Playing Your Part William Barclay wrote: “There are two great days in a person’s life -- the day we are born and the day we discover why.”
Everyone in this room has been given an assignment. Everyone in this room has a part to play in the symphony of God. God writes the words and the music. He is the conductor. You and I are the players.
If you want your life on this earth to be fulfilling in any way you need to play your part.
We take the talent and the opportunities that God has given us and place them in His hands for service.
Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. Romans 6:13
Once upon a time, the animals decided they should do something meaningful to meet the problems of the new world. So they organized a school. They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects. The duck was excellent in swimming; in fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying, and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to drop swimming and stay after school to practice running. This caused his webbed feet to be badly worn, so that he was only average in swimming. But average was quite acceptable, so nobody worried about that - except the duck. The rabbit started at the top of his class in running, but developed a nervous twitch in his leg muscles because of so much make-up work in swimming. The squirrel was excellent in climbing, but he encountered constant frustration in flying class because his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He developed "charlie horses" from overexertion, and so only got a C in climbing and a D in running. The eagle was a problem child and was severely disciplined for being a non-conformist. In climbing classes he beat all the others to the top of the tree, but insisted on using his own way to get there..."
The obvious moral of that story is a simple one - each creature has its own set of capabilities in which it will naturally excel -unless it is expected or forced to fill a mold that doesn’t fit. When that happens, frustration, discouragement, and even guilt bring overall mediocrity or complete defeat. A duck is a duck -and only a duck. It is built to swim, not to run or fly and certainly not to climb. A squirrel is a squirrel - and only that. To move it out of its forte, climbing, and then expect it to swim or fly will drive a squirrel not. Eagles are beautiful creatures in the air but not in a foot race. The rabbit will win every time unless, of course, the eagle gets hungry. What is true of creatures in the forest is true of Christians in the family; both the family of believers and the family under your roof. God has not made us all the same. He never intended to. It was He who planned and designed the differences, unique capabilities, and variations in the Body.
Peter received his initial call from the Lord when he heard the words, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Now he hears another call from the Lord after his miserable failure just prior to Jesus’ crucifixion.
I want to try to hear this call that Peter received because it really is the universal call of God. It is what He wants from every person who professes to follow Him.
1. His Call: Servanthood
Every Christfollower hears the same call
Here is an inside look at the conversation between Jesus and Peter. Remember that Peter had denied Jesus just prior to His crucifixion and then he returned to fishing which is the vocation the Lord called him from initially.
Jesus then has this very personal conversation with him. You need to know that God is referred to both in the Old and New Testaments as a Shepherd and we are considered to be His flock. We are the sheep.
“After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
This suggests that even the lambs or little ones need attention.
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
Here is a clear call to service and taking care of “the sheep.”
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
Once again what Jesus is calling Peter to is a life of spiritual nurturing and leading other into a growing relationship with Christ.
What Jesus said to Peter translates into the life of every Christfollower to one degree or another.
2. His Commission: Service
Every Christfollower should understand service
The commission that was given to Peter in this conversation is one that all of us should hear.
Clearly throughout the whole Bible and especially in the New Testament we are taught to serve others.
Why do people get involved and serve within the local body of believers? Have you ever wondered why people stand in the parking lot on cold and rainy days and welcome you to this church? Have you ever wondered why others wear green aprons and make sure that there is coffee and snacks available every Saturday evening and Sunday morning?
Have you ever wondered why those guys sit back in the little booth and push buttons or run a camera or create powerpoints? Have you ever wondered why people would volunteer to work in the nursery or work with your children in kid’s ministry? Have you ever wondered why there are people who play instruments and sing who show up and practice and give hours a week to make worship happen?
Have you ever wondered if you should be doing something?
The church is referred to as the body of Christ. We have been individually gifted and called to make this body function the way it should. Every time someone doesn’t use their gifts in the way God intended it cripples the effectiveness of the church.
I know this sounds harsh but I am praying that every person who considers themselves to be a part of this body will find something to do after this message.
The bottom line is: We are all called to serve.
The big question: What are you doing about it?
Let me talk to you as your pastor for a few moments. I have been privileged to lead this church since June of 2001. We have changed a lot since that first service seven years ago. We are a church that is growing and a church that has the unique opportunity of attracting people who have been unchurched or dechurched.
We are a growing church. For sure numerically and hopefully spiritually as well. If all we ever do is get more people without making authentic followers of Christ we have been having a good time for nothing.
Now I want you to hear my heart. The only way we can function as a church is for people to get involved. Getting involved means you love people enough to give up some of your time to give back to others.
