Part 6

1 John 2:12-17 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

John 16:25-33 (Jesus to his twelve disciples shortly before His betrayal) "These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father." His disciples said, "Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God." Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

When it comes to personal satisfaction, Americans have an important love affair with speed. Though the speed limit on highways is 55 to 65 in this region of the country, we insist on owning cars that go twice that fast. We want food fast. If the food does not come as fast as we think it should in a restaurant, we will not go back to that place. If we make a purchase that involves a lot of money, we want possession of what we buy "right now." If we have to wait, we complain--and want to know why our wait was necessary!

We expect "one hour development" for our film. Yet, better still is to go digitial--we like to see the picture we just made. We want the oil and filter changed in our cars and trucks in less than 30 minutes. We want a convenient ATM close to where we live. We love convenience in stores. We hate waiting in line. Most states have removed waiting periods for a marriage to occur. We have made it as convenient as possible to divorce quickly. We not only want a cure for an illness; we want a fast cure.

This society [and some others] wants gratification "now." We just do not want it; we demand it. It is our right! Some of the most popular commercial words and phrases in our society are "fast acting," "instant relief," "immediate delivery," "quick service," and "no waiting."

All wars involving us should be fast, bloodless, and pose no danger to the American people. All jobs need to consider the needs of the workers above everything else. The highest form of responsibility is responsibility to self. As we say, "You owe it to yourself."

The American worldview is "immediate gratification." The Christian worldview is "delayed gratification."

Tonight I want us to consider a huge topic in just a few minutes.

  1. Gratification basically is the pursuit of something that brings satisfaction.
    1. In this society, gratification is the pursuit of things that bring me personal satisfaction.
      1. In this country, being a teenager is often about seeking what makes "me" happy.
      2. In this country, dating is often about seeking what makes "me" happy by providing "me" satisfaction.
      3. In this country, marriage is often about "me" being happy in a lifestyle that satisfies "me".
      4. In this country, one of the most important qualities of a job is "my satisfaction" in the context of "my sense of personal fulfillment."
      5. In this country, quality of life is commonly considered everything.
    2. While we often laugh at some ideas, it seems to me that our laughter regarding personal satisfaction is often a mask for realities we do not care to consider seriously.
      1. For example, all of us most likely have heard or asked the question, "Are we having fun yet?"
      2. In this society "having fun" is the ultimate expression on personal satisfaction.
      3. If we are not having fun, we are being deprived of what many regard as a personal right, and we get depressed.
      4. Many think, "It is my right to be happy, and I cannot be happy if I am not having fun."
      5. Thus if we look at someone and say, "That is no fun!" we are basically saying, "You cannot be happy living that way because that way of life is not fun, and if there is no fun, happiness is an impossibility."
    3. In some societies, people live in the knowledge they will never have what they want-in fact they rarely think about what they want because they spend most of their thinking time trying to determine how to survive.
      1. Some of us have lived through times in which it was quite unlikely that the common person would have what he or she wanted.
      2. Many of us have lived through times that declared maybe someday in the distant future we might have what we want.
      3. Now most of us live in a time when we want what we want yesterday because today is not soon enough.
    4. I truly feel sorry for adults who marry having never experienced anything but prosperity.
      1. I have three children 42, 40, and 37--thus I speak as a parent who has thought about this.
      2. Have you added up the cost a newly wed couple faces today when they begin life together?
        1. A house or apartment?
        2. Furniture, appliances, television, CD player, microwave, etc.?
        3. One maybe two road worthy cars?
        4. Clothes for job or career?
        5. Recreational equipment?
      3. If you have lived all your memory life in a prosperous home, those things are just "normal living."
        1. So what the couple expects from the first day of marriage is to "live normally."
        2. One of the biggest threats to new marriages is expense!
    5. An essential part of the credit mentality in this and other Western societies is this: "I cannot wait until I can afford to buy what I want [need]. Therefore I will give you a part of what I plan to make in the future to have what I want [need] right now."
      1. Too many of us cannot understand the concept of delayed gratification.
      2. Too many of us insist on having immediate gratification.
      3. "If you will give me the personal satisfaction that I want right now, I will pay you for that satisfaction for years and years."
    6. We think that the key to happiness in this life is having the things you want.
      1. That is not true!
      2. Many are surrounded with the things they want and are very unhappy!
      3. Happiness involves much, much more than merely surrounding ourselves with the things we want!

  2. This world [I am speaking of physical existence in this physical environment] is basically evil.
    1. To think that there is an existence in this physical world that will provide me an existence of daily fun through a satisfying lifestyle is to be deceived.
      1. There is no way that everything in physical existence is going to be "okay" in the sense of always working out just exactly like we want it.
        1. I am not trying to be pessimistic, I am trying to get you to think honestly.
        2. I am surely not saying that there are not many thoughtful, caring people.
        3. I am saying that we cannot and must not equate God's blessings with physical benefits.
        4. Just look among us--and my perspective is to consider the people in this congregation good people who care about others.
          1. There are lots of widows and widowers here, and most of them represent a commitment story of love.
          2. There are lots of single, divorced people here, and everyone of them represent a broken heart.
          3. There are lots of blended families here, and many in those situations have memories they would prefer never to think about.
          4. There is lots of premature deaths here that represent accidents, diseases, and sickness we do not like to think of as being part of godly people's experiences.
          5. There is a lot of financial struggle and disappointment here when physically things are anything but okay.
          6. There is a lot of disappointment and heartache here--most of us could tell a sad story that is completely true.
      2. If we think that we someday in this world are going to achieve a fulfilling lifestyle in which everything is wonderful, we are setting ourselves up for a major spiritual crisis.
    2. There are two basic ways to look at physical existence.
      1. One way is to view humanity as basically good.
        1. We can go about doing good as Jesus did because people make it easy to do good.
        2. When people are less than good, that is the rare exception, not the rule.
      2. One view is humanity is basically evil.
        1. If people are left to do as they please, they collectively will sink to their lowest common denominator.
        2. Humanity's appetite for pleasure, appetite for greed, appetite for power, and appetite for selfishness continually will move it in a downward spiral.
      3. We live in the most prosperous, free society on earth--what we have is the envy of the world.
        1. Yet, everyone of us has to account for injustice in this society.
        2. Everyone of us have to account for spouse abuse in this society.
        3. Everyone of us have to account for child abuse and child neglect in this society.
        4. Everyone of us have to account for pornography, affairs, casual sex, and adultery in this society.
        5. Everyone of us have to account for theft, blue collar crime, dishonesty, financial scams, and violent crime in this society.
      4. How do you explain a people having the highest standard of living in the world and being so unjust in their actions at the same time?

  3. To be Christian is to understand God's promise of delayed gratification.
    1. We will not make this physical world "heaven on earth."
      1. Instead we prepare to be part of an existence in which there is no evil.
      2. In that existence people will never be used or neglected in order to acquire things.
      3. People will be valued because they are in the image of God.
    2. Yes, Christians want to be God's light and preserving power for good in this world.
      1. However, many in this world do not want what God offers--they prefer the pleasures of evil.
      2. There are consequences to doing evil, but the gratification is immediate.
      3. There are consequences to doing good, and the gratification is greater, but it is delayed.

I want you to consider two readings as we close.

1 Peter 2:9-12 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Hebrews 11:13-16 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

We exist to encourage people to belong to God. That is our purpose. However, we do not belong here, and never will.

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 12 March, 2006

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