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James Merritt - Who's Your One?

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    James Merritt - Who's Your One?

We're in a series that we're calling "The X-Factor," because the secret of the explosive growth of the early church was they were not just asking, they were really answering this question. The question they were asking is, "Who's your one"? Who's your one? From the time they met Jesus, they began to ask, "Okay, who's your one"? Because the x-factor in the early church and the reason why the early church went from 11 disciples, to 120 disciples, to over 3,000 disciples in one day was because of this x-factor where everyone in the early church, once they found Jesus, decided they wanted to find someone else so they could share the greatest news the world's ever heard, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

They figured out early on I've got in my hand and I've got in my heart the unbelievable power to change a life forever. It's the message that can change a world, and they knew they could not treat it like a secret. And that's the way I'm afraid a lot of believers treat the gospel. We almost treat the gospel as if it's some kind of a Manhattan Project and our goal is we've gotta keep it secure. We've gotta keep it secret. Even though we've got in our hands and even though we have in our hearts the greatest power in the world to transform a life, to change a heart, to bring a person without God into relationship with God, we act too much as if the two most important things were trying to do here in our church is to be secure with the message and keep the message a secret.

Now, I say all that for this reason, that is not the way it was in the early church. Security never entered their mind, not even their own physical security. Secrecy certainly never ever entered their mind. It wasn't even that way with the very first people who ever met Jesus. As a matter of fact, you're gonna find today that from the very beginning, when somebody would meet Jesus, their attitude wasn't, "I can't tell anybody about this. I've gotta keep this a secret. It's not my place to tell anybody about Jesus". Their attitude was, "Okay, who's your one? Who's the one that I am going to help find Jesus"? Because here's what you're going to see today. From the very moment that Jesus stepped onto the scene and people began to meet Jesus, here's what you find: people who find Jesus find people who need to find Jesus. People who find Jesus find people who need to find Jesus.

Now, I wanna show you a story. If you brought a copy of God's Word today and wanna look on with us, we're in the Gospel of John. There are four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. This is the fourth Gospel. It's the fourth book in the New Testament. We're in John chapter 1. Now, the first person who ever laid eyes on Jesus and his ministry was a man by the name of John the Baptist. And what you're gonna find is John the Baptist immediately began pointing people to Jesus. Here's what's really fascinating to me and here's what encourages me. The very first people that John pointed to Jesus, you know what they started doing? Anybody wanna guess? They immediately began pointing people to Jesus.

The very first people he pointed to Jesus began pointing people to Jesus. He didn't have to tell them to do it. He didn't have to teach them to do it. He didn't have to train them to do it. They just did it. They said, "Okay, we found Jesus. Now we wanna find people who need to find Jesus". In other words, the moment they met Jesus, they started asking this question, "Who's your one"? Who's your one? Who's the one that I'm going to find who needs to find Jesus? Now, let me just stop. I want you to hear this. These were ordinary people. They were not trained professionals. They were not ordained ministers. They were not seminary educated scholars. They were just ordinary people who went to work like you go to work, who go shop like you go shop, who cook and eat just like you cook and eat. They were ordinary people, but every day they got up, they kept asking the question, "Who's your one"?

And I wanna show you, this is so simple. They just simply did three simple things that all of us can do. Three simple things that all of us can do, all of us should do, and if you really know Jesus, you should want to do, okay? We're gonna read this story together and you may wanna write down three simple things. Number one, I'm gonna ask you to involve one. Now, before I say anything else, listen. Don't go to sleep on me yet, okay? Listen, the emphasis is on one. I'm not asking for 5, 10, 15, or 20. I'm asking you for one, and you ready for this? I'm not talking about in the next week, or two weeks, or three weeks. You ready for this? I'm asking you to reach one in the next year. Now, come on. You can do that. You can do that. The next year, just one, but it all starts with involving one. So, let's pick up the story and see how this works, all right? We're in verse 35. "The next day John was there again with two of his disciples".

