Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sermon on self identity

For a long time now, I've been wondering why I am here and what I'm supposed to be about.

Curious, to say the least, since I'm 64 years young.

But I know the end (death) is getting closer. Much closer to the end than I am the beginning of my life. (Please, God, just let me have a little more time so I can finish this novel I'm working on with my co-writer Michael Manuel of Hampton, Tenn.)

Not that I have a death wish.

Far from it.

I want to stay on this earth, living and breathing (sucking air, some folks would pejoratively put it) for many more years.

But, of course, we never know when the end will come, or when we will have sucked our last breath.

That being the case, we should waste no time in making good, smart choices, because, according to Pastor Mike Lowery of Impact Community Church in Rock Hill, S.C., the greatest gift God has bestowed upon us is the ability to make choices. Put another way, summarizing what Lowery preached this morning, what happens in our life is not nearly as vital as the choices we make. That's because our choices make us who we are. They define us. They shape our character.

Lowery cited how Moses (from the Old Testament) lived his life. Found as a newborn baby in a basket (floating on the Nile River) by Pharoah's daughter, Moses could have had all the riches in the world. After all, he grew up in Pharoah royalty--in the Egyptian supreme leader's palace. As Pharoah's grandson, Moses could have chosen a life of fortune and comfort, and one day he could have even been leader of Egypt.

Instead, Moses chose to lead his life as a Godly servant. As a Hebrew, he could see the enslavement, misery and drudgery of his people--for the past 400 years--in Egypt. He chose to be like them (his fellow Hebrews) and forsook his life of luxury to lead them out of bondage.

People of his era must have thought him insane. He could have easily followed the crowd in the palace (been defined by that crowd). But Moses chose to be mistreated, along with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin (under Pharoah) for a short time. As Lowery put it, Moses chose spiritual pain over a ruined life (and ruined eternity) later.

"God never created a human being and doomed him to Hell," Lowery proclaimed. "And if we choose eternity separated from God, it's because we choose to do that."

Moses grew up in royalty but fast accepted spiritual responsibilty for his own life. He was not defined by others. He did not ride along with the crowd. He truly bucked the crowd, went against the grain, took the unpopular stance--whatever you want to call it. And it was tough, hard sailing,

challenging every fiber in his body. What he did was NOT comfortable or easy.

But that's the way it's supposed to be, Lowery said, because "God's more interested in your character and the development of your character than in your happiness or comfort."

Well put, Mike Lowery.