Dusty Shoes - Living A Relevant Life

Dave Jones February 23, 2008 Matthew 5:13-16

 

Introduction

This week we will be looking at the first sign of life: Dusty Shoes – Living a Relevant Life. 

INPUT: What does it mean to live a relevant life?  Or What does it mean to be relevant?

You could say that to be relevant is to have significance, to have an impact, to fit or be fitting to the situation.  As believers in Jesus Christ, we should be living relevant lives.  We are to be impacting the world around us for His glory.  We mentioned last week, you can’t do this sitting at home.  But it is not just people sitting at home that can be a problem.  Think about what happens when a church doesn’t get out into the world.

A baby camel was asking his mom about his appearance.  “Mom, why do I have these huge three-toed feet?”  She replied, “To help you stay on top of the soft sand while trekking across the desert.”

“And why the long eyelashes?”

“To keep the sand out of your eyes on our trips through the desert.”

“Why the humps?”

“To store water for our long treks across the barren desert.”

The baby camel considered that and then said, “That’s great, Mom.  We have huge feet to stop us from sinking, long eyelashes to keep the sand out of our eyes, and humps to store water.  But, Mom…”

“Yes, son?”

“Why are we in the zoo?”

Great question – and one we need to ask ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ.  We have been given everything all the resources we need to carry out Christ’s Great Commission to take the Gospel into the difficult surroundings of our world, yet we seem to spend most of our lives in the comfortable, safe confines of the church.

Is Christianity social, or is it solitary?

INPUT: What might a church look like that isn’t interested in going out into the world?

  • Not growing
  • Not looking for ways to meet the needs of those outside the congregation
  • Will not work with those groups that are meeting needs
  • Cliquish, “Us four and no more” mentality
  • Fails to take advantage of opportunities when the community knocks on their door
  • Fails to encourage those in the community working to make a difference

Many Christians have opted to make Christianity a solitary religion.  They are content to circle the wagons to keep the “good guys” in and the “bad guys” out.  Christ did not practice this and neither should we!

Let me just say a quick word about the opportunity we had with the students from Lafayette Jeff High School last week.  If you missed it, you really missed it!  Not only did you miss a great performance, you missed an opportunity to encourage the students and their teachers.  At one point, one of the teachers commented about the opportunity a public school has to sing worship songs.  He specifically talked about music as a gift from God and using that gift to glorify Him.  I am very thankful that our church did not miss an opportunity to encourage a teacher like this that is seeking to have an impact at a local high school.

Many people complain that as one person, they can have little impact in the world.  But we need to remember even a single grain of salt can be tasted, and a single candle can light up a dark room.  Jesus called us to be salt in light – preserving and illuminating the world around us.  This week we will take a deeper look at what it means to be salt and light.

Read Matthew 5:13-16

13“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

John Wesley commented on this passage of scripture saying. “I will endeavor to show that Christianity is essentially a social religion, and that to return it to a solitary religion is to destroy [Christianity].

  1. We Are the Salt of the Earth

  2. Salt Prevents Decay

In Jesus’ day food would not last very long if not rubbed with salt or placed in a brine solution.  The bacteria that caused decay could not exist in a highly saline environment.

Our world is like that food; it is slowly decomposing in a spiritual sense due to the “bacteria” of sin.  Without the influence of God’s people being “Salty”, the world would quickly decompose spiritually.  Think about what Lafayette would look like without the influence of godly people in this community. 

At the end of the nineteenth century as the Industrial Revolution began, there was a great feeling of optimism in the world.  There was the thought that because man was becoming more educated we would do away with wars, diseases, suffering and most of the other problems that plagued mankind.  It was going to be a great century!  World War One shocked people back to reality.  Today, few people believe we are heading toward Utopia; in fact, things seem to be getting worse instead of better.  It is this “getting worse” that the church is to delay.  It is only because of the Holy Spirit that we are able to be preserving agents at all.

Unfortunately, because more and more Christians are choosing to become conformed to the world instead of transformed, we are not having as much impact as we could.

INPUT: What can you do this week to have a preserving influence this week?

  1. Salt Provides Flavor

Just as salt provides flavor to our food, so Christ in us provides flavor in an unsavory world.  Jesus brings a flavor that makes a real difference.  When a person comes to know Christ as savior, it seems as if everything changes.  Think about it.  When you first came to Christ, how did you look at life differently?  When you looked at the beauty of creation, did you see the wonder of the Creator?  I remember one of the first sunsets I saw as a new believer in 1983.  It was as if I had seen a sunset for the first time.  I was in awe of the beauty and majesty of our Lord!!

Because of Christ, everything we do should stand out.  We should be the most faithful, most generous, the hardest working, the most loving.  Even in the small things, we should stand out.  What kind of tip did you leave for the server the last time you ate out.  Unfortunately, many servers cringe when they see a family bowing in prayer before a meal.  Not because they don’t like God.  But because they know they will be receiving a smaller tip. 

On a side note, the Passion Play invitations are available today.  Please if you put one on your table, make sure a generous tip is next to it!

  1. Salt Promotes Thirst

INPUT: What made you thirsty for God?  Who influenced you?  How?

