Faithfulness Makes A Difference!
The end of the first century was a extremely difficult time for Christians.
The Roman empire had an emperor named Domitian who demanded that he be worshiped as god.
The Christians had no representation in government.
They had no power or political clout.
One small Christian church was located in the city of Smyrna.
Smyrna was a wealthy coastal city on the northeast coast of Turkey.
Smyrna was very wealthy and extremely loyal to the emperor.
In this city where the emperor was worshiped as a god, Jesus promises the church
that the one who overcomes, "I will give you the crown of life."
With all that they were facing they might have wondered if anything they are doing for God
makes any difference to their world?
We need to ask that same question.
"Does anything our church does make any difference to our community?"
I read of a pastor who was interviewed by a pastor search committee asking them
what would happen if their church ceased to exist.
That's an important question.
Do we matter to our community?
Jesus praises the church in Smyrna.
The Church at Smyrna is only one of two churches to whom the risen Christ gives such high praise.
Would our church receive such praise?
Would we be found faithful to our Lord today?
Jesus called upon them to be faithful.
They probably wondered how so few people could make any difference among so many
and with so much opposition.
How could this small church impact a pagan city for God?
Jesus knew what they could do with His power.
He says, "I know your afflictions and your poverty, yet you are rich."
You look about and see the difficulties of being a Christian.
You look at each other and you say, "What can we do?
We are a poor church.
We don't have connections.
We don't have a large bank account.
We don't have many members."
But Jesus says "You are rich!"
Paul said, "When I am weak, then I am strong."
When we realize we do not have the resources to do the work, we turn to God.
Every Christian in this congregation is rich.
You have abilities and gifts that no one else has.
When you give those simple gifts to God to use in His service you will discover a wealth
of wisdom and power that you never even imagined possible.
When we give ourselves to the Lord every day brings new opportunities.
Regardless of how many or how few gifts we may have, everyone of us can be faithful.
Being faithful is a choice and a commitment.
The Denver Post printed an article about the tragedy at Columbine High School in Denver.
It was about Cassie Berall who was killed at Columbine High School's library.
One of the gunman asked Cassie Bernall if she believed in God.
She answered, "Yes, I do believe in God."
Then he pulled the trigger and killed her."
The article was about her compassion for others, and related the following about Cassie.
"Everyone remembers Cassie Bernall's gorgeous hair.
It was the color of cornsilk that hung halfway down her back.
'She planned to cut it short,' her aunt said.
'She was going to cut off that beautiful blond hair and give it someone who makes wigs for kids
who are going through chemo.
That's what kind of girl she was.
She told me she wanted to cut it really short to give enough hair for two or three kids
-- as many kids as possible.
And that is what she was like. She was so amazing.' "
Cassie Bernall's life was tragically ended, but she was faithful even in death.
Our faithfulness does not require great power or a great intelligence or political connections.
It does require a choice and a commitment to follow Jesus, regardless of circumstances.
Are we willing to stand up for Christ?
Will we express our faith in Christ when confronted with criticism?
Are we willing to tell our friends of our love for Christ?
Or are we afraid that they will ridicule us?
Jesus is saying to us, "Don't be afraid."
Does anything we do make any difference?
Jesus admonishes us to be faithful.
We must die to self!
We must share Christ.
And when we share Christ we really share life.
Suppose you went door to door in the hospital to those who are dying.
And you could give them life.
Think about that.
Every one of them would take the life that you could give them; and they would be eternally grateful.
You do have eternal life to share with others.
Are you sharing life with those who are dying without Jesus?
We must be faithful in doing that.
This is what God demands of every Christian.
Wherever you are from day to day -- in the school classroom, in the neighborhood, at the office,
in your place of business -- people need the Lord
"To him that is faithful unto death I will give the crown of life."
Be faithful and you will make a difference
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White