Christ-Centered Call: A Life of Serving

We now come to the final sermon in what has turned out to be a six week series on the 3C’s of our church. Since 2003 we have embraced and taught that every Christfollower will participate in and find the 3C’s active in their lives. The 3C’s are:

Driven by a concern for personal discipleship and the glaring need for the people in this church to be genuine Christfollowers, we have added a new and biblical dimension to the 3C’s. We believe and will teach that all of these three will only be effective in our lives if we have intentionally surrendered our lives to Christ and we practice that surrender on a daily basis. This discipline adds a fourth C to the list. Those who would truly follow Christ must add this in fact. The highest goal of any Christfollower will be to live our lives in a Christ-centered manner.


Today we look at the concept of being called but in a Christ-Centered way. All of us are called by God to service and to work for Him. Every Christfollower is called by the Word of God to be engaged in Christ’s work on this earth.
I once heard Os Guinness address a question about why the church in the late 20th century was not having a larger impact in our world when there were more people going to church than ever before. He said the main reason was not that Christians weren't where they should be. There are plenty of artists, lawyers, doctors, and business owners that are Christians. Rather, the main reason is that Christians aren't who they should be right where they are.
"Calling", he said, "is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction." When we reduce the notion of "calling" to work inside the church, we fail to equip our people to apply their Christian faith to everything they do, everywhere they are.
As has often been said, "If Christ is not Lord of all, he's not Lord at all."
Today we call you to answer to call that is deep within you by surrendering your gifts and strengths to the Lord that created us to serve Him and with Him on this earth.
Marguerite Provost wrote, “One day my three-year-old granddaughter, Beverly, was playing with her toys. Her mother, who was folding laundry across the room, noticed Beverly’s shirt was dirty and needed to be changed. After calling two times with no response, her mother gave her the full three-name call: "Beverly Elizabeth Provost, did you hear me?" Beverly answered, "Yes, Mama. My ears did, but my legs didn’t."
-- Marguerite Provost, Georgia. Today’s Christian Woman, "Small Talk."

The idea is that when have centered your life around and on Christ that you will answer His call every day. Let’s look at what this means again using Romans 12 as a basis for our thoughts today.

1. Learn to labor like Christ Excellence

All of us have been called to something. All of us have been given strengths that are unique and that God wants to use in His Kingdom. The most common metaphor in the Bible is one of the body; we are Christ body and He is the Head of the body. We are to function on this earth as the body of Christ. That means that we are to do the work of Christ and to do it well.
4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Romans 12:4-8 NLT
Verse six says, “In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.”  I want to point this out and the fact that we have a class in this church designed to help you discover your strengths as a person. Let me tell you that this partnership with the Gallup organization is more than just another class at church!
I really believe that everyone in this room needs to take this class. By the way, Living Your Strengths is offered on an ongoing basis so check your Discipleship 2010 calendar and sign up. This is not some class that is just focused on getting you a job around the church.  It really focus’ on you as a person and who you are in your everyday life. What should you be doing with your life? What strengths do you have and are you working and laboring in those strengths?  
Know this: we all have gifts and strengths. No Christfollower is left out. You may not have something that is on this list and it is not meant to be exhaustive but there are things that you are good at and that is what you should be doing to honor Christ.
Look at the scripture again:
 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Romans 12:4-8 NLT

Is very rarely predicting the future. In the New Testament context the word really means more often than not; communicating or declaring God’s word. It is the communicating of revealed truth in a manner that convicts and builds up its hearers. Most often someone with this strength or gift will have penetrating things to say about specific problems in society or life. We are to do this with Christ as our standard of faith.

Serving is the same Greek word from which the Bible sometimes translates deacon and refers to doing the work of the church gathered. It means serving others in the name of the church and we are to do it well.

Teaching is more about instructing the mind and “prophesy” is more about the heart and the will. Teaching is more concerned with knowledge and prophesy is more concerned with God’s revelations to our hearts.

