The Volunteer’s Motive

 

Let us pray

 

Well we’re nearly there.  It’s our fourth, and final week of the Volunteer revolution, and, we’re heading into the final straight.

 

Only four weeks – but maybe you feel it’s been a bit of a marathon – in which case, maybe you can identify with this man (picture)

 

Apparently, running a Marathon is quite hard work.

 

You run out of fuel – and start using reserves of protein and fat

 

You loose weight - as you loose water

 

Now those two don’t sound too bad – but some of the other effects have really put me off:

 

Apparently, you’re muscles develop tiny tears from constant pounding, and try to tell you to stop running, and you can swelling – and of course you can get cramp.

 

And you shrink – about an inch – which I don’t like the sound of.

 

And then when you finally finish, you’ll feel dizzy – so won’t be able to properly enjoy it – and then there’s a chance you’ll have difficulty walking for a few days.

 

I know exercise is good for you - but I don’t think I’ll be entering the London Marathon anytime soon.  It doesn’t really appeal to me.

 

But clearly some people like doing that to themselves.  Or, like the idea of finishing – and having achieved their goal.  Because I don’t think you’d ever find yourself running a marathon accidentally – it’s not the kind of thing you just drift into – it’s going to be hard work, so unless you are committed, unless you can see the goal – unless you have a clear Motive, then you are not going to be able to run the race.

 

And it’s not just marathons that require us to have a motive.  Many things in life need our commitment – and we only tend to commit to things because they have a purpose.

 

Think of any hobby you have or have taken up recently.  If you are learning to play the piano, or the violin, or the guitar, or the tuba – then I’m sure you need to keep you’re eyes fixed on the day when you can play the guitar solo from Hotel California, or when you can stand up here and we can praise God together – not on the exercises you do at the start.

 

We recognise that if we want to do something well, if we want to stick with it, we need a motive.

 

Why should volunteering be any different?

 

Turn with me if you would to 1 Peter 4:7 – it’s on page 1220 of the bibles in the chairs.

 

But before we get there – lets just recap on what we’ve looked at so far.

 

1. The Volunteer’s Mandate

 

The Volunteer’s Mandate comes from Christ.  On the night that he was betrayed, he took up a towel, and a bowl of water, and he washed his disciples feet.  And he told us to do the same:

 

John 3:14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

 

The Volunteer’s Mandate comes from Christ (John 3:14-15)

 

Then

 

2. The Volunteer’s Model

 

Our model as we volunteer and serve the body of Christ is Christ himself.  Christ, who gave himself up to serve others.  Look at what Philippians 2 says about Jesus:

 

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!

 

Jesus took on the nature of a servant – and that service meant that he served unto death – even death on a cross.  His attitude of humility and service is our Model.

 

The Volunteer’s Model is Christ (Philippians 2:6-8)

 

Then last week

 

3. The Volunteer’s Manner

 

Our manner as volunteers, how we serve, is based on our relationship with Christ.  Remember from last week what those critical verses at the start of Romans 12 say:

 

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.  2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

Paul calls us to change our conduct – to live differently – to offer every part of ourselves as a living sacrifice – in view of God’s mercy – because of what Christ has done for us.

 

The Volunteer’s Manner - we serve because he saved us (Romans 12:1-2)

 

And so to today – and the end of our marathon.  The finishing line is in sight.  Let’s look together at 1 Peter 4, as we look at the Volunteer’s Motive

 

The Motive

 

Let’s look first at the start of verse 7:

 

1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is near.

 

Peter is going to go on and give his readers, and us, some instructions.  But he wants the context to be clear first.

 

The end of all things is near.  What does this mean?  It means that Christ is coming back soon.

 

Now Peter wrote these words nearly 2000 years ago – and Christ hasn’t come back yet – so how could Peter say the end is near?  Because he knows that God’s grand plan of salvation – from creation, through the call of Abraham, through Moses and the Moses, through King David – has come to fulfillment in Christ.  Everything that God said he would do he has done – except for the final judgment, when Christ returns.  That’s the next big thing – it’s near – it could come at any time.

