Summary: What to do when you don’t fit in and it hurts
Bible Teaching Ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
1Corinthians 13 Jan 19, 1992
It was once said of a particular statesman that, "...the tragedy of his life is that he never quite felt a part of this world." A well-known psychologist described a patient as, "...much less a human being than a civil war."
It seems that with the explosion of rebelliousness of the 60’s, and the upheaval of the 70’s sexual revolution, and the age of "super-sensitivity" of the 80’s, and now the New Age of enlightenment in the 90’s, we have been going from one mad search to another in futile attempts to fill up the holes in our lives. As one of the theologians of this century theorized, "Every person is born with a God-shaped hole in his heart." When we try to fill it with anything other than God, the result will be only temporary satisfaction. God is the only perfect fit for that hole.
We have all experienced the "square-peg-in-a-round-hole" syndrome. We have been created with a deep sense of our need for relationship. When we mistakenly pile-in experiences, acquaintances, possessions, or positions as substitute for the God who goes in that God-shaped hole, we wind up frustrated, defeated, at the end of a rope, trying desperately to make some sense of shattered lives. We feel like we don’t fit...we’ve never fit....and we’re never going to fit!
This morning I would make a statement, and then help us explore two CONDITIONS that essentially cover the understanding of why we feel like we don’t fit in.
SOMETIMES WE DON’T FIT IN BECAUSE WE REALLY DON’T FIT IN!
1. UNSETTLED UNBELIEF
God is love (1Jn 4:8). In our text, Paul says that if I don’t have God (love), everything I can do in this life will be like a hollow gong, or an irritating clanging cymbal. In Corinth, that would have had special meaning for those first century believers. Gongs and cymbals were an integral part of pagan worship. Carl Jung made the statement that as a psychologist, he treated hundreds of people, and, "...none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook." Without God, we have unsettled unbelief.
The chief need of any human being is to have a GENUINE RELATIONSHIP with God. I’m so proud of my daughter. Her sixth grade teacher asked the class what the purpose of "religion" was. She answered it for him! "The purpose of religion," she said, "is to help people express their need for a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with God." You’ve got to get the first thing first.
My father-in-law is a great mechanic. Many times he helped me keep our cranky old cars running. Whenever he got his head under the hood, I’d always watch. Mechanical repair is not my thing, but I always hoped to pick up a tip or two. Most of the time I would get bored with all his tinkering; I’d think to myself, "Just get it running, Pop, don’t rebuild it now."
One day I think he got tired of my attitude. He finally said to me, "Son, if this car’s gonna run, you gotta make sure all the parts are happy with all the other parts. You don’t take care of this motor - Well the wheels and radio ain’t goin’ nowhere."
The motor of life is a person’s heart. If you have unsettled unbelief - NO GOD - you are never going to fit in. The only way to fill that God-shaped hole is with the heavenly Father. Nothing else will do!
2. UNLOVING BELIEF (1Co 13:2-7)
Even as believers, we can get to the point of feeling like a fifth wheel on this planet. There is such a thing as being a Christian, and not acting like it! Paul gives examples of things we might try to do to fill up our emptiness as unloving believers:
He points to the UNLOVING PREACHER.
If a man can preach like Spurgeon, but rather relishes the thought of dangling his people over Hell to make them sweat, what congregation is HE fit for? Look at the person who has FAITH that can move mountains, and in the process buries people.
I have a friend that got saved, and the Lord immediately took away all desire for the former habits, smoking, drinking, and cussing. Everything changed immediately. How wonderful to experience that kind of faith! The only problem is that my friend overwhelms people with a weaker faith. He flatly says, "If you really got saved, all that stuff would’ve gone too." (At least he used to say that until I asked him why the Lord didn’t take his pride, if he REALLY got saved.)
Another example Paul gives is PATIENCE. Genuine love is very patient. It is said that Abraham Lincoln appointed Stanton as War Secretary even after he was openly critical of Mr. Lincoln. He called the president "the original gorilla," supposing that Old Abe had no real intelligence, or right to be in the White House. Lincoln, in his patience, appointed Stanton anyway, because he was the best man for the job. Years later, when an assassin’s bullet struck down Abraham Lincoln, it was War Secretary Stanton who stood by his bedside as Lincoln died and said, "...the world now loses the greatest ruler of men it has ever seen." Patient love changes people....makes them fit!