Let's Show the World Jesus!

Reading: Acts 1.1-14 (Dialogue: Ascension)
The sticker had come with our registration label. So, of course, I stuck it on. It said, "TOGETHER WE'LL SHOW THE WORLD".

That was last year. Expo '88 has now begun, and the world is here! But what are we showing the world? So much of what Expo is showing is the rest of the world anyway! The whole world, in a way, is on display - not just Australia, not just Queensland and Brisbane!

Perhaps, with an ambiguity we hadn't realised before, that is what it always meant - Brisbane is the location and the world is on display - we are "showing the world". We thought, of course, that we were showing ourselves to the rest of the world!

Yet our State and city are on display. Expo is putting us on the map for many who may have ignored us before. And while the spotlight of the world is on us for a time, aboriginal groups are using the stage to draw wider attention to their needs. What are we showing the world?

Visitors who buy our daily papers will read, not just the Expo programme, but the aspirations, debates, driving motivation and brokenness. What's the "feel" of this place? What's it really like?

Final Instructions

Our Bible reading and drama showed the disciples of Jesus considering his final instructions to them in the light of the ascension - Jesus would no longer be physically present with them. I think we can agree with Thomas in the drama when he says, "If he hadn't gone, we'd all have stuck around in Jerusalem or wherever he happened to be. None of us would have gone anywhere to be his witnesses. We'd have hung around where he was!"

But his express orders were that they should "go and make disciples". They had to show the world that he was alive, that it was possible to have a whole new start because of him and that he really is the Lord, the Boss!

They had to do this without his physical presence, but depending on the promised indwelling Spirit, shortly to be given. Their lives and words had to be an exposition of Jesus!

Right in Expo itself is the Pavilion of Promise, an exposition of God's love for us in Jesus Christ and of hope for the world as people turn to him!

Now that's excellent and done superbly - it's good that it's there. But the Church is not just the Pavilion of Promise where there's a whole programme set to run to perfection each time - what are we showing the world?

Just like who?

Sometimes we are at pains to show that "we are just like you". Sometimes the film and television world seems determined to portray Christians as "just like the rest". Sometimes, as in the recent publicity about American tele-evangelists, there is a strong media inference that "there's no difference".

Of course there is a Biblical truth here. The Bible in fact says that "There is no difference, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God".

But that is not all! In ourselves and by ourselves we all have the potential to show (to display) the world - in weakness, failure, brokenness, filth...

But that is not all! The same Bible passage goes on to say that we are made right with God as a gift of his love through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. What that is saying is that, when Jesus died, he was paying the penalty of our wrongdoing. Now, on the basis of putting our trust in what he has done for us - putting our trust in Jesus came alive again - we are set free from guilt and brought into a new relationship with God and with one another. That good news is for the whole world!

Perhaps you've seen a bumper sticker like the one we saw on our travels, "Don't wash this car. It is undergoing a scientific dirt test!" It just looked like a dirty car to us!

Is that a picture of the Christian - forgiven but dirty? It reminds me of another bumper sticker - "Christians are not perfect - just forgiven sinners!" I don't particularly like that one. It gives the impression we are letting ourselves off lightly. Praise God we're forgiven - but is something happening about the dirt? Are we showing the world Jesus?

John, in his first letter, tells us that, when we confess our sins, the faithful and good God forgives our sins and cleanses us from all that is not right. And Paul writes in one of his letters that when anyone is in Christ - living and trusting in Christ - there is a whole new creation, the old has gone and the new has come! Are we showing the world Jesus?

Our two characters, Philip and Thomas, were dubious about their ability to show the world anything. It just wouldn't be possible without the promised presence of Jesus with them and the promised indwelling Spirit within them.

Let's Show the World Jesus!

Let's be fair dinkum about our faith! Let's trust him to forgive us! Let's allow him to change our attitudes and values - our whole personalities! Let's allow his Spirit to fill and control our spirits! Let's pray day by day that the world will see Jesus, the world's only hope!

(c) Peter J. Blackburn, Morningside Uniting Church, 1988
Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the Good News Bible, (c) American Bible Society, 1992.

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