Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, May 21, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

03/25/12 Sermon

John 12: 20-33

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen

In the sports world this week one of the big stories in the news was that the New York Jets acquired quarterback Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos.

For those of you who don’t know Tim Tebow won the Heisman trophy as a quarterback for the University of Florida and was drafted by the Denver Broncos a couple of years ago.

Last season Tebow became the starting quarterback and caused quite a stir because of he’s not shy about sharing his Christian faith.

In fact last week I mentioned how he puts the verse John 3:16 in his eye black.

And because of Tebow’s open faith, one of the major points of discussion that the media has been raising about the Jets acquiring Tebow, has to do with subject of influence.

Will his Christian faith and Christian principles have a positive or negative affect on his teammates?

Will Tim Tebow’s Christian faith have an influence on sin city New York?

Or will sin city New York have an influence on him?

We live in a culture where influence is a compelling force.

The media of course plays such an integral part in trying to influence us.

The media is a channel used by institutions like political parties to influence behavior, opinions and actions to obtain power.

The media is also by used businesses who want to influence us.

They advertise trying to create a need, a demand that will influence us to reach in our wallets and pocketbooks to buy their products or services.  And it’s interesting to reflect on how all of these influencers try to influence us.

The aim of the institutions and structures who try to influence us is to go right at our basic human frailty and brokenness.

Their target or objective is to influence the deep desire within all of us known as the self or the ego.

The self or the ego is that part of us that wants to be liked, to be popular, to be better, to be right, to be the best, to be satisfied.

Businesses advertise with enticements that their product or service will make us better. It will make us glamorous, successful, wealthy, powerful, or smarter.

I’m reminded of the new cell phone commercials selling phones with 4G capabilities which means you get information faster than others get it.

Those with these new phones look down on those who don’t.

People with the old phones share some news and those with these new phones say “that’s so 29 seconds ago”.

The influence to buy their product is that if you get it you will have knowledge quicker. More knowledge means you gets you ahead of the competition. You’re better.

The world and its structures and institutions and channels are constantly trying to influence us toward glorifying the self; to be better, to perform better.

Competition is the name of the game. We must succeed and climb the ladder. Nothing is ever enough.

Meanwhile most of us feel like Norm Peterson, the character of the sitcom Cheers who said “it’s a dog eat dog world out there and I’m, wearing Milk Bone underwear”.

But in our scripture today, we see Jesus is trying to influence his listeners in a different way. Jesus has a different target.

He talks about glorifying….in fact he uses the word glorify 4 times.

But what does glorify mean?

Well Glorify means, to give glory to something or to someone.

Now, the world tries to influence us to give glory to ourselves. (be better, smarter, stronger, more beautiful)

But Jesus tells us we should direct glory in a different direction. Jesus’ direction of giving glory is to Someone else. And we see it in verse 28:

In verse 28 Jesus says “Father glorify, your name”.

The direction of where Jesus gives glory and calls us to give glory, is not to ourselves but rather to a purpose of giving God the glory first and foremost.

God is our purpose, God is our focus. Our lives are directed toward giving glory to God.

But what does this look like?-----how does one give glory to God?

Well we often think of giving glory to God thru our actions such as coming to church on Sunday’s. We give glory to God by singing in the choir. We give glory to God by delivering a good sermon.

But are these things necessarily giving glory to God?

I’m not so sure these are what Jesus had in mind. Simply coming to a worship service can often be about ourselves. Coming to church can be about making an appearance or simply coming to hear a good choir or a good sermon. It satisfies us.  And singing in the choir can be about self-glorification. Recent movie called Joyful Noise---choir competition---the fight over power over the choir, money and prestige. Choirs can get all caught up in performance. They’re more concerned about hitting the right note and being professional than what the words are saying and the heart behind them.  Preaching can also be an issue--- a good sermon can also be about self-glorification.

