Transcendence Week 6: Someone He Could Write About
Well, good afternoon to everybody and also to those who watch via the internet and our mobile app. We welcome you as well. We’re in week six of a six-week series called “Transcendence.” And I know if I were you and I was a visitor – if in fact you’re a visitor – you’d go, “Man, I came in on week six of a six-week series. I’m going to be so lost today.”
Let me put you at ease. I always, at the beginning of every message that I preach, bring everybody up to speed to know what we’re doing. Because I always believe that there’s at least three different people in every church service. Probably all three, but at least one out of the three. The first one is a visitor. And I want to make sure that you feel like these messages speak to you and, even though we’re in a series and there has been sort of a consecutive nature, each of these do stand on their own.
Second group of people that I want to make sure that I reach are those that maybe were gone for a couple of weeks. Maybe you missed a couple of weeks during the series and you’re like, “Oh, yeah. So glad he’s sort of bringing me back up to speed.”
And then there’s the third group of people. You’ve been here for every one of the five weeks before now, but you just had a tough week and you’re just happy to be here at church. And if you got asked what we were speaking about, you’re like, “I have no idea. I’m just glad I’m here.” So, between all those three people, I want to make sure that we’re all aware of what’s going on. I want to bring everybody back up to speed.
We’re looking at how to live a massively fulfilled life through intentionally pouring ourselves into others through the church. This whole series came about several months ago. I’d gone to a couple of conferences. I’d been reading a couple books and sort of studying some different things. And somebody brought up the name “Abraham Maslow” and, when I remembered that, I was like, “Hey, that’s one of the names I remember from psychology. And I remembered his hierarchy of needs. And what he basically said was is that the highest form of human achievement or the greatest place of human fulfillment was if we could live a self-actualized life.
What that would look like is if we could get all the deficiency needs met, we could get to a place in our life where we were doing the things that we wanted to do and accomplishing the goals that we want to accomplish and living in that particular moment, we would be happy and fulfilled. The problem is is that when people are polled, they’re not. And there’s 43,000 books in print right now that teach you and I how to live self-actualized lives. And the bottom line is that it’s not working.
Well, what’s interesting is Maslow, at the latter part of his life, changed the high part of his pyramid. He took self-actualization out and he put the word “transcendence.” What he said was, “You know what? It’s not about getting everything that I want. It’s not about me getting my life satisfied. It’s when I’m pouring myself into others, when I’m leaving a legacy into others, that is when people live at the greatest form of human fulfillment; the greatest place of human achievement in their life.”
And, of course, that’s so Biblical. I mean, we know what Jesus said. Jesus said to give and to serve and to love and do all the things that He said. And Jesus said if you try to find your life, you’re going to lose it and if you lose your life, you’re going to find it. And so all of that’s great, but the one thing Maslow didn’t get – which we’re sort of focusing on in this whole series – is that it’s done through the church.
Oftentimes, when we think of transcendent figures, we think of someone that did something so spectacular or so great. Like you talk about basketball. You say, “Hey, who’s a transcendent player? Who did something so great and left a legacy and did all this great stuff?”
You’d think of a Michael Jordan. But, the fact of the matter is there’s only a few people that ever get into that rarified heir. So, when we’re talking maybe pouring into others or leaving a legacy, many of us may go, “But I may not be able to do all those things that other people could do and so that leaves me out of the idea of being transcendent.”
That’s where God’s Church comes involved. Because, in God’s Church, all of us can be a part of what He is doing, which is writing a story in humanity and all of us can live transcendent lives and be a part of a transcendent group which is the Church. Much like the story – you might have heard this before, maybe you haven’t. But, in World War II, there was a guy that worked on fighter aircrafts, and what he did is he made sure that the tires on the fighter aircrafts worked. Because if they can’t get off the ground, they don’t work.
So, he would make sure that all the tires were good on the fighter airplanes and, when the war was over, they got all the fighter pilots out on the big aircraft carrier and they would call them up. You know, Smith and Jones. And they’d pin all the little pins of all the things that they had shot down and the different stuff or whatever. And he was sitting there and he had six or seven pilots that he worked on their planes. And he was so excited to see that. I mean, that was his boys that he worked on. He was like, “Man, look at this. They’re getting honored for what they did.”
