Monday, July 18, 2011

Why Me, Lord?

Why Me, Lord?

Pastor Tom Millner

Luke 10:25-37; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8


Ever ask the question; “Why me”? Why am I the one who has to ___? Why is life so ___ for me? Years ago I expressed the “why me” sentiment to a friend once in New York, who responded “why not? “What makes you special,” he asked. It was a challenging question, but not at all comforting. You see, I had this version of life that if you lived a certain way, believed a certain way, talked a certain way, dressed a certain way, and walked a certain way, then life would be good. I believed that God would see me in a favorable light and therefore bless me with the things I wanted for my comfort. There’s not an iota of Biblical truth to that belief, but I held it passionately. I was going through an emotionally challenging time, dealing with fear of loss of my family, my possessions, and my perceived reputation. What I learned is that God promises to satisfy our needs, not our comfort. Each of us seeks comfort in the things and people around us. Let’s give thanks for every moment of that earthly comfort and remember that the comfort of His presence is ours even when our lives seem uncomfortable. When I surrendered my notions of what life should be like to His promise of what life could be like, I asked with a grateful heart “why me?” We all have our versions of “should be” that need a hefty dose of “could be” in Him. Let’s look at how His Word helps us discover the possibilities.

Discomfort is a part growth! Physiologically, young people can experience literal pain in the process of growth. It’s not comfortable, but it’s a part of the maturation process.  When the good and faithful Jews in Jesus’ story from our reading in Luke today were confronted with a fellow Jew who was naked and wounded, they avoided the discomfort of providing help where help was needed. Not only would it have taken them off their schedule, but it would have rendered them as unclean having touched human blood. That meant they would have to go through a ritual cleansing process to become ceremonially clean again. That process was not convenient. So in Jesus’ story about inheriting eternal life, He uses the example of the “less than” Samaritan that goes out of his way to help out a Jew who historically would not like him. Not only does he bind his wounds, but he also takes him to an inn to care for him and then paid the inn keeper for more care if needed. The discomfort avoidant Jews missed the opportunity to grow in the blessings of His kingdom. The unlikely Samaritan was the blessed one because he invested in the blessing! Taking time out from his schedule was probably not comfortable for Sam the Samaritan, but empathy demonstrating God’s love for another of God’s creation outweighed the inconvenience. Remember, this whole story started when the Pharisee asked Jesus; Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he [Jesus] replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Missing the importance of love for God being expressed through love for his neighbor, the legalist looked for a loophole when asking “who is my neighbor?” We’d like to profess that we’re not like the Jew, but rather like the Samaritan. But are we? How often do we go out of our way to help another in need? I’m not talking about the obvious, but the not so obvious. Enjoying a clean seat and worship space today? Someone loves God enough to give of himself to clean and prepare this place for worship. He doesn’t do it for attention, but out of love. Greeted warmly as you entered this space today? Someone cared to love God enough to make His house a welcoming home today. The work of our lay ministers in preparation and execution of our worship service is done out of love to God through working to see things run seamlessly for each of us experiencing worship today. There are lots of Sams here today who took a stroll to the other side of the road to attend to the comfort of those who may need attention and comforting. Some of us have moved from “not me” to “why bother me” to the grateful place of “why me”. That place is one of awe in the honor of service to the Lord. Sam might not have been “feeling” like giving the love, but he respected God enough to act in another’s behalf.

God calls us to invest for His return. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9 that “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” We love a good return on our investment. We seem to ask “what’s in it for me?” WIIFM! In my sales training days we would remind sales reps that “to sell John Brown what John Brown buys, you must see John Brown through John Browns eyes.” This translated into guiding the customer into seeing the benefits of a particular product from the customer’s own perspective. We see that being done in many modern churches today. “Send your donation to… and we’ll send you the keys to the Kingdom.” The keys to the kingdom are not to be found through a commercial or a sound bite. We tweet, post, and instant message our way through the day. Vast information is available to us 24/7. We like to get results fast, quick fixes with instant gratification. Some of the Corinthians were looking for gratification from their efforts as well. Paul is telling the Corinthians focus on their giving of their time, talents, and treasures as an investment in God’s kingdom. Paul also told the believers in Rome to “not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” This, he asserted, would lead us to knowing what God’s good and perfect will is for our lives. Sowing into the kingdom gives kingdom returns. What God gives in His return on our investment is an abundance of His presence, His kingdom, His Spirit poured out in those who invest. Paul was encouraging the Corinthians to see the value of giving of self cheerfully. Those who give sparingly get a sparse return. Those who give generously get a generous return. The return is not so much on the things invested, but on the heart that invests. The heart becomes the “thing” we invest. When we invest with a “not me” or a “why me” attitude that comes from a place of having lost something, we diminish the heart return. When we give out of a heart of gratitude for God’s very presence in our lives, knowing that He provides our needs, sees us through our fears, and hears our every plea for grace, we shout with gratitude “why me.” His return on our investment in the kingdom is far greater than we can ever earn on our own. That return on investment of our hearts to Him is redemption, kinship, holiness, righteousness and an eternity in His presence. In Paul’s word to the church in Galatia (Galatians 5:22-23) “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.”

What God desires in our gifts to him is a heart of gratitude for what we’ve already been given. Where’s your heart today?



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