 

Peter wants us to live in the light of Christ’s return.  Look at the whole of verse 7:

 

1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.

 

Peter wants us to live in the light of Christ’s return – and to act in a certain way.  He calls on believers to be clear minded and self-controlled – to be sensible and sober, rightly understanding the times we live in, and what is to come – and to pray accordingly.

 

To pray – in the light of Christ’s return.

 

And then look on to the end verse 11:

 

1 Peter 4:11 so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Peter talks about how we use our gifts – and we’ll come back to that in a few minutes – but here I want to highlight the purpose – why we do the things that we do.  So that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

 

The end of all things in near – and so we live accordingly – and as we do so, we live so that God may be praised through Christ.

 

We do what we do – to bring glory to God.  That is our motive – to bring Glory to God through Jesus Christ.  In all we do, we seek to bring God glory –

 

The Motive = as we wait for the return of Christ (v7) we seek to bring Glory to God through Christ (v11)

 

The Volunteer’s Motive = we serve to give Christ the Glory (1 Peter 4:11)

 

Why does a Marathon runner run a marathon?  Why does someone learn to play the piano?  Why does a footballer train hard – for glory.  For the glory of having run 26 miles, for the glory of being able to play beautifully, for the glory of scoring the winning goal.

 

All great examples of human endeavour.  But Peter would encourage us to look higher than ourselves – and not to seek our own glory – not to seek the praise of others –but to bring others to praise Christ, to give him the glory for what he did on the cross – fto live, as Romans 12 puts it, in view of God’s mercy.

 

Our motive is to bring Glory to God – through Christ.

 

Which is all very well – but brings us to the natural question.  How?   How can I do something so that I don’t make it about me?

 

Peter gives us two examples.

 

Example 1:  We can bring Glory to God as we serve (v7-11)

 

We already looked at verse 7, and seen how we are to live in the light of the return of Christ.  But what does that mean.

 

Well, Peter first provides us with the overarching theme – the framework for service  -look at verse 8:

 

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

 

The way to live in the light of Christ’s return, is to love one another.  Love in a way which means that small offenses – perhaps even some larger ones – can be overlooked and forgiven.  Love in a way which means we are working to get along with one another.

 

We’ve been talking quite a lot about the 10 rules of respect recently – and I just want to highlight two in this context:

 

5.     Be careful how you interpret me - I would rather do that myself. On matters that are unclear, do not feel pressured to interpret my feelings or thoughts. It is easy to misrepresent intentions.

 

6.     I will be careful how I interpret you.

 

If we love one another, then we will be careful how we interpret one another.  We will think the best of what others say to us – not the worst.  We will seek to see the good in what people say – not the bad.  We won’t be looking on what others say with suspicion – always believing that they are out to get us, and hurt us.  Instead, we will believe that people are perhaps mistaken, or ill informed – not malicious.

 

And if we believe that about one another, then we’ll feel better able to approach one another – and to seek an understanding, as Matthew 18 commands.  And also able, sometimes, just to forget stuff.  Just to let it go.

 

Love is the overarching framework – the active framework – that makes everything else possible.

 

And then Peter goes on to give us a concrete example:

 

1 Peter 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

 

Why choose this example?  Well I think it’s an example of how we can show love, in a way which is costly – but also a way which treats others as family members.  This is family servicewe invite others to join the family.

 

I’ve been to Willow Creek twice now – and one of the best things about going is being able to stay with a family.  There is nothing that makes you feel so welcome in a foreign land as staying with someone.  Sharing in someone else’s life – it’s so much more fun than a holiday inn.

 

There are many people in this church who are wonderfully hospitable to others – for which we can praise God.  Hospitality gives us the opportunity to show to other believers that we are, all , truly brothers and sisters in Christ.  And it doesn’t just mean having people to stay – we can also invite people round for meals – not so that we can present a vision of ourselves, but so that people can take us as they find us – as our family would. 

