It's Not About Us
 (Matthew 18:1-5)

Tonight we begin the season of Lent, a 40-day journey offering us many opportunities to return over and over again to the cross. Lent is a time of searching for Christ. Lent is a time of drawing closer to Jesus, and learning more about his true identity and what Jesus means to us personally.

Ash Wednesday emphasizes a dual encounter: we confront our own mortality, and confess our sins before God, within the community of faith. Tonight we focus on the dual themes of sin and death, in light of God's redeeming love in Jesus Christ.

So let us begin our journey of searching for Christ this night by acknowledging that fir St. and foremost this season of Lent and our relationship with Jesus is not about us, it's about God our creator, redeemer, sustainer, and savior.

Now to truly understand Christ, the cross, and his relationship to us, we must be willing to put aside our pride and our desires, and humble ourselves before our Lord and be open to his sovereignty and grace. We must be willing to acknowledge that we are sinners; we have fallen short, and desire to be forgiven and made anew.

In our Gospel reading we encounter Jesus answering the disciples question, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And in his answer Jesus says, "We need to be childlike, with humble and sincere hearts, not childish like the disciples, arguing over petty issues."

You see the disciples had become so preoccupied with the organization of Jesus' earthly kingdom they had lo St. sight of its divine purpose. They were so caught up with the here and now, they failed to see what was to come. Instead of seeking a place of service, the disciples were seeking a place of prominence.

Oh, how easy it is for us to lose our eternal perspective and compete for promotions, recognition, or elite status, even within the church itself. When we get caught up in the temporal definitions of success and prominence we lose sight of what Jesus is saying, that we need to be like children, humble and dependent on him.

Billy Graham was interviewed on Prime Time Live back in December of 1992. The program replayed an impressive overview of his years in ministry and gave a very poignant conclusion. Dr. Graham was sitting somberly in a chair when he was asked, "What do you want people to say about you when you're gone?" He responded by saying, "I don't want people to say anything about me. I want them to talk about my Savior. The only thing I want to hear is Jesus saying, 'Well done, thy good and faithful servant.' But I'm not sure I'm going to hear that." His genuine humility is one more reason why God has so powerfully blessed and used Billy Graham, to spread the Gospel. A humility we would all do well to mirror. How are you doing on the humility and sincerity front?

If we say we follow Christ, we must also say we want to live as he lived. Therefore we ought to develop Christ's attitude of humility, as we serve, even when we're not likely to get recognition for our efforts, remembering it's not about us; it's about the saving grace of Jesus Christ!

One of the major challenges that mo St. of us face is acknowledging that we need help, putting aside our pride, putting aside the idea "We can do it all."

None of us our perfect, none of us has all the answers, and despite what some might think we all make mistakes, we all fail from time to time, so we all need to be humble enough to ask for help and forgiveness, whether it's asking God through prayer or by asking our brothers and sisters in Christ for help and forgiveness.

We need to recognize we can give all of our concerns and problems to God, and allow God to heal us through his direct intervention, or by using others to help us meet our needs.

Many years ago God helped Joshua learn two valuable lessons that we too can learn from: " The fir St. is, we ought to openly confess our sins when God reveals them to us, Take responsibility for what we've done and be willing to be held accountable. " And the second. When we fail, which we all will from time to time, we ought to refocus our attention on God, deal with the problem in a Christ-like way and move on.

Folks today are so afraid to admit they've failed or have fallen short. They're afraid they'll be viewed as weak. But I suggest we become weak, and have truly failed, when we're not humble enough to recognize that we do need help, and we do need God in our lives. It takes great courage to say we need help. If we turn to God, God offers us a very life affirming, life-renewing gift. God wants the cycle of sin, repentance and forgiveness to strengthen us, not to weaken us. The lessons we learn from our failures and our mistakes, will make us better and stronger believers. In effect yesterday's defeat becomes today's victory. Once sin is dealt with, forgiveness and victory lie ahead.

With God's direction on our lives we need not stay discouraged or burdened with guilt. No matter how difficult a setback sin may bring, we must renew our efforts to carry out God's will with a humble boldness. But again the key is our willingness to humble ourselves before God, acknowledging that we do need help.

As we enter this year's Lenten journey, I encourage all of us to humble ourselves before God. Begin tonight by leaving all the baggage of sin, guilt concern, and other distractions here at the altar, and ask God for help in dealing with them. Ask God to reveal your sins to you, and then take responsibility for them, by confessing and seeking forgiveness, not only from God, but also from the ones you've wronged. Seek God for strength, for comfort, for eternal peace.

This journey we are embarking on can be a life changing experience if we remember it's not about us, it's about the blood Jesus shed to save us from certain death. It's about our God who stepped down from light into darkness, to save us. It's about God's Spirit here tonight, knocking at the door of our hearts, wanting us to humbly respond "My Lord and my God."

How will you spend your Lenten journey, sitting on the throne of pride and self-righteousness, or sitting at humbly at the feet of Jesus?


Read other messages by Pastor Wade