For many of you it wasn’t just the words a person used, it was the way they lived their life.  They were different.  For me, I personally rejected Truth because the teens at my school were living double lives; partying Friday and Saturday nights, going to Church on Sunday morning.  It wasn’t until I met some Grace Seminary students while working at McDonald’s that I realized that a relationship with Christ could make a difference.  They walked their talk!

How are you making someone thirst for the knowledge of God?

  1. Salt Permeates Food

A little salt goes a long way.  Acts 27 gives an example of how Paul’s influence helped save 276 on a ship bound for Rome.  Time will not allow us to delve into the story here.  But is a powerful example of one person’s faithfulness influencing others.

What is keeping us from permeating / influencing those around us?  We shouldn’t think that we can’t make a difference.  We weren’t called to make a difference in the whole world, just our little corner of it.

  1. We Are the Light of the World
  1. Light Destroys Darkness

John 1:5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Darkness is the absence of light.  As we shine the bright light of righteousness, darkness is driven back. 

How are you shining the light of righteousness around you?

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

How sad is it that many choose to live in the dark.  They love iniquity so much they would rather wallow in darkness rather than turn on the light of Christ. 

  1. Light Detects Evil

John 3:19-20 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

It is in the presence of light that deeds are illuminated.  David Jeremiah tells the story of the desert nomad that awakened in the middle of night wanting a snack.  He sat up, lit a candle and began eating dates from a bowl beside the bed.   He took a bite from one end of the first one and saw a worm in it, so he threw it out of the tent. He bit into the second date, found another worm, and threw it away.  Reasoning that he wouldn’t have any dates left to eat if he continued in this way, he blew out the candle and quickly ate all the dates.

Many people love iniquity so much they would rather swallow their sins and wallow in darkness than to turn on the light of Christ.

  1. Light Discovers Good

John 3:21  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

  1. Light Defines Christianity

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

INPUT: What does it mean to walk as children of Light?

We need to look at Philippians 2:14-15  Do all things without complaining and disputing,  that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

At work, at school, in the grocery store, at the mall, wherever we are, we need remember that our smile, our attitude, our behavior, concern for others, and even our purchases should reflect the light of Jesus.  We are a mirror designed to reflect Him.  How are you doing?

  1. Light Demands Exposure

Matthew 5:14-16  “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

INPUT: What are some ways we may hide our light?

- Not getting out into the community

- Only associating with those from church or like faith

- Keeping silent

- Not being different

For light to accomplish its purpose, it must leave the presence of other lights and go out into the darkness.  What would happen if nobody left the comfort of their fellow lights?

INPUT: List ways you can be light to the world this week.

If we don’t plan for opportunities, we will miss the ones that God sends our way!

  1. Living a Life of Passion

When I think of a relevant life, I think of a person living with a passion. 

I hope you had a chance to hear Steve Stilwell speak last week.  There was passion in his presentation, not just in his words, but you could see it on his face.  He is passionate about the ministry in Peru.

Show video clip “What is your passion?”

For those without projector capabilities, this is a man on the street type video asking various people what they are passionate about.  Answers include; family, living in the moment, work, social causes, and even Carolina basketball.  Instead of the video, you could just pose the question to the class.  Maybe ask; “How do you think the average person in America would answer the question: ‘What are you passionate about?’”

Foe those using the PowerPoint, the video will be included.

INPUT: How do others know what you are passionate about?

John Piper has written an excellent book called “Don’t Waste Your Life.”  I strongly every person read this and if you have teenagers, they need to read this as well.

I think a person of passion is definitely a person that is not wasting their life. Piper mentions how the eighteenth century preacher Jonathan Edwards influenced his life:

His life was inspiring because of his zeal not to waste it, and because of his passion for the supremacy of God.  Consider some of the resolutions he wrote in his early twenties to intensify his life for the glory of God.

  • Resolution #5: “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.”
  • Resolution #6: “Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.”
  • Resolution #17: “Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”
  • Resolution #22: “Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.”

That last resolution (#22) may strike us as blatantly self-centered, even dangerous, if we do not understand the deep connection in Edward’s mind between the glory of God and the happiness of Christians.  The violence he had in mind was what Jesus meant when he said in essence, “Better to gouge out your eye to kill lust and go to heaven than to make peace with sin and go to hell.” (Matthew 5:29).  And with regard to seeking his own happiness, keep in mind that Edwards was absolutely convinced that being happy in God was the way we glorify Him.

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 29-30

Think about this, Edwards wrote those when he was in his twenties.  I shudder to have someone look back at what I was writing about in my twenties, if I was even writing!  I don’t even want to think about how I was spending the majority of my time.

Look back at the resolutions.  Can any of those be true of your life?  Should they be?  The question as we close is can those around you tell what you are passionate about?  Is what you say you have passion for the same as what you practice day-in and day-out?

Honestly evaluate your life in light of today’s lesson.  We have been called to be salt and light, to make a difference in this world.  Are you answering the call? 

What might need to change in your life to be more effective?  

Dave Jones

Dave works for human resources at Purdue University.  Dave and his wife, Becky, joined Faith in 1986.  He co-teaches the Ambassadors ABF as well as several FCI classes.