And then they called his name and he was like, “Why are you calling my name? I’m just the guy that works on the tires.” They called him up and every one of the pins that they had placed on every one of the fighter pilots, they gave him. In other words, he ended up with more than each individual. Why? Because, if he wasn’t doing the tires, the planes wouldn’t have flown. And that’s the way God looks at you and me.
You know, people go, “Well, hey. If somebody comes in here and finds the Lord or gets baptized, what was important? The person who shook the hands at the front door, the person that watched kids in the nursery, the person that came in and prayed earlier in the week for people? All of us are a part of that. And what God wants to do is He wants us to be a part of that story to live a transcendent life to be a part of a transcendent group of people which is the local church. To do something great for the glory of God.
And so, when I started thinking through this whole series – that’s what we’ve been dealing with the last six weeks – one of the first things that came to my mind is I started to pin the idea of what this series would look like over a period of time. I remembered when I was at Lee College. There were some people that I knew that I was friends with. They had a band called “For Him.” And they did a song that has always stuck with me. The song was entitled “A Man That He Could Write About.”
It’s not really that great of a song. It’s even worse 20 years later. But, the fact of the matter is the lyrics were really good. I want to read this to you because this has sort of stuck in my mind over the years as I’ve tried to walk after the Lord. These are the lyrics. Listen to this. I think this will inspire all of us.
“From the time that time began
You always chose a man
To lead the people safely by Your way
To be a voice and echo what You say
Like David or Abraham
The Word is full of such men
But if the Bible had no closing page
If it was still being written to this day
I want to be a man that You could write about
A thousand years from now that they could read about
The servant of choice in whom You found favor
A man who heard Your voice”
And I think all of us, at some level if we’re being honest – you might have come in here from First Friday or maybe you got a flyer and it’s the first time you’ve been to church and maybe you haven’t been in church for a long time. Maybe you’ve been in church your whole life and you’ve been serving Jesus for your whole life. All of us, when we think about being on a team that God could write about to do something great for the Kingdom of God, something leaps within our heart. Something goes, “Man. Yeah. I would want to be someone that God could write about.”
So, I’ve entitled the closing message of this series “Someone That He Could Write About.” And I want to sort of explain how I’m going to get there by giving you a little bit of background. I don’t assume anybody knows a ton about the Bible. I know some of you all know the Bible very well. But, I want to make sure that nobody feels left out when we go into a Biblical passage.
The book of Philippians is found in the New Testament and the book of Philippians is written by the Apostle Paul while he’s in prison. And the church at Philippi – which is where we get the idea of Philippians – has sent a guy named Epaphroditus to Paul in prison. And he’s brought gifts and other things from the church to minister to Paul’s need while he’s in prison. Paul also has Timothy there with him and many other people. But, he’s in prison.
And he writes this letter to the Philippian church, and it’s a positive letter. In Philippians 6:1 he says, “What God has started in you, He’s going to continue to develop until the day that Jesus comes.” And he talks about the fact that hey, we’re going to stand firm with the Gospel. We’re going to live lives that are worthy of the Gospel.
We realize in chapter four that there’s two women in the church, Euodia and Syntyche, that are sort of having a little bit of a rift between them. And he sort of writes to correct that. So, he’s writing to encourage them, but he’s also writing to correct some of this stuff. And when he gets to chapter two, this is where sort of the main crux of where he’s laying down what the letter is about.
He says, “Listen, if you’ve ever had any work of God in your life, if you’ve ever participated in the spirit, if you’ve ever had any consolation, any love from God at all, what I want you to do, church at Philippi, I want you to live this thing out. I want you to be a church that looks like Jesus.”
And what that’s going to look like is putting others before yourself. Counting others as more significant than yourself. He doesn’t say they are, he just says to count others as more significant than yourself. And then he comes to verse five of chapter two. He says, “So what I want is I want this mind, this attitude, this lifestyle to be a part of the church at Philippi. I want the mind of Jesus to be a part of what you’re doing.”
And then he says, “And let me remind you what that mind looks like; that behavior and that attitude.” He says, “Remember Jesus? He was in the very nature God. There wasn’t anything about Jesus that was any less than God Himself.”
