This week, Todd Wagner continues the Unashamed series. Teaching from Romans 1:13-16, Todd shows how we as believers are under obligation to share the gospel eagerly and unashamedly to all those around us.
Obligated, Eager, and Unashamed
Why We Are Ashamed
Father, I thank you that we are, by your grace, those crazy Christians, because you, in unspeakable grace, have done something we still can't even get our arms around. We sing about it, write songs about it, and celebrate holidays around it, but we can't understand that you, being holy, without need, have chosen to love us and pursue us and rescue us through this amazingly crazy thing called the incarnation, when you, being God who is eternal and outside of time and who is spirit, has come into time and taken on flesh and, being without sin, has taken on the wages of sin so that those of us who have been cursed to death because of our rejection of you could be brought back into life.
We thank you that you love us so much that you are a crazy, irrational, irresponsible God in the way you pursue people, and we thank you that you have given us a message and an opportunity to know you and not just look toward heaven but to walk with you on this earth right now and to serve you the way the Son served you by the enabling of your Spirit, which dwells in us who believe, that we might speak of your lovingkindness and goodness to our friends and we would be increasingly unashamed of the gospel and increasingly equipped to share that gospel and that our lives would be as aliens and strangers among people on this earth who still don't know you and that you would use us to participate with you in rescuing them from the darkness and the death that defines a lost world that has turned its back on you.
Father, would you make us increasingly radical, getting to the root of our faith, and would you give us the heart of the Father, the heart of the Son, that left comfort to go and care for others, that we would engage with a lost world, that we'd be salt and light among them, and that we would bring to them the power of God for salvation, which is the gospel. Would you use us for that end? Thank you for our faithful friends who are doing that in Fort Worth, for nonbelievers who are there in Fort Worth this morning, for nonbelievers who are with us in Plano, for nonbelievers who are here, and that believers have a chance to love them. Help us to do that, Father, in all humility. In Jesus' name, amen.
Let me just tell you that there are people out there who don't even know… Some of them do know it. They wake up, and they don't know how to pray. They don't know who God is, but they say, "God, if you're there, if you're real, would you just show me that you are who you say you are?" The way God typically does that is he connects with them by taking his angels… The word angel just means sent one.
We never know what an angel is in the Scripture when you see that word until you look at the context. It literally means a messenger of God. That's what an angel is. Some angels are created spirit beings, and sometimes God uses those created spirit beings to accomplish things here in a way we can understand and often don't even recognize. There are angels among us unaware, the Scripture says, but sometimes people are very aware of who the messengers of God are, and it frankly is God's plan A to reach this world.
Jesus' plan was, "Hey listen. Even as the Father sent me to be among you, I'm now going to make it possible for you to be back in relationship with the Father so you can do what I have done while I am here by the same means I have done what I have done while I am here, which is in relationship with the Father through intimacy with the Spirit in a right understanding of the goodness of God. These works you have seen me do… Even greater works than these will you do also. If you ask me, I will do it through you."
That's the message of the gospel that continues, God's plan A. Frankly, he doesn't really tell us that there's ever a plan B. God's plan A is to use you and me, and people who know the Father and love the Father and desire to walk with the Father should have on their hearts what's on the heart of the Father, which is a desire to see those who are far from God brought near. Sometimes you're going to look like a crazy Christian. To use Peter's words, you will be like aliens and strangers among them. "Who are you and what are you doing?"
We're going to take a look at some of what we ought to be doing this morning. Turn with me to Romans, chapter 1. It's a great section of Scripture where Paul is writing from a time when he was in prison in a little town called Corinth to a group of friends he longed to go see in Rome. Rome was the place that you didn't just want to go see today as an ancient city. It was a place that you wanted to go see then.
