Summary: Using an illustration showing how we not only grab things of this world, but we hold on to them in spite of approaching spiritual death.
For those of you who were not able to be here last Sunday evening, Pastor Willie presented one of the best sermons I have heard in a very long time. In that sermon was an illustration that I thought was perhaps the best I have ever heard involving how we may want God, but we want what is in the world more.
He said that when a certain tribe hunts monkeys, they cut a coconut in two, place an orange in the middle and then put the two halves back together again, with a hole cut in one half that is big enough for a monkey’s hand to go through.
When the monkey smells the orange, he puts his hand in the hole, grabs the orange and then cannot free his hand with the orange in his fist. Willie said that the monkey would refuse to let go of its “prize” even when the hunters came to catch it.
That monkey holding on to the orange in the face of death, Willie said, is just like we are in that we hold onto those things of the world even though our we risk our spiritual death on them.
I heard another story that is supposedly true. It is said that about 200 years ago, the tomb of the great conqueror Charlemagne was opened, and the sight that greeted the workmen startled them.
It seems they found his body in a sitting position, clothed in the most elaborate of royal garments, with a scepter in his bony hand. On his knee lay the Holy Scriptures, with a cold, lifeless finger pointing to MARK 8:36:
"For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and looses his own soul?"
It is very sad, but all of us live too much in the world around us. We depend on the world for not just our food and health, but for our entertainment; our fulfillment; and even our emotional needs.
Winston Churchill, once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
I believe for us to become the best Christians that we are capable of becoming we must become losers. We must actually lose ourselves in order to find our lives. Jesus declares that he who loves his life loses it and he who hates his life will keep it – and, of course, He was speaking about our eternal life.
Where you and I are now, in our lives; in our struggles; and in our cares; is all about losing. Now, a loser by our social standards is one who has failed to accomplish any relevant success or significance in his life. But by God’s standards a loser is one who has totally dedicated his life to the will of Jesus. If I were to say that you must to become a loser, so that you can become a winner, would you think that I have lost my sense?
Some of you might be thinking that you have lost so many battles in your life that it is time to start winning a few. Well you may have lost much in your life, but God wants you to know that there is more you need to lose.
The essence of the gospel is about loss. It is about the cross; about the death of Jesus Christ. The gospel is not just about you coming to Jesus as you are; it is about you coming to Jesus with less than you have now. It’s about you losing your former life and gaining a new life in Christ.
There was a man who was having trouble with his leg so he went to the doctor.
The doctor told the man he had gout and for him to give up smoking and drinking. The man said, “Why? Just so I can walk a little better?”
We are just like the man; we do not want to give up anything we want, no matter what the consequences, do we? But there are certain things we need to stop doing in our lives if we are serious about being Christians.
1. LET GO OF THE ORANGE!
Do you think the Lord has asked you to give up anything in particular? Many people say “NO” because they haven’t ever really thought about it. I think the first thing we must be willing to give up is our habit of not thinking about it!
The Lord wants us to give up everything we are holding onto that might keep us from focusing totally on Him. He will ask you for the one thing that you said you would never give up, because He knows that if you feel that strongly about it, it controls you. And if it controls you, you have put it on a higher level of importance in your heart than you have put the Lord. Give it up!