Global Challenge Sunday
Jesus: The First and the Best
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
January 4, 2004
How many of you watched
World Idol this week? Shera and I had watched the competition on
Christmas Day, so we were looking forward to seeing the result show on
New Year’s Day. So we made sure we watched it. I actually expected
Kelly Clarkson to win, but by the end of the competition, Norway's Kurt
Nilsen was named as the first World Idol. One of the judges described
Kurt and said he had the voice of an angel and the looks of a Hobbit. I
thought it was a pretty accurate description and I was quite happy to
see him win. But as I watched it didn’t even occur to me how incredible
it was that this show was being watched by millions all across the
Jump back about 50 years to June 2, 1953. A brand new age of television
was ushered in with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The biggest
undertaking by the BBC to that date included live coverage in 44
different languages being broadcast worldwide to an estimated 20
This was a first step, but it would be a long time before the emergence
of our current Global Village. But over the past decade, the world has
grown smaller and more connected with fax machines, cell phones, email,
and (of course) the World Wide Web. In fact, I went on eBay this week
and discovered that I could buy a snow globe from Germany, a Popeye
ornament from New Zealand, a 1960s style hockey helmet from Sweden, and
a set of used golf clubs from the UK.
In a lot of ways, the world has become a much smaller place. There’s
even a saying that has become quite common in the business world over
the past decade: Think Globally.
All this Global thinking is relatively new for most of the world. But
the truth is that thinking Globally is a very old concept for the
Church. In fact, it goes all the way back to the beginning of the
Church when Jesus gave the newly forming Christian Church its mandate
which we know as the Great Commission:
Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)
Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have
been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and
make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to
obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with
you always, even to the end of the age."
Today we’re going to focus on how you and I can play a role in
fulfilling this Great Commission. In fact, churches across our district
and the entire Wesleyan denomination will be focusing on this Great
Commission as part of something called Global Challenge. Every Wesleyan
Church is being encouraged to devote one Sunday to discussing this. For
us, it’s today.
Now, in the Wesleyan Church we don’t really have a Church Calendar or a
Lectionary where every church has the same basic service and the same
message. As a pastor, I have a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing
what to speak on from week to week. And I like it that way. It allows
us to deal with topics and passages of Scripture that are more relevant
and more timely for our particular church.
But I’m very happy to take part in Global Challenge, because it deals
with what is possibly the greatest purpose of the Church. And it’s very
relevant for us here at Sunrise if we want to be the Church that God
wants us to be. Even our mission statement here at Sunrise is a
restatement of this Great Commission. Take a look:
Wesleyan Church exists to introduce individuals to Christ and to help
That’s our mission
statement. Compare that to…
Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the
Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have
It’s been almost 2000 years since Jesus uttered those words, and they
remain our mandate today. They are just as relevant for you and me in
Charlottetown in the 21st century as they were for the disciples in the
first century church based in Jerusalem. Our Global Challenge remains
So this morning, we’re going to look at three pillars of Global
Challenge… three things we must remember if we are going to truly be
the Church and make a difference in our world. And then we’ll talk
about how you and I can be part of Global Challenge today.
Three Pillars of Our Global Challenge:
Himself was a Missionary
We just celebrated this
fact a week and a half ago. Jesus left His home to respond to His own
Global Challenge. He being God left the comfort of Heaven to become a
man who would be nailed to a wooden cross. He was a missionary. In what
ways was Jesus a missionary?
went to a different culture
He exchanged the glory of heaven for the gore of a backwater province
under the heel of the Roman legions and their brutal justice… Justice
which, in the end, would crush out His physical life in a grand design
to provide us with eternal life.
went to a different people
God became a man. The Creator became like the created. And He did it to
bring to the created the promise of eternal life with the Creator.
went to a different reality
From where He gave us life to where He would give His life – from being
the Master to being mastered – from being served to become a servant –
where He would experience death in order to conquer death. He left a
place without time or boundaries and entered a world confined by time
Jesus was in a real
sense a missionary. And if He hadn’t come to earth as a missionary, we
wouldn’t be here today. We wouldn’t be able to know God. We wouldn’t
have any hope of eternal life. Now catch this: Jesus had all kinds of
excuses to throw in the towel. But things that could have discouraged
you and me couldn’t dissuade Him. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t allow the
downsides to prevent Him from fulfilling His purpose as a missionary.
He could have stayed
home where it was safe.
(But He was willing to risk His life… even give His life… for you and
He could have stayed
home until He could really afford it.
(I’m sure giving up the riches of Heaven wasn’t exactly an exciting
prospect, but He did it. Makes me wonder, how often do we allow our
financial situation to determine how obedient we’re going to be to the
will of God? Just a thought.)
He could have stayed
home because it would be too difficult to be separated from His Father.
(But He considered us worth that personal sacrifice.)
He could have stayed
home because learning a new language was too tough.
(God had created languages… now this same God restricted Himself to
Hebrew, with a smattering of Greek and Aramaic. The limitless God had
to adjust to being limited.)