Everybody wanted to get to Rome, because the story of Rome and all that was accomplished in Rome was legion. It was a thing of splendor. It is like today when we go to Washington, DC and see the grandeur of our buildings. You can go to Rome even today and look at the immensity of what was built over 2,000 years ago. We just go, "Man! What an amazing city that must have been. The ruins are still impressive."
Rome was the center of world commerce. It was the center of world power. It was the center of world intellect. It had moved from Greece over to Rome. Everybody wanted to go to Rome, because Rome was the place you went if you wanted to be in the middle of it. Paul did not think of Rome that way. Paul thought Rome had nothing to offer him. Now listen. When we think of Paul, we think of this hugely impressive individual. Paul traditionally has been understood as a little guy. He wasn't impressive in stature.
He has been described this way by scholars. He had a beetle brow, bandy legs, a bald head, a hooked nose, bad eyes, and poor rhetorical gifts. That sounds like a guy who could use a little Rome to me. He could go get Cosmopolitan. He could go get polished up. He could go get tanned and buffed right there in some of those Roman baths. Paul is saying, "Hey, Rome, you have nothing. I want to come to you…"
I'm going to read you these texts and show you Paul's mindset. It reminds me that Paul understood something that apparently a lot of us don't. That is, if I have Christ, there is nothing the world has that can improve what I have. I was at a dinner not long ago with my wife and a couple of friends from this place with a national leader whose name you would recognize. This national leader was in Dallas because they had just gotten through seeing a lot of very influential, wealthy people.
This guy was meeting with us because he wanted to understand a little bit about how he could communicate more effectively with a certain segment of the population he desired to connect with that he thought he had a lot in common with but wasn't really getting a lot of traction with. As we were explaining to this individual how we are motivated to delegate our political authority, our governing authority…
By the way, I'm going to say this again. I just spent Tuesday night with my great friends at The Porch ending the Adulting series. You ought to go listen to the entire thing. It's amazing what's being communicated here on Tuesday nights. I ended the Adulting series by talking about how Millennials need to engage in the political realm. The reason I said that is not because we are ultimately political people but because we are spiritual people. Because we're spiritual people, we do what the Father wants us to do, which is to seek the welfare of the city we dwell in.
One of the ways you seek the welfare of a city is by participating in the political process. In our government, citizen is an office, and we have been delegated authority to delegate authority to certain leaders who would then make laws that will lead to justice and goodness in the land. To remove ourselves from that process is insanity and unbiblical. Now it's also insanity and unbiblical to make politics your savior.
Believers should never have thought that hope rides on Air Force One. It doesn't. It rides on the gospel and regenerated hearts, but the gospel informing regenerated hearts would inform people to elect certain leaders who would be governors who are governed by the goodness of God, rulers who would be ruled by the way of righteousness.
As I was talking with this particular individual and as they were asking questions and trying to communicate certain perspectives they had, at one point, being fairly exasperated with the conversation, they kind of ran their mouth a little bit and said something like, "Listen. I was just talking to…" They mentioned a very wealthy person here in town who's worth billions of dollars. "I'm over there, trying to get him to support me, because I believe in what I'm doing, because I want to help people like you."
My brilliant wife spoke up and said, "I think your anger right there is part of your problem, because you went to that man needing from him something, and the truth is if you understand what it is you're here telling us you're passionate about, you should have gone into that conversation not needing something from him but ready to offer him everything this world is lacking. That is the hope you say you have in a relationship with God.
You don't need that man. God is the one who lifts up kings. The fact that you went there thinking you needed something from that man seems to suggest you don't understand what it is we believe is the greatest gift God can give men. You don't want money. You want a relationship with a man. The man's name is Jesus Christ." I just turned back and looked at my wife and went, "Preach it, sister!"
This guy who was growing increasingly frustrated all of a sudden powered way down and just said, "You're right." We can lose sight of that, because Rome and power is seductive. Paul understood that if you gain the whole world and lose your soul you have gained nothing. So Paul said, "I want to go to you, my friends in Rome." The real reason Paul wanted to do that was because Rome was a little beyond halfway to where Paul really wanted to go.
