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Description: Christ’s Living Witnesses
Christ’s Living Witnesses
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I was going to speak on the verse today but instead I think I will speak on what comes to my heart.
I thought as we read the Ten Commandments that we are living in the midst of a society that laughs
at the whole idea. You, of course, are sitting ducks. Some of you are somewhat protected in the
office but even they are all the time on the phone or engaged with talking with people of this
country and generation. I caught a glimpse of the great temptation to pass our selves (I think this
is a saying in both Ireland and England). So if you are living in a house full of republicans and
you are democrat and someone asks you how was it, you would say I passed myself. It meant you’d say
as much as you could without offending them and I tried to fit in with them.
Of course, that is a great part of salesmanship. We can’t get anywhere with people if we make
ourselves obnoxious to them. You aren’t going to sell anything to anybody if they think you don’t
understand them at all. Obviously our responsibility in the office or the road is to make ourselves
understandable to people and make them feel they can talk to us about the things they are concerned
about. We feel it will probably be about their business. Undoubtedly, is partly what we have to do.
I’m sure that is what Jesus had to do by being a human being and talking to us about the things we
understood. Therefore, it is an important part of our life and ministry but it just occurred to me
that it is very easy to become a faceless nobody who agrees with everything that is said to them.
It is very easy even when we know things are right or wrong in God’s eyes — it’s very easy to pass
I thought at least I should share with you our responsibility that he has given us. In the light of
the fact, many of the people you meet you will never meet again. Many of them will die before you
have an opportunity to speak to them. So, it certainly is important that we always walk in a way
that we feel Christ himself is comfortable with. If you say to me pick a fight with them – no! I
agree with you even if they say something is utterly opposed to what you and I know to be right. I
think you avoid picking a fight with people.
I think there are many times when you could lose the sale or make the sale. I think there are many
situations where it comes to your heart or conscience — wait a minute, what is more important to me
here. It seems to me vital that you settle that very fast. Because you don’t have to go too far and
you’ve gone too far. It seems important that you comport yourself in a manner and in a detailed way
that you would be pleased for the Savior to see and to approve of.
I would certainly encourage you to see that we are not there deny ourselves or not there for other
people to deny God. We are there first of all to make them begin to think that they were made by
someone who loves them and cares for them — somebody who understands them. It seems to me that is
the first reason why we are there. The practical reason is the sales case and Ipad with photos to
show them but the first reason we are there is so that they will find it easier or more likely to
believe in God or not to believe in him.
I would say that is vitally true when you come to those points in the conversation where you can go
either the nice way to pass yourself or the way that is true according to the way you know. If you
say to me well often there are those comments they make when they don’t really mean them, they are
just passing the time of day. What do you do with them? I agree with you — I don’t think it helps
at all to suggest to people who don’t know what ordinary conversation is about and that much of it
is being pleasant to each other by exchanging clichés. Obviously then you do it. There are moments
in the conversation where it is all turning in the wrong direction and you think to yourself there
is no way back to truth from this position that we are beginning to approve of here. There is where
decisions have to be made.
If we ask God to bless the work of our hands, he has to be able to do it in a way that does not deny
himself and deny his truth. The other side of it is if we don’t take it seriously our responsibility
of living every moment then it isn’t long before we look around and he seems not to be there
anymore. Our own life seems to be a ‘please everybody’ approach in order to get sales.
So, I think we face these things especially in a depraved and perverted society such as the biblical
Corinthians but there is a lot of perversion and depravity around. It is undoubtedly not the
society it used to be around here 30-40 years ago and it certainly is not the society that our
parents grew up in. It is a society that has gotten easy going in its views, opinions and
Does it help to disagree with obvious things? Such as when an assistant or buyer casually says he
lives with his girlfriend? You’re not even dealing with an opinion that they have or even dealing
with a real wrong — you are dealing with words coming from a mouth to fill in the gap. I don’t
think you pick up a fight. Instead there are times when you sense that the spirit of this
conversation is not right — this is not healthy. I think there is a time to say I know what you
are saying — I know most people think that way, I myself don’t think that way. I think this….
There is a place for honest disagreement being expressed in a way that they can respect. More than
that it makes them think. Often that is the opportunity that God gives us in business. He gives us
an opportunity to reinforce something that they are already doubtful about. Some of them are out to
try to grab a piece of wood that will keep them afloat. So there are opportunities and
responsibilities out there to say what you really think is true.
Of course it is something you do under God’s guidance. Similarly it is under his guidance that you
have to go the cliché route because there is no doubt that clichés can be just empty chatter which
the Bible forbids. Sometimes the clichés are not harmless. It seems you have a responsibility to
distinguish between a harmless cliché and one that is building up untruth or attitude that is not
I did believe that God is giving us this opportunity. I don’t think it is easy. I would agree with
anyone here who says there are a lot of uncertain situations in this. But if you ask me how can you
walk right, I think it has to be Ephesians 2:4. “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great
love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together
with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in
the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches
of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” He has to be living in the joy of that. It has
to be living in the confident joy of that.
It seems that is the only way you can go into a store with a living presence of Jesus that in turn
communicates itself to the person you are talking to. If you go in without that — getting back to
Hank Paulson putting on his sword and went into the meeting. [American banker who served as the 74th
United States Secretary of the Treasury who faced the near financial failure of US banking system in
2008] g. [American banker who served as the 74th United States Secretary of the Treasury who faced
the near financial failure of US banking system in 2008] That is your sword and shield-shield of
faith. If you go in without you shield and sword you are defenseless and you will be drawn down
this way and that way until you have lost your way completely.
So, I’d encourage you again to think about these things and see that you are a soldier of the King.
Plus nobody here is going to fire you because you didn’t get sales. There is nothing to fear. We
can go on as we are going. I’ve said often to you, in reality, we could shut the whole thing down
and end it all — just do the ministry. But it does seem that God has given us a way to communicate
with people who don’t know him in an ordinary, everyday job situation.
I don’t know if Irene will remember when we first came to London. It seems like such a hideous
situation. I wore a clerical collar and we would walk across from 2a Melrose Gardens to church.
There would be 70 people for the morning and 30-40 for the evening service. We thought to ourselves
this is bonkers. Only a fraction of them are really serious about God. Here this city around us is
filled with people going in and out of businesses every day. So that is why we are doing it.
It would be better if we could stay in it. But I think it would be better if we remained his
soldiers — if we remained men and women who stayed in his presence. Then we are doing some good.
Otherwise we are looking at the figures. If you say to me aren’t we in profit? Yeah! So we can
put more websites up. What good would it do if our own lives are not websites? It seems to me that
is what we are in.
Here’s the beauty of it. I can share this with you just as brothers and sisters — not as the boss
man or the minister. Here we are together, we can survive. You’re not dependent on me for the
money. The money is there in the bank and assets. We can release it all and break it up and go. We
are here because Jesus has called us. I’d encourage you to remember that as you go out, as we are on
the phone dealing with people.
If we are not light, what’s the point of doing it? If we are not leaven to live in this society, why
spend all this time and effort? I still think it is a wonderful opportunity but only as so far as we
ourselves are true to him and true to ourselves. It’s an opportunity where we can come out of a
store and think I’m pleased the Lord saw me and heard everything that was said in that conversation.
If not, while in the car apologize to him and trust him for grace to make it a blessing in the next
store. I think that is why we are here.