Summary: Sermon preached at a Pastor’s & Missionaries Conference to challenge those called to ministry.
If You Are…
Pastors & Missionaries Conference
March 13, 2007
I am so excited to be given the opportunity to preach today. As I thought and prayed about what I might preach, so many things came to mind. This being a pastors and missionaries conference, do I preach about us being mission minded? About being missional? About starting new churches? Something to fire us up? I considered a message about the emerging church movement and its efforts to reach our postmodern culture, but I’m not sure I fully understand what it means to be emergent.
There are countless issues we might consider relevant to pastoral ministry. The bookstores are littered with all the issues, from Rob Bell’s new book, Sex God to Steve Doocy’s Mr. & Mrs. Happy. Pastors and the congregations to whom they minister are drowning in debt, falling to pornography, wrestling with affairs, rotting with indifference and apathy and have lost sight of the most important things in life. We’re in a culture war, but don’t get caught up in the battle to preserve a bygone culture that we weren’t commanded to preserve. The culture war we’re in is our commission to make the kingdom of God a reality in the hearts and minds of a world in darkness – to reach our world with the gospel of Christ and to lead those people to become lovers and followers of Him!
In the words of Mordecai, I believe brethren that you and I have been called for such a time as this that we are living in. If we’re honest we don’t always feel equipped or adequate. We don’t always know just exactly what to do. We can be plagued with doubts and paralyzed by our fears. We can get discouraged when the lost don’t listen and when the saved don’t have faith, and like Peter there are times when all of us just want to go back to fishing.
But brethren, God is on the throne! He knows what He’s doing and He knows why He called you. He alone knows His plans for you and has called each of you for this time, to take your place in His work, to fulfill His calling on your life, to be the hero of the story that He has already written on your hearts.
Read Luke 4:1-13 I believe it is imperative that we realize who and what we are in Christ and recognize that few things delight the devil so much as distorting and destroying, not our identities in Christ, but how we view our identities in Christ as the men of God.
In the text we have read we jump into one of the opening chapters in the great epic God wrote on the pages of history through the life of Christ. You’ve seen or studied some of the great epics. The stories like Braveheart or Gladiator, the Alamo or the landing at Normandy, or a story so entertaining as Superman or Spiderman or Star Wars. In all the great epics the story is the same…you have the good guys and the bad guys and a need for someone to be the hero. Some crisis boils to the surface and the hero, often some unassuming individual, emerges to save the day or set a world on fire.
When you and I watch or read the great epics, we all want to play the lead roles. Who watches a movie and wants to be the villain or traitor or the moral weakling? None of us! When I was a boy I wanted to run like Jim Thorpe with my Davy Crocket coonskin hat, my plastic Jim Bowie knife, my Lone Ranger six-shooter with my red Superman cape. Those great epics stir our hearts and move us! Even when we watch a movie like “The Passion of Christ” that same wave of emotion comes over us; not just because of God’s love, but because there is something in us that wishes we had that kind of strength and courage.
Jesus emerges as the hero of the story after His time of temptation with Satan and sets His face to the cross of Calvary. Christ’s journey seems to officially begin after this account, but first there must be this battle over His own identity.
Brethren, I want to suggest to you today that irregardless of where you live or the ministries you find yourselves laboring in, each of you is living out your own epic tale. Our lives and work and families may be as varied as the movies we watch and the books we read, but the story is always the same. There is great darkness in the world, but God has chosen you to follow Christ as the lead character in your epic. God has chosen you to glorify Him. That means taking up your cross and following Him and following Him into the great unknown – walking with Him in the journey of a life.