Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
About this series
Breaking Through Life's Biggest Barriers
Do you ever feel stuck behind roadblocks in your life? Have you experienced boredom, loneliness, or a sense of futility that keeps you from growing spiritually? In Breaking through Life's Biggest Barriers, you will learn how to grow in your relationship with Christ, worship and serve with passion, and make an eternal impact in the world around you.More from this series
Webster says, “Boredom is the condition of becoming weary by dull, uninteresting, or monotonous activity or focus.”It’s trying to get satisfied with something, and then after you try it for awhile, it doesn’t satisfy, so you try something else, and then things just get dull. If you don’t think we’re a culture that struggles with boredom, consider the word—“amusement,” and the multi-billion dollar industry. Do you know what the word muse means? It means to think. You know what the word—amusement means? It means, not to think.
We have amusement parks, video, TV, vacations, bungee jumping, thrill seeking, adrenalin riding, we have people that the highlight—the highlight of their week is when one of their favorite authors writes a new fiction novel. We have people whose emotions go up and down with whether the 49’ers win or lose. We’re a culture that lives vicariously. We are SO BORED. We are so empty when it gets down to what matters. We vicariously live through rock stars and sports figures, and romance novels, and the latest movie. We have to line up and we have to get there first because in the office, we want to talk about - what? Fictitious people in made-up stories, who live in Southern California, whose lives don’t work, who they paint up after surgery, to put on pretend lives that we pay seven bucks a ticket to watch. You tell me we’re not bored?
We’re bored. Why are we bored? I’d like to suggest something. I’d like to suggest that boredom is the inevitable result of seeking an infinite reference point in a finite object. It’s a matter of trying to find significance in things and in people that can only offer success--we talked about that last week.
Boredom is what happens when the new wears off. You’re in a new relationship….Oh, this is so exciting! [gasp]…and then…what? You get a new car—wow! And then…what? Get a new house! [Gasp] it’s your dream! And then…what? Then it’s repairs, fixing it up, working through dysfunctional backgrounds. And what I’ve observed is that the boredom and the blues go hand-in-hand. The blues, that low feeling of: life doesn’t really matter, is the emotional baggage of boredom.
The blues come when that inner voice in your heart and mind says, “This is the next hill to take, this is what you can do with your life.” And this inner voice says, “been there, done that.” And then you awaken to the reality that the next venture will only yield more of the same. Newsweek did an interview with Phil Jackson--six NBA titles. The interviewer says, “As you look back on the last successful nine years, what does it all mean to you? What have you learned?” He’s at the pentacle of success. He says, “When I played and won a championship I thought there could be no greater satisfaction” - that’s what we’re looking for.
“I played and won a championship, but coaching for me was even a greater one. But I’ve also learned that this kind of thing: winning, financial success, fame, is not what brings happiness.” I’ll tell you what, most of the coaches in the United States believe it does. Most every coach in America would like to be Phil Jackson, right? Just once, just one NBA championship—not six. He’s got six rings, he can’t even get ‘em on one hand, now! And he says, “This doesn’t bring happiness.”
You see, there’s a vicious cycle. It’s new venture, excitement, challenge, growth, plateau, boredom, then the blues. And so you say, that must not be it. New venture, excitement, growth, challenge, plateau, boredom, and the blues. Well, that must not be the right person, I’ll try someone else. Excitement, growth, challenge, venture, it’s a vicious cycle. It’s a vicious, vicious, cycle. You know some people spend 70, 80 years, and never figure this out? Like little hamsters in big cages running faster and faster, changing colors, never going anywhere.
Could boredom, in fact, be a gift in disguise? I’d like to suggest that boredom, this sense of not being able to get satisfied in this life, is God’s gentle reminder that we are spiritual beings made for not only time, but eternity—that’s why we’re bored. Boredom is the natural result of seeking to scratch an eternal itch with temporal things. I just can’t do it. In fact, boredom tells us that the object of our worship isn’t big enough or great enough to be worshipped. You can worship success, and once you get it, it just gets small. You can worship a person—you get it, it’s not what you expected.
