Are You Serving Christ, Or Just wanting Him to Serve You?
Isn’t it great to be a Christian?
Most of us have learned that being a Christian has some real advantages.
- We Saved from our sin
– A healthy, morally clean life style
– A new family, sometimes even closer and friendlier than our relatives
– Good instruction, spiritual understanding, principles on how to raise our families, even wholesome healthy environments like Christian camp.
– We also have the hope of eternity in Heaven
– And for many of us it’s like an oasis in the desert of life, in a world of corruption.
But sometimes our Christian walk our faith is challenged, and sometimes the best of us make foolish mistakes and fail by showing a lack of faith, commitment or love.
It can happen to the best of us. It even happened to some of the most famous Bible characters. I would like to read one such account today, one that you are probably very familiar with…
Read Luke 22:54-62 (Click on verse to read)
Peter denied even knowing Jesus. This was his friend, companion and Lord. How could he have done that??
Peter was the guy who said that he would follow Him anywhere. He was the one that proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God when Jesus asked, ‘Who do you say I am?’
How could he do what he did knowing all that he knew?
- Peter saw most of miracles that Jesus performed.
- He saw the Transfiguration
- He heard the Heavenly father tell him to obey Jesus because Jesus was his Son
- He even saw Jesus walk on water and did it some himself.
And then the rooster crows. How embarrassing as he looked into the eyes of Jesus who was looking at him. Here after the Jesus had been so good to him, and faithful to him, calling him out and teaching him to be his apostle to do many good works….and he chickened out! How could he do what he did?
In my heart of hearts this is what I believe happened to him…. and many times to us
** You see up to this point in his life, his faith in Jesus, ‘his Christianity’ had served him well.
… After he had become a Christian, he was absorbed into a new and wonderful family, a very special group.
… He was practically spoon fed the word of God by the greatest teacher of all
… He was in the company of the Christ, the prophesied Messiah, the one who would become the King of kings and the Lord of Lords.
… He was in the company of the miracle worker
…Up to that point the Good Shepherd had taken good care of him.
Up to that point his faith and Christianity had been good to him, it had served him well.
Now all of a sudden maybe he realized that what he was about to do would affect his entire future. It may even cut it short…. and so fear set in.
All of a sudden his faith and Christianity was about to stop serving him and demand something instead. And so all of a sudden he was faced with a whole new perspective as he stood there amongst those strangers.
? Had he really counted the cost of following Jesus?
He shrunk back, he was probably confused, scared, and embarrassed and simply told them, “I don’t know Him.”
Some of us here can relate. Maybe you are in a situation, or have experienced something like this… You are a Christian and maybe have been one for a long time and your faith and Christianity has served you well.
… Maybe those Christian principles have kept you out of trouble. You have had a good and healthy standard to live by where others you know my have taken the wrong path and are now troubled in some way.
…Maybe your Christian faith has helped you maintain and good relationship with your parents, spouse or kids.. Maybe it’s even why others like you so much.
…Maybe it has enabled you hang to around the right kind of people who won’t lead you astray.
…Maybe it has helped hold your marriage together or maybe it has even given you some degree of wisdom and ability to talk to and advise others.
But all of a sudden you come up against a wall like Peter and the next step for you is going to cost you something or demand some kind of sacrifice. All of a sudden it’s not you who is being served; rather it becomes your turn.
At this point do you back off and say, “This is a little more than I bargained for.”
- Maybe you are working for a company and some policy has changes and they are wanting, or expecting you to do something that you know isn’t right. It may be unethical or even illegal. And in your heart of hearts you know that as a Christian you should not have any part it. You’ve got a choice, all of a sudden you faith, your Christianity could cost you your job. What are you going to do?
- Maybe the Lord has put you in a situation or opened up door of opportunity to serve him in some special way.. maybe mentoring another who needs some direction, or maybe assisting a family who is in need, or maybe helping a neighbor’s kids or helping someone older who has no one else to turn to. But as you look at the opportunity you see that serving like Jesus is going to cost you; maybe time you think you don’t have, maybe patience, or maybe even money out of your pocket. What are you going to do now that your faith and Christianity demands something from you?
Churches rise or fall based on how their members view this challenge. Some people leave one church and go to another because they do not feel like every need and whim is being met. Other churches grow because when members see a need they get busy and see it as an opportunity to serve Jesus.
I’ve heard of church members who’ve started some amazing programs on their own and some who gave large sums of money, sacrificially so that the work of the Lord could be done in their area unhindered.
I believe that faith, church attendance, and Christianity is not just about what we can get out if it, rather there will come a point where that which has served us so well will demand something of us. It may cost us time, it may cost you a job, a relationship, your reputation, money or even a confession of faith like Peter.
The question is, when faced with these real life situations, what are you going to do? I do not believe that the Church will ever become what Jesus meant it to become if it we only look to be served.
In Hebrews chapter 5 and 6, I believe the author addresses this problem and even challenges the early Christians of his time.
Read Hebrews 5:11-6:3
“11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.”
In this section I believe that the author is criticizing his readers for not growing up, not maturing in their Christianity. I believe he’s saying, ‘Come on guys, let’s get on with it. Let’s get to work!’
In the next couple of verse he even shares his concern about some of them falling away and leaving the faith because they refuse to mature.
“4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”
And then the author gives an illustration and then nails it home.
First the illustration:
“7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”
Land that drinks in the rain and produces the useful crop represent those Christians who have fed on the word of God and then become fruitful… they will receive a blessing from God.
But the land that produced thorns and thistles describes the unfruitful Christian who after being fed and blessed does not respond favorably.
And then the author drives the point home in the next few verses: Read 9-12
“9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
What will give is the strength and courage to take on the challenges that come our way as we walk with the Lord? A sense of obligation? A sense of fear? A sense of pressure from the church, the preacher or the elders? A sense of guilt?…No! (even though these have been used in many churches)
Rather, I believe the one thing that will give us more strength and courage, and the motivation, the drive, and zeal to meet these situations head on, is LOVE. A deep love for God.
Why do you think Peter went off and cried his eyes out after denying Jesus? I believe it was because he didn’t love Jesus enough that day. It was because of love he repented. And it was because of love he would go on to become one of the greatest spokesmen for the cause of Christ and was willing to be martyred as for the faith.
Love is such a powerful thing in one’s life.
I believe it comes down to just that…How much we love Him! Why do people give up so easily and leave their spouse? Because they don’t love them enough. Why do parent or kids go without talking to one another for eyars on end? Because they don’t love them enough. Why don’t Christians afraid to speak up for Jesus and why do they serve..? Maybe they just don’t love Him enough.
As Christians I believe we can meet and overcome and do a lot, and even change the world if we just grow up and mature like the Hebrew author writes. But that alone is not enough, there has to be a love for Jesus like Peter who finally learned to serve as Jesus Himself served. That kind of love will empower us to do things we could never imagine on our own.
I challenge you to work on your relationship with our Lord. The more you love Him the stronger you will become and you may even be amazed how that love will empower you to do things you never thought you could do before.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566