Summary: The Christian life is an exciting adventure.
“The Greatest Journey Imaginable”
By: Kenneth Emerson Sauer
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church
Newport News, VA
In yesterday’s newspaper there was a telling story about the power of Christ—to bring Light into a life of darkness—and to turn that darkness into light.
Dan Randall Leach of Rosenberg, Texas had been dating a young lady for several months.
For whatever reason, Mr. Leach strangled his girlfriend—then made it look as if the young lady had committed suicide.
And the medical examiner bought it.
Leach, was, in a sense, home free.
But the hell he must have been going through on the inside…well, only he knows about that.
Earlier this month, nearly two months after the body was found, Leach went to see the movie: “The Passion of the Christ”.
The following Sunday, Leach went to church, announced that he needed to confess a crime and drove himself to the sheriff’s office.
Leach has now been charged with first-degree murder and will most likely spend the rest of his life in jail.
But at least he will have peace with God.
At least he will no longer have to live the rest of his life with the horrible guilt of getting away with murder.
At least he has been forgiven.
He can look forward to a new life, and an eternal reward from our Father in Heaven.
I must admit that when I read this story I felt a real degree of respect for this 21 year old man—who could have gone the rest of his life having gotten away with this murder—but was convicted by God and acted on that conviction by repenting and turning himself in to authorities.
It reminded me a bit of Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to the temple to pray.
And the tax collector, who “stood at a distance”… “would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.’”
That man is the one who went home justified before God.
Dan Randall Leach will spend the rest of his life in prison—he committed a most horrible crime—a young woman lost her life—nothing can change that.
But he is a man who has been justified before God.
Looking at our Epistle Lesson for this morning we see another man who has been justified before God.
We also see another man, who, most likely had been a murderer—the persecutor of the Christian Church who gave his approval as Stephen was being stoned to death for his faith.
We also see another man who was in prison because of the Truth of Christ.
The great apostle Paul, was not in prison for having executed Christians; he was in prison for having—after his conversion—preached Christ Crucified and Risen to a world that didn’t want to hear anything about that.
But even though Paul is now in prison for preaching Christ—he would not have it any other way!
Chains made by human hands can do nothing to take away the freedom he has found in his personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ!
And the value of this freedom far surpasses anything else this world has to offer Paul.
Starting at verse 7 of Philippians chapter 3 Paul writes from prison:
“…whatever was my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…”
How many of us can say the same thing this morning?
Paul listed the credentials that, in the past, gave him status in Jewish circles and had previously been his basis for self-confidence.
He now calls all those things “rubbish”…mere worthless garbage!
What credentials do we hold up as the things that give us status and self-confidence?
What do we wave in the air for all the world to see?
Is it our race?
Do we have a financial status which makes us feel superior to others and thus gives us a feeling of self-worth?
Maybe it’s our political beliefs, or our ability to outwit others in arguments and debates.
What is it?
Well, whatever it may be…if it is not “that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”… it is merely garbage…worthless “rubbish”!
The apostle Paul was on the greatest journey imaginable…yet it was a journey that he experienced while he sat behind bars or as his life was being threatened.
And this greatest of journey’s is a continuous experience with Christ.
It’s not a matter of making a decision to follow Christ, and then turning and walking on as you have always walked.