He tells them that in the book of Romans. He tells them, "I want to go to Spain, because nobody has yet been to Spain." He wanted to push farther west. "I want to get the gospel where it has never been." Rome was going to be the spot that he thought he would come and get refreshed and that he would meet the church there and the church there would participate with him and his vision to take the gospel places it had never been.
The church had made its way to Rome, probably from folks who were there at Pentecost who had come and Jews who had been there when the church began who had returned to Rome and then Gentiles who were converted by those Jewish believers who went back, and the church in Rome was already established. That's why Paul didn't want to stay there. He didn't want to build on any foundation another man had laid. He wanted to go and preach where there had been no foundation before.
So Paul was on his way to Spain, and Rome was where he was going to stop, but this is what it says in Romans, chapter 1, verse 13. "I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you…" For whatever reason, he says, "I have been prevented so far." "…so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles." Some encouragement, maybe some provision. The verse before, he talks about the mutual encouragement that happens when believers are together.
Sometimes when you study your Bible you want to stop and not just blow through this but to say, "What was it about Paul I can learn from here? What promise is there I can latch onto? What command is there that I can obey? What sin is there that I can forsake? What characteristic of God is there that I can be encouraged by? What attribute of the Son is there that I can emulate? What offering of the Spirit is there that I should be attentive to?" That's the way you read your Bible. "What example is there that I should follow?" I'm going to show you there's an example here you should follow, and I want you to watch what Paul says in the next three verses.
"I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."
Did you see it? There was something that repeated three times. I read it intentionally quickly, because that's the way most of us read our Bible. You're like, "That was nice. I listened to Todd read it, and I think I did what I was supposed to do. Because I'm a crazy Christian, this is where I come before I go to Applebee's." No. That's not the way you should read your Bible. You want to read your Bible intentionally, and when you're reading it you want to constantly say, "God, would you show me what is here that you want me to learn?"
It is not an amulet. Do you know what an amulet is? It's like a rabbit's foot. You don't just rub it for good luck. You don't just brush up against your Bible. You don't just do the Journey so you can go, "Check. Did the Journey." No. It is no idle word; it is your life. Do you know what an idle word is? It's a word you don't really put to work in your life. In Deuteronomy 32:47, Moses' admonition to the nation of Israel and my admonition to you, as my friends who are the church, is "This is no idle word." We have to put it to work in our lives, because God wants to work in us and through us.
One of the reasons that something is happening in Fort Worth that's just awesome to celebrate is because there are people who understand that God's desire is not that you would go someplace on Sunday and take notes. There's not a weekly service he wants you to attend. He wants you to tend to his business, so you gather with other people who can remind you of the goodness of God and help you remember what it is God has done for us, so that we would respond in righteousness and that he would go to work in us and through us.
We're so glad you're here this morning. Some of you guys are trying to figure out, "Where should I connect?" Here's the deal. We are not trying to create a church you want to go to. That has never been our goal. We are trying to help you be the church for others in your city. "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose [we] labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within [us] ."
The purpose of us preaching and teaching and equipping you all throughout the week is not so that you would grow in information but so that God would work in you in a transformative way so that the Word of God would go to work in your life. We are here not to do anything to make God love us. "For by grace we have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it's a gift from God, not as a result of works." We don't get something that makes us more righteous by coming to church. We come and learn about the righteousness of God that has been accomplished through the good news of the gospel.
We're not people who just say, "O Lord, please save us. Look, we're at church." We're people who have said "The Lord has saved," and we sing of that, and we remind each other, "What are we doing if we're not sharing with other people what we ourselves have come to understand?" The Scripture says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."
