Summary: Apologize for Jesus 1) Describe his help. 2) Declare your hope.
Has anyone ever had to apologize for you? Maybe it was the time when you put a frog in your teacher’s desk at school. The prank got a few laughs when the frog jumped out causing your teacher to scream, but it also earned you a trip to the principal’s office. That was followed by a call to Mom who had to rearrange her schedule and pick you up since you were suspended from school for the rest of the week. You and your parents also had to meet with your teacher to apologize. You no doubt said sorry, but so did your parents. They apologized for you and assured your teacher that you would never do something like that again.
It’s humiliating when another person has to apologize for you so it will surprise you to learn that our sermon theme this morning is “Apologize” for Jesus. No, Jesus has done nothing for which we need to be ashamed. Quite the opposite. He’s saved us from hell and is ruling this world on our behalf. So I need to explain that the word “apology” is actually a Greek word which means to “defend.” To make an apology for Jesus in biblical terms then means to defend or speak well of Jesus. We will “apologize” for Jesus in this way when we describe his help to others, and when we declare our hope as Christians.
Listen again to how the Apostle Peter started our text. He wrote: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Peter 3:15a). That’s such a simple directive but so hard to put into practice. We are to set apart Christ as Lord, but we often think and act as if we are lord. How does that become apparent in our lives? Well what is your attitude about retirement? Banks and investment companies want you to believe that retirement is finally the time when you get to do what you want. After all you’ve put in 25 to 40 years of hard work right? Now it’s your turn to take it easy and to indulge yourself. But one Bible student mused about such an attitude and wrote: “My reward for years of hard labor is God’s to give in eternity, not a right I have to bestow upon myself now…the notion that I have earned a life of ease in retirement [is] absurd.” (Bruce Waltke, “The Dance Between God and Humanity: Reading the Bible Today as the People of God” p. 411).
I don’t think Waltke is advocating full-time work until one keels over. He’s instead addressing a self-centered attitude that is prevalent in every sinner - an attitude which makes it clear that we often set apart ourselves rather than Christ as Lord. And so the child who is asked to take out the garbage will protest that he did it the day before. It must be someone else’s turn. Married couples too often mentally keep track of the work they’ve done around the yard or house and expect their spouse to keep up. With all our church building-related projects going on I find myself thinking: “I can’t wait until it’s done. Then I can get back to a quiet life.”
But who of the believers in the Bible ever experienced a life of quiet where they got to do their own thing without the “bother” of having to serve God by serving others? Look at Moses. Do you remember how old he was when God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt? He was 80 years old! And he didn’t just lead Israel for 30 years before spending the last 10 years of his life puttering around in a golf cart as Joshua took over the work of directing the Israelites to the Promised Land. No, Moses served right up until the day God called him home to his heavenly rest at age 120. And that was true of all the believers in the Bible that I can think of. They didn’t retire as the world thinks of retirement today. When believers thought of a life of rest and ease they thought of heaven.
Yes, it is God’s right to bestow on us a life of ease and he will do that in eternity and only because he is gracious. Until then we will continue to set apart Christ as Lord as we eagerly look for opportunities to serve him. No, I am not saying that you’re stuck in your 9-5 job until you die. Nor am I saying that you can never take a break from the daily grind and routine. Jesus did when he got away to recharge and to connect with his heavenly Father, but it was so that he was fully prepared to serve. In the same way when you’re contemplating your retirement or simply thinking about your weekend plans ask yourself, “Is what I’m planning going to glorify God and serve others, or am I just eager to do what I want?”