Summary: (Updated) This sermon is about living abundant lives and how we can live over the top lives. We also look at Mediocrity and Complacency can keep us under the bar. Then we look at being flexible to the Holy Spirit, Running on God's pathway, and then getting our lives Planted in Christ.
Living Above the Bar
At the end of last week’s message on living intentionally knowing that our days are numbered, I ended with a story about a high jumper who finally cleared 6’8” and then related it to our lives and how important it is to identify God’s eternal values and invest our lives in them on a daily basis. And when we do, we’ll clear the bar that Satan has kept us under for so long.
In our message today, 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. In other words, we need to be living our lives above the bar; rather than below it, or what we might say is that we need to start living the abundant life Jesus promised.
Unfortunately, most people are living and doing just enough to get by. They’re doing just enough in their marriages, relationships, and at work not to get divorced, dumped, or fired. What we might say is that people are living a substandard life, which is especially disheartening because of what Jesus said.
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 nine inches higher than pole-vaulter Michael Stone’s personal best. He began to get nervous. Fear would probably 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 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 nine inches. He had gone above and beyond what anyone expected.
God also calls us to go above and beyond! So, what’s that extra nine inches in our lives? What mark has God set for us? Are we living above or below God’s 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 if not most of them would still be living in substandard conditions. But because a few of them challenged the bar, they set the course and path for those who would follow. They gave hope that others could now live above the bar set by society instead of below it.
You might say 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, Dr. 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.
Can we say the same? 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).