The story in this sermon is one that probably every preacher in America has told at least once. I still like it and hope that you enjoy this Wednesday Sermon.
Brennan Manning states, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” And it was D. L. Moody who wrote, “Of one hundred men, one will read the Bible; the ninety-nine will read the Christian.”
Bill has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kinda esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college.
Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students, but are not sure how to go about it. One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat.
The church is completely packed and he can’t find anywhere to sit. By now people are looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!) By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.
About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, a three-piece suit, and a pocket watch. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly.
He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, You can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid that looks like a rag-a-muffin sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle?
It takes a long time for the deacon to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the cane. All eyes are focused on the deacon. You can’t even hear anyone breathing. The people are thinking, The minister can’t even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do. And now they see this elderly man drops his cane on the floor.
With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships alongside him so he won’t be alone. After a minute of stunned silence, the minister says, “What I’m about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget.”
In our Gospel, Jesus said, “The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
One of the true signs of the Christian life is the person who humbles themselves and becomes the servant of all. As Jesus said, “I am among you as one who serves.” Of one hundred men, one will read the Bible; the ninety-nine will read the Christian. When they read us, let them read the story of those who were not afraid to get out of the pews and sit on the floor. When they read you, let them read the story of one who became like Jesus.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.”