Sermons

Summary: Understanding discipleship as the God initiated, God accomplished process of turning us into what He intended - human beings bearing the image of the God who created us.

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Every year the movie industry comes together for a massive celebration and awards ceremony. All of Hollywood looks forward to the night early in the year where they can come together and honor one another for the work that had been done during the previous year. It’s a really a fascinating thing to watch. Dresses and tuxedos worth thousands of dollars are bought. Limousines are rented. Red carpets are rolled out. Photographers swarm. Millions of people all over the country tune in their televisions to watch thousands of people gather together and give gold statues to one another; honoring and praising them for...pretending to be something that they are not.

The pinnacle of success that every big-screen actor or actress strives for is to win the coveted Oscar at the Academy Awards. It is this moment of recognition that forever immortalizes their name in the minds of movie fans throughout the generations. And that moment of recognition is granted to those who have done the best job of … pretending to be something that they are not. Screenwriters, directors, and producers are also honored and immortalized on this night and awarded with an Oscar because of their talent in … creating a world that doesn’t really exist.

Now I have nothing against quality entertainment, but if you’re as cynical as I am, it seems a little ridiculous that so many millions of dollars would be spent, such a fuss would be made, and so many people would be elevated to god-like status, for pretending. For playing make believe. Why should anyone be so recognized, so praised, and so looked-up to, even idolized for pretending to be something they aren’t? But the reality...you and I are no different. Think about it. In almost every aspect of our lives we live as performers, hoping to be recognized, praised, and rewarded for our performance; for appearing to be someone that we may or may not actually be.

Beginning in childhood, we are told by our parents to behave in a certain way; and if we’re smart, we do … not because we want to behave that way, but because the big person who has money in one hand and a leather belt in the other tells us we have to. There is a code of behavior established by our parents, and we are either rewarded or punished based on our ability to perform according to that code of behavior. One part of the code is that it is unacceptable for me to blow up my sister’s Barbie dolls as a combat exercise for G.I. Joe. Now, everything in me wants to blow up those stupid dolls. I’ve got the m-80 firecrackers. I am ready for some serious Barbie-land carnage! The reality of who I am is a kid that takes great pleasure in and derives great satisfaction from blowing up Barbie dolls. But you see, I’m going to perform in a way contrary to who I really am for two reasons: One, I don’t want dad to take off his belt. And secondly, if I can convince him and mom that I am delighted to follow their rules and be a good little boy, I am likely to be rewarded with more allowance, a later bedtime, or maybe even a box of Count Chocula cereal.

Our school years are no different. Letter grades are assigned to us based on our performance. Every quarter report cards divulge our performance or lack thereof to our parents. We are promoted from one grade to the next based on our performance. In the latter school years, college choices are increased or diminished based on our performance. And in the end, the two who perform the best get to give speeches to their classmates on their final night together as a class. Part of our performance is genuine, naturally flowing out of who we are. I had no trouble whatsoever making straight A’s in history. I love it! But when my teacher perceived me as a good algebra student because I got a B, trust me, that was a hard-fought performance; and I don’t remember a thing about algebra today. There is not a fiber of algebra passion to be found in me anywhere. I would actually sign up for a mission to eliminate algebra from the world.

Those of us who have been in the work-world are probably well-acquainted with the annual performance review. Pay-raises and promotions all come to us as the result of how well we perform our job. We may genuinely do well at our jobs because we love our work and our good performance flows out of who we are, or we may act our way through each day and through the annual performance review because deep down inside, we have no passion whatsoever for what we do each day.

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