Neighborhoods To Nations Pt. 2 - Ethiopia And The Middle East

Are You Willing To Say Yes To Christian Missionary Work?

Eugene Cho
Oct 25, 2020    35m
Jesus has called upon all of to love one another and to go into all the world to share the good news of His Gospel. This message challenges us to ask ourselves, are we willing to say yes to Christian missionary work? Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Eugene Cho: 00:16 Hey everyone, thank you again so much, what a joy and a pleasure to join each of you here at Venture Church. A special thanks to Pastor Tim, and all your leadership. It's a great joy to be here for several reasons. I'll share more about this, but I came to faith as a result of someone that shared the Gospel of Christ with me in Santa Clara, about a half-hour from here. Also, I grew up in San Francisco, and it also happens to be that I happened to be the youth pastor of one of your pastors, Pastor JC, that's a testament of God's grace. So, thank you.

Eugene Cho: 00:55 Hey, if you have your Bibles with you, would you turn with me to the Gospel of Luke chapter 5, we're going to read verses 17 to 20. The Gospel of Luke chapter 5 verses 17 to 20, listen now for the Word of God, "One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus." Here's verse 20, "When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”.

Eugene Cho: 02:07 Friends, you don't have to be a New Testament scholar or a rocket scientist to know that, just this being the fifth chapter in the Gospel of Luke, this is still fairly early in Jesus's public ministry, in his three years of public ministry. And yet, although it's new, the Bible is very clear that when word began to spread that Jesus was going to be at this particular home, religious leaders from the entire region had chosen to converge and gather at this home. It's pretty stunning, today we have all access to social media and technology, word gets out quickly. But back then, I suppose it's because Jesus taught with authority, maybe because of miracles, but all we know is that when he chose to be at this home, they all converged at this house.

Eugene Cho: 03:07 Now I need you to use your imagination as you're watching this online. If we use the stage as a prop, I want you to imagine on this side of stage, we have this home, Jesus, disciples, religious leaders have all gathered at this place. On the other side of town were introduced to a paralyzed person and a group of men, a group of friends, who choose to engage in this paralyzed person. Now we'll come back here, I want you to realize how poignant this particular scene is. Religious leaders, and by that I'm talking about the experts of experts. I'm talking about people with fancy titles, people that have been tutored by some of the most brilliant religious minds, and yet Jesus, Lord, Savior Messiah, The Chosen One, The [inaudible] is right in the middle of this living room, and here it is, they miss him, they miss Jesus in the center of their presence. And in some ways it's a reminder to us that if we're not careful, every single one of us, we might be a fine line away from Pharisaism, where we are more enamored by our religion, our way of doing things, our systems, our culture, our denominations, our branding, whatever it might be. This might sound somewhat abrasive, but that's why I'm a guest preacher, I'll just say it. Sometimes over the years, as a pastor, I've learned that sometimes the most difficult people to lead Christ are Christians. People that are more enamored by their religion, cultural Christianity.

Eugene Cho: 05:11 This sermon, this particular passage, is a reminder to every one of us, may we be tenderhearted, be teachable, be humble. Let's make sure that we keep Christ at the center of everything, and never let that go. You see, on the other side of town, if you were to juxtapose this scene from that scene, there's great news here. If that village or that home is the who's who, this is the who's not, no fancy titles, no fancy degrees. And yet people that have been moved by the Gospel and grace of Christ, even though it might not be in the scriptures, I'm convinced that these friends, these men that choose to respond to this paralyzed person, had an encounter with Jesus. And why is this good news for us, especially during this time, as you're in the middle of the series neighborhoods to nations? This is good news because it's a reminder that the gift and the invitation to be an ambassador, a herald of good news, is not just for experts, i's not just for the missions committee, it's not just one month out of a year. But as followers of Jesus, every one of us imperfect as we are, we're all invited to participate in God's commandment and invitation to be bearers of good news, to be involved in the great mission of God. This story is one of many stories in the scriptures that remind us that God has a long history of using imperfect, broken women, men, and children, for his glory and honor, and that's such good news.

