INFLUENCE - Care
Pastor Don Prewitt
INFLUENCE THROUGH CARING
-Some of the smartest, and most intelligent people that I know are sitting in this audience today!
-You have the ability to change your world today, to really make a mark on it if you want!
-Anything is possible if you only believe!
-We could build an army with all the gifts that are represented at Harbor Light.
-Go change the world!!!
Do you feel built up? Well get over it, because the task in front of us is really quite impossible; impossible without Gods help, that is! Its going to take a lot more than someone pumping us up with words of encouragement to entice us with the needs of the world around us. The task of really influencing our world is a scary, time consuming and impossible task without some help! This is why Pastor Terry asked us to go on a 21 day fast. We need the intervention of God, the ideas of God and the mind of Christ if we ever want to get better at influencing the world around us.
In our Pentecostal/Charismatic setting we understand the need of the Holy Spirit to be involved in everything we do. But honestly, its going to take more than prophesying to someone or laying hands on them. What I am trying to say is that there isn’t a trick to influencing our world; God must reveal this to us and empower us and give us the eyes that He has for the world around us.
Pastor Terry said last week that we should “Talk to God about the lost before we talk to the lost about God”. Prayer for those around us is certainly the 1st base of influencing our world. So I encourage you to take the inconvenience risk of spending time fasting and praying for Gods heart for those who do not know Him. We are in desperate need right now, and cannot accomplish all that God wants for us here at Harbor Light without His divine guidance and ability.
Today, we are going to talk for a moment about influencing our world through caring for the world around us. Before we do, I would like to read a passage that Pastor Terry spoke on last week:
“Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:3
What Jesus was telling us and his disciples is that we are sheep and if we care for the world around us there will be wolves who will want to discourage, destroy and prevent and literally kill the love of God being seen in us. In other words, this caring and loving thing is not easy!
“The thief does not come except to steal, kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”. John 10:10
All of us have been given the opportunity to care for someone in front of us. Those opportunities are everywhere, some are epic; some are just a word of encouragement. These opportunities are not limited to those with certain gifts or abilities; ages or educational status, but rather are for all who consider themselves followers of Jesus. Maybe you’ve had an opportunity right in front of you and not noticed it.
If we are really wanting to influence our world through caring for those around us we should probably put to rest songs like “All you need is love”, because this kind of love is not a post modern fluff that we get in a circle, hold hands and sing about. Rather, this influential love and care is gritty, vulnerable and sacrificing. Most likely it will cost us something to care for our world.
Maybe you are like Sarah, in the sketch we just observed, who loves God and sees this huge need in front of her, but it seems so big, and scary, and frankly, very time consuming. I think that Sarah probably felt what Jesus said when He told His disciples that He was sending them out as “lambs among wolves”! Especially a wife hungry wolf like she was filming!
So, lets explore this a little. What are some characteristics of sheep?
1. They are timid, fearful and easily panicked.
2. They are dumb, stupid, and gullible
3. They have little or no means of self defense
4. They are jealous and compete for dominance
5. They are stubborn and will insist on their own way, even by eating poisonous plants and drinking dirty water
6. They are creatures of habit and easily get into ruts.
It doesn’t sound like Jesus was talking very highly about his disciple’s ability to love and care for the world if He described them (and us) as sheep, does it?
I don’t know if you are getting the same picture that I am as I go through this list but it sounds a little scary “out there”! Why would we want to go into the world and share the love of Jesus Christ with those around us if we are going as sheep?
The tendency for many of us sheep or followers of Jesus is to stay in the safe fold; right here in the church where we know we will be safe and never have to encounter the wolves of the world.
But this is not what Jesus wants; we all could agree on this fact. So what does Jesus want?
Lets look at a passage in Philippians that will help us understand what the Shepherd, Jesus Christ is asking of us when He sends us out to influence the world.
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, BEING in the FORM of God, did not consider it ROBBERY to be equal with God but MADE HIMSELF OF NO REPUTATION, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” -Philippians 2:5-8
This passage is the very backbone of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. Paul wasn’t suggesting that we be inspired by what he was saying, but rather he is inviting us to “take note! Listen up! Let this mind be in YOU, the same way that it was in Jesus while He spent His time here on earth!” Paul wasn’t dangling a carrot in front of us but rather He lowered a whole stadium of flat screen television’s flashing neon stop signs over and over. He was trying to get our attention!
We are going to have a brief lesson in Greek this morning. So please bear with me. The Greek language often is much more descriptive than the English language. Where we may have one word to describe something, there may be 5 Greek words that are very similar but uniquely different to describe the same thing. The same is true of other languages like Spanish. I may walk up to a buffed guy at the gym and say “Te Quiero”, which means I love you, but more like “Hey, I love you bro!” But if I walked up to him and said “Te Amo”, which also means I love you, I might see just how many muscles that guy is made of when he punches me one! Both terms mean I love you, but “Te Amo” is a more intimate term, one used between a husband and a wife, or between God and us.
