Real World Christianity

Bible Book: Colossians  3 : 18
Subject: Commitment; Dedication; Christian Living; Marriage; Family; Work
Introduction

Christ is sufficient for us in every circumstance. This is true when we are dying, but it is also true when we are living – when we are living in the nitty gritty experiences of life. After all, life is not only made up of banner days and glorious triumphs; most of life is lived in the experience of simple everyday tasks. We must live as Christians in traffic on I-285 in Atlanta, at home when the baby is crying, at school when the test is difficult and at work when the boss is mad or the employees are failing! That is real life.

Life is lived with sinus trouble, arthritis in the joints and the occasional need for Rolaids! That is real life.

Life is the need for an oil change in the car, the grass to be cut, the groceries to be bought, and the teeth to be cleaned at the dentist office. All of these things must be done when we have absolutely no time left to get them done and our finances are running on empty! That is real life.

Please understand this – Christian living was designed for situations just like the ones I have described. Salvation was not provided so we could go away and live in a quite monastery. Christ did not call on us to move away from the world, but He called us to live for Him in the world. Christ came into this world to give life meaning when we are smack-dab in the middle of real living!

Look at how Jesus prayed in John 17:15-18, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

Jesus does not seek to remove us from the world, though He does seek to remove the world from us. He, in fact, sends us into the world that we may be what He was to the world – salt and light.

So, today I want us to see three areas which Paul addresses in the latter part of Colossians 3 and the first verse of chapter 4. These three areas identify the nitty gritty arena into which we are thrust as the children of God. If we do not live like Christians in the three areas before us in this Scripture, we cannot live like Christians when we sit in church on Sunday.

Paul speaks of Christian living taking place between Wives and Husbands, Children and Parents and Employers and Employees. Interesting isn’t it? Paul is pointing out that we must know how to live Christ-like lives in the everyday atmosphere of marriage, parenting, growing up, in the work place and all the other common everyday places in which life takes place.

Sometimes we get the idea that only great people in great places can do anything great in God’s work. This is an erroneous concept. It is everyday people, in everyday places, doing everyday things that can accomplish great things for God. Think about this with me as we consider the facts from the Bible.

I. Do WHAT YOU CAN

We are never required to do what we are incapable of doing. Granted, some people have such an abysmal view of their abilities that they underestimate what they can do. Such people should take Philippians 4:13 as a theme verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God does expect us to do what we can do through His empowerment.

As an example, look at the woman who poured out the sweet, fragrant perfume on Jesus. We find that story in Mark 14. We read in Mark 14:8-9, “She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

Note why Jesus praised her. She did what she could! There were many things she could not do, but she did what she could do!

In fact, God even counts your desire to do something for Him as if it had been done - if in fact you would do it if you could do it! We see that in the life of David. King David wanted to build a house for God, but the Lord would not allow him to do it (1 Chronicles 28:2-3). God did not expect him to do what he was not supposed to do – God only expected David to do what he was supposed to do!

Look, for example, at 2 Corinthians 8:12, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” God knows your heart and He knows when you are willing to do something even if the wherewithal is not available. He also knows if you are faking it! There are those who say, "I would give a million dollars to the building program, if I had it." Really? Only God knows whether you would actually do that or not.

In your marriage, are you doing what you can to be a better wife or husband? Let me ask every parent and child here today, are you doing what you can to live a truly Christian life in these relationships? What about in your work, employment or management of employees – are you honoring God? Paul was stating that high theological concepts are of no value if they are not matched with exemplary lifestyles! In other words, don't just talk the talk, walk the walk! Doing means more than talking. God expects us to live the Christian life in the midst of real life experiences.

Do what you can right where you are. It is not the evangelist in the great stadium who does God’s greatest work, it is rather the husband, wife, son, daughter, parent, employee and employer who does his or her very best for God right where they are that are to be commended.

Do what you can right where you are!

II. Do What You Can WITH WHAT YOU HAVE

Don’t spend time daydreaming about what might be or what might have been. Decide that where you are, and what you have, is as important to God as anyone else, anywhere else, with anything else!

Recall with me a time when Jesus watched the people putting their money into the treasury at the Temple. Now let's understand how this was done. When a person gave an offering at the Temple during the time of Christ, he or she would walk past a treasury container and drop in a gift. When rich people walked by, the sound of the gold and silver dropping into the container would make a great noise and the people standing around would "ooh" and "aah" as the heard the sound of the great gifts being given.

