Summary: There are Christians who wander around in their faith having little direction or purpose... they seem to be getting nowhere with their lives. Paul, however, tells us we do have a purpose for our faith. What is it?
OPEN: The story is told of the time Albert Einstein was taking a train to an out of town engagement. The conductor stopped by to punch his ticket, but the great scientist preoccupied with his work, explained that he couldn’t find his ticket. Not in the coat pockets, not in the briefcase.
The conductor said, “We all know who you are, Dr. Einstein. I’m sure you bought ticket. Don’t worry about it.”
As the conductor moved along, he looked back to see Einstein on his hands and knees searching under the seats for his ticket. The conductor walked back, “Dr. Einstein, please, don’t worry about it. I know who you are.”
Exasperated, Einstein looked up and said, “I too know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going.”
APPLY: He knew who he was… he just didn’t know where he was going…
There are a lot of Christians know WHO they are – they are children of God/belong to Jesus. BUT… they don’t quite know where they’re going. They seem to wander aimlessly about in their faith.
Now, by this, I don’t mean, that they don’t know their ultimate destination – heaven. What I mean is that their Christian walk (here and now) is without purpose. Without a destination. They just don’t seem to know what to do with their lives RIGHT NOW.
I. One of the reasons Christians don’t know what to do with their lives is because they’ve failed to distinguish the difference between how they used to live w/o Christ and the excitement of how They Can Live with Christ
ILLUS: They’re kind of like the story of a man who visited a bazaar in India. Many merchants were there with their items they wished to trade and sell. One old farmer had brought in a covey of quail to sell. He’d tied a string around one leg of each bird and each of the strings was tied to a ring which fit loosely over a central stick. He had taught the quail to walk around and around in a circle.
Nobody seemed interested in buying the birds until a devout Brahman came along. He believed in the Hindu idea of respect for all life, so his heart went out to those poor little creatures walking in their monotonous circles.
“I want to buy them all,” he told the merchant.
But as soon as the man had paid, he told the merchant, “Now, I want you to set them all free.”
“What’s that sir?”
“You heard me. Cut the strings from their legs and turn them loose. Set them all free.”
With a shrug, the old farmer bent down and snipped the strings off the quail. They were freed. What happened? The birds simply continued marching around and around in a circle. Finally, the man had to shoo them off. But even when they landed some distance away, they resumed their predictable march. Free, unfettered, released, yet they kept going in circles as if still tied.
These quail didn’t realize that their new life could be different than their old one.
They didn’t know what to do with their freedom… so they went back to the life they were used to. And that’s a danger for us as Christians.
If we don’t realize the contrast between how we USED TO LIVE and how WE CAN LIVE IN CHRIST we can end up walking around in circles in our faith. Getting nowhere.
I believe that’s what Paul had in mind when he wrote Ephesians 2. He starts out by spelling out how our lives used to be before we became Christians. Read it with me:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” Ephesians 2:1-3
Did you catch that?
BEFORE we became Christians we did have a purpose in our lives. It was to gratify “…the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts” Ephesians 2:3
Our lives used to be centered around ourselves. We walked AROUND ourselves. Our lives were focused on OUR thinking - OUR desires - OUR priorities - OUR purposes.
BUT Paul goes on to say: That’s all changed now! Now (says Paul) you and I “are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
So… we used to live for ourselves,
but now (because we belong to Jesus) we live for God