This message is based on Philippians 2:1-11 and was preached at the Central Schwenkfelder Church on Palm Sunday, March 28, 2010 in conjunction with Central’s Chancel Choir and Brasswind orchestra performing Mark Hayes’ “The Crown and the Cross: A Palm/Passion Sunday Suite.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed “The Crown and the Cross,” a beautiful musical suite with which our choir has ministered to you. The music you’ve just experienced emphasizes the events of Holy Week, starting with the Triumphal entry, which today commemorates. We also heard readings on the betrayal of Jesus, the covenant He instituted and the humility He showed. The ultimate goal of these events is that everyone would willingly bow the knee before Christ and confess Him as Lord. But why in the world does this matter?
The message in our music today is that Jesus is King. Jesus was declared king on that first “Palm Sunday,” so long ago. The actions of the crowd were those given only to royalty as they entered an area of which they conquered. Hosanna was a declaration relying on God to “Save us now.” And Jesus does save- from sin, death and other things that steal joy, peace and purpose from life. That’s why we call Jesus, the Savior.
The narration also reminds us that everyone has a king. The question is whether folks have the most appropriate one! Some have money, or materialism as their king. Still others have pleasure, or hedonism as their king. And then there are those who have self, or narcissism, as their king. And the list goes on. But God has so constructed the human spirit that any other king but Jesus leaves us wanting and straining in life. Today, let us recall the events of Holy Week and remember that Christ is the one and true king!
Read Paul’s words from Philippians 2:3 and following: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
So who are we because of such a message? Since Jesus is king, every believer is also an ambassador! In other words, we are to carry this message not just to fellow church members, but to those outside of our midst; for those that visit this fellowship, for those that hunger and thirst for spiritual food and drink. Only King Jesus can provide this! So how do we introduce the king of kings to our neighbor? Is it meant to just be inside the four walls of a church?
For the last two weeks I’ve asked you to do two things: reflect and identify. First, I asked you to reflect on what or whom God used to bring you to Central. Next, I asked you to identify 1-3 people that God has purposefully brought into your life to serve. Today, I’m going to talk about how you might relate to those people with your faith or being involved in the mission of your church.
This is what it means to be missional: to present Christ in such a way that the gospel appeals to our neighbors in a non-threatening way. Many will recognize Jesus as king one day, albeit with regret. Our goal, as a church, is to see people do this willingly! Last week we discussed the importance of relationships and personal contact in bringing people to Central. We call this “friendship evangelism.” People won’t care how much you know, till they know how much you care. So how can you show that you care? How might you relate our king to your neighbor? Let me suggest the following.
- Say hello and introduce yourself to a stranger at church.
- Invite someone you’ve known for less then five years to lunch or coffee.
- Pray for an acquaintance every day for ten days.
- Call a family member you seldom talk to. Maybe this is a son or daughter, maybe a mom or dad, maybe a brother or sister. Take a genuine interest in their lives.
- Walk through your neighborhood and pray for seven homes in specific reference to faith, the gospel and Jesus Christ. If you spend four minutes on each home, you’ll get your daily exercise, as well!
- Do something for someone in need.
- Commit to a mission project, great or small. This may be Christian Endeavor’s work camp, the Angel Tree project, an overseas mission trip, a trip to assist the Schwenkfelder Missionary Church, helping Norristown Soup Kitchen or Manna on Main Street or participate in the interfaith ministry to the homeless.
- Assist with our Awana’s program on Wednesday evenings.
- Befriend someone in your neighborhood.
Can you think of others? You might say, “Is this really going to accomplish anything?” All of these are examples of how you can be an ambassador of Christ the King! And in every endeavor do so with the love of Christ as your motivation! And pray, “Lord, Jesus open doors for me to share You with those around me.”
The difference between Jesus and other kings history has seen is that He has given us a supreme example of service. We are to love one another, as He has loved us. Jesus gave us that example in John 13:13, which is more than just foot washing, it is an attitude that we live our lives by! He said on that night so long ago: “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” In doing so, you are being the King’s ambassadors to a world that needs His love. People cannot relate to God’s love without seeing that love in action!
Now I would like to end with the following. Thomas Aquinas, who knew a great deal about education and a bit about motivation, once said that when you want to convert a person to your view, you go over to where he is standing, take him by the hand, and guide him. You don’t stand across the room and shout at him. You don’t order him to come over where you are. You start where he is and work from that position. He said that’s the only way to get people to budge. May we be a fellowship that is willing to approach people with the message of Christ and lovingly guide them to the Savior. Let us pray.