Monday, March 27, 2017

Are we "inspired" to follow Jesus at church?

Is there such a thing as a "demotivational speaker"?  If there is, then I might be available for speaking engagements.  Read this post and see if I fit the bill for your congregation or youth group.

Well, that's how I feel, at times.

I have had wonderful people in our congregation tell me that they wish they could hear an uplifting message from me instead of all the hard sermons that seem to flow from my lips.  (I must add that it wasn't offered up as a criticism, as much as an observation.)  And to be fair, many of our sermons have focused on some hard passages of Scripture in the last few years.  We have gone through Judges, the Kings of Israel and Judah, the Gospel of Matthew and are currently in 1 Corinthians.

I have been at camp and at conferences and have heard awesome men and women of God share messages and give testimony of God's greatness in their lives that make me wish that I could be like them.  I see the youth and adults flock to the altar praying repentance and walking away seemingly renewed and refreshed with a commitment to follow Jesus anew.  I don't begrudge their gift for inspiration.  They have an amazing ability to help people see the glory of Christ through their circumstances and repented sin that God uses to make people want what they have.

However, when I review my messages over the last few years, constant recurring themes seem to surface.
--Watch out for entertainment taking God's place in your life or the life of your kids.
--Watch out for sports taking God's place in your life or the life of your kids.
--Watch out for politics taking God's place in your life or the life of your kids.
--Watch out for sex taking God's place in your life or the life of your kids.
--You need to make time to read your Bible and know what it says better than any of these other things.
--Parents, you need to train your children in the Word of God above all else.

The irony is that these messages seem to consistently come through even though we are simply going verse by verse through the Bible in our messages on Sunday morning.  If you've ever thought to yourself, "Here he goes again" on any of the points above, don't think I haven't felt it too.  Sometimes I have asked that same question to God as I am preparing.  It's not like I am trying to figure out how to insert these same points into the sermon that I will preach this next week.  However, contextualizing the Word keeps bringing me back again and again to these points.

I have often wondered why that is...maybe you have too.  Why is it that the Word of God constantly focuses on the things that distract us from our relationship with God?  There is so much more written on the distractions than there is of the revealing glory of things to come.

It is no wonder that so many people see the church as a place that focuses on things we shouldn't do and have reduced our relationship with Christ to simply a list of do's and don'ts.  Missing the motivation for the reason why this is, many leave the church or assume it's judgmental nature because of the constant correction.  

However, all I have to do is look in the mirror and see the reason why such admonitions exist.  You see, I and all who are called by Christ's name are on a mission to share Christ with the world around us.  But everyday as I look in the mirror, I see the distractions of everyday life crowding out the mission of God.  I would rather play on my phone, watch the next episode of the Flash or next round of the playoffs (no matter what sport), take my children to games they can play, sleep, do yard work or housework, unclog a toilet, run for political office, run a half marathon, skydive, jump in a volcano, swim in the middle of the ocean surrounded by sharks...than get to know God through His Word, through prayer and share that with my neighbors around me.

Jesus called it dying to ourselves (Luke 9:23-26).  It wasn't and isn't an option, but it is something that we struggle with everyday.  It's why we have to do it daily.  It's why the same struggles are mentioned over and over again from the pulpit and in the Scriptures, because we struggle with them over and over again.  Dying is painful, but it is the only way we can truly experience new life in Christ.  Paul said that he died daily in order to share Christ with others (1 Cor. 15:30-32), which means that he experienced this pull of life that drags us away from the mission that God has called us too.

Do you know what inspires me?

I am inspired when I see Paul, an elderly man, every week at church knowing that it probably took him a long time just to come to the fellowship of believers.

I am inspired when I hear about members reaching out to the community around them for the cause of Christ and I begin to see their friends and co-workers coming to our community.

I am inspired when I see someone lead a bible study or small group for the first time because God has led them to.

I am inspired when I see fathers and mothers baptizing their children in the name of Jesus Christ.

I am inspired when I hear of families taking seriously God's command to train up the next generation in the Lord.

I am inspired when those who struggle with sin turn to God and He answers their pleas, gives them new life and restores their hope.

I am inspired to live for God more and more when surrounded by those who have chosen to die daily to themselves, so the glory of God can shine through them.  

I am inspired when we treat Christ as the treasure He truly is.

However, I am often not inspired by my sermons.  Rather my sermons are reminders to all of us (myself included) that we need to die to ourselves to remain on the mission of God so that the world may see Christ in us and working through us.  For that to happen, we all need a lot of reminders to get out of the way, so Christ can work in our lives...so we can be the inspiration and light of the world He has called us to be (Mat. 5:13-16).

I'm still available for speaking...if you're into that sort of thing.

1 comment:

  1. The Word of God is powerful! Challenging! Life changing! -- Occasionally making us feel good about ourselves, with no changes, but not often. Keep preaching that good word Pastor!

    ReplyDelete

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