“Life Giving Life – Willing to Think It Through” by John Burke
On Sunday, October 21st, we continued our series at Gateway Church in Austin called “The Life Giving Life Project.” John Burke shared at the McNeil campus, and I spoke at the South Campus. We shared the following message:
“What we’re doing in this series is trying to get every Christ-follower to see how much God wants to do through us together so we can extend life and freedom to the world around us.
Scripture paints this beautiful picture of what those leading the church should lead it to be and do: ‘Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ…we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.’ Ephesians 4:12-16
God wants us to function together like many different, unique parts of a body. We can’t do it alone. Together, it’s amazing what God does through us as His Body. If it were left up to you alone, would you see to it that 100’s of families in need had food each week? If you’re participating with this Body, you are. Would you help 100s of abuse victims find healing, or help 100s of addicts overcome, 100s marriages reconcile instead of divorce, 100s of divorcees find a path forward, 100s grieving do so in a healthy ways every year? Would you have done that by yourself? I wouldn’t and couldn’t, but together we have as we are using our different gifts and experiences as One Body.
That’s why we’ve reorganized into small groups 8-15 that learn to be a family of faith, growing together. Then coming together with 25-75 others in Networks we learn how to use our gifts as a Body serving our neighborhoods or affinity groups. Imagine if we had 300 networks like that in 10 years! It doesn’t just happen, does it! We have to invest in the Body or the Body gets weak.
God does have a plan to begin to restore what’s been lost and broken as we willingly respond to His Spirit to do His will. His Kingdom ways come into our lives and spread out to those we relate to until God forms us into His Body on earth.
God’s dream is to bless us to be a blessing. As His Body we can take on the challenge God intended – to mend and restore a broken world just like Jesus did.
Jesus tells a parable about reality from God’s eternal perspective: It all belongs to God, He trusts us with it, He rewards those He can trust.” Jesus says, when life is over, here’s what God will do. ‘It will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey….’ Matthew 25:14-15
A talent in that day would take a day laborer 20 years to earn. It was a significant amount of money (about $300,000). This wealthy businessman (who represents God) takes what he owns and entrusts it to three people who work for him, and he gives them different amounts according to their ability before he goes on a long journey.
The implication of Jesus parable is clear – It All Belongs to God. It’s funny that this is such a difficult concept for us, but it really is. Jesus is saying all of life, and everything that passes through our hands in life is a gift from God. As we clearly see in this parable there are some conditions. First, recognize that it all belongs to God, so you don’t make it a god, and you use it and enjoy it with gratitude not as entitlement! It all belongs to God, but you get to use it and enjoy it for a time.
That’s implied in this parable. Servants in Jesus day were often given full responsibility, and they were to be taken care of by the Master or employer. Often, they would share in the proceeds and benefits as the Master’s estate increased. And it’s implied, these 3 got to live in the Owner’s House, enjoy all His toys, eat all His food, and even share in the profits—it was really a gift.
It all passes through our hands for a short time. When we fall prey to the deception that it’s all mine, and I need more, more, more to be happy and find life then we have fallen into a trap. It can never substitute for the love of God.
As we’re in this Life Giving Life journey asking God: ‘What’s your will for me as it relates to your will for Gateway’s future,’ many fear He’s going to take it all and leave us hurting. The problem with this is, you don’t know the heart of God. First, If he wanted it all, he’d take it all back. He’s told us his heart: ‘Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18Tell them to use their money to do good…to share with others whatever God has given them. 19By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.’ 1 Timothy 6:17-19
The Scriptures don’t teach a destructive form of asceticism that fosters constant guilt and shame every time a material blessing comes our way, but He also doesn’t want us to treat it like a god, and fall into the trap of thinking it’s going to save me, love me, make me secure and happy. When we get possessed by it, we aren’t free to use it for God’s purposes. So Jesus says, “It all belongs to God” and…
He Trusts Us with It. Notice in Jesus’ parable the wealthy owner doles it out in different amounts to ‘each according to his ability.’ He expects them to be good managers of it and not just to live off it or squander it on themselves. He expects them to leverage it to expand the business He’s about. He sets them up as Trustees and expects faithfulness to expand His business while he’s gone. So Jesus says, after a long time the owner returns and asks what each has done with what he entrusted them.
`Master,’ he said, `you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant!…” The man with the two talents also came. `Master,’ he said, `you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant! “Then the man who had received the one talent came, ‘…I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, `You wicked, lazy servant! Matthew 25:20-26
The first two guys don’t start with the same amount and don’t end with the same amount, but they get the same reward and praise: ‘way to go! You were faithful. You took what I gave you, you used it wisely like I would have, and you furthered my interests with it and multiplied it.’ The third guy still enjoyed all the owner’s assets, but he didn’t care about furthering the owner’s interests. He was afraid, and he was just self-centered and lazy.
The implications are clear. God’s given all of us different amounts. He wants us to use it to provide for ourselves to enjoy it with gratitude, but he also expects us to invest it to further His business here on earth.
Jesus challenges us with the following statement: ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’ Luke 12:48 It’s never about others or amounts. It’s about faithfulness. We’re all different, all unique, and we each need to leverage creatively what God’s given us. Not investing more than God leads us to, and not investing less.
We’re asking people to pray in Life Giving Life: ‘God, how do you want me to be a blessing?’ What we’re doing together as a Body, we can’t do alone.
Whether we like it or not, it all belongs to Him, He entrusts it to us, and finally Jesus said, He Rewards Those He Can Trust. Jesus makes it really clear, life is a test of faithfulness. No matter how much or how little we’ve been entrusted with in this life, it’s all monopoly money. It all goes back in the box when the game of life ends, but how we’ve played the game (how faithful we’ve been) counts for something that lasts.
Jesus said: ‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?’ Luke 16:10-12 Will we be trustworthy in how we handle what ultimately we can’t keep, so that he can trust us with what ultimately lasts?”
To listen or watch the entire message, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.