Since I have preached series of sermons for the last 20+ years - most of the time I could tell you well in advance what I’m preaching. The exception comes sometimes between series when I am not ready for the new series to begin yet. For instance if a series ends one week and the next I am in town but the next out of town - then I don’t want to begin the series one week and miss the next. A similar thing happens sometimes with holidays and series. Well, I’ve been there a couple of weeks with us taking a summer break from our “Jesus’ Ministry: Then and Now” series and Mother’s Day. So last week I toyed with two sermons most of the week. I shared one with Melanie Tuesday night and she liked it but the other one wouldn’t leave me along! So I shared it with Melanie - kept unveiling more and more of it and finally she said: “How ‘bout that other one.” Which was her sweet way of saying that she didn’t think the second one was any good :). But this thought won’t leave me alone - so while it may not make the pulpit - YOU, loyal reader, get to endure it and weigh it.
You and I have both dealt with a lot of folks with agendas. They come in with a plan of something they want and chip away till either they get their way or get frustrated or angry and take their ax elsewhere. Most often when someone shows up with an agenda in the local church, someone it going to get hurt. I remember while I was working at Granny White and a young couple came our way who obviously had different ideas than the church there seemed to have - and over lunch one day he said, “I’m here cause I want to change some things. From his list it was obvious he would meet strong resistance and probably deep disappointment.” I had a friend who called me one time beyond the point of tears who shared that two new elders had been appointed two weeks before and he had been released that night. “They came in with an agenda to get me fired,” he said in a broken voice. I’ve been asked and I’ve been accused of having an agenda at times. Most people who play the agenda game seem to be wrapped up in themselves and in a knot of yuck.
Now, an agenda isn’t necessarily bad. Jesus had one: “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10 ESV). I’ve been in plenty of meetings where I wish there had been an agenda rather than anyone being able to bring up anything (there have been other times where I wished we’d scrapped the agenda and talk about what needed to be talked about).
Agendas. They can make us pretty miserable with the wrong one or without one at all.
How about if we determined to live life with a different agenda?
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
Love God with your all...love neighbor as yourself. What would it look like? What would a life with that look like?
1. No no held over grudges - you wouldn’t store up hurts of the past, they would just go over you because of love. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Imagine living this way. You’d just hurt less. There’d be less to keep up with. Your acid reflux at the sight of a person would go down. Your paranoia would decrease.
2. There’d be less pre-judging - you wouldn’t have to be suspicious of others intentions. “Love always trusts” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NCV). You’d stop being judges of evil thoughts (James 2:4). You could stop analyzing others and start enjoying them. There wouldn’t be a need for time to weigh each statement and would be more appreciation for the actions of others.
3. If someone needs help - you wouldn't debate it - I’ve already helped someone -I’m not sure I like that person - I don’t run in their circle - I’ve already done something - I am in charge of ____ so I don’t have to do ____. Instead you would just help them. And the feeling of just helping someone with no agenda is pure - and full of joy.
How freeing it would be to live this way. We experience it now and then: At Spring Meadows a call went out that some teachers at a local school needed help moving their classrooms. With a “hey, let’s do it” attitude and a simple request 25-30 folks showed up. And, it was just fun. Helping with no thought of what we might get in return. Word when out that a new person had moved to town and needed help moving. It was a holiday weekend but about 15-20 people were free enough to have a “hey, I’m in” attitude and the job got done in about an hour and a half. We needed help with picking up food in the Stamp out Hunger Food Drive. They had nothing personal to gain - none of the people involved needed food but over 100 people jumped in and picked 8-9000 pounds of food.
The interesting thing is when you live this way It always feels good - it is always rewarding. We are blessed people - why do we have to run about doing everything we do for ourselves - how about if we decided to begin to replace - what if we determined - we will replace here - we will provide here an opportunity that is not about self. We’ll find at least one time each week to do something for someone without any expectation of anything in return or we’ll find someone who we know we can’t get anything from and do something for them. Remember - it could be the giving of your time, talent and/or treasure. What would it teach your children if you set aside a time every week to mow a yard, deliver some food, make a visit, do something totally unexpected.
Change the agenda: “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). “(Jesus) went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).
We are blessed to bless...so bless. It will make your way better and life sweeter.