Summary: Jesus urges us to live now, for eternity
Get Your Actions Behind Your Priorities – Thanksgiving Sunday
Matt 6:19-34 Oct 8, 2006
This doesn’t really have anything to do with my sermon, but it fits the day and made me smile:
This fall we have been on a journey, discovering what Jesus meant when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). Our theme has been that Jesus’ full life is a life of love. We have talked about four key parts: first was that we need to get on what Jesus called “the narrow road which leads to life”, second we talked about walking that road “in step with the Spirit”, third was keeping our head up and our eyes focused on others rather than ourselves, and last week we talked about how when we know we are a critically important part of the body of Christ and are using the spiritual gift He has given us, our lives are full of love and significance, and we know another critical piece of what it means to live life to the full.
Today is the day we celebrate Thanksgiving, where we discipline ourselves to pause and really reflect on how blessed we are, on how much God has done for us, and on who God is in our lives. It is a day when we should take stock, find the good, and make a concerted effort to take those things that we see and appreciate and express our gratitude for them, to God and to one another. It is a day to see how full our lives really are, because of God’s presence with us. The very thought that we have to make an effort, we have to stop and think about the things that we are thankful for, reveals a part of our culture – our focus is most often directed not to what we have, but what we do not have. This is a reality of a culture based on a free-market economy which values material things – we must be constantly bombarded by the things that we do not have, so that we will try to accumulate them. If we were all content with what we have, I truly believe most of our economy and culture would collapse! In some ways, that maybe would not be a bad thing… Two weeks ago I talked about how that is a false concept of a full life –that a full life means we have lots of money and stuff. That misses the mark.
A second wrong concept is that a full life means we will always feel alive – that emotion we feel at those few moments in life where everything seems so much brighter and stronger and glorious. Think perhaps of when your team was playing for the championship, the game comes down to the last play, and somehow you pull out the victory. Or perhaps when you first held your child. Or your first kiss, or when you were really there for a friend, or even that time you really knew the incredible presence of God surrounding you and loving you and filling you.
Each of those are wonderful times, where we really feel alive. Our lives feel full. Now listen closely – God’s road to fullness does not lead us to some place where we feel like that all the time. This is very important, because it is easy for us to think that when Jesus said He came to give us life to the full, it means we should feel the way we felt at those moments. And it is easy to think that if we are not feeling that way, we are doing something wrong, we are missing something, or even that God is holding back on us.
God’s road to fullness is about something deeper than feeling alive. The feelings are good, they are important, I am not diminishing them in any way, but there is something deeper. And that deeper thing is this: A life of love. Often that feels great, and sometimes it feels hard, sometimes it feels sorrow – many of us know that acutely as we hear again this morning of the death of yet another woman that we loved and that poured so much of her life and love into our church, and sometimes it doesn’t feel at all it just chooses to continue to love. That choice to love, through whatever set of feelings we might be experiencing, is the only way that you and I can live in the fullness of life in the long term. That type of life is a life of love.
Get Your Actions In Line With Your Priorities:
One day, I was having breakfast with a young man from our church who was in the middle of one of those very hectic seasons of life, and I asked how he was doing, how he was managing the balance, how he was coping, and he said this: “the hardest part for me is that the thing that is most important to me, namely my relationship with God, is the thing that I have the least amount of time for” – and as we talked it was clear that what he found so frustrating was that his actions were out of sync with his priorities.