I began by talking about Younite- what it is about, a short rundown of each day, and showed our wrap-up video (which I will post hopefully tomorrow). I then talked about the theme "All That Matters" and how we all struggle with things in life that we think matter whether it is our appearance, popularity, work/career, money, struggling with feeling inadequate. The truth is that Jesus' love has set us free.
Well a few things I shared with the congregation that matter to me are: my relationship with God, my family, my wife Belinda, music (I enjoy listening and playing the acoustic guitar), and when I was growing up I loved baseball. I loved to play baseball. I loved to watch baseball. I loved talking about baseball. I love playing baseball video games. I loved collecting baseball cards. I LOVED baseball. It was what I spent most of my time, energy, and focus on. I was a pitcher and had advanced a lot for my age and dominated one year. Then the next year I was supposed to be unstoppable and so for the first time in my life I developed a bit of arrogance. I remember starting the season and striking out all 3 batters the first inning and not hitting the strike zone but maybe once or twice. If that continues eventually the other team will stop swinging and they'll get walked and that's what happened this game. We ended up losing. Not only did I lose that one, but I lost the next two games I pitched. I started the season 0-3 because I had become arrogant and lost focus on what mattered which was my team. I hadn't cared about them and only cared about my own success. My coach came to me and said I needed to sit out a bit until I worked out what was going on in my head.
This reminds me of a church who lost their focus on what mattered and that is the church at Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6. The church at Sardis has been known as a lively church, one that was on track with God but now they were dead. They were going through the motions and the sad thing is that they probably didn't even realize it. Jesus tells them in verse 2 to "Wake up". Sometimes if I'm working or studying and Belinda falls asleep on the couch I may try to wake her up but be as quiet as possible. I think though that Jesus wasn't saying "wake up" in a whisper but with a loud voice. He says in verse 3 a few things to think about. First he says that they have heard the truth. They know what they are supposed to be doing, but sadly they are not.
The second thing in verse 3 is that he tells them that he will "come like a thief" and that they don't know when that will be. We have the entire New Testament and so we see this more than once and possibly even read it lightly at times. We know that Jesus 2nd coming will take place when we least expect it. This is what He means here but it also would have alarmed the people at Sardis. The city was on the side of a hill and surrounded by a wall that made it virtually impregnable. The only way enemies would be able to gain access would be to sneak around the backside of the city but they had established a watch tower with watchmen to stop this from happening. Twice in the city's history though the watchmen lost focus of what they were supposed to be doing and allowed their city to be attacked and be destroyed. See when you lose your focus that Jesus is all that matters then it will in the same way lead to your own personal destruction.
So how do you know if you've lost your focus? Well here are a couple ways.
1) Your idea of Joy & Contentment comes from Jesus plus (you fill in the blank). Your joy and contentment doesn't come from Jesus alone. Your idea of happiness is also in something else. Matthew 6:24 tells us that you can't serve two masters. Even if the two masters are of one characteristic and have but one subject, the servant must take law from one or the other. This means that church can become and idol or master in your life and take away from your relationship with Jesus. It can be God and anything else, you fill in the blank. John Piper raise the following questions: "If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?" I'm scared to say that many "Christians" today would be ok with a heaven with no Jesus because their joy and contentment doesn't come from Jesus alone.
2) Apathy has set in. Apathy is lack of interest, care, or concern and so spiritual apathy is the lack of care or concern of the things concerning God. A good sign that you are an apathetic person is if you're a miserable person, nothing is ever good enough, or you don't care about the things you know you should. Proverbs 28:14 tells us that a hardened heart leads to calamity or disaster. Apathy will lead you to destruction.
So what if you've lost your focus. You nee to wake up from the spiritual coma you have fallen into. Jesus didn't send this message to John solely as a reprimand. He sent it as a wake-up call. He believed and desired that they would become spiritually alive again. He says in the second part of verse 2 that "I have not found your deeds completed". He wasn't finished using the Church at Sardis and He isn't finished using you either.
So thinking back to that season of baseball. I ended up bouncing back with a winning record. But the thing is besides my parents and I, nobody remembers any of that because it doesn't matter. You see I don't love baseball anymore, I like it but it's no longer my God. I'm not knocking sports because I enjoy them, but they'll never set you free. They can't be your God. You can't lose your focus from Jesus. Your joy must come from Jesus alone because He is all that matters.