It’s becoming a joke around here that I don’t really preach any more, and that’s a stinkin’ lie -- it’s just worked out that we’ve had other really great people who’ve felt burdened to share from the pulpit several times already this year. But in general, I love preaching, and I appreciate every chance that I get to share from the Word of God. I mean, as a pastor, I really only do work the one day each week...
(For the record, I’ll be preaching every Sunday for the next four months -- well, other than Mother’s Day, when the Youth Group always takes over for a Sunday to lead the service).
Coming up, we want to remind everybody that we’ll be having a Membership Class this week (we’ve got five new people set to join), so if you have any questions about what it means to be part of the church family here at First Covenant, now’s the perfect time to stick your toe into the water and find out.
We also have our first ever “First Covenant Church Trivia Night” coming up on March 28, so sign up for teams in the Narthex the next time you’re around (or call Sara Stewart and let her know you’re coming so that she can assign you to a team). This should be a lot of silly fun, and a great time to invite your friends to come join us for an evening of food, fellowship, and Trivial Pursuit-type competitiveness.
In our message this week, we started up a new series, leading up to Resurrection Sunday. For the next several weeks, we’ll be looking at “Moments of Courage” in Christ’s life -- moments when Jesus had to make a choice about how and why to make some crucial decisions.
For instance, when people think about “courage,” they usually think about someone who has no fear. But the truth is, true courage isn’t the lack of fear, but the ability to cope with it -- the ability to not let what you know you need to do become entangled in and strangled by your expectations about what may or may not happen next. What matters most is not what happens next, but whether or not what you do (and the motivation for why you do it) truly honors God.
True courage does the right thing, simply because it is the right thing to do.
Jesus exemplified this at the very beginning of His ministry. When John wanted to be baptized by Jesus instead of the other way around, Jesus held fast to doing it the way that would most honor God -- and when John told everyone that Jesus was the promised Messiah, instead of riding the inevitable wave of public excitement, Jesus retreated into the desert to fast and pray for a month. And then, when Satan tempted and tested Him, Jesus responded not out of His hunger and exhaustion, nor out of His anger or frustration, but out of the Word of God, and out of God’s authority.
At every step, Jesus chose to do what would honor the Lord, rather than what would simplify His earthly mission, or smooth His personal path, or ensure His physical comfort. From the beginning of His ministry, all the way through to His prayer in Gethsemane, we see a very human Saviour who felt the same pain, joy, hunger, exhaustion, and comfort that daily motivate our own decision-making today... and yet, a Saviour who time and again made God’s priorities His own, and lived them out simply because they are the right thing to do.
When you feel fear, or wonder if it’s “worth it” to do the right thing if bad stuff still happens as a result, stop and think about what motivated Jesus -- about what drove the decision-making of the Lord whom we say that we want to emulate. If Jesus wasn’t foolish to have courage, or to think that it’s all “worth it,” even if His right actions led to His death, then perhaps we really should follow His model and make God’s priorities our own, and live courageously today.