Editor’s Note: This resource supports preachers and congregations in the use of the book 42 Seconds: The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions by Carl Medearis. You can visit the 42 Seconds Resource page at justinrossow.com to see more.
The Big Idea
Fear of giving or taking offense can keep us from engaging others whose first barrier to knowing and trusting Jesus may be knowing and trusting a Christian. Jesus uses us and rescues us as he brings OUR story, THEIR story, and HIS story into an intersection of grace.
That the hearers hold their story, the story of people in the culture around them, and the story of Jesus together in order to see Jesus at work in grace.
The Big Problem
We live in a culture of distrust. Christians naturally avoid people who don’t trust Christians, or go on the offensive and attack them. For their part, people who grow up in that kind of culture won’t tend to get to know and trust Jesus until they have gotten to know and trust a Christian.
The Big Promise
Jesus restores you and releases you from the burden of having to get it right so people around you can be saved. Instead, Jesus saves you and then uses your story where in intersects with their story to bring his saving story into their lives and yours.
“To speak out at a heart that genuinely cares. And then trust God to take care of the rest” (103).
Readings for Worship
1 Chronicles 11:12-14: Taking a stand in a barley field.
Philippians 4:4-9: “Let your gentleness be evident to all.”
Matthew 28:16-20: “As you go, disciple the nations … and I am with you.”
I originally conceived of the Be Brave sermon as a Paradox Maintained structure: in order to follow Jesus, you need to hold on to both truth and people at the same time. But the more I worked with it, the more I wanted to hold three things together: YOUR story, THEIR story, and the story of Jesus.
Viewing the topic as an intersection of three storylines rather than a tension between two sides of a paradox led to a different kind of sermon. Here I am trying to define what it means to live out the Great Commission; that definition has three distinct but overlapping components.
The thought flow is not Paradox Maintained (hold on to A and B without letting go of either), nor is it Process (you experience A, that leads to B, that leads to C); rather, the logic is that of Definition (to grasp X you need to know A, and B, and C, and understand how they fit together). For more on Definition as a sermon structure, visit: https://concordiatheology.org/sermon-structs/thematic/definition/.
You live out the Great Commission at the gracious intersection of
A. Your Story: “As you go…”
- In a Culture of Distrust, the natural response to a fear of vulnerability is to attack.
- The natural response to relational fear is to avoid any controversial topic altogether.
B. Their Story: “… disciple the nations …”
- The first threshold people have to cross today on their path to Jesus is simply trusting a Christian.
- True bravery means serving people who naturally distrust you.
C. The Story of Jesus: “…and I am with you always.”
- For Jesus, bravery meant the opposite of ego.
- Jesus uses your story and where it intersects with their story to bring his saving story to you both.
Prayer for the Week
Risen and ascended Lord, since you chose to enlist me in your mission,
be faithful to your promise to be with me always.
Where my story intersects the story of another, let your story be present, too.
When I encounter distrust from others, teach me to put my trust in you.
As I strive for faithfulness, give me the gift of true bravery and bold love.
In every situation, give me wisdom to be silent; give me courage to speak; and give me genuine compassion for others, both in my silence and in my speech.
As the challenge of living daily as your follower increases, continue to invite me into deeper relationship with you. And to your name be the glory. Amen.
The full manuscript is available here, or you can watch the sermon, below.