It's Not About Us

(2 Corinthians 4:3-12)

We live in a world where self is the focus. A place where "me and I" are the preferred pronouns.

Everywhere we look we find examples of folks drunk on ego and selfishness. The Sports world offers many examples of individuals who seem to care little about anyone else. They're focused on their own image, their own future, their own life. One of the most recent sports figures giving us a great example of this "Life is about me" attitude is Bode Miller, the Olympic skier. Professional football offers us Terrell Owns as a great example of "it's about me."

The former leaders of Enron and World Com provide fuel for the "me" fire from the business world. And some politicians, at all levels of government, also fan the flame of "me."

As we look to the Christian world we again see many examples of "it's about me," as teachers, preachers, evangelists, church leaders, and parishioners spend their time lifting themselves up, bringing attention only to themselves, proclaiming "Hey look at me and what I've done!"

But as we can see from our scripture reading this morning the focus of Paul's preaching was Christ and not himself, and he makes it clear that this is what the Corinthians are to do, and applying scripture to our time this is what we're suppose to do as well. Therefore, when we witness, we need to tell people about what Christ has done in our lives, not about our abilities and accomplishments.

Folks must be introduced to Christ, not to us. And if you ever hear people teaching or preaching about themselves and their ideas, and not Christ, they're false teachers.

The Apostle Paul spends a great deal of time in his letters tearing down the "me" ideology, to lift up Christ. Paul taught and preached the crucified and risen Christ, he spoke of new life in Christ, and he confronted others to place Christ ahead of themselves and everything else in this temporary and earthly life. If we are truly born in Christ, nothing else should take priority.

When we come to worship on Sunday, who do we come for? Do we come for ourselves or do we come for God? When we stand and sing, do we sing to make ourselves standout from others, to bring attention to ourselves, or do we sing to praise God?

When we read the scriptures on Sunday morning, serve as acolyte, share a children's message or preach God's Word, do we do so with "hey look at me" as our motivation, or do we participate in worship as a means to praise God and lift up the glory of God to those present?

Worship isn't about us, worship is about God. Life isn't about us; it's about following the will of God. The problem is, too many of us come to church and say "amen," and then leave only to walk down the street saying, "Oh me."

Whenever we come together and talk about Jesus we must also remember we stand in the presence of God, he hears every word. When we tell people about Christ we must not distort the message to simply please the ones we're speaking to, or to promote our own knowledge, or self. We are to proclaim the truth of God's Word, and then allow the Holy Spirit to work.

Now let me be very clear about a very important understanding, Jesus Christ is the way to salvation, you're not and I'm not. This isn't religious spin or United Methodist spin. This is truth as recorded in God's Word. So the focus must be on Christ, not on us.

We live in a time of relativism, where there seem to be no absolutes and people believe that truth changes over time. We're left to ourselves to decide what's right and what's wrong. We're encouraged to go with whatever truth works for us, because it's easy that way and there's no real accountability.

This postmodern, materialistic culture is all about self, free choice, and a variety of options designed to offer a peaceful easy living. Life becomes a matter of foot loose and fancy free and just simply feeling good. Therefore, people are turning to consumerism as a means to define who they are and their purpose in life. God is treated as nothing more than a consumer item, a gallon of milk if you will. The church is seen as a spiritual supermarket where we shop to get our personal needs met, it's a place where we go to get, and not to give.

Now when we need to deal with the hurts, disappointments, and pains of life, we're pretty good about calling on God for help. But when our circumstances improve we take back control of our lives, and we inform God, "Hey, thanks but I can handle it from here and I'll be in touch if I have another need."

Regrettably consumerism and materialism shapes our world view and adversely affects our spirituality. Consumerisms primary aim and persuasion is personal satisfaction. Its promise is to make people happy and comfortable, and to feel good about their experience.

It's a philosophy and a way of living that exalts self and promotes instant gratification. It's all about what you can have and experience now. Now is all that matters, no waiting, we have drive-through this and that, ATM's, instant credit, and so on. We can have it all now and pay later. It's a world of little restraint and lack of patience.

Consumerism places great value on stuff. Individuals are encouraged and praised for doing whatever it takes to get ahead. And we lose focus on the eternal realities that require moral accountability in this life.

The message, being driven home by many is, "buy it; it will make you feel good; it will make you happy. It will give meaning and add fulfillment to your life, so enjoy yourself and don't worry about tomorrow or anyone else." Consumerism is all about self and this world, not the things of God.

Ted Campbell says, "Consumerism is secular hope and temporary happiness." The hope he speaks of is placed in and built upon the accumulation of material things. In reality our real hope has been sabotaged! The one who has the most toys wins! So we buy things we don't need, with money we don't have, to impress people we don't even like.

