“Into the Potter’s Hands”
Jeremiah 18:1-11; Luke 14:25-33
Does anyone read my blog? I know people do, I just don’t know if any of you here this morning do. If you did read it this past week, what did I say I have decided to do?
I said I have decided to follow Jesus.
This may seem a bit cryptic to share this morning, given what I do. But, vacation gave me the opportunity to relax and think about some things I’ve been wanting to think about. I also picked up a great book called Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer. In this book he addressed something I’ve been struggling with, well, for years.
What is it, you ask? Well, it’s religion.
Religion is this whole set of rules we’ve put up that tells us how to be members of the church. And then on top of those, there are the things the church says we need to do in order to be ‘faithful’ members of the church. For instance in the United Church we’re supposed to avoid bottled water and gambling. We’re supposed to sign petitions against this cause and that cause.
And don’t get me started on the forms. We have forms for everything. We have forms to tell the higher-ups that nothing has changed. And they need to be filled out in triplicate every year.
I know I’ve spoken about this sort of thing before. But it really struck home as I was reading Mere Churchianity. The bureaucracy gets me down. We can’t do a thing it seems without striking a committee and examining budgets and risk factors. It feels like we’re running a business.
Ok, let’s take a poll here this morning. What are your favourite thing in the church?
Notice no one said ‘meetings’ or ‘committees’ or ‘filling out forms’ or ‘budgets’. No one mentioned the business side of the church. Yet we spend the bulk of our time in these activities.
We shared spiritual needs.
So then what about people out there who are looking for a place to explore their spirituality? Do you think they want to spend their days helping to run a business?
What about Jesus? Shouldn’t he be the one we’re focusing on most of the time?
I don’t remember Jesus filling out a lot of forms, or spending a lot of time in meetings discussing budgets. I’m no biblical scholar. I can’t recall verses from memory extensively, so help me out here if I’m wrong.
I don’t know about you, but I need to spend more time with Jesus instead of worrying about the business side of the church.
Yes we need to be aware of budgets and have some meetings. But these things can’t be the sole focus of our energy. Our sole focus needs to be Jesus, and we need to get to know him better.
Jesus is the one who came to earth to show us the way to God. He instituted two simple rules, and I’ve said them many times. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength; and love your neighbour as yourself.” Luke 10, verse 27.
But today’s reading from Luke really challenges us doesn’t it? Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”
Those are very strong words for us to process today.
I could go into some long discussion about the original language, the culture of the day, how it’s been translated over the years.
But what it boils down to is, “Where are our priorities?”
Are we like the man Jesus told us about, who wanted to build a tower without first looks to see if he can complete it? Or the king who went to war without first weighing the odds of victory?
You can’t do it without putting your entire self into it. No partial efforts. Being a Christian is not giving up half your life. Being a Christian means giving your all. Fully devoting yourself to Jesus Christ.
The sad part is most of us don’t know him well enough to do this. We haven’t studied him enough. We don’t read our Bibles to see what he did and what he taught.
Most of us rely on some talking head to stand in front of us on Sunday mornings to tell us what we need to know about Jesus.
As much as I would like to be able to do that for you, I can’t. I hope, in some small way, I am encouraging you, but I can’t give you all the answers.
It’s really up to you.
We all need to get to know Jesus more. And where do we find that out? We look in the best selling book of all time. The only account of his life written by people who witnessed it. We start with the Bible. We don’t need a big library of books interpreting it for us. We just need to sit and read it and let the words of Jesus speak to our heart.
We need to let God mould us. Like in Jeremiah, we need to let the Potter work us intoHis piece of art.
We are flawed. We are imperfect. We are broken.
Only God can take those imperfections and work them into something beautiful for His kingdom.
So let us sit at the Potter’s wheel. Let us learn more about Jesus Christ and what he has done for us so that he will become our focus, our reason for doing what we do.
Let us look past the business of the church. The man-made rules we have put in place that dictate how we live our lives and run our churches, and instead let the Holy Spirit, sent by God, speak to our hearts and lead us into the direction we should go.
Let God show us the way through the teachings and example of His Son, Jesus Christ. And may we be inspired by the gift of the Holy Spirit to do the work He calls us to do in the world.
Because, above all else, we belong to Him. Let us go into the Potter’s hands.