Summary: A sermon examining the peril of those who have attempted to "retire" from their area of service.
Coming Out Of Retirement
Few people would argue that Michael Jordan is the greatest Basketball player of all time.
-NBA Rookie of the Year – 1984–85
-NBA Defensive Player of the Year – 1987–88
-Six-time NBA champion
-Six-time NBA Finals MVP
-Five-time NBA MVP
-10-time NBA scoring leader (1987–1993, 1996–1998)
-14-time NBA All-Star
-Three-time NBA All-Star Game MVP
-Nine-time All-Defensive First Team
These are just a few of his accolades. From 1991 to 1993 Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to 3 Championships in a row. But on October 6, 1993, Jordan announced his retirement from Basketball. Age was not the reason. Health was not the reason. Productivity was not the reason. Jordan stated that he had simply lost his desire to play the game. In 1994 he signed a contract with the Chicago White Sox and played baseball for our local Birmingham Barons. On March 18, 1995, Jordan announced his return to the NBA through a two-word press release: "I'm back." The Bulls had limited success without Jordan. They made it to the playoffs but lost to the Knicks in the second round. When Michael returned to Chicago the team they returned to the top and won 3 more consecutive NBA championships.
In the church today there are many people who have seemingly "retired". They were once very active and extremely productive but now they are gone. Some have left the church entirely while others still attend regularly but have ceased from active service and the church is struggling as a result. If we take a moment and look around we will see some former MVP's who are either missing from the team or warming the bench (pew).
To use another sports analogy for a moment, consider the Atlanta Braves. Their current franchise player Freddie Freeman has been out for over a month with a wrist injury. He has been present at each game but all he can do is sit on the bench and watch his teammates play. And their offense has struggled as a result. There is a difference in Freeman warming the bench and those who are merely warming a pew...He wants to play, he wants to help the team, he wants to be productive and he wants to win!
We have some people in our church who would love the opportunity to get back in the game, but health has hindered them from doing so. We have people who are faithful servants but they are shut in their homes because of physical limitations. Some would be here tonight serving in some capacity but they are stuck in the nursing home. This past Sunday we watched as sister Linda struggled to ascend the stage to play the organ. She has been fighting stage 4 cancer for years. And even in her pain and sickness from the chemotherapy she has the desire to serve her Lord. On the other hand there are many who have every opportunity to be at every service but they simply chose to stay at home. Others chose to work late to make some extra money. Some had "better things to do". Then there are those who will put forth the effort to attend church services but that is all they will do. They don't mind attending, but don't expect them to get involved.
The sad fact is that many of the people that I am referring to used to be vibrant and productive servants of God. Unfortunately they have lost their desire and they have "retired" from the work. We have an illustration of this in one of the greatest servants in the New Testament Church. His name...SIMON PETER!!! Jesus had appeared to the Disciples after His resurrection. He then appeared 8 days later and showed Thomas the wounds in His hands and His side. Jesus apparently had departed for a time and the Disciples were gathered together. Peter, speaks up and says "I am going fishing"
The Greek word used to convey what Peter said was hupago (hoop-ag’-o), this is an interesting word that literally means “I retire.” Maybe you are on the verge of leaving the church or the ministry. Maybe you are here and somewhere along the way in your work for the Lord you have said "I retire" or "I quit". I want to share with our some words of encouragement this evening. I would like to look at this time between the Lord's Resurrection and Ascension and preach on the thought "Coming Out Of Retirement". In these verses we will see the Cause, Complications and the Consequences of those who leave their work in the ministry. But we will also see the cure for those who have.
- Let's begin by examining:
I. The Cause Of Retired Christians
Before following Christ, Peter had been a professional fisherman. This was his source of income as well as his method of feeding himself and his family. Peter left all in order to follow Christ. He left his home, family, friends and apparently a successful business behind in order to follow the Master. For the past 3 1/2 years he was taken care of by Jesus. Now Jesus was not physically present with him. Peter did not realize it but Jesus was close by the whole time. But Peter decides that he is going fishing. Obviously there is nothing sinful about fishing. But in his decision Peter decided to return to what he knew. This illustrates one of the reasons that people "retire" or "quit" their area of service.