He was fully God. But yet, He didn’t hold on to it. He didn’t cling to it. He didn’t demand His rights as God. What He did is He emptied Himself. He humbled Himself and He took on the form of a man. And not only a form of a man, but as a servant. And this servant Jesus, who would wash feet and take care of people that were on the marginalized parts of society and on the fringes of society, and who gave Himself for them, not only did He come as a servant of a man, but He went to the cross and He died. And even on the cross, we know that Jesus was thinking about others because He said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”
And he says that what God has done – because this is what he does – is He did the great U-turn. This Jesus who was in very nature God, who empties Himself and pours into others and leaves a legacy unto others, God exalts Him and gives Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess to the glory of God the Father.
And then he says, “And what I want you to do is I want you to work this out in the local church.” He says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” The word “you” is not singular. It’s plural. He says, “I want you to work this out in the local church. I want the local church at Philippi to look like Jesus. I want you to have the attitude of Jesus. I want you to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I want everything that you do to look like what Jesus looks like because I want you to shine like stars in the generation that you live in. I want you to be people that God could write about. I want you to be people that God can write a story with there in Philippi doing what God has called you to do.”
And now we’re going to enter into the passage here at about verse 16. And follow through. We’re going to go through a pretty good section of a passage of Scripture. Look at it. We’ll talk through it. And then what we’re going to do is some take-homes and I believe we’ll all walk out of here pumped up and ready to go do something great for Jesus. And hopefully, we’ll walk out of here going, “Man, I want to be somebody that God could write about.”
So let’s join here as Paul is talking to the Philippians. He says “you” which are the Philippians. He says, “I want you to hold fast to the word of life. I know I’ve talked to you about shining like a star and having the mind of Jesus. I want you to hold fast to the word of life so that in the day of Christ, when we’re all standing there at the end of it all and we’re all standing there before Jesus, that I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. I want to be proud. I want to stand with all of you all knowing that we did this thing. We accomplished this thing. We made it happen.”
I mean, to Paul, what he cared about as a pastor of people, as someone who loved people, he wanted to see them become all that God could have them be. He wanted to see them walk in all the fullness that God had for their lives because he wants to stand there on the day of Christ and know that every single person accomplished all the things that God had for them.
And then, I’m not quite sure he did this on purpose. He may have. Then he writes to us about three people that exhibited this Christ-like attitude in their lives. These were people that God wrote about because they’re in Scripture. And I think, looking at their lives a little bit will be – honestly, in some ways, it’s going to be like “wow,” because it’s incredible the lives these people live.
So, let’s look here as we continue on through the Philippians passage. He goes – and this is Paul. And this is why I don’t think Paul necessarily sat down and said, “Okay, let’s see. I told them to look like Jesus and now I’m going to start with myself looking like Jesus.” I don’t think he did that. So, I don’t know that he included the next three people – one of them being himself – intentionally as much as it just sort of flowed as he dictated this latter.
He says, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”
See, Paul’s in prison. Paul doesn’t know if he’s going to live or die. In Philippians 1 he says, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” He says, “I know that you guys are praying for me. I know I’m going to get delivered. I’m not sure how the deliverance is going to be. It’s going to be one way or the other. I’m hoping that I stay around because I think that’s probably best for you. I think I’m going to live, but I don’t know for sure.”
Paul says, “But here’s the deal: even if, being in prison, my life is poured out and I’m offered as a martyr, it’s okay. I’m glad. I’m fine about it. Because it’s not about me. It’s about you. It’s about others. If God can use me through my death to somehow encourage others, I’m all about it because I’m all about what God wants and not about what I want.”
He goes, “I’m glad and rejoice with you all.” And he says, “And likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”
I mean, that’s like a “wow” moment. Sit there and think about being in prison. I mean, maybe you guys wouldn’t be like that, but if I was in prison, I’d be trying to figure out how to get out. You know what I’m talking about? I’d be like, “Hey, God, could you do that Acts 16 deal? Like shake the prison doors and open them up so I can take off, you know? Anybody know how to build tunnels? See me after church in case I ever end up in prison.”
