When Pastor Bert mentioned he was going to preach on this subject with “strength” referring to “actions,” I immediately thought about the the church’s call towards social action. But then, as his sermon began to unfold, he went a completely different route. He spoke about dying to ourselves and living for God. This, of course, makes so much sense — how can we hope to love selflessly others if we cannot love selflessly the God who has given us everything?
Pastor Bert used one of my favorite Old Testament passages in his sermon this past Sunday: Genesis 22. That chapter really encapsulates all of Christian life for me. It provocatively asks us if the most precious things in our lives are even more precious than God Himself. I mean, many Christians (myself included) often say God is priority number one, but we don’t know what that really means.
For Abraham, it is different. He goes up early the next morning to do just this. I’m thinking that Abraham really wrestles with this and is deliberating all night and restless the next morning. Then, when they were on that mountain, Abraham says the craziest thing to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Gen 22:5). Did you catch that? Abraham is about to send a blade through Isaac to sacrifice his son, his only son, whom he loves and he tells his servants he is going to worship God. What a radical understanding of worship! Often, when we talk about worship, we speak in terms of singing songs. But here, we get a greater sense that worship is about giving to God those things that are most precious to us.
I was reflecting on this during the Sunday service and asking myself about what I considered the most precious things in my life. Is it work? School? My Apple paraphernalia? I realized one of the most precious things in my life is not a mere thing, but a person — my wife Betty. I love Betty. But there are often times when she is going through some really tough situations. I try my best to solve all her problems and answer all her questions — yet so often, I just simply can’t. Though I need to be a diligent husband, I also need to give her up to God. I need to recognize that there are things which she will go through that I will never understand. Like I have told others before: the internal workings of a woman and the doctrine of the Trinity are two mysteries that cannot be fully comprehended on this side of eternity. (Well, I can at least explain the Trinity.) So, like Abraham, I need to learn to hold loosely that which is precious to me and be constantly placing it all on the altar for God. Pastor Bert is right: God has given everything (especially through Jesus) already to us; are we willing to give everything up for God?
– Alex Chow
This was the last of our series on Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart, All Your Soul, All Your Mind, and All Your Strength. You can find the entire series at the BCEC Sermon Page or listen to last week’s sermons directly – All Your Strength.
- John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2004. ISBN 1844740447
- John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004. ISBN: 1581346522