Purpose to Our Lives
God’s Theatre and His Players
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
If you know anything about Shakespeare you probably know what the Globe Theatre is. The Globe Theatre is the theatre that Shakespeare built for his players in Stratford-upon-Avon. They are building a new Globe Theatre at the moment in London. The Globe Theatre was built like a round tower that had a proscenium stage that stuck out into the middle. It was planned for his plays. Shakespeare obviously spent some time designing the Globe Theatre and having it built.
Now can you imagine what would have happened if he had designed the theatre, supervised the building of it, at last got it built, and then gone back with Anne Hathaway and lived the rest of his life quietly and done nothing more. You would say, “Well, he wouldn’t be Shakespeare. We wouldn’t know of him, we wouldn’t have his plays. He would have missed the whole point of his life if all he had done was build that theatre. That theatre is only a place where his plays could be acted and all civilization would have missed the whole gift that God gave to us in Shakespeare if he had only built the theatre. The only reason for the theatre is that it was a place where his plays could be acted out.”
It’s very easy, to think without business Christian Corps wouldn’t exist. That’s right. Christian Corps in a way is business. Business is our ministry. But it’s very easy then to think, “Ah, that’s why I’m in Christian Corps. I’m in Christian Corps to do the things that Christian Corps does. I’m in Christian Corps to carry on business. I’m in Christian Corps to help run things here, to keep the garden organized, to keep the house clean. I’m in Christian Corps to design jewelry and sell jewelry. I’m in Christian Corps to take part in prayer times and take part in services. I’m in Christian Corps to do all the things that Christian Corps does.” If that’s what you think, then that is like Shakespeare building his theatre and then going home and doing nothing else.
It’s very easy to fall into that trap. Because I think we all like to control (and I know it sounds ridiculous), but we like even to control our own service of God. We like to be able to control our own discipleship and in a way that’s what we can do if we make the main purpose of our life doing the things that Christian Corps apparently does. That is, if the big thing in our minds is, “Well, I have to sell Jewelry today in Edinburgh.” Or, “I have to sell Jewelry today in London.” Or, “I have to get to the warehouse and get out this amount of shipping.” Or, “I have to get to the Garden Café and make these dishes to serve these people, and then I have, and then I have, and then I have.” And if my whole mind and heart is filled with those things then I’m like Shakespeare building a theatre and never putting on a play. Because that’s not what you’re here for at all and it’s certainly not what I’m here for.
If you say to me, “Isn’t it vital for Christian Corps that we have businesses?” Yes, it is. If you say to me, “Isn’t part of the Christian Corps ministry the newsletter?” Yes, I agree. If you say to me, “Isn’t part of Christian Corps prayer times and chapel?” Yes, it is. But after you’ve done all of that you still have not begun the real purpose for which God made you. He did not make you to be fodder for Christian Corps guns. He did not make you to be workers for Christian Corps or for Fish Enterprises. He did not make you so you could run the radio programs in China. He did not make you so that you could run the jewelry operation. Each one of us here in this room have been created so that a certain person could live a life that he cannot live through anybody else. That’s the whole reason for us being together. All the rest of the things we do, they’re just a framework, they’re just a Globe Theatre.
But the whole purpose for your existence and for my existence is so that the Savior could actually live his life in your name here on earth and that’s a very different task. You may say, “Well yes, that sounds great and I’m really for it.” But I think deep down we’re not so much for it as we think. It means you letting Jesus speak what he wants to speak and think what he wants to think through you. I think there’s a danger of us listening to that and saying, “Well yes, you’ve said that before and I know that. I am to live by the principles of Christ. I understand that it’s not just coming to prayers, it’s not coming to chapel, it’s not running the businesses, it’s not keeping the garden organized, it’s not keeping the house clean, and it’s not having meals together. It’s that I must live the way Jesus wants me to live.”
Do you see that that’s why Paul said, “I live yet not I, but Christ lives within me.” It’s very easy for us to say, “I live,” and not to say, “Yet not I.” It’s very easy for us to say, “I live by Christ’s principles, that’s what I have to do here. I have to study what Jesus wants to do with a guy like me, or what Jesus wants to do with a woman like me, and that’s what I’ve to do.”
No, no, because that’s still you. It’s still you trying to do it. It’s you trying to work out, “Now, what would Jesus do?” In our teenage years in Belfast, we used to say, “That’s how I decide whether a thing is right or wrong. I ask, “What would Jesus do?” That sounded so solid and so right. But it’s not that because it’s still you in the middle. It’s still you thinking, “Now, it’s really my life here but what would Jesus do if he were me?” It’s still that kind of attitude where we need a consultant. “Lord, come in I need your help here. What should I do in this situation?”
