Follow Christ and Live By Faith
8th Sunday after Pentecost
Follow Christ and Live By Faith
Text: Hebrews 11:24-26
Are you a value shopper? I’m sure you are. The U.S. economy, and perhaps even the Flagler County economy, are both plateauing a bit after rising for a while. Yet how much America recovers remains to be seen. The cost of gas is still skyrocketing. The cost of cheese in Florida is ridiculous. If I weren’t from Wisconsin I would almost think twice about how necessary it is. In these uncertain times then, it’s important to be a value shopper.
Clip your coupons. Go to stores like Walmart or Best Buy that honor coupons from other stores. Shop the best deals. Get the “But 1, Get 1” deals at Winn Dixie. Buy in bulk at Sam’s Club or Costco. Wait for the Black Friday super discount deals.
These days we are trained to find great value buys. These are the deals where it will never cost that low again. These are the deals when Mr. Loberger walks into Besty Buy to buy a TV, finds all school supplies on sale, and buys literally every school supply in the store—$3,000 worth of supplies for $300 (true story). That’s value!
There’s another use of the word value in our culture though. That’s when something is valuable. It might be small. It might be expensive. But that doesn’t matter if it’s valuable. The personally autographed photo my dad got from Mickey Mantle when my aunt was in the hospital at the same time is priceless and valuable. The copy of the red pew hymnal my family has signed by my grandfather who was on the hymnal production committee is priceless and valuable for a different reason. My wedding ring is modestly pricey, yet still priceless and valuable. The look on the kids’ faces when they found out we were going to Disney World a few weeks ago cost nothing but was priceless and valuable.
Almost everything we have we discuss in terms of value. We have Zillow and other web sites or appraisers to value our homes. Kelly Blue Book tells us how much our car is worth. The Antique Road Show on PBS tells us how much the ancient garbage in our garage is worth. The dollars flying out of our wallet tell us how much our spouse or our children are worth. We love things that are either a bargain value or things that are valuable.
So, you value minded shoppers: I have an offer for you. You tell me which is the better deal. You can either pick the one that is the better bargain or you can pick the one that has the most value.
Option 1: You can have wealth. Not any kind of wealth. Stinking, filthy rich wealth. Swim in piles of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck wealth. You would be the upper echelon of all society. You would live in a palace so big that the biggest celebrity mansion on South Beach would fit inside. You would have as many vehicles as you want. You would be waited on hand and foot. You would have more gold, jewels, and treasure than all of the United States of America combined could gather. That’s Option 1.
Option 2: You can have no riches. You would be looked down upon as the scum of society. You would have no one to serve you or fan you while feeding you grapes. You would have no vehicles. Instead, you would have to walk everywhere. You would have no palace. Actually, you would be homeless wandering around putting up a tent and sleeping wherever you could. Pretty much the only things you would have are the clothes on your back and the things you could carry. That’s Option 2.
Which one sounds better? Oh, I forgot. The cost. Option 1 costs absolutely nothing. It’s free. Same with Option 2. So which one sounds better to you? Which option would you choose?
That’s an easy one! Obviously! Of course you would choose Option . . . 2! That’s what Moses did too.
Remember that Moses the Israelite had a very strange upbringing. When Pharaoh tried to pull population control on Israel and ordered all baby boys to be slaughtered, Moses was hidden by his parents. Then he was placed in a basket in the Nile River. Lo and behold! Who found him? Pharaoh’s daughter! She took Moses into the palace and raised him as her own son.
Moses had access to all the finest things in Egypt. Endless riches. Enormous palace. World-class education. A life of ease, comfort, luxury, superiority, influence, and power. It was all his. For free. Yet we hear in the second lesson this morning from Hebrews 11: “Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God.” Moses chose—he chose—to forsake all of the riches and glories of Egypt so as to have nothing and be mistreated along with the Israelites. Why in all the world would he do that?
I omitted two very important words from those verses though that are at the beginning. “By faith.” This was a choice Moses made by faith. We find out more and why when we read all three verses together: “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
By faith, Moses knew that all the money, fame, and glory of living in the household of Pharaoh was short lived. He might have had endless worldly pleasures, but eventually life in this world comes to an end. And most pleasures of greed and lust and ego that he would enjoy are sins anyways. Thus Moses saw greater value in being connected to Christ. Even if he had to suffer along with the people of Israel, he saw the reward of eternal life in heaven as being more valuable than anything this world has to offer.
It seems so good on paper, doesn’t it? What a great man of faith Moses was! No wonder he’s mentioned in Hebrews 11, the great “heroes of faith” chapter of the Bible! I want to be like Moses!
We say that. But following Christ isn’t that easy. When Peter proclaimed to Jesus, “You are the Christ of God,” Jesus didn’t tell him and all those nearby, “Great! Just believe that and the rest of your life will be cake and brownies.” No. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” You see, it sounds nice to follow Jesus and to be like Moses—until you have to do it.
