When I shared my VISION for the Antrim Church of Christ, I promised to speak on one letter of that acronym per month…and since I'll be heading to check out the Hartt School in Hartford with Mikey next Sunday, keeping my word means that today we are on the letter S.
Stepping back two letters first:
- V — Values — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will only get our values from the Bible and that we will value heavenly things more than earthly ones.
- I — Integrity — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will always have integrity.
Does anyone remember what the S stood for?
"My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will take our calling seriously."
It is amazing how limiting even 30 to 35 minutes for a sermon can be…and today's sermon is no exception. For instance, what is the best way to convince you all sitting before me that we, as a church, need to take our calling seriously?
[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]
Should we discuss what happens if we don't? We could spend the rest of this morning in chapters 3 and 4 of Revelation where we'd fine all but two churches being warned what would happen if they didn't take their calling seriously.
- With Ephesus, Jesus threatened to remove their lampstand from its place (Revelation 2:5).
- With Pergamum, Jesus threatened to come to them soon and to war against certain members with the sword of His mouth (Revelation 2:16). A strange metaphor given our normalpicture of Jesus…but would you want Jesus to come war against you…regardless of what a sword of His mouth is?
- With Thyatira Jesus threatened, for those who held to certain teachings, to throw them into great tribulation (Revelation 2:22).
- With Sardis, Jesus threatened to arrive like a thief and come against them (Revelation 3:3).
- With Laodicea…the church I think many American churches most resemble…He threatened to. Well, you must remember this one. He threatened to spit them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16).
Do any of those sound appealing to you? Do you want the risk of not being serious?
Or, do I need to remind you of Ananias and Sapphira and what happened to them when they lied to God? The extent that our Lord went to cause a "great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things" (Acts 5:11)?
What He did so that the would take their calling seriously?
Obviously, by spending even this much time on it I think there is some value in that approach…but I'm hoping as a body we don't need God's emergency measures to wake us up to the importance of taking our calling seriously.
Instead I would like to just discuss two more Scriptures with you. One is familiar…we've seen it quite often…but the other probably hasn't come to mind when it come to taking our calling seriously.
The first one is long…but let's read it together slowly to pick out the gems we can learn…
It's 1 Peter 1:13-2:12:
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
We should take our calling seriously…sober-mindedly…becasue of the grace we have been given and will be given…and because Jesus is coming. Our King…our Lord…is coming! That is serious!
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
We should take our calling seriously because to not do so is to show ignorance…and because we are called to be holy just as the one who called us is holy. We are to be like the one we worship.
17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
We should take our calling seriously because we are exiles…we are not of this world…and because our salvation…our ransom…was so costly. How can we treat our calling so callously considering the Son of God had to die on the cross to make things right?! If we do not act as exiles we are rejecting the change in status Christ's blood bestowed on us.
20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
We should take our calling seriously because Jesus' resurrection proves that our faith and our hope are warranted. You aren't just rooting for the Red Sox…where you choose a team and then stick with it regardless that they are much more likely to choke than they are to win (let alone get into) the World Series. We follow the One who even conquered death!
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
"All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever."
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
We should take your calling seriously since we have been born again…and this time is forever. We should live like it!
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
We should take your calling seriously because if we don't it probably means we haven't really tasted that the Lord is good. Notice the question implicit in Peter's comment…"if indeed you have tasted the Lord is good." Do we want people to look at us and wonder, by our actions, if we are truly saved?
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
We should take your calling seriously because we are living stones being built into a spiritual house…one that should be offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.
6 For it stands in Scripture:
"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
"The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,"
"A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense."
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
We should take your calling seriously because we either will be in the category of those who will not be put to shame…the ones who get honor.
Or the ones who have been destined to disobey the word.
We also should take our calling seriously because we realize just how precious the cornerstone is.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Now these are the "money verses." These…especially verse 9…are the ones that brought me to this area to begin with…and it's probably obvious why.
We should take your calling seriously because we are no longer ordinary people…just like every other Joe Smoe in the universe.
We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession!
As it says, "You are God's people"!
We are God's people! And we should act like it!
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
We should take your calling seriously because not only are we exiles…but because we realize that not doing so is allowing the passions of the flesh to win in their war against our souls…and because those verses implicitly remind us again that the judgment is coming.
Someday just how how much we have taken your calling seriously will come to light…
Although those verses in 1 Peter are great ones to visit every time you want to be reminded of your special status, I want to share one more that may not naturally come to mind when asked, "Why should I take my calling seriously."
The verse is not new to you, but the application might be. It's John 15:15, but we'll read starting with verse 12 and wrap up with verse 17:
12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Let me ask you this. Let's say you have a friend. Not an "acquaintance friend"…but a really close friend.
- Can your friend trust you?
- Do you trust your friend?
- Do you want to see your friend? Often?
- Do you make a point of spending time with your friend and miss them badly when you can't?
- Do you do what a friend asks you?
Jesus chose you to be His friend. It's quite and offer.
Did you accept it?
If so, you should take your calling seriously because you are a friend of God.
And true friends take their friendship seriously.
Do you act like a friend?
All those verses in 1 Peter are extremely important…and should come to mind when you think of why you should take your calling seriously. Perhaps, however, one question is even more important than them. That question is based on John 15:15:
What kind of friend are you?