The Bible records that Jesus brought His disciples to the Temple one day and that Jesus stood over by the treasury containers and watched the people put their money into them. Now this must have been an interesting moment. Most of us don’t like for people to look at what we give. We consider that a private matter. In our church, we have a counting committee who must look at offerings and count them. Then, the information is turned over to our Financial Secretary. From that moment on she is the only one who knows what you give to Lord through this church.

Many years ago, John Broadus did something very unusual. You do know who John A. Broadus was, don’t you? No. Well, let me give you some background before I tell you a story about him. Broadus was born in Virginia in 1874 and he grew up to become a scholar, teacher, preacher, and denominational leader in the Southern Baptist Convention. When he was about 16, he was converted to Christ. In the fall of 1846 Broadus entered the University of Virginia to prepare for the ministry, receiving the M.A. degree in 1850. Afterward, he taught school and preached in small country churches, and diligently studied church history, theology, sermons, and the Bible. He was ordained to the ministry in 1850. Calls of various kinds came to the young teacher, and he finally accepted the post as tutor in Latin and Greek at his alma mater and pastor of the Baptist church at Charlottesville. After one year he resigned his teaching position in order to devote full time to his pastorate. He continued this ministry with the exception of two years when he was given a leave of absence to serve as Chaplain at the University of Virginia.

In 1858 Broadus was asked to become a member of the faculty of the new Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Though he had a part in planning the institution, he declined the offer because of his dedication to preaching and pastoral work. After months of struggling with the decision, he agreed to become a member of the first faculty when the seminary opened in Greenville, South Carolina in 1859. For the next 36 years he was professor of New Testament interpretation and homiletics.

The seminary was closed during the Civil War, and Broadus preached in small churches and spent some time as Chaplain in Lee's Army in northern Virginia. The seminary reopened in 1865, but it struggled for existence and remained open only because of the heroic efforts of Broadus and James Boyce. It was in 1870 that Broadus published “On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons,” a book which has become a classic in the field of preaching. Broadus received nationwide recognition as a preacher and teacher and was offered many pastorates, professorships, and other positions.

The last years of his life saw Broadus become better known. He published a number of books. In 1889 he gave the Yale Lectures on Preaching and, as far as I know, is the only Southern Baptist to ever do so.

Now I told you that so you would know that John Broadus was no common man. He was a brilliant, committed and dedicated man of God. But it is reported that one Sunday he did something most unusual. He left the pulpit during the offering and walked down the aisle with the ushers. He watched carefully as each person gave his or her offering. Those present said that everyone could feel the tension among the members. After doing this, the pastor went back to the pulpit and said something like this, “What I just did made you feel uncomfortable. It should not have. You need to remember that God is watching you every time you give and He knows not only what you give but what you have left over after you give!”

I have a feeling that the disciples felt a little uncomfortable the day Jesus stood and watched the gifts being given at the Temple. They may have whispered, “What is the Master doing? He is watching what each person gives. That is kind of embarrassing.”

Just then, Jesus called them over and said, “Did you see that? Did you see it?”

“See what,” they must have asked?

“That woman," Jesus said, "that poor woman who just put in her offering. She gave two mites. It was greater than all the other gifts.”

Surely the disciples thought Jesus was losing it! Two mites were equal to about a penny. Here was a woman who gave two half pennies and Jesus was excited about it! Others had given great gifts. Could Jesus not see the difference? But, then, Jesus went on with His excitement.

“The rich have put in some out of their wealth, but this poor woman has put in all she had – even her living," Jesus exulted.

The Scripture puts it like this in Mark 12:41-44, “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

In other words, Jesus was excited because this woman had given what she could through giving what she had. The greatness of our gifts is not measured in their size but in their sort. I mean, the size of your gift may not be as big as that of another, but it may be the sort of gift that demands the best you have! We must do what we can with what we have.

God knows what you give, but He also knows what you have left AFTER you give! He knows when we are truly sacrificing to give financially, or with our time, to carry on His work. Your gift may seem small to others, but God knows how great the gift is because He knows what you are capable of doing.

Think of David and his sling. He used what he had to do what he could! He did not have, nor did he need, the armor of the king or another solider.

