At the August meeting for the leaders of our church I brought up the phrase that all of you have been hearing during the past month?100%. I urged our leaders to get involved. To use their gifts, abilities, finances, and time to make a difference in someone?s life.
During the past month you have received emails from me, you?ve heard me speak during worship, and you?ve read the same message in your newsletter. Every person who calls BCC ?home? needs to get involved in a greater way than simply filling a pew on Sunday morning.
Today, I want to explain myself. Why do I feel so strongly that every person who is a follower of Jesus should commit to being involved in one ministry where they can be a blessing to others? Is it because the church is running short of people, money, or particular skills? Well, we never have an abundance of human resources for sure, but that has been the problem since the days of Jesus. Jesus said,
2 ?”The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (Luke 10:2 NIV)
Britton Christian Church, and every other church for that matter, can always use more resources to do what God has called us to do, but that is not the main reason I?ve been urging 100% involvement. The main reason is because God calls us to use what He has given us to bless others and in doing so bring Him honor and glory. When we fail to use the abilities and time that God has given us we will never experience the abundant life that God desires for us to live. Jesus said that we ?are the light of the world? and light is at its best when it is shining! Read along with me in Matthew 5:14-16.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)
Light is created to shine. As light shines it brings glory and honor to God. We are to allow His light to shine through us as we go throughout our day.
For you and me to be so blessed by God, called by God into His service, and equipped by God to do His work and yet sit idly by waiting for the right moment, the right opportunity, or the right mood to move us is like a Stradivarius never being strung, a Rembrandt never being unwrapped and put on display, or Roger Federer refusing to pick-up up a racket. It just doesn?t make sense. Why? Why? Why would we be given so much and yet be so indecisive about what to do with what we have been given?
I was thinking this past week. In our society we are always looking for a quicker way to get things or get things done. We have drive-throughs, microwave ovens, instant meals of every kind, ?Cliff Notes,? permanent press clothes, the fifteen minute oil change, expressways, and now you can go to Vegas and get married at ?The Tunnel of Love-Drive Through Wedding Chapel.? We want to see things happen and we want to see them happen now. For a society in such a rush, we sure seem to do a lot of waiting when it comes to the church. I can?t tell you how many folks I have heard say to me, ?Well, I really want to get involved in the church. I?d like to help with one of the ministries of the church, but I?m just going to wait until the right time comes along.? ?I?m sure your church is doing a lot of good, but you see I was involved with a church one time and I learned how corrupt the church can be. Before I get back involved I think I?ll just wait a little while.? I?ve heard you say that you want to be a stronger Christian, a better deacon, a better husband, a bolder witness for the Lord on your campus, a better giver, a stronger Sunday school teacher, a better student of God?s Word, a more involved Elder, and a more consistent member of the choir. I want to ask you this morning, ?What are you waiting on?? Are you waiting for a change in yourself? Because of the failure, fears, and friction in your own life you don?t feel like you can get too involved. Maybe you are waiting on a change in someone else? Waiting on things to get better? Whatever the reason I want you to really consider this morning, ?What are you waiting on??
I don?t raise that question to try and stir any feelings of guilt or inadequacy among us this morning. Quite the contrary, you who are waiting are not alone and neither are you the first to decide to wait before you get involved. I came by this morning to tell you the time is now. Time is ticking away. Some folks I have known for years are still waiting. Stop your procrastinating. Stop your waiting. Step out in faith. The time is now.
This morning I want to share with you three keys to help us move from apathy to action. If you are a follower of Jesus then these three keys can free you from the leash of lethargy and move you into the arena of service to our King. Let?s begin by taking a look at Romans 12:1-2. Read along with me.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2 NIV)
Paul makes it quite clear?we are to offer our bodies, our lives, to God in service. He even goes so far as to say that this is our ?spiritual act of worship.? Now, hopefully that will rock someone?s understanding of worship. Worship includes what we do here in this sanctuary on Sunday morning, but it certainly doesn?t stop there. When you are filling prescriptions at the King?s Klinic?you are worshipping God. When you are singing in the choir on Wednesday night?you are worshipping God. When you are sitting with a grade school or middle school kid and helping them with their homework?you are worshipping God. When you are serving on a committee?you are worshipping God. When you are teaching a Sunday school class, interviewing someone in need at Britvil, praying for someone during the Sweet Hour of Prayer, visiting a shut-in, making a meal for someone who has just come home from the hospital, or sitting and holding someone who has lost a loved one?you are worshipping God. ?Offer your bodies as living sacrifices?this is your spiritual act of worship.?
