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No shortcuts

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(3/1) I will be the first to admit that I love finding a good shortcut, but I think that most people would agree that there have been times when taking a shortcut proved not to be the best decision. However, in spite of our past experiences, we often find that a good shortcut is just too much to resist. For many, the New Year brings dreams and resolutions of getting healthy, losing weight, etc. and when we hear about a shortcut our ears tend to perk up.

Advertisers know this and so weíre bombarded with promises, "Hereís a way to lose weight fast," "Hereís how to get rich quick," or "Hereís a way to own your own home and do it with no money down." Meanwhile, deep inside, in our hearts, we know that there are no shortcuts for the best things in life; the things that matter the most. And now that the hope and excitement of the New Year is past, we need to settle down for the long haul, because just as you canít microwave a gourmet meal, there are no shortcuts to success, a healthy marriage, or a happy family. And in the same way, our spiritual journey offers no shortcuts, and yet itís easy to be drawn into a form of religion that lacks the depth of true discipleship. The fellowship, meals, and various activities all fall short of bringing us to that place of discipline, training, service, and self-denial.

Today, weíre well on our way in this season of Lent, these 40 days leading up to the passion of Christ, Good Friday, and the Glory of Resurrection Sunday, but we must be mindful that Lent is more than just a time of year when you give up Facebook, Netflix, ice cream, or something like that. This season is really an opportunity to open our hearts a little wider, understanding the work of Christ a little deeper, so that as Resurrection Sunday comes around weíll embrace the grace of God in a deeper and more profound manner. But it wonít happen overnight, because there are no shortcuts to becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. If weíre going to get serious about making a difference in our community, in the lives around us, and for eternity, we must reflect the love and compassion of Jesus Christ, being committed to a deeper walk with him, and eager to share his message of hope to a broken and hurting world.

We see an example of what the discipleís life should be like in the life of Christ. As a matter of fact, Jesus said it this way, "A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:40). And so, in a very real sense we must all walk the same path that Jesus walked. In a sense, our journey will mirror his journey, but his journey included a crucifixion and ours most likely wonít. However, our journey will include following a path of self-denial, obedience, and humble submission to the will of God in everything we do. Therefore, the season of Lent is a season of preparation like spring training to the athlete or boot camp for new recruits in which we prepare ourselves to live a life that honors God even beyond the season. You could say in a very real sense that its choosing the path less traveled.

Over a century ago, American poet Robert Frost wrote these words, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ó I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." You could say, choosing the path less traveled, is a defining characteristic of a believerís life, not just in these 40 days leading to Easter, but day by day, moment by moment, choosing for ourselves "Will I do this the easy way or will I do it the right way? Will I do it my way or will I do it Godís way?"

You see, our culture may attempt to sway us to take the path of least resistance, to look for the shortcut, but the fully devoted follower of Christ will be committed to taking that less traveled road. As Jesus said, "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it; but small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). And so, our goal is to be committed to a deeper walk in Christ, finding that narrow way and preparing ourselves to live a God honoring life, so that when those two roads diverge that we would be bold enough and brave enough to take the one less traveled.

You see, we want to be growing spiritually, we want to be maturing on this journey called life, and yet many of us would have to admit that there was a time when we were closer to God than we are today. Maybe it was many years ago, when you had that passion for Godís Word, when you wanted to serve, when you wanted to get to church early, when you were excited, because you were praying and seeking God. In those days, you were leaning in, expecting to hear something from God, but somehow over time, life just kind of happened and you lost that passion for Jesus.

Well, Iíd like to encourage you to seize every opportunity this Lenten season offers you to stir up that passion again. If there was a time in your life that you were closer to God than you are today, might I suggest that God isnít the one who moved. Could it be as we struggle through the day-to-day routine of life that many of us donít even recognize how far weíve drifted from the presence and the goodness of our God? And thatís why the Bible tells us, "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away" (Hebrews 2:1).

Itís for this reason, that at Christís Community Church we began this Lenten season with a message series reflecting on those sins that we find to be more acceptable, easier to rationalize, and even necessary. Together weíre joining in prayer with David who said, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalms 139:23-24).

Would you join us in this season of preparation paying careful attention to what weíve heard so that we donít drift away, but that we draw closer being faithful in the little things? I pray that together we may seek God, seeking holiness and purity, so that on the last day we may hear those coveted words, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:23). Letís press on, pressing in, being willing to settle down for the long haul, and taking the road less traveled, because thereís no shortcut to becoming a committed follower of Christ; and thereís no shortcut to spiritual maturity.

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

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