Eugene Cho: 07:19 If you're not convinced, all you have to do is to simply open up the scriptures. The Bible, with the exception of Jesus, only has stories of imperfect, fallen, women, men, and children. Just to give you an example, and other pastors have similar kinds of lists. But in my list, a litany of people that were imperfect that God used. Listen, Adam and Eve lied, concealed, and accused, God does not abandoned them. Abraham and Sarah were old, which meant back then they were no longer useful to society, they had some very serious marriage issues. Noah was a drunk. Jacob was very insecure. Joseph was abused, and sold into slavery by his own brothers. Can you imagine the emotional trauma, Moses had a stuttering and confidence problem. Esther was an orphan. Elijah struggled with mental health and depression. Gideon was poor, which meant he was viewed by others as someone cursed by God. Rahab was a prostitute. David, let's be honest, had a list too long for this sermon. Jonah was rebellious, unwilling to listen to God's instructions, hated the Ninevites. John the Baptist was just weird. Martha was a tad type A workaholic, a type three Enneagram with a two/four hybrid wing, I have no idea what that means. Thomas had doubts. Matthew was a tax collector who worked for the villainous Roman empire. Paul was a Pharisee, a persecutor of Christians. And the list goes on and on, my point to each and every single one of you watching is this, you cannot abdicate this privilege, and responsibility, and commandment, to be on missions here, there, and everywhere, we cannot abdicate this responsibility to others.

Eugene Cho: 09:32 During this series, I pray that the Holy Spirit will convict every single one of us, to live lives that are on mission. So from our story, from this scene, there are a handful of practical lessons that we can learn about what it means to be people that are on mission.

Eugene Cho: 09:58 So here's the first thing that we can learn from the story, these friends had a spirit of faith in Jesus. They had a spirit of faith in Jesus. What I'm suggesting to you, as I shared earlier, is that I believe they had an encounter with Jesus. And that encounter with Jesus transforms the way that they see themselves, see others, see the world, and in this case, it transforms the way that they see this paralyzed person. You see, back then during the time of Jesus, anyone who had some sort of a physical issue was seen as cursed by God, not worthy to be seen with humanity and dignity. When you encounter Jesus, it changes the way, transforms the way, you see neighbors, enemies, it changes the way that you see compassion and justice and mercy, it changes the way that you see. Because why? You realize that every single human being matters to God.

Eugene Cho: 11:12 But specifically, these group of friends, they had faith in Jesus. In other words, yes, they believe that this person matters, but here's something more important, they believed that Jesus was worth bringing people to. That's our distinctive truth as followers of Jesus. In other words, listen to this very well, this is so important. In other words, our motivation, our why as followers of Jesus, is not humanism. Now, I'm not trying to say that humanism is the enemy to the gospel, not at all, but they're very different things. You see humanism in its most basic definition states this. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems. It places human beings, you and I, at the center of everything. We believe that we're the beginning and the end, and we can solve everything. And for us, as followers of Jesus, we do everything that we do, including missions, locally, nationally, and globally, because we believe that Jesus Christ is who he says he is, that he will accomplish what he says he will accomplish, that. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.

Eugene Cho: 12:54 I know many of you are watching this virtually, but I hope that some of you just went a little Pentecostal. It's okay, even though it's not resurrection Easter weekend, to celebrate that Jesus Christ is risen indeed. Some of us, as we're doing the work of the kingdom, we have to remember that in God's kingdom, there is a King, and his name is Jesus. As we go about doing good works locally, nationally, globally, let's not forget that Jesus is worth bringing people to. In other words, God loves you, God loves your neighbors, God loves those that you might see as your adversaries or your enemies. When God says in the scriptures to love your neighbors, he means in addition to those that you like, that we're called to love those that don't look like us, think like us, feel like us, worship like us, and let's just say it during this election season, even those that might not vote like you. That's the scandalous nature of God's love, and I'm so grateful because for each and every single one of you, I suspect that someone shared the gospel of Christ with you.

Eugene Cho: 14:34 When I was 18 years old, I had to work at my mother's small little deli shop at an IBM building in Santa Clara, California. I hated that summer because it was the summer after high school, I was supposed to really have lots fun before college. And she said, no, Eugene, you've got to help us out at the deli shop, 5 o'clock in the morning to 2 o'clock in the afternoon. That's summer of 1989 proved to be one of the most significant summers of my life Why? Because at that IBM building happened to be a gentleman by the name of Raymundo Gonzalez. Raymundo Gonzalez happened to be a Hispanic brother who was working as a custodian in that particular building of that complex. He was probably in his mid-twenties, recently married, had a one-year-old son. Raymundo would come to our mother's deli shop every single day around lunch, sit in the corner, but he would never really be eating. And one day I went to Raymundo and I asked him [inaudible]. Now I had to speak Spanish to him, because he knew limited English. And as I look back, I almost wonder in God's sovereignty, if I labored through Spanish [foreign language] If I studied in labored through Spanish in high school with this incredible professor teacher named Mrs. [inaudible]. And during that summer, I began to learn that Raymundo was a follower of Jesus, I was not yet a follower Jesus. And every single day during the lunch, while he didn't have resources to eat lunch, he was there feeding on the word of God. Every single lunchtime, in the corner, consuming God's Word. And as I began to ask him more and more about his faith, I remember him mentioning to me [foreign language], my name is Spanish, [foreign language] you need Jesus Christ in your heart. I remember him saying, [foreign language], Eugene, Jesus says, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, but through me. I'm so grateful that Raymundo believed that I mattered, that I had dignity, that I was precious, but I'm so grateful that he also believed that Jesus was worth bringing people to. See, that's the heart of missions. Yes, it involves good works, and mercy, and justice, and compassion, but may we never forget this number one point, the spirit of faith in Jesus.