Just kidding. But he says, “Listen, y’all should rejoice and be glad because it’s okay. I’m concerned about what God’s concerned about, not necessarily concerned just about my life.”
And then he says this: “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.”
Now, I want you to lean in here and look at this here. He says, “I hope in the Lord Jesus.” So often, our hope is in what we want God to do for us. So we hope in – “Hey, God. If You could just do this for me. If I could just get this job. If I could just get this car. If I could just get this house or get this boyfriend or girlfriend. Or, God, if I could just get here to this thing and do this thing here. God, I’m hoping in You.”
But no, you’re not hoping really in God. You’re hoping in what you hope God can do for you. Paul says, “I hope in the Lord Jesus. My hope’s in the Lord Jesus. It’s not in being in prison or out of prison. It’s not in my life living or dying. My hope is in the Lord.”
He goes, “And what I want to do, I want to send Timothy to you soon so that I too may be cheered by news of you. I want to send him to you.”
And here’s why: he says, “I don’t have anybody like Timothy. I’ve got a lot of guys around me. Christians. I’ve got Christians around me. I’ve got ministers around me. I’ve got people that I can send to a church. But I have one Timothy. That’s it. One Timothy who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. I’ve got people. But the difference between Timothy and them is that they’re all seeking their own interests and not those of Jesus Christ.”
These are ministers. These are Christians. These are people that are going to heaven. Their interests aren’t the things of Jesus. Their interests are their own. “I’ve got one Timothy. I’ve got one guy that I can send. I could send others that love God, but their interests are their own. Timothy’s concern is you because Timothy’s concern is the concern of Jesus.”
And what is the concern of Jesus? It’s His people. It’s His Church. See, I’ve got a lot of people I could send, but I’ve got one Timothy. Only one.
He says, “But you know Timothy’s proven worth,” – I mean, I don’t have to tell you that, guys. You know who Timothy is. “You know how as a son with a father he has served with me in the Gospel.”
You know, when you read the book of Philippians or you read books, highlight words that keep coming up. What you ought to do one time is if you just go home and read Philippians – you can read Philippians in like 30 minutes. I mean, it’s only four chapters. Highlight the word “Gospel” and look how many times “Gospel” is used in this book. I mean, it’s Gospel Gospel Gospel Gospel. Because, to Paul, what he was concerned about, is getting the good news in front of everybody that he could. And he didn’t care if he was in prison or not in prison because, early on in Philippians 1 he says, “Hey, I’m in prison. But God’s used it anyway to further the Gospel because the Praetorian Guard now is coming to know Jesus.”
I mean, all Paul look at was, “God, what do you want to do with me? If it’s good or bad, whatever comes into my life, God, You just use me to further the Gospel.”
He goes, “You know Timothy. You know that he served with me and what he’s concerned about is letting people know the good news of Jesus Christ.”
He says, “So I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I know how it’s going to go with me.”
“I’m going to get a sentence soon,” Paul’s saying. “They’re either going to be like, ‘It’s done’ or ‘You’re free.’ But one of the two is going to happen. And when I know what’s going to happen with me, I’m going to send Timothy to you so that he can love and you and let me know what’s going on and he can tell you sort of my heart and whatever else.”
He says, “And I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.”
He’s like, “Look, I want to come and I hope that that’s the case and I trust that that’s the case. But I don’t know for sure. It may be good, it may be bad, but I’m trusting in the Lord. That’s where my trust is at that I may shortly come also. But my trust is in God.”
And then he says, “I’ve though it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus.”
Now, Epaphroditus is the guy that has been in Philippi. He’s one of the guys that is a spiritual leader in that church. He’s been sent by the church at Philippi to Paul in prison to take care of him. He says, “So, I want to send you Epaphroditus back,” is basically what he’s saying. “My brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier and your messenger and minister to my need.”
In other words, he’s come to see me, he brought stuff for me and I’m thankful for that, but I want to send him back to you with this letter. In the first century, the way they would do stuff is you would pen a letter and then you would give it to someone to go read it to the church and help them understand what was being said in the letter. This particular letter, it was Epaphroditus. If you’ve ever read the book of Romans, which is a fantastic book – in fact, I would say and many people would say that Romans is one of the greatest books in the New Testament.
