This past Sunday at Grace Christian Church things were a little different. This month, we have guest ministers giving our sermons on Sunday. This past Sunday, Phyllis Kirk our Music Minister, had her opportunity to deliver the sermon.
Now, we have only been members of this church for about 2 1/2 years. Therefore, I have never heard Phyllis speak on Sunday, so I did not know what to expect.
The sermon was entitled “Center of the Universe: Me.” I was intrigued just by the title. Rather than try and post the entire sermon, I have enclosed an edited portion for you here. There is a very important message in this sermon. I hope you discover what it is.
Center of the Universe: Me
Who saw the movie “Beaches?” Two women, CC Bloom (Bette Midler) and Hillary Whitney (Barbara Hershey), met under boardwalk at the beach, became close friends, then went their separate ways. CC went into entertainment, Hillary was a lawyer in New York. Hillary went to see a play (CC was the star) they went for coffee, CC talked for 10 minutes about herself. Then she said to Hillary, “Now let’s talk about you, how did you like my acting in the play?”
Selfishness goes against everything that Jesus taught, but we are currently living in the most self-conscious society that has ever existed. People are more concerned about themselves and their happiness than at any point in history.
You’ve heard about the “Me” generation? – that’s what we’re living right now. Looking at our society as a whole, we are seeing an entire generation, an entire culture, that puts the needs of the individual first. It doesn’t understand the concept of duty or sacrifice before self – the focus is all on “Me”. We are the “I” generation- iPhones, iPods, even the Army had the slogan a few years ago, “An Army of One”, and guess who the “One” was? Right, me, it’s all about “I” and “me” and “mine”.
Just walk into any bookstore and look at the New York Times Bestseller List and see what’s flying off the shelves. See what people are reading today. What you’ll find is that everyone is obsessed with self. One of the largest sections you’ll find now is the “self-improvement” section. Look at the magazines and see how many are focused on self-health and self-improvement and self-growth. There’s even a magazine simply called, “Self”.
One of the most popular websites in the country is called, “Self-growth” which touts itself as the comprehensive self-improvement encyclopedia for the web. We are a culture focused on ourselves, a selfish generation.
In the past 10 years, we have had this proliferation of social networking sites. It started out with a site called “MySpace” and from there it’s gone to Facebook and other sites where the focus is on self. You create a homepage that’s all about you: what you like, what you are doing, and what is important to you. In a classic example of Narcissism, you expect people to just come, and view your site because you are that important. You are so important that people just need to know what you are doing and what you think.
The newest thing to hit the technological scene is “Twitter.” It’s becoming the hottest thing in the country, and according to the Twitter website, “Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate, and stay through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: “What are you doing?”
The Bible teaches that you can’t be selfish and loving at the same time, and if the focus of your relationship is “you” rather than the other person, it is doomed for failure. Rick Warren says that, “Selfishness is a poison to relationships.” When you focus on “Me” and “I” you are telling the world and those that you love that you are greater or more important than them.
Right now, our country is in the midst of one of the worst economic crises that we have ever faced. It seems that it was caused by nothing more than selfishness by greed, by people wanting to get rich, and to meet their own needs, wants, and desires at the expense of others.
Our Government’s response has been similar. Rather than going to Washington to serve the people, to put sacrifice and duty above self, we have politicians who are exalting themselves, and promoting their own self-interests, and pork-barrel projects at the expense of those around them
Can you imagine what our country would be like if we turned from an “I” and a “Me” generation to a “You” generation? Can you imagine what a difference it would make if we would just follow Jesus’ words, if we would just follow His example? If we would just let ourselves decrease in importance in our eyes and live to serve others, in all of our relationships, in all of our business dealings?
Can you imagine what our churches could do if we truly lived out Christ’s call to deny ourselves and follow Him down this path?
Our relationships, and our whole lives have been poisoned by the seed of selfishness, and it goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit because, they selfishly desired to be greater than they should have been. And, ever since then, selfishness has been like a disease running rampant through our bodies and minds.
The first antidote to selfishness is to build strong relationships with other people. Love gets the focus off you and on someone else. Remember being “in love”, that’s when our entire focus is on the other person. Instead of our wants, our needs, our desires, the focus is on them, and what we can do for them.
This needs to be the standard model for all our relationships. We need to build relationships, so our focus is on others, and the best place to do that is in the church, among people who are also trying to live out Christ’s commands to put others above self. It’s all about focusing on others.
The second antidote to selfishness is to give yourself away. As Jesus told His disciples, you do this through ministry, by becoming servant and slaves of others. Service to others helps you quit thinking about yourself, and start thinking about those around you. Jesus is calling us to the place where we give ourselves away for the benefit of others. We never find fulfillment in living for ourselves, only in giving our life away.
Ephesians 2:10 says that we were created in Christ to do good works – we were created to serve others – to give ourselves away and to spend our lives in helping others.
The third Antidote to selfishness is to practice self-denial. This runs counter to all the culture is telling us, to promote ourselves, improve ourselves, help ourselves, focus on ourselves.
Jesus says we should deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. The Bible teaches that true love is unselfish. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son”. God put aside His wants and desires and wishes and he who knew no sin became sin for us and died on the cross in our place. He denied Himself so that we might experience His love in our lives.
There is the story about this little boy and his sister who were riding a rocking horse together. Finally, the boy said, “If one of us would get off this rocking horse there would be more room for me.” That is the definition of selfishness. That is the way of the world and the current focus of our “Me” generation.
Finally, let me encourage you to choose a different way – a better way – instead of saying, like the little boy, “If one of us would get off this rocking horse, there would be more room for me”, let us make a conscious effort this week to say, Let me deny myself, let me got off so there’ll be more room for you.”
God calls us all to serve. Take time in your busy schedule to volunteer and help others. In your local communities there are many agencies just asking for help. Let’s try to change the “Me” generation and move towards a “You” generation.
If you would like to hear more sermons like these, or learn more about our church please visit us at Grace Christian Church. We would love to have you come and experience our church first hand.
God Bless You All