Have you ever had the experience of stepping outside your door on a cold winter morning, perhaps to leave for work, or let a pet out for a minute, only to discover that you are woefully under-dressed? You know that just a few feet away, inside your door, are warmth and comfort. But you also know that you must step outside in order to fulfill your responsibility. So it is with the surrendered life. Following Jesus involves going from the comfortable to the uncomfortable. But in the surrendered life our stepping outside is really about moving outside our own self-absorption and seeing through new eyes, as it were, what is going on around us and how we are to be involved.
Quite honestly, for the most part, life even inside a good church can be comfortable. But in this season of history, God is calling His people to step outside of ourselves. Why? There are multiple reasons, but here are just a couple: First, when we step outside ourselves, our perspective changes and we become concerned more about others. When we do this, our own worries and concerns become less urgent and begin to diminish. They may not go away but they begin to take a back seat when we become otherly-minded. Second, when we step outside ourselves, those who are weak or struggling, and those who dont know Christ actually see what Jesus looks like. We have the opportunity to show the true love of Christ to someone who perhaps has not experienced it.
So, with 2012 ahead of us, lets take a look together at what the Bible tells us about stepping outside of ourselves and believe God to use us in the coming year to be actual good news to those around us. Besides, lets not let Mayans have all the fun this year.
Why do we need to step outside of ourselves?
1) Because that is what Jesus did to redeem us (vs5-8).
Jesus sets the pattern for the surrendered life.
2) Because as humans self-preservation is automatic. We dont really even have to think about it. Matthew 19:16-24: the rich young man
It is easy for us to allow stuff to come between us and our Lord.
We dont even have to be rich for this to happen.
3) Because when we turn too inward, the only result will be failure and sin (v7).
John 13:38 Peter denying Christ.
John 21: 15-17 Jesus questioning Peter
Acts 2 Peter filled with the Spirit preaching at Pentecost
4) Because we must serve Him for the right reasons:
Let nothing be done from selfish ambition or conceit (v3).
- It is quite easy for us to be doing the right things for the wrong reasons.
- We must be careful about self-advancement.
- Kingdom Principle: The way up is down.
- This flies in the face of what our culture teaches us.
But with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves (v3b).
- For every one knows more evil of himself than he can of another. John Wesley
Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose (v2).
- Gods love in us is the central reason that we do anything at all for others (Jn 13:34-35). If it is not, then our hearts are not right. We again are acting out of selfish reasons.
- Gods love is selfless (1Co 13).
- Gods love brings unity and focus.
What is it that our Lord is asking us to do in order to step outside ourselves?
1) Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (v4).
We can expand our area of caring.
Allow God to show us others we can care for.
As long as I am only thinking about myself, I am incapable of loving and serving others.
There are people with needs within the Northwest Church family.
There are people with needs all around us.
2) Be patient with others and dont allow judgmentalism or resentment to fill our hearts.
We can ask God to allow us to see people like He does.
Fact: We cannot be resentful or judgmental and love at the same time.
- I love those people, but
- Moving away from resentment requires moving toward something more positive, and that something is thankfulness. Why? Because gratitude is the opposite of resentment and gratuity moves us away from the world of earning- and-repayment in love. Henri Nouwen
How do we begin to step outside ourselves?
1) Start with basic obedience.
Ask the Lord this question: What do You want me to do?
2) Find a place to serve.
Get involved in something that focuses on others.
Get training if you need to get training.
3) Reprioritize your resources.
Instead of What can I get? begin to ask yourself What can I give? (Ac 2:45).
Increase your giving (this really does force the issue).
Consider sharing space with others. Why? The American tendency for a single family dwelling with separate bedrooms for every family member has served to isolate people from each other.
- Rent out an empty bedroom.
- Help a struggling relative.
- Join some kind of smaller group where intimate sharing and growth can take place.
- In the future this may become a necessity.
Four practices that give integrity to our lives (by Smith)
1) Generous hospitality
2) Advocacy and care for the poor
3) Generous giving of our means
4) Intercessory prayer
1) Am I a typical self-absorbed American or have I moved towards the selflessness of Christ? Be as honest as you can.
2) What steps can I take to move in the right direction?
3) How will I begin to empty myself?