Summary: Sermon for confirmation Sunday.
Chris. Trace. You have unselfishly given me two years of your Friday nights during which we carefully studied the Bible. What is there left for me to say to you on your confirmation day? “Don’t count the days, make the days count” (Muhammad Ali)? “Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them more” (Oscar Wilde)? Can you imagine a boot camp sergeant sending off his troops with pithy sayings like that? You’re not dressed in fatigues and standing at attention on a parade ground but this service does officially mark the end of a spiritual boot camp. You are now involving yourself more deeply in a massive war that has been waging since Satan fired the first salvo in the Garden of Eden. Oh, you’ve been in this war ever since you were baptized but by publically confessing your undying allegiance to Jesus today, you’ve made your way to the front lines and are about to stick your tongue out at the devil! He would love nothing more than to blow your faith away with his temptations and claim you for his own. This is serious stuff. Pithy sayings won’t do. Instead I want you to remember these three words: King Jesus lives!
Are those three words law or gospel, Chris and Trace? If you imagine that your days of studying the Bible are over so that you now can do whatever you want, the three words: “King Jesus lives!” should make you take pause. They remind that you are not the king of your life. Jesus is king. And this king is very much alive and takes an active interest in your life. He isn’t like the homeroom teacher who takes long coffee breaks because he doesn’t really care what his students are up to back in the classroom. Jesus does care about what you do with every second of your life. He expects every word you speak to your parents, every program you watch on TV, and every text you send to bring glory to him.
Are you still eager to take your confirmation vows and acclaim Jesus as king of your life? The way Satan wants you to see Jesus’ kingly claim on you is that you are no better than slaves. But Paul has something to say about that in our text. He wrote: “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:11, 12a). You are not slaves, Chris and Trace, you are princes. Indeed, even right now you are reigning with Jesus though that reign won’t become obvious until we reach heaven. It certainly wasn’t obvious for Paul. When he wrote these words he was chained up like a common criminal. Yet listen to his attitude about that: “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:8-10).
When a soldier takes an oath to be faithful to country and commander, he knows that this oath could put him in harm’s way. You don’t sign up for the army and then complain about being shot at! In the same way your confirmation vows this morning all but guarantee that you will suffer in life. That suffering may come when friends ridicule you for wanting to spend your Sunday mornings at church instead of sleeping in. Paul endured more than ridicule; he was imprisoned because he continued to preach that Jesus is king. Yet did he regret it? Not at all! Instead he was eager to suffer for Jesus and for fellow Christians.
This is one of the greatest paradoxes of Christianity: while Christians reign with Christ, they willingly act like slaves for others. In fact this is why God has given you the talents you have – to serve others. Now if I gave you a couple hundred dollars to take a few of the Sunday school kids to Galaxyland, you would betray my trust if you used that money on yourselves instead. God has given you more than $200 to spend on the Sunday school children. He’s given you both personalities that connect well with others. He’s also given you both musical skills which support our worship here. Will you continue to use these gifts to God’s glory and for the benefit of others? You will if you remember what the name “Jesus” means. It means “savior” doesn’t it? This king thought nothing of leaving his palace in heaven to pluck miserable sinners like you and me out of the muck of our sin. Can you imagine the Prime Minister’s motorcade stopping by the side of the road to help you change a flat tire? If it did, you wouldn’t expect the Prime Minister himself to get out of his limo to dirty his hands and knees for you. No, he would send one of his aides to do that. Not King Jesus, however. He didn’t send one of his angels to give us a hand; he came himself and gave us his life. What have we received as a result? Nothing less than eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:10). Your life as Christians, Chris and Trace, won’t just have a happy ending, it will have unending happiness. Life forever with Jesus is not going to be boring it will be glorious!