Think of the little lad and his lunch. He gave a small gift, but it was enough. He gave what he could of what he possessed. God did the rest. He did not own a restaurant, but he could share his little lunch. That was all God asked of him and Jesus used it to feed 5,000 people.

We are all to do what we can with what we have!

This tells me that God is not expecting me to be Billy Graham. Did you hear about the young preacher who heard one of Billy Graham’s sermons on a CD? He was so excited he decided to learn every word of the sermon and preach it to his people the next Sunday. He stood up that day and people began to look at each other. They had never heard him articulate with such strong convicting words. Everyone was excited that day till the young preacher came to the end of his sermon. You see, he was preaching in a church of about 100 people. There was no balcony and just a normal crowd that day. But when the young preacher came to the end of his sermon, he said, “Now I want you to come forward. You need to come right now. If you are way in the back, you can still come. If you are in one of those high balcony seats, you can come. If you are with friends, do not worry because the buses will wait for you, you can come now.”

Needless to say, he lost his audience. He had learned too much of the sermon it appears. A wonderful preacher told me one day that when he began his ministry he preached some of the best sermons ever produced. He said, “I preached sermons by Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, Dwight L. Moody, and Charles Spurgeon.” He went on to say, “But then I learned that God wanted me to preach sermons out of my own personality.” I can attest to fact that God has and is using that man as a great preacher today. Of course, all of us as preachers learn from others, are inspired by others and find material to help us prepare and preach. But God wants me to be ME – not someone else! And that is what God wants from you. Just be who you are as a child of God with what He has given you! You can learn from others and develop your gifts through others, but God does not expect you to be anyone but YOU!

God does not expect us to be what we are not. He does not expect us to do what He has not given us the gifts to do. But, we can be better in our marriages. We can give our best as parents and children. We can work better for our employers and be better to our employees. We can reflect Jesus right where we are, with what we have!

Now let’s look at the third and last thing we can do. You see, we can do what we can, with what we have, and add one more ingredient.

III. Do What You Can, With What You Have, TO THE GLORY OF GOD

Look at Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

What we do, we must do for the glory of God! Our goal must be to glorify God and not ourselves. We need to understand a principle here – we are ambassadors for Christ. Every Christian is a representative for Jesus. We are to live each day to bring glory to Him. We don’t do this by doing great things in a normal way, but we can do this by doing normal things in a great way. We glorify him at home in our marriages, at home in our relationships with children or parents and at work or school. Down there in the nitty gritty avenues of life we must be faithful and fruitful.

You see, many people think that great Christian living is done on the Mt. Carmel’s of this world. Actually, great living is done in the dens and kitchens of your own homes or at the workbench in your place of employment.

One man came to his preacher and said, “Preacher, I got married because I thought my marriage would be ideal. However, my marriage is not Ideal, it has become an ordeal and now I am looking for a New Deal!”

Sadly, many people are seeking self-fulfillment rather than seeking to bring glory to God. You will never bring glory to God unless you so what you can, with what you have for HIS GLORY!

Child of God, are you bringing glory to God in the ordinary places of life? That is where we must stand up and stand out for Him!

Conclusion

One day in Sunday School the teacher told the story of Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. Then he asked the children, “What is the meaning of this story?”

One little boy spoke up quickly and delivered words far beyond his years or education, “I guess it means, when you have a marriage it is a good thing to invite Jesus.”

Indeed, we need Jesus in the midst of our homes, our relationships and our work.

Let me ask you something today: Are you doing what you can, where you are, with what you have, to the glory of God? That is, after all, what God wants from all of us who are saved – to simply do our best with what we have right where we are! That is real world Christianity and it is what God expects of each of us. But, it is difficult isn't it? Perhaps it is time for us to recommit our lives in this matter. You see, I can't even do what I can, with what I have, to the glory of God, unless I have His strength in me. How about it, do you need to rededicate your life to Him in this matter? Sure you do. Then, let's do that now! We are going to sing an invitation hymn. You can come to Him now.

And, let me say to those who don't know Christ as your Savior, the Christian life Jesus is offering you is for everyday living. Yes, He has a place for us in heaven, but Jesus came to give us life right here - life and that more abundantly. You can come to Him right now and claim Him as your Savior and Lord.

Let us sing and let us respond!