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Worship Theme: Productive Procrastination
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Message: Productive Procrastination
Pastor Jon Enter
Many years ago, the Merv Griffin Show had a guest who was a bodybuilder. During the interview, Merv asked, “Why did you develop those particular muscles?” The bodybuilder simply stepped forward and flexed a series of muscles from chest to calf. The audience instantly applauded for this mega muscled man. “But what do you use those muscles for?” Merv persisted. There was a moment of confused embarrassment as the bodybuilder sat down in bewilderment. He didn’t have an answer other than using his large muscles to display his well-developed frame.
To my knowledge we don’t have anyone here in our church who was or is a professional bodybuilder. You can tell I’m not threatening to take over as Mr. Olympia anytime soon. If you think about it, being a professional bodybuilder is a really strange profession. They build up massive muscles but those muscles aren’t really used for anything; they are just there for show. God doesn’t want us to be like the professional bodybuilder. Whew, right? Weights are heavy! God does want us to Do Something!
Too often, though, what we do isn’t really what God wants us to do. We busy, busy, busy ourselves with the things of this world and the things of God are left undone. That’s what I like to call Productive Procrastination. What is Productive Procrastination? It’s summed up in the second half of this phrase: Our greatest fear should not be in failure but in succeeding in things that do not matter.
Today I want to challenge you to Do Something with the spiritual muscles God has given to you. Christianity is not about looking good. Christianity is about doing, about living, about being the Christian Jesus has already redeemed you to be. Christianity is about being Christ-like as Christ made you to be. Christ did not just talk about service, He lived it. He was it. That’s exactly what a sermon text announces, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Mark 10:45) No excuse kept Jesus from serving others or His Father.
But our Productive Procrastination keeps us from serving. There are four excuses, four reasons the devil uses to convince well-meaning and good-intentioned Christians like you from serving Jesus. Here’s the first one; here’s the first excuse stopping you from Doing Something. “I’m too busy.” And you are. You are busy. You are pulled in many, many directions. Do you know why you are pulled in so many directions AND actually go in those directions? You have deemed them important. You have prioritized them as a need you need to fill. That’s why you keep going. Why is it then that service to Jesus isn’t number two on that list right behind worshipping Jesus? Jesus Himself commanded, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.” (Luke 4:8) Worship. Serve. Number one. Number two. It’s right there! But where is it in our lives? We are productive on our own To-Do lists but we procrastinate on God’s To-Do list.
Maybe the reason you haven’t prioritized service to Jesus higher is because of the second excuse given for not Doing Something for Jesus. “I’m not qualified.” So many Christians miss out on the joy God gives through service to the Savior because they don’t feel important enough, talented enough or worthy enough. That thought process, though, is counter-Scriptural. Throughout the entirety of the Bible we discover it isn’t about who you are, how powerful you are; how talented you are; it’s about what God has made you. Just look at who God chose to call as His disciples.
A mafia man (Matthew). A thief (Judas). A doubter (Thomas). A Zealot eager to manipulate the system (Simon). Two hotheads with bad tempers (James & John). A Yes-man with little follow through (Peter). They were a ragtag bunch. So are we. We’ve yelled at others with the anger of a mafia man. We’ve stolen. We’ve doubted. We’ve manipulated the system for personal gain. We’ve lost our temper. We’ve been too quick to agree with someone to look good and we’ve also slacked off on our follow through. We easily can say, “God, I’m not qualified for service in the kingdom.” And God says, “You’re perfect! I want you! Don’t worry about not feeling qualified. I’ve qualified you.” “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things…so that no one may boast before Him.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)
God wants us to Be There, to Do Something!
There are certain times we reject God’s opportunity to serve Him saying, “I’m not qualified.” But there are other times we sadly reject serving Christ because we think, “I’m overqualified.” I’m not going to do THAT. Someone else can do THAT. I’m too talented to do THAT. I don’t want to do THAT.
Simple tasks are needed tasks. Simple tasks are crucial tasks. When the simple, small tasks aren’t done well, everything falls apart. Just loosen the lug nuts on your car tires and see what happens. You will wreck your vehicle and possibly your life. When the simple tasks needed in the ministry of God’s church aren’t done here at Salem Lutheran, our ministry will get wrecked and lives will get hurt.