Eugene Cho: 17:57 Here's the second thing that we can learn, these friends, they had a spirit of compassion. So it's not just theological truth that Jesus is Lord, they significantly, and genuinely cared for this person. Let's be honest, we live in a world of so much pain, and brokenness, and injustice all around us, we've seen this especially during this year of the pandemic, of protests, and the list goes on and on. And some of you, as you're watching this, you might be asking the question, how do we wrap our mind around so much brokenness in this world? My answer is clearly not perfect, but in response to the question, how do we wrap our minds around so much brokenness? I would submit to you, that the best way to do this, is to lead with your heart, to care, to have compassion. I'm so moved that in the story, it wouldn't surprise me if this group of men, these group of friends, probably passed by this particular paralyzed person countless times before. But on this occasion, because I believe an encounter with Jesus transforms the way that they see things, they begin to see this person.

Eugene Cho: 19:42 Jesus performs amazing miracles throughout the gospel, super natural miracles, we can do a yea- long series simply on the miracles of Jesus. But when I read the gospels, when I study, and I reflect, and ruminate, on the ministry of Jesus, the aspect, the part of Jesus's ministry that most fascinates me is how he chooses to engage with other human beings, but especially those who were seen as outcasts, forgotten or marginalized. Think about his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, or how about Zacchaeus, or how about that one Samaritan leper who chooses to turn and come back?

Eugene Cho: 20:31 One of my favorite stories is the story of this woman who's been suffering from internal bleeding for many years, and as a result she's seen as an other, marginalized and forgotten. And in her desperation, she's working, worming a crowd, in her mind thinking, if only I can touch Jesus, I will be healed. And she finally touches Jesus, and praise God, hallelujah, she's healed. And then the story becomes so interesting because Jesus asks, what I considered to be respectfully a ridiculous question. Jesus says, what? Who touched me? Can you see why that's such a ridiculous question? It's a ridiculous question, Jesus, because you're Jesus. In other words, anytime Jesus asks a question, it's never for his own benefit, it's for the benefit of others. In other words, can you imagine Jesus, watch me carefully, can you imagine Jesus responding when that woman touches him, can you imagine Jesus going, ah, who touched me? Absolutely not. You see, Jesus wanted to take advantage of that moment, not just for the sake of this woman that's been suffering from internal bleeding, but for every single person at that moment, Jesus wanted them to know, and this woman to know, that the power of the gospel declares, I see you. I see you. And I believe because every single human being is created in the image of God, we matter to God. This is how we're able to have compassion, when we see one another, when we acknowledge one another. And one of the most beautiful and powerful ways that we can engender compassion in our missions work, in our discipleship, is that we have to keep building relationships. Relationships matter locally, and yes, even in global missions as well.

Eugene Cho: 23:26 Now this might seem a little tangential, but let me share this with you about the power of relationships, and why I think sometimes our churches, our cities, and even our nation, why we're struggling in the face of so much that's going on around the world. After Michael Brown's death in Ferguson some years ago, there were some researchers that began to conduct a survey, a sociological survey and study, about the nature of relationships in America. Now all surveys are imperfect, but they also give us a glimpse. And in these surveys, they began to ask white, black, Asian, Latino, Americans to talk about the nature of their relationships, and it was so stunning. In a hundred friends scenario, the average white person has 91 white friends, one each a black, one Latino, one Asian, one mixed race, other races, and three friends of unknown race. The average black person on the other hand has 83 black friends, eight white friends, make sense because there's more white people in this nation, two Latino friends, zero Asian friends, (what's up with that) three mixed race friends, one other race friend, and four friends of unknown race. For Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans, were among the most insular group of people. So here we are as a nation trying to tackle and have such important emotional conversations, and what this tells us is that we just don't know each other. Can you imagine sharing the story, the greatest story about Jesus, and if it's merely theological and there's no relational component, we have absolutely no connection.

Eugene Cho: 25:43 Here's the third thing that we can learn from this, is that they had a spirit of action. You see, this story could have actually started and ended right here in the scene. They could simply have said, let's talk about this, let's pray about this, let's form committees about this, let's fast about this, let's conduct surveys about this, and I'm not knocking those things, you can do all of those things, and still not take action. If you're watching this right now, I am going to make a very, very big assumption. If you're a Christian, I assume that every single one of us, we believe in missions, we believe even in evangelism, we believe in the significance of local and global missions, but the danger here is this, if we're not careful, we end up loving the idea of missions more than actually doing our part.

