Sermon Takeaways: A More Valuable Pursuit
Many of us live in an environment where we are occupied with a myriad of pursuits. We have been privileged enough to become educated, capable, and contributing members of society.
In the midst of all the busyness, it is good to consciously pause and think about what we are doing and why, rather than mindlessly go along with what we’re “supposed” to be doing. As a Christian, because of the nature of our beliefs, it is especially important to consider what we’re pursuing and determine whether we need to make adjustments to align ourselves according to biblical principles.
For me, this sermon helped me do just that. There are a couple points mentioned that spoke to me which I would like to share. They all revolve around a theme of pushing ourselves in our faith beyond the complacency of being a Christian in name. Of course if you can carve out the time (43:10), I’d recommend just listening to the sermon yourself :)
- What is our fundamental aspiration as a Christian? Some may believe out of a desire to live a blessed and prosperous life. This is often used as a supporting point in evangelism, or in some cases, the primary hook (e.g. to an extreme, prosperity gospel). But the Bible tells us that the pleasures of this life are temporary, and we can bring nothing with us after death. Whether the prosperity we enjoy is a result of believing in God or not, when we die the value of material blessing to us is still nil.
- If the extent of our faith is just to pursue a peaceful and comfortable life, this is a great shame because there are “exceedingly great and precious promises” that we are not pursuing (2 Peter 1:4). Through these promises, we can become “partakers of the divine nature” which will in turn award us an “entrance into the everlasting kingdom,” i.e. something of far greater and permanent value. While it is good to seek blessings from God, it is more important to work towards emulating and adopting the character of Jesus. This means we think like Him, see things from His perspective, make decisions as He would, etc. That is what it means to be a mature Christian vs. one that is merely a self-identified Christian.
- Becoming Christ-like is not automatic. Nobody would say that after a person is just baptized, he/she now embodies the nature of Jesus. Rather, it is a life-long proactive pursuit. Like all promises in the Bible, it is something to be diligently sought after.
- Even among Christians, it is very common for us to invest our time and energy into things that we can see, such as our tangible accomplishments. But when it comes to matters of faith and promises we cannot see, we can be very lackadaisical. This is an indication of a lack of faith. Faith is not about relying on God so we can attain an optimal, cushy, and enviable lifestyle, but rather continuously transforming ourselves to be more Christ-like so that after we have lived our lives, we can be approved by God. If we believe that’s what’s important and mean it, it would actively shape our priorities and decision-making.
- When our faith is stagnant because of #4, we can be quick to brand ourselves as “good Christians” because we go to church every week and offer tithe. This is not unlike the Israelites as described in the book of Micah who were content with themselves to keep the festivals and offer sacrifices. If that’s really all it takes, then it’s too easy to be a “good Christian.” What was God’s message to the Israelites in response to their complacency? Micah 6:8 — “to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.”
- Many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, can feel very indifferent about incorporating faith and God in their lives. This can be attributed to a lack of knowledge of God. When we pursue the knowledge of God to really know Him, that’s when we can understand why He is so precious to us.
- A note on humility — generally speaking we might think of a humble person as someone who speaks modestly about themselves so as not to appear arrogant but rather gracious. By that standard, it’s very easy to be humble and many people can be considered humble. But when we know Jesus more (point #6), we understand humility as something much deeper, which is to lower oneself. Even though Jesus is God, He lowered Himself to become a servant of the people, even to wash His disciples’ feet. And He further lowered Himself to less than a servant to become a sinner deserving of death on the cross. To be humble from a Christian standpoint is to lower ourselves such that there is no more of our own will, but complete submission to what God wants us to do.
- Perseverance — to pursue after God’s nature and serve Him is a long-term and difficult endeavor. If we need someone to do some work for 5 minutes, many people are willing to volunteer. Make it 5 hours and the number of those willing might be halved. Make it 5 days and the number becomes even lower. Jesus persevered to the end. If we are pursuing to embody His character, we are called to do the same.
If you got this far, I hope these points were able to help you reflect on your life-focus as they did me. Even as we work and invest in our earthly lives, may it all follow the arc of a more important and valuable pursuit, which is to become genuinely and authentically more and more like Jesus.