Do Everything For Jesus
DO EVERYTHING FOR JESUS
We are all looking for something to break us out of the monotony of everyday life and give us some meaning and relaxation in our lives. We are looking for a sense of goodness and gentleness that will provide relief from the Daily Grind. Perhaps some of you find that in sports, movies, music, comedy, theater, or dance. We are all looking for some form of recreation. And we need that time. As the word suggests we need time for re-creation. We need time to be renewed so we can overcome the tasks of everyday life.
It was Katie Else’s job to provide a space for re-creation for people. Katie was the lead singer for a time in Riverdance. Riverdance, for those of you who don’t know, is a famous show that consists of traditional Irish singing and dancing. The dancing is akin to high energy tap dancing which is done by a large group of dancers in unison. But many don’t realize how hard it is to give hope to people when giving hope to people is your job.
As reported by the radio show This American Life Katie was touring with Riverdance doing eight shows a week, working every day. When they were not doing a show they were traveling. The company that put on the shows consisted of 70 people, four singers, a band, assorted technical and support staff, and forty step dancers. Four months into the tour, performing ever day, monotony was beginning to wear the dance company thin, and they were looking for something to give them energy to get them through the tour. And an idea was proposed that spread through the company life wildfire. According to Katie, the idea came from the lead dancer, or dance Captain. He proposed that the entire company pool their money to buy a shared Mega Millions Lottery Ticket. The Lottery at the time had reached $360 million dollars
The company bought 340 tickets. And the estimated chances of winning that particular lottery was about 1 in 760 trillion. Though the odds seemed thin the company decided to turn to the power of positive thinking, in hopes of influencing the Quantum Physics, to beat the odds. They decided to turn to their own version of faith, trusting such new age teachers as Deepak Chopra. One dancer suggested that the not say the company was going to win the lottery but they had already won the lottery. They all agreed that when they won the lottery they would quit Riverdance. They made plans to call their producer the day after the lottery and tell him that the entire company was done with Riverdance at the end of the tour.
The Lottery was announced on a Tuesday night. That Tuesday night, as the company did every night, the Riverdancers gathered for a performance. The dance leader, who had orchestrated the lottery idea, gave an impassioned speech. He said something along the lines of let’s put all our energy into this show so maybe they could win this thing. The thing he was referring to was not the applause of the crowd, or the feeling of a job well done, it was the lottery. They had faith that through sending their dance energy through time and space they could control the way the lottery balls.
And Riverdance put out a tremendous amount of energy into that performance. The dancers were so excited they started shouting to each other, “do it for the lotto”. And the crowd responded to the energy. To quote Katie it was, “Definitely the best show on tour. So much energy we were giving them, but it was because we wanted to win the lottery. It wasn’t because we necessarily wanted to give them a really good show. It’s because we were greedy.”
Unfortunately, Riverdance did not win the lottery. And the next night they did one of the lowest energy shows of the tour. Thing is people didn’t really notice. They still clapped and applauded and enjoyed the show, even though the performer’s hearts were discouraged and disinterested in what they were doing. Ira Glass, the radio show host proposes two theories for this. First, Riverdance was so good that even on their worst night they did an excellent job. Or second, when people get into a group expecting to see a show, they see what they want to see. They see the performance because they want to see the performance. They do not see the Spirit behind the performance that makes it more than a performance, which makes it almost an act of worship. Katie thinks it is somewhere in between these two possibilities. But I feel this dynamic plays true in most situations in our lives. We are as human beings are seeking a greater spiritual experience. But not knowing how to attain that we settle for being entertained.
Katie’s story was part of a larger radio program the theme of which was, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” And this is perhaps how the Colossians would have responded to Paul’s vice list. He tells the Colossians to, “put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” At the center of all these vices is greed, the Biblical word is to Covet. At the center of sin is wanting what we don’t have. I am sure the Colossians would have said to Paul that these things seemed like a good idea at the time. But Paul is trying to show this Church he has never met that they don’t have to strive to win the lottery, they can even let go of what they have, because they have won the heavenly lottery in Christ. Today there is good news. Today Christ can lead us in a dance more beautiful than any river dance.
The Good news today is everything we say and everything we do can be done in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ Accomplishes this in us in three ways.
- When we set our minds on things above.
- When we Clothe ourselves with Christ
- When we give thanks to God the Father through Christ.
First, we will do everything in the name of Christ when we set our minds on the things above, where Christ is. Paul tells us that when we come to believe in Christ we are transferred from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of the Father’s Beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). The greatest treasure a Christian has is the treasure that Jesus had in his Baptism when the heavens were torn and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove, the Father declared this is my Son with whom I am well pleased (Mark 1:11). Who’s Son are you today? Who’s daughter are you today? Because the good news is you are the Son or daughter of a King. And the good news is the Father shows us the love he showed Jesus when we come to believe in Christ. So much time we strive for worldly things because we wonder if we are worthy of love. But as Christians we don’t have to strive in those things.
