I’ve been writing for the past few weeks about our call as Christians to reach the next one.. to reach “one here, one there, one everywhere.” When I first brought up the idea for this series with staff and board members at Canyon Springs Church, we all agreed it sounded like a line from a Dr. Seuss book so we decided to go for it. We even came up with this fun drawing:
Pretty Dr. Seuss-y, don’t you think? Since we are in Dr. Seuss mode let me start by telling you something you may not know about Dr. Seuss:
Did you know that you are mispronouncing his name? One of his friends wrote a poem to teach the real pronunciation of his name:
You’re wrong as the deuce
And you shouldn’t rejoice
If you’re calling him Seuss.
He pronounces it Soice
Dr. Seuss has German roots and the proper German pronunciation is Soice.
He stuck with that mispronunciation for two reasons:
- Dr. Seuss rhymes with Mother Goose and he thought that might help him sell books.
- So many people got his name wrong that he decided to just go with it.
Just for the record, my last name is pronounced “Herkins,” so just call me “Jerk Herkins.” Just kidding; please don’t call me that.
Dr. Seuss, Paul the Apostle, and Us
Dr. Seuss was focused. He wasn’t going to let a little thing like pronunciation keep him from his purpose. He had a passion to write, to educate, to teach little ones to read. He wasn’t going to get hung up on little things. That story reminds me of a verse in the Bible. It’s one of my favorites. It shows the same drive and determination that Dr. Seuss had but with a more important purpose.
22 I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:22-23
Dr. Seuss had a purpose to write and educate. Paul’s purpose was to save. To rescue. To reach people with news that would restore their lives. He would do anything for that purpose. To fulfill this purpose, he was willing to be beaten and shipwrecked and imprisoned. He became all things to all people so that he could save them. One here, one there, one everywhere.
Turns out that Paul’s purpose is our purpose as well. We are called to reach one here, one there, one everywhere. We are called to that same drive and passion.
- To pursue our purpose with passion
- To do what God calls us to do without getting caught up in the meaningless
- To do what it takes to reach people here, there, and everywhere
How do we know that this is our purpose as Christians? Because it was the last thing Jesus said on Earth. Now we should always pay close attention to any words Jesus speaks in the Bible, but I think that His very last words deserve a little extra attention; don’t you? Check them out with me:
6 They gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. Acts 1:6-9
They were in Jerusalem, so Jerusalem is the “Here.” Judea and Samaria were on the outskirts of Jerusalem; that was the “There.” The ends of the Earth is “Everywhere.” Here, there, and everywhere.
As we discussed last week, of these three places I think most of would agree that the hardest place to reach out to people is “There.”
It’s not hard to reach people when they come “Here.” We have home court advantage here. Plus donuts. And just by walking through the doors at church, people have already taken the first, most difficult step toward Jesus.
Reaching people “Everywhere” is not that hard. In fact, it’s exciting. When we go to Haiti and Belize and Mexico it turns into a party. And every time I go God does something amazing. Plus, a week later, I’m back Here. Not too tough.
But “There” is harder. “There” means reaching people at your office. “There” means connecting with people who don’t go to church in your neighborhood. “There” means brining up God on the softball field. Getting people from “There” to “Here” is important but it’s hard. Really hard.
Why Does it Have to Be So Hard?
Why is it harder to talk to people about God in our supermarkets and our offices and our neighborhoods than it is at Church or in another country? The answer lies in one word in the passage you just read. It’s in Acts 1:8. Can you guess which one it is?
“Witness.” if there’s a scarier word in Christianity I don’t know it. When we hear the word “witness,” we think of putting on our suits and getting on our bikes and going door to door. I grew up in church where to witness meant following a set of rules and learning a set of verses and carrying around a pocket full of pamphlets to hand out. That sounds fun right?
Then I went to Bible college and I had a whole class on witnessing. One Friday night they loaded all of us lily white Bible students into a van and took us to the inner-city to witness. There we were all huddled in a corner just trying to stay alive. Every once in a while one of us would work up the courage and pull out the Bible tract and say to someone on the street: “Did-you-know-that-God-loves-you-and-has-a wonderful-plan-for–your-life?” And then run back to the group as fast as their legs would carry them?
The Eyes Have It
Did any of the rest of you grow up with that definition of the word “witness”? Again, I believe we have totally missed the point of what it means to be a witness. A witness is simply somebody who has seen something notable. For example, a witness is called on in court to testify about something they have seen. When you get into an accident you’re looking for a witness to confirm that it was the other guy’s fault (even if you were texting).
