Summary: Why are we here? What’s the point? All of our striving and searching for meaning ultimately lead to dead ends that don’t satisfy us. God provides the remedy by transforming our lives to be like His Son.
The Remedy for Meaninglessness
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee..”
Saint Augustine, 420 A.D.
Key Scripture: Romans 12:1-2
Icebreaker: "What have you done that you believe in and you are proud of?"
That’s the question an old man used to begin conversations he had with the people he met. “What have you done that you believe in and you are proud of?”
He never asked conventional questions such as "What do you do for a living?" It was always, "What have you done that you believe in and are proud of?"
It was an unsettling question for people who had built their self-esteem on their wealth or their family name or their exalted job title.
Not that the old man was a fierce interrogator. He was delighted by a woman who answered, "I’m doing a good job raising three children;" and by a cabinetmaker who said, "I believe in good workmanship and practice it;" and by a woman who said, "I started a bookstore and it’s the best bookstore for miles around."
"I don’t really care how they answer," said the old man. "I just want to put the thought into their minds.
"They should live their lives in such a way that they can have a good answer. Not a good answer for me, but for themselves. That’s what’ s important."
Dr. Dale E. Turner, MSC Health Action News, July, 1993, p. 7.
Intro: So, I ask you that same question this morning: What have you done in your life that you believe in and are proud of? Here’s a better question: What are you doing right now that you believe in and are proud of?
-I think deep down, we’d all like to be able to answer the question that old man asked. We’d all love to be able to just recite our life’s purpose off of the top of our heads. But let’s be honest. Most of us can’t. If you can’t, I want you to listen to 2 verses from Romans chapter 12. And I really pray that by the time you leave here this morning, you’ll have a better answer for that old man’s question than when you came in today.
Scripture: Romans 12:1-2
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
-Now, we’ve been moving pretty quickly through the book of Romans up to this point. But now we get to chapter 12, and we’re going to just park here for the next 3 Sundays. Because a shift happens at this point of Paul’s letter. Chapter 12 of Romans marks a major shift in Paul’s letter from understanding right belief to practicing right action. And your faith isn’t just something to believed, but something to be lived out in your daily life.
-And I’ll just tell you this, this morning: I truly believe, in the deepest parts of my heart, that we can never truly fulfill our life’s purpose until we give ourselves to God’s purpose. So, Paul starts this section by reminding us that before we can live for God, we have to be close to God. We have to yield to His purpose in our lives. So today, I want to talk to you about how to get closer to God.
How to Get Closer to God
1. Reflect on what God has done for you (“in view of God’s mercy”)
Illustration: I’ll admit something to you: Sometimes ministry is hard. Not always. I wouldn’t even say, “usually.” But sometimes, definitely, it is. I have my moments where I wonder if I’m really cut out for it. Do I have the necessary leadership ability? What if I really am too young for this? And don’t even get me started on my preaching. I hate listening to myself on tape.
Questions: Do you have those times in your life when you feel like that? Like you’re not as close to God as you need to be and you never will be? Like you don’t have a purpose or you’ll never be able to live up to your purpose?
Statement: I have those moments, too. But you know what I’m learning to do when those feelings of inadequacy start washing over me? I’m learning to look back so that I can move forward. I’m learning that as I look back over my life and remember all of the things God has done for me, those feelings of inadequacy start to fade away. As I look back and remember what God has done, it makes me all the more confident about what He’s going to do. So, for me, I look back at the night 18 years ago when I felt Him calling me to a life of ministry. I was 7 years old. I know it sounds crazy, but I will never forget that night. I have never felt the presence of God that heavily in my life before or since. And so today, when I start feeling like I can’t do this, I look back on that night 18 years ago and remember that there is no doubt God called me.