- Adam Schell
One Giant Leap
At 9:56 PM eastern time on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon. And not long after he finished descending from the Apollo 11 lunar module and his feet safely touched the surface of the moon, Armstrong uttered those famous words that were transmitted to more than 650 million people across the globe when he said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
And Neil Armstrong was right. It only took him one small step to make it from the ladder attached to the lunar module to the surface of the moon – and since he skipped the last couple of rungs on that ladder, that step was only about three feet long…now, that’s a small step. But Armstrong never could’ve taken that small step if it wasn’t for a giant leap made by all mankind.
You have to remember that Armstrong’s small step came after Apollo 11 had traveled more than 240,000 miles over the course of three days to reach the moon. And just to put that distance in perspective for you, traveling 240,000 miles is like going around the circumference of the earth ten times…so that’s not a small step. And traveling those 240,000 miles may have been the least impressive thing we had to accomplish to put a man on the moon.
I mean, we didn’t even have a rocket that was powerful enough to reach space until 1942. And that rocket – the V2 – was barely powerful enough to go the 60 miles it needed to go to officially enter space. And that was just the rocket. It would take another 15 years before we actually had a rocket powerful enough to launch something into space…which the Soviets did when they launched Sputnik with an R-7 ICBM rocket. But Sputnik only made it about 350 miles from earth…so we still had a long way to go to send a spacecraft 240,000 miles to reach the moon.
So, when NASA was officially founded in 1958, I don’t think anyone could’ve imagined that a man would walk on the moon not even eleven years later. But over the course of those eleven years, mankind made giant leaps forward. By 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person to travel to space. By 1965, astronauts were able to walk in space. By 1968, three Americans had actually orbited the moon.
And, as incredible as all of these accomplishments are, none of them would’ve been possible without thousands of people working to make our dreams of reaching the moon a reality. All totaled, NASA estimates that it took a team of roughly 400,000 engineers, scientists, and technicians working together over the course of a decade to allow Neil Armstrong to become the first person to walk on the moon.
So Neil Armstrong was right when he said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
But what does any of this have to do with us? Why have I spent all this time talking about Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, and what it took for him to land on the moon?
Well, today at Melbourne Heights, we’re starting a new series of sermons called “One Small Step.” And I don’t think it’s possible to preach a sermon series called “One Small Step” without at least mentioning Neil Armstrong’s famous quote. But that’s not why I spent the first few minutes of this sermon talking about all the effort it took to land a man on the moon.
I actually spent all that time talking about the effort it took to land a man on the moon because throughout this series we’re going to be talking about something that many of us find every bit as difficult as sending someone to the moon. Throughout this series, we’re going to be talking about sharing our faith. And for many of us, the idea of sharing our faith seems as hard as sending someone to the moon.
The idea of sharing our faith seems as hard as sending someone to the moon.
And there are a lot of reasons why sharing our faith seems so hard. But I think one of the biggest reasons why it’s so hard for us to share our faith is because we’ve had bad experiences with other people sharing their faith with us. And I can’t think of a lot of people who had a worse experience than the one my mom had about 40 years ago.
Now, this happened when I was first learning how to walk. And, as my mom tells the story, she had just put me in one of those baby walkers – you know those baby seats with wheels on the bottom that you kick your legs to move around like Fred Flinstone’s car – when someone rang our doorbell. Well, at that point, I wasn’t moving around too much so my mom left me in the baby walker so she could run downstairs and see who was at the door.
And, as it turned out, there were a couple of people wearing white shirts and black ties who wanted to share their faith. Now, my mom stood there for a minute or two politely listening to what these two young men had to say when I decided to put that baby walker to good use. And, lo and behold, I rolled that sucker right over to the stairs…and you can probably see where this is going.
I didn’t stop when I got to the stairs. I just kept right on rolling until I pushed over the baby gate and tumbled down those stairs – which probably answers a few questions y’all might have about me. But, as I was laying at the bottom of the stairs crying and my mom turned toward me, one of those guys who came to our door to share his faith had the audacity to say, “Oh, he can wait…this is more important.”
I don’t think there is anything dumber that you could say to a mother than that. So my mama did what any good mama would’ve done, she slammed the door in that dude's face and went to take care of her baby.
And, you know what? If my mother didn’t already have a relationship with God before her experience with those two guys, she probably wouldn’t have a relationship with God today because who wants to have a relationship with a God who doesn’t want you to take care of your crying baby that just fell down the stairs?
And a lot of us are afraid to share our faith because we don’t want to be like the two guys that came to my door decades ago. And if that’s how you’re feeling today, I’ve got good news for you. You don’t have to be pushy, presumptuous, or pretentious to share your faith. You don’t have to put on a tie, knock on people’s doors, or act like a jerk to share your faith.
So what does it take to share your faith? Well, there’s a really easy answer to that question that we find in the passage of scripture I want us to explore today. So, if you’ve got a Bible close by go ahead and grab it and turn with me to Matthew 28.
Now, if you’ve spent a lot of time around the church, you might think you know where I’m headed because Matthew 28 contains one of the most well-known passages in the Bible – a passage we call the Great Commission. And, in the Great Commission, Jesus commands his followers to go out and share our faith. But, believe it or not, we’re not going to be talking about the Great Commission today.
