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“Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” That is the old statement from Confucius, a Chinese philosopher that lived about 500 years before Christ. “Choose a job you love.” That is something that is hard for many of us to do, isn’t it? We choose a job that we THINK we are going to love, but after doing the same thing over and over again we start to lose some of that luster and excitement for the work that we do. Sometimes we are just not sure of what the full scope of the job is. As we learn more and more about the nitty gritty of what it takes to do that job that we have wanted to do for so long, that childhood dream job, sometimes we start to change our mind. A case in point, according to the National Center for Education, 80% of college students change their major at least once, and on average a college student will change their major three times in their college career. Three times in a short little four to five year period.
While the studies aren’t very precise, an average working adult in the United States is said to change their career five to seven times throughout their working life, and change jobs roughly every four and a half years. “Chose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” If only we could find a job that we love!
A pastor. This is my job. This is what I am training to be. This will be part of my job, God willing, down the road. My job is taking time throughout the week studying the Bible, looking at all of the different readings, praying about the text, thinking about the text all week, so on Sundays I can stand up here and talk to you about God’s Word. That is just part of my job. There are many other great parts of my job that I get to do, too. Last summer, training for my job included going to a camp in Leadville, Colorado, at Rocky Mountain Christian Camp and working with over 150 teenagers who love and worship the same God I do. Everyday we had multiple devotions, and we had workshops throughout the week that helped us grow in our faith. That was amazing. One day up there my job was to help 45 of them climb to the top of the tallest mountain in Colorado, Mount Elbert, over 14,000 feet and see the vast beauty of God’s power and creation. That was an amazing part of my job.
A pastor does many other things too. Part of the pastor’s job is to get to know you. To be your friend, your spiritual advisor, to be with you through the ups and downs of your life, and to see how God works through all of it. That is a part of the job of being a pastor that I am looking forward to. It is something that I am sure Pastor Raasch looks forward to. Along with that, the pastor has the job of teaching many of you from portions of scripture in Bible classes, or study groups, or special events, or Catechism. That is part of my job that I love.
I am looking forward to starting my job. But that doesn’t mean it is always easy, or there are days that are not work. It has been that way for a long time. You see, as I study God’s Word, and as anyone who studies God’s Word understands, not everything is sunshine and lollipops. By desiring to have the job of being a pastor I realize I have signed up to speak the truth, which is not always easy. Peter and John were imprisoned in our reading from Acts for preaching the the Word of God. And Jesus, who was preaching the true Word of God and warning the people, was driven away from his hometown. Sometimes there are hard messages that we have to tell people.
It is not always fun to tell people bad news or to tell people a tough message. I don’t know how many of you have had to deliver really difficult news to someone, but it is not something that people normally would say that they love. But that is part of my job too – to preach the law. To call people out on their sins. To tell people when they stray from the path that God has called us to. It’s the pastor’s job to tell a people that what they have chosen to do in their life is wrong according to what God says. It’s the shepherd’s job to chase after the wandering sheep. People don’t normally like people that do that. People don’t normally love the guy that tells them, “Your life decisions are against what your God says is right. Your logic for justifying your sin is flawed. You are wrong.”
Who likes the guy that keeps telling us that what we are doing is wrong? The tattle tale? The know it all? Mr. Technicality? The buzz kill? Mr. Holier-than-thou? Not great names. And what is the easiest thing to do to they guy that keeps calling you out ,the guy that keeps telling you that you are sinner, the person who will not stop pestering you about your sins? Take him down a notch! Right? Get him down to our level, knock that hypocrite off his high horse. We are all sinners. Every last one of us. All of us are beggars that have made many mistakes in our life, and we are all asking for forgiveness. All of us have done wrong, And all of us need to be instructed, reminded, and at times reprimanded for what we are doing. All of us need to be knocked from our secure position of thinking that we are something special in this world and that God loves us because of who we are. It is easy for us to be tricked into thinking that because we are who we are, or because we are members at a certain church, or because of what we do with our lives, that that’s why God chose to love us.
That’s part of the pastor’s job too. To tell people that they don’t deserve God’s love any more than the worst people that have ever lived on this planet. That’s hard to do. But it’s something that I love too.
This is nothing new. This is the same thing that Nehemiah was doing in our Old Testament lessons almost 2500 years ago. “They (the preachers) read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.”
The message of the Law, while it may cause pain or anger, is spoken so that we can start to understand what God’s true love for us is. The Law is spoken to kill that sinful part of us that thinks, “I deserve God’s love.” The law kills that sinful part which is inside all of us. There is this sinful side of us that tricks us into believing that we do something to earn God’s love. We preach the Law so that we can understand and cherish the Gospel message. When we understand that we are sinners with no chance of a Savior, then we can understand how amazing Paul’s words are in Titus 3:5, where he sums all of this up beautifully: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” When we understand how much we need from God, then we see how valuable this life changing Gospel message is. We are free from our sins!
This is part of my job, too: To remind you that you are a saved, chosen, holy and blameless child of God because the blood of Jesus purifies you from every sin. I love that. How could you not? How could you not love being able to tell someone that all of their sins, all of their guilt has been paid for regardless of anything that they have done in their life? How could you not love telling anyone that there is an all powerful God that knows every little thing you have ever done in your life and every thought that has ever crossed your mind, and still loves you unconditionally with a love that is higher than every mountain and deeper than any sea? How could you not enjoy that? How could you not love the fact that you can honestly and with complete certainty tell someone that no matter what hardship and troubles or pain they have gone through in this life, those are only temporary and there is an eternity of happy, painless, and perfect bliss waiting for them on the other side of death?
How could you keep that news to yourself? This my job to tell people these things. The words and truths that are found in the Bible. But it’s also your job too. It is your job while you on this earth, no matter what your vocation is, no matter what your career is, it is every Christian’s job to tell people about this wonderful love that God has for his creation. Who wouldn’t love that? And if it’s something we love, isn’t it worth all the work?
Yes there will be times that it is going to be hard. There are going to be times that you are going to have to confront someone who is going against God’s path and tell them what they are doing is wrong. You will have to let you brother or sister know that what they are doing is not what God wants them to do. You will have to tell them that sin causes death. And that is what we all deserve. But then you get to tell people about Jesus. You get to tell people what he has done for you and them. You get to tell them that you are a redeemed child of God and your place is secure in heaven. And you receive all of these amazing blessings without any work; just through faith in him. That is part of your job on this earth – telling the world that Jesus has saved the world from sin. He did this simply because of his amazing, inspiring, unparalleled love for you. Many of us in this room have different jobs or careers. But all of us have one job in common: telling the world about what our Savior has done for us. Choose the job of telling about Jesus’ love, and continue to work at it every day in your life. Amen.