We seem to have no problem sitting and listening or watching others do the work but that is wrong and not biblical in any way. There is no room in the body of Christ for people who don’t want to work and serve others.
It boils down to love and listening to the call of God in your life. In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy challenged Linus about his dreams for the future. She said to him, “Linus, you can’t be a doctor. You hate mankind.” Linsu responded, “Lucy, you don’t understand. I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand.”
I know that people will try your last nerve but Jesus said to serve them anyway.
We have barely scratched the surface of the kinds of ministry we ought to be doing as a church. And do you know why that is? Because it is all we can do to hold our heads above water in existing ministries. We have just barely enough people involved to get it done and many of them are tired and haven’t had a break in years.
There are a dozen ministries I can think of right now that we should be doing as a church in our communities but we can’t even speak of them because it is all we can do to get people to step up to and get involved in current ministries.
3. His Cross: Sacrifice
Every Christfollower embraces sacrifice
Adoniram Judson was a great missionary. He once said about serving God, and success:
"There is no success without sacrifice. If you succeed without sacrifice it is because someone has suffered before you. If you sacrifice without success it is because someone will succeed after."
“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” John 21:15-23
These words to Peter are very powerful and direct.
We are called to sacrifice. Peter was being told that he was going die some day and it would all revolve around the fact that he had followed Christ and done His will.
I am almost embarrassed to preach this sermon in America. We have so little of an idea of what it means to truly sacrifice for Christ in light of much of the rest of the world. I include myself in that indicting statement.
A young police officer was taking his final exam for the police academy and he read the following question in the exam paper:
"You are on patrol in the outer city when an explosion occurs in a gas main in a nearby street. On investigation you find that a large hole has been blown in the footpath and there is an overturned van nearby.
Inside the van there is a strong smell of alcohol. Both occupants—a man and a woman—are injured. You recognize the woman as the wife of your Chief of Police, who is at present out of the country.
A passing motorist stops to offer you assistance and you realize that he is a man who is wanted for armed robbery. Suddenly a man runs out of a nearby house, shouting that his wife is expecting a baby and that the shock of the explosion has made the birth imminent.
Another man is crying for help, having been blown in the adjacent canal by the explosion, and he cannot swim.
Describe in a few words what actions you would take."
The young man thought for a moment, picked up his pen and wrote,
“I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd.”
Too many of us see the Christian life in the same way. We love to just mingle with each other and we have forgotten that the call to serve Christ is one of sacrifice and caring for others.
Sometimes people who won’t sacrifice and serve others remind me of this little limerick: (I hope none of the State Farm employees write this down it might become policy)
There was a very cautious man
Who never laughed or played.
He never risked, he never tried
He never sang or prayed.
And when one day, he passed away
His insurance was denied
For since he never really lived
They claimed he never died.
How about you? Have you heard the call that Jesus gave to Peter? Have you ever accepted those words and made them your own?
I want you to imagine that your life is over… and you are led to a room.. there are 2 chairs in the room, one is for you and one for God and there is a DVD player. God pops in the DVD. It has your name on it – it says “Your Name -- What Might have Been”
IMAGINE – watching all that God wanted to do in and through your life – if you would have let Him – if you would have gotten out of the chair and played your part.
IMAGINE – seeing all the lives you could have touched…if you had played your part.
IMAGINE – seeing what God could have done with your financial resources if you had trusted him and gave generously of your first fruits by tithing and played your part.
IMAGINE – what he might have done in your relationships if you trusted him enough to be fully truthful and fully loving.
IMAGINE – what he might have done with your character, if you had dared to confess sin, acknowledged temptation and pursue growth…
What you do with your life matters…
HERE is some good news…..that DVD of your life and mine is not complete yet…
There is still time for you to play your part.
Soren Kierkagaard said, “I went into church and sat on the velvet pew. I watched as the sun came shining through the stained glass windows. The minister dressed in a velvet robe opened the golden gilded Bible, marked it with a silk bookmark and said, ‘If any man will be my disciple, said Jesus, let him deny himself, take up his cross, sell what he has, give it to the poor, and follow me.’ And I looked around and Nobody was Laughing."
True worship comes in a sacrifice of self to God. It comes in a sacrifice of praise. Worship is where God is focused on – we give Him our undivided attention. Worship is where we put our confidence in Him rather then ourselves. Worship is were somehow we are standing in His presence and we are “undone”. We need to remove our shoes because we are standing on Holy Ground. Not because the dirt beneath my feet is holy – but that we are in the presence of a Holy God.