You know happiness is a legitimate desire, but John Wesley equated holiness with happiness, and warned that there can be no real happiness apart from God.

Consumerism is not a sustainable way of life regardless of what we hear on TV or read in magazines. It's a ferry tale world and everyone doesn't live happily ever after. Yet life in Christ is sustainable and does allow everyone who believes a happy life forever.

Think about it, practically speaking, if life in Christ was not sustainable, Christianity would have died many years ago, and history would record it as a fad. But that's not the case, and that's because God in Christ came to redeem the world, not let it destroy itself. Therefore, our focus must remain on Jesus and his direction, as he brings attention to the priority of life, which is, "We are to seek first the kingdom of God." Jesus then reminds and promises that all the other necessities and needs of life, will be added according to this priority. (Matt. 6:33)

For Christians, living a life of consumerism is not an option, its counter to the way of Jesus. Truth, morality, and the way of life are derived only from the authority of the scriptures. And the gospel of Jesus Christ transcends time and culture. So the answer Christians bring about living, to our postmodern world is their faithful living out of the gospel.

Therefore our task is to faithfully respond to the Holy Spirit and to spread scriptural holiness throughout the land, meaning living a Christ-like life of personal faith and striving for social change. It's essential that we think about the ways in which life in this world can be lived because of God, and for God.

Today religion and faith rarely confront the assumptions of modern culture and lifestyles with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We approach controversial issues with caution, afraid we might hurt someone's feelings, we avert our eyes to injustice assuming others will deal with the problem, and we look to the future without a sense of urgency, leaving those unchurched in the wake of an attitude, "let them figure it out on their own."

But as Christians " we must not be isolationists with our faith, " we must step out boldly in the name of Christ to proclaim the Gospel we profess to believe, " we must be unapologetically Christian in our actions and approach to life, " and we must be willing to respond to God's call on our lives to serve.

Now is the time for all Christians to stand tall for the Gospel, now is the time for change, now is the time for true Spiritual revival in our community! Not just a revival of obligation or duty-filled religion, but a revival of the Holy Spirit motivating us to put our faith into action.

It's easy to talk about "doing for others as we would have them do unto us." It's easy to say, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart." It's another thing to actually go out and do it.

Now it's true we are nothing but ordinary human beings and the task before us is tremendous, but from the moment we say yes to God, God goes to work to transform and strengthen us for his purposes, not ours. And that's the good news, not in our strength, but in his, not so our will be done, but so his will be done.

So when the Lord calls you into service, say yes, and God will take care of the rest, and you will be blessed.

The message of salvation in Jesus Christ has been entrusted to us by God. Even though we're weak and fallible, God uses us to spread his Good News, and he gives us the power to do his work. And knowing that the power is his and not ours, should serve to keep us motivated and in daily contact with God, who is the source of our power, strength, and wisdom.

Our ultimate responsibility as Christians is to let people see God through us. To this end our worldview must be God's view, and the church is the chosen vehicle to promote such a transformation.

The church must be a countercultural organization that strives to influence the world by being something the world is not. The church is a people who are not their own, but the Body of Christ in the world, seeking to spread the good news of the redemptive and reconciling love of God. And God needs everyone in his army of faithful witnesses.

It's also helpful to realize the church is not a place of volunteers. A volunteer is someone who willingly offers him or herself for a defined undertaking for a specified period of time. But it's not about us, it's about God, so God isn't interested in people being part-time disciples or volunteers.

God is interested in people responding to his call on their lives to serve. And serving is presenting our whole-selves before God, to be used by God for his purposes for as long as God desires.

We don't have volunteers in the church, because serving God is a privilege. It's not about volunteering, it's about fulfilling God's call on our lives through service as lay ministers. Again, this takes the focus off us and our actions, and places the focus squarely on God and the action of his Spirit on and in our lives.

So our task is to proclaim the lordship of Christ in all realms of life. He is Lord of all, or he's not Lord at all. There is no part-time Lord, he's all or nothing, the choice is ours.

The faithful life as revealed in the Bible is not separated from daily life; it's a commitment to follow Christ in all things. Therefore, we must not compromise the message of the Gospel; it's the message of the cross. And it's the cross that challenges us to live authentic lives; lives of love and compassion.

The Gospel message requires sacrifice and serving; and our conduct must match our convictions and confession.

Therefore, to be faithful to Christ our savior, we must boldly proclaim the gospel in the world in which we have been placed. And be enthusiastic witnesses to the truth as revealed in Jesus Christ, standing firm on our convictions that it's not about us, it's about God. It's about the one who came to us in Jesus, and who now sustains us through his Holy Spirit. To God be the glory!


Read other messages by Pastor Wade