Summary: A call for Christian growth and service
THE CALL TO ADVANCE
The story is told of an old couple sitting in their mountain cabin enjoying the fireplace. After a while the woman looked over at her husband and said, “Henry, I think I hear something. Go check and see if it’s raining.” He thought for a moment and answered, “Can’t we just call the dog and see if he’s wet?”
Have you noticed what a culture of leisure and laziness we have developed in this country? I believe most Americans would drive their cars to the bathroom if the door were wide enough.
The sad thing is, we have often allowed that culture to permeate the church as well. In far to many churches, there is the idea that all you need do is show up occasionally on Sunday morning and the preacher will feed you all you need to live on for the week. Far too many have the mistaken idea that if there is enough staff, and enough equipment, then everything will be taken care of; then we can all grow as Christians and everything will be hunky dory when Jesus comes to take us home.
My friends, God is not some little red hen, taking care of everything and leaving us on vacation with nothing to do in His kingdom. The Christian life is described in many terms, nearly all of which describe progress. It is called warfare, a race, and a pilgrimage. The terms describing the Christian life describe continuing effort. There are strongholds to be taken, plains to be seized, and trophies to be won.
I believe that is why God left a reminder for us in Joshua chapter 18, that we are called to advance.
- Read Joshua 18:1-3
The Israelites, at least 9 ½ tribes of them have moved into the Promised Land. 2 ½ of those tribes had moved into their allotted areas, taken possession of their home sites and were busy settling in. Seven of the tribes though, even after several years, had not yet claimed their inheritance. They had not yet moved in. They had not yet begun to build homes and rebuild cities.
Now, God had told them to move in and claim the Promised Land. He had told them He would give them victory over their enemies and nothing would stand in their way, and yet, after several years, many of the folks are still living like nomads, having never truly claimed what God had offered.
Before we shake our heads and click our tongues too much, I think we need to remember that many of us in the church have done the same. Think of the many blessings God has promised. Think of the victories He has promised. Do you remember the parable Jesus told of the sower who went forth to sow? Let me ask you, how many do you see in the church today who are multiplying 100 times? What is the problem?
I believe there are 5 primary reasons believers are not more actively maturing, advancing, and impacting the world today.
The first reason I believe many Christians are not growing and we are not having a more significant impact on the world is that there is difficulty involved.
It takes work, it takes effort, to grow and mature. If you want to be good at sports, you have to practice, work out, exercise, and eat right. Olympic athletes devote large portions of their lives to be the best at what they do.
If you want to be good at playing an instrument, it takes dedication, commitment, and countless hours of practice. An admirer once approached a great pianist and said, “I’d give my life to be able to play like you.” The pianist replied, “I did.”
A number of years ago 2 men told me they both wanted to be deacons one day. Today, one of the men no longer attends church and the other has grown very little toward becoming a deacon. Why? because growth and maturing takes work. It involves difficulty and sacrifice.
Paul said, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed.” Individual growth requires difficulty and sacrifice.
What is true of you as you grow individually, also applies as you impact the world. Jesus, speaking of the wedding feast told the servants, Luke 14:23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
Oh my friend, few of God’s gifts are given without effort on our part. First, some do not grow and impact because it is difficult.
Second, some do not grow and advance because there is sacrifice involved. Emerson once said, “For everything you gain, you must give up something.”