I met a fellow, and he said, “Ron, my name is Bill.” I guess it was the mood I was in. I said, “Oh no! I already have enough bills in my life.” What’s wrong with me? Well, maybe you’ve felt that way. I mean, what I said was probably true for both of us.
Did you ever find out that you had more bills than you thought? You know, you’ve written all the bills you thought you had, and yet you still have a little left in your checkbook. You say, “Hey, I think I’m finally winning this financial battle” and suddenly discover some unopened envelope with, of course, bills, or a stack in a drawer that you forgot to pull out; or maybe just a financial surprise in today’s mail or in your bank account. You know, whether you do it by writing checks or you do it digitally.
Suddenly you don’t feel as comfortable – as well off – as you did. You thought you were paid up, but your obligations were greater than you realized. Well, you had no business feeling well off, not with how much you still owed. You know, you and I have other obligations, more important obligations, and we might be feeling a whole lot better off than we really are.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “The Illusion of Winning.”
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the book of Amos, which you were probably just discussing over breakfast today. Right? But in those Minor Prophets in the Old Testament are some very challenging words.
Amos 6:1 – “Woe to you who are complacent in Zion.” Okay, first of all, what’s this Zion business? Well, let’s get that settled. Zion is God’s mountain in the Old Testament. It’s that mountain upon which the temple was built. And if you were on Mt. Zion, you would have felt very spiritually safe, surrounded by priests who were passing you on every side, a lot of sacred music you could hear, sacred places to visit, lots of believers all around you. And right on Zion it’s easy to feel like the whole world is going with God. But He reminds them in the book of Amos that they’re surrounded by enemies.
Now, today’s Zion is the Christian world that you and I are so involved in: Christian TV, and websites, and seminars, and music, and concerts, and conferences. We’ve got our own music, we’ve got a lot of heroes of our own, we’re in the headlines, we sit in our church and we feel like we’re winning. You know, I sometimes attend the National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention, and there are thousands there sometimes. Man, there you feel like you’re winning the world. But we’re not.
The Wall Street Journal once pointed out that if you’re in the evangelical subculture you know all its heroes, all its radio programs, you read its books. If you’re not in the evangelical world, you don’t even know that it exists. Could it be we’re complacent in Zion? That we’re talking mostly to ourselves? The lost people around us are I guess you could say “loster” and farther from Christ and the church than they’ve ever been. And there are more of them than there have ever been. It is the illusion of winning because we feel so strong when we’re in our Zion places.
We’ve got a massive job to do; an obligation – a bill unpaid to the world for which Christ gave His life. Paul said it in Romans 1, he was, “obligated to the lost; to not be ashamed of the Gospel – to get it to them.” This is not a time for feeling well off. This is a time for us to take risks, to launch out in new ways to reach our neighbors, to evaluate our church and our ministry in terms of its impact on the lost people for whom Jesus died and for whom He weeps. We shouldn’t be looking at our crowds or how many of ourselves we’re talking to, but how many lost people we’re talking to. What percentage are they? Not how many found people we’re talking to.
And it’s a personal issue. Am I, as one follower of Christ, sitting back and enjoying all of Zion’s goodies and feeling like I’m doing something? Or am I daily entering into the battle for the lives of the people around me?
Listen, we’ll celebrate when we get to heaven. That will be plenty of time. Right now it’s time to reach the lost through every possible means while there’s still time.