And that’s because even though the Great Commission tells us what we’re supposed to do – that we’re supposed to go and make disciples – it doesn’t tell us how we’re supposed to share our faith. But we do find out how we’re supposed to share our faith just a few verses earlier. So let’s take a look at Matthew 28 together, and we’ll start reading in verse 1. Here’s what Matthew writes:
1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
Matthew 28:1-6a (New International Version)
So this, of course, is the story of Jesus’s resurrection. And it all started on a Sunday morning when two women went to Jesus’s tomb expecting to find his body. But when they arrived their lives were changed forever. And that’s because instead of finding Jesus dead and buried in that tomb, these women learned that Jesus is alive.
And right after these women learn that Jesus is alive, the angel they’re talking to tells them how they’re supposed to share this information. So let’s see what the angel tells them. Picking back up in verse 6, the angel says:
“Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
Matthew 28:6b-7 (New International Version)
So how do we share our faith? Well, it takes two steps to share our faith. To share our faith we have to come and see, and we have to go and tell.
To share our faith we have to come and see, and we have to go and tell.
But what does that mean? Well, let’s take it one step at a time. And the first step to sharing your faith is that you have to come and see. And what that means is that you have to come and see Jesus for yourself. And this is the moment when Jesus becomes more than just a character that you read about in the Bible…this is the moment when Jesus becomes real to you, the moment that you experience Jesus for yourself.
And there’s not just one way that this happens. Everyone who believes in Jesus has a different story to tell about when Jesus became real to them. For me, it happened when I was just seven years old. Now, a lot of people think that when you meet Jesus for yourself that you have to have this radical change in your life. But I was seven years old, so it’s not like I was running around robbing banks or anything.
But I met Jesus one afternoon when I was playing in my backyard during summer vacation. And the truth is that I was going through a little bit of a rough time. Now, a lot of you know that I’m a military kid and I grew up in a military community. And what that means is that I had people coming and going from my life all the time when I was growing up.
But the summer after I turned seven years old, my best friend – who lived two doors down the street from me – had just moved away because his dad had been stationed someplace new. So this is the kid that I would’ve been out riding bikes with on a summer afternoon, or this is the kid I would’ve been playing catch with in one of our yards. But instead, I was alone.
And even at seven years old, I wondered if that’s what life would always be like. Were people always going to be coming and going from my life? Would anyone ever stick around? Would I always feel alone?
Now, I don’t know exactly how it happened, but as I was playing in my yard something clicked for me that had never clicked before. I mean, I grew up going to church so I had heard all about Jesus. But that afternoon, Jesus became real to me. And even though I didn’t see any vision or hear any voices from heaven, it felt like Jesus was telling me that he will always be with me.
And ever since that day 33 years ago, I know that I haven’t been alone. I know that Jesus has been with me. He’s been with me through the ups and the downs. He’s been with me in moments of joy and sorrow. He’s been with me when it’s felt like no one else has.
So I have come to Jesus and seen him change my life forever. And because of that, I need to take the second step to share my faith…I need to go and tell. I need to go and tell others what Jesus has done in my life.
And the same thing is true for you. If you have come to Jesus and seen him change your life, you need to go and tell others what Jesus has done for you.
If you have come to Jesus and seen him change your life, you need to go and tell others what Jesus has done for you.
And you know what? You don’t have to go around your neighborhood and knock on doors to tell others what Jesus has done for you. You don’t have to get a soap box and preach on a sidewalk to tell others about Jesus. You don’t have to be a trained evangelist or feel like you have all the answers to tell others about what Jesus has done for you.
As a matter of fact, there are small things that every one of us can do to share our faith that can actually draw people closer to Jesus instead of pushing them away. And that’s really what we want to accomplish in this sermon series. We’re calling this series “One Small Step” because we want to show you the small steps you can take to share your faith.
We want to show you the small steps you can take to share your faith.
And we’re going to start right now…and I mean that literally. I’m going to show you a way that you can start sharing your faith before I’m finished with this sermon. And all you need to do this is a smartphone and a Facebook account. So if you’ve got a smartphone and Facebook, I want you to reach into your pocket or purse and pull out your phone and load up the Facebook app.
When you’re in the app, I want you to tap on the little magnifying glass at the top of the screen and search for Melbourne Heights Baptist Church. That’s going to take you to our church’s Facebook page. Now, the first thing I want you to do while you’re on our page is to click the “Follow” button if you haven’t already done that. Then, I want you to scroll down until you find the post about this service…the one we’re in right now. And under that post, you’ll see a little arrow with the word “Share” out beside it.
I want you to click the share button. Then you’ll be given the option to write a post. Click on that and write, “I’d love for you to join me for church.” And then click share. And once you click that share button, that post is going to go out to a bunch of your Facebook friends.
And I know that this seems way too simple to really share your faith, but I can tell I did this last Sunday and saw that a couple I know in Midway watched and shared our service. I can also tell you that we have people that join us from as far away as Oregon almost every week because someone shared our worship service with them months ago.
So sharing your faith doesn’t have to feel as difficult as sending someone to the moon. All it takes is being willing to take one small step…but that small step might help someone you know and love take a giant leap forward to begin a relationship with God.