Do you know who delivered the book of Romans to the Roman church? It was a woman. Her name was Phoebe. So all you women are like, “I love Pastor Chip. He is so cool.” You know? So the woman delivered it and told them what the letter said. So there you go. Just think about that for a minute. Some of y’all are going, “Aww, man. This guy always busts all my bubbles.”
Anyways. So, “…your messenger and minister to my need.” Here it is. Lean in here because this is really really incredible. “He has been longing for you all.”
He’s hanging out with Paul. I mean, he’s with the man. Paul is the man. The guy that got struck down on the Damascus road. He’s not worried about hanging out with Paul. He’s thinking about the people back at Philippi. He loves them. He’s longing to get back. And here’s the one, when you read it it’s just so sobering.
“He has been distressed because you heard that he was ill.”
He’s worried, not that he’s ill. He’s worried that they heard he was ill and he doesn’t want them thinking too much about him because he cares so much about them. He was distressed that they heard he was ill. Man, what type of love does this guy have for those people? I mean, we all know there’s people that get sick and all they do is complain about everything. Can I get an amen on that one?
Some of you all, I just saw you hit your spouse with a divine elbow. That wasn’t the time to do that. It’s time to look in the mirror. This is for all of us. This guy was sick and ill and he was more concerned that people were worried about him than he was about the fact that he was ill.
“Indeed he was ill, near to death.”
That’s what was going on. This guy that you sent to me to serve me, to help me, he was so sick he almost died.
He says, “But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”
Now, I love this. This is the tenderness of Paul here. Paul is going to tell you, in the book of Philippians, he’s going to say in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice. And again I say: Rejoice!”
He’s going to tell you in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing.”
He’s going to tell you in Philippians 4:13 that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. But, he’s going to be honest here for a minute and he’s going to say, “Listen. If this cat, Epaphroditus, would have died, I not only would have had sorrow – because I mean, I’m in prison and it sort of stinks sometimes, but I would have had sorrow upon sorrow.”
And, so often in our lives, we think that being emotional or being honest with stuff and being honest with the way that we feel, we somehow think that that’s weak or something. It’s not. I mean, a true Christian is going to have an authentic human life. Paul is being honest here. He’s saying, “Look, man. If he would have died, that would have been horrible. I mean, it would have been so bad. But God had mercy on him.”
And he says, “I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious.”
He’s going to tell you just two chapters down the road to not be anxious. But he says, “I’m anxious.” See, we so often have these ideas. You know? Like, “Well, you’ve got to have faith. So, therefore, you can’t show emotion or you can’t have anxiety.”
Let me tell you something. God’s wired you and me. I don’t like snakes. Maybe you all like snakes. Maybe y’all are like Mark 16 people. Like, “I would take up serpents.” You know? Whatever. I’m not. I hate snakes. And I don’t think the fact that when I see a snake that I want to get away from it, I don’t think that means I have some fear that’s not good to God or I’m scared and in some way it’s not good to God. I think that’s a wired thing where you go, “Man, this is the way it is.”
I think Paul’s being honest here. He’s saying, “Listen, I would have had sorrow upon sorrow had Epaphroditus died, and I’m anxious, because the bottom line is he almost died. And I want to get him back to you guys because I know he loves you.”
And then here’s what he says. Listen. This is awesome. He says, “So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men.”
Think about the people we honor. The people that are strong, decisive and they don’t mind to run over people and whatever else. Paul says, “No, the guys that you honor are the guys that get sick for the Lord and they don’t even care about the fact that they were sick. What they care about is you more than themselves.”
Those are people that we should honor. Those are people of honor. He says, “He nearly died for the work of Christ.”
So what Paul has done is he has given us himself, Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus. Three men that God decided to write about. And we see the life that they lived. We see the compassion that they had for others. The way that they got outside of themselves and wanted to do something great. Transcendent lives is what they were. People that were pouring themselves into others and leaving a legacy, which is what I think all of us really, deep down inside, want to do.
