The Prison Of Passivity

Rearview Mirror

First of all, hi!  I know it’s been a while since I last posted and it would feel really weird to jump right back in without acknowledging that it’s been a couple of months.  I’ll post more about why I took the break and how God’s used it later but, for today, I just want to say I’ve missed this chance to connect with our church and am looking forward to posting more regularly.

If nothing else, this blog provides a convenient format for me to Monday morning quarterback my own sermons, which I feel the need to do today.  All last week, I had been so excited to preach yesterday’s message, “The Prison Of Passivity” but as I was driving home, I found myself concerned that I wasn’t as clear as I should have been.

I definitely wanted to shake all of us, myself included, out of the rut of passivity.  I just hope I did that in a way that built on the unshakeable foundation of God’s grace.  It’s grace that saves us, sustains us, provides for us, guides us, and transforms us.  If you take grace out of the equation, you no longer have Christianity.  Everything in our lives flows from the fountain of grace.

But that grace doesn’t exempt us from effort.  It empowers it.  And I think that’s where we tend to get confused, justify our apathy, and spiritualize our innate laziness or passivity.  As I said yesterday, what we see as grace in the rearview mirror of life always looks like effort through the windshield.  I fear that we’ve lost sight of that reality.

Yes, God parts the Red Sea.  But we still have to walk through it.  Yes, no one can come to the Son unless the Father draws them.  But God makes His appeal through our lives and our words.  Yes, it’s love for Christ that motivates us to spend time with him in the early morning hours of the day.  But it takes an alarm clock to make it happen.  Yes, any professional success we have is attributable to God’s grace.  But it’s also going to take a lot of hard work.

I was listening to a sermon from Pastor Levi Lusko on the treadmill this morning and heard him say, “If you see someone on the top of a mountain, you know he didn’t fall there.”  There was a long, hard climb to get there.  Jesus rarely offers a ski lift to the top.  He’s far more likely to empower us for the hike.

Praise God for grace.  We would be no where without it.  But that grace doesn’t exempt us from effort.  We want to be a people who see holiness and hustle as two sides of the same coin, not competing values.

So, whatever you’re up to today, “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23-24).  Don’t live today locked in the prison of passivity.  Grace has freed you from that!

Get To Work

laziness-profanes

As a church, we’re in a season of considering how the gospel forges a community that is distinct from the rest of the world.  On Sundays, I’m focusing on the “one another” commands of Scripture – those passages where the Lord instructs us on how we should be treating each other within the church.  But our treatment of one another shouldn’t be the only distinction.

For example, we should work with a vigor and intensity that stands out in a sea of laziness and mediocrity.  Christ followers should be the most diligent students in the classroom, the most productive employees in the factory and the hardest workers in the office.  We won’t always ace the test, make the right decision or come up with the best answer.  But nobody should outwork us.  That’s not because we’re better than anyone else but because we have a totally different, and infinitely superior, motivation.  We do it all for the sake of Jesus’ name.  Our work ethic isn’t motivated by our advancement but by His glory.

In Ezekiel 36, God is once again contending with faithless Israel.  He’s outraged that when Israel “came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they had to go out of his land.’  But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.” (Ez. 36:20-21)  In other words, Israel was acting in such a way that pagan nations were looking down on Yahweh.  Israel’s faithlessness tarnished the name of God.  And God takes the glory of His name very seriously!

Israel profaned the name of God through exile and abandoning the promised land.  I’m convinced that one of the most common ways we do it is through our laziness.   Don’t use Scripture as your screensaver and then spend all day on Facebook.  Don’t tell everyone how much you love Jesus and then be consistently unprepared for meetings. If you’re going to celebrate Jesus taking on your sin, you ought to be willing to take on some extra work every once in a while.  We need to get to work because laziness profanes the name of God.

This is what Paul has in mind as he’s wrapping up the third chapter of his letter to the Colossians.  “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.“(Col. 3:17)  And then just a few verses later, “ Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23-24)  Work in a way that makes God look amazing.  

We talk all the time about the world needing hope now more than ever.  It does. Sometimes that hope shows up in big, bold, dramatic ways.  But, more often, it shows up when ordinary Jesus followers get up, go to work, do their best and earn the right to talk about the God behind it all.  So, Restoration City, be distinct.  Get to work!