I love this man. The relaxed way in which he teaches, his love and passion for Jesus and his depth of theological knowledge all make for a compelling exhortation.
I’m happy to share this sermon with you. It is part of a series tagged “Spiritual Symmetry” and all episodes are available on YouTube.
This particular sermon is based on the topic: Solitude and Community.
As a Christian it is very easy to think that learning equates to maturity. But just because your thinking is developing does not mean you are maturing as a Christian in terms of character and relationships with people. Our character needs to reflect our learning for us to know that we are growing in Christ. What do we do with what we learn?
“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”1 Timothy 4:7-10 NIV
Growing and transforming as a Christian won’t just happen to you; you have to put some thought, intention and effort. Paul uses the word “exercise”.
Why would we seek to train, labor and strive? We should, because we have put our hope in the living God.
“Many of us don’t grow because we don’t intend to. We do not live with the intention to overhaul our lives over the next few decades in order to experience the empowerment and presence and life of Jesus more in our day-to-day lives. The reshaping of our character won’t happen overnight. It is a long-term deliberate exercise. We need to train ourselves into new ways of living. Learning is one way of growing as a Follower of Jesus but it is not the only way. We are shaped by our habits. If following Jesus is to be second nature/new nature, it’s also going to be by the adoption of new habits in our lives.”
He spoke about the importance of solitude – when we deliberately step away from everyone and everything to focus on God and commune with him. Going through the book of Luke, Mackie highlights crucial instances where Jesus went into solitude. This is one of them:
“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”Luke 5:15-16 NIV
He then goes on to pose the question: What do we find through the practice of Christ-filled solitude? We find Focus and Freedom.
Focus – We need to create moments in our lives on a regular basis where we have absolutely no stimulation whatsoever coming in our direction so that we can discern the presence and the person and the reality of Jesus in our lives. If we can’t do this, it is nearly impossible to grow as a follower of Jesus.
Freedom – We are constantly under social pressures to be and do certain things so that people will see and think certain things about us. Solitude frees us from that. We don’t have to be or do anything other than be with Jesus.
Woah! Didn’t realize I had written this much already. Goes to show how packed this sermon is. I pray you’re able to make time to watch it.
Delight yourself in the Lord, dear friend!