You’ve all seen this guy…the guy on the corner of a busy city street…yelling at people he doesn’t know…
– the one with the pamphlets
– the one with the loud voice
– the one who sounds angry
– the one who’s talking, but nobody is really listening (are they?)
This of course, is Bullhorn guy, who I have a few problems with…
– he’s loud, he’s angry, he’s talking to people he doesn’t know, he’s condemning, harsh, irrelevant, etc.
– he’s unfortunately painted with the same brush as you and me
– it’s unfair that our faith is still associated with this kind of image
But…here’s the dilemma…no matter what the bullhorn guy does, we, as followers of Jesus, are still called to share the gospel story and the message of Jesus. Our mission is still to let others know.
So what if we could rebrand the Bullhorn? What if the Bullhorn could get a better rap? A new identity? Create and leave a better impression and taste in people’s mouth?
There is only one way this can happen – if our loud speaker is not an electronic tool, but a message of Love, Hope, Peace, & of course, Jesus.
Over the last few weeks we’ve tried to strip down the layers of what it means to be a church. We’ve narrowed things down to a few essentials. We’ve talked about Tables, Microphones, Notes – Communion, Worship, Teaching. All of these, if understood and experienced well, can be and should be things that attract people to Jesus.
Table = brings people together / Worship = brings people to God / Scripture = brings people to Jesus
Loud Lives/BullHorn = brings Jesus to the world
One of our essential layers is this: Sharing the story of Jesus. Living loud the gospel message. Matching action with words that combats the noise of hate, unrest, injustice, and brokenness.
A place in scripture that helps us see this well? 1 Thessalonians 1.
The Thessalonians were a young church. Maybe just over a year old. Some might say that younger Christians tend to be louder about their faith. I agree and disagree. Anyone captivated by the message of Jesus can’t help but share it. The maturing ones know how to show and tell!!!
Here’s what Paul says…
Three words / Three trail markers (1:2-3)
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul starts with 3 words…with trail markers of their faith in Jesus. 3 things that seem to really be getting people’s attention: FAITH / LOVE / HOPE. These words are connected to very practical and down to earth terms: Vocation / Labour / Patience.
Faith is connected to your vocation (that’s what this word means in the greek = ergon).
– Faith is something that is seen and produced by what you do, and who you are every day.
Love is connected to your effort
– Love is more than a feeling
– Love is work (i.e. a labour of love)
– Agape is an all encompassing love
Patience is inspired by Hope
– Hope isn’t based on escaping circumstances through ignorance, but dealing with things
– Paul’s hope is always JESUS
– In this particular text, patience means taking on problems and suffering that actually create opportunity
For Paul, nothing speaks louder than these 3 words in action!!!
Let’s see how Paul reaffirms this theme…
More than words…tell & show (1:4-7)
For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.
You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
There’s no way that the church grew in the first century without an exhibition of power from the Holy Spirit. Demonstrable faith…love…and hope.
You think it’s just words? NO. It’s Power!
You think it’s just words? NO. It’s you, living this out for people to see what this gospel is all about.
What’s the example Paul gives? Suffering. It’s his go to illustration or example.
Their faith, love & hope come out loud and clear because they were able to have JOY in the midst of SUFFERING.
– a huge theme in scripture
– Joy in Suffering (for Paul, the best way to model faith)
Paul introduces the idea of being an imitator…a model if you will…
– a pattern for people to follow
– models for people to see how these the new clothes fit
– like one big fashion show.
This quote about fashion helps us understand Paul a little here.
“People stare…make it worth their while” (H.W.)
Paul’s telling this young church that as they’ve been living out their faith, people have been watching. The world was staring…and they made it worth their while!!!
And here is the final and most important part of today’s text…The BULLHORN comes out.
Is the message RINGING out from our lives too? (1:8)
The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it,
Because of their faith, their love, their hope – Because they have been showing, in action, the power of the Spirit – Because of the their modelling skills and the way they can have JOY in Suffering…Their message RANG out from them.
The word is out
People are talking
The news is spreading
The message is being heard
The BULLHORN is in full force
But this BullHorn isn’t about standing on a corner and yelling at people, it’s about working faith, laborious love, and enduring hope.
This kind of RINGING has to be an essential for us who follow Jesus and gather as community.
Let’s TAKE this HOME:
I have teenage kids. Sometimes they come home after school and are quiet. But sometimes they enter the door talking up a storm, telling us how amazing their day was. I don’t have to pry it out of them. They simply offer up their feedback and stories. Why? Because in their point of view, they have good news to share. You can’t shut them up (and I love listening to it…most of the time:).
We have good news to share.
We have a story that brings joy out of suffering.
A story that requires faith, but spurs on love, and inspires hope.
We have news about Jesus, who is the king of redemption, healing and justice.
It shouldn’t take much to get the story out of us.
Now know this…
Living loud isn’t about volume, it’s about impact.
Loud is only good when it does good.
You can be a quiet person and lead a loud life.
You can be an introvert and make a huge splash where ever you go.
You don’t need a mic or a speaker or an old school bullhorn to get people’s attention.
Just live out your faith in a way that gets people’s attention. Nothing fancy, but definitely impacting.
Think about these final quotes…
“We are a blessed people & a sent people”
“In the daily rhythms for everyone everywhere, we live our lives in the market place of this world. In homes and neighbourhoods, in schools and on farms, in hospitals in businesses…In those places, by simple grace, we are hints of hope…splashes of love…sprinkles of faith.”
May the things we do…and the things we say…cut through the noise of greed, of materialism, of politics, of selfishness, and may the message of Jesus RING out and slowly get the attention of those he loves and we love.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
small(er) group questions:
What’s you’re impression of ‘the bullhorn guy’? Anything wrong with his or her approach?
We’ve walked through 4 essentials in this series. Any one in particular stand out as more important or impactful? (Eucharist, Worship, Teaching, Sharing Faith)
1 Thessalonians 1 is packed with challenges. Think and talk about these things…
- why do words like faith, love & hope speak so loudly?
- what speaks louder, words or actions?
- can you have one without the other, or is balance important?
- seems like Paul puts the responsibility on us to be imitators and models? hmmmm?
- “people are staring…are we making it worth their while?”
- joy in suffering is talked about so much. why?
- how can Jesus’ message RING out from you?
“We are blessed & sent (gathered & scattered) to be hints of hope & splashes of love” (discuss)
What should you be praying for tonight?