Way of thinking that presently galloping through our towns and cities – sense of entitlement. Two factors at work – people who want something for nothing, politicians and others willing to devote steadily increasing share of resources. Right up front: are those who have genuine need, unable to address that need. Have a duty to help, both within church family, also public sphere. Not what I’m talking about. Have in view those who have particular need, simply expect that of course they are going to meet it.
Classic example: pictures plastered throughout media following Hurricane Katrina – homes flooded, all junk from storm left behind, yard filled with debris, homeowner sitting in lawn chair on sidewalk.. waiting for and expecting some kind of handout. Getting angry when handout didn’t appear! That kind of thinking not what motivated vast majority of early settlers and developers of nation. Wasn’t a mindset that would build a nation, not the way of thinking pleasing to God, either. If read through Proverbs each month, chapter a day, next time pay attention and write down how many proverbs commend entitlement mindset!
Now here’s really serious part: people in the church think that way… toward God! Think because part of a church, claim faith in Christ, God then is obligated, they are entitled to certain things. Supposed to work this way: professed faith in Christ, now live life pretty much just doing whatever comes next; if God wants me to be any different, well he can just change me. After all, it’s God’s job to change us. If he wants us to live at peace, God needs to change the other guy. If God wants us to be more holy, his job to change us and maybe our circumstances as well.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
My job to live life, enjoy liberty, pursue happiness; rest is up to God and I’m expecting him to do it. After all, if I’m his kid, I’m entitled! Right?? Remember God’s goal in our discipline: back up to v.10 “that we may be partakers of His holiness”. God doesn’t just hand holiness to us – the holiness God demands must be pursued, chased down. Same true of peace, given we live in broken world.
“I am dwelling in a generation to whom nothing is holy. Sacredness is an aspect people never assume toward anything. They revel in bald frankness which enervates [severely weakens] moral consciousness. I feel it affecting me. Oh, to be holy! Just to sense for a moment that I have somehow, however small, simulated some measure of Thy character, Lord Jesus. A word from Horatius Bonar spoke to me tonight. ‘Holiness is not austerity or gloom; it is the offspring of conscious, present Peace.'” The Journals of Jim Elliot, ca. 1950
65 years later, have strayed even further – things held sacred that never should be, label used so much has almost lost all meaning, have written off Creator as non-existent and worship creation instead. Even more essential that we, God’s people, pursue true and lasting peace and genuine holiness that accompanies it. Pursuit pleasing to God requires we love neighbor, love one another, keep looking up.
A. pursue peace and holiness v.14
not peace at any cost – seen that attempted with dire consequences – Robert and the Dentist
pursue peace with those around you while maintaining holiness before God – do not compromise allegiance to Christ for sake of peace
purpose of pursuing peace not so they like you, so you have less drama; is so God’s peace will flow through you to them
if are angry with world in general, neighbor in particular, how can possibly convince of God’s love and peace?
same true of holiness – if for sake of peace have compromised holiness, how can possibly convince he needs to change?
both horizontal and vertical relationships
who is best example? Jesus is the Best – the one to whom we should be looking (v.2) – he kept right relationship with men and God
gentle when could be: Samaritan, adulterous woman, Peter on the water, Thomas; tough when required: Peter (get behind me, Satan), Pharisees
all the while living pleasing to God, staying in close fellowship and communion / communication with Father
need all of that both outside the church, everyday life, and in relationships with church family, all while living coram Deo
requires expending real energy
are well into hunting season, may be preferred method to find tree stand, sit until Bambi’s grampa shows up. Ok so long as you don’t depend on hunting success for next meal.
idea here is – chasing with intent to get it, not giving up until is in possession; don’t forget – are pursuing holiness, not happiness
is important: pursue happiness, will never achieve it; pursue holiness, can achieve it in growing measure each day and happiness / joy / contentment will be yours along with holiness
is not pursuing holiness in order to be saved, is pursuing holiness to show you are saved, to show love for one who saved you
heard on the radio ;-) wrj “For a follower of Christ to be holy means they are devoted completely and irrevocably to God and his use.”
pursuit absolutely fruitless if Jesus not who is in your sights, the one you are trying to be like, the one you are depending on absolutely to make you like him
B. love your neighbor v.15a
prayer request last week for unsaved loved ones – that’s good; what else can / should we be doing to show love for neighbors
our goal in all we do with regard to neighbors should ultimately have good of their soul in view, they need to know our goal
not talking about those who receive God’s grace then fall from it; it’s those who fall short, never receive saving grace even though might appear otherwise
same language used here as in Rom. 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – inspecting, observing them so we don’t make wrong assumptions
love them enough to challenge their assumptions, either in conversation… or with some kind of handout: Gospel based literature, DVD, invitation to service or event
our pursuit of peace / holiness far easier and more enjoyable if bring neighbors along – keep praying for unsaved loved ones, friends, neighbors… and make sure Christ and his truth present in conversation
Rom 10:14-15, 17 “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?And how shall they preach unless they are sent? …So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
C. love one another v.15b-16
bear one another’s burdens, prevent bitterness that comes from discouragement / despair
attitudes can be highly contagious – work in shop/office, word starts going around: business slowing down, what happens?
more rumors, morale takes hit, management doesn’t nip it in bud, goes from bad to worse in short order; longer is left to fester, more it grows and spreads
fact is: Christians not immune to such, personally or collectively; can happen in individual, family, even church family – the many are important, so is the one
love for one another includes having good of their soul in view, just like for neighbor; expression making rounds that really fits: “I’ve got your back”
“When someone has your back, they are there to support you unconditionally. When life seems to blindside you with undesirable events, they’re there for you without complaint, supporting you in your moment of need, not for their own selfish, self gratifying reasons, but because your well being to them is foremost in their mind and heart.” Urban Dictionary
involved enough in other’s life to know their needs – purpose in having their back to prevent discouragement leading to bitterness, ensure progress toward greater holiness / Christ-likeness
watch for warning signs, love ’em enough to speak up when trend is toward things that are unholy
is there less God-talk in conversation? spending less time with Christian brothers/sisters? excuses coming more easily?
immorality, need for instant gratification not something that usually happens out of the blue – things lead to things
D. keep looking up v.17
don’t settle for world’s promises, temporal pleasures – not taken in by horizontal, see with physical eyes… strive toward goal seen with eyes of faith, keeping focus on Jesus… by faith
keep going back to context: Heb 12:1-2 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
keep in mind those who have gone before, are cheering us on, desiring to see their investment in us bear good fruit
keep in view the best example and encourager – the Lord Jesus, the one we have committed to follow, on whose help are totally dependent
Pursuing peace and holiness something believers must do individually – reading/studying/meditating on God’s Word, fellowship with other believers, means of grace, witnessing and living godly peacable lives. Also something must do as family… church family. Mark of healthy church: spiritual growth evidenced by increasing holiness. Do you desire a healthy church? Do your part to pursue peace and holiness personally, do your part to encourage brothers and sisters in same pursuit so we all grow more like Jesus.