Sunday, December 14, 2008

It’s All about Jesus

(A sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent based on John 1:6-9, 19-28; this is also my first Sunday morning sermon as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald, GA)

Maybe it’s because I’ve been a bit distracted, but I don’t think I’ve heard as much this year about the “war on Christmas” or about “keeping Christ in Christmas.” That’s ok since I tend to believe that if we Christians will keep Christmas in Christ-like ways and especially if we will answer the question posed by that great theologian Elvis Presley, “why can’t every day be like Christmas?” by immersing every day in the love and grace of Jesus, then Christ will be kept in Christmas just fine.

After all, we can’t expect the culture to focus on Jesus but we can expect the Church to focus on Jesus.

Perhaps, though, we who are the Church need to be reminded of what this season is all about. As a matter of fact, perhaps we need to be reminded of what being the Church is all about. Indeed, perhaps we need to be reminded of what everything is all about. I know that I have to keep reminding me what it’s all about so that I will not let myself get focused on things that are not the main thing.

So what is it all about?

Brothers and sisters, it’s all about Jesus.

Here on this next to last Sunday of Advent, here as we draw closer and closer to the precipice of the celebration of the coming of our Lord, here as we remind ourselves again that Jesus did in fact come and is in fact going to come again, it is good to be reminded that Advent points us to Jesus and reminds us of the fact that everything that we are as the Church, that everything that we are as Christians, is all about Jesus.

And that means that it’s not all about us.

It’s tempting to think that it is. Consider the curious case of John the Baptizer (it may be better to call him that rather than “the Baptist” so that we don’t let ourselves entertain the notion that there were Baptists before there were Christians!) who was, as the Gospel of John tells us, “a man who was sent from God” (v. 6). That’s pretty heady stuff! If John the Baptizer knew all of what Luke tells us about how John came to be—you know, the whole business about his father being visited by an angel and about how his father did not believe what the angel told him and so was made unable to talk for the duration of his mother’s pregnancy—and I don’t see why his mother and father wouldn’t have told him, particularly when little John asked his folks why they were so much older than the parents of his playmates—then it would have been pretty easy for John to let it all go to his head. I mean, given that he was a “man sent from God” and given that he had such an auspicious origin and given that he was now attracting so much attention, it would have been easy for John to believe and to act as if it was all about John.

When I was a child I sometimes acted as if it was all about me at this time of year. My good father used his trusty Brownie 8mm camera to film everything that happened during my early years. Since I was always in the spotlight (literally), how could I not conclude that I was the star? One particularly revealing reel was filmed on a Wednesday night at my home church when Santa Claus had come to visit. Santa would meander around the sanctuary greeting all the boys and girls. Daddy filmed away as I stopped Santa dead in his tracks and would not let him go until I had gone over my entire Christmas list, which was substantial, with him. Yep, the approach of Christmas was all about me; the anticipation of Christmas was all about me; the wonder of Christmas was all about me.

Only it wasn’t. And often even through the glow of my childhood self-centeredness the reality of the coming of the Christ child would break and I would find myself shocked and awed by it all.

Yes, sometimes we get to thinking that it’s all about us. We get to thinking that the Church is all about us—about our wants, about our fears, about our prejudices, about our grudges, about our agendas. We get to thinking that being Christian is all about us—about our wants, about our fears, about our prejudices, about our grudges, about our agendas. We get to thinking that life is all about us—about our wants, about our fears, about our prejudices, about our grudges, about our agendas.

But they're not--they're all about Jesus.

We need to affirm along with John, “This is not about me—it’s about Jesus.”

The text tells us that John “came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him all … might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every (one) was coming into the world” (vv. 7-9).

Like John, we are not the light but, like John, we bear witness to the light. Jesus said that he was the Light of the world but he also said that we who follow him are the light of the world. Our relationship to Jesus is like that of the moon to the sun—the sun is the primary light giver and the moon reflects that light. It is the nature of the sun to produce the light; it is the nature of the moon to reflect the light. The moon does not reflect the sun’s light perfectly but it reflects it adequately because it is true to its nature. We are being true to our nature as followers of Christ when we are the “little lights” that reflect the “big light” of Jesus.

I am the brand new pastor of The First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald and I am well aware of the high hopes that are attached to me. Let me assure you that I will do the best job that I know how to do and that I will try to learn to do a better job than I presently know how to do. Let me say right up front, however, that I am not the light—but I will try, with the Lord’s help, to bear witness to the Light. Let me also say that I am not worthy to untie Jesus’ shoelaces—but I will try, with the Lord’s help, to follow his footsteps as well as I can and to point others down his way. I simply ask you to remember: this is not about me—it’s about Jesus.

Let me also say right up front that I have high expectations of you, too, but you are not the light either and you are not worthy to untie Jesus’ shoelaces either but with the Lord’s help you can bear witness to the Light and you can follow him and show others his way. I simply ask us to remember: this is not about you—it’s about Jesus.

The world is in darkness and it needs the Light of the world. The world is looking to us to reflect that Light so that he can shine into their lives. We do that when our lives reflect the love of Jesus, the grace of Jesus, the forgiveness of Jesus, and the sacrifice of Jesus.

You see, it’s all about Jesus. His way is the way I am committed to walking with you. Oh, who will come and walk with me?

1 comment:

Drew Hill said...

Thanks for the good words, Mike. What a great beginning in a new pastorate. May God bless your ministry at FBC in wonderful ways.