Going All In_ Week 2 “Living Life that Shines for a Cause”

Salutation

God has given your life purpose and, if you are a believer, has called you to a cause. Last week, we look at several stories of people who “went all in” for a cause. We looked at the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and how they chose to stand up and “Go all in” for their believe in God. I hope that God has moved in your hearts, as He has mine over the past two weeks.

Mary’s Illustration

About two years ago I was an intern at a small church. One Sunday morning I was teaching a lesson (I have no idea the topic), but God made an impression on a little girls heart in the youth group. I had been serving at the church for about 3 months so far and had developed a nice friendship with this particular girl, we shall call her Mary (not her name of course). Well, that Sunday morning after I had finished teaching, she came to me and asked if she could talk to me about something after the AM service… “Sure thing, I said!” After the service we meet together in the youth pastor’s office, she sat on the large comfy couch and I on the small plastic child’s chair. She proceeded to tell me about something that totally surprised me! Now, this is one of the sweetest and girls you will ever meet, but little did I know she had done some things and been through some things that I never expected. She told me that about 9 months earlier, she had gotten pregnant and her boyfriend left her. She felt guilty for the sex and went to her Christian parents; she wanted to do what was right and confess her sin to her parents. In turn, her parents dragged her to the local abortion clinic and forced her to have an abortion. Now she is scared for life, babyless, and has huge issues with her parents. She told me that she felt like God would never forgive her for what she did and that all she was looking for from her parents was their support and unconditional love. What she got was a “we got to fix this right now” response. Now that everything is fixed and “like is should be” she is left feeling empty and hated by God. I wish I could say that we talked and everything turned out ok for her in the end, but I can’t. We talked and to my knowledge still battles with the same issues.

Why did is just tell you this story? You’re probably thinking, “We are supposed to be talking about going all in and you just shared a story about doing the opposite…”

The reason I share this with you is because I am disappointed in the way that her Christ-proclaiming parents handled the situation. Because of their embarrassment and hatred for the “wrong” things in life they have forever scared their little girl. Now because of their actions, she feels that God no longer loves her. Because of their cover-up, she is now left feeling like she will never be loved by another human being. She feels dirty and used.

Now this is not an uncommon story, there are probably hundreds of young girls across America who have experienced a very similar situation.

When I think about Mary’s story, I can’t help but think about all of the others like her in the world who are absolutely petrified of Christians and of the Church.

The Pole…

There was this poll taken in 1996 that found that Americans in general held a favorable impression on Christians. Another pole said that most people (85%) believe that Christians play a positive role in society. A decade later, another pole held by the same group, in 2006, revealed that our reputation as Christians has suffered somewhat of a major setback. In the pole, the people were questioned on their opinions on church, Christ, and most importantly us- Christians. 2 0ut of 5 people said that they have very little or no respect for Christians. 1/3 of those polled believed that Christians actually have a negative impact on society. What are we best known for? 91% said anti-homo, 87% said judgmental, 85% said hypocritical… and in this group poled, it’s not as if these people had no experience with Christians at all. On the contrary, these people polled a majority of them said they actually had attended a church at some point in their life. 9 out of 10 said that they had friends or are friends with those who call themselves Christians.

What does this pole tell us? The sad reality is that it tells us that we are known more for what we stand against than what we live for! In society, we are more known for the things that we hate, than for the satisfied life that we live!

Positive vs. Negative

We looked at a book a couple of months back called “They like Jesus, but not the Church.” How said is that? The church is the bride of Christ! The Church is the vehicle that God has left to share the light of Christ to the world.

I hope for the day that when talking to people at Starbucks about what they believe about Christians, I hear “I’m so sick of Christians, because they are always helping people, they always helping the poor; they are always trying to create peace…”

Could there be a day that we are not just known for what we stand against but actually what we live for?

Ok… maybe some of you are thinking… “Well, it’s not my responsibility if people are far from God. So what if they have negative impressions of the church, it’s not my problem, I’m a good person. It’s not my responsibility that people don’t choose Him. I mean the Bible says that the truth will be offensive, right?”

