Summary: A call to serious discipleship for the new year.
The Greatest Priority
January 7, 2006
What would your reaction be if I took a big bag and dumped a bunch of garbage onto the platform?
You know, the real gooey, icky stuff – rotting food, old diapers, that kind of thing.
Hopefully you’d be disgusted. Because garbage is disgusting, right?
We live in a world where casual Christianity is king.
We’re told by popular media and even some in the clergy that living for Jesus is only for those who either desperate or have nothing better to do with their lives because they’re losers who can’t fit in with the “normal” people.
We’re told that God made us to enjoy life (according to the world’s definition) and that God just wants us to be happy, so if something makes us happy, we should do it, regardless of whether it’s morally right, since we’re not supposed to judge what’s right and what’s not.
We’re told to not be “fanatical” about religion, because no one likes a fanatic.
We’re told that Jesus is fine, when you have time for Him, or later in life after you’ve lived life for awhile. But don’t let Him get in the way of living for yourself now.
We’re told that as long as you show up for church once in a while, or pray at a funeral, that God’s okay with that.
You know, I’ve had just about every single one of those attitudes at one time or another. Even after I had put my faith in Christ.
But there came a time in my life when I realized that casual Christianity wasn’t going to cut it.
I would never have the victory I needed in my life, and I would never know the real joy that comes with salvation until I made Jesus and living for Him my main priority.
That decision cost me a lot. I cost me some friends in college and back home in Mission.
It cost me my idea of being a high school band director.
And it cost me my relationship with my family – at least at first.
But folks, it’s worth it. I don’t know how to tell you any better than that.
Living for Jesus is worth it.
My whole goal today is to somehow try to convince you that living for Christ is the greatest thing you can possibly do, and it should be the greatest priority of our lives here on earth. That living for Jesus is worth it.
I wish I could come up with just the right words to say to convince you of that.
But because I’m more than aware of my limitations, I want us to look at a passage of Scripture that I think puts it across better than I can.
Before we get into that passage, though, I want to let you know that God is not okay with casual Christianity, and He’s not okay with the lip-service Christianity that’s so prevalent in the world today.
Not because God’s up there looking for a reason to blast us if we’re not living up to his expectations, but rather because He knows that what He has for those who follow Him whole-heartedly is better than anything the world has to offer.
That’s what I want you to keep in mind as we look at this passage.
I’ve printed out the main portion of this for you in a bulletin insert for you, just like I did last week. I did that because I’m reading it from a different translation than normal, and I wanted you to be able to read this for yourselves and not miss it.
Your note-taking guide says verses 7-9, but I’m going to begin reading from verse 1, and continue to verse 11 to help give you some context.
Philippians 3:1-11 (Contemporary English Version) –
1 Finally, my dear friends, be glad that you belong to the Lord. It doesn’t bother me to write the same things to you that I have written before. In fact, it is for your own good.
2 Watch out for those people who behave like dogs! They are evil and want to do more than just circumcise you. 3 But we are the ones who are truly circumcised, because we worship by the power of God’s Spirit and take pride in Christ Jesus. We don’t brag about what we have done, 4 although I could. Others may brag about themselves, but I have more reason to brag than anyone else. 5 I was circumcised when I was eight days old, and I am from the nation of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. I am a true Hebrew. As a Pharisee, I strictly obeyed the Law of Moses. 6 And I was so eager that I even made trouble for the church. I did everything the Law demands in order to please God.