Eugene Cho: 26:55 Let me give you an example, if I'm losing you. I love exercise. Now, I just lied to you, I don't love exercise, I love the idea of exercise, it's a big difference. I have a treadmill in the basement of our home that's covered by jackets, we have Thigh Masters, ab-busters, butt busters, we have lots of apparatuses at our home. I somehow mysteriously download a fitness magazine onto my tablet every single month. I even had a gym membership for 10 years. it was an incredible black Friday deal, $9.95 cents, it was such a good deal. The problem was for 10 years, I went to the gym once. Don't judge me, it's too late, some of you are already judging me. My point is this, loving the idea, and doing our part, it's an incredible difference. This is why every one of us right now, as we're enjoying the series on missions, about Neighborhoods To Nations, as you're saying, amen. May you also be praying, God, how can I be a part of what your already doing, in my home, in my family, in my neighborhood, at Venture, and around the world.

Eugene Cho: 28:43 I'm running out of time, so let me share the fourth thing, they had a spirit of partnership, a spirit of collaboration. Now it's possible that God will be using each one of us in very unique and individual ways, but I also want to remind you, you cannot be a follower of Jesus alone, we're all called to worship God together, to be on mission together. And this is why there's additional good news today, that you're part of a church that believes in the body of Christ, serving God together, worshiping God together, and being on mission together.

Eugene Cho: 29:30 I look at the story, and we're told that these four friends choose to partner together to carry this adult man, beautiful and created in the image of God, to Jesus. And my point is this, we don't know what the distances from one place to the other, it is so difficult, so challenging to carry an adult person alone by yourself. A few years ago, I was playing basketball with my youngest child, he's my son, and he's huge. Not quite sure what happened, but he's 6'1", plays basketball. And so my son and I were playing basketball, one-on-one, father and son, and I did it, I pulled a wicked double crossover move on my son. And if you don't know what that is, it's okay, it's really impressive. And I pulled a wicked double crossover move of my son, and his ankle buckled. And the thing is this, after he fell down, after glowing in that moment, I realized he was hurt, and then I realized he couldn't walk. And so like a loving father, I told my son, his name actually is Jedi. I said, Jedi, I'm your father. I really did say that Jedi, I am your father, get on my back. Jedi, all 6'1" of him, gets on my back, I take seven steps, I turn around and I say, get off. I picked up the phone, called my wife, who then came to pick us up. My point is this, you cannot be on mission alone, we're called to be in this together, praying together, giving together, sending together, going together, being on mission together. Now, you know how the story ends, it's so beautiful. They end up lowering this man through the roof, and Jesus, before he says anything to this paralyzed man, he sees the friends, acknowledges their faith. My point as we close is this, how we live our lives, it matters to God, and it matters in the greater picture of what God's doing all around the world.

Eugene Cho: 32:16 I have one final story that I want to share with you, and I was tempted to maybe begin with this, but I think it's good to end it with this story. I want you to realize that there have been several people that have been integral in sharing, in teaching, in embodying, Jesus in my life. I shared with you about Raymundo Gonzalez, who was the one who really helped me over that final hump. But you see faith in our family has been part of our generations for several generations. My great grandfather was one of the first people in a small little village outside of a larger city called Pyongyang, which is now the capital city of North Korea, my father was born in what is now called North Korea. But my great-grandfather was introduced to Jesus by some crazy Protestant missionaries who got into a boat because of the conviction that Jesus is Lord, and they set sail from one continent to another. My great-grandfather was so moved by the gospel, he says yes to Jesus, comes home, shares the good news with my great-grandmother, she says yes to Jesus, and a whole household came to faith.

Eugene Cho: 33:41 And while my personal journey was a little more circuitous, I look back now, I don't know who those people were, I don't know the names of those brothers or sisters, but as I look back now, I want to thank them for their faithfulness, for saying yes. I want to thank the people who sent them, who prayed for them, who gave generously to allow them to come, and that's you and I. What does it look like for us to be on mission together, to worship together, to pray together, to give together, to send together, and to go together? God bless you, may the Holy Spirit encourage all of us to be on mission together for the glory of God.

Eugene Cho: 34:40 Hey, let's pray together wherever you are right now, could you just bow your heads for a moment, and let's take a moment to pray. God, we thank you again so much for the good news that Jesus Christ is Lord. And that for God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son. so that those who place their trust in him would not perish, but have life everlasting and relationship with you. God, we believe that this remains the greatest news the world needs, so I pray that every single person who's watching and listening right now would consider what it means to be on mission together, convict us, speak to us, encourage us, rebuke us. But God would you move to be people, women, men, and children, of action. God, we love you. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. God bless you.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032