Do you see that? This Word is supposed to go to work in our lives. So what is Paul saying here that we can learn from? What example is there to follow? Look in verse 14. Here's the first thing he says: "I am under obligation." In verse 15 he says, "I am eager to preach." In verse 16 he says, "I am not ashamed." This morning, we're going to talk about those three things. What does it mean to be under obligation? What does it mean to be eager? What does it mean to not be ashamed of the gospel?
We are right here in good old Dallas, Texas. Our buddy Ryan Wall who, along with others, has gone to Haiti, like a bunch of other crazy Christians… When they were down there trying to share the gospel through translators with a bunch of Haitian people who lived in Rome already, they realized, "Hey, I have to get engaged in the city that right now is the place everybody goes to to find life. Here I am down here in Haiti, trying to speak through somebody else who doesn't know my language about this great news I have, and I don't know if I'm doing this in my own city."
So they came back from Haiti and started to say, "What we're going to do is start these Unashamed weekends," and through the leadership of our Millennial crowd, through the leadership of our Porch friends, they started saying, "We're going to do this several times a year, where we gather about 60 to 70 of us.
We spend time preparing for this weekend and then this life we're going to live. We're going to talk about the gospel. We're going to train ourselves to share the gospel. We're going to evaluate our lives. We're going to engage people relationally, and then we're going to go and live missionally in our city in a unique way for Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday, just like we've done here in Haiti."
I watched them do this two, three, or four times. I said, "Ryan, jump on our team. Jump on staff. Would you lead the entire church in this process, where we go and live missionally in this city?" Frankly, we just say, "We're already in Rome, and we are in debt to Rome." What does it mean to be under obligation? If you have an older translation, if you have the New King James Version or some other translation, it actually says that here in verse 14. It says, "I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians."
The ESV, the NIV, and the NASB have taken that, because it's confusing to people because we don't really understand what it means to be a debtor to somebody, and they say, "You're under obligation," but that's what a debtor is. It's somebody who owes somebody something. Now here's my question for you…How was Paul a debtor to Jews and to Greeks and to barbarians? Here's the answer.
There are a couple of ways to become obliged or to become a debtor to somebody. One way is that I come to you and ask for $1,000. I want to use that $1,000. I don't have it, so I ask you for $1,000. You give me the $1,000, and now I am obliged to eventually pay you back. That's typically the way that works, especially if it's a banking relationship. Then I am obliged to return that money to you eventually. That's typically the way we think of debt, but that is not the way Paul is talking about it right here.
There's another way to become obliged to somebody. In that case I am obliged to you, but here's another one. What if you guys gave me $1,000 to take to my friends in Fort Worth? Fort Worth, what if you gave me $1,000 to take to my friends in Plano? Plano, what if you gave me $1,000 to take to Dallas? I would at that moment be obliged… If Dallas gave me money for Fort Worth, I would be a debtor to…who? Not you but to Fort Worth.
This is exactly what Paul had in mind when in 1 Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 1, he said, "If anyone regards me, let it be as a servant of Christ and a steward of the mystery of God." What Paul is saying here is, "God has given me this incredible treasure, and he has given it to me, yes, to save me and to call me out of darkness into his marvelous light, so that," it says in 1 Peter, "I might proclaim his excellencies to others who have not yet heard it."
Do you understand this? There is a reason, crazy Christian, that when we baptize you we don't just hold you under and send you to glory. We bring you up and we go, "There is work to be done here." This is not just about getting saved so you can go home. This is about you living for your King. You are his ambassadors, which means you are under authority from a king in another land to represent him in the land in which he has placed you.
Paul is saying, "I am obligated. I am a debtor. God has given me something for other people, and I have to share that with others. I am compelled by that incredible stewardship." Think about that. What so many of us are doing with both the treasure of the gospel and the treasure God has given us to advance the gospel… We're like a really bad FedEx courier, where for some crazy reason, God has conscripted us, employed us…
He is giving us something that is not ours, and we just go, "Thank you," and we open it and play with it and use it and forget he has given it to us as a steward to take somewhere else. In other words, every resource God has given me… God loves me, so just like I love the service that is FedEx or UPS or whatever company you work for so you're not offended… I give them a wage, because I appreciate what they do for me.
