October: Stewardship of our presence- “Bado Tuko”.
Ps Maina Gacau
Last week, Pastor TC of Trinity Chapel Mombasa, while speaking about being Jesus in Our Neighbourhoods, laid a fitting foundation of the series. He helped us to see that we are Salt and light as seen in Matt 5:13-16. He challenged us to dare to be different in spreading the love of Christ. Let us pick up from where he left off.
While on sabbatical I was engaged to work for a technology start up that was setting up offices in Nairobi. While I was working there I interacted with many young Kenyans seeking to find work with the company. In forums I was not introduced to people as a pastor. However many months later after I left working there, one of the workers found me on Facebook and wanted to know why she had not been seeing me at the company. Then she asked me if I am a pastor. I asked her how she knew and she said she suspected all along.
We live in a world of political correctness. We have been made to believe that it is best not to mix our faith with business or work. We therefore generally shy away of letting others know that we are followers of Christ. There are times I have thought that it would be easier on me if I wore a collar. Though there are many are the times times I have been glad for not wearing a collar. You know those instances where you have done something you are not very proud of. My point is that we would often rather be private with our faith.
Reading: John 4:19-26
In this passage Jesus is travelling across Israel. He was coming from Judea in the south heading to Galilee in the north and had to pass through Samaria. He came to the Samaritan town of Sychar. It is while at the well that he had a conversation with the woman at the well. This was an unusual encounter. Jesus was a man, she was a woman. During that time there was a gender barrier. As if that was not enough, he was Jewish and she was Samaritan. These were descendants of the original tribes of Israel but we despised by the Jews. They were divided mainly on place of worship. The Samaritans believed that the chosen place of worship was Mount Gerizim. The Jews believed that the Samaritans worshiped idols and considered them unclean. It is then no surprise that the main subject of Jesus’ discourse involved worship: where to worship and whom to worship.
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim,[c] where our ancestors worshiped?”
21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”
Where do you worship?
Whenever this question is asked it is often to find out which church one attends. It is a popular question in Christianese perhaps where one Christian is sizing you up before they start bragging about their church. I have mixed feelings about that disposition. It is good to identify with a local church and be sold out fully to the mission. It is also dangerous to be closed in to a local church yet the church of God is not limited by boundaries. Jesus, when speaking to the Samaritan woman, says this in verse 21, “…Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.” Jesus’ mission was for a movement of worshippers who are not bound by geography. The events of the early church intentionally dispersed the followers of Jesus (first known as Christians in Antioch). Throughout history, these followers of Jesus would attempt to confine worship to a locality or a people and God would intervene and disperse them. Sometimes using painful methods.
Because very often our mindset of worship is tied to a location, we tend to be reverent and worshipful only when in such locations. Watch people when they come to church, any church; their language is sanitized, they walk with a reverent gait, they smile at everyone. We listen and make bold commitments. Whatever the pastor says we can do. We give, we praise, we are reverent and worshipful.
Carefully consider this question. Where do you worship? Is your response a building? Perhaps your local church? Is it a people you fondly align yourself to? Is it a denomination?
I believe key to responding to this question is an answer to the following question: Whom do you worship?
Whom do you worship?
Further on, as Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, He went on to say in verses 22-24, “You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
While on a mission trip to Bangkok, no one needed to tell us what the people there worshiped. Everywhere, on the streets, cars, homes, workplaces and shopping malls, wherever people were, you would see idols and shrines of worship.
I enjoy whenever I get invited to a business to dedicate and pray. I delight in visiting homes and hearing about what God is doing. I am careful about how I dress in the city center just in case I bump into one of you with your workmates and you have to introduce me. I am not sure how many times you may have dodged me when you have seen me in the streets perhaps with unkempt hair. But you see, this is just me. It is a subset of your worship to be able to relate to others who your spiritual leaders are. But it is one thing altogether for you to be able to show who you truly worship.
I hope we are not the kind of people who if someone said you were Christian many would be surprised. There is nothing about you that shows who you worship. If anything, perhaps your actions show that there is no way you can be a Christian.
Our lives speak louder than words. The way we live is a powerful witness that can open or shut doors for others to know Christ. Jesus addresses this in Matthew 23:13
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either
Ways you can open/shut doors:
- Lives of Integrity: The root word here is drawn from the word integer which means whole. Many people are attracted to people of integrity. We shut doors when we say one thing and do another. When we say we are Christian yet we act different.
- Open or secretive about who we worship. You will find that many times when people know your faith they do not have to figure you out but know how to relate with you. One of the things that happens a lot is that because people know I am a pastor they will plan me in whenever they need a pastor. I think every workplace needs a pastor. Someone who challenges the conscience of others. Someone who prays before meetings, meals, journey etc.
- Our response in the face of everyday living. How we react and respond to live events speaks volumes about who we worship.
- Acts of service. The world is competitive and cruel. It is refreshing when someone is willing to go out of their way to help others. Acts of selflessness are a magnet. We were challenged last Sunday to consider service beyond the four walls of the church. These can be done individually or with others.
God is interested in making us whole. It is the mission he has been up to for generations. He does this every time we allow him in. My prayer is that we will begin one step at a time. Make commitments this week to correct where we have failed. Do not commit to a big leap. Begin somewhere, begin small. Think of one thing that will need to change immediately and determine to work on it this week. Meet as a Lifegroup and share your experiences.