And we don’t have to wait. We don’t have to wait till Jesus returns. We don’t have to wait till we die. We don’t have to wait till we feel better. Because Paul says you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears you will appear with him in glory. As I suggested earlier in this series, the Bible suggests that the meaning of life is not a principle but a person, Jesus Christ. And when we come to know Christ we will come to better understand ourselves. We will be able to do all things through him who strengthens us because we are hidden with him in God. Whatever we are feeling, whatever we are going through, there is part of us that remains untouched, hidden with Christ.
We are to seek the things where Christ is. We are to set our hearts, our wills, to seek God’s Will. What Paul is describing here is the heart of worship. To change our values from the values of the world to the values of heaven. This will require a transition of worship. In this text I see two transitions in worship.
- From expecting to be entertained to expecting to encounter God
Not what instruments we play but because we come to worship for an audience of one, the King who is worthy. We are hoping that the Holy Spirit will come among us. And he will minister to those he needs to minister to. So the confession of our hearts to God is do what you want to do. If you want to have praise do that. If you want to remain silent do that. So that people may say God is truly among us (1 Corinthians 14:25). I don’t know what I felt today but it must be God speaking to our heart. Not the minister, not the choir, but through these things God is speaking to us. This happens when we move from wanting to be entertained to wanting to encounter God.
If we are to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus first we must set our eyes on the things above, on Christ. Second, we must cloth ourselves in Christ. Though our lives our hidden in Christ, weather conditions on Earth are not as pleasant as they are in heaven, and we must clothe ourselves for the season. For seasons of rejoicing, and of mourning. For seasons of defeat and seasons of celebration. I think one can some up the character we clothe ourselves with as a transition of
- Moving from complaining to celebrating.
To love is to celebrate people who make us uncomfortable for this is what Jesus did. He welcomed the outcast, the prostitute, the tax collector, the sinner. Walt Kallestad, author of Turn Your Church Inside Out describes how he grew his church from couple of hundred members to 10,000 members. He did it by having a culture where the church did not exist for itself but it existed for others. For example, At Kallestad’s church a problem developed where teenagers, some with tattoos and saggy jeans, would scate board in their parking lot. But instead of putting up signs that said no skateboarding a bunch of church members built them skateboard ramps and began to offer them pizza. What once was seen as a problem became an opportunity to witness to richness of the love of Christ and how his word dwells in our hearts richly.
As I think of someone who set an example of living for others I think about our friend Mel Green. Mel Green was a beloved member of Norview Presbyterian church and a beloved member of Calvin Presbyterian Church as well. He went home to the Lord last Friday having lost a short battle with Pancreatic Cancer. Though Mel had no children, and was 96 years old, the chapel at Holloman Brown funeral home was packed on Tuesday, and the Chapel seats 276 people. What compelled people to come to honor Mel’s life. I concluded that it was because he was a gentle and generous man. He set his eyes on Christ. And he clothed himself in Christ.
There is a scripture in 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 where Paul says, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
I don’t think I ever met a cheerful giver till I met Mel Green. When he talked about the ways he got to give through his service to the navy, to the salvation army, and to his church. And when he talked about all the things he was able to do it was as if he were a kid in a candy shop. He was excited, he was cheerful, he was thankful to be able to serve, thankful to be able to give. And at his memorial service I have heard so many other ways Mel gave both financially, and with his gentle spirit. It didn’t matter if you were grateful and used Mel’s gifts well. Mel was grateful to give. He was grateful to show the kindness that God had shown to him to others. He didn’t do all the things for fame, so a lot of people would come to his funeral, He did them for Jesus. So many were touched by his gentleness and generosity. I was touched.
One of Mel’s favorite devotionals was the Upper Room. It takes submissions from everyday people from all over the country. Today’s devotional verse is 1 Peter 5:6-11. It is by Connie Schroeder of California. Here is what she has to say,
“I enjoy exercising by attending an aerobic dance class. Many times the instructor shouts words of encouragement from her place in the front. With an elastic band held in each of my hands stretched out in front of me, I hear her say, “Try to stretch the band as far as you can and then a little beyond. If you expect to get stronger, you need to meet and exceed the resistance!”
Later I realized that these words apply to my faith life as well. As I identify areas of challenge, I now see them differently. Perhaps God is calling me to cultivate character traits like patience, acceptance, and kindness. I’ve found that those traits are easy to reflect when I’m around loved ones and friends but much harder when I’m surrounded by people who seem different from me. I am challenged now to find those areas where I “resist” treating others the way Christ would and then push past this resistance. When I went to the gym to work out my body, God helped me to work on my spirit as well.”
Setting our eyes on Christ, clothing ourselves with Christ, these are not easy things to do. But when we train ourselves in these things they make us stronger and they will lead us to give thanks to our Father, in the name of Jesus Christ. As Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians we are to give thanks in all circumstance not for all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Many of us today may be mourning our friend Mel’s passing. Perhaps today you are visiting us and you are mourning some tragedy in your life. You are not to give thanks for those things. God does not rejoice in your pain. Jesus is our good shepherd and he weeps for you. But as the band Hillsong United says, “ all of my life in every season you are still God and I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship.” In every season of our life we have a reason to worship. When we look past our circumstances and set our eyes on Christ, when we resist this world which tempts us into being resentful and bitter by clothing ourselves with Christ, the world will change around us, because they see the hope of glory in our hearts, and we will be given the strength to do everything for Jesus.