The first key to enable us to move from apathy to action is to understand Jesus? love for you and me. Why do we do the things we do? That?s such an important question. Most people do what they do because they ?feel? like it. That?s not such a bad thing, but feelings will not endure so our commitment to doing what we do will not last. Once feelings wane or we get our feelings hurt then we will throw in the towel.
There is a better motivation than feelings and that is a decision based upon truth. Because of ?this? I must do ?that.? Because Jesus loved me I will love others. Because Jesus sought me out when I was lost and rebellious against God, I will reach out to those who are lost and rebellious against God. Because Jesus gave His life for my sins so that I might be reconciled to God?I will live my life in devotion to Him as a ?thank offering? for what He has done for me. What I have just described for you is taken straight out of Scripture. Paul wrote to the folks in Corinth and said,
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-20 NIV)
Paul says, ?Christ?s love compels us?? The word compel is such an important word for us to understand. It is the Greek word, ???????? (sunecho) and it means ?to hold together or to press together with the hand.? The word is used to describe an enemy closing in on a besieged city or of a strait that forces a ship into a narrow channel. Last of all it means to be fully occupied with any business. What an incredibly descriptive word! What is it that has Paul so focused in life? It is ?Christ?s love.?
Paul says that ?Christ?s love? is that One died for all. Because of this truth, because Paul understood Jesus? love for him and for others, he could no longer live life for himself. That one truth changed everything about Paul?s life, his view of the purpose of his life, and what he would be doing for the rest of his life. Read 2 Corinthians 5:15 with me.
15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:15 NIV)
Because Jesus died for us we must live for Him. Because Jesus has changed our lives we want others to know His life-changing power. This isn?t something some preacher long ago made up, it is right there in the Scripture we just read. God has given us this ?ministry of reconciliation? (vs. 18), ?He has committed to us the message of reconciliation? (vs. 19), ?We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.? (vs. 20)
The first key to our moving from the mass of the mundane and the malaise of mediocrity is to fully understand Jesus? love for you and me.
The second key to moving from apathy to action is to understand that when we are serving others we serving Jesus Himself. We desperately need to shift our understanding in this area. So often when we reach out to help someone we don?t get the response that we think we should get. When this happens how do most people respond? Well, we get our feelings hurt. We become jaded, calloused, closed-hearted, and eventually, we stop reaching out.
If we shift our focus and begin to train our minds so that we see Jesus when we serve others then their response isn?t nearly as important as the simple fact that we are serving Jesus. Mother Theresa once said, ?Once we take our eyes away from ourselves, from our interests, from our own rights, privileges, ambitions – then they will become clear to see Jesus around us.?
There is one verse more than any other that God has used to keep me focused so that I don?t throw in the towel and go and do something else other than work in the church. Let?s get brutally honest for a minute can we? Church people can be some of the most self-righteous, demanding, obstinate, mean, and difficult people to work with in the world. The people who love you one day will treat you like dirt the next day if you don?t do and say what they want you to do and say. My time here at Britton Christian Church has been a great blessing, but let me tell you?I?ve had my moments. What has kept me doing what I do for the nineteen years that I?ve been here? I?m not here to please any of you; I?m here to please Jesus. I do what I do because I see Jesus in your faces as I do it. I know that by serving, loving, forgiving, and encouraging each of you?I am really serving Jesus. That is what the writer of Hebrews has taught me. Read along with me.
10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10 NIV)
By loving others we are loving God. By serving others we are loving God. By forgiving others we are loving God. By caring for others we are loving God. By bearing with others we are loving God. What matters most is not if I?m right or if I?m treated right, it is loving God by loving His people. Jesus said,
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)
Do you want to shine like a star in the blackest night? Then love greatly, love excessively, extravagantly, love continuously for the rest of your life!
The third and final key for us to move from apathy to action is this: we must not allow other?s fear and apathy to infiltrate our hearts and cool our passions for serving the Savior. Fear and apathy have been the cold water that has cooled many a soul that was, at one time, on fire for the things of God. Fear has paralyzed many an impassioned heart that knew God was calling them to cry out, ?Here am I Lord, use me!? Fear comes in many forms. Sometimes we are afraid of serving God because we don?t feel that we have the ability that is needed; we don?t know where God will lead us, what it will cost us, or what others will think about us. These fears have kept many from experiencing the fullness of pouring out their lives for the King.
