Common Sense for Extraordinary Times: A True Audit

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Sermon Notes

September 23, 2018

1 Corinthians 1:18-24 &James 3:13-18

I want to thank all of you who have or are intending to help with the recovery from Hurricane Florence. I know many of you may have given through UMCOR which is the relief arm of the United Methodist Church. If you haven’t done so, I would ask you to prayerfully consider doing something at some point Hurricanes are incredible phenomena of weather. They are both powerful, and slow. We watched for weeks, it seems, this hurricane build up strength as it began to creep up toward the Carolina Coast. I heard one person say having a hurricane come at you is a bit like being stalked by a turtle.

With so much time to prepare, we saw people begin boarding up their homes and businesses and get ready if they were able to, flee the storm. What I thought was interesting was to see so many people take stock of what they had in order to get ready to face the storms. They took an audit of everything they had in their homes that was important to them. They took what they could and made a record or video of what they couldn’t take but was still valuable to them. I even saw pictures of people write their phone numbers or address on their pets in case they got separated from them during the storm.

The impending storms revealed what was important to those facing the hurricane, didn’t it?

What about the hurricanes in your life? When the hurricanes blow, when crises appear, what are the treasurers of your life, where have you spent your time and energy. Who are you when the storms of life turn toward shore?

Let me ask you that question again. Who are you when the storms of life turn to shore? Because the truth is, the hurricanes of life will always turn to shore. Oh, not everyone, surely. We often, by prayer and God’s grace, avoid hurricanes and crises. But there are times when, despite our best prayers, we experience disappointment, crises, the winds pick up as if everything in our lives swirls around us and we feel as if we are going drown.

I think what never occurs to us is that sometimes the allowance by God of the storms coming inland into our lives is, in itself, an act of mercy and grace. Why? Because it is then our true hearts are revealed. Not how we would like to be, but we see where we have spent our time and energy. We see who we truly are. They reveal to us the depth of our relationship with Jesus. And, perhaps, as we take stock of how we live in crises, we might wonder, am I the person God wants me to be? If someone were able to look at the record of your life, in the storms, who would it reveal you to be?

In a very real way, that’s exactly what James is asking in our Scripture for today. I like the book of James, as I’ve said before. He has an incredible way of looking at really extraordinary, complex issues, and simplifying them for us. In today’s Scripture, James says “how do we know we are saved? How do I really know that I am a Christian? I mean, it has to go beyond knowledge, doesn’t it?” Dallas Willard said one of the great mistakes we make as Christian is in the idea that knowing more about Jesus makes us better disciples. But one can know everything Jesus says about loving one’s neighbor, and even agree that Jesus is right, and it is good. But it doesn’t mean that we will do it. So how can I know? In a way, James asks if there was an audit done of your life, what would it reveal?

James says one of the convicting indicators that show we are saved, that we have given our lives to Jesus and have a life-transforming, ongoing relationship with him is this: our lives will be

marked by doing foolish things for the Lord. Let me say that again. How do we know we are saved? Our lives will be marked by doing foolish things for the Lord.

So let me ask you, if you look at your life, what foolish things have you done for God lately? Because that’s what God asks us to do, isn’t it? He asks us to do all sorts of foolish things, and those that follow Him are the ones who do the most foolish things and are seen as the most foolish of people. Has God asked you to do something foolish for Him lately? Is He asking you to do something foolish right now?

We are called to do foolish thing such as help people who can’t pay us back. Now, the world looks at that as incredibly foolish, why would do you do something for people who can’t pay you back? But we do. We get no benefit from it, yet we do it. Now, I’m just not talking about giving money to people to help them out, although that’s a good thing. But what about the other foolish things we are asked to give that we may never receive back? Jesus tells us that we are to give kindness and a kind word to those that will never be kind to us. He tells us we should love those that will never return that love to us. He says we should forgive people who will never forgive us and don’t, even appear sorry for what they have done. The world says it’s foolish. Jesus says it’s the mark of a person who is following the Lord.

We are to be gentle and peaceful in a world that says that’s not how you get ahead. If you want to succeed in life, you have to toot your own horn, you have to run over people, step on them if you must, do what you have to, go hard, to be successful. Jesus asks us to live in a completely different way, to live a foolish life that strives for peace, that calls for us to be gentle in how we treat other people.

The world tells us that we need to work to attain as much security as possible, don’t leave anything to chance. Jesus says we’re to live a life that foolishly lets go of anxiety, that refuses to worry about things it can’t change, or hurry something like tomorrow that can’t be hurried.

Look, living like Jesus calls us to live will look like foolishness to the word. Let’s be honest, it will look like foolishness to us sometimes. Do I really believe Jesus can transform my life, can make me be a different person? Does He really forgive sins and change us so we don’t even want to sin anymore? The world says that’s foolish. The way to deal with sin is to allow God to change us.

Yet, James would remind us that it is through and only through the foolishness of Jesus that the world will be redeemed. And every day, you come across people who are starving for

foolishness. Your closest relationships are starving, you live in a foolish way before them. Loving, forgiving encouraging them when the world will not. Your co-worker friends are starving for something the wisdom of the world cannot give. We live in a world that has become bankrupt, relying on a wisdom that cannot deliver, and we are starving, feeding off a wisdom that cannot sustain us.

What the world needs right now, perhaps more than it ever has, is a church willing to be foolish for Jesus. Who are fools willing to give up victim time and money to go and be in mission and help those we will never see again. To give to a ministry that help’s people you will never know. Foolish enough to pray for the salvation of people. Foolish enough to turn the other cheek. To go the extra mile. To believe that Jesus can change lives.

So what about you? Is God calling you to be foolish? Are you just a fool enough to say yes? At the beginning of the message, we asked you to think about the audit of your life. You know when the world looks at you, that’s what it does. It’s looking at you to see what you think is important, looking at how you live your life, if you live to what you say to believe. If we were to do that audit today, would we see someone foolish enough to live for Christ? Amen.