Wednesday, September 11, 2002

I Was There

Go here and read Tony Campolo's sermon. It is long. Do it anyway.

In 1987, I spoke at the Urbana Conference and Billy Graham stepped aside and let me be the one that gave the invitation for missionary service. They only do it once in that weekend, and he said, "I want you to do it." It was an incredible response—thousands and thousands of young people committing themselves to missionary service.
Afterward, Billy Graham said, "That was wonderful. I bet we come away with at least a couple of hundred missionaries out of this meeting."

I said, "There were thousands."

He said, "Yes, there were thousands, but they'll go home and they'll be talked out of it. And you know who will talk them out of it—their parents."

Jesus wasn't kidding when he said, "When you get a vision of doing incredible things for God, the first opponents will be those in your own household. Think not that I have come to bring peace." We listen to Focus on the Family and think, "If you just become Christians, it's all going to become well in the family. Jesus says it's not that way. When you become Christians, mothers will be set against daughters, daughters against mothers, fathers against sons, sons against fathers. When you stand up and say, "Mom, my life belongs to Jesus," like St. Frances, your own father will probably turn upon you and say, "Look, I didn't send you to school to go traipsing off to some place and accomplish nothing. There is a lot that you can do right here at home."

You've heard it, haven't you? I know what your parents tell you and they're wrong. They said, "Go to a university. Go to North Park. It's a good university and you will get a good education, and if you get a good education, then you will get a good job, and if you get good job, you will make a lot of money, and if you make a lot of money, you will be able to buy a lot of stuff."

That's what it's about people, stuff. The sizes of American houses have increased 20 percent in floor space in just 10 years. Why? Because we have more and more children, bigger and bigger families? Is that why we are building bigger houses? No, we need bigger houses just to hold all the stuff. When it's Christmas, your parents have to go up to your rooms and shovel half the stuff out to make room for all the new stuff. That's what it's about.

Many of you aren't here for an education. You just want that credential that will enable you to get you the position that will get you the money to get the stuff. How many of you could pass your exams from two years ago? Let me ask you the next question: what did you do with your textbooks? Sold them. You forgot what you learned, you sold the textbooks, and you call this higher education.

You need to get some perspective on things. God has called every one of you here to lay your lives on the line and become "living sacrifices," which is the only reasonable thing to do with your life. I don't how you are going to invest your life. You've got to take a good look at your talents and the opportunities available to you. But I call upon you to optimize your life for Jesus Christ.

I was at Urbana 87. I found Tony afterward and told him I wasn't called to be a missionary. He was very gracious. And yet, today I am a missionary... to America.

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