This One Thing

This message was shared at Centerville United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 5th, 2014. The Scripture passage for the morning was Philippians 3:4-14.

This morning, we will welcome in some new members and celebrate World Communion Sunday. Both of these elements this morning remind us of what is ultimately important in life…knowing Christ as Lord of all! Our passage of Scripture from Philippians also reminds us of the priority of Christ in our lives.

So, in this passage, Paul lays out his resume…and, it’s impressive! If anyone has reason to boast in their earthly and religious pursuits, it’s Paul. Paul has street cred, but it’s rubbish compared to knowing Christ. It’s all rubbish compared to this one thing…Jesus!

In light of this passage, we have to ask ourselves, do we consider all of our accolades and successes rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ? Would we throw it all away for Jesus?

Let’s think about that for a moment…our individualistic, consumeristic society tells us to look out for ourselves, to take great pride in our accomplishments, and so, too often we find our worth, our value in our stuff, our resume, our experiences, our past, our glory days, rather than in this one thing that matters more than anything else. So, let’s ask ourselves once again, do we consider all of our accolades and success rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ? Would we throw it all away for Jesus? Or are we content to hold on to our stuff…to live in the rear view mirror of our glory days?

This reminds me of the story of the rich young ruler from Mark 10. We find this very successful young man. He is speaking with Jesus and it’s discovered that he really is a great young man…he follows the commandments to a “t”. Then Jesus says, “This one thing you lack…Go, sell your possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow me.” Now, it tells us this was hard for the young man…But, we don’t really know how he responded. Did he go and sell his stuff? Who knows? However, I can imagine that he thought, “But, Jesus, I worked hard for all of that stuff. And, you just want me to get rid of it all?” What would this action have communicated? The priority of Jesus in this young man’s life. So, again, let’s ask ourselves, do we consider all of our accolades and successes rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ?

Paul urges us to have a forward, Christ-centered perspective. He essentially challenges us to not let the past control us…our past successes or our past failures…but look towards our future in Christ.

This is a great church filled with awesome people. Look at your neighbor and say “You’re awesome.” One of the best things this church has going for it is all of you. You all have a way of making this feel like one big family gathering. It’s like a family reunion from week to week. There’s a unique, obvious, genuine care, concern, and love for one another.

Yet, even though this is an awesome, loving church…we’re not perfect…we’re not done…in light of Christ, we shouldn’t just settle for what is or has been…we should press on towards the goal.

This week, Emily spoke with a guy at the Toyota dealership, asked what brought us to the area so Emily explained. Now, this guy is from Centerville, grew up in Centerville, drives by every day, didn’t know which church was the Methodist church…our work is not complete…When folks who live in our community and drive by our church everyday have no clue who we are, which church we are, I’m afraid we’re dangerously close to being isolated from and irrelevant to our community (which is our greatest mission field).

What are we known for? Our preschool and our food pantry. These are great and awesome ministries with great potential for a powerful impact in our community. However, if we’re being honest, I think we would have to admit that, for the most part, we’re only known for these things by those who utilize them.

It’s not fun to burst our bubble. But, at the same time, I wasn’t sent here to pat you on the back and make you comfortable. So, we have to be honest. We have to be realistic. We have to understand where we are…yet see our potential for where God desires us to be. We have to capture a contagious sense of urgency. We have this one great thing, Jesus. And, we shouldn’t be able to hold it in. We have to break out of the isolated world of the church and be salt and light…be the hands and feet of Jesus…

So, we’re not done…our work is not complete…we need to strive towards Christ…to live out our call as individuals and the church…to be known in our community as a church that loves God and loves our neighbors in practical and tangible ways…a contagious church filled with hope, love, and joy as we grow, give, and go to make disciples of Jesus Christ!

Yesterday, Operation Serve was an excellent reminder that Jesus is Lord of all and is the driving force that unites us…denominations? Rubbish! Church size? Rubbish! Christ? Top priority…Lord of all!

Our desire should be to grow in our relationship with Christ, to give our very best to Him, and go into the world to share Christ! Paul understood that Jesus is of ultimate authority and took top priority…to the point that everything else, even all the good he had done, was rubbish compared to Christ.

How do we know if Christ is lord of all, most, some, or not at all? If Christ is Lord of all, and all else is rubbish…sewer trash…is God lord of our calendars, our checkbooks, our stuff, is God top at work, in our homes,  wherever we find ourselves. Is Jesus Lord of our prayer life?

Christian Century[1] ran an article with some statistics on what Americans pray for:

  • 82% pray for family and friends
  • 48% pray everyday
  • 40% pray for enemies
  • 26% pray for sports team
  • 21% pray to win the lottery
  • 12% pray for government leaders
  • 7% pray for good parking and no tickets
  • 5% pray for relationships to end or someone to lose jobs

This week, I read a devotion from Ron Hembree’s “Draw Near” series. In it he writes, “Jesus told about a very foolish and proud Pharisee. He had the crown of religion on his head and was bragging to God (Luke 18:10-12). He told God he was glad he was not as other men. In essence he said, “God, you really ought to be very proud of me. There are so many things I don’t do.” Jesus said that God did not even listen to this man’s praying.  We must learn quickly there is no good in us. We are only righteous as Christ makes us righteous. The moments we spend in prayer bragging about what we are or what we have done are just as worthless as speaking the words into midair. We must remember we do not have our crowns yet.”

St. Francis of Assisi is credited with saying, “I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, He can work through anyone.” Listen, no matter how awesome and impressive our resume and accomplishments may be…we should see it all as rubbish, as sewer trash compared to Christ.

I hate to break it to you, although each and every one of  you are awesome, none of us are perfect. We’re all sinners saved by the grace of God. We do not have our crowns yet. We still have work to do.

Are we so sold out to this one thing, Jesus, that we would give up everything else for life with Him? Is Christ Lord of all, Lord of some, or Lord for an hour on Sunday? Let’s ask ourselves, do we consider all of our accolades and successes rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ?

[1] http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2014-10/what-do-americans-pray-themselves-and-maybe-sports-team

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