Next week we’ll begin a short series of the Bible leading up to Easter that corresponds with The Bible mini-series being aired on The History Channel beginning 3 March 2013 at 8:00 PM EST.
We spoke last week of denying self – voluntarily giving up those things that are inconsistent with the glory of God or for the good of our fellow-man. This week, as we enter the second week of Lent, and in preparation of the mini-series, we’ll examine what our Christian faith really means to us – and we’ll delve into the deeper question…What’s the Point?
Within the small sphere of our life,
we can stare into the past.
But, only our future is within our control.
Many of you were with us when we watched the movie “To Save a Life.” To refresh your memory, and to let those who may not have seen the movie know what we’re talking about, let me set the stage. I found a wonderful website that gives the following synopsis: (www.thesource4ym.com/movieclipdiscussions/discussion.aspx?id=240)
Ever since Jake was a kid, he was the type of guy you couldn’t help but like. For Jake, life’s good. He has a ton of friends, a basketball scholarship, a beautiful girlfriend and a really bright future.
Jake’s childhood best friend is Roger Dawson. But Jake’s growing popularity has pushed Roger away. Tired of being an outcast, Roger walks onto campus with a gun in his pocket and pain in his heart.
Jake is devastated by what Roger has done, and something in him changes. In seeking answers in his own life, one question plagues him the most: Could I have saved him? He finds himself deeply compelled to reach out to kids on the fringe – kids who aren’t viewed as cool enough. But this decision among other things, threatens Jake’s world. He may lose his friends, his scholarship and even his reputation by asking “What do I want my life to be about?”
In the scene being described, as part of his quest, Jake, an all-star athlete, finds himself attending a youth group.
Chris: You know, they did a survey to find out the places that people least like to be. And some on the top of the list were the DMV, the dentist, the principal’s office. But you know what the number one place was? Church. Boring. Judgmental. Hypocritical. Why is it that so often we can be the exact opposite of what this teaches? That’s not how it’s supposed to be guys.
This is supposed to be a place where you don’t have to pretend like you’ve got it all together or that you don’t have any problems. A place where you can come and be who you really are and not feel judged. I want to take 30 seconds right now – 30 seconds of silence – and I want you to ask yourself the question: Who have I judged?
(Jake looks around the room and notices all the side chatter from the other kids not paying attention to the question Chris just asked them to ponder. One kid is asking about the game. A few girls are whispering amongst themselves. Jake even sees two kids exchanging what appears to be a bag of marijuana. It all gets to be too much for Jake.)
Jake: Dammit! Didn’t any of you hear what he just said? My girlfriend came here today and she left because she felt judged. And no one even noticed. Roger walked into school and started shooting. I knew him. He wasn’t crazy. And did anyone ever stop and ask why? I mean, how did it get to the point where his only option was to shoot himself? There are people killing themselves and you’re chugging soda through a sock! I mean, what’s the point of all this if you’re not gonna let this change you?
Chris: What do you think we should do Jake?
Jake: I don’t know.
Andrea: We could all hang out together at school.
Jake: That’s a good idea. Hey, why don’t we all have lunch together in the quad?
Like Jake, many of us might answer Chris with, “I don’t know.” Like Andrea, some of us might propose a thought or idea. And, some of us might respond like Danny – judgmental.
Tying all of this back to the main topic – What’s the Point – I’d like us to take a look at Jake’s question…”What’s the point of all this if you’re not going to let it change you?” I’d like for us to spend the next 60 seconds in silence, and ask ourselves that same question. What’s the point of proclaiming ourselves to be Christian? What’s the point of coming here to church, or to our Bible study when it starts, or to any of our events? What’s the point of studying Scripture if we’re not going to let it change us?
After our service, I’d like our discussion to center around our thoughts. For now, let’s take a few minutes to review some Scripture.
As we prepare to celebrate the very foundation of our faith – the death and resurrection of Jesus – we should take time to examine what it means to be Christian. There are a number of Scriptures we can turn to for guidance.
James 1:19-27 says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s Word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the Word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
Luke 6:32-42 reads, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Ephesians 5:4 reads, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Colossians 3:5-10 speaks directly to the change we should experience: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
Ephesians 4:31 reads, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”
And finally, my favorite two:
2 Corninthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
And, 1 John 2:4-6 reads, “Now by this we may be sure that we know Him, if we obey His commandments. Whoever says, ‘I have come to know Him’, but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys His word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in Him: whoever says, ‘I abide in Him’, ought to walk just as He walked.”
Scripture clearly provides us with guidance in how to become “new in Christ.” The question is…how much of it do we take to heart? How well do we live up to our profession of faith, of being Christian? As we progress through the Easter season, it’s the perfect time for self-reflection; for spending time in evaluating for ourselves what it really means to us to be Christian. And, beyond ourselves, what does it mean for the world around us? Do we just show up on Sunday because it makes us feel good, or because we’re “supposed to?”; only to leave here and spend the week with filth and evil in our hearts; expressing bitterness, anger, gossip, lies, and deceit; spewing vile obscenities; telling off-color jokes; making fun of others – building ourselves up by tearing others down; and treating others in unloving, unkind, and unforgiving ways?
Paraphrasing the website referenced earlier…Maybe we’ve been mean or bullied someone, maybe we’ve lied or spread rumors about others, or maybe we’ve just ignored that person we thought of as weird. Maybe we’ve been struggling with alcohol, or drugs, or anger, pride or lust…the list goes on and on. No matter what it is…God loves us and wants us to change…for the better.
Thinking back to the man in the mirror in James (1:24) – “Are you going to be like a person who looks in the mirror and then immediately forgets what they look like, or are you going to allow God and His Word to change you?” Today, right here, right now…this is the mirror. For many of us it is clear what needs to change. The question is, are we willing to give whatever it is over to God and let Him change us?
We can’t change our past. But, with Jesus, we can control our future. I invite you to spend time this Easter season giving serious thought to our original question – If you’re not going to let this change you…what’s the point?
- James 1:19-27
- Luke 6:32-42
- Ephesians 5:4
- Colossians 3:5-10
- Ephesians 4:31
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
- 1 John 2:4-6
If you’d like to share your thoughts, please feel free to post your comments. And, if this message resonates with you, please feel free to share it with others.