So, what we’re going to do right now is this. This is when you get your bulletin out. You’ve got your bulletin? This is the time to get the bulletin out. On the back, here, it says “Sermon Notes.” If you’ve got an iPad, this is the time to get it out. If you’ve got a phone, notepad or whatever you have. This is the time to write stuff down because these are the practical notes from what we just talked about out of the Bible. We’re coming into 2016 right now. These will be things that will absolutely change your life and end this series in such a positive way that I believe that you’re going to want to be and I’m going to want to be people that God could write about.
First thing: A life that He could write about is one that throws himself or herself into the arms of God’s Church.
Now let me sort of unpack that for a minute and what that means. So often in our lives, what we do is we try to live this thing out. And I’m not going to do a show of hands or anything like that. But I think if you were honest – even those who watch via the internet and the mobile app, you feel the same way. So often we go, “You know what? I want to live this thing out, man. I want to do this thing. I want to make sure that I and doing the things that God’s called me to do. But yet, Chip, I start to go pray and all I can think about is pink elephants. And I go to read the Bible and all of a sudden People Magazine seems to be a lot better or surfing the internet on my iPad. I really wanted to go to First Friday, but I saw Arby’s and man, their sandwiches are good. So I showed up there. I mean, I want to live this thing out, but I’m just not quite sure how to do it.”
And the problem is is because we live in an individualistic society that thinks we can do it on our own. We can’t. Paul says, “Have this mind among yourselves.”
Listen to me. The gifts of the spirit and the fruit of the spirit that God gives to you and me can’t be done in isolation. You want to give, you want to serve, you want to be patient, you want to be long-suffering, you want to be gentle, you want to be kind, you want to do those things? You need other people. And so often what we do is we go, “Well, I’m going to do it on my own. I’m going to do it on my own.”
And then we don’t do it on our own. I can’t tell you how many Christians that I find on a regular basis that say to me, “Chip, I really want to live this thing out. I really want to be someone that God could write about. I really want to be a Christian that makes a difference, but I just seem to keep running the hill and I never quite get there.”
So, this is what I call the “You and I cannot do it alone formula.” Now, I don’t like the word “formula”, but I used it here. And the word here is “do.” Whatever that is. Whatever it is. The “it” that you want to see God do in your life. How do I get that? How do I accomplish that in my life? And this is why I say a life that God could write about is someone who throws themselves into the arms of the church.
Let me show you how this works. I’m serious. Lean in here. If you don’t get anything else I say, get this. Here’s the way “it” happens in our life. First of all, God’s Spirit lives within you and me. And we’ve got to have God’s Spirit in you and me to do something. If we’re not a Christian, we’re not going to do the things of the Spirit of God. It’s just not going to happen.
When we become a Christian, God resides within us. And we need that. We need that enabling ability and power to do stuff. There’s people that just grab this and run with that. “All you need is just listen to the Lord. Get the Holy Spirit and everything will be great and you’ll be good.” But, it doesn’t work because there’s more.
There’s community. You and I need each other. We have to have each other. I mean, think about this: if God exists in a community, how much more should we exist in a community? Let me say that again. I don’t think you quite understood that. If God exists in a community – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – how much more should we be existing in a community?
You know James 5:16 says when you confess your sins one to another, so the you may be healed? You getting healed isn’t a singular. It’s a plural. When we confess our faults one to another, the community is healed. See, we need to community. We need God within us. We need the community, which is us working together. We need prayer. And that’s both individual and corporate. You’ve got to have people that you can pray with and you’ve got to pray on your own.
The Word of God. And what happens is people grab these and they go, “What we need around this church is we just need more Word of God. If we just get more Word of God, then everybody will be okay.” But that doesn’t lead to the “it.”
Then “service.” Actually going out and doing stuff. You and I will get so sharpened in our lives by actually going out on the front lines and doing ministry. That’s where God will shape and form us. But all of these things have to be going on in our lives as individual and as corporate people for these “it” to really start happening in our life.
You’ve got the Holy Spirit. Say, “God, I need You. I want You to enable me. I want You to help me. I know You live within me and I know that You’ve given me the ability. And Lord, I’m working with other people. I’m involved in groups. I’m doing stuff and praying with people. God, I’m spending time in prayer. We’re doing the Word of God thing and we’re out doing the service.”
