Summary: A sermon regarding Peter's lesson of how to spend time alone in the Book, studying the Book for yourself, and having time alone with God.
This is one of the things that concerns me. I know that some of you, you’d be fine if I were gone tomorrow. You would think, ‘Big deal.’ You have your time with God. You’d be thinking, ‘Oh, it was cool having him around, but I’m not dependent on him. I study this Book. I love this Book. I love the teachings of this Book. It doesn’t matter who’s up there as long as they’re teaching from this Book.’ I love it, I love it, I love it. I just want that, but there’s also a contingent here that I hear about it. It’s like, ‘Well, Francis isn’t teaching this week so I don’t think I’m going to go.’ And that’s very sad, and it’s scary to me because I don’t ever want it to be about me. It has to be about this Book, and it’s so weird how certain people will only listen to this Book if it’s through a certain person, for a certain amount of time, at the right time of day, when everything’s set up just perfectly. And there’s no sense of ‘I know how to study this. I read it for myself.’ Those are the greatest times in my life, when I’m alone, and I’m reading this and studying in it and praying about it and changing my life over it. See, Peter says. ‘I want to set you up so that after my departure you at any time, you can recall these things. It’s not about me. You’re not completely dependent on me.’ What if you were told you only have a short time? What would you do with that time? Would it be all centered around God, and would you say, ‘I need to make sure the people I love can follow God without me being around’?
We don’t know how Peter knew that he had a short time. Maybe it was some sort of prophecy that was given to him. Now some of you in this room, you only have a short time left on Earth, and that could be true of any of us, but some of us you don’t need a prophet to tell you you’re dying soon. A mirror will do that. You can just look. Hey, let’s just be honest here, ok? Ok, how much longer are you going to live? It’s just one of those taboo subjects that we don’t like to talk about, but let’s just be real here. You can try to get the surgeries or whatever else, but it’s just noticeable.
Now let me say something though. Let me say something about this because I may joke around about that, but I want to be respectful. I was raised in a very- Believe it or not, I was raised in a very Asian home, culturally. Now we weren’t allowed to speak English. We just only spoke Chinese in the home and everything else. And part of my culture is tremendous respect for the elderly. You don’t talk back to them. You don’t question them. You don’t try to teach them anything. You are there to be quiet and learn from them. Now I understand that’s different from some of the cultures you grew up in, but in my home, that’s what we were taught as kids. And so understand for those of you who are older than me, I understand this respect that I ought to have for you, and I understand that there is an honor Biblically that I’m to bestow upon you. And there are things you’ve experienced in life, and it just does me well to learn what I can from those who are older than I am. However, there is also a truth in Scripture that while I am supposed to honor and respect those who are older than I am, I’ve also been placed in a position as your pastor, and in that position, I am called to challenge you in certain areas respectfully, nonetheless to challenge you. And I do want to say something to those who are older than I am. I have to say in America we do a very strange thing with this concept of retirement and really enjoying our last years that I don’t see in Scripture. In fact, it saddens me. It surprises me and saddens me at the same time when I watch some of you who are elderly, and the way that you live your lives. It doesn’t seem like you’re really preparing for the moment when you’re going to see God. I don’t get this idea of ‘I’ve only got a few years left so let me really enjoy this Earth,’ and maybe I’m being young and naïve, but I would think, and I actually pray that when I’m that age that there’s an even greater urgency about this time when I face God and how soon it’s going to come. And I pray that my thoughts will be less and less about the things of the Earth and more and more about preparing for that moment. So far, in my life, I’ve seen that every year. I see that I’m getting closer to the end. It’s just reality. Yes, and Christ could return any moment, but it’s just every year of my life, and even at forty-two, I feel like I’m more serious about the end and that moment when I face God and what do I have to show for it. So it’s hard for me to understand some of you who are still trying to accumulate here on the Earth. Where I would think it’s time to start letting go of everything and thinking about how do I want to approach that throne and what have I done with my life? Let me end serving and giving and just trusting in Him and make it all about Him rather than all about me. And I understand some of you do that. I’m just saying the vast majority, I don’t see an urgency towards the end of your life, and I feel like it would be disrespectful if I didn’t bring that up to you and challenge you respectfully on that to say how are you ending this? You don’t need a prophet to tell you that it’s about that time. You can see it. That’s the way God designed it, and we live in a world that’s trying to hide it. And they’re desperate to try to make themselves look like they’re not coming to the end. It’s a weird thing. I understand why no one wants to go to hell. What surprises me is it seems like there are very few people who really want to go to heaven. You’re living like this is going to last forever.