GOD ANSWERS DOUBTS-WHAT'S MY PURPOSE IN LIFE?
Dear friends in Christ,
Judy and I get up at 5: 15 AM on weekday mornings except for Monday. She has that day off during the school year. I try to take Mondays off. One of the first things I do is turn on the TV to catch some news and weather, shave and shower and dress. It is very routine. But you know what else is routine? What we hear on the news that early in the morning. Almost always a reporter is stationed at the scene of a crime or at the hospital getting the full story of a shooting, home invasion or car jacking. You have seen it too. We have even come to the point where we expect to hear it on a daily basis. We even get to the point of being cold to it because we hear it so often.
I know I am a sinner. When the Bible says that anyone who hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him,” but one wonders what some are thinking when they get up everyday. Do they plot and plan a murderous attack? Do they scheme early in the morning to rob someone by the end of the day? Is that what is on their minds? Is that what they live for? Is that their purpose in life?
Today Jesus reminds us what we really need to be thinking about, what we really need to have on our minds. With these words to guide us found in Luke’s Gospel our God answers the question – “What is My Purpose in Life? 1) to live in respect to then?
I read a book in preparation for this sermon. The author made a statement that in the Gospel of John, the apostle uses the word “world” seventy eight times. I checked it out. I got out my concordance. That’s a book that has all the different words found in the Bible and it tells you in which verses you can find them. It is true. There are twenty one chapters and you find the word “world” seventy eight times. In this first epistle, later in the Bible in just five chapters he uses it twenty two times.
How does he use the word “world?” Sometimes he uses it to mean the earth as in Jesus came to this world. Many times, on the other hand, he uses the world as part of the Trinity of temptation. We even use an oft used cliché – the Devil, the world and our own sinful flesh. The world is the source of attacks on our immortal soul. But how?
The self help gurus, the success teachers are some of the sources of worldliness. Their message is very attractive. They talk about the things that are relevant. They speak about the now. They speak of the real problems that slap us in the face every morning when we get up and the problems we had to resolve before we went to sleep at night. Heaven isn’t much in their vocabulary. Listen to Joel Osteen. How often does he speak about heaven, even though it is the eternal home of God’s elect? He’s about the here and now. That’s what makes him popular. Even Christians like to hear about the now more than the then.
Worldliness has to do with attachments to this world as if we are going to be here forever and never have to give this world up. Worldliness is has its source in selfishness as if all things we have or want to have are ours to keep. I just saw a story that Bill Gates is the richest man in America. He is said to be worth $87 billion dollars. He keeps saying that he wants to give all his fortune away and is asking other billionaires to do the same. Yet he seems to get richer every year. Better enjoy it, Bill, while you have it. No fleet of armored trucks will follow you with your billions after they put you in the casket. Remember, too, those armored trucks would need to be insulated very well, because Bill Gates has stated he has no use for Christ. Yet there is a sad reality, $87 billion will never get us into heaven, it doesn’t keep us from dreaming about it and making life a whole lot easier. That’s worldliness
Worldliness prefers the material and temporary to the spiritual and eternal. I saw a quote from C. S. Lewis that ought to make us think. “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Do you know where worldliness is also evident? When there are controversies with the Bible! When we say or anyone says that God’s Word is harsh or sexist or just plain bad. When you find that you are more sympathetic to the point of view of the world and say that what the Bible says is such a narrow interpretation.
Let’s go to what Jesus said to the Pharisees. “Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” The Pharisees were very interested that the kingdom of Israel, the people of God, being great and powerful and influential. That had not been the case for 1000 years. They had missed the point why they were a nation God had blessed. The Christ would come from them, the Redeemer of mankind, the Savior from sin. He came to establish a forever kingdom not here but there, not in a palace but in the heart, not with an impressive gross national product but with the robes of righteousness he would freely give. It is not here but there! It is not for an earthly lifetime but in a world without end.
The day is coming when all will see it. He is coming back to prove it. “Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”
There is a timeline that the Lord gives. He says to his disciples that all kinds of false prophets will come along and claim all kinds of things about themselves, some will even say they are the Messiah. Many will be fooled.
Regarding Jesus, he said that he would come back in all power and might and will one day judge the earth. Yet, he said to those Pharisees they would get their way. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”
Jesus says there is a lot to be learned from Noah and how he faced Judgment Day. Don’t be like so many who seemed unfazed. “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. Noah preached and put up tangible proof that he believed what he preached. He said a judgment was coming. It would be by water. He put his money where his mouth was. He built an ark. Did people take it to heart. Not one bit. They just went on eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage.
Jesus said there was still another time when judgment was coming but that no one paid attention - Sodom and Gomorrah. “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.”
Just a little item here as a sidebar. He says they were eating and drinking, buying and selling and planting and building. Jesus didn’t dare say that their homosexuality practices were considered marriage or being given into marriage, does he? People went on with their lives, concerned about all their attachments to the world but oblivious about the world to come.
Think about Noah. The Lord warned him well ahead of the time the windows of heaven were opened and the fountains fo the deep burst forth. As he was preparing for the flood and building the ark, he had to live in the world he had come to know. He bartered for saws and hammers in the town square where issues of the day were debated almost like the presidential debates, don’t you think.
But the Lord had given him warning. He was told that all would be destroyed. The debates and the debaters, the saws, the hammers and the trees he had to cut down were going to be destroyed when the waters would start rising. He and his family saw things in a different perspective than the rest of the world. He saw everything, even the home that he had built and the animals that he had, the neighbors that lived next door and all their possessions would be underwater.
Imagine what it must have been like on the ark. His wife and children he got to keep, but frankly little else. As someone wrote about the scene, He couls see his family lifeted up by the water, salvaged our of that condemene dworld and set down in another world, the one that existed after the flood. The judgment taught him that there was nothing in this world he got to keep – only his family, who knew the Lord and loved the Lord like he did.
The same message is for us. You have no future here. Oh, there is a future but not here I this world. So often, as I said at the beginning of this sermon when John uses the word world he refers to the entire rebellious world that fights against the Creator. The world is the entire earthbound system of human thinking and institutions who have no place for Christ. That world will no longer be here after the Judgment comes.
That’s the way we need to live now. Judy and I moved here to the South 38 years ago. It was obvious that we weren’t from around here. The moment we began a conversation with someone they could tell. We just didn’t speak like a southerner does. Even after all these years we still don’t. Anyone who is from the South can tell. In our first congregation a man native to Andulusia, Alabama wanted me to say y’all like a good Southerner would. He would say the word and I would repeat it exactly the way he said it…or at least I thought so. He would laugh at me and shake his head. They could tell I just couldn’t say it like a southerner would.
I love the South and have lived here for more of my life than where it all started. As a Christian, I pray that all of us make it evident in our lives that we aren’t really citizens of this world and think we are going to live here forever. It just isn’t true. I pray that we are like Noah came to be. He realized his future was not here but there, not for now but for then. I pray we think and believe likewise.