He could have kept
the best for Himself and only given the leftovers from the margins of
(How many of us give God the leftovers from our lives? He gave us the
very best He had… He gave Himself.)
He could have stayed
home because this venture posed a threat to His health.
(But His attitude was “whatever the cost”)
He could have
approached this assignment with an “I’ll try it and if it doesn’t work
out, I’m coming home” attitude.
(But He was in it to the bitter end. Total commitment to the total
cause has always been totally required.)
He could have been
driven by self- preservation, by His own “best interests”.
"'Best interests' is a concept growing out of affluence. 'Kingdom
interests' is a concept that evidences itself in praying, giving, and
~ H.C. Wilson
He could have been
fearful of being considered a fanatic or a radical.
(But being politically correct didn’t register on His radar screen of
If Jesus had possessed
the value system of the average North American, He would not have come
and we would not be here today. We would still be lost in our sin with
no hope of finding forgiveness and no prospect of eternal life.
Jesus set the example for us. He was a true missionary. And we call
ourselves. “Christian.” The term “Christian” literally means “little
Christ”. So if you call yourself Christian, you need to emulate Him and
follow His example. If we want to be like Him, we too must possess a
missionary spirit that moves us to pray, to give, to go
Anyone here know who Eric Liddell was?
Eric Liddell was made famous by the movie, Chariots of Fire. Eric was
actually a missionary to China. He won the gold medal at the Paris
Olympics in 1924 and subsequently died at the hands of the Japanese in
China in 1939. He once reminded us that,
“We are all missionaries. Wherever we go, we either bring people nearer
to Christ, or we repel them from Christ.”
~ Eric Liddell
You don’t need to travel halfway around the world to be a missionary.
Maybe God will call you to travel overseas and become a vocational
missionary. If He does, then trust Him. But if not, remember that you
can be a missionary at work, at school, at Razzies’, at Tim Hortons’…
wherever you go, remember that you are representing Christ. Live your
life in such a way that it points people to Jesus. That’s a missionary.
Our denomination, The Wesleyan Church, is named in honour of an 18th
century priest in the Church of England. He once declared;
“The world is my parish.”
~ John Wesley
A fairly dramatic statement for a man only 5’6’’ – weighing in at
122lbs. Wesley was a remarkable man. He traveled about 8,000 miles
(13,000 km) a year for over 40 years on horseback and preached 1000 or
more sermons per year that entire time. That’s about three sermons a
day every day for about 40 years. I can’t even conceive of that! Why
would a man do that? Because the passion of Christ had gripped his
heart. It’s very apparent that he was praying, giving, and going.
The founder of THE church, Jesus Christ, was a Missionary.
The founder of our church, John Wesley, was a missionary.
This idea of praying…and giving…and going is not a newly minted
thought. It’s been with us since the beginning. It’s a part of our
fabric. It’s a part of who we are. It’s a part of who we must continue
2. Jesus Had
Compassion on the Crowds
Matthew 9:36-38 (NIV)
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on
them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a
shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but
the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send
out workers into his harvest field."
Eugene Peterson in his paraphrase of the Bible called it The Message
puts it this way…
Matthew 9:36-38 (MSG)
“When He looked out over the crowds, his
heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no
shepherd. “What a huge harvest!”, he said to His disciples. “How few
workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”
I’m not sure that the people of Charlottetown could be considered “a
crowd”. Charlottetown is not exactly a mega-city. I mean, it’s big by
PEI standards, but throw in the rest of the Maritimes and Charlottetown
become a mid-sized city. And then, from the perspective of the rest of
Canada, we’re just a small city. Not much of a multitude… not much of a
crowd. Especially when you consider that there are cities in this world
with more people than our entire country. We actually live in a rather
sparsely populated area.
But just because Charlottetown may not be “a crowd” does not make the
people of Charlottetown unimportant to God. That does not make my
family or yours of lesser value because by the accident of birth we
happen to live in a relatively uncrowded part of the world. In a very
real sense, “the crowds” include anyone outside the family of faith.
Across the street. Around the corner. Across the continent. Around the
world. Without Jesus, they are included in “the crowd”.
But the truth is that Jesus is concerned about “the crowds”… the
high-population areas of the world. From what I understand, of every
one hundred people in the world, only six live in North American and
ninety-four live elsewhere. Sounds like a crowd to me! Jesus had
compassion on the crowds, and the crowds are elsewhere. It’s the
passion that moves and grips His heart, and it needs to move and grip
our hearts, too.
Consider the teeming millions of the Philippians, the Orient, Pakistan,
the African sub-continent, India – Jesus has compassion on these
multitudes, and so must we.
Jesus saw the crowds and had compassion on them… There are two key
components in that statement. You have the crowds, and you have the
compassion. The crowds are important, but only because of the
compassion. It was not just the presence of the crowds that led Jesus
to give His life on the cross. It was His compassion… His love for them
that led to Calvary and the Great Commission.
Jesus’ love led to Calvary and the Great Commission.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT)
If I could speak in any language in heaven
or on earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless
noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of
prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew
everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I
be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain
and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. If I gave
everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could
boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value
Do you have compassion for others? Do you love others? If not, remember
that the Bible tells us that God is love. Ask Him to fill you with His
love so you can pass it on to others.
