Summary: How can we change from being the kind of person who vacillates, who lives with one foot in the world & one foot in the church, to being "all you can be" in God’s sight?
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
TEXT: Romans 12:1-2
ILL. The story is told that a man living out on the edge of town heard a commotion in his back yard. He investigated & discovered there was a very hostile gorilla up in his tree. He immediately called 911, & it wasn’t long until an animal control officer was on the scene with a big ferocious dog, a pair of handcuffs, & a shotgun.
Turning to the homeowner the officer said, “Here’s what we have to do. I’ll climb up the tree & shake it as hard as I can. When the gorilla falls out, the dog will leap upon him & with his powerful jaws clamp down on the gorilla’s neck & paralyze him. While he’s paralyzed, you put the handcuffs on the gorilla & we’ll have him.”
“Okay,” the man said. So the officer started climbing the tree. Suddenly the man hollered, “Wait a minute. You forgot to tell me what the shotgun is for.” “Well,” the officer said, “when I start shaking the tree, if I fall out instead of the gorilla, you shoot the dog.”
APPL. I guess what I’m going to do this morning is to try to shake some trees. And if something hostile or hurtful falls out, hopefully we’ll get rid of it. But if you or I fall out, we will need to do something to see that our lives are what they ought to be.
A. So let’s begin by considering this question. “If you were to evaluate your spirituality & your closeness to God, how would you rate it?” Now please be honest. The answer is just between you & God. And God will know whether you’re telling the truth or not.
Would you answer, “I believe in God with all my heart, & Jesus Christ is my Savior & Lord? I’ve committed myself to do the things He wants me to do. As a result, I feel at peace within, & at peace with others. I spend time pouring out my heart to Him in prayer, & in listening to Him by reading His Word. And I try to show my faith by what I do, & how I live before others.”
Or would you answer, “Well, you would probably rate me as being weak or even dead spiritually because I’m really not much interested in the things of God? Frankly, I’m here, but I would rather be playing golf or doing something else.”
Then again, maybe you would answer, “I’m someplace in-between. I guess you would say I have one foot in the world & one foot in the church. I vacillate back & forth. When it’s appropriate to be seen as a Christian, then that’s what I am. Otherwise, I’m mostly like all the other people around me.”
Now, what answer fits you? You see, I think a problem we have in our relationship with God is that many of us have kind of flirted with it most of our lives. And we live in a society that encourages that attitude.
B. Most of us have never really been tested in our faith. We’ve never been persecuted like Christians are persecuted in Communist China or Muslim Iraq, or in the First Century. We live in a country that tolerates us.
People around us may not embrace our faith, or even much condone it. But they would say, “It’s okay for you to have it, if you want. Just don’t try to impose it on me.” And they tolerate us going to church & doing Christian things whenever we feel like it.
But we’ve never really been tested. And I guess the question in all our minds ought to be, “If I’m ever tested, will I pass the test?”
ILL. When you enlist in the military, they begin your training by putting you through “boot camp.” During that period of time they completely deprogram you. They cut your hair, give you a uniform so you look like everybody else, teach you to salute & to respond to your superiors in certain ways, & to obey commands instantly without question even though you may not understand why.
In effect, they deprogram you & then reprogram you to think and act effectively & efficiently as a confident member of the armed forces.
As you well know, the U.S. Army seeks to enlist you in this by challenging you to “Be all that you can be.” And the Marines dare you to become a part of “The Few – The Proud – The Marines!”
C. Now in a very real sense, as Christians, we need this too - to be deprogrammed & then reprogrammed so that we can honestly say, “I believe in God with all my heart, & I’ve committed myself to do the things He wants me to do.”