Philippians 3:12-14; Luke 3:1-18
By Interim Pastor Doug Marshall
Thought for Meditation:
Although spiritual formation is not a matter of religious performance, neither is it a passive, “couch potato” contentment in God. God, in his grace, has taken hold of us. Our response is to take hold of God in hope. There is a kind of aggressiveness about authentic Christian spirituality. Serendipity Bible
The Pointer Finger Job
Growing up, I was often told that it isn’t polite to point. “Don’t point your finger at someone else, young man.” That never made sense to me. How do you talk about someone who is “over there,” if I can’t point to “there?” I love the way parents give instructions to their children. They point a finger and say, “Don’t point at other people. It isn’t polite.” This morning I would like to suggest that God gave you a pointer finger for a very good reason. In fact, as Christians, we are called to point our finger. John the Baptist is probably the best example of this.
Luke describes the ministry of John the Baptist. God’s word came to John and he began to proclaim the message. It was not a particularly nice message. John didn’t try to make people feel good. His first words were, “You’re a brood of vipers. You’re despicable people. You are a bunch of sinners who deserve God’s punishment.” It’s not the type of message you use to get people to like you. What is amazing is that John was popular. All sorts of people came out to hear him. Everyone got excited and began to expect God to do something. They even began to think that maybe John was the Messiah, the one who would save Israel from all her problems.
John knew that he was not the Messiah. He told people, “I am not the Messiah. What I’m doing is nothing compared to what the Messiah will do. He will be far greater than I am. Look to him for your salvation.” John did what I believe all of us are called to do. He pointed to Jesus.
Today we are ordaining and installing new elders and deacons. Others of you may be starting new jobs in the church, or just thinking about trying something new in the church, maybe singing in the choir or teaching Sunday school or serving on a committee. I remind you that every Christian is expected to be involved in some type of ministry. That is especially true for members of the church, whether it’s helping on one of the projects on our building or visiting one of our home-bound members.
No matter what type of ministry you are doing, I remind you that our primary job as Christians is to point to Jesus. We are to tell people how Jesus has made a difference in our own lives and invite them to follow him.
Let me share with you one other thought that comes out of our passage in Philippians. It is especially important for elders and deacons, but is true for all of us. Not only are we all called to be involved in some type of ministry, pointing to Jesus. We must also be in a growing relationship with Jesus.
As Paul said in the passage that Grace read, “Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12). Think about that. Paul was one of the greatest Christian thinkers and had faith beyond what most of us can imagine. Yet he knew that he still needed to keep growing in his faith, to keep Jesus at the center of his life. When we don’t do that the church ends up with great problems.
It was a cold winter morning. The pastor arrived at the church and discovered that the furnace had gone out. The building was cold. He called the Property and Maintenance committee and they came to try to get the furnace running, but they couldn’t get it to work. They called heating company to come and fix it. A repair man came and looked at it and worked on it for a while, and then said, “I see the problem. The blower is fine but the fire is out.” The committee members looked at each other. One of them voiced what they were all thinking, “I wonder if he is talking about the furnace or the preacher.”
As a preacher, as an elder or deacon, as a Christian, we all need to keep the fire of Jesus’ love burning deep inside our hearts. We need to be in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to keep Jesus at the center of our lives. We need to listen to Jesus, so that our words will be his words and our actions his actions.
The ministry to which all of us are called; pastors, elders and deacons, and all who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior, begins with listening to Jesus and pointing to Jesus.
Lord, speak to me, that I may speak in living echoes of Thy tone;
As Thou has sought, so let me seek Thine erring children lost and lone.