Putting Your Whole Self In

Putting Your Whole Self In

November 5th, 2017

Mark 12:38-44

And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

And he sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.”

My friends, we do not belong to ourselves alone. We were created to be in relationship, to be in many relationships, most particularly to be in relationship to God, to be his people, his children. Becoming adult is, in part, to give up the illusion that we belong only to ourselves. Adult Christians learn that, like the woman making her gift at the treasury, we are to put everything we have, our whole living into God’s service.

Sometimes we forget this because we are committed to too many things.

I love the story of the young man who walked into a card shop looking for an appropriate Christmas card for his girl friend. He asked the store clerk to pick out something for him that would express his very deep sentiment….She picked out the best selling card and gave it to the young man….It said simply, “To the only girl I have ever loved.” The young man said, “Terrific! Wonderful! I’ll take six of those!”
Now obviously, that young man had trouble getting focused on what commitments were important. Sometimes you and I do too!

But don’t let anyone ever let anyone tell you that being an adult Christian isn’t fun. Don’t let anyone tell you that being one who belongs to others isn’t fun. Don’t let anyone tell you that being one who puts everything into God’s service isn’t fun.

Actually, being an adult Christian has a lot in common with the Hokey Pokey. You know how to do the Hokey Pokey:
You put your left hand in
You take your left hand out
You put your left hand in
And you shake it all about
You do the hokey pokey
And you turn yourself around
That’s what it’s all about.

You didn’t get it did you? In fact, you are probably hoping dearly that the Hokey Pokey is not what it’s all about!

But listen: You start by putting some small part of yourself in, another small part in, until you put your whole self in, wherever you were headed, you turn yourself around, you turn to God, your life changes, and that is what it’s all about.

However, sometimes you and I have the commitment, but we aren’t ready to put the whole self in. Sometimes our commitment just isn’t strong enough.

I am told that when the missionaries began baptizing ancient barbarian Norsemen, those men would walk into the water with their swords held high, to be fully immersed with the exception of their swords and the arms that held them. The idea was that while they were baptized as Christians, their sword and the sword wielding arm were not baptized and so could continue to murder and maim. The one who told me this story suggested that the modern equivalent is the one who wants to be baptized but not his pocketbook.

I love the story of the young man who walked into a card shop looking for an appropriate Christmas card for his girl friend. He asked the store clerk to pick out something for him that would express his very deep sentiment….She picked out the best selling card and gave it to the young man….It said simply, “To the only girl I have ever loved.” The young man said, “Terrific! Wonderful! …

.. How much is it?” “3.95,” the clerk replied. “$3.95??! Forget it!”

The woman put into the treasury everything that she had, her whole living. Ruth went out one evening and gave herself completely to Boaz. In Hebrews we are reminded that Christ offered himself completely for our salvation. He didn’t just stick in an arm or a leg or a toe as if to test the bathwater. He put his whole self in, gave himself entirely for our salvation.

This morning, as many of us engage in the annual ritual of deciding how much of our income will go to God’s work through this church in 2018, I want to remind you that all of your giving to this church is both practical and symbolic.

It is practical because it enables the church to pay the church bills and it allows the church to engage in our primary purpose of proclaiming God’s love and grace. Without money the ship of faith would be dead in the water.

Your giving is also symbolic. It symbolizes the full commitment of your life and of my life to the purposes of the God and Father of Jesus Christ. We give a portion to symbolize the commitment of the whole, our lives, our loves. When you begin the Hokey Pokey you know where the song is leading. It begins with putting small parts of yourself in and you already know that in the end you will put your whole self in. That is the nature of Christian commitment. We may begin in small ways. God wants your full commitment, your entire self.

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