Summary: Revised for use in a very small church looking for a new direction: Moses became an effective liberator by asking three questions: "Who am I?" "Who are You?" and "What if?"
Broadview Baptist Church, Chesapeake, MD Sept. 3, 2006
Church is not just for you and me who are members of the church. Church is for others. Church is for the world out there. Freedom is not just for you and me who have accepted Christ. Freedom is for others. The free gift of salvation is for those who do not even know they need it.
Church is not just for you and me, freedom is not just for you and me. We have discovered that we can make ourselves available to God in such a way that He can shape our lives. But why would God want to do that? For what purpose does God shape us? Just so that we can look good? Just so that we can bask in self-satisfaction?
Last week we thought together about what it means for God to shape us. We said that if we are going to be available for God to shape our lives into what He wants them to be, we would first have to: downplay disappointments. There are always going to be failures and disappointments, but they are not the last word. Downplay those disappointments.
And then we said that God uses other people to help shape us, so it is important for us to: pick perceptive people. Find somebody who can and will tell us the truth about ourselves, so that we do not live in an illusion. Pick a perceptive person, and let that person become an instrument of shaping you.
Third, we said that you must: consider the consequences. Consider the terrible consequences of not disciplining yourself, not learning new truths or new skills. Consider the consequences if you stop short of maturity in Christ. And then, finally, we said that you can be shaped as God wants to shape you if you accept affirmation. Build on your strengths and let others show you where you have a gift that can be given. Accept affirmation.
All right ... so now you are shaped. Now you are sculpted. You have downplayed, picked, considered, and accepted. You have a sense of yourself and know that you are in relationship to God. So what? What do you do with all that? Is it just for you and me, for the church? Is it just for self-satisfaction and the assurance of salvation?
Church is not just for you and me who are members of the church. Church is for others. Church is for the world out there. Nor is freedom just for you and me who have accepted Christ. Freedom is for others. The free gift of salvation is for those who do not even know they need it.
Once there was a man who thought he was settled and secure, fat and sassy, but who faced a call to liberate a people. That man, told that there were those whose lives were not as safe as his, realizing that he was supposed to do something more than just live in comfort day by day, felt some powerful emotions. This man felt, first, self-doubt, then he felt uncertainty, and finally he felt unreadiness. But this man learned how to be available for God to use for the liberation of others.
Moses had lived a rather unusual life. In fact, it was nothing short of a miracle that he was alive at all. Born into a Hebrew family at a time when the powers that be in Egypt were threatened by the strength of their slaves, Moses was scheduled for destruction, along with a host of other young boys. But he was saved. By the grace of God and the ingenuity of his mother, he was given not only his life, but also exceptional privileges, right in Pharaoh’s palace. It looked like Moses was headed for something special.
But then Moses made a mistake. A huge, life-changing blunder. He killed a man. Moses became a fugitive from justice in the far away land of Midian. There he took on a wife, raised some children, and settled down into herding sheep. Moses got very comfortable! If the promise of his earliest years had been forgotten, then also the mistake of his young adulthood had been covered up, so now Moses was lying low and keeping cool. Like Bill Cosby said when he observed a little old lady standing around looking cool: “That’s how you get to be a little old lady, by standing around looking cool”. That was Moses’ strategy: tend the sheep, raise the children, keep the wife happy, be cool, stay out of trouble. The suburban dream!
But Moses had not reckoned with God. God had other things in mind. God wanted Moses to free His people. God expected Moses to be available for liberation. When God’s call came, Moses was full of frightening feelings. Even while the words, “Here I am” were coming out of his mouth, he felt self-doubt – which he expressed with the question, “Who am I?”; he felt uncertainty, which he voiced with, “Who are you?”; and he felt unreadiness, offered as, “What if?”. Remember those three questions and you have the whole message today: “Who am I?”, “Who are You?”, and “What if?”