Investing Ourselves in Godís Purposes
Pastor Diane Gordon
Mt Pleasant FUMC
October 1, 2017
Scriptures: Philippians 1:27 and 2:1-13 CEB
††††††††† The word Ďaspirationí has taken a whole new place in my vocabulary. Since my husband, Tom, received a tracheotomy on September 9th, we have lived with the presence of a direct line to Tomís lungs. We aspirate phlegm from the trach, clearing the way for moisturized, oxygenated air to enter in the act of aspiration Ė as he breathes.
††††††††† We quickly learned that washing his hair in the shower, even with the new hand held sprayer, is not a good thing. The volume of water is hard to control and water can get aspirated in a split second. Good thing we had the suction unit ready and waiting! Now we wash hair at the kitchen sink with the dinky sprayer that does the job perfectly.
††††††††† While we hope that the tracheostomy is a temporary fixture, we continue to live with the aspiration (as in a strong desire to achieve something high or great) that we will live into Godís vision for us as a couple who covenanted to love and care for each other no matter what.
††††††††† That kind of aspiration, the desire to live with a higher purpose, is what the church is about; to love and care for one another no matter what. Yes, we must breathe in the Holy Spiritís power and exhale the self-centeredness that comes with being human. We can rest assured that when we seek to think with the mind of Christ, God enables us to become more Christ-like.
††††††††† There is a difference between pretending to be something that we are not and modeling ourselves after someone we hold in highest esteem. An imposter poses as the person or role they think will get them what they want, thinking that appearances are everything and a vehicle to power, prestige, honor and success. This is not the path that we are hoping to follow. We are not to pretend to believe and follow Jesus, just because we think that will curry Godís favor and sway God to give us what we want. No, we are to seek first Godís kingdom kind of life, surrendering our wants and wishes Ė as difficult as that might be in the moment Ė and follow the path that Jesus took.
††††††††† Jesus did not use his divinity to control people. Instead, he humbled himself, even to the point of death on the cross, to show us that nothing Ė not even death Ė has power over God and Godís people, in the end. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the people of Philippi, he encouraged them (and us) to stand firm, united in one spirit and mind as we struggle together to remain faithful to the gospel. Not only that, we are to do this whether our leader is present and watching or not; whether we think God is watching or not.
††††††††† The lives we live when we think no one is watching is the true measure of our discipleship. Itís easy to put on a show out in public, but when we are alone or in the shadows is where the rubber meets the road. When life gets challenging, who do we turn to? Or we could ask, who do we turn into? When things donít happen the way we imagined they would, how do we respond? What true nature is revealed in those times? Are we imposters or disciples? Do we curse God when things go south on us or do we praise God for the loving presence of the Holy Spirit that keeps us grounded in the midst of suffering?
††††††††† My hope is that we, this church, aspire to become more and more Christ-like, encouraging one another through good times and tough times, becoming a community of believers who are not in it for what they can get out of it, but for what God aspires us to become; true disciples who walk in the way that leads to life.
††††††††† Many of you participated yesterday in a workshop aimed at helping this congregation live out the vision God has for us. Voicing our hopes and fears in a safe space, where passions and goals come together even as we live in this post-Christian world, has been our dream.
††††††††† This Vision into Action will stay top of mind as we make our way through this year. I pray that each of you will ask God to help us, both as individuals and as a group, to live into our aspirations to be followers of Jesus who love God and neighbor, and seek to serve Godís kingdom purposes. Amen.