Here's what I taught at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, May 6, 2018.
READ AND PRAY
ROMANS 13:8-15 - New Living Translation
INTRODUCTION: A COMMITTED LIFE
Question: what does a life truly committed to Jesus look like? The answer matters, don't you think?
We can picture commitment levels on a line:
At one end is "neurotic" commitment. Picture the Pharisee who was so perfectionistic that he tithed his mint and dill (Matthew 23:23). Neurotics sweat the small stuff and nitpick anyone who cannot measure up. Neurotic commitment is weird and I don't think Jesus wants us to live that way.
At the other end of the line is "pathetic" commitment. Picture the Christians in Laodicea who were lukewarm (Revelation 3:15-16). Their faith was MEH. Today, we call that spiritual burnout. We just can't be bothered. Pathetic commitment is wishy-washy and I don't believe Jesus wants us to live that way.
Do you like either of those options? Me either. There has to be a better way, a commitment sweet spot - a right level of commitment to Jesus. And I think I've found it in Romans 13.
A. URGENT COMMITMENT
The sweet spot is URGENT commitment. Look how the passage flows:
Verses 8-10: Love people - the principle. Jesus-followers love people.
Verses 13, 15: Love people - the practice. Ways to not love; ways to love.
Verse 14: Love people - the purpose. Clothed in Jesus, the model of love.
Verses 11-12: Love people - the priority. "Urgent".
We are to live with urgency. Wired, not wishy washy, not weird. Do you know what I mean by urgent/wired? I'll show you in a moment. But first, we've got ask why urgent is the right level of commitment?
B. WHY URGENT COMMITMENT?
Why is "urgent commitment" the right level? The answer is in verses 11-12:
Verse 11: Time is running out.
Verse 11: Salvation is nearer now.
Verse 12: The day of salvation will soon be here: the day when Jesus returns and the final stage in our salvation happens: we are glorified, made like Jesus, transformed by being conformed (Romans 8:28-32; 1 John 3:2).
Urgent is the only way to live because Jesus is coming soon. Between the Day of Pentecost and the Return of Christ, the church has a PURPOSE: Jesus told his followers: Mark 13:10-11 "The gospel must first be preached to all nations."
There is only one kind of church that can get it done: not a wishy-washy church and not a weird church. Only an urgent, wired church, a church that is on fire with love for people. Only urgent love will sacrifice the time, energy, comfort, and money needed to take Jesus to the neighborhoods and nations.
Our generation needs Jesus NOW because when he returns, it's all over. The apostle Paul hammered this home in Athens:
Acts 17:29-31 “... But NOW God commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed ...”
The world needs a Savior NOW. The time is short and the window of opportunity is closing. Today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2) because tomorrow may be too late.
Do you feel the urgency?
What does an urgent love and life look like for us?
C. WHAT DOES URGENT COMMITMENT LOOK LIKE?
What do I mean by urgent? The late Steven Covey wrote a book on time management called First Things First and his framework helps us picture urgent.
A good and normal life is lived in Quadrant 2. It's balanced. We make time for what matters most. But that's not the life Jesus wants for us. He calls us to more than that.
Quadrant 4 living is great if you're three years old. Otherwise, grow up, get focused, and do something that matters.
Jesus is calling us to have a Quadrant 1 mindset: It's not balanced. It's not comfortable. It's not normal. It's demanding, exhausting, and disruptive. It's urgent. You can feel a fire in your heart to do something, to love people, to join them to the hope that is found in Jesus and the Gospel, because Jesus is coming soon and there is a world of lost people out there.
An urgent life is going to look different for each one of us. Here's what it looked like for Jesus:
Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
Jesus loved people with urgency. He lived every day on mission, on purpose - wired up because his time was short and the need was great.
The Spirit of the Lord is on you too. What will an urgent life look like for you? Whatever it is, it starts with a come to Jesus moment:
If you're weird and you don't love people so they're turned off the church, here's your come to Jesus moment: Ask him to show you what grace really is. Soak in grace for a long time. Until grace conquers your heart and you love people.
If you're wishy-washy, coasting, living for yourself in quadrants 2 and 4, your come to Jesus moment is like this: Tell him, "Jesus I'm not satisfied with a normal, comfortable life. Please light a fire in my heart. Help me turn the commitment dial up to URGENT. Amen!"
If you're wired, but you're tired, your come to Jesus moment is going to be beautiful: Stop what you're doing. Clear some time and drink deep from the spring of living water, rest in his presence, renew your soul. Stop doing and start being for a while. Until you're filled up and ready to go again. But ... going forward, be sure to schedule regular times of refreshing in his presence.
If you're wired and fired up, your heart is blazing, you feel the urgency, this is your come to Jesus moment, "Lord Jesus, your Spirit is on me and you have anointed me. I'm ready for what's next. Please open doors, guide my steps, tell me when to say yes. Amen!" Pray that and then do whatever your heart wants.
There are some great opportunities for you. See the BULLETIN INSERT and visit the Volunteer Central table in the Atrium. Talk to Dennis McM.
I also have two extremely amazing opportunities: (1) Student ministry and (2) ASCEND - leadership development.
We need some bold, burning-hearted, Spirit-filled, Jesus-followers to step into their calling. To pick up their mantle. To get in the fight. Will you stand up and say, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to ..........."?