Summary: We are in the zone when we serve God by doing what we do best, the best we can, so that others are blessed and God is glorified.
Title: Living in the Zone
Text: I Peter 4:7-11
Thesis: If you want a life that counts, do what you do best, as best you can.
(The idea for this message originated from a message by the same title in a series of stewardship messages written by Bryan Wilkerson, pastor of Grace Chapel in Lexington, MA, Preaching Today.com)
Last Sunday afternoon my son-in-law, grandson and I plopped ourselves down in front of the TV and watched the Chicago Bears / New Orleans Saints playoff game. Those of us who have been fans over the years have waited a long time for the Bears to make a comeback. It has been twenty-one years since the 1985 Bears went to the Super Bowl under Mike Ditka and Jim McMahon.
This year the Bears won fifteen games and lost three… the games were often very tight and nerve racking to those of us who need a blowout in order to ward off chest pains and anxiety attacks. Bears quarterback, Rex Grossman has played rather sporadically… at times playing brilliantly and at other times not so much.
In the game last Sunday, Rex Grossman and the Chicago Bears played a nearly flawless game and defeated the Saints 39 – 14 for the NFC Championship and the privilege of going to Super Bowl XLI next Sunday in Miami, Florida. It was interesting that one of the commentators noted that Grossman played an error free game. When that happens they often say that a player is “playing in the zone.”
I don’t know that we will always have a rush but we will experience being in the zone when we are in the place God wants us to be and doing the things God wants us to do.
The first principle of being in the zone is that you:
I. Do whatever you do with urgency (or with a sense of importance).
“The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Continue to show deep love for each other and cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” I Peter 4:7-9
Verse 7 is couched in the context of the end of the world and judgment… “But just remember, they (referring to former friends who do not follow Christ) will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead.” I Peter 4:5 The point Peter makes is this: Christians need to live responsibly in light of the anticipated return of Christ… time is a factor. It is another way of saying, “In the interim, as we wait for the return of Jesus Christ, we need to make sure our lives count…”
He then gives us some instruction in how we can do that…
A. Be earnest (clear-minded in the NIV) and disciplined in your prayers. The implication is that sometimes people get all caught up in “end-time talk” and forget about living in the present. He says, “Keep your balance… continue a consistent prayer life.
B. Be consistent in loving others. He says that in the interim, as we wait for the return of Christ, it is most important that we continue to live out the love of Christ. The love he speaks of is a love that covers the sins of others, i.e. it does not stir them up or broadcast them. Rather, this love covers the sins of others by forgiving them as Christ forgives.
C. Be cheerful in sharing. In the NIV, the text makes specific reference to being hospitable without grumbling. Hospitality is not intended to be the only way we cheerfully love others… it is one way of saying that as we live responsibly we make our lives count by being cheerful in sharing and caring for others.
A man was having dinner with his parents at a stylish London restaurant. The food was superb, and the setting—complete with chandeliers, crystal and silver—was unbelievably elegant. Nonetheless, when his mother’s main course arrived, she felt the need for a little salt. Trying the three silver shakers that were on the table, she discovered each contained pepper. She called the waiter over only to be told that she must be mistaken. Each table always contained two dispensers of pepper and one of salt.
A second attempt, however, showed that their table did, indeed, have three peppershakers. Horrified, the waiter immediately brought her a saltshaker. When it was time for dessert, the maitre d’ appeared, insisting that because of the oversight they choose something "on the house."
The woman protested, "It’s not that important."
"But, Madame," he replied in all seriousness, "what if you had been the Queen?"
Our text reminds us at the very onset that if we are to make our lives count, we need to approach each day with a “what if” sense of urgency… with a heart-felt desire to live responsibly because what we do is important.