You can think: if you raise this family this way, then, it happens; if you can get this job; if you can drive this car; if you can score on this test; if you can get into this college. And then once you get it, if you happen to... See, I think, those of you that happen to be successful are really fortunate. See, if you’re successful, then you actually learn it doesn’t come through.
Some of us that fail a lot in a lot of those areas are still believing--that we can. God’s answer to boredom—interesting—is authentic worship. The great theologian, Augustine, wrote, and this was after he sought meaning in a wild, wild, life seeking pleasure in everything imaginable.
Augustine wrote, “God has placed a God-shaped vacuum in every heart, and we will not be satisfied until we find Him.” He went on to say, “And our hearts will never be at rest until they find their rest in Christ.” So what’s authentic worship? One writer says, “Worship is pulling our affections off our idols, and putting them on God.” The definition of worship is: Worship is our response to God for who He is and what He’s done. That’s a good working definition. It’s the key. It is the key to overcoming a life of meaninglessness or boredom followed by the blues.
Real worship is our response to God for who He is and what He’s done. So the $64 question is….What does He want, right? What should your response be? What does God want? Can you imagine if Jesus would come in the flesh and stand before us, and we could get microphones and line up and say, “Excuse me, Sir, what would you like from life? I mean, since I’m made for eternity and I’ll only live here for a little while, I’d like to use it well. And I don’t want to be bored, and then I don’t want to get the blues. So, excuse me, Lord, Jesus, what do you want from me?”
I’m gonna tell you exactly what He’d say. He wrote it to through the Apostle Paul. Romans 12, verse 1. He would say to you, “Do I want a little song? No. Songs are okay. Do I want you to come to a worship service; is that what worship is? No. They’re good. Do I want you to have a special feeling inside? If you have this special close feeling, is that worship? Oh, that’s important, but that’s not it.” He would say, “I urge you, therefore my brothers and sisters, in light of God’s mercy, in light of all that I’ve done for you, to present your bodies, your life, as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.”
The word means well-pleasing. That’s what He wants. “…which is your reasonable service of worship.” And that last little phrase, reasonable service of worship, very interesting word in the New Testament. It’s a technical term. In fact, if you look in different translations, some will talk about reasonable service, and other translations will say spiritual service. It’s because the translators don’t know how to handle the word. What it is, is that it became a technical term for worship, but the word “logizomai,” where we get our word logic. In other words, it’s the most logical thing to do. He’s the Creator, you’re the creature.
What is logical - what’s wisest, what’s the emotionally, most healthy positive response for you and your life - is to present your life on the altar. And by the way, that word present, it’s in a tense of the verb that means--in a point in time. It’s not some vague, some way, somehow, yea, I believe in God, or even--I go to church, this is presenting yourself on a specific day, on a specific day of the week, at a specific time where you say - you may already be a believer - and you say, “I don’t want to worship anything less than You.”
It’s when you do a little gut check and you look at your boredom account, and you say in my heart of hearts, “I think I’m worshiping my girlfriend.” In my heart of hearts, I think I’m worshipping my boyfriend, or my job, or my mate, or my kids, or money, or success because that’s where all my energy, and my time, and my dreams gravitate to.” And you call a “time out” in life and you say, “You know, God, I’m gonna make a willful decision-- point in time--to present myself on the altar as a living and notice, holy - holy means I’m gonna do it Your way, I’ll be set apart. My speech, my life, my words, my sexuality will be holy, and that’s what You want.
In fact, notice the summary. It says, worship is the complete and total giving of ourselves for that which we believe has ultimate purpose and will provide the greatest reward. I like that definition. See, real worship is the complete and total giving of who you are for what you honestly believe is the ultimate purpose in life. AND—this is important, what you believe will bring the greatest reward.
And that’s why when you want to know what you’re gonna worship; if you really want to know what you worship, it has little to do with what your mouth says. Does it? What you worship has very little…(sarcastically), oh I worship God. Well, maybe. If you want to know what you worship, I’ll give you three litmus tests:
1. Go track your money
2. Go track your time
3. Ask, “Where does your mind drift to when you’re dreaming about what could be? Where does your mind gravitate? If it gravitates to the things of God, if it gravitates toward intimacy with Christ, if it gravitates toward seeing people come to know Christ, if it gravitates toward your heart breaking for the things that God’s heart breaks over, then you worship Christ. If it just unconscientiously gravitates to the next deal, the next novel someone’s gonna bring out, which team won, whether you can get home in time to check the scores on ESPN, whether so and so is gonna go with you or go with someone else; whether you’re gonna get this job or get into that school. If your time and your money and your dreams revolve around anything other than Christ, that’s what you worship.