In discovering the original meaning of some of the Greek words in this passage we can better understand what Paul was trying to say regarding Jesus’ heart while here on earth and in turn what our heart should also be.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, BEING in the FORM of God, did not consider it ROBBERY to be equal with God but MADE HIMSELF OF NO REPUTATION, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” -Philippians 2:5-8
BEING: huparchein it describes the very essence of every individual and that, which cannot be changed. It describes that part of every one of us, which, in any circumstances, remains the same. So Paul was saying that Jesus was essentially and unalterably God.
FORM: shema the outward form which changes from time to time and from circumstance to circumstance. Though Jesus’ outward form did change into man, His inward form remained the same.
ROBBERY: harpagmos, which means to snatch or to clutch. Jesus did not hug or clutch to his Being huparchein, or his equality with God jealously to himself, but laid it down willingly for the sake of men and women.
“MADE HIMSELF OF NO REPUTATION” EMPTIED: kenoun to empty, like emptying a bowl till there is nothing left in the bowl.
So what does any of this have to do with influencing our world through caring for them?
1. Know your identity in Christ.
Jesus knew His identity as Gods son. He knew who He really was and that He represented God Himself. When we choose to care for people around us we risk the chance of them rejecting us or hurting us. We risk the chance of it getting messy and complicated. When we go into these situations with our own identity it becomes a lot more vulnerable. If we take the chance of influencing our world through serving and caring for them, and someone rejects us or hurts us, they aren’t really rejecting us; they are rejecting Jesus. We don’t have to go in our own strength and identity. This is why we need more than a pep rally of encouraging worlds like I gave you when I first stepped up here. We need to deeply know that we are, as Ephesians tells us:
“…Gods workmanship (His best work) created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do”. Ephesians 2:10
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them (the spirit or mindset of the world), because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”. 1 John 4:4
1. Know your identity in Christ.
2. Be willing to lay down that identity to become a servant.
This is the tricky part of this passage. Although, our identity can be beneficial in helping us not be effected by the wolves that would come our way, holding onto that identity can also prevent us into being formed into a “servant of all”. Jesus willingly emptied Himself of His identity as God, so that He could be a servant to the world around Him. In other words, Jesus didn’t cling to His identity. Its like this suit coat that I have on. Many times suits and ties say “Pastor”. If I willingly take it off I become like you. I take off my identity to serve you. Jesus was secure in His identity, but was willing to lay it down to take on the form of a servant. You could say that Christians shouldn’t tarnish themselves with certain types of sinners. Granted, you use wisdom and you don’t ever put yourself in a compromising position with people, but if you really choose to influence your world through serving them you will find yourself serving people that are not like you. It could get messy and they may never give their lives to God, but you have chosen to serve them just like Jesus did. So you take the risk.
We see Jesus doing this when He allowed the thief, and eventually His betrayer to be a part of His inner circle. He layed His identity down when He chose to hang out with prostitutes. He confirmed the strength of His identity when He allowed the low life tax collector Matthew to be a part of his world changing team of 12 and when He went to lunch with Zacheus. On the night of Jesus’ birth He layed down His identity as God when He chose for the unclean and socially outcast shepherds to be the first people on earth to hear about His long awaited arrival. Jesus knew His identity so well that He didn’t have to hold on to it to get His point across.
Those that I serve don’t care that I tote around the title Pastor. They probably don’t care how long I have served God or what spiritual gifts I operate in, but they do know when I’m listening to them and when I’m hearing them, even if their ideas and feeling are not shared by me. They notice when I am not ashamed to be with them, even though their life style may not match mine. I believe that they are influenced when I don’t come to them with a title, but rather in the love and care that says “whatever, whenever, whomever, I will serve and care for those around me”. Serving others results in Godly influence, while titles can simply complicate things!
1. Know your identity in Christ.
2. Be willing to lay down that identity to become a servant.
3. Empty yourself to effectively serve those around you
The one who loves us and took our punishment on the cross did not choose certain portions of Himself to lay down, but instead He gave His entire self the day He died for us. I don’t see Jesus making decisions according to what was convenient or comfortable. His ministry to us on earth was quite messy, but His choice was to get into the middle of this creation of His and care for us: redeeming, healing, loving, and forgiving us. That kind of care WILL influence your world because its what we are all hungry and longing for! This same mind is to be in us.
This is not often my mindset. Whenever I calculate the level of commitment I am willing to give in caring for those around me I could be in danger of not really being Christ like. My life is not about myself. If I give my life to God, it then becomes about Him and what He desires.
‘By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him’. 1 John 3:16-19
You have heard it said that you and I could be the only Jesus those around us will ever see. This little statement scares me. At times I get caught up in my own little world and forget that as a follower of Jesus my world is now about Him and what He desires. And His desires are for those who are hurting, lost, lonely, hungry, deep in sin, broken and repulsive. His heart is for our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and family members. His heart is for those that we love AND for those we don’t really think deserve the love of God! But, there are days I just don’t see this. And that is why I choose to fast and pray these 21 days. I want to see people the way that He sees people. I don’t want to waste any opportunity to care for those around me, no matter who they are or what I feel about them.