I will honor them if they do that well. I will celebrate them to other people if they take what is mine that I give to them to take to somebody else and do that in a timely way. I go, "Well done, good and faithful courier," and I will honor them and invest more in them and celebrate them. I will give them more business.
But if I find a FedEx courier… A good friend of mine found one. He happened to be in the diamond business, and he found out that all of the diamonds he was shipping were not getting where they belonged, and it was because there was a courier who was taking them and losing them into his own possession. That individual is no longer free and is under judgment, because he didn't understand his responsibility.
What Paul is saying here in Romans, chapter 1, verse 14 is "I don't know if you know this, but I am a debtor. I am obliged to the Greeks and the barbarians, to the wise and the foolish, to give to them what God has given to me." Do you understand that? Do you know that this is what God has required of you? It is a matter of absolute obedience. So Paul says, "I am eager to preach, because I know that God is gracious and kind, but by no means will he let the guilty go unpunished."
Woe be the man who says they understand the treasure of the gospel of Jesus Christ and they bury it. Woe be the man who is given a light and hides it under a bushel. That would seem to suggest that man doesn't know what light is or what light is for. Paul says, "I am eager. I can't wait to preach the gospel to all of you who are in Rome. Rome has nothing to offer me." If you think Dallas has something to offer you, then you won't be able to speak to Dallas the way you need to speak to Dallas.
I see this all the time. Yesterday, one of my sons and I, as we were traveling somewhere together, were reading through some of the proverbs and talking about what they meant, and we talked about how in Proverbs 19 it talks a lot about how rich men are treated and how poor men are treated, and I was asking him if he understood why a rich man has many friends. I said, "They have many friends because they're not true friends."
Proverbs talks about that. When they lose their wealth, a lot of those friends are gone. When you are really wealthy, really popular, really influential, really powerful, really beautiful, it is hard to find true friends, because people want from you some of that which your popularity or your beauty or your power or your provision provide.
If you believe Dallas has something to offer you in terms of pleasure, power, or provision, then you don't know the pleasure of Jesus Christ. You don't know the power that comes with being a child of the King. You don't know the position that is "Well done, good and faithful servant." So you are still out there and are ashamed of the gospel, because you think, "If I teach this gospel, it might cost me in this city," when you don't realize this city is desperately in need of you.
You're still like a politician who's out there saying what you think you need to say to have something put into your pocket instead of being somebody who has had your heart transformed and been called out of darkness into light and are eager to share it in a winsome way with others. This is a big deal. In Revelation, chapter 2, there is this section of Scripture when he was talking about the church in Ephesus.
He says, "To the angel of the church in Ephesus…" Which means "to the messenger," probably to the church leader in Ephesus. Not to some spiritual being who's over Ephesus but to the leader of the church in Ephesus. He says, "The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this…" This is Jesus. We commonly believe the One we're talking about in verse 1 of chapter 2 is the Lord God.
He says, "I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance…""You are faithful in trial. That's an awesome thing. Way to go." "…and that you cannot tolerate evil men…""You shun evil. That's great, man. You're not dabbling around in pornography and idle things and in trafficking in the pleasures of the world. You shun evil. That is awesome." So far, what are we saying about the church in Ephesus? We're going, "Awesome, man. These guys are suffering and are not shrinking back. They're loving what is good. They're shunning what is evil." We're like, "This is a great church."
"…you put to the test those who call themselves apostles…""You are discerning. Just because you meet some guy at church, you don't think he's a devoted follower of Christ. Just because some guy says he's a pastor, you don't take for granted everything he says, but you listen carefully to what he says and measure it by God's Word." This is an awesome church. They are persevering. They are righteous. They are discerning.