2 Cor. 4:4 says, “In their case the god (Satan) of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

This passage is telling us that Satan has blinded the world from seeing the light of Christ, who is God! That his ways are more cunning than we realize. The author of confusion!

I wonder if unbelievers can lose sight of Jesus, is it possible that Satan could destroy Christian’s efforts to live for Christ in this world?

2 Cor. 11:3 says, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

What’s the problem with the world? Why all the negativity? Satan’s the problem! He’s at work way more than we realize. I believe that Satan not only works in the big sins of the world, but he also works in the hearts of Christians too. I think he creates confusions in our life when it comes to our commitment to Christ. I think he messes with our priorities. And I think his greatest tool against us Christians is this complacency… “Everything’s good… I’m alright… there’s nothing wrong.”

That we’ve got something that no one else has, and we can keep on going without realizing that there is more going on than just our lives. If Satan can get us bogged down with what is going on in our lives, and frustrated, and keep you from moving on to something else other than yourself, than He wins!

Focal Passage:

Jesus is talking about what it means to be a Christians.

Matthew 5:13-16

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Jesus is telling us that we have a responsibility in this world. The world is like this rotting meat and we are to be its salt. The world is like this dark room and we are to be the light that illuminates the darkness.

Jesus says that Christians are supposed to give taste and flavor to the world and keep the world from decay. While at the same time being city set upon the hill, the lamp stand in the dark room, shining light for all to see with- to show the world a better way.

But there’s a problem! John Stott, a popular pastor in England, says that “we as Christians use the salt and light for our own benefit. We are content to keep our own world fresh and to keep our own path lit.”

For too many Christians, survival becomes the purpose of our life. We get too content in trying to fend for ourselves from the rest or the world, that we lose sight of the fact that we were placed in this world to better it!

Salt and light must keep their saltiness and their glamour, but if that is all there is to it, that is survival. Salt and light are not to just be different from the world, but to have a powerful impact that changes the world.

The salt is to be rubbed into the meat to prevent the rot and the light is to be shown into the darkness so that it prevails and that darkness is illuminated!

Why did Jesus command this? Well, because God is light!

Psalm 36:9 says, “For with you is the fountain of life; and your light do we see light.”

John 1:4-5 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 8:12 says, “Again Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

How does this apply to us?

1 John 1:5-7 “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Back to our focal passage: Jesus says that “you are a city on a hill, your light cannot be hidden, let your light shine that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Jesus doesn’t say that they will appreciate you for what you have done, but praise your Father! That they may see Jesus Christ in your life and be changed because of it.

Application

This applies at school, to your time in the cafeteria, to what you watch on TV, to what you place on the internet, to how you interact with people, to how you drive, to how you talk to your parents, to Friday night with your friends, etc… it applies to every aspect of your life.

Jesus says that we are the light of the world, and to shine your light so that the darkness flees!

The poll that I mention a few moments ago suggests that the world response to Jesus Christ is directly related to the way that you and I live our lives. If the world perceptions of Christ are poor than, I think there may be a problem: actually 2

1)       Satan is at work! Do not forget this… the Bible says that he is out to “steal, kill, and destroy”

2)     A problem with you and me. A problem with the way that we live our lives.

If there is a problem, what are we going to do about it?

Sweet Spot

This is a bat… a very cheap bat, but a bat. I’m not sure how many of you have ever played baseball, but I did when I was smaller. I played center field, and got the opportunity to bat on occasion. Just to let you know, I was horrible at batting. To be honest I was horrible at baseball… just not a sport I was good at. But on a particular day, during practice I might add, I hit a home run. I wish it could say I hit one during a game, but like I said, baseball was just not my sport. The one time I hit a home run, it was not because of any skill on my part. It was by sheer luck. I swung the bat, made contact, and line drived the ball over the fence. Luck be it, when I swung the bat, the ball hit the sweet spot on the bat and was propelled way farther that I could have ever hit the ball under my own strength.