Now, let me tell you about John just in case you don't know who John was. John the Baptist was...we would call John the Baptist today a country preacher, kind of a backwoods preacher, okay? He was also known, he was like a prophet and he was the divinely appointed forerunner of Jesus. His job was to prepare the way for Jesus. You might say he was kinda the advanced publicity agent for Jesus. So, here's what's going on. He has disciples already. He's got two disciples with him, and they're walking down the road one day and Jesus walks by. And all he does, he just points them to Jesus. Now, watch this. He doesn't push them to Jesus. He doesn't pull them to Jesus. He just points them to Jesus. And when he does, this chain reaction starts, okay? We're in verse 36. "When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, 'Look, the Lamb of God!' When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, 'What do you want?' They said, 'Rabbi' (which means 'Teacher'), 'where are you staying?' 'Come,' he replied, 'and you will see.' So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon".

Now, you've got these two disciples and they're with John. They know John, they don't know Jesus, but they believe John when John says, "Hey, this is the Lamb of God". Now, they're Jewish. They understand, okay, there's something here about animal sacrifice involved, 'cause you know lambs were sacrificed for the sins of people. And now John's saying that's not just an ordinary Joe here. This is not just a run of the mill guy here. This is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. So they said, "Okay, there's something different about him". Now, at this point, all they know about Jesus is what they've heard from John. That's all they know. They don't have any other information. They've never met Jesus. They don't know Jesus personally. They've never talked to Jesus. But they've heard enough to know, "Okay, I want to know more about them".

So, they begin to follow Jesus. Now, what's interesting is what Jesus does. Jesus, as they start following him, he begins the conversation, and so he begins by asking a question. He says, "Okay, what do you want"? Simple question. You know, "What do you want"? Literally, the question is, literally it says, "What are you seeking"? So, in other words, what Jesus said, "Okay guys, what are you looking for? What are you after? You know, what's your angle here? What's up with you"? Now, let me just stop right here, okay? I'm gonna help you right here with something, because what Jesus is teaching us is one of the easiest ways to get into a spiritual conversation with people, is just to ask people what I call permission questions. I'm gonna help you with something right now. See, one of the reasons why, and probably maybe the number one people that people give, well, I'll tell you the top two reasons people say they don't share Jesus is either they say, "I don't know how," we're gonna fix that, or, "I'm afraid," you know, or, and it's kind of a combination of both, "I don't even know how to get started".

Okay, I'm gonna help you. I'm gonna help you. I'm gonna show you how easy this is. When you meet somebody for the very first time, in fact, let's just say, you know, you're walking down the street, or maybe you're just introduced to someone at a party or whatever. There's usually a question that we all just kinda normally ask. Or if we're just, you know, if you're walking into a building, somebody's walking out, you know, you say, "Hello". Many times we'll ask a question, all right? You know what that question is, right? "How you doing"? I guarantee you, some of you said that to somebody today when you walked in. You didn't know who they were, "Hey, how are you"? Okay, now let me ask you a question. When you say to someone, "How are you"? do you get this response, "It's none of your business. Why are you asking me such a personal question. Are you a doctor looking for a check"? No, they just, "I'm fine, how are you"? We don't even think to ask for permission to ask a simple question because we're asking an honest question. It's kind of an informal way of letting people know you do care something about them, so you just ask, okay, "How are you doing"?

So, let me just stop. Here's my point. I've already proven to you, you can ask a stranger a question. I've already proven that 'cause you do it every day, right? Everybody got that. Now, watch this. These are, I'm gonna give you two questions that you can always ask anybody. They're permission questions and it takes you off the hook, okay? Question number one, ready? So, you're talking to someone. It may be a friend, it maybe someone you know, it maybe someone you don't, you're in a conversation, and you're gonna be with them for awhile or whatever, or it maybe a neighbor you've been talking to and you've gotten to know that neighbor or whatever. And so, you can ask this question, "Would you mind talking about spiritual things"? Would you mind talking about spiritual things? Okay, or here's another question you could ask, "May I ask you a spiritual question"?

Now, let me tell you how easy this is, okay? The reason I call it permission questions is this. So, I'm on an airplane, all right, and I'm talking to somebody in the seat next to me and I'm trying to, you know, get the conversation to a spiritual point. And so, we're talking and rocking along, and so they may say something that triggers it or I may just kinda jump in and I may say, "Hey, do you mind talking about spiritual things"? Now, watch how easy this is. Suppose they say, and they rarely do, but sometimes, they say, "No, that's just real personal to me," okay? Now, let me tell you what I don't do. I don't go, "Well, turn or burn". I don't do that. I don't say, "Okay, go to hell". I don't do that. I don't do that. If they say no, you know what I do? I stop, 'cause you know what they just told me? Okay, whatever the reason, God's not moving here. I don't push. I don't force. I don't coerce. I'm just asking a permission question. "Hey, do you mind if I ask you a spiritual question"?

