Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Jesus Reigns, Follow Him: Notes from Sunday's Sermon

At this time of year, many experts are wheeled out on to TV, radio etc. and asked for their professional opinions on what will happen in 2012. Something in human nature loves to speculate about / prophesy the future. What about you? How is your 2012 shaping up? Good? Bad? Boring? A mixture of all three?

What’s the conversation that turns over in your head when you get space to have your own thoughts? Proverbs 23:7 (in many translations, not ESV) says that the way a man thinks defines who he is. How is your thinking shaping your destiny? Are you sleepwalking through life? If so, Matt. 7:13-14 needs to be a big wake up call.

What role will Jesus play in your 2012? Is he the genie who gets you what you can’t get for yourself? The superhero who you draft in to save you in times of trouble, but ignore until the next disaster? Or the King of the universe to whom you say “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” The question is not what role will Jesus play in our lives in 2012, but what role does he want us to play in his story this year?

The greatest reality we are all caught up in is the loving eternal reign of Jesus Christ, who, after his death, resurrection and ascension up to the Father has been made King of everything (Ps. 45:6-7, Phil. 2:5-11). Remember the illustration of a video gamer: whatever else we wrap ourselves up in to give ourselves meaning and identity (husband, father, job title, hobby enthusiast, outstanding volunteer etc) it will all mean nothing when this life is switched off and we are woken to find ourselves before the judgment seat of Christ, unless it was done out of love for, faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ.

Back at the very beginning of the Bible, God created the first humans – Adam and Eve – in the image of God. They would be a prophetic picture of what Christ and his people would do thousands of years later. God gave Adam and Eve the mandate of multiplying across the face of the whole earth, taking hold of it and making it fruitful – (harvesting food and materials, inventing things and creating civilisations that worship the living God). They rebelled against God, but have still multiplied across the whole earth. However, they have made a name for themselves in all they do, not for the God who gave them life.

But when God sent his Son into the world – a totally new kind of humanity was created. A humanity not made in the image of God, but having in it the very reality of God, one in which the Spirit dwelt perfectly. When a person becomes a Christian they are filled with this reality of God by the Holy Spirit. They are a totally new kind of human being: 2 Cor. 5:17. Since Pentecost, this new humanity, with the delegated authority of Christ (Matt.16:17-19) has also been spreading out across the face of the earth, but their mandate is not one of creation / invention etc but of redemption – bringing forth a harvest of righteousness, peace and joy; beautifying the earth with holy love in anticipation of the return of King Jesus.

That could sound like an overwhelming mission, but it simply means this: dare to ask Jesus what he wants of you this year and then dare to trust in the fact that as you do it, he will provide for you. You and I are like soldiers, a soldier isn't responsible for the big strategy, that is for the commander. A soldier just needs to follow orders.

In the things that are within your control – leisure time, disposable income, life ambitions etc. ask Jesus what he wants from you and dare to follow. In the things that are beyond your control – family relationships, job commitments, medical condition etc. ask Jesus how you can move within those confines to honour him and bring him pleasure. Put in place routines that remind you to ask Jesus what he wants from you and that stop you from drifting in to autopilot. Possible routines: reading the Bible in private and when out in public having a WWJD bracelet or screen saver for your phone to remind you to talk to him.

Who knows what our lives could look like by the end of the year, who knows what our church could look like – who might be amongst us, if we simply dared to listen, trust and follow his promptings.

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