We are actually pretty good at witnessing. What’s the last great movie you saw? I loved Arrival. I’ve told a lot of people about that movie and every time I did, technically, I was witnessing. I saw something and I talked about it. Don’t worry; I won’t tell you how it ends. Let me give you some more examples:
- Who saw the Mr. Clean commercial during the Super Bowl? You know the dancing, sexy Mr. Clean? I have shown several people that. I was witnessing.
- Did you see Beyonce’s maternity outfit at the Grammys? Did you talk about it with anyone? That’s witnessing.
- What about the mix-up with the Best Picture award at the Oscars? Who didn’t talk about that, right? Witnessing.
You are a witness when you see something or hear something and you talk about it. To be a witness for God simply means that you’ve seen God do something and you’re willing to talk about it. So why is it that we aren’t that willing to witness? I think the reason is for most people is that they haven’t put themselves in a position where they have seen God do anything amazing.
“And to Think That I Saw..”
Let me illustrate that for you with another Dr. Seuss story. The first book that Dr. Seuss had published was called And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street. That book almost never got published; he wrote it and sent it to over 40 different publishers and he got rejected each time. After the last rejection, he was walking home to throw his book into the fire when he ran into an old buddy from Dartmouth. Turns out this buddy was connected to Vanguard Press and he got it published.
I’m sure Dr. Seuss did not think of this in the moment and it probably never crossed his mind ever, but this story is a witnessing story. This kid walked down Mulberry Street and all he saw was a donkey pulling a cart. When he got home, he was asked about his day. All he saw was a boring donkey cart but he wanted to make the story exciting so he embellished a little, and then a little more and more and more and…well, you get the idea. That’s one option when you don’t have a good story to tell but when it comes to witnessing about God, I have another suggestion: If the street you walking down is boring, walk down a different street.
Walk Down a Different Street
If you are having a difficult time witnessing here’s my recommendation to you: Walk down a different street. Get yourself on that street that leads to Good Rest Mission in Haiti. Walk down the street in Belize with some of your Canyon Springs friends. Follow Dan,The Mission Man down to Mexico and walk down the street and meet some of his friends. Get out on a Sunday night and walk with Randy to feed the homeless hot dogs.
I have found that most people who don’t go to church don’t want to hear what I have to say about Jesus. They feel like they are being sold something. But everyone wants to hear about my trip to Haiti. When you go on a trip like that it gives you something to talk about it gives you something to witness about that everyone wants to hear. When you go “Everywhere,” it gives you something to talk about when you’re “Here” and “There.” So when talking about Jesus, storytell don’t sell. When you do that, Jesus will sell Himself.
Let me show you what I mean:
Storytell, Don’t Sell
It happened when I walked down the street to the guest house in Haiti. I don’t know the name because none of the streets have names in Haiti. It was my first trip to Haiti. It was 6 months after the earthquake. There were still buildings that had been leveled everywhere. Most of those buildings still had people in them. I went with a small team of people. Some were nurses, others architects, everyone had a job. Except me. I asked our leader what I was supposed to do and he said, you’re a pastor, do something spiritual. So I took an offering. Just kidding.
During that trip I stayed at a guest house that housed a missionary and I found out that she wanted her room painted. I used to be a house painter so I agreed to paint her room. But I didn’t want to just paint so I invited a Haitian young man to join me. His name is Gilbert. My wife and my son, Riley had gotten to know him a few months earlier when they came on Canyon Spring’s first trip to Haiti. We spent two days painting together and through broken English Gilbert told me all about Haiti. He told me about living in an orphanage. He told me about sleeping on the floor. He told me how difficult it is to get work in Haiti. When we finished work on day two, I felt like I wanted to do something for Gilbert. I reached in my pocket and all I had was five dollars so I gave that to him. He was so grateful. Soon after Gilbert disappeared for a while. I had no idea where he had gone. 10 minutes later he came back. He was holding a hand-carved wooden vase that he had purchased with the money I had just given him. He handed it to me and said “This is for Riley. He is my friend”. Gilbert had taken the five dollars, his only five dollars and had bought a gift for my son.
And to think that I saw it on a street in Haiti.
Here’s my challenge to you this year. Walk down a different street. Walk down a street in Haiti or Belize or Mexico or downtown to where God is doing something. That way when you walk down a street with people who don’t know Jesus you’ll have something to say.
[bctt tweet=”If you aren’t seeing God and you want to, try walking down a different street. #CanyonSprings” username=”canyon_springs”]