Now, here’s the deal, that can sound very threatening. Understand God’s heart. Understand God’s heart. We all do that at times—I certainly do. But the heart of God is not, if you heard and if you felt emotionally a little bit of…”shame on you….na, na, na, na, that’s a bad boy, that’s a bad girl,” then you miss the point. This is a God who wants to give you authentic pearls, and you’re holding on to these little plastic things that you think will deliver for you and He’s holding authentic pearls and He’s saying, “Ya know, if you could let go of that junk, I could give you something real.”
That’s what the lordship of Christ is--that’s what worship is. You can spend your life chasing that girl or chasing that guy, or the ideal marriage, or being successful, or gett’n rich, or build’n the big house or remodeling this or doing that, or driving that. You can do that. And when you get done, your plastic beads will be plastic. And you will be bored, and it won’t deliver, and then you’ll get blue. Or, all those things have their place. You could allow Jesus to be the center focus of your life, and He will dictate your time, your energy, your dreams. And since He’s all knowing, and since He loves you, and since He died for you, maybe His plan’s even better than yours for you. Just a thought.
Well, let’s ask the one question. Heart of hearts, don’t raise your hand. If someone asked you, “Who are you worshipping?” In your honest, heart of hearts, who are you worshipping? Is it Christ, or is it an idol? Person? Job? Success?
Could I suggest that as I keep talking you start having a little wrestling match with God about what has your best interest in mind, and what would be the wisest thing for you to do? And, I want to challenge you before you walk out of here at some point tonight, decide whether you’re gonna offer your body as a living sacrifice, or keep worshipping something else. It’s important. In fact, your whole future depends on it.
We find in John, Chapter 4:21-24 Jesus ends up talking with a lady, a Samaritan, she was a despised woman, Jews didn’t talk to Samaritans, so it’s an unusual conversation, and the historical history - Samaritans were like Jewish half-breeds. They had about half Jewish blood and half Samaritan blood, and they had a real tussle between the Jews and the Samaritans. And so Jesus is tired, the fellas go in to grab lunch and bring it back.
He’s sitting by a well, and this lady, we find out later, has a pretty checkered past. Jesus looks beyond all that, and they strike up a conversation.
Jesus declared, “Believe Me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” They got talking about worship, and she said, “Well, our fathers do it here and you Jews do it over there.” “You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when true worshippers (that’s what we want to be, right? I do!) True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.”
Now, notice this line. “For they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.” You want to be close to God? You want to experience God? You want to see God do things in your life about people that you read about in the New Testament and the Old Testament? He is seeking. I mean, He’s got the spiritual x-rays out; probing, looking for men, looking for women, looking for students who would worship Him in spirit and in truth. He’s the “hound of Heaven.” He longs to have a relationship with you. You are special, but He won’t interfere.
You know, it’s like people dancing. It’s rude to rip someone else and say, “I want to dance.” See, when you’re polite, what do you do? You tap them on the shoulder and then the other person steps back, and then you step in. This is what God does. Day by day, moments like this, He comes to you and He taps you on the shoulder and He says, “Excuse Me, can I cut in?” And you say, “Well, I’m worshipping this house right now.” He says, “I know.” He says, “Not a good dance.”
And He taps you on the shoulder and He says, “Can I cut in?” “Oh, I’m worshipping my career and I have to go to school, and I have to do grad school, and then I have to do this and I have to do that.” He says, “I know, can I cut in?” See, He seeks after people who worship Him in spirit and in truth. Why? God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.
Now the question is, what, right? What in the world does it look like? What’s it look like to worship God in spirit and in truth? If we figured this out?
If we can figure this out from the text, if the Holy Spirit will illuminate our minds tonight, do you realize that the Father will be seeking you?