Building the church is God's great project on earth. In our church, every message and event is designed to 'build' our church. The messages become the culture of our church. What we preach today is a seed that becomes a full-grown tree tomorrow. 'Followership' and 'servanthood' are high priority messages (seeds we plant) because they build the culture of the kingdom of God. This builds the church because the house of God is built on serving. When people join our church, we tell them they are now members of a house,not a hotel. Rather than expecting to be served as in a hotel, we expect them to accept a serving role to help grow, build and maintain the house.
Haggai 1:9 "You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?" says the Lord of hosts. "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house."
If we neglect His house in favour of our own house, then our efforts will vaporise. When His house is our first priority, however, we bring favour to our own.
The greatest curse in the world today is self-centeredness. A New York phone company surveyed 500 telephone conversations. What was the most common word? 'I' - it occurred 3900 times in five hundred calls.
2 Timothy 3:1-2 "..in the last days perilous times will come, for men will be lovers of themselves..."
Looking up 'troubled times' on the Internet, it seems that everything but self-centeredness is blamed for 'perilous times' - guns, drugs, economic downturns, changes of governments, fanatics in the Middle East, terrorists, weather patterns, global warming, El Nino, business monopolies, illiteracy, poverty, family breakdowns, violence, lawless media, hardline religious groups, insensitive governments, road rage, high medical fees, interest rates, floods tsunamis, bank charges, dot.com failures, and, of course, wild animals are blamed for all kinds of problems we face today. However, the above scripture reveals that the real cause of 'perilous times' is flawed character, not dire circumstances.
The character flaws Paul lists in 2 Timothy 3:2-9 spring from self-centred living. The shocking reality concerning this dark list of flaws is that Paul states these people have a 'form of godliness' - they go to church! To claim to be Christian means we claim to live unselfish lives. Great character springs from unselfishness. We bless others at our own expense. For many people, their world is all about them. Everything is always about them and what they're doing. But God created our universe to orbit around His Son, Jesus Christ, not ourselves:
Colossians 1:16 "...All things were created through Him and for Him"
It's astonishing that we continue to imagine that everything revolves around us, that we squirm from any other view even though it's plainly visible. Some of the 'scientists' of Galileo's day refused to look through the telescope, holding what they believed to be true no matter what contradictory evidence might be presented. The opposers strengthened their denial through ignorance, not prepared to accept anything that challenged their precious beliefs. Nevertheless, eventually truth irresistibly surfaces.
Just as the earth orbits the sun, we are called to orbit Christ. He is our centre. This is the fixed order of creation. When we accept this, we establish Christ as our ruler.
According to the revelator John, all things have been created for God's pleasure (Revelation 4:11). When parents are anticipating the arrival of a baby, they furnish a room, and buy clothing, bedding and everything else needed. They prepare for their new child. God did a similar thing preparing for His son, except He didn't just prepare a room. He created an entire universe filled with solar systems, stars and planets including planet earth with its trees, animals and oceans. All the palms, oaks and cedars; all the birds, cattle, horses, sheep, wales and crayfish; all the waves, mountains, snow and sunshine; all the nations, cultures and people of all tribes and colours - all has been created for Him. This includes you and me. We have been created for God!
If we want to please God we will try to be in harmony with this order. We fit into His plan, not He into ours. His pleasure is to bless us. He can do this when we put Him first in our personal world. In an ego-driven world, 'God-first living' deals a fatal blow to self centred living. There is no better life available than one lived for the ultimate Ruler of all.
Let's not shout 'Amen' just yet though. Such a lifestyle calls for changes. This is not just theory. We actually have to change how we do life so that we are not first in our world, but rather, Christ is. Here are a few practical ways to do this:
1. Try getting through today without talking about yourself and what you're doing. Instead ask others about themselves and what they're doing.
2. Try listening to someone else's story without talking about the same thing that happened to you (even though yours might be bigger, better, longer, nastier...)
3. Once every day for the next week, help someone else get what he or she wants. And let it mean you're not going to be able to do what you want.
4. Go to church with a view of seeing what you can give rather than what you can get.
5. Write your results in your journal.
Changing from a self-centred life to a Christ-centred life is not difficult if we simply die to ourselves and accept the life of someone who lives for another.
See you in church!