The most devilish and diabolical form of fear comes not from within, but from the outside. Others, who love us, fear what might happen to us if we give to much in serving our King. We have to realize that their love and concern for us might very well lead to some of the worst counsel that we could ever receive?if it keeps us from pursuing God?s will for our lives.
Fear and apathy are virus-like in that they have a strong tendency to spread and infect the lives of those around the infected. During the days of the Exodus, Moses sent out Joshua, Caleb, and ten other spies to spy out the land where God was leading them. God freed the Hebrew slaves from Egypt and He was leading them to a land that was flowing with milk and honey. Now who couldn?t be excited about that? Yet, when we read Numbers 13-14 we see how fear among a few spread throughout the whole camp. Turn with me to Numbers13:30 and let?s begin reading.
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ?We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.? 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, ?We can?t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.? 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, ?The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). 33 We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.? 14 1 That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, ?If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn?t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?? 4 And they said to each other, ?We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.?(Numbers13:20-14:4 NIV)
Those who had been freed by God from 400 years of slavery were willing to forfeit the blessings of God because of a report from a few faithless men. Joshua and Caleb didn?t bring back the same report as the faithless ten, but the virus of fear was spreading like wildfire throughout the camp.
Those skeptical and fearful folks are still with us today. How many believers have been stirred by the Spirit of God to get involved in serving the King only to have someone else throw cold water on them? I?ve heard folks tell their stories of the ?giants? that have discouraged them and caused them to go back to Egypt?to what is most comfortable for them. These stories discourage folks and those of us who complain and grumble cause others to rethink the call of God upon their own life. The Spirit of God and the Word stir hearts to action, but then they hear, ?I got involved in the church one time, but folks were critical of what I did so I decided that I would never volunteer again.? ?The pastor asked me if I could meet with someone who was going through a hard time, but I ended up being taken advantage of so I decided I would say, ?No? next time he calls.? I would like to help out, but you know church folks?you can never please them.? You know what? You are absolutely right! Church folks are a weird sort of people that are never satisfied. There is always something to gripe about, something to argue about, something to point out that wasn?t done in the way they would have done it?if we choose to give credence to those kinds of things. When you serve the Lord you will be taken advantage of by believers and unbelievers alike, but after all, wasn?t Jesus hung on a cross by those He came to serve? Weren?t 11 of the 12 disciples killed for their faith as they served the Lord? Here is the key to avoiding the impact of the disgruntled and those who will seek to take advantage of you and me?keep your eyes on Jesus and your ears tuned to His call.
Along with the virus of fear there is the equally deadly virus of apathy. I well remember when I first came to know Christ. I came home wanting to change the world. I knew that Jesus was alive. I knew that His love was for real. I knew that others needed to know what I had learned. Do you know what was waiting on me when I got back home? I heard from my friends, ?Give it a couple of weeks and you?ll be back with us again.?
The Church is mired in lethargy and apathy today. She only cares that her needs are cared for and that the Church provides the kind of opportunities that will keep her fat and happy. Where has the passion for the lost gone? Where has the burden for the broken gone? Where has the unbridled commitment to the spread of the Gospel gone? Where has the mercy for the addicted and enslaved gone? Where has the love gone for those who do not know Jesus? Those who have never heard that He has come to set us free?
We must not allow the apathetic and fearful to turn us away or infect us with this insidious disease of apathy, we must keep our eyes on the Lord and our ears tuned to His glorious call to serve Him with all of our hearts. If we must seek encouragement from people then let us be moved by the great men and women who have gone before us. Remember the faith of the faithful. Remember the prayers of George Whitefield. Remember the compassion of Mary Slessor, the great missionary to Nigeria. Remember the passion of the Apostle Paul who counted everything as nothing for the privilege of serving the King. Remember the faith of Rahab, Joseph, and Gideon. Remember the mercy of Mother Theresa and the diligence of Billy Graham. Remember the giants of faith and give no thought to those small souls whose eyes are fixed on the ?giants of the land.?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
Oklahoma City, OK. 73114
September 12, 2009
You Can Count On Me!