Summary: This sermon is about living abundant lives and how we can live over the top lives.
Living Above The Bar
This morning my goal is to help us learn how to live an over the top life, and to stop living below God’s desire and His calling upon our lives.
So here’s my question, “Are we living the abundant life?”
Unfortunately most are living and doing just enough to get by. They’re doing just enough in their marriages, relationships, or at work not to get divorced, dumped, or fired. In other words people are living a substandard life, which is especially disheartening because of what Jesus said.
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b NKJV)
And so, are we living abundant lives?
Maybe the following story will help make this clearer.
The bar was set 9-inches higher than Michael Stone’s personal best. He began to get nervous. Fear would be a more accurate description. The stands were filled with about 20,000 people even though the final race ended an hour earlier.
Michael had been looking forward to this moment since childhood. He was one of the final two competitors in the Pole-Vault at the National Junior Olympics. Michael needed this vault to win.
Would Michael be able to go above and beyond the bar?
As Michael picked up his pole he felt his heart pounding. The silence was deafening. He heard robins singing and he knew it was his time to fly. As he began sprinting down the runway something felt wonderfully different, yet familiar. He took a deep breath and then it happened. He began to fly. His takeoff was effortless.
It was either the eruption of the people or the thump of his landing that brought Michael back to earth. Immediately people swarmed around him congratulating him on the greatest accomplishment thus far in his life, 17 feet 6 inches: a National and International Junior Olympics Record.
Michael Stone raised the bar. He beat his personal best by 9 inches. He had gone above and beyond what anyone expected.
God calls us to go above and beyond! So what’s that extra 9-inches in our lives? What mark have we set? Are we living above or below the standard?
When I talk about living life above the bar, an important question has to be asked. What is the bar? The bar represents those things that keep us from our true potential. It represents the rules and regulations put upon us by religion and society.
If the minorities lived by the rules set by our society as to what they could and could not do then many would still be living in substandard conditions. But because a few of them challenged the bar they have set the course for those who would follow, that they too could live above the bar instead of below it.
For the African Americans it began with Rosa Parks who in 1955 refused to sit in the back of the bus. Her refusal to live below the bar sparked the Civil Rights Movement that helped launch a young Baptist pastor into national prominence, Martin Luther King, Jr.
For the Hispanics in the U.S. it was Cesar Chavez and the labor union he help organized, “The United Farm Workers of America.” His leadership led to numerous improvements for Hispanic and migrant farm workers.
But the same can be said for us. Society has set the bar, but it’s our choice whether or not we will live above or below it.
But let’s not forget religion. Religion has a whole lot of rules and regulations that really have nothing to do with God’s word. Religion tells us what we can and cannot eat or wear.
In Judaism there’s the dietary laws, which mostly comes out of God’s word, but in the New Testament these have been nullified. First in a vision where God told to Peter that what Peter thought was unclean by the law, God has made clean and thus permissible for consumption, Acts 10:15. We are also told not to judge anyone on what they eat or drink, Colossians 2:16.
Most religions also have dress codes, some being extremely rigid where the punishment definitely doesn’t fit the crime. Christians also have their own dress code; mostly unspoken especially when it comes to what’s permissible in church.
When I was an elder back in Las Vegas, the associate pastor made a mandate as to what we as elders were to wear. When Sunday rolled around I showed up, but not in the required clothing. Instead I wore cut off jeans, and old tee shirt, and a day’s growth on my face.
When the associate pastor saw what I wore he brought it to the attention of the senior pastor who told him to leave it alone. He knew I was spoiling for a fight, because I wasn’t going to let anyone put on me what wasn’t clearly stated in the Scriptures. I wasn’t going to allow anyone to place standards on my life that was less than everything that God had set for me. I was a rebel, but a rebel with a cause.