Summary: If you want to go up in the world then you need to be willing to kneel down.
INTRODUCTION: I did something touristy yesterday and if you ask my family they will tell you it is not something I normally like to do. I like to keep a low profile. I don’t like people to think I get really excited about something. I don’t stand in lines for autographs - unless I am hoping to get another date with Jackie. I am a fan, but not a fanatic. So it was a little odd for me yesterday that while I was running across the southbeach bridge that I would stop what I was doing and then cross over 4 lanes of traffic to take a picture. And what was I taking a picture of - I was bummed that it did not really come out that well, but yes it was Air Force 1 in the final approach for the St. Lucie County International Airport. It was a little cool to think that Air Force 1 was landing in our backyard. I should add another disclaimer - I did meet President Reagan and I also met President Jimmy Carter - but I had to stand in line to meet them. I was young and impressionable :-).
Just curious who would you stand in line to meet or get a glimpse of? I can’t tell you the number of times I have used the side doors just so I wouldn’t have to stand in line to greet the pastor after church :-).
My question reminds me of that Sunday School teacher who once asked a group of elementary school boys, “What is furry, brown and eats nuts?” The boys answered, “I know the answer is Jesus but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me.” Of course you would answer the question with - “I would stand in line for hours to get a glimpse of Jesus.”
Of course that raises a question - What is it about Jesus that makes people want to rip roofs off of strangers homes oW
r walk through the middle of a crowd to just touch the hemn of his garments. Even more spectacular what is it about Jesus that people were willing to die just for being associated with him?
Can I suggest that if we discover what that secret is and we commit to perfecting that secret we will be a church that attracts hundreds of people in our community to come and experience the power of Jesus’ love and grace.
BODY: So let’s talk about that secret. Let me ask you these questions.
1. Has following Christ benefitted you? If yes raise your hand.
Following Christ has given me a sense of purpose and direction. That sense of purpose and direction moved me from a life
of survival to a life of significance. When I was in survival mode it was all about me. Operating from the significance
position leads me to ask the question - “How can I add value to others?"
2. Has knowing that you are loved benefitted you?
Knowing that I am loved gives me the confidence to create relationships with other people, it gives me the courage to ask
for forgiveness and to offer forgiveness.
3. Has being a part of a loving and caring community benefitted you?
A community that loves and cares for me challenges me to go further than I thought possible. That kind of community
knows the ways I try to hide from offering my best and they refuse to let me hide. My accomplishments or achievements
have nothing to do with individual effort, it has everything to do with a community that expects greatness from each other.
These were simple closed ended questions - you could only answer “yes” or “no”. The real power of the question comes in answering the follow-up question - So how has following Christ benefitted you? How has knowing that you are loved benefitted you? How has being a part of a loving and caring community benefitted you? As you answer these questions, as you create your list of benefits you will begin to get a surge of energy and surge of power in your position about being a follower of Christ.
The first revelation about the secret - REMEMBER THERE ARE BENEFITS FOR BEING A CHRISTIAN
Now notice the shift that Paul makes. First he takes the time to remind people that they have benefitted by being a Christian then he says you have a responsibility to do something with those benefits. Just curious - how do you feel when someone gets the benefit of all you hard work? Generally I don’t mind but over time I get a little frustrated if I get the sense that the person receiving the benefit is not showing the same generosity towards others.
Jesus shared this parable about showing forgiveness towards others but it also fits what I am describing here. The parable is about a man who owned 10,000 talents. He did not have the ability to pay it back so he begged the king for mercy. The king granted him mercy. He benefitted from the king’s mercy and generosity. The parable continues with the man who had benefitted from the king’s mercy and generosity encountering a person who owed him a few hundred talents. The man had an opportunity to show the same mercy and generosity but he chose a different path - he chose to throw the man in jail.