Pillar 1: Jesus Himself was a missionary.
Pillar 2: Jesus Had Compassion on the Crowds
3. Jesus Is the
1 Timothy 1:15 (NLT)
This is a true saying, and everyone should
believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--and I was
the worst of them all.
Ephesians 2:12-13 (MSG)
…Remember that at that time you were
separate from Christ… But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far
away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
That is our message... the message of Jesus Christ. The message that
Jesus makes it possible for us to know God. The message that Jesus
offers us forgiveness and eternal life in Heaven. Our message is who
Jesus is. Our message is how to know Him. Our message is how to know
John of Antioch was born sometime between 344 and 354 A.D. He was
raised by his mother, which is always a good choice. His mother was a
godly woman, and raised him according to her faith. And when John grew
up, he became a well-known preacher.. so well-known that his name was
changed to John Chrysostom because Chrysostom means “golden mouth.” It
was this fourth century preacher with his golden speech that reminded
“We have a whole Christ for our salvation, a whole Bible for our staff,
a whole church for our fellowship, and a whole world for our parish.”
~ John Chrysostom (4th century)
So we have these three
Jesus Himself was a Missionary.
Jesus Had Compassion on the Crowds.
Jesus is the Message.
Jesus was a missionary to the multitudes with THE message.
Years ago, a man named William Borden went as a missionary to the
Muslim community in Cairo, Egypt. Not long after arriving he contracted
spinal meningitis and died at the young age of 25. Following his death,
friends found what has become a well-known word from beyond the grave.
His philosophy of life and ministry was wrapped up in these words
penned in the flyleaf of his Bible…
“No reserve, no retreat, no regret.”
~ William Borden
I first heard those words when I was a teenager in High School, and I
have often reflected on them. Borden understood an “arms around the
world” kind of compassion for the last, the lost, the least, and the
lonely. He didn’t know the term Global Challenge but he understood its
reality. His heart was gripped by its passion.
In the words of Winston Churchill,
“Come then, let us to the task, to the battle, to the toil – each to
our part, each to our station. Plow the land. Succor the wounded,
uplift the downcast and honor the brave. Let us go forward together.
There is not a week, not a day, not an hour to lose.”
~ Winston Churchill
Now, how about you. What
role will you play in this Global Challenge? How will you help fulfill
Jesus’ words in the Great Commission?
In your Sunrise Update this morning you would have found a slip of
paper representing your opportunity to participate in the Global
Challenge. You have three options…you may commit yourself to pray…or
give…or go. And perhaps a fourth option is a combination of the three.
Don’t fill it out yet. Let me encourage you first to take a moment to
ask yourself, maybe for the first time, “What is MY specific role in
fulfilling the Great Commission? What am I doing to answer the call of
Christ’s Global Challenge?”
Will you commit yourself to praying for missionaries and the work of
God around the world? Will you share Jesus’ compassion for the crowds
and pray for the crowds in far away places?
Or will you give? Will you financially support those who God has called
to spread His message around the world? It’s a fact of life that things
take money, so is God calling you to financially contribute above and
beyond your regular tithes and offerings? Perhaps you can’t afford much
right now. Perhaps even a small weekly gift would be a sacrifice.
That’s okay. It’s not the amount that matters so much as your heart
attitude and the discipline of giving. Right now at Sunrise, we’re
supporting JM (Full name removed for security reasons), a missionary to
a Muslim community in Central Asia. He’s from Saint John and will be
back in the area for a while next year. I’ve already discussed with him
about coming to share about what he’s doing there. If you would like to
give to supporting his missions work, you can use the envelopes by the
offering box and fill in the amount under “World Missions.”
Or your third option is to go. Perhaps you sense God’s leading to
participate by going as a missionary. Perhaps that is the passion He
has given you. That can mean a variety of things. It could mean that
you go on a short-term mission trip for a period of 2-4 weeks. Either
overseas, or right here in North America. Our district will be
organizing several such trips about a year from now. Perhaps you could
be part of one of those. A typical trip like this may take $2000-3000,
so start saving now. I know some of you have already been talking about
being on one of those short-term missions trip. Or it may mean that you
go for a longer period… perhaps a year or two. Or it could mean that
you go as a career missionary. I know that’s an intimidating thought.
And I know there are lots of obstacles. But instead of getting wrapped
up in asking “Why or How” questions, start asking “Why not” and “How
Let me add, if you don’t sense God’s leading to become a missionary in
another culture, remember that we are all called to be missionaries
wherever we are as we share the love of God with the people around us.
That’s not what we’re talking about on this slip, but it’s an important
thing to remember.
Now, take a minute to pray silently, then go ahead and fill out the
slip. I’ll wait for a bit. At the end of the service, drop the top part
of the slip in the offering box and keep the bottom portion for
yourself. If you’re not prepared to commit to anything this morning,
then feel free to drop in a blank slip, but if at all possible I would
encourage you to fill it out here this morning.