Romans 12:1- 8
September begins in 4 days. It is unlikely that is news to you. Even if the looming school year isn’t already turning your schedules from summer agendas to fall schedules, the numerous advertisements filling printed pages, internet sites, and the airwaves are already pushing us into a new season. Sales and displays already leaving the green of summer and moving into the earth tones and bright oranges and reds of fall. Halloween decorations and treats already available for us to purchase.
My summer flew by, filled with a variety of ministry and other responsibilities. Already feeling over scheduled and busy beyond hours in the day, the idea of a “fuller” fall schedule seems a bit overwhelming.
I suspect a new school year, ongoing harvests, the upcoming rummage and chowder sale, pie baking, Applefest, as well as more meetings and increased worship and study opportunities at church, have you looking at your calendars wondering if there is room to add anything else.
Busyness may have all of you a bit overwhelmed as well.
We have turned to scriptures over the past couple of weeks to consider how to deal with being overwhelmed with expectations and with worry. This week we look to the passages from Matthew and Romans to find some ways to handle the busyness of our lives that threatens to overwhelm us.
Our schedule and “to do” list is likely full of important and very important items. If we name them one by one we can make a case for giving them each the amount of time we have designated. Unable to remove or reduce any item there.
Anyone who had taken the Franklin Covey time management workshop knows that such an assessment on our part isn’t valid. Some of the items are urgent but not important, some of them important and not urgent, others. Important and urgent, and we need assessment tools to figure out which is which. That doesn’t mean which ones we like to do the most, which we find the easiest to do, or the ones others are pushing us the hardest to make a priority. It means allocating time to the things that best fit our overall goals and values and to those which are effective and meaningful.
As Jesus talks to his Disciples, he asks them who others say he is and who they say he is. It is the answer to the second question which will determine how they personally prioritize their busyness throughout their ministry. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter responds.
If I asked you who you say Jesus is this morning I expect your answer would be a variation of that statement of faith.
Peter declares Jesus to be the Messiah. Jesus points out that no one of flesh and blood can figure that out on their own, but that knowledge only comes through God the Father. Jesus also declares that his church is stronger than anything that comes against it, even the realm of the dead, even the busyness that threatens to overwhelm those who are part of the church.
We declare Jesus to be the Messiah, informed by the Holy Spirit, and nothing can come against us, even our busy schedules. Yet it seems that is exactly what happens: we are late for school or work and so we let devotions slide for a day, or two, or three. We had a really hectic week so we put off making that phone call to someone we promised to check in on, we decide to forgo dropping off a meal for someone who is sick; they aren’t expecting it anyway.
Worship in any form, at any time, needs to fit into the schedule. A kind word, a generous gesture, a gift of our talents, something we share if convenient.
When we declare with Peter that Jesus is the Messiah, transformation of our lives requires that we live what we declare. The words fall empty without the depth of faith and the overflowing of the Grace and Holy Spirit we receive into every part of our being, and then out into the world.
Peter declared Jesus as Son of God with all aspects of his life, with how he ordered his life and used his gifts of preaching and healing.
Paul writes to the Romans about what worship looks like when we receive God’s grace through Christ Jesus.
We offer ourselves a living sacrifice
We don’t judge others
We use our God given gifts to build up the entire body of Christ.
Paul calls us to worship by offering God our bodies and all that we do with them daily. As citizens of God’s kingdom, our priorities shift to those things which incorporate Christlike behaviors, ethics, and actions. J.B Phillips’ translation of verse 2 says: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.”
Paul shows us that confessing that Jesus is the Son of God requires us to surrender our busyness to Him. Every item we add to our schedule, every obligation we accept, every job and every hobby, every agenda filtered through its embodiment of Christ’s character. Every choice and allocation of time based on the gifts God gives us. Every relationship centered on the understanding that our gifts help us work together to bring the kingdom of God into a hurting world.
Sometimes things evaluated this way won’t be important or urgent, others will move to the top of the priority list because they are both urgent and important by this standard. Sometimes some reorganization and new order of things allows most items to stay on our busy schedule.
When I went to college I had mandatory chapel three times a week. Sunday morning worship was not mandatory and no one was taking attendance and sending a record back home to my parents. I tried sleeping in a couple of Sundays my freshman year and found I missed being with others in worship. I joined the choir and made choir rehearsal and Sunday morning worship a priority. Even when exams and papers loomed I kept that personal commitment to myself. What I found was that all the other things fell into place. That committing a couple of hours a week to using my gifts and joining in corporate worship didn’t diminish the time I had to do the things necessary to complete my education or to have some “me” time.
That pattern has continued over the years. The weeks that I make sure the devotional and prayer time in my schedule comes before anything else, what is truly important “kingdom building” stuff gets done and the stuff I only thought was important takes care of itself. It is a lesson I don’t always remember and that is when I can become overwhelmed by busyness.
Paul reminds us that God provides everyone in the body of Christ gifts to build up the body of Christ. We are all important to the work of the kingdom. Sometimes we don’t recognize our gifts, sometimes others have a difficult time seeing them because of perceptions and histories, but that does not eliminate their existence or our responsibility for sharing them to their fullest potential. Those gifts also help us focus our busyness. Putting our gifts to use building the kingdom and encouraging others to us their gifts for that purpose eliminates the pressure to be all things to all people and to take on every job. It allows the body to function as God designed it.
Do-it-All Christianity. Occasional Christianity. Negative Christianity. Doubt ridden and excuse making Christianity. Self-determined priority Christianity. Are NOT Christianity in the terms Peter and Paul set before us.
As we organize the busyness of our lives if we consider Christ priorities and our God given gifts the things that need doing will get done and the others are best left to others. This way of keeping busyness from becoming overwhelming does not mean that you must attend every worship and study opportunity, or that you need to sequester yourself into a monastery.
It means that in standing with Peter to identify Jesus as the Son of God you are called to a transformed life that replaces world-driven, self-selected schedules for Christ-led agendas every day.
 Book of Romans Sermon Starters Week 13 Discipleship Ministries