I say this because, like this bat, I believe that our lives have a sweet spot. Our lives, when lived the right way, will project the Christ’s light to others in such a way that they will have no other option, but to say there is something different about us. When we live in our sweet spot, our lives look so counter cultural that everything about us is different.

When we find this sweet spot in our lives, just like me hitting the ball over the fence, things start happening in our lives that we have no control over. When we find this sweet spot we will find we will finally be living life to its fullest, that our lives will feel fulfilled, that our lives will start having purpose.

I believe that it is time for us to Go All In with our lives. No more 80% living, no more 90% living, but 100% that shines the light of Christ so that everyone can see it. To go all in, we must recognize that we are to be the light f this world.

God has asked for nothing less, he said that “you must take up your cross and follow me,” “you will have to lose your life to find it,” and “you’ll have to surrender everything if you want to follow me.” You are the light of the world, no go live this way.

A Quick Example

Turn to Acts 6

Very quickly… in the early church apparently a problem had come up about serving the widows of the church food. The early church was comprised of Christians from Greek decent and those from Hebrew decent. Therefore, there where widows of both decent present in the church. The problem that had apparently come up was that one of the two groups of widows were being neglected food. This could have been due to some sort of racism among the early Christians.

Well the church leaders found out the problem and decided to gather 7 men to fix the problem. One of the men was Phillip. And we can learn a few things from Phillip in this situation:

1)       Phillip was willing to respond to the problem. He was willing to step up and give help were needed. He didn’t wait for others to respond but stood up and said yes I will help.

  1. If you do this you are telling God that you are available to God.
  2. What will happen after obedience? Vs. 7 says, “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”

2)     Going all in, any time and any place.

  1. After God added to their number, persecution broke out. At the end of chapter 7 a guy named Stephen was stoned to death for preaching the story of Jesus Christ. 8:1 says, “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria…”
  2. Now we see Phillip again, being driven from his home, from his family, from his people to the land of Samaria. And, what does he start doing? Vs. 4-5 “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Phillip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.”
  3. Phillip’s world had just been completely shaken up, but he rose up to shine the light of Christ in a world that needed to hear it. Phillip lived for Jesus even when things were not comfortable.
  4. I’ve got to stop right here, this is where God has been convicting me over the past several weeks. I hate Lincolnton with a passion. I spent most of my life growing up here and around here, trying everything I can to get away from this place and God decides to bring me back. Phillip was not happy where he was, Jew’s avoided Samaria at all costs, but Phillip went.

3)      Imagine what God could do in my life, in our lives if we just opened ourselves up to His power…

  1. Look at Vs. 6 “And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Phillip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. Four unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.”
  2. Maybe, just maybe, if we get out of ourselves, move past this survival Christianity, let God move us, and go all in- being salt and light, then God just may do the miraculous through us… just maybe. And think about what it would be like to look back after 50 years and see all of the great things that God did with your life. To see how many people God used you to lead to the cross. To see how much joy could be brought to a city, by you just being obedient to the call of God on your life.

Conclusion

What would happen in the city of Lincolnton, in your family, with your friends, if the 15 of us would go all in, in any time and place, to let God work in and through us? Could God change this city? Could God change your Family? Could God save your friends? I believe so… let’s see what God is going to do through us, if we let Him!

I want us to end with this simple song from our childhoods: listen to the words of this song…

This little light of mine

I’m going to let it shine

Oh, this little light of mine

I’m going to let it shine

This little light of mine

I’m going to let it shine

Let it shine, all the time, let it shine

All around the neighborhood

I’m going to let it shine

All around the neighborhood

I’m going to let it shine

All around the neighborhood

I’m going to let it shine

Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No!

I’m going to let it shine

Hide it under a bushel? No!

I’m going to let it shine

Hide it under a bushel? No!

I’m going to let it shine

Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

Don’t let Satan [blow] it out!

I’m going to let it shine

Don’t let Satan [blow] it out!

I’m going to let it shine

Don’t let Satan [blow] it out!

I’m going to let it shine

Let it shine, all the time, let it shine

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s