Pastor preached a sermon—all was quiet and he was proud. After the service a woman came up to him and said “Preacher that was such a great sermon”.  And the pastor proudly replied “Don’t thank me, thank God”.  And she said, “Well it wasn’t that good”,

Enjoying accolades from others and performing to our best can often have a motive that is not about giving God the glory. It’s instead about our glory and making us feel good. We want the applause.  And as a result, our witness to others is not a genuine witness.

A church becomes inward focused where people are more concerned about feeling good about themselves.

So what does it really mean to give glory to God?

Well Jesus tells us that to give glory to God means we have to die-- to giving the self glory.

He gives the parable of the seed (the kernel of wheat) and how it must die in order to produce many seeds.

Jesus’ life was the model for us. Jesus died to himself, resisting the temptation to glorify himself so as to glorify God’ purpose by giving his life for us.

His dying to the self, glorifying God then brought forth many seeds.

He brought forth the fruit of eternal life for those who follow him.  And Jesus calls us to follow him in this way of dying to self-glorification that we might glorify God and His purposes.

And while this following of Jesus can be a sacrifice in the context of the ways of the world, in God’s kingdom it bears much fruit.

How many of you have ever seen the movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus”?

If you recall, Mr. Holland dreamed of being a famous composer but a new baby in the family caused him to take a job as a high school music teacher. He did it only as a temporary gig until he finished his opus (music composition).
But life causes him to stay in this teaching job against his will. He tries to continue to write his composition but slowly the independent composer dies as the overwhelming teacher responsibilities took over.

His heart was broken, he was frustrated-- but he fulfilled his obligations.  But at the end of the movie we see that out of the death of his dreams came fulfillment of another.

He had indeed composed his opus. But it wasn’t on paper--- it was in the lives of his students.

His life had become a brilliant symphony composed of the individual lives that he encouraged and nurtured through his teaching.  He produced many seeds……………

Now this is what Jesus is calling us to as well.

We give up the desire for self-glorification and direct our motives for the purpose of God’s kingdom ways. Everything we do, while doing our best is not for our glory but for God’s glory.

So with this in mind on this 5th Sunday of Lent, we are being called to look at our own lives as individuals and as a church and see where we are seeking to glorify ourselves instead of giving glory to God.

Where are we being influenced by the world that is holding us captive to performance and competition? Where are we holding on to life, loving this life and its ways of people pleasing and its demands that what we do is never enough?

Jesus’ dying to himself has opened the door for us to freedom from this fallen world and its structures and institutions that are opposed to the truth of God loving and accepting us just as we are without conditions.

Today as we journey toward the cross we need to be aware of the same temptations and same influences that Jesus experienced that seek to bind us.

We need to name those influences that are working on our desire to glorify ourselves.

We need to be aware of them so that we might let them go and give them to Jesus.

Eugene Peterson in the 25th verse of his Message translation of this scripture translates it this way--- Jesus said…  “If anyone HOLDS on to life just as it is, destroys that life…”

Letting go of this life (losing this life) means we let go of glorifying ourselves so that we might glorify God.

For in our freedom from self-glorification we are then empowered and enabled to become influencers of others. We glorify God so that others might glorify Him too……………………

Now in closing this morning I want to do something a little different.

We’re going to have a moment of silence.

And in this silence, if you feel comfortable in doing this, ------I want you to bow your head…and with your head bowed I want you to hold both of your hands in tight fists……

 now I want you to relax them……………………………..

 ---Now open your hands and turn your palms upward and pray to Jesus about what a life of letting go of this world would look like…….

-letting go of people pleasing

-letting go of the need to perform--resting is lazy

-letting go of the need to be the best

-letting go of the image of being strong.

(Loving Jesus, you call us to let go of the way this world holds on to us and influences us to glorify ourselves. We fail at it….and even when we do succeed, it’s never ever enough.

We always want more.

Jesus help us to see it name it and give it to you that we might be freed to glorify you by giving ourselves away to others, Amen)

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen