Summary: Faith isn't something that is meant to be added to our lives, rather it is meant to shape every area of our lives. There are many things that will threaten to crowd out your faith. But when we try to live with one foot in the world and one foot in God's
How Dark The Dark? How Light The Light? - Matthew 6:22-23 - March 18, 2012
Series: Kingdom Life – A World Turned Upside Down #22
How many of you have seen the movie, “Forrest Gump.” If you have, you’ll remember that the main character is played by actor Tom Hanks and there’s one line he speaks in that movie that has become very well known, and it’s that line that I want your help with this morning. This is what I’m going to do: I going to begin that quote and what I want you to do, is to shout out the answer and finish that quote off for me. So here we go … “Life is a like a box of __________________?” “Chocolates,” that’s right. Tom’s character says to people, “My momma always told me that life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” It’s a great quote – life is full of surprises and you never know what’s around the next corner.
This morning though I want you to think of your life, not as a box of chocolates, but as an ice cube tray. Now, I know that’s not as exciting as a box of chocolates, not nearly as sexy, but trust me it will make for a far more useful illustration for us today. So picture your life as an ice cube tray just like the one I’ve got here. [Hold up tray for all to see.] This tray is divided into a number of compartments, isn’t it? That’s how many of us tend to live our lives - compartmentalized. In the first one we might have our finances. Anything to do with money goes into this section. Next to it we might have one labelled, ‘entertainment,’ and another labelled, ‘work,’ – others are going to be called things like, ‘friends,’ ‘marriage,’ ‘family,’ ‘recreation,’ ‘health,’ and so on. There will be others there too – ones that we might decide to call ‘faith,’ or ‘religion,’ or even our ‘God box.’ That’s where we group and put all the things that have to do with our spirituality. And we could go on and fill up all these different compartments but for now I think you get the idea.
Now picture this same tray filled with ice cubes. When those compartments are filled with ice there’s no movement from one compartment to the next. That is also how many of us live our lives. We tend to keep things separate one from another. On one side of the tray we have those boxes made up of the material, the physical things of life. On the other are those that make up the spiritual side of our lives and there’s little to no mixing between the material and the spiritual. That’s a division that many people are comfortable with. Life is neater that way. It’s easier. That way you don’t need to bring your financial stewardship into the church and you don’t need to let your faith inform your entertainment. Sunday is for church and God, and Monday through Saturday is for everything else. Life is convenient when we live it that way. But that is never how God intended our lives to be.
Take another look at this ice cube tray. Between each compartment there is a little notch, a ‘v’ if you will. The tray has been designed that way so when one compartment is full, the water flows into the next one, and so on down the line. That way, whatever you’re pouring into the first section, will eventually make it’s way throughout all the others. Jesus is all about there being unity or wholeness in our lives. Integrity if you will. Our faith, our relationship with Him, is never meant to be one category among many. It’s meant to be the category by which all the others are filled to fullness. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33, NIV)
Jesus is meant to be the first compartment in your ice cube tray. That’s the one that is meant to be filled first, and continuously, so that it overflows into all those other aspects of our lives. They all flow from that first reality – who we are in Jesus Christ. Too often we put that God box at the end of the tray. When there’s some life left over, we give it to God. Jesus says, “put God first.” Make Him the main box and let everything else flow from there. So if you’re a farmer, you’re not a farmer who just happens to be a Christian. If that’s how you’re thinking then you’ve got it all backwards! The truth is this: You are a Christian who just happens to be a farmer. You are first and foremost a child of God, chosen, called, forgiven, redeemed, saved, a new creation, an ambassador of Christ, who happens to have a mission field in the farming community. It’s a different way of looking at life and of living the moments of each day. If you get the boxes in the wrong order, your faith becomes something that you add to life when it’s convenient, when you have the time, when you have something left over. If you get them in the right order, your faith will give shape to every other aspect of your life, providing new meaning, purpose and focus in each of those areas so that there is a wholeness, a unity, an integrity in your life, that is pleasing to God.