Last week, I gave a 35 minute message at San Jose State University. Here is the original script and presentation slides.
ADVANCING GOD’S KINGDOM by Being Extraordinary
Why are we here?
One of the greatest freedoms in our country is that you are entitled to believe anything you want. Many of our friends believe that humans are simply a link in some random evolutionary chain where humans miraculously became the top dog in survival of the fittest. We believe in something else. The Bible specifically teaches: Your existence has purpose.
So why would a perfect God create us? He certainly doesn’t need us. My understanding is because God is love.
“God is love. If you live in love, you live by the help of God and God lives in you.”
1 John 4:8, 16
One of the most obvious qualities of love is that love has to give and share of itself. If this is so, then the very nature of God would be to desire to share everything good He is and has. And if you guys have hung out with authentic people who love Christ, you know that we believe that Jesus sacrificed His life so that we may have an amazing relationship with Him. We are called to do the same. Live a life of sacrifice and selflessness for the sake of others. It’s not easy.
So that’s why we’re here. That’s why we go to church every week – b/c if it was easy to live a Godly life, and we were loving all the time – we wouldn’t need church. But yes, let’s assume we are loving. But to who? Our friends? Our family? Sure. But what about everyone else? To share His love means to advance His Kingdom. Not to just hang out with people who think like you. But to go out and be with those who do NOT think like you.
A lot of you know this prayer but I challenge you to analyze this:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Notice these words:
YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.
This is your mandate. You guys have eyes and ears. The majority of this world doesn’t look like heaven. But that’s where you and I have purpose – we are His ambassadors. As believers in Christ, we have something called the Holy Spirit – our connection to heaven. And with this Holy power, you are given specific talents, gifts, passions – you were created to do amazing things. You are called to be where you are now – these days, it’s San Jose State University. In a few years, it could be at a corporation. Or a non-profit. Or at home. With loved ones. With people you can help in ways you never knew possible.
So what’s so great about God’s Kingdom?
Every citizen of God’s Kingdom is entitled to something we call salvation. It’s probably the most popular answer. But there are 3 aspects to salvation that are worth analyzing – b/c these are the very things that differentiate us from those who are NOT citizens of God.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, but the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body
When I read these words, I know…
- I will be saved
- Someday in Heaven I will be totally free from everything that sucks on earth.
- I will be made perfect.
Heaven is something great to look forward to! Everyone talks about it! Honestly, I can’t relate to this so much. I have no clue what heaven is like other than it is “perfect” and that Jesus lives there. Sounds cool. But I’m only in my 30’s. I’ve just started my adult life! Even though I’m still mistaken as a teenager who gets carded for Rated-R films (this happened to me last Sunday when I watched Paranormal Activity 3)… I have to think, there is so much life ahead of me. There is hope.
Anyone can be made right with God by the free gift of His loving-favor. It is Jesus Christ Who bought them with His blood and made them free from their sins.
When I read these words, I know…
- I have been saved
- I am now delivered from my guilt and whatever would cause me to feel guilty.
- I am acceptable to God. He has declared it.
This is the past tense. For those who are constantly paralyzed in their lives b/c of something in the past that happened, this aspect of salvation is super-important. You have been saved. You are acceptable to God. Remember this when you feel ashamed, inept, unworthy. The Creator of the Universe still loves you and you know exactly why – because He died for us.
But the third one, is my all-time favorite aspect of salvation. So go ahead and read this one. B/c this is in the NOW. And by being in the present, you can SEE, TOUCH, TASTE, and FEEL this aspect of salvation when you really think about it.
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18
When I read these words, I know…
- I am being saved
- I am becoming progressively freed from all the crap in my life – Christians call that sin.
- I am being transformed through my daily obedience to God.
Raise your hand if you struggle with sin. Yes, everyone one of you should raise your hand. If you’re not, you’re sinning already! lol The beauty of Christianity is that faith is not just about the past or the future. It’s what you do now and who you are becoming.
It’s kinda common sense but it’s worth spelling out. If you’re spending time and energy on good things, then by default, you are NOT wasting time or energy on the bad things. So when you find yourself having spare time to sin, you have another WWJD opportunity to do something extraordinary in advancing God’s Kingdom.
So a lot of you can relate to these three aspects of salvation. Who wouldn’t want to have the power, benefits and joys from God’s Kingdom? These are the 3 reasons why you are who you are today. And they are also the same reasons why you should share the joy in salvation with those who don’t know Christ.
How do I Advance God’s Kingdom?
Live a Kingdom-Filled life (WWJD = Love)
You all know the basics. The essentials. Something you hear every time you go to church.
