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In 1999 Kevin Costner starred in a movie called ‘Message in a Bottle’. Garret Blake (Kevin Costner) writes a love letter and puts it in a bottle. It was his way of sharing his heart that had been broken by a previous relationship. Some time later the bottle washes up on a beach and a curious passer by, Theresa Osborne, a journalist finds it and finds the romance of the situation news-worthy. In the hunt for Garret in order to write a news article, she instead finds herself in love! Highly romantic, and for Valentines, probably highly appropriate.
In a much deeper and life changing significant story, this time for real, God has sent His message in a bottle, for anyone curious enough to pick it up and be transformed by it. The Gospel is the message and you are the bottle!
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Philippians 1:27
What are you fighting for? Save the whales or save the world?
What are you living for? Yourself and it’s necessary demands or others?
Is what we are living for worth dying for? Paul thought so.
Paul is ALL ABOUT the GOSPEL. Here in Philippians he is thanking God that he is in prison because it was helping the Gospel stand out. He was so passionate about the Good News getting into every part of society he didn’t really really care about circumstance.
- God wrote a letter of hope and put that message in a bottle, in you and I. For us to get it out there for those curious enough, hungry or empty enough to pick it up and act on it.
THE MESSAGE : THE GOSPEL
NT Wright explains it like this (my summary): In the Roman Empire, when a new emperor came to throne, there would be a time of uncertainty. Is there going to be chaos? Pirates on the loose? So messengers were sent out to proclaim the Gospel (good news) that there is a new emperor – his name is —-. There will be justice, peace and prosperity, awesome?! Of course, most knew that was more rhetoric than reality!
Paul cuts in by using this same term Gospel, Good news! The declaration that Jesus is Lord, and holds all power as God’s Son by His resurrection. He is the supreme King with a new kingdom. You and I benefit from this as salvation, because Jesus is the way to enter this kingdom.
The Gospel hails a new order – freedom, love, power, grace, restoration, selflessness, forgiveness, and infinitely more! It is a total contrast to every other kingdom.
The Gospel is a power to reform the kingdoms of this world, and us!
THE BOTTLE : US!
Be bold in who we are in Christ and the gospel we represent. When you know you are a citizen of heaven, temporarily on earth, it increases our boldness, urgency and perspective of what we are here to do.
1. SPEAK THE MESSAGE
“The Spirit of the lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to PROCLAIM that that captives will be released,
that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” Luke 4:18,19
What you proclaim changes the climate, determines what kingdom you and others experience. Our words have power to create, to tare down or to build up.
Every time you post an instagram about church, or Facebook a comment about God. Whenever you say “I’m going to be praying for you”, “I went to Church yesterday and …” you are opening the door to preach.
The Holy Spirit is waiting for someone to preach. Life comes by the power of the Word spoken – “Let there be light” Our job is to preach the Gospel.
When people are searching we need to give them more than positive words (although it starts here), we need to tell them Jesus is their answer.
We preach Good News. We are not here to bring judgement or point fingers at people’s life styles. Jesus said I have NOT come to judge the world, but bring life.
2. BRING THE MESSAGE
“The Spirit of the lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to BRING Good News to the poor. Luke 4:18
We bring the good news to people. What do you do with the message in the bottle? Hide it in a cupboard? or under the table? No you throw it in the sea, right?! So it reaches someone.
To bring it literally means we have to show it around people. We demonstrate the kingdom of God at work – in how we do business differently, in how we handle relationships, in the way we speak to others, the way we travel through difficulties, in the peace we carry and the joy we have. The Gospel needs to come alive amongst people.
Jesus is off to heal Jairus’ daughter. He is interrupted on the way by a woman who has a blood disorder. Other people’s advice had not helped, money had not solved it. He stops. She is healed. Our interruptions can be our main mission. Do we allow ourselves to be interrupted to show the kingdom’s power?
Our acts of kindness, healing, grace, love, wisdom, insight, encouragement and our life lived in a different mode, in a different kingdom are all acts that will lead others to salvation.
BRING people to Him, bring people to Church. We have the answer!
3. BECOME THE MESSAGE
… LIVE AS citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News… Philippians 1:27
Bottles aren’t made with letters in them, they have to be put in there. The power of the Gospel has to first live in is.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Colossians 3:16
…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
When you have made a choice that the greatest reward of all, better than anything else the world could ever even come close to offering is ‘Christ in you’ you have started a revolution on the inside of you.
I decide I am not going to be like everybody else. I refuse to be pulled by the crowd. I will stand out for who I stand up for. I would rather stand for Jesus, than fall for other things.
He brings His kingdom reformation to our lives, when we make Him Lord. For the message to be alive it has to be living in us – freedom, grace, love, healing – never a perfect work, but we’re surrendered.
Let us not be ashamed of the Gospel – it is the power of God for salvation.