Tag Archives: 1 Corinthians 15:58

How to grow as a disciple of Jesus in an already busy world – 1st Corinthians 15:58

15 Oct

WaldoJesusLast week I introduced Sunday’s sermon on 1st Corinthians 15:58 by asking what we do if we want to serve God more, but our lives are so busy.  Out of that question comes another one: isn’t okay to just believe in Jesus, or do we need to be radicals?

1st Corinthians 15:58 closes out a long discussion Paul is having about the resurrection.  Because the resurrection is true, he says, it is a world-changing event that begs us to give our lives in response. The problem is that we haven’t often heard what it means to be a disciple. Instead we have bought in to the idea of levels of commitment to God, as I mentioned before.

An article was published recently that describes in more detail how Christians in our country have looked at commitment to Jesus, and it is scary. The author, Ed Stetzer, says that Christians in our country can be divided nearly evenly into three groups, each making up about 25% of our nation’s population. As you hear me describe Stetzer’s three groups, I want you to think about which one you are in.

First, he says there are “Cultural Christians, [who] are simply those who, when asked, say they are a Christian rather than say they are an atheist or Jewish. They are “Christian” for no other reason than they are from America and don’t consider themselves something else.” Does that describe you? Not sure? Here’s the next group.

He calls them “Congregational Christian[s]. This person generally does not really have a deep commitment, but they will consider themselves as Christians because they have some loose connection to a church—through a family member, maybe an infant baptism, or some holiday attendance.” How about that group? Does describe you? Maybe you are in the…

The final group he calls “Convictional Christians, [and they] are those people who self-identify as Christian who orient their life around their faith in Christ. This includes a wide range of what Christian is—not just evangelicals, for example. It means someone says they are a Christian and it is meaningful to them.”

If we apply these three designations to what Paul has just taught us in 1st Corinthians, Paul is saying that we need to be last group, Convictional Christians.  Stetzer goes on to explain that the first two groups are what he calls nominal Christians, meaning they are Christians in name only. As we have been talking about for the last few weeks, people in those first two groups, the Cultural or Congregational Christians might have a semblance of belief in the content of the Gospel, but they do not have the commitment.

Stetzer predicts that “The nominals will increasingly become nones…They’re simply calling themselves Christians because that’s who they consider themselves to be, not because of any life change or ongoing commitment. Those types of Christians, about half of the population now, will become a minority in a few decades.”

So what we do about this? We do exactly what Paul says. If you feel you are in Group 1 or 2, Paul is saying that we need to be in Group 3, the group that stands firm, lets nothing move you, in your belief and commitment to the resurrection and mission of Jesus. He says that we should always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord.

So what will that look like this afternoon, tomorrow at work, in the cafeteria of your school, or as you rake your leaves or watch TV?

Here are some practical steps that another writer suggests.

In a busy, busy world, it is possible to “always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord.”  So what does that mean for you?

Breaking the 80/20 Rule (or Is Radical Christianity really necessary?)

10 Oct

80-20-rule-buttonAt Faith Church I’m convinced we have broken the 80-20 rule.

You know the adage that “20% of the people do 80% of the work”?  It is a complaint that usually a small group of people take on the lion’s share of the responsibility in an organization, while the majority of people slack off.  Often the 80-20 rule comes up in volunteer organizations like the church.  It can leave the 20% in a frustrated fuming place because they’re tired of “doing it all”, while the 80% free-load into relaxation.

Not at Faith Church.  We break that rule.  And it is an awesome thing to see.  I think we have 80% of the people serving very actively.  Maybe it could be said that we follow the 80-90 rule.  80% of the people doing 90% of the work.  Sure there are some people that work more than others, but I am so impressed at how many people are giving of themselves on committees, volunteering for ministry, and serving others in personal ways.  There is also the hidden service that happens that I know nothing about, because people want to serve the Lord and want no recognition for themselves.

So I’m really encouraged by Faith Church!  And yet, in our next passage in 1st Corinthians, we could potentially hear Paul asking us to serve even more.  This week’s sermon is on one verse, and not a very long one at that.  After breaking down his teaching on the resurrection in four sections, this week we look at the final verse of that resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15, verse 58:

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

It seems like Paul is saying we should use the 100-100 rule.  100% of the people do 100% of the work.  Everyone always giving themselves fully!

Sound impossible to anyone?  Sound unrealistic?

How many of you see all the stuff going on at church and think that you would love to help out, but your life is so busy there’s no time?  How many of you think 100% is ridiculous, and you just move on, maybe feeling guilty, maybe feeling pressure, and having conversations with yourself about why not serving more is okay?  How many of you think that when the kids grow up, then you’ll give more time to the Lord?

Why is Paul so fired up anyway?  It’s these kinds of verses that make Paul seem a bit too radical for our tastes, right?

So what do we do with radical teaching?  We normally call it “radical” and throw it away.  We’re looking for “balanced” teaching.  Teaching that fits with an already busy life.

But should we dismiss Paul?  Is it possible that he was right and we are wrong to caricature him as radical?  What could it possibly mean to “always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord”?  Didn’t the Corinthian Christians have jobs and families too?  They couldn’t all be hanging around teaching Sunday School all the time, right?  Or were they always on the street corner preaching the Gospel?  How did they keep food on the table?  What do we do with this one single, little, but intense verse???

Join us at Faith Church on Sunday as we take a look at this further.  We’ll look at what it means to serve God in the midst of crazy busy lives.

standfirm