Summary: Learn and apply the two keys to becoming an effective Christian
Statistically, in the church, less than 50 percent of the people do all the work. When this happens, those who are doing the work eventually burn out or neglect other areas of life. In our church, the percentage of people serving is greater than 50 percent. We understand it’s a privilege to serve God.
Some new people to our church have already offered to serve in various capacities. We hope to be ready to receive your partnership soon. We will have a membership class to explain what God’s church is about, and how you can partner in ways to fulfill the mission of this church.
I’ve been told that at one time in the US Army, they taught the importance of teamwork by placing a very long and heavy log across the chests of 30 soldiers, who were laying on the ground. Some soldiers with bigger chests would feel like they are suffocating under the load, unless even those with smaller chests support the load with their arms.
The effectiveness of the whole church depends on the effectiveness of each Christian who makes up the church. When I speak of an effective Christian, I’m not talking about someone who shows up on time each Sunday for Worship Service or one who can run a business meeting. When the Bible speaks of an effective Church, the Bible speaks of community of people, who are able to show God’s goodness and greatness through their lives.
The text for this morning comes from 1 Peter 4:7-11. The book of 1 Peter is a letter written by one of Jesus’ 12 disciples named Peter. This letter was written to encourage Christians who were persecuted for their faith. When life is good, we can easily speak of God’s goodness and greatness. But when you are an outcast or a prisoner because of your faith in God, how do you show God’s goodness and greatness through your life?
Peter was not writing from a seminary, a cathedral or a pastor’s office. He had left everything to follow Jesus Christ. He had been arrested for his faith before. He was probably writing from the home of some believers. History records that Peter met his end crucified upside down, because he did not count himself worthy to die like Jesus Christ.
So how does one effectively show God’s goodness and greatness under unfavorable circumstances? What makes a person an effective Christian, whether life is treating you well or not?
First, an effective Christian is a prayer, a person who prays (verse 7).
Someone made the comparison between a church that prays and a church of prayer:
"A church that prays, prays at its convenience. A church of prayers prays at God’s command.
"A church that prays, prays when there are problems. A church of prayers prays when there are opportunities.
"A church that prays fits prayer in somewhere. A church of prayers gives priority to prayer.
"A church that prays uses God. A church of prayers is used by God."
How do we, if we’ve only been a church that prays, change into a church of prayers? Each person in the church needs to make a conscious decision to live according to what Peter instructed in verse 7. Peter gives us motivational and practical insight into becoming a prayer.
Peter calls us to recognize the end of all things is near. This is another way of saying that we need to remember Jesus Christ is coming back, and He’s going to judge our lives. And the measure of our lives is not how much money we have in the bank or whether we had a good education and career.
At the conclusion of Jesus’ teaching about prayer in Luke 18:8, Jesus said, "However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" To be sure, when Jesus returns, He will be interested in what we’ve done with our lives. But He will be interested in whether we depended upon prayer in our living.
In the second part of verse seven, Peter gives us practical guidance to becoming a prayer. We need to have a clear mind and self-control. If our minds are filled with concerns, to-do lists and wrong values, we are not going to become prayers. We may think that prayer is for the pastor and the super-spiritual. We might think that prayer is chitchat and rolling up your sleeve to do work is true service.
A.C. Dixon wrote, "When we depend upon organizations, we get what organizations can do; when we depend upon education, we get what education can do; when we depend upon man, we get what man can do; but when we depend on prayer, we get what God can do."
To clear our minds is not to empty our minds, but to clear them of distraction and wrong values that crowd out God. Sometimes we can clear out distractions from our minds by filling our mind with God’s truth. We can read a chapter from the Bible, read a page from a Christian devotional book, sing from a hymnal or make a list of the good things God has done in our lives each day.