A sermon delivered on the occasion of Newsom United Church’s 54th anniversary, June 10, 2012
I remember when I got my first computer, a lowly little Vic20. One day in and I was hooked. From then on computers were to be my future. Figuring out how to program them; how they worked; how to make them do more than they were expected. I loved it all.
Imagine how I felt when I got to high school and learned that I could actually go to university and make a living at this!
And so I did, I got my Bachelors of Computer Science degree at Acadia University and worked for a major company in Ottawa. I had life by the tail. Nothing was going to stop me now.
So I thought.
Turns out, something was missing in my life. Something just wasn’t quite right. So I worked more. I put in longer hours. I took on more responsibility in the office. I started to move up the management ladder. I worked on bigger projects. Still nothing…
So I started reading leadership books. Maybe I didn’t have the right approach. Maybe I didn’t have quite the right skills. Maybe I just needed to learn a little bit more and then I would have it all.
Nope, didn’t work either.
All that resulted in all of this extra work, reading, and searching for the extra edge at work was I didn’t get to see my wife as much.
I was confused. Since I was 10 years old I had worked on computers. This is what I know! This is where my skills are. This must be what I’m supposed to be doing with my life! Right? I was wired for this career.
Do you have a story like this. A story where you just knew this was what you are going to do. All you can remember is leading in a certain direction. Could be as a teacher, or a doctor, a nurse, a mother, a father, all your experience was pointing you in a certain direction. All your life you were told how you were going to be a good journalist, a good teacher, a good garbageman… whatever. It just what you know you are wired to do, and by golly you were going to be the very best at it.
We are raised in life to do better. After all, isn’t that what we want for our children? Don’t we want our kids to have a better life than we have? Don’t we want them to be the very best at what they do? Don’t we tell them that the sky’s the limit and to accept nothing less in life?
Day one after leaving university I was making almost as much as my father was making after 20 years in the labour force. Over the next 3 years, my salary jumped another 50%. I was living my dream.
So I thought.
But the more work I did, the more I threw myself into my career, the bigger the hole got. The more money I made, the more I realized I couldn’t buy what I was looking for.
Isn’t that a popular pattern? We see it in the news all the time. Superstars in sports or acting, at the very top of their career, raking in millions and millions each and every year, and then how many end up on the front of the news as a night of self-destruction?
It’s all about worship.
When the Israelites were walking in the desert after Moses liberated them from being slaves of Egypt they stopped and Moses went up the mountain to talk with God.
He was gone a pretty long time. The people, they got a little restless waiting. They wanted to know what was happening, they wanted to know what God was up to. They began to rumble and murmur to each other. They went to Moses’ brother, Aaron, and told him to show them a god who would lead them. They needed something to worship. So they melted down their gold and made a golden calf to worship. All this while Moses was still on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments and other rules up on top of the mountain.
They needed to worship something. They craved more in their lives. They craved meaning. They craved purpose. They craved God.
We desire power. We desire riches. We desire respect and power. We need it. We crave it.
Worship. We want worship.
It’s the way were made. It’s in our DNA, it’s all through us. We desire more. We worship more.
And when we get more, we want more. It’s never enough. Bigger houses. More cars. More money. More, more, more.
But there’s only One who can fulfill our needs. There’s only one who can make our life complete.
Peter and Andrew had it pretty good. They were working as fishermen, learning the trade from their father. They would be the one’s to take over the family business.
But along came a man who changed everything. All he said was, “Come, follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.”
Matthew had a pretty sweet job as a tax collector. He was doing very well for himself. But alone came a man who said, “Follow me and be my disciple” and his life changed as well.
We crave more in our hearts. There’s a hole in our lives that cannot be filled by earthly treasures.
Paul knows this as well too. He had a rewarding job. He caught and persecuted Christians. Punishing them and being greatly rewarded and recognized by those in temple leadership. But an encounter on the road to Damascus showed him he still had a great need in his life. Instead of persecuting Christ, he needed Christ in his life. His whole life was changed.
Later he wrote to the church in Rome, when he encouraged them to resist the temptations in their lives, to have them stop worshipping false idols, false gods.
He wrote, “… the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy.”
The world around us is living in darkness. It’s living in sin and worshipping false gods. Gods of wealth, fame, pride, corrupted by power and greed. Through the worshipping of these false gods, they do not show love to one another. By chasing the gods of greed and power, there is only hurting of people.
Paul reminds us what the true way is, how to live our lives. He writes, referring to the great commandments of Jesus, “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Love. It’s that simple. We crave love. Whether we want to be loved or we have the great desire to love. We are wired to love. This is what we worship.
The love of things. The love of ideas. These are nothing but false idols. Objects of worship which keep up from experiencing the abundant love from the source of Love.
Love we cannot find on a shelf. We cannot find it in a paycheque or a parking lot. Love we cannot find on a street corner.
Love we can only find by placing our lives at the feet of the cross of Jesus Christ; the one who commands us to love.
This is who we are wired to worship. This is the one who can fulfill all our needs.
“… put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires,” says Paul to the Romans.
Let Jesus Christ speak love into our hearts. Let nothing else keep us from knowing he, whom God sent, His Son.
It was when I discovered Jesus Christ in my mid-20s that I realized I was looking to fill the hole in my life in the wrong places. I was missing the point of living.
I was searching for love. I was searching for things to fill the gap I was experiencing. The gap work, money, fame, nothing could fill it.
Well, nothing but the love of Jesus Christ that is.
When I found him, everything else just fell away. He turned my life around, everything I had expected was turned upside down. Everything I had been taught about success changed.
Everything I thought I was wired to be in life was different.
And it’s for the better.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
Photo from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1042056