4TH SUNDAY OF LENT - JUST GIVE UP #5
We’ve all heard words of encouragement. And we’ve all heard words of discouragement. Unfortunately, the words of discouragement seem to have more adhesive to them than do the words of encouragement. Maybe it’s because words of encouragement are smooth and soft and warm but words of discouragement are like grass burrs and stickers, their barbs get under skin and won’t let go.
I think that’s where our faith comes in. That’s where acts of discipleship come in. We’re called to be encouragers like Barnabas in the book of Acts. We’re called to build each other up through what Paul calls the ministry of reconciliation. Today we’re going to explore how to Give Up and Build Up.
Let’s look at what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (NRSV)
 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.
 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
I think these are some of the most inspiring and most challenging words of Scripture. How do we BE “Ambassadors for Christ?” How do we “regard no one from a human point of view?” How do we live out this “Ministry of reconciliation and become the righteous of God?”
I don’t think it will get your there completely but I think it will at least head us in the right direction if we Give Up and Build Up.
Remember that when we’re talking about Giving Up, we’re not talking about throwing in the towel and quitting. We’re talking about surrendering ourselves to the will of God.
I. SIT UP:
A. One of the first things we have to do if we are going to Give Up and Build Up is to Sit Up and Build Up ourselves. You see, we have tendency to let the stick burrs of discouragement rule and lead our lives. Rather than building ourselves up we beat ourselves up. And that’s not what God wants. Through Christ Jesus, God tells us what God thinks of us and God wouldn’t offer us the grace of God’s unconditional love if God didn’t really mean it? God loves us no matter what.
So we have to Sit Up and take notice of that love, accept it as our own and use it to Build Up our self-esteem so we can start over when the storms of life destroy everything and the words of encouragement get washed away in the storm.
That’s something that the characters in the 2010 movie How Do You Know had figure out. Reese Witherspoon plays, Lisa, a star softball player who has been cut from the national team. Paul Rudd plays, George, a scholarly business man who has just been indicted by his father’s company. A chance meeting brings them together. They form a friendship, and maybe a little more, but together they begin to climb out of despair and hopefully, start over. WATCH THIS SCENE
B. I think George was right. We ARE just one small adjustment away from making our lives work. That’s the encouraging word we hear from Jesus. Paul reiterates it and challenges us to be those new creations. If your dream fails and shatters into a hundred pieces then bend over, pick up one of the pieces and begin building something new. We can’t go back and start over, but we can start fresh from where we stand today. If we Sit Up and Build Up ourselves through Christ Jesus, then we can create a brand new ending to our story.
II. GET UP:
A. The Little League coach looked down at his eager second baseman with desperation in his eye. “Bobby,” he said, “You know the principles of good sportsmanship that the Little League practices. You know we don’t tolerate temper tantrums, shouting at the umpire, or abusive language. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, sir,” replied the Little Leaguer.
The coach patted him on the shoulder and said, “Good, Bobby, good. Now would you please go and explain that to your mother?”
We all need encouragement, some of us more than others. Some of us need to be encouraged to change. As Ambassadors of Christ we’re called to Get Up and Build Up those around us.
B. In 1999, Ken Carter, a successful sporting goods store owner, accepted the job of basketball coach at his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, CA. During his student days, he was a champion athlete. Discouraged by the poor attitudes of his players as well as their dismal performance on the court, Coach Carter worked hard to change both. He imposed a strict code of written contracts that included a dress code, respectful behavior, and good grades as conditions for being allowed to play. At first the team resisted but as they began to bond and rely on one another as a team, they gained strength and learned to rely on more than just sports for their future.
With the help and inspiration of Coach Carter, the team makes it first into the play-offs and then into the state championship, which they lost. Or did they? WATCH
Those young men didn’t lose. They won more than they could have ever imagined because Coach Carter chose to Get Up and Build Up those around him.
III. TURN UP:
A. We’re called to Give Up and Build Up as we Sit Up and Build Up ourselves; as we Get Up and Build Up others. But we’re also called to Build Up the community and the world in which we live. So, the final thing is that we have to Turn Up and Build Up.
Wesley believed that there were two kinds of Holiness: Personal and Social. Most of us get the idea of Personal Holiness. Personal Holiness deals with the matters of the mind and heart. It deals with the inner workings of the soul and the inner relationship we have with God through Christ.
Social Holiness gives hands and feet to our faith. It puts our faith into practice. It is this Holiness that leads us to be involved in the community, making the community a better place to live by volunteering at the Food Bank or the Thrift Store. Social Holiness is what moves youth and others to volunteer to go on Mission Trips; it’s what inspires us to support Gaston and Jeanne Ntambo and their mission work in The Democratic Republic of Congo.
B. But there’s another aspect to Social Holiness that we don’t think about which is just as important as the Mission Work in the community and around the world. We’re called to Turn Up and Build Up our community of faith as well, by being involved. Simply being here and being involved in the ministry of the church encourages everyone involved. Your presence inspires others. Your presence inspires those who have prepared the meal, the lesson, the study or whatever is going on. When you Turn Up, it builds them up.
I remember an old story about a little boy who walked up to the preacher one day and asked, “Preacher, does Jesus live in my heart?”
The preacher answered, “Yes, Jesus does live in your heart.”
The little boy studied on it for a minute and then with a puzzled look on his face he said, “Preacher, if Jesus lives in my heart, I’m such a little guy and Jesus is such a big guy, don’t you think he’d be sticking out someplace?”
It’s not enough to have Jesus in your heart if you don’t let Him loose in your life. You can make him a guest instead making him your Savior. But when we do that we leave him locked in the guest room, only inviting him out when need him. When we do that we fool ourselves into thinking our life belongs to Jesus. But in reality we want Him to do OUR will instead of surrendering to do HIS will.
We’re called to Give Up to Jesus. We’re called to Surrender our lives to him so He can guide us and empower us to ultimately do God’s Will. Give Up and Build Up. Surrender your will to Christ; Sit Up, Get Up and Turn Up so you can Build Up and be Built Up.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.