Verse 3: "…and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary." Look at verse 4. "But I have this against you…" Uh-oh. "…that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent."
"Unless you turn around. Listen. You are doctrinally sound. You are people who are purposeful in living righteous lives and are discerning in your doctrinal understanding, but you don't know that you're obligated by the gift I've given you, and you're not eager to tell other people about me. You've stopped celebrating the fact that we are yoked together."
I had two conversations this week with two different people. It got to where we started talking about spiritual things, and they both said the same thing. "Man, I'm a little uncomfortable with that." I go, "Help me understand that." They go, "Well, my faith is very private." I said to them, "No, no, no. You're wrong. It's very personal. Everybody's faith is personal, but it's never supposed to be private. You are supposed to shout it from the mountaintops."
I took my wedding ring off and went, "Hey, what if…" One of them happened to be a woman. I was with some other women. I took my wedding ring off and put it in my pocket. I go, "What if I just started moving toward you in every way, and I didn't want anymore this very personal relationship I have with my wife? I wanted to keep it private and our relationship wasn't defined by this thing that's very personal to me. Would that offend you? Would that surprise you eventually?"
I go, "It ought to. It would surprise and offend my wife, and I don't want to run into that. Let me just tell you this. This is a very personal thing to me, but it's not private. I wear this so that everybody can know who I am and who I'm yoked to. The reason I'm happy to do this… I want to tell you about my wife. Let me tell you." In fact, I took a moment to tell them about my wife, my love for her, how my life has been changed and sharpened and encouraged, how I'm still learning because of that relationship, the gift it is to me.
A guy who doesn't want to talk about his wife we would say is up to no good. We would say, "I don't think that guy knows what covenant love is. I don't think that guy knows what the gift of commitment looks like." Your faith is very personal, but it is never supposed to be private. Jesus says, "He who is ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of him before the Father."
If you understand the goodness of Christ and what he has done for you, if you're one of those people who's not just saying, "O God, save me; do something," but you go, "God has saved me," don't you think you ought to speak up a little bit about it and be eager to tell other people about the most important thing in your life?
Here's what happened. Ephesus is in Turkey. Guess what else is in Turkey? The entire region of Galatia. Guess what else is in Turkey? The entire city of Colossae. Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians. About seven other places Paul went to where he established churches are in Turkey. What does it say in Revelation, chapter 2, verse 5? He says, "I will remove your lampstand out of your place."
Every day, I get an email from a website called Operation World, which I use to help me pray for friends around the world and different ministries that are at work in different places. If you go to operationworld.org you can sign up for this. Right now we're praying through all of the nations of the world that start with a B. Every day, I get an email with information about that country, unreached people groups in it, ministries that are at work in that country. In many of those countries, I know somebody who is actively at work
I went and looked at Turkey this week. Here's what you need to know about Turkey. Less than two-tenths of 1 percent of people in this city that used to be the epicenter of Christendom… Istanbul is Constantinople. It is where Christianity and Rome met. Hagia Sophia, which is the Church of Holy Wisdom, was the largest church in the world for centuries. Now it's a museum. Before that it was a mosque.
This city in this same region had stopped not shunning evil, not persevering in good, not being discerning about doctrine; it stopped declaring the gospel, and God has taken his lampstand and removed it right from it. Far less than one out of 100,000 people… The church in Turkey is less than two-tenths of 1 percent, and it's growing by negative 1.4 percent a year.
So guess what I did? I went to Operation World's website in the United States of America. Let me just show you something. This is what Operation World's website says about the United States of America. Right now in America, 77.62 percent of America identifies itself as Christian. Thirty percent is evangelical, which is a little bit more like the people you would see described by Jesus in Ephesians, chapter 2.
In other words, 80 percent of Americans are people who would say, "God, save us." We believe there's a reason they're saying this about Jesus. They have heard that Jesus is claiming to be a messenger and prophet of God, and they're saying, "Okay, maybe this is the guy. Maybe this is the Messiah. Would you save us?" But they want God to save them the way they want God to save them. "You work this way and do this for me."