Wouldn’t it be nice to avoid all those smirks and jokes and backhanded comments from people who laugh at Christianity? Life would be so much easier if we were on the other side of things. Then we wouldn’t be the laughingstock of American society anymore.
Wouldn’t it be nice to hear no alarm on Sunday morning? To roll over in bed and finally catch up on some sleep? Maybe you could finally get some peaceful family time in? Wouldn’t it be nice to have Wednesday nights free? Then you wouldn’t have this CTK Family Night thing hanging over your head and you wouldn’t have to feel guilty about how much you have missed and how low the numbers have gotten lately.
It seems so easy to follow Christ! But then a situation comes up. Then you have an opportunity to speak up and tell someone to quit sinning. Or you have an opportunity to share your faith. And quickly you shrink down and slink away from that scary situation.
It seems so easy to follow Christ! But then the offering plate gets passed to you. Then you have to make a choice. With your offerings—which are not requirements but only gifts of thanks—you are making a decision. You are telling God—not Pastor Phil—you are telling God what you value most in life. You are telling God what is most valuable to you. You are telling God whether what he has done for you or what you hope to do with your life is more valuable. Oh, but if you ever feel guilty about it, then you can just say, “This church talks about money too much,” like countless people at countless churches have done. It’s not true, but at least you don’t feel bad anymore.
It’s not so easy to follow Christ, is it? Sometimes the pleasures of this world are far too appealing. The riches, the reputation, the rest, the relaxation. All these bring such enjoyment and such happiness. All these things seem to be exactly what we want. After all, it’s what other people want.
But I forgot to tell you something. I forgot to share some information about Option 1 and Option 2 before. Remember that with Option 1 you get everything—money, fame, glory, power, the whole shebang—you get it all. But with Option 2 you get pretty much nothing—you are a “loser” in the world’s view, you have no riches, no fame, no glory. Remember that Option 1 was completely free. Remember that Option 2 was completely free.
But here’s what I didn’t tell you. Option 1 does have a price, eventually. If you choose Option 1 you will live it up with quite the life—but you will spend eternity in hell.
Option 1 seems so bright and shiny. It’s that showroom car that we want so badly. The problem is, the temporary pleasures of sin in this world are just that—temporary. They are short lived. They disappear. And once the pleasures of sin disappear, all that’s left is sin. And sin leads to hell.
But there is one more thing I didn’t share. It’s about Option 2. Option 2 is where you have nothing. You don’t have the riches, fame, and glory. You do give up time on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings to be in worship and Bible study. You even give up precious pillow time every day so you can have some extra devotion time. You also give up some of your time, your talents, and yes, even your treasures. You give them back to the one who gave them to you in the first place. And while you are doing all these things that can make you a bit uncomfortable, you will probably also be made fun of and mistreated by others because you believe in some “pie in the sky” God. Option 2 is also free.
But here’s what I didn’t tell you. In the end, you get something bigger and better than Option 1 ever could offer. You will spend an eternity in the riches and glory of heaven with the all-perfect and holy God. And best of all, Option 2 is and will always be free.
It sounds too good to be true. But it’s not. That’s because the price to pay of suffering in hell for enjoying the pleasures of sin that we should pay—Jesus paid it on the cross. And the price to pay for entrance into the splendor of God’s glorious kingdom of heaven? Jesus paid that too. He proved the price was paid and the ticket was punched when he rose from the dead.
How’s that for a bargain value? You don’t deserve heaven. You can’t afford heaven. But you get it for free by faith in Jesus. And how’s that for valuable? The cost of heaven was the life and death of the Son of God. Yet heaven was paid for and given to you by faith in Jesus.
By faith in Jesus. By faith. Now that does sound a lot like Moses, the hero of faith in Hebrews 11.
So by faith and in thanks we do gladly wake up and dress up on a morning we wouldn’t have to. By faith we do give of our own hard earned money because we recognize we could never thank him enough for what he has given us. By faith we do take time during the week to study more alone and with others because we could never learn enough about what Jesus has done.
By faith we do choose to forgo the sins of this world, knowing that they are just temporary pleasures that lead in the wrong direction. By faith we do welcome the scorn and rejection of this world because we know we have acceptance from our God. By faith we do speak up and speak out. By faith we do regard disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of this world, because we are looking ahead to our reward. By faith we do take up our cross and follow Jesus.
That makes us heroes of faith too. That makes Jesus our Savior too. Like Moses, look ahead to your reward and live by faith.
Posted on July 7, 2013, in Church, Sermons and tagged Church, Cross of Christ, Egypt, Faith, Fame, Glory, Hebrews, Hebrews 11, Heroes, Heroes of Faith, Moses, Pharaoh, Power, Riches, Sermons, Suffer, Take Up Your Cross, Wealth. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.