“ON GOD’S MISSION”
(A Chosen People – Series in I Peter)
Westgate Chapel 1/14/01 I Peter 3:13-16
PROPOSITION: The follower of Christ is on God’s mission when he/she fearlessly sets Christ apart as Lord, gives voice to the hope within, and lives the life of Christ for all to see.
- FEAR will make you do strange things!
- BACK when I pastored a church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the church sent the Christian Education pastor and I to Fort Worth, Texas for a three day conference.
- TO save money, and because I enjoyed flying, I rented a Beech Sierra from the local airport and after careful flight planning the two of us took off for the Dallas area.
- I FILED an instrument flight plan and set our course for the Arlington airport, south west of Dallas.
- THE weather en-route was good and the flight uneventful….until we go to Dallas and ran into some light rain.
- AIRTRAFFIC control vectored me around to the south of the Dallas airport and then lined me up for a long final to Arlington…..an uncontrolled airport (no tower).
- FIFTEEN minutes out of Arlington we ran into a severe rain squall…..so heavy that I could not see an inch beyond the windshield.
- AND even though I had my instrument rating, and almost 500 hours of experience….that flushed feeling of fear started somewhere in my knees and traveled all the way up to my face.
- I AM flying the published approach to the airport, fully on instruments, gradually descending to a runway somewhere out there…but it raining so hard that I can’t see a thing except when I fly the plane sideways and look straight down.
- SUDDENLY, still a few hundred feet in the air, looking down out the side window, I see what looks like the runway below.
- AT that moment Dallas approach control asks me if I have the runway.
- I SAY, “affirmative.”
- AND they terminate their transmission, handing me off to talk to traffic around me on the frequency of Arlington….because there is no tower at Arlington.
- I AM totally on my own.
- I PULL power and start my descent to the runway I see below….only to find out, with about 100 feet left, that it wasn’t a runway at all. It was railroad tracks.
- RIGHT then a warning buzzer starts going off in the cockpit….which usually means that you are stalling. Only the instruments said I wasn’t stalling….which added confusion to fear.
- BUT I had more pressing problems on my hands. I couldn’t land on those railroad tracks….so I had to find Arlington airport…..with this buzzer warning sounding in the cockpit.
- ADD power. No sense getting any closer to the ground.
- BY now my hands are shaking on the controls.
- I CAN’T see where I am going or if there are buildings or towers directly in front of me.
- I SHOULD have dialed the radio back to Dallas approach and flown the standard missed approach….immediately climbing up and out of danger.
- BUT I was too scared to remember their frequency.
- AND right now all I wanted was to be on the ground…not back up into the rain storm.
- SO I started circling, hoping to see the runway out of the side window….only when I went to turn the plane, which requires your feet to work the rudder pedals on the floor…..my legs were trembling too much to do what I needed them to do.
- SUDDENLY our CE pastor saw the runway out of his window, looking straight down.
- I TOLD him to not take his eye off it…..I was going to circle to my right until I could line us up for final.
- I STILL couldn’t see a thing out of the windshield for the rain….and the warning buzzer is still sounding….and I still don’t know, as I pull the power again, if we are going to run into anything out there.
- THAT is the worst fear I have ever felt in my life….and all because of my stupidity.
- I WAS physically and mentally immobilized by the fear that started when the rain storm blocked my vision.
- THE buzzer was the gear warning horn that sounded when you reduced power without lowering the gear (wheels).
- WE landed safely….with story to tell that I will never forget. Neither will the CE pastor.
- FEAR will make you do strange things.
- FEAR will incapacitate you.
- IT will keep you from doing what you need to do.
- FEAR will keep you from God’s mission for your life.
- AND on the first Sunday of this Mission Conference….it is important that we look at those things that could keep us from God’s mission.
- INTERESTINGLY that is the theme from this morning’s message in I Peter 3:13-16 (page 1202).
- AND I get the theme from the last part of verse 14,
“Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”
- BECAUSE “fear” was threatening to keep the Christians to whom Peter is writing…from God’s mission.
- THE mission is back in verse 13, where Peter writes,
“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?”
- THE literal translation is “zealous to follow the good.”
“What harm can come to you if you are zealous to follow the good?”
- PETER is writing to brand new Christians on the outskirts of the Roman Empire, who are very much a minority in their communities.
- THEIR mission was to live the life of Christ, like salt and light, in the middle of a decaying and dark world.
- AND Peter says to them, in verse 14, in doing the mission…
“Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”
- WHO are the “they” in this verse?
- “THEY” are the non-Christian people, living all around them in the towns and villages of Galatia and Bithynia, on the Black Sea coast.
- AND what is it that these people fear?
- WELL, psychologists tell us that at the heart of all fear is the fear of loss...with the loss of life (death) being a ten on a one to ten scale.
- THE problem is that everything on earth that we value is vulnerable to sudden and totally unpredictable loss...
* You can put your hope in being physically strong…and wake up one day, like Michael J. Fox, and find out that you have Parkinson’s disease.