The root idea here is to come alongside and encourage. Our church sometimes has family skate nights and it is the best illustration of this gift. Parents put kids on skates for the first time and then they skate with their child, holding their hands. Sometimes the kid’s feet are on the ground and sometimes they are in the air. But all the time the parents are there encouraging them along the way.  Oh how we need people to practice this gift in the Kingdom of God. (not all of us have it but those that do should use it well.)

If your gift is giving, give generously. Give simply. Give without hidden motives or hidden purposes. Give with love.  In a church context we believe the Bible teaches that we give 10% off the top of our income so that the church can function. We also believe that we have the privilege to give above and beyond the practice of tithing. Once you learn the practice of being generous and not hoarding in your attitude you will discover an amazing way to live. “You can never out give God.”

“Take it seriously” we are told. I pray for leaders nearly every day. We are desperate of people who will take leadership seriously. In a church context leadership can be seen at the staff level but it is not exclusive to paid positions. We have leaders in Kid City and Student ministries, we have leaders in Connect and Hospitality, security, Sound and media and a host of other areas. The thing we need most in these areas is taking it seriously.  
Kindness: We strive to be a compassionate church. We intentionally do community outreach and goal we have is to do it with kindness and cheerfulness. Too often people who engage in outreach to others become bitter and cynical. They develop attitudes that are anything but kind. They judge others harshly and it comes through.  Let me encourage you to really examine yourself here and let God break and melt your heart so that you can quit focusing on yourself and serve with cheerfulness.                                     
Dr. Barnhouse wrote, “Have I listened to His voice? Have I laid my own reason in the dust before Him in order to take it again, enlightened by Him, for use in my work? Have I been spiritually alert and dependent upon the Holy Spirit? Have I gone again and again to the Word of God to refresh my own soul before speaking to others? Have I tried to live what I preach? Have I acknowledged my sins when the Lord showed them to me, and repented of them? Have I recognized moment by moment my utter dependence upon the Lord? Have I been lazy? Have I been diligent? Have I insulted the Lord by feeding His sheep with ill-prepared food?" These questions should cause all teachers (and all of us no matter what our gift is) to "think soberly" about the use of their gift.”

2. Learn to love like ChristEagerly
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13 NLT
In verse 9, it is often translate, “Love must be sincere.” Don’t pretend to love but really love! We live in a culture that practices insincerity at every level. I know that personally I often have a negative reaction to what many perceive as social skills. I used to work with someone that would everyday ask me and everyone else in a syrupy voice, “How are yooou.” “So nice to see yooou.” Honestly they didn’t want to know how I am it was just some rehearsed line and frankly it wasn’t always nice to see me. It was insincere. It was well meant but fake. I personally can’t stand fake love.  
I know people that have become masters at civility but it covers hostility.  It’s like the smiling face we present to a police officer when you we get a ticket for speeding when really inside we are thinking,  “I hope your days were filled with traffic jams.” (or worse thoughts.)
We are to work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. We are to rejoice. Be patient and keep on praying. We to always be eager to help others and practice hospitality. The spirit of this text demands our best and energy that is beyond us.
Let me just tell you that when we read “practice hospitality” here that the word practice means: “pursing or chasing.” This means you don’t do this only when you happen to be in the way of someone in need  but we are to pursue hospitality.

3. Learn to live like Christ Overcome Evil
I am not going to spend a great deal of time here but it is a serious teaching and principle found in God’s word that we should all know and practice.
 14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
A fitting illustration of this comes from the life of Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes. When Mr. Hughes was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, he moved to Washington and transferred his letter to a Baptist church there. His father had been a Baptist minister, and Hughes had been a lifelong witness to his own faith in Christ. It was the custom in that Baptist church to have all new members come forward during the morning service and be introduced to the congregation. On this particular day the first to be called was a Chinese laundryman, Ah Sing, who had moved to Washington from San Francisco and kept a laundry near the church. He stood at the far side of the pulpit. As others were called, they took positions at the extreme opposite side. When a dozen people had gathered, Ah Sing still stood alone. Then Chief Justice Hughes was called, and he significantly stood next to the laundryman. Christians are to associate with everyone—the ordinary people, the unimportant, the outcasts of society.
 17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
 19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
 “I will take revenge;
  I will