And, all of a sudden, when all of these things start happening in you and I’s lives, what you start seeing is you start looking like what Jesus wants you to look like. And I start looking like what Jesus wants me to look like. I’m just going to be honest here. People are going to go, “Yeah, but I don’t want to pray.” Okay, that’s why you’ve got to have these two things. You’ve got to say, “Okay, I know that I’m a Christian and I know God saved me. But, I don’t want to pray. So, I’m going to call on my community and get on the phone and say, ‘Hey, I need some help. Can you come over to my house or meet me somewhere? Because I don’t want to pray at all and I need some help.’”
You get somebody to start praying with you and guess what you’ll start doing? You’ll start praying. You say, “I don’t want to read the Bible.” Get somebody to come over and read the Bible with you. And if you say to me you can’t do that, you’re copping yourself out. You’re lying to yourself. You can get on the phone and call somebody and say, “Hey, I need some help here.”
You say, “I can’t make it to Friday Friday. Every time I thought of First Friday or the backpack thing or doing something for God, I get distracted.” Well then have somebody come to your house and physically grab you by the back of the neck and bring you there. Because what will happen is, when you show up and you actually are there, you’re going to start going, “Man, this is cool.” And you’re going to start seeing the Word of God and prayer and community and God start working in you. And next thing you know, the “it” is starting to happen in your life because you’re experiencing it through the church.
Am I making sense? Are you with me this morning? Okay, good. Let’s continue on here. Secondly: A life that He could write about is authentically human yet Christ focused.
This idea that we can’t have emotion or we can’t show weakness or the men can’t cry – I mean, Jesus cried. Jesus got frustrated at people. I mean, the deal is is the emotions that God has given you and me are not bad. It’s just that not only are we authentically human, but we also are Christ-focused. We don’t allow our emotions to control our lives because everything is focused upon Jesus, but the emotions are there.
I’ve sat with so many Christians who go, “But, you know, I was just told that I can’t ever show my emotion. If I show my emotion, I don’t have faith.”
That’s not true. To be authentically human is to show emotion.
Third – and this is a really important one. A life He could write about is Gospel driven.
Paul says early in the book of Philippians in Philippians 1:12, he says, “What has happened to me [my imprisonment] has actually served to advance the Gospel.”
Paul was able to look at his life and everything that happened in his life and, rather than looking at it as an obstacle, he looked at it as an opportunity. Whatever came into his life, he didn’t look at it as a stumbling block, he looked at it as a stepping stone. He chose to see that whatever was going on in his life, God was somehow doing something to further the Gospel. And it was an attitude that he had adopted.
Much like the story where there’s two kids. One was really negative and one was really positive. The negative kid, they put him in a room and they had cookies and ice cream and video games. And they put him in there. It’s the negative kid. He’s like, “Wrong cookies. Wrong ice cream. Wrong game.”
They’re like, “Man, this kid’s really negative.”
They took the second, positive kid and they put him in a room that was 8x8. And they had filled it with about two and a half feet of horse manure. And they put the boy in there and he jumped up in the air head first into the manure, swimming around. And they were like, “This kid is crazy.”
They pick him up and they pull him out. They’re like, “Son, what is wrong with you?”
He’s like, “Man, there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere.”
And see, that’s the question that we have to ask ourselves. Are we really Gospel driven? Is it all about Him? Is it all about furthering the Gospel and whether I’m in prison or not in prison it’s about God just using me to do whatever? Paul’s in prison and the Praetorian Guard is getting saved. If Paul wasn’t in prison, then they might not be getting saved. Paul didn’t look at it as I’m in prison, woe is me. He said, “This is a great opportunity for the advance of the Gospel.”
And can I tell you something? I don’t mean to step on anybody’s toes. And listen, I may not be the best communicator in the world. I mean, John Bennett lied when he said I was that good. Anyway, I paid him 20 bucks. Don’t tell anybody. Anyway. I didn’t. I’m just kidding. But, the reality is if I fail here to communicate, it’s on me. But can I tell you something? We’ve got to get out of the business of pointing fingers and telling everybody how to live. We’ve got to get in the preaching the Gospel business. Letting people know that there is a God who sent His Son to die on a cross to bring people back to Him. Prodigals back, people that have failed, people that didn’t feel like they could do anything, He loves every single one of them.
