If you're out-and-about, there is this constant concern that you've been exposed to coronavirus. The news lately from college campuses highlights that concerns that setting aside social distancing and mask-wearing advice may lead to outbreaks on campuses. So schools are also instituting testing protocols.
At home, some of us are around elderly parents or grandparents. Some of us work in healthcare and have direct contact with COVID-positive patients. Others work in close proximity to others, and we're praying for our teachers as schools reopen. Testing helps us know what we're dealing with, identifies if we're carrying something that could be detrimental, and drives us to adjust our behavior, all the while praying for healing and health.
God tests us, too. The story of the Rich Ruler (Luke 18:18ff) from yesterday's sermon was such a test. Jesus threw a curveball at the Rich Ruler because Jesus knew that there was a spiritual health issue inside him, one that was deadly. Jesus saw the sickness even though the ruler himself thought he was doing great and felt great about himself. Even all the people around him thought he was doing well - he was rich so God must have blessed him for his good behavior!
We live in comfort and it's easy for us to feel fine. Spiritually, we can also be lulled into thinking we're just fine the way we are. But God is calling us to grow, individually and as a church! Let's unpack the three action steps mentioned in yesterday's sermon:
1. Identify what's holding us back and confess it to God. From the interaction with the Rich Ruler, Jesus exposed that the Ruler not only possessed wealth, but he was also possessed by his wealth - he could not let it go because it actually had a hold of his heart and literally turned him away from Jesus (he walked away from Jesus!). What keeps you from growing, from spending time with God, from obeying His call to worship Him? Laziness, selfishness, bitterness? Hurt, disappointment, fear? Bring it all to Jesus. Give it to Him! He can help you overcome. He loves to help us. He died to help us.
2. Immerse yourself in God's Word and Spirit. Spend more time in God's Word, swimming in the beauty and depth of God's love for us in Jesus Christ. Talk to Him; let the Spirit speak to you, words of grace, forgiveness, encouragement, strength, peace, hope, and love. The more deeply we grasp the Gospel love of Jesus, the less desperately we cling to the other things we have in our lives.
3. Invest in God's Kingdom work with your gifts, talents, and resources. It is natural for us to give to God. If we've encountered Him in Spirit and truth, come to experience His glory and grace, received His love, it naturally leads us to give. It immediately leads us to give. He is God Almighty, worthy of all of our honor, praise, and service. Our entire lives become our offering to Him. Nothing we could give will exceed His worth, so we give it all!
God blesses us in this process of surrendering our lives to Him. It is realignment with how we were created to live - encountering His glory, experiencing His grace, and extolling His goodness through our service to Him.
Let's pray to live in worship and sacrifice to our God who loves us and has saved us through the giving of His Son!