I don’t know if that’s present in your life but I was surprised how much of that attitude was in me. That’s really what we mean by living by the law. A lot of us think that living by the law is living by the 10 Commandments in fear of a mighty God that is going to strike you down if you disobey. Or, living by the law is trying to live by all the laws of evangelism, or all the laws of the Jewish Torah. No, living by the law is you yourself doing the living — trying to live by whatever advice you’re receiving either from the Bible or what you believe you’re receiving somehow from Christ. But, it’s you doing the living, it’s not Jesus.
In other words, letting Jesus live in you means a very intimate immediate awareness of the Savior, an awareness of Christ. Indeed, it’s such an awareness that you forget yourself. It’s such an awareness that he’s the only one you’re thinking of. You’re forced to say with Paul, “For me to live is Christ.” That’s what living is, to Christ. Thinking is Christ, breathing is Christ, speaking is Christ, talking is Christ, working is Christ, walking is Christ, driving is Christ. To me to live is Christ. That’s what living is. Christ is everything to me, he is my whole world. He is the world within which I exist. He is the atmosphere in which I move.” That’s what it means — a very intimate, sensitive closeness. You can’t say closeness because it’s closer than breathing. It’s the fact that he’s here, he’s all around me. It’s him when I put out these hands, I’m putting out his hand, his hand is there. That’s what affects our living together.
The reason we can say something critical about somebody else, or what is worse is thinking something critical because the mind is where the real problem is. The real problem isn’t thinking. The acting and the speaking is just a consequence of the thinking and the attitude. So if the attitude is critical, or the thoughts are critical it’s because at that moment we have said, “Get lost. I think this is about this person and I have the right to think this about this person and this is my considered opinion and it makes me feel good anyway to be able to see some fault in somebody else that I apparently haven’t got and so that’s what I’m going to do.” And for that second, even a half
second, Christ is crucified and he does not live in you. It’s you that’s doing the living.
And that’s what makes life so old and heavy. You crawl out of a period of discouragement, because discouragement or depression is the same as being critical. You crawl out of a couple of seconds of discouragement or depression and then you start trying to live in Jesus and then you fall down into another couple of seconds of discouragement, or of pride, or of jealousy, or of self pity and then you crawl up again and you live another day. That’s what makes the life so heavy.
Whereas when it’s Christ’s life he’s up all the time, he’s rejoicing in his Father every moment. The birds that he’s made are only singing delight and joy that is filling his own heart and you’re buoyed along by him and indeed, he’s the only one you think of. And so you think, “Lord, what do you want? Ah yes, you want that.” And the moment a thought comes into your mind from Satan it comes in and you see it as an alien and a dark thought and you have no time for it because everything is the Savior. It’s Christ only that matters and he fills every one of your thoughts. And you have no time for yourself. You have no time for yourself, you have only time for him because it’s his life and he has said, “Abide in me and I in you. Just as you Father abide in me I will abide in them and it will not be them that live but it will be me that lives.” That’s what we’re called to.
That’s why I think it’s interesting. I think it’s exciting. The moment one of you begins to see, “This is your life Lord Jesus. It’s not me, it’s you. What do you want to do today?” The moment we begin to do that the whole thing begins to be exciting and something that you cannot foretell what will happen. I know we’re not the same as Christ but it’s like 15 Christs. It’s like 15 versions of Jesus living and doing all kinds of things that the poor old creatures, the poor old Leitschuh’s and the O’Neills, the poor old Overby’s that were born into that old dead world would never have thought of doing. It’s these exciting new people with Christian names, as they used to say, because we were given new names because we were new creations.
It’s these new exciting Christs. That’s why I’ve said to you at times it’s Greg Christ or it’s Joanne Christ. That’s what it is and that’s why we’re here. If you say, “Is the Internet exciting?” Well yes, in the sense that the world gets excited about things, it’s exciting. But what’s really exciting about it is we don’t know yet what Jesus wants to do in the Internet through each of you. Is the newsletter is exciting? Well everything’s exciting today. Everybody says, “Oh it’s exciting. That’s an exciting dessert. That’s an exciting movie.’” It’s exciting in the sense that everybody says everything is exciting. But what is exciting about the newsletter is what the Savior may think up and have in mind to write through you in the newsletter. That’s it.
I think it’s dead easy for you to hear that and say, “Oh yes, I know what you mean Pastor. You mean that my mind is going to try to think the thoughts that Jesus thinks and now I’m going to try to write.” No, no, it’s going to be Jesus himself. You’re here to step back out of the life and to let Christ live in you.
I think this guy is right, he says, “Human beings don’t really like that. They don’t really like that idea.” He says, “Man does not want this Christ to live in their place. He loves piety, he loves being pious, he loves doing religious works, he loves being part of a religious organization, he loves trying to do the things that God wants him to do but he will not have this Christ live in his place. He does not want that.” And I think you see, unless you see something of that I don’t know that you’ve really seen what it means for Jesus to live in your place.
