yearA epiphany2


Sermon for this week:

          John 1:29-42    -    I've Got a Strong Case of the ''Can't Help Its''
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One of the great celebrative anthems that comes to us from the African-American culture is the powerful spiritual “Ain’t Got Time To Die.” It was written by Hall Johnson and it has these joyfully dramatic words:


“Been so busy praising my Jesus,

Been so busy working for the Kingdom,

Been so busy serving my Master

Ain’t got time to die.

If I don’t praise him,

If I don’t serve him,

The rocks gonna cry out

Glory and honor, glory and honor

Ain’t got time to die.”


In this inspiring and wonderful spiritual, the composer is underscoring and celebrating the joy and excitement of being a Christian, the joy and excitement of serving our Lord in gratitude for what he has done for us. The point that this spiritual is trying to drive home to us with great enthusiasm is that when we really become Christians, when we really commit our lives to Christ; then, we can’t sit still. We become so excited, so thrilled, so grateful for our new life in Christ that we can’t help but love Him, praise Him, serve Him, and share Him with others.


This is precisely what happened to Andrew. He found the Messiah, he encountered Jesus – and he was so excited he couldn’t sit still. Immediately, gratefully, excitedly, he ran to share the good news with his brother Simon. It reads like this in the first chapter of John’s Gospel:


“(Andrew) first found his brother, Simon and said to him: ‘We have found the Messiah’” Then Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus. This was the greatness of Andrew. He was the man who was always introducing others to Jesus. Three different times in the Bible, Andrew comes to center stage and each time he is bringing someone to meet Jesus.


Here in John 1, he brings his brother Simon Peter. In John 6, Andrew brings to Jesus the boy with the five loaves and two fish. And in John 12, we find Andrew bringing to Jesus the enquiring Greeks who wanted to meet Jesus and visit with Him. Andrew’s greatest joy was sharing the good news of Christ and bringing others into the presence of Christ. Having found Jesus, he could not sit still, he could not help it. He had to share Christ with others.


A minister friend of mine tells about a woman in his church who is so excited to be a Christian. She has a shady past and had pretty much hit bottom when a friend reached out to her and brought her to church. The church member welcomed her warmly and loved her into the circle of their love and God’s love. She started going to church faithfully. She joined a wonderful Sunday School class. She began studying the Bible daily. She started praying regularly and in the process was converted. She realized for the very first time in her life that God loved her, even her! She came to understand that even though she had done all those sordid things in her earlier life, that God still loved her, forgave her, accepted her, valued her, treasured her. She was absolutely bowled over by that “Amazing Grace” and she committed herself to Christ heart and soul. Recently she said to her minister, “I’m so excited to be a Christian, that I’ve got a strong case of the “can’t help its.”


This is also true of Andrew. He, too, had a strong case of the “can’t help its.” He was so grateful, so thrilled, so excited about Christ that he just could not sit still. He could not keep Jesus to himself. You know, as I think about this and as I think about my own personal life and spiritual pilgrimage, I can tell you that I also have a strong case of the “can’t help its.” It goes with being a Christian. Let me show you what I mean by speaking out of my own personal life with three thoughts. Try these on for size with me and I’m sure that you will think of others out of your own personal and spiritual life, but for now, let me share these three with you.

1. First of all, because we are Christians, we can’t help but be grateful.

2. Second of all, because we are Christians, we can’t help but be confident.
3. Third, because we are Christians, we can’t help but be loving.


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What Is Unique About Christianity?

The story of Jesus sitting and debating the Law with rabbis reminds me of another debate that took place in a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God became incarnate in human form. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, armful of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what's all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We're debating what's unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that's easy,” answered Lewis, “it's....


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