Let us pray: Dear Savior, today on this holiday weekend we have joined together to worship You. We have come to praise You for giving rest to our weary hearts and souls. We could have stayed home like so many. We could have ignored You and focused totally on ourselves. But we will have none of that because You have shown us a better way to live. You have shown us that we’re enlarged and our lives are expanded when we start focusing on You first and others second and ourselves third. Lord, thank You for giving us such insight and appreciation as to the real meaning of life. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR SELF-SACRIFICING SAVIOR!
TEXT: Romans 12: 1-8
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Ask any of the elderly widows or widowers when they were happiest in their lives and they will probably respond: “When the kids were little and the whole family was together each night around the supper table.” Ask the teens when they are the happiest and they’ll probably respond: “When I’m surrounded by my friends.” God created us to be social creatures. We see that in Genesis when Adam was alone and God said: “It is not good that man should be alone, I will make a helper for him.” And then after Eve arrives, children and families and relatives followed.
I will admit that in this stress-filled world where kids, older parents, single friends, and even siblings all compete for our time, being alone and having time alone is often a luxury to be savored. That being said, too much aloneness, too much self-absorption, doesn’t breed happiness and contentment. No, to be happy we need to focus on someone outside ourselves. We need to know we’re useful. We need to experience the love and positive feedback that comes from healthy relationships. And all of this leads into today’s lesson which clearly teaches each of us:
YOUR LIFE IS BIGGER THAN YOU…
Looking back over the people I’ve known a couple of things come to mind. One, I can think of many folks who were active in their jobs and who had many others dependent upon them. They had vibrant lives until they retired. All of a sudden they found that their social network had been cut out from under them. All of a sudden they felt alone and unneeded. And within months or a couple of years they suddenly died. I’m no doctor, but I believe their lack of social interaction was a huge contributing cause. Two, I can think of various single folks who focused totally upon themselves. We all know such people—computer geeks at work who live in their surreal world, the denizens of Gold’s Gym who pump iron merely to feed their own ego, or those who have been beat up emotionally at a young age and who withdrawn from society. Because their own little, orderly world is it, anything that messes it up—meaning other people—throws them into a state of confusion. While at the same time, their anxieties over being alone gnaw away at any happiness that comes their way.
If ever someone was alone, it was Jesus Christ. Yet, what did He do with His life? Did He withdraw into a shell? Did He ignore other people? Did He write us sinful humans off as not worthy of His attention? No! Instead, He came to this planet; He opened His heart up to us, He put Himself out for us—think of His suffering and the cross—and He always made time to help us in our needs—think of Him assisting the thief on the cross with the promise of paradise! Or, as the Bible says: “He came to seek and save the lost.” Christ never turned anyone away. His love was bigger than His body or His life. It was big enough to pay for every single human sin and to save innumerable souls. This “enlargement of Himself” brought Jesus joy and fulfillment. Think of that! Self-sacrifice brought God happiness!
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Dear Christian, Christ didn’t save your soul for you to be an island, cutting yourself off from other people. He didn’t create you or redeem you for a life of selfish self-absorption. No, He created you and saved you to be an oasis. A beacon of light, love, and hope to other struggling souls. St. Paul here says that that approach to life and not mere lip service to God is the essence of true worship!
So, how do we Christians go about doing this and fulfilling God’s will for our lives? “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”
Well, there’s our marching orders toward a happier life. There’s His prescription as to exactly how to offer ourselves up as living sacrifices to His glory and to our own happiness. Use your Godly gifts! Use them to uplift others—especially your fellow believers. Put yourself out for others as Christ has put Himself out for you. Don’t be afraid to get involved with each other because in involvement comes feeling needed, and in feeling needed comes joy, and in joy comes fulfillment.
The message today is a simple one: Your Life is Bigger Than You! Christ has shown you that. So, just do it! Amen