But in fact, I think there’s something in us that does not want that. We talk about the carnal nature. You remember, Watchman Nee said, “An errant passion is worse than hatred.” We used to talk about it in sexual relationships. An errant passion, a wandering passion, a passion that is out of control or an affection that is not under the control of Jesus’ Spirit is worse than hatred itself. The reason for that is that the carnal nature actually doesn’t want Jesus to have his way in that situation. The carnal nature actually doesn’t want Christ to be able to do whatever he wants. The carnal nature wants to give over 99% of its life to Christ but not 100% of its life to Christ.
So when you’re talking about letting Christ live instead of you, it means everything. I think that’s something that many of us have come up against. “I have no time to myself. I can’t get any time for myself. I have no time to do the things that I want to do.” But wait a minute, you mean Christ has no time in you to do the things that he wants? “No, no I have no time.” Oh, YOU have no time. You have no time to do the things that Christ wants you to do? “Well, yes, it’s kind of that. But I don’t feel I have any time. I don’t feel my time is my own.” But you are not your own, you were bought with a price. “Yes, I know.”
See what I’m saying? The carnal nature doesn’t like the idea of Christ alone doing the thinking. If you say to me, “How do we get into trouble with our thought life?” Because a thought pops into our mind that is wrong, “Why do you ask me to do this? Why am I always asked to do this? Why doesn’t somebody else have to do it?” Or, “Why does this person always keep telling me to do this thing?” Or, “Why does Marty drink his soup so noisily.” I don’t think he does, but these are the ridiculous little things that you think, “Why? Why?” Because at that moment Christ is nowhere in your thoughts. He’s nowhere in your thoughts because you’re back in charge. You’re not letting him live. He hasn’t a chance of living, because your mind and your thoughts and your will is governing everything.
But the reason for us being here is so that Jesus could live and paint a picture of his Father here on earth in you that he cannot paint in anybody else. That’s why you’re here. You’re not here to run Christian Corps, and you’re not here to bring people into the kingdom. You’re here for a far more glorious purpose than that. You’re here to let Jesus live, be himself in you, speak the words he wants to speak through you and give the thoughts out that he wants to give through you. Together in his name doing that, you get the Holy Spirit moving in joy and delight in that fellowship, and in faith, and in buoyant love.
Commit sin? Forget it, it has no chance. Who would have sin when we have Jesus? And it becomes like that. But that’s why we’re here. I think it’s very important to be very clear in our own minds, yes the business, the house, the chapel, the garden, Myron, Joanne — all those things are like the Globe Theatre. But the purpose for them all is that you yourself would allow Jesus to live in your space and to create a whole new life that nobody has ever seen here before.
That’s why Paul talks about it in those terms. It is a remarkable thing when you see a little baby come from a mother’s womb. It’s remarkable because it’s a whole new little life, fresh and new and clean. It looks as if it has nothing inside it but newness, youthfulness, and young life. And that’s what Jesus has in mind for you and for me. Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, we see that it’s like trailing one leg that is crippled when we try to live like you, when we try to serve you, or when we try to do all the things that everybody wants us to do. It’s like trailing behind us a cripple leg. It’s like having a heavy weight that we have to carry with us everywhere. We see Savior, that you’re saying, “Come to me, all that you that labor and are heavy
laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest unto your souls.” “So lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily beset you and run with patience the race that is set before you looking unto Jesus the author and comforter of our faith.”
Oh Lord Jesus, we would open our hearts to you and not only our hearts but every moment of our days and our thought life. Lord come. Come Savior and sweep clean all the murkiness, all the grayness, all the places where we have delved into unlawful thoughts. Lord Jesus, come now. Come dear Spirit of Jesus, and fill the whole room of our heads and our hearts with the beauty of your own heart, your own mind, and your own life. Savior, come and live in us. Take this life now and be yourself and bring your own brightness into this family and into this business. Wherever we go Lord, even where we’re lying in bed just alone with our own thoughts, let the whole mind be enlightened by you. Let our hearts be lifted up even as we go to sleep at night with your heart.
Lord Jesus, we feel dreadful that we proud little beings would thrust ourselves in front of you and make our concerns more important than yours. Savior, we have no time but the next second that you, out of your love, chose to give us. We have no time Lord that is our own. All the time that we have is your time that you’ve given us. Savior, we have no right to think thoughts that are not your thoughts. Our minds have been given us by you. The only mind we have is the mind that is in you Lord Jesus. We would no longer pollute it. We would no longer crucify it. We would let your mind dwell in us Lord Jesus. We would let your peace Lord Jesus, rule our hearts.
Savior, we thank you for the family. We thank you for the operation. We thank you for the businesses, and the chapel, and all the other things. But Lord Jesus, most of all we thank you for the chance that you have to live in our name here on earth. Oh Savior, live now from this day forward and be yourself and teach us this very day second by second through your dear Spirit. Teach us what you want to say at each moment so that our words may be filled with the fragrance of our love and the optimism of your dear heart. We ask this for your glory. Amen.