When Jesus said, "The work I'm going to do for you is go to a cross, because you're sinners and can never be righteous enough for God… I'm going to give my life for you, and I'm going to take it back up again as evidence that the wages of sin have been paid, and then you will be reconciled to God, and then you will be my ambassadors in this world until I roll up all of history and evil, but you'll go not just to Jews who have had the benefit of the Messiah come, but you will go to the Gentiles, to the barbarians, to the wise and the foolish, and you will tell people what I have done."
In America today, almost every politician, no matter what their political worldview, is going to end their statement by saying, "God bless America," but you try to get them to share their faith with a donor, and those governors and politicians aren't speaking up so quickly. You find a lot of people who still think "In God we trust," but you try to get people to really walk with Jesus in righteousness, and you're not going to find it so much.
Here are a couple of quick things about America. In English right now, our official language, there's something else happening. It's not just a growing Hispanic population, but 11 percent of our population (34 million) speaks Spanish. Let me just insert this right here. This is why this is really exciting. Do you guys know what's happening here next Sunday? This is happening. Check this out. Fort Worth, Plano, it's not happening where you are, but you can invite friends right here. This is happening a week from today in Dallas. Check this out.
That's awesome. Take advantage of that. Jump in with us, and invite your friends who can't speak English. We almost always translate the message in here every Sunday. You need to know that. That's happening. People come and pick up something, and some poor souls have to translate me into their ear. That happens every week, but we're having a specific Spanish Easter service here. You guys are like, "Man, I would love to be able to reach my Hispanic friends."
Let me just tell you something. While 11 percent of America, 30 million-some-odd people, only speak Spanish, I have some really good news for you. Eighty-nine percent of America speaks your language, so you don't have to wish you would learn their language. You just have to traffic faithfully in it. There are people who are out there this week who are hoping that some crazy Christian, some authentic, devoted follower of Christ, would run into them and talk to them about the hope of the gospel, and maybe there's a place they can come to.
Survey after survey says that most people who are not engaged with church, if somebody they had a relationship with invited them to come to church in an authentic, loving way, they'd come. A lot of us are making plans next Easter. We're making family plans. The family plan is that you would go out and seek and save the lost, and you would invite them to come to the Father's house, and then you would sit with them at the Father's table.
Let me tell you a story that happened in the last couple of days. My friend Laura Webb, who's a resident here at Watermark, went to eat at Chipotle right down the road. While she was there, she was standing next to somebody in line who was wearing hospital scrubs and just engaged them in a conversation. She said, "I guess you work in the medical business, probably right there at Medical City," and the person went, "Yeah."
They started talking, and she asked a question about her family. She goes, "Well, I'm a single mom. I'm in a relationship right now, and I'm trying to figure out that relationship, if it's good for me or not, but yeah." So Laura started talking to her about a relationship that she was in with Jesus Christ. She asked her how long she had been at Medical City. Two and a half years. She asked her if she had ever heard of Watermark. She said, "Water what?" It's a half mile from here.
She goes, "What are you talking about? Water what?"
"It's a church."
"Where's the church?"
"It's just right up the road, right up Park Central."
She goes, "I have no idea what you're talking about." Then Laura engaged her with the gospel of Jesus Christ and said, "Hey, I'll tell you what. Why don't you just come with me to this place that's just right up the road with your kids? They would love your kids incredibly well. Come some Sunday morning. Sit with me."
She came here a couple of weeks ago, sat with her, and after that service, out there in that parking lot, which is a half mile from where she worked, she met a God which is in eternity separate from where she was. That woman trusted Christ, and she's here this morning with her kids. Laura didn't go, "My job is done." Laura got her assimilated. She has been to membership classes already in just these last couple of weeks, and she has a family she has invited to share Easter with, all because she stood in line at Chipotle and somebody said, "Come and see."
