My name is Garrett Grubbs. I’m the College and Student Pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia where I have served the past 15 years. In my 20 years of student ministry, there have been a lot of changes in culture and in ministry. If I were to have a last message as a Student Pastor, it would be entitled “Reject and Embrace.”
First, reject the temptation to substitute a true relationship with your Heavenly Father for empty dead religion that will suck the life and joy out of who we are in Christ and what we are called to be and do. Too often I have found myself falling into that trap. The devotion to religion instead of a true relationship with God leaves us with legalistic, judgmental, and pharisaical attitudes directed towards other believers and the lost world around us. Dead religion will also render us ineffective for the cause of Christ and separate us from His mission of loving people with the pure love that should flow naturally through the life of a believer. Embracing a true relationship with the Lord is the antithesis of dead religion. When we truly know Him, we can’t help but to make Him known.
Second, reject culturally acceptable Christianity and instead completely embrace your new identity in Christ. We all struggle with the desire to blend into the environment. Christ was the most caring, compassionate, giving person that this world has ever seen and still this world rejected and eventually kills him. Jesus talked about the rejection that we would feel as a result of following Him. John 15:18-20, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” We have to daily make the choice to embrace who we are in Christ and seek to live life boldly regardless of what culture says.
Third, reject the temptation of self-sufficiency and instead truly rely on the Holy Spirit. John 15 tells us that it is impossible for us to live out the Christ-life apart from His spirit operating freely through but too often we try to do it in our own strength. Throughout scripture, God reminds us that His desire is a relationship with His children. Paul says in Philippians, if there is godly good coming from our lives it is a result of His spirit working through our lives. One of the primary things that we can pick up through the writings of Paul is that he never seemed to lose his gratitude for salvation and because of that, the mission of God was actively fulfilled through him. You can see it in his writings. Check out 1 Timothy 1:15-17, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason, I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” When we embrace the gift of the Holy Spirit and reject self-reliance amazing God-sized things will happen in and through us. Don’t miss these opportunities to be entrusted to do the Lord’s work as He reveals Himself in and through you as you fully rely on God.
Truly, the greatest thing that could be said of us at the end of our lives would be that people saw the character of Christ through our lives, people heard the message of the gospel from our lips, and the mission of God was fulfilled through our labor of love. Let’s embrace the Savior and die to self, forever impacting this world together.