Pray (connect with God). Read the Bible (know God). Serve (loving others is serving others).
We just covered Christianity 101. But these are extremely important. If you don’t constantly live through the basics, the advanced stuff won’t matter.
Be a Multiplier, Not a Diminisher
You’ll be sharing life with lots of people, if not already with this mission to advance God’s Kingdom. Someday, if not already, you’ll be leaders. People who have the power to influence others. And when you guys are managing others, or collaborating with others, you’re going to find challenges. And when you face these challenges, you need to ask yourself: am I Multiplier or a Diminisher?
A multiplier is someone who empowers people to mulitply their productivity. This comes through many incentives but the results are clear – you multiply work. This could be God’s work!
A diminisher is someone who limits people and diminishes their productivity. This comes through other forms of incentives but the results are clear – even if you are productive, your actions are draining people and hindering them from giving 100% (if even 10%) of their best.
We’ve been on both sides of this role. Think of a boss or your parents! Have they ever fit the Multiplier role? Made you want to work harder to improve yourself? Or have they sucked the life out of you and just made you rage?
So that’s with bosses and parents. But in the end, how in the heck do you deal with difficult people? These could be people who don’t know Christ, or oh my gosh, what if these difficult people are Christians!? Have you ever had problems with a fellow Christian? Unheard of, I know! Anyway, Christian or not, Rick Warren has a name for these people: EGR – Extra Grace Required. His joke is that if you don’t know any, you’re probably an EGR!
So, how do you deal with difficult people?[GO THROUGH ALL SIX STEPS. Then ask a volunteer to go through each step on the 2nd exercise.]
If you are going to make any changes in this world, you need to provide value to those you wish to influence. Not only do you have to be someone people can trust but someone who has the competence to actually help. That means build up your skills now. Any skills. A lot of you already know what you want to be when you grow up. Others have no clue. Well, let me tell you – light bulb moment or not, do SOMETHING productive now. Don’t waste your time with TV. Balance out your social time with friends with an actual skill you can develop. Have you ever wondered why people can’t land jobs? Sure, blame the economy. Blame the government.
But why is that exceptional people still get hired today? Oh, it’s b/c they’re exceptional! That should be every single one of you in this room. If you are a citizen of God, you have every right to God’s power and His blessing on you. Tap into this power. How? Pray about it. Pray for focus. Pray for discipline. He will HELP you. I often found he helped me by introducing the right people at the right time. But that required a step on my part too – I needed to seek good people. Where can you find people? Well, for starters, church! People who go to church are supposed to advance God’s Kingdom, anyway, right? And of all the places, I pray that your church shows symptoms of being part of God’s Kingdom by providing opportunities where you can make a difference.
Anyway, back to relevance – here are some practical indicators that you are relevant to your peers and society:
You do exceptional work at school and through extracurricular activities. Whether it’s from a teacher, a pastor, or a manager, you want to leave such an awesome footprint in their lives that they would LOVE to contribute to your success. They can do this through a letter of recommendation.
Another outlet is focusing on a project that you have passion for. Something to build. People to serve. Making an impact on a place or organization. Community service.
If you do these two mentioned things, you will most likely already build your reputation. People will notice that your’re different than the average college student. Maybe someone might point out and say, “oh my god.. I think he’s Christian.” No one says that. But they may ask you why do you do what you do. And I often respond saying, “Because I know my life is meant to do things beyond myself.” This usually makes them more curious and that’s when I share what I know and what I’ve experienced from Jesus.
The last thing is something that I recommend to every ambitious Christian. Blog. Blogging is the portal where anyone can tap into who you are and what you do. It’s not invasive b/c you’re not advertising and shoving your content down people’s throats. This is your home on the Internet. People can choose to read or not. But it’s who you are. I’m encouraged to publish content where it prompts a reaction. Preferably a positive one that will make them want to follow-up with me. If you are extraordinary in person, people will want to get to know you better. They will add you on Facebook, twitter and the like. And if they are aware of a web site or blog you own, this is your opportunity to reveal more of who you are: a person who has an authentic relationship with Christ. If they like you, then by default, they will be curious about some guy named Jesus.
Did you know social media is super-important today? Sure, it can totally screw you over if you’re reckless enough to post inappropriate content on the Internet. But think of the positives – think about the potential. You guys do amazing work for the Lord here at Pulse. Why not share this love on your own blog? Think about those who you follow online. What do they do that prompts you to follow them?
We, as Christians, need to be just as relevant.
In the end, how far are you willing to go?
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
Go all out. God is with you every step of the way.