jesus came to seek and save.  Luke 19:10 tells us that. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”  That's us and that's everyone in our community.  He passed that mission to us in Matthew 28:19 and 20, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you...”  Are we doing that?  Are we reaching the lost in our community?  Do we help the helpless and feed the hungry?  Do we clothe the homeless and give warm blankets and a hot meal?  Matthew 25:40-45 says,  "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'”  Do you minister to the least as Jesus did?  Will the community notice if you are not here?

 

            Now let's make this a bit more personal.  What if no one had ever told you about the love of God found through Jesus?  What if no one had ever witnessed to you?  What if you had never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?  Where would you be right now?  How would not only your life be changed but what about all those you have come into contact with as a believer?  You might think that not much would be changed, apart from you, but remember the movie “It's a Wonderful Life”?  George didn't think much would change but it did.  If I had never heard about Jesus I know that I would not be here today.  I would be in one of two places – either in jail or dead.  I wasn't a very nice person as a young man.  I thank God that someone told me about the wonderful love of God and what Christ did for me on the Cross of Calvary.

            But what about the person sitting on the bench in the park as you take a walk?  What about the person in the line with you at the grocery store?  What if someone never told them about Jesus?  Believe it or not most church going Christians never witness to someone else.  And what do you thing the most common excuse is?  I'm not called.”  The second is, “I don't have a word from God.”  These are excuses and I leaned a long time ago this phrase about excuses - “The effective range of an excuse is zero meters”. 

 And neither of these work.  We know we are called because the Bible tells us so.  The last couple verses of Matthew tells us we are called.  Romans 10:14-15 tells us about personal witnessing, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

 

            How can someone call on God's saving grace if they never hear about it.  They can't unless some goes and tells them.  That you and me.  It's each one of us.  We have to snatch the lost from the brink of hell.  If we don't who will.  In Jude verse 22 and 23 we are told Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them.”

 

            Can you tell someone about Jesus?  If you don't who will?  What if someone never does?  There was an old military recruiting slogan used in WWII.  “Uncle Sam wants you!”  And it was usually on a poster with a large picture of Uncle Sam pointing his finger.  God wants you and who do you think He is pointing His finger at?

 

            What if Jesus was never born?  What if Philippi church wasn't here?  What if you never heard the Good News about Jesus?  What if you don't tell the destitute, unwed mother?

 

            Song – I wish we all been ready.  What if?  Pray with me please.