Summary: Many Christians don’t understand the prize they should be running for. Do you?
(synopsis: I Corinthians 9:19-27 tells us that Paul was running toward a prize. A goal that each of us should pursue)
OPEN: Hall of Famer Bob Feller was a major league pitcher for the Cleveland Indians back in the 30s, 40s and 50s. He was signed up in 1935 when he was only 16 years old, and in his 1st start in 1936 he struck out 15 St. Louis batters. The next year, in 1938, he became the 1st pitcher to strike out every batter in one game.
When Bob Feller was 9 years old, his teacher asked him to write an essay about an oak tree. Here are the ideas that he put in his theme: “An oak tree can be cut down and sawed into boards. You can make baseball bats out of them. You can also make home plates out of the boards. You can make bleachers out of the boards so people can watch baseball games.”
APPLY: Can anybody guess what this young man was focused on? Baseball. From his youth on, Bob Feller goal was to play baseball.
Paul once wrote: “For me to live is Christ” Philippians 1:21
And what Bob Feller wrote as a child was – “For me to lived is baseball”. That was his goal in life.
(pause…) That got me to thinking… what is our “goal” as Christians?
Why are we here?
Why do we go thru what we do?
What are we aiming to accomplish?
Or… (more personally) WHAT’S YOUR GOAL?
I. For some people, the goal of being in church is to have someone meet their own personal needs.
That’s how we start out. We were drawn to church because something/ someone met our needs
Ø There was a program that ministered to our kids
Ø There was counseling available for our marriage or some other difficulty we were facing.
Ø There was a revival/ Bible Study that led us to Christ, and we came to Christ because we wanted His love in our lives.
So – initially – for most of us… “For us to live” was for God to meet our needs.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Because, unless you are highly unusual, you became a Christian because of what Christ and/or church did for you.
The problem arises when we fail to make the transition from that mindset to the one Paul declared in Philippians 1:21 “For me to live is Christ”
When a Christian remains in a “what can God do for me” mindset, they can be fairly difficult to be around. They’ll always frustrated with how the church isn’t meeting THEIR needs and their expectations. And you can tell who they are because they’ll be the ones you hear complaining.
ILLUS: Several years ago I read the following story by a preacher of a large church of over 5000 members. He wrote:
I was in the supermarket one day, and a lady came down the aisle whom I could barely see over the top of her groceries. I got somewhat frightened because she seemed to be heading straight for me. She screeched to a halt within a few feet of me, peered over her load, wagged her finger, and said, “I left your church. I left your church”.
So I said, “Well, if it’s my church, I think that was a very wise decision. If it’s my church, I think I’m going to leave too.”
She said, “Don’t you want to know why I left?”
I said, “No, not particularly, but I think I’m going to find out”. And I was right.
She said, “You weren’t meeting my needs”.
I answered, “I don’t ever recollect seeing you before, let alone talking to you, let alone knowing your needs. Did you ever tell anyone specifically what your needs were?”
She couldn’t recall that she had, so I raised another question. “Can you tell me, if we have 5,000 people sitting in that church, all with your attitude, how anyone’s needs are going to be met? If you reserve the right to have that attitude, then you must give everybody the freedom to have that attitude. And if everybody has that attitude, who on earth is going to do all the need meeting?”
Standing her ground, she demanded, “Then you tell me who will.”
Relieved, I said, “I thought you’d never ask.
This is what will work: when people stop sitting in the pew saying, ‘They’re not meeting my needs’ and start saying, ‘Whose needs can I meet?’ Then needs will be met. When a Servant Spirit flourishes in a congregation, they minister to each other as unto the Lord.”
Those who remain locked in a “self-focused” faith end up being complainers.
Now… they may DO many things for the church/ and for Christ, but if they’re complainers, they reveal that they haven’t understood what it is to Live For Christ.