Things aren’t getting done. We’ve had a pastor vacancy for many months. THANK YOU, JESUS, we have a second pastor joining us soon but that doesn’t mean we can relax. That means we will soon have an opportunity to do more, to serve, to do the little things. Evangelism opportunities are being missed. Care for congregational members are slipping by. Simple things can be done to change this. Simple things can be done to address this. We have let it go by too long thinking, “That’s not my job. Someone else will do it.”
John Brodie, former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers was being used by his football team to hold the ball for the kicker. A sports reporter asked him why a million-dollar player like him should be given the simple task of holding the ball for the kicker. “Well,” Brodie said, “if I didn’t, it would fall over.” Brodie understood that his value to the team was BEING THERE for the team, to do what needed to be done so his team was successful. That’s the type of person Jesus is looking for.
So, how do you “hold the ball” for Jesus? How do you Be There and Do Something for Him? Start looking for ways to serve Him. That’s the last excuse keeping believers from serving Jesus. The only thing worse than seeing a need and thinking, “That’s not my job” is not noticing the need that is right in front of you! That excuse, “I didn’t notice it was needed” sounds eerily similar to the excuses of those people who were cast away from Jesus in our support lesson today from Revelation 3. People who were Productive in worldly things but Procrastinating in faithful service to Jesus complained to Jesus asking why they were kept from heaven. Jesus responded, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16) Not serving Jesus because of turning blind eye to the needs of God’s ministry work is inexcusable. Jesus says, “Do something!”
I likely could add a fifth excuse. It matches up with these young Christians dressed in white during their confirmation today. You could easily be tempted to think, “I can’t serve; I’m too young.” Jesus cherishes your service. Jesus wants your hearts and hands active in his church. You have been equipped by God to serve. Use it! Fulfill it! Live it! Some of the greatest joys I had in high school were during my times serving others in the name of Jesus at my church, at my high school and in my community.
Each and every one of the reasons that keep us from serving Jesus, Jesus fought against and never fell into when He was serving us on this earth. Jesus easily could have given the excuse, “Sorry, I’m too busy to visit the sick mother-in-law of Peter to make her well; I have too much to do today.” But He didn’t, He chose to prioritize service to others. (Matthew 8:14-15) Jesus easily could have given the excuse, “Sorry, I’m not qualified to calm the storm that is threatening to sink the boat we are in, it’s been thousands of years since I created the seas.” But He didn’t; He chose to prioritize the need of others. (Mark 4:35-41) Jesus easily could have given the excuse, “Sorry, I’m overqualified to wash the feet of My disciples; that’s not My job; someone else can do it.” But He didn’t. He chose to prioritize humble service knowing it needed to get done.
Jesus never missed an opportunity for service so He never gave the excuse, “I didn’t notice it was needed” because Jesus prioritized your needs and the needs of the whole world above His own. Talk about, DO SOMETHING. Jesus did something with your need. Jesus did something when He saw you hurting. Jesus did something when He saw you trapped in your sins. “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a Ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Jesus paid the ransom price for your soul. He didn’t procrastinate; He provided a way out. He was your way out. Jesus quieted your pain. Jesus calmed your soul. Jesus qualified you. He qualified you for His grace. With that grace on you and in you and working through, Jesus qualified you for service. He qualified you to Do Something! To serve.
Did you notice something? We aren’t looking for volunteers. When it comes to work for Jesus, it is not on a volunteer basis. When people volunteer, they do someone a favor. Working for Jesus is not a favor to Him. It’s service. It’s Christ-like. It’s what we are called to be. It’s what we have been redeemed to be.
The Christian recording artist, Matthew West, has a great song focused on this. In the song he sings about being upset as he looked around and saw so much need. He wondered why God didn’t do something. And in the song it shouts that God responded with, “I did. I created you!” God has created you and redeemed you and qualified you to serve. This body of believers is rising up to answer His call as we Do Something for Him. Amen.