 

Love is the framework for service, and hospitality shows family serviceLet’s look on to verses 10 and 11:

 

1 Peter 4:10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.  11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Here we see the recipe for faithful service.  Peter tells us that we all have gifts – every one of us.  And he says use it – serve others.

 

Serve others in whatever way you can.  If you can speak – to teach, to preach, to pray, to encourage, to challenge – speak as one speaking the very words of God.

 

Now if I’m speaking my words – perhaps it doesn’t matter so much what I say.  But if I’m speaking the very words of God – if I am in some way speaking as God has spoken to me, then I need to watch my words very carefully indeed.

 

Wouldn’t we speak with more care if we thought about what we say like this!

 

Serve others in whatever way we can – serve – serve tea, serve coffee, serve at table, serve at the welcome desk, serve on the PA, serve on Thursdays, serve on Tuesdays, serve – serve in God’s strength.

 

Not my strength – that way lies either exhaustion, or pride, or both.  Serve with God’s strength – relying on God.

 

We can bring glory to God as we serve, by doing what he wants us to do – in his strength.  As we act as the people God wants us to be, we bring glory to God – by showing to the world that God can bring together a people from all sorts of backgrounds, and of all sorts of ages – and make them into a family, through the death of Christ on the cross.

 

We can bring glory to God as we serve.

 

Example 2: We bring glory to God as we suffer for doing Good (v12-19)

 

Peter’s second example deals with how we face suffering.  And here I want to highlight four imperatives – four does and do nots:

 

1. Focus on the future – don’t be surprised by Suffering (v12-13)

 

1 Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

 

Peter says – don’t be surprised in suffering – it will come – after all, Christ suffered – and so rejoice – because if we suffer as Christ’s followers, then our suffering shows that we are on the right road – and that we can look forward to his return, look forward to when his glory is revealed.

 

Once again peter points us, doesn’t he, to that future perspective – to the motive- to the glory of God – we can get through the marathon, because we know the finish line is ahead.

 

2. Suffer for the right reasons (v14-16)

 

1 Peter 4:14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

 

But suffering isn’t always a sign of following Christ.  It depends why we’re suffering.  We can suffer because of our own actions – as verse 15 makes clear – we can suffer because we’ve done things wrong.  But if we’re suffering because of the name of Christ, if we’re suffering as a Christian, then God will uphold us by his spirit – and we can praise God, because we have been counted worthy to bear the name of his son Jesus Christ.  Christian – follower of Christ.

 

3. Know that Judgement is coming (v17-18)

 

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  18 And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"

 

What does it mean that judgement begins with the family of God?  It means that God judges us, tests and purifies us through painful trials.  But God’s judgement, which tests and refines those who know Christ as saviour and Lord, will be too much for those who do not know Christ.

 

We will all face suffering – all face testing and purifying – how will we respond?

 

4. Suffer and keep doing good (v19)

 

Look at verse 19:

 

1 Peter 4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

 

Verse 19 reminds us that we suffer according to God’s will.  God is in control.  This assures us that our suffering is limited, appropriate, and purposeful – like the suffer a marathon runner experiences, it gets us somewhere.

 

But it also reminds us that in the midst of suffering, we can continue to do good – we can continue to bring glory to God.  How?  By suffering for the right reasons, and by keeping the right focus, on the future.

 

 

Peter gives us two examples of how to bring Glory to God

 

We can bring glory to God as we serve, by doing what he wants us to do

 

We can bring glory to God as we suffer, by acting as he wants us to act

 

We keep our eyes fixed on the future, as we wait for the return of Christ – we keep ourselves focussed on the finishing line.  When we volunteer, we don’t do it for ourselves – we do it for others, we do if for Christ, and we fix our eyes upon Christ:

 

On the Mandate he gave us on earth

On the Model he gave us on the cross

On the Manner we have because he saved us

On the Motive we have, to work for his glory

 

And I’ve got one final M this morning – Movement.

 

I’m going to invite the wardens and other helpers to come round the church now, and invite you to fill in the Volunteer Revolution Cards…

 

Final prayer

 

James Hughes 20th March 2005