How many people are you going to stand by in line this week? How many people live in your neighborhood and have no idea what you're going to do, what your family is going to invite them to? Not just to a service but into their life, that you would be eager and unashamed to invite them to know the God you say you are indebted to to pass on to them.
This is basically what Operation World says about the church as it writes about how people can pray: "Christian interaction with society must be reexamined. Believers in America…" Operation World is not just a website for folks in Dallas. People all over the world go to the Operation World website, and when they go there they see this. It says, "Believers are not making the impact they should. Christians in America don't engage deeply with public life. The American church has a rich history of applying the Bible, but it today has withdrawn from a wider society to a Christian subculture."
Boy, have we ever. We are "homotheological." If we were a homosexual nation, we would be one generation away from being extinct. Let me just tell you something, church. If we're a homotheological people, we are one generation away from being extinct. You are powerful people. The hope of the country, the hope of people's eternity, rests with you. Let me tell you what happens when you don't do this effectively. This is the end of Operation World's description of America:
"The generation of young people today is both the most privileged and the most damaged. Humanistic and new age philosophy, spiritual confusion, moral relativism, broken families, sexual permissiveness, drug and alcohol abuse, mindless violence, widespread acceptance of occult, and callous self-absorption combine to reap a bitter harvest among the younger generations. Most young people, even Christian ones, don't understand what it means to follow Christ. Two-thirds believe that all religions ultimately pray to the same God. Without a decisive work of God's Spirit in America, this could be the most broken time in America's history."
You don't believe me? Forty-eight percent of Generation Z, which today is 13- to 20-year-olds, say they are totally heterosexual. You're like, "What did Todd just say?" What I'm telling you is that 52 percent of our 13- to 20-year-olds don't think gender identity matters. Thirty-five percent of them say they're bisexual, because we've made the embrace of that cultural worldview what noble, well-minded, progressive people do, so that's what they do. That, by the way, is a double-digit increase from the Millennial generation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics just came out this week and said, "This is killing children. This gender dysphoria, this idea that kids should choose their gender, is the most damaging psychological thing you can do." It's amazing. Why do I go on this? You go, "What kind of land tells kids they can choose what they want and that God didn't make them male and female?" I'll tell you what kind of land. A land that the church is ashamed of the gospel in. That's what kind of land.
This is not ours to sit and scoff at others. You are the hope of the world, and your children are suffering. God has given you the power of the gospel for salvation. I have been all around this world, and I'm going to tell you something. The gospel of Jesus Christ is what heals countries and saves lives, and you are stewards of it. You are obliged. You are a debtor.
God has given you this to be a courier for him, and it is time that you stop being doctrinally discerning, just somebody who self-righteously says you're not as evil as other people and who perseveres with the persecution you feel. It is time to get busy being an evangelist. I hope you're unashamed. That's not guilt and shame, people. That's the church. We are called out to represent him. Let's go to war winsomely and kindly, but when I speak to you… This is Patton before you engage Nazi Germany. You have to go, because you love your Father who has saved you from that craziness.
Father, I pray we would go. We have cards here called "Top 10" cards. We write down people we care about, who we want to reach, who we want to go into the world and tell about the gospel. I pray that we wouldn't just take the Top 10 cards that are available to us as we leave today and write names on them. I pray we'd go to those names and have an authentic love for them, that we wouldn't see them as projects but as people you love whom Christ went to the cross and died for.
You have made us a debtor to them to tell them who you are and what you have done, that we would initiate with them, share our story of grace, invite them to come and see, and we would just execute our family plan this Easter, inviting the lost sheep of Israel and of Greece to the Father's table, and to hang with them, tell them about the goodness of the Father, and love them as a brother or sister would. Would you let us do that? For the glory of our God, for the good of this land, and for the joy in our hearts. In Jesus' name, amen.