"What do I get from following Christ?”
All of the sudden he looked at his shoes. It felt like all the air was sucked out of the room. The atmosphere became very uncomfortable. The clergyman standing in front of everyone smiled uncomfortably. He shifted his weight back and forth. He reminded me of a fourth grade boy who was asked to spell a word he’d never heard before.
The clergy leader sheepishly responded, “Well, the call to Christ is about sacrifice and service.”
All I could think is “wrong answer!”
The group discussion went on. The defeated man left standing in the front leading the session became irrelevant. He could not honestly tell a group of seasoned Christ followers why following Jesus Christ was the most important, transformational, world changing decision a person could ever make. I personally grew more and more irritated. I hovered at the edge of anger for the rest of the meeting and am still simmering about it. As you can tell.
Friends. Knowing what we get out of the relationship with Jesus is the most important information we will ever need to know. More than that, we must comprehend it and put it into practice. Let it permeate our entire soul, mind and spirit. The Apostle Peter said it best:
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, I Peter 3:15 NIV
Each of us will have our unique and power-filled answer above and beyond the countless theological reasons. What did Jesus do for you? Did he set you free from a life of sin and addiction? Did Jesus fill your soul so full to overflowing that he removed the isolation and longing to be loved and accepted? Did Jesus save your soul and give you an inheritance that can never be taken away? Did Jesus speak your name and all of the sudden your life had meaning and purpose? Did Jesus reveal a specific vision for your life that only you can fulfill?
Once we know what we get out of the relationship with Jesus, we are commanded to live into it with our whole heart. We are not to live half-heartedly or from day to day with nothing to show for it. Maybe that’s why I was so angry about the clergyman’s answer. Call it a righteous indignation. I believe he had an opportunity to invigorate and ignite a group of people who were trying to make a decision about a direction the United Methodist Church is called to go. He could not tell us the reason for the church’s existence or purpose. I expect more from church leaders.
Sunday we celebrate holy communion and wrap-up the Wheatland University series. Expect to hear some invigorating, inspiring words about Jesus Christ and why we follow him. Expect to be part of a church that makes changing the world seriously. 700 widows received an amazing surprise in Ujiji, Tanzania this week because of Wheatland’s generosity. Plans are being finalized for our 20-year celebration, September 10, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.. This is an event you do not want to miss. God provided much needed cash so plans are being finalized to fix, replace and improve our facilities at both campuses. Wheatland Academy teachers were freshly anointed and prayed for as they prepare to teach more than 200 preschool children. Covenant Classical School has been in full session for weeks imparting a Christian education for 150 grammar school leaders. Wheatland Student Ministry and WSCKids ministry has set a course of being more intentional about living into our Christian inheritance every day. Christ followers who call Jesus Lord at Wheatland initiate their fall small groups, courses and classes. Expect more. I know I do. See you in church Sunday.
And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 The Message