Now, they're gonna say yes or no. "Well, yeah, I'd rather you not do that". Okay, we're fine. We're good. Okay, just don't do that. So, my point is this. The easy way to get into a spiritual conversation, just do what Jesus did. Ask a question. I just gave you two good ones. Hey, do you mind talking about spiritual things? "No". May I ask you a spiritual question? "Sure". All right, if you can ask somebody about their family, or ask somebody about their health, or what they do for a living, or where they're from, you can ask them for permission to talk about spiritual matters. All right, everybody nod your head, okay? You can't disagree with that. Okay, now, if they open the door, you just walk through it. If they shut the door, you just leave 'em alone. That's okay. Now, they responded to Jesus's question with their question. He says, "Okay, what do you want"? They go, "Where are you staying"?

Now, Jesus could've said, "Man, I'm having the experience of a lifetime. I'm staying at a Holiday Inn Express". He doesn't do that. They open a door, so he walks through the door. You know what he said? "Come and see. You wanna know where I'm staying"? He didn't give them an address, he said, "Come and see". All right, now watch. What was Jesus doing? Here's what he was doing. He was just getting involved. That's all. They opened the door. He's just getting involved. See, too many believers, can I be honest? They have the attitude of somebody who witnesses an automobile accident and they kinda walk away saying, "I don't wanna get involved," right? Jesus said, "No, I mean, you open the door, I'm going to walk through this door". So, if you're going to ask the question, "Who's your one"? you have got to get involved. You cannot stand on the sidelines. You've got to get involved.

Now, let me tell you why this is so important. If you really believe that people matter most to God, if you really believe that, and I do. I don't believe anything matters to God, and as a matter of fact, not only most to God, I think it's the biggest thing that matters to God is people. And if you really believe that people matter most to God, then you want to get involved in the lives of other people so that you can help bring them to the God to whom they matter. Now, the people who'll be most receptive to your witness are people that you're already involved with. Many times, it'll be people that God has put into your life, because you're gonna see right now how this chain reaction starts, ready? So let's go back. John says to these disciples, "Behold the Lamb of God". The disciples say, "Hey, where are you staying"? Jesus says, "Come and see".

So now they're checking them out. Now watch what happens, verse 40. "Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, 'We have found the Messiah' (that is, the Christ)". The very first person, when Andrew thought to himself, "Who's your one"? it was right there in front of him "My brother. Peter needs to hear this. Peter needs to know about this". So, let me just stop and ask you a question. How many of you have a relative who could be your one? A brother, a brother-in-law, a sister, a nephew, an uncle, an aunt, a cousin? How many of you have a relative you say, "You know, that could be my one"? Or how many close friends and neighbors have you lived next door to for years? Or maybe people you've worked beside for 15 years at your job, maybe they could be your one.

Now, here's the point, and this is where I just gotta really make you a little bit uncomfortable, 'cause you know what I'm about to say so I'll go ahead and say it. God wants us, all of us, to get out of our Christian cocoons, and our Christian clubs, and our Christian comfort zones. God wants us to get out of this little Christian box that we have built and God wants us to walk across the room, walk across the street, walk across the office hallway, and start getting involved in the lives of other people. Those of us who do believe in Jesus need to get involved in the lives of people who don't believe in Jesus. Those of us who do follow Jesus need to get involved in the lives of people who don't follow Jesus. So, step one, all I'm asking you to do is take one person and say, "Okay, how can I get involved in this person's life"? Who's your one? Involve one.

Now, once you get involved, you go to step two. Once you involve one, then you want to influence one. Once you involve one, then you want to influence one, all right? We're in verse 43. "The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, 'Follow me.' Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida". So, Philip begins to follow Jesus, but look at what happens next. "Philip found Nathanael and told him, 'We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'" Now, watch how this is working. Andrew asked the question, "Who's your one"? Andrew said, "I'm going to my family". When Philip found Jesus he said, "Okay, who's your one"? He says, "Oh, I know. I've got a friend".