* You can put your hope in the stock market….and have it plummet before you can make one of those $8 on line trades.
* You put your hopes in your home…and lose it in an earthquake or house fire.
* You can put your hope in your career…and get caught in some corporate merger that leaves you in the unemployment line.
- IF the things you value most in all of life are the things of this world…you have a reason to be afraid…because your or I could lose it all and there is nothing we can do to stop it.
- SO we put on a good face. We act as if we are having a blast…but try to keep ourselves occupied so that we don’t have to think about how vulnerable we are to the loss of those things we hold dear.
- BECAUSE if you think about it long enough the fear will immobilize you. Fear will do that!
- THAT is why Peter says,
“Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”
ii. The throne
- INSTEAD of fear that paralyzes you, Peter writes, do this….(verse 15)
“…in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”
- IN the next couple of verses Peter gives us the antidote for fear.
- YOUR heart is the “executive center your self”…..it is where you think, where you feel, where you decide and make choices.
- IT is the place from which you and I rule within whatever the boundaries are of our kingdom…and we all have a kingdom.
- OUR kingdom is the range of our effective will.
- WHAT are the boundaries of that place where your will prevails? That is your kingdom.
* For some it is the few feet around their physical body.
* For others it is the members of their family in the home.
* For some it extends to employees at work.
* For people like Bill Gates, it is an entire company.
- AND there is nothing wrong with having a kingdom…you were created by God to have dominion, to rule.
- THE problem is in trying to rule the kingdom of your life…in your own strength and by your own wisdom and power.
- IT is in that solitary place…the throne room of your life that paralyzing fear first takes hold and manifests itself in all kinds of ugly ways.
- WHICH is why Peter says,
“Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. (15) But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”
- THE only way to run your kingdom…is to get off the throne of your heart and “set apart” Jesus as the Lord of your life.
- IT is the opposite of the wisdom of the world.
* The world says, if you are afraid that you are losing control of your life…make demands of others, get a tighter grip, set your boundaries, demand your rights!
* But the wisdom that comes from God says, if you are afraid that you are losing it…get Jesus in the control center of your life.
* Why? Because He is God, yet He experienced everything it is to be human, and through His death and resurrection redeemed you from fear and death.
* He knows the plans He has for you and has the wisdom and power to get you through this life all the way into eternity.
* In Philippians 1:6 Paul writes,
“…be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
- DON’T be afraid of the mission…in the control center of your life, set apart Jesus as Lord.
iii. the voice
- THEN in the second half of verse 15 Peter gives us a second antidote for paralyzing fear. He writes,
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”
- SO, it is not just getting Jesus on the throne of your life, but telling other people about it.
- THAT is the theme of the missions conference… “tell the story!”
- VERY simply…fear is dispelled when you put words to the hope that you have.
- DON’T keep it a secret. Tell somebody…and in the telling, confidence is built in you, and fear itself is driven out.
- NOW, there are several key things to remember from this verse.
1. This is verbal, not just thoughts you have about God. You have to be ready to speak.
2. This verse says that, in most cases, it is good to wait until you are asked about your faith.
• Don’t go pounding on people who don’t even have the question formed yet.
• It should first become evident to them that you are living without fear…in some kind of hope. Then they will ask.
3. The content of what it is you say, should basically be your story. Your first-hand experience with God…and the studied ability to provide some reasoned answers.
4. There is only one attitude in which to do this.
• With gentleness.
• With respect.
• Our message loses all credibility when we act arrogant or self-righteous.
- SO the antidote for paralyzing fear is…set Jesus apart as Lord of your life, and be prepared to speak about the hope you have.
iv. the marketplace
- BUT there is one more thing that Peter gives us here as an antidote for fear.
- IN verse 16 he says,
“…keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
- YOUR heart is the throne from which Jesus is to reign.
- YOUR mouth is the instrument used to speak of the hope you have within.
- BUT every day, in the marketplace of life, your LIFE and mine are speaking to those at home, in the neighborhood, at the mall, and in the work place.
- WE have to live the principles of God’s kingdom…not just talk about them.
* It starts at home with the way we treat our spouses, our children, and parents.
* It is how we treat friends.
* It being fair and just with employees.
* It is paying the taxes we owe the government.
* It comes out in our conversations to and about people. It is the language we use.
* It includes our disposition and temperament.
- FOLLOWING Christ is more than a Sunday deal. It is a total package 24/7.
- AND accomplishes two things:
1. It drives fear away because it leaves you with a clear conscience.
2. It silences the critics of Jesus and the Gospel.
- SO there is Peter’s message to us today.
1. The mission as a Christian is to zealously follow the good (verse 13).
2. Fear cannot be allowed to paralyze you and so keep you from God’s mission.
3. The antidote for fear is…
• In the control center of your life, set Jesus apart as Lord. Put Him on the throne.
• Speak out the reason for your faith. Tell your story to those who ask.
• Live your life in such a way that instill confidence in you and silences the critics.
- LET’S get out there in the power of God’s indwelling Spirit and do the mission!