Sunday in our worship service, I shared some of the highlights from the ministry in 2022. I am sure there were many other ways that God worked in and through our church as well.
Following the report, I transitioned to the idea of “All for Jesus”. If you are a born-again Christian, you were bought with a price and have become a child of God! You have a new identity. You are ‘in Christ’! You are, as they say, now “in union” with Christ. Because of that new identity, you also can commune with God, your Father! And life can be lived as God intended, for His glory alone!
But let’s be honest, even though we know our new identity, we can be tempted by the things of the world. Some of those things are not sinful in and of themselves. They can be beneficial and enjoyable. But those ‘good things’ can tempt and lure us away from living how God has called us to live.
Let’s use your pastor’s favorite ‘sport to play’ as an example. Many of you know I enjoy golfing. I am probably average at best. For some reason, I enjoy trying to hit a little white ball around large, carefully mowed fields for three or four hours at a time. Some of you see no enjoyment in that. I get it. At the same time, I may not see the point of some of your leisurely activities either! We all enjoy different activities. While these ‘good things’ aren’t ‘bad things’, they can become sinful things. Let me explain. If I am not careful to remember that my identity is in Christ and that He matters more than anything, I could find myself compromising and slowly drifting from that truth. What God desires and asks of me gradually takes a ‘back seat’ to golf. My growing love for golf soon becomes what repositions the priorities God would desire of me. I could justify the change by thinking to myself, “I still love the Lord. After all, He made those green pastures and blue skies that I enjoy while I’m playing!”
Now some of you are chuckling right now. It is easy to see others rationalize their choices. The greater challenge though is recognizing it in ourselves. We often get caught in the sin of self-righteousness that makes us think we are better than we really are. But if we are honest, we all have ‘good things’ that we do that are not ‘bad things’. But when those ‘good things’ become the ‘determining things’ of our decisions, priorities, and life path, they become sinful things.
Maybe this gives you some insight to the statement I put in front of you on Sunday – ‘All for Jesus’. I exhorted you to ask yourself the question, “What needs to change in your life for that to be true – Jesus at the center or the top priority of your life?” The obstacles for each of us are different. It could be an inherently sinful attitude or behavior that you really need to admit, let go of, and repent of. It could be a ‘good thing’ that has become a ‘determining thing’ that you really need to admit and put in its proper place.
“Ok, Pastor Brian, now it really feels like you are simply ‘preaching the law’.” Yep, God is a jealous God. He will share His glory with no other. And we know the law was given to show us our sin. But God doesn’t just park and stay there – nope. Titus 2:11-14 (NLT), For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.
Ah-ha! The good news. The gospel! He has a plan to help reposition our lives so that our priorities and purpose are rightly aligned. In Christ, that provision is made! All for Jesus!
As I conclude this exhortation, I want to give clarity to some of my closing words from Sunday. Specifically, my words about my future at Perrysburg Alliance. I would not be a good leader if I did not embrace the truth I preach. In the context of “All for Jesus”, I believe in order for that to once again be the case in my life, I have to “lay myself on the altar” for whatever the Lord wills. Whether He adds another pastor to join me, or if He has other plans for me, I believe that is the right posture I, as your pastor, should take. I can’t challenge you to “go there” if I am not willing myself.
Soli Deo gloria,
February 19 message, “All for Jesus“