That’s what the world’s wanting to hear. Everybody wants to hear, “Man, could I be a part of a team? Could I be a part of a story? Could I actually be a part of something that God could write about?”
And the answer is: yes. That’s the Gospel. The Gospel is “yes.” In Him is “yes.”
And lastly: A life He could write about can happen in our lives.
So often we think that, man, there’s no way God could use me. “You don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know the things that I’ve thought.” That’s why it’s the Gospel. It’s not based on what we’ve done or what we’ve thought. It’s based on what He’s done for you and me. It’s based on His love for you and me; an everlasting love. And so often what we’re looking for is just, could somebody actually believe in me?
I mean, you’re not here by accident. You’re not watching this by accident. What’s God saying to you? He’s saying to you: “I do believe in you. You.”
Not your neighbor, right now. He believes in him or her, too. But you. And I’ll tell you the power of belief, because we all want it. I remember when I was a kid I was terrible in baseball. You know? I just struck out all the time and it was tee ball. The one where the ball’s on the tee. It ain’t even like pitching to you. I was just terrible.
You guys were laughing at me. I appreciate that. I’m still living with my scars and y’all are laughing. I’m just kidding. Anyway, I get up to bat and strike out and everything. And I remember – this is a true story here – it was like the seventh or eighth inning. I think it has like nine innings that we played. Or maybe we played eight innings or seven. Whatever it was. But it was like the last couple of innings.
There was a couple of people on base and we were down by a couple of runs and it was really important whoever was going to get up and hit next. And it was me. And the kids in the dugout were like, “Ah, man. It’s Bennett. Aww. He’s terrible.”
You know, when you’re a little kid, that hurts. I mean, I’m being honest with you. I mean, they say sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Words hurt. You know? And I went up there. Strike one. And I heard them. “Ah, man. Just get your glove on. Catcher, go ahead and get ready because this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Strike two. You know? And I was feeling pretty down. My coach called me over. He said, “Come here, Chip.” He got down on his knee and he looked at me right in the eye and he said, “I want you to look at me in the eye.” He says, “I want you to know I believe in you. You go out there and you hit that ball. You go out there and swing as hard as you can. Don’t worry about the results. You go out there. I believe in you. You go out there and hit the ball. Get that chin up.”
I went out there and hit the ball. I mean, I try to remember it like it was the game winning home run or whatever. I just think I hit the ball and got to first base. And for me, that was like the most awesome thing in the world to do that. But it’s because somebody believed in me.
I want you to know that God believes in you and God wants to use your life to write a great story with us here, all of us together. Let’s go write a great story about how God took a group of us and some of us greeted, some of us served, some of us washed floors, some of us preached, some of us taught, some of us sang, some of us played drums, some of us watched kids in the nursery. We did all these things. But, we reached the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. And what we did is we left a legacy and a story that when we all stand one day before God, He can look at you and me and say, “I could have written about this.”
And that’s when we’re living a transcendent life and that’s when we’re being a transcendent church. And I want you to know that God wants to use you to do that. He wants you to be someone He could write about.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank You so much for Your love and Your mercy. I thank You, Lord, for Your kindness that You’ve shown us in Your Son Jesus. I thank You, Lord, for the fact that together we’re trying to reach out and love a community and show them the Gospel. I thank You, Lord, for what You’re doing here and I thank You for the people that are at Grace. And I pray, Lord, that we would all envision in our head one day standing there on the day of Jesus going, “We didn’t run in vain and we didn’t labor in vain. We did something great for the Kingdom of God and we were all a part.”
And when You call our name out, we won’t remember the bags that we packed, we won’t remember the hands that we shook, we won’t remember the times that we folded chairs and put them up, but Lord, You’re going to start pinning on us all the people’s lives that were touched because we were a part of it.
Lord, understanding that helps us live a transcendent life now and one in the future and it helps us to be people that You could write about. So, Lord, I pray that as we leave today that You would watch over us and protect us, that You would lead and guide us, that You would bring us back safely to when we meet again. We love You for all that You’re doing in our lives and at Grace. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.”