During December our sermons will attempt to take a sweeping view of our society and the church. How do things look? How are we handling the troubling things we see? What are some things that make us nervous about the future?
One thing that ranks high on the list is the number of stressed and burned out lives. Think about yourself for a moment. How would you describe the level of stress you’re feeling right now? Most likely the stressors you are coping with come from several different areas of your life. How are you responding to that stress?
While today’s sermon will focus mostly on the sinful type of worry and stress that overtakes and dominates one’s life to the point of debilitation, we need to remember that in and of themselves, stress and pressure are not necessarily bad. In fact, they are God-given things that can cause us each to lead a responsible life. Stress and pressure can actually strengthen us to accomplish the challenges God sets before us.
This is the type of pressure we can handle and must manage. In 2 Corinthians 11.28-29 Paul writes of the daily internal pressure of anxiety for all the churches. He was concerned for those who were weak. He cared when people were led into sin. The NCV translates 11.29 this way: I feel weak every time someone is weak. I feel upset every time someone is led into sin. Being concerned for the spiritual welfare of others is just one example of the stress we can feel.
Stress that motivates us to positive change is also observed in 2 Corinthians 13.5 when Paul challenges Christians to self examination and the quality of their faith. I’m sure you’ve already filled out the chart on p. 6-7 of this year’s Vision 2019 plan. How did you score? What are the areas of greatest concern? Where are you most spiritually vulnerable? Your desire to do right before God will probably make you uncomfortable when you think deeply on these things. Let that feeling of discomfort and stress motivate you to make the right changes.
This is stress and pressure from a positive perspective. We all need to feel it, respond appropriately, and participate with God who is at work in us, Philippians 2.13. This is how we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It is the combination of our faith and actions.
What are the areas of life you need to work on? What is your plan of action? When will you act?
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 2 Peter 3.18.