A lot of times I get confused about what is really the main thing in life. But 2,000 years ago, a man that history tells us was physically rather small and unimpressive, in marginal health, spent a lot of his life in chains, did not have long to live, figured it out and wrote these words. He talked to the church at Colossae about how the hope of glory is Christ in you. He says, (Colossians 1:28) We proclaim Him. We proclaim Christ, teaching everyone that admonishing everyone with all wisdom so that we might present everyone mature in Christ. Paul says, for this I labor, struggling with all His energy that so powerfully works in me.
There’s this wonderful word I used to not like but have come to love, and that is to lean in to accountability. Let's say you're on the freeway and it is chaos. People are driving badly. They're speeding. They're weaving. They're cutting each other off. They're texting. They're talking on cell phones. They're getting distracted. They're getting angry. They're making non faith-based gestures at each other.
A lot of people believe they're Christians, but if you ask, "Are you a disciple?" they're kind of fuzzy on that. In the New Testament, people weren't fuzzy. When Jesus was around, their way of life was literally and physically to follow him and learn from him how to pray and how to grow and how to relate to other people.
Do you have a pet peeve? Is there some kind of habit or behavior or something that when you see it, it drives you crazy? Most people have one, and generally, their pet peeve involves when something they really value is violated. So think about what yours is for a moment.
In the Bible, the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes contrasted the strength of people living in relationship with the delicateness and the vulnerability of people living alone. This is from Ecclesiastes. "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. [...] Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Do you ever wonder if this could happen? You never manage your money, you have no savings account, you don't keep track of your spending, you have no budget, and you never pay off your credit card debt, but you wake up one morning and discover you're a millionaire.
If you’ve never noticed, there's a big difference between being part of a crowd and being an actual participant. A crowd watches; a participant engages. A crowd can be amazed for a moment; a participant is somebody who's committed to a way of life. I mention this because at the very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount this same distinction is very carefully drawn by Matthew. This is how he puts it:
Back in the day, things were simpler, or were they? When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. But what about you? he asked. Who do you say I am? Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16: 13-16)
Sometimes people will be facing adversity. They have trouble at work or at home or a problem with their health or in their financial life. We all know what that's like. Someone who wants to encourage them will come along and say, "You can face this! You're strong! You're capable! Besides, we know this is not beyond your ability to cope because the Bible says, 'God never gives us more than we can handle. '" Now, that's often intended to be a comforting statement because it's kind of taken as a promise. If you just trust God, things will not get too bad. They will not get unbearable. Your life will be manageable. The problem is the Bible never says that. In fact, if you've read the Bible at all, you know the Bible is largely the story of people being given things they cannot handle.
Have you ever wondered how able is our God? Well, according to the Bible, he is exceedingly able. He is able to speak the universe into being, to say, "Let there be light," and there is light. He is able to bring the plagues that will change the heart of a pharaoh. When the Red Sea needed to be parted for Israel to walk through, God was able to part it.