I’m excited to be sharing with you a new feature that are adding to our weekend teaching at Mountainview. It’s a weekly sermon follow-up that includes additional thoughts and ideas about how to put the sermon into action. It’s written by Vanessa Maruska, one of our members. I know that you will find it helpful!
Love Where You Live
1 CORINTHIANS 9:19-23
How does our society view us as “Christians”? It seems most cultures across geographies and generations have perceived followers of Christ as backward, subversive and now most prevalently as hypocritical prosecutors. That’s quite the wrong position for us in God’s courtroom, when we’ve been called out to serve as love-filled witnesses. How would any recipient of our message trust what we say if they have no point of reference on that truth being equally lived out in our own lives? To put it in today’s vernacular, ‘don’t talk the talk unless you can walk the walk’. And, it’s quite a challenge to walk your ‘talk’ if your focus is on doing so only when traveling far from those around us. As the Apostle Paul said, “I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ – but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-21 MSG)
If we are to try on another’s viewpoint, our understanding and hence our compassion will be impacted. Jesus has commanded that we love others as He loves us, and that the ever further reaching extent of that love begin in our own neighborhood (i.e., the great commission Matthew 28:16-20). Start at home, at work, at the playground, at shops and restaurants, and yes – at the church building too. When we’re told to love our ‘neighbor’, this isn’t some theoretical or abstract term, but a very specific and tangible directive. This evangelistic lifestyle certainly demands a change in approach, first of our minds and hearts and then played out through our actions (see Romans 12:1-2).
Paul, or rather Saul – as he was originally known, learned the trade of a tent-maker through his youth. He frequently reverted to that occupation during his travels to support his needs and not pose a burden on those with whom he shared the Good News. How fascinating that our Lord was raised as a carpenter and later chose a tentmaker to be his mouthpiece around the ancient world. God frequently admonishes us to be content in our circumstances – a lesson Paul himself claimed (Philippians 4:11-13), but not to get too comfortable here on Earth. He desires we learn conTENTment, and the willingness to remain flexible and malleable; He leads us away from the distractions of pursuing comFORT, building up walls around ourselves and keeping others at arms-length. As phrased by Rick Warren, pastor at Saddleback Church in California, “God is far more interested in your character than your comfort”.
No matter our unique occupation at any given phase in our lives, it is purely a tool to be used in our following Christ. This is the heart of what it means to truly live under the banner of Christianity. We follow him. We accept His leadership, the work of love He designed us for, and the unique tool(s) He provided for this trade. This means that when we ‘walk our talk’, we’re all heading in the same direction (where He leads), but that we also each have a unique stride, gait, and pace. All our individual talents, experiences, jobs and personalities form the way in which we chase after the Way (John 14:6). Paul explained in another church letter that we are handmade masterpieces amongst the vastness of Creation, “in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV) We follow Him in love and then into lives of love.
So, do we love where we live? Are we content to love and live with those He’s placed us near, or are we obsessed with our own comfort, leaving others locked out in the wilderness of their assumptions and wrong perceptions? Our talk most likely won’t alter their views, but let’s not underestimate what Christ can do with a faithful walk.
Experience and Background
- Professor at Warner University
- masters in business administration (mba)
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
To get a better feel for my style and personality, you can watch past sermons on our YouTube channel.
One of the things I enjoy the most is helping individuals or organizations reach their full potential. It’s been said, “everyone wins when a leader gets better.”
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