Today we concluded our series at Gateway Church in Austin called “The Life Giving Life Project.” I spoke at the South Campus and John Burke shared the following message at the McNeil campus:
“We’re ending the Life Giving Life series, but really this is just the beginning of a new Era. My prayer is that this Life Giving Life Journey will mark the beginning of God multiplying Life Giving Life Giving Life through you, Networked with others, like he did through our original core group. But that requires commitment and then follow through. We’re asking all who call themselves Christ-followers to commit to be His church together—relationally, growing together spiritually to become Life Giving People. Serving—using your time and gifts to interdependently work with others in Networks to bring Life and Freedom to your Neighbors. Today, we’re asking you to commit financially for the next 3 years so we have the resources to mobilize our church body to bless our neighborhoods, bless our city, and bless some of the most impoverished places on earth—to lift an entire village, Seemonette Haiti out of generations of poverty—and to bless our partners in Rajamundry India. Many of us have been thinking, praying, and have come willing to make a commitment today—but you feel a little crazy, don’t you! It feels crazy. I just want to remind us today, You’re not crazy. You’re not crazy.
All the glory and wonder of this temporal life is like oil on canvas—it just can’t compare to what God has in store. 100 years from now, those who have responded to God’s gracious invitation into Real Life with him will walk off this canvas into a higher dimensional world. There all the beauty, all the tastes of love, joy, adventure, excitement that were mere symbols painted onto a dying world…will finally come alive in relationship with God together with each other. Nothing can compare!
The Life to come is the one to live for—it’s the one we crave in our inner beings. So why do we make all our decisions to try to stay glued to a dying canvas? Why do we not invest more in preparation for the Life we desperately desire, when Jesus has told us so clearly what’s to come and how to best prepare!? Today, if you’re investing in God’s work that lasts—you’re not crazy—it’s actually incredibly smart.
In Matthew 19, Jesus’ closest followers were feeling Crazy. They had given up so much to follow Him, and they looked around and saw others unwilling to truly follow Jesus if it cost them anything. They were feeling kinda Crazy—like “what are we doing?” The Message translation makes it real clear: Peter chimed in, “We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?” Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” Matthew 19:27-30
The world will tell you you’re crazy to give sacrificially to God’s work. But you’re not crazy—not if Jesus is telling the truth.
Jesus is saying, use what you’ve been given in this life that’s fading away, to invest in what’s truly secure in the life to come. You’re not crazy—you’re being very smart. Doing what God prompts—no matter how crazy it looks is the smartest thing ever. And you get to see God changes lives because of you. God uses your faithfulness to bring Life to others. Someone paid it forward for you, you get to pay it forward for others.
You know what’s truly crazy? Jesus told us what’s truly crazy: Jesus told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with those who store up things for themselves but are not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21
You’re not Crazy! Not if you’ve gone on this journey of willingness, asked God for wisdom and you’re stepping out in faith to honor God. You’re not crazy! You’re being rich toward God. The crazy ones are those who think they can hold onto anything apart from following God. That’s crazy! Think about it—you may not be sure Jesus is the Son of God, or that He’s telling the truth—but you can’t doubt this—everyone dies with nothing: no money, no power, no security, no comfort or confidence unless there really is a God. That you can bank on. Without God, 100% loss guaranteed. If that’s what you’re counting on to feel secure—that’s Crazy!
You’re not crazy to trust God and invest in what He prompts you to do—that’s the wisest investment you could make.
But it doesn’t mean it’s the easiest thing to do. We kind of think, “Well if I do God’s will, then all my circumstances should align like the stars and life will go exactly as I planned.” Yet the scriptures remind us that even Jesus, who perfectly did the father’s will, endured trials, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame…Consider him who endured…so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3 It says Jesus endured incredible trials—at times he was tempted to take the easy way out rather than what he knew God wanted him to do. And at times he hated it, he scorned the shame. He was tested, tried, he suffered. God promises us that the fullest, richest life we can imagine comes from following His will—trusting in him. But that life comes from the inside out…on the outside, things may test our faith, trials may cause us to want to quit and give up or give in. Jesus himself faced it. Many of us will be tested in our commitments—will we follow through and trust God when it looks impossible?
And many of you will get tested as well. If Jesus got tested, why would you think you wouldn’t be tested? But when we trust and follow through even when tested, again we get to see God make a way when it seems impossible to us. You’re not crazy—10 years from now, you’ll be able to say “Look what God did through us all together. I played a part in that.” Listen to what the original core group of Gateway said looking out 10 years.
Today, we end this journey where we began: with willingness. Those who are willing will make 3-year commitments to see this Life Giving Life vision become reality.
There’s this beautiful picture in the last book of the bible of all the prayers offered up to God that have been captured and saved—none go without notice. They were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. Revelation 5:8-9
That’s why we’re doing this—Jesus made the greatest sacrifice of all—to bring us back to God. To give us Life and make us Life Giving Life to our Neighbors and Coworkers, to our City, and to people from other races, religions, languages, people groups so that they to may find Life with God. God hears our prayers offered on their behalf, they are like a sweet aroma to him.
Who does God want you to serve? For whom does God want you to pray? How does want you to give?”
For more on our vision: watch the film and see the details at www.lifegivinglife.com.
To listen or watch the entire message, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.