Andrew went to Peter. Philip went to Nathanael. One started at home. One started with his next door neighbor. But here's the point, they both started with people that they knew. They both started with people they were involved with because there is a benefit to involvement. Involvement always brings influence. We have worked so hard to kinda remove ourself from the influence of the world. We've gotten so far away from the influence of the world that we've also made the world safe from any influence we can have on them. And that's why I wanna say again, you gotta get out of that Christian cocoon and that Christian club. You gotta get out of this mindset of, "Okay, if I just come here, I've kinda done my job". No, you haven't even started to do your job. Coming here is to equip you to go out there and do your job. 'Cause let me tell you this, the work, the primary work of the church, listen to me, the primary work of the church is not in the church, it's outside the church.

So let's get out of this attitude, "If I just show up on Sunday, God owes me a standing ovation". He owes you nothing. Your job is not primarily to come here. Your job is primarily to leave here and find those who do not come here. The question is, since we all have influence with somebody... let me just stop and just repeat that. Everybody in this room's got influence with somebody. Everybody's got influence with somebody. It's a relative, a friend, a coworker, somebody you do business with, somebody you shop with. I don't care who it is. Everybody's got influence with somebody. The question is, since we've all got influence with somebody, are we willing to leverage that influence in the lives of others in a spiritual way so that we can point them to Jesus. 'Cause I remind you, go all the way back.

What started all this to begin with? It all started when a guy named John just pointed somebody to Jesus. He just said, "Look, there is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world". And so, here's all I'm asking you to do. I'm asking you to follow the example that was set in this story, okay? I am not asking you to influence 10, or 15, or 20. In fact, I'll give you a countdown. I'm not asking you to influence five, four, three, or two. I'm just asking you over the next 365 days, will you just influence one? Will you just get involved with the life of one? Will you just influence one? All right, now watch. Once you involve one and once you begin to influence one, then you invite one. Then you invite one, all right?

See, this is how this worked, okay? Jesus invited Andrew. Andrew invited Peter. He then invites Philip. Philip invites Nathanael. You got it? That simple. John points people to Jesus. Andrew begins to follow Jesus. He says, "Okay, my one is Peter. Peter, I want you to follow Jesus". Jesus then says, okay, watch this. I'm gonna do it one more time. He invites Philip. Philip says, "Okay, who's my one? I know, my buddy Nathanael," and he invites Nathanael. Now, I want you to notice how Philip does this. This is kinda cool. I want you to notice how Philip invites Nathanael. He says, "Nazareth"! He's talking about Jesus came from Nazareth. That's what Nathanael's saying. "'Can anything good come from there?' Nathanael asked. 'Come and see,' said Philip". Now, look what Philip said, "Come and see".

Now, notice what he doesn't do. He doesn't debate him. He doesn't get into, you know, this big argument, "Well, of course something good comes". He doesn't even...he says, "I'm not gonna get into that. I'm not gonna get sidetracked. Come and see". Now, does that ring a bell? Who said that earlier in the story? Yeah, Jesus. Where did he get that question from? He's heard Jesus use it. He said, "Hey, it worked for him. It can work for me". So he said, "Look, come and see". They both just said that. In other words, look at what Jesus did. When these guys started to follow him, they said, "Okay". Jesus said to them, "What do you want"? right? And you know, they said, "We wanna know all about you". Jesus said, "Okay, come and see". In other words, they just extended an invitation.

So, let me just kinda take a lot of pressure off everybody here, ready? I'm not asking anybody here or anybody listening to me right now, I'm not asking you to become a prosecuting attorney. I'm not asking you to be a high pressure salesman. I'm not asking you to put a full court press on anybody. I'm not asking you to push anybody. I'm not asking you to pull anybody. I'm just asking you to just extend invitations. Dawson Trotman, great man of God, great man who reached a lot of people for Christ, founded an organization called The Navigators. Some of you are familiar with The Navigators. Dawson Trotman said something. When I read this statement, I said, "That's what I want our people to hear this last thing," 'cause this is what it all boils down to. You ready?

This is what he said. He said, "People who point people to Jesus do so not because of what they know, but who they know and how much they want others to know him". "People who point people to Jesus do so not because of what they know, but who they know and how much they want others to know him". I don't know about the Jesus that you know. I wanna tell you about the Jesus that I know. The Jesus that I know and the Jesus I fell in love with as a nine-year-old boy is so worth knowing, and so worth loving, and so worth serving, and so worth worshiping, and so worth obeying, I want other people to know him too.
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