Sermon from October 11th, 2015
Text: Romans 13:8-14
Theme: Get Dressed with Christ to Seize the Day!
Yolo – Who knows what that means?
Yolo is one of those popular hashtags that was everywhere for a while but seems to have lost a little steam. Yolo = an abbreviation for “you only live once.”
Now, maybe some of you consider yourself too sophisticated, too grown up for hashtags, twitter, and Facebook. Perhaps you are more familiar with the phrase Carpe Diem. Carpe Diem = Latin for “seize the day,” first coined by the Latin poet Horace who lived and wrote around the time of Jesus.
#Yolo, carpe diem, whichever you prefer, we all get the idea.
You only have one life to live. You have a finite amount of days to be alive on this earth to pursue happiness, excitement, exhilaration, pleasure – whatever it is you are seeking – and none of us know how many of those days we have. So we talk about seizing the day and reminding ourselves that we only live once.
We all know people who exemplify this kind of living – people who woke up one day, decided they wanted to study abroad – so they did; people who woke up one day and wanted to learn how to surf in Hawaii – so they bought a plane ticket an went.
We all know people like that, but (at least in my experience) people who truly seize the day are few and far between. Most of us are a little too logic driven, a little too careful and cautious to just throw our inhibitions to the wind and do whatever we want, when we want, not caring about the possible consequences. We realize that today could be our last day, but if we are thinking logically and statistically, there is a pretty good chance that it won’t be our last day, and so we need to be ready for tomorrow. We need to be responsible, get jobs, pay the bills… all that slightly boring stuff.
And yet not matter how much our logical, cautious brains may be telling us how foolish carefree living can be, I think that all of us, even if it just a little bit, are jealous of those who truly seize the day. We wouldn’t mind cutting loose a little bit and just living in the moment instead of constantly looking at what might happen tomorrow.
Well, how about this? Would it help any of you to put to bed these logical fears that keep you from being spontaneous if I told you that in Romans Paul encourages just this kind of attitude – one that seizes the day? Because that’s exactly what Paul is encouraging today when he instructs us to “understand the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from you slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”
Being caught in a safe but mindless routine is like sleepwalking through life, Paul says. Understand the present time. You only live once, the end could come tomorrow. It’s time to wake up from you slumber and seize the day. Do something with this finite life that you have!
So there you have it, it’s in the Bible, Paul’s encouragement to seize the day, #Yolo. I expect that next Sunday when y’all come back here there will be a tangibly different atmosphere. You guys will be buzzing with excitement to share your stories of how you seized the day. I fully expect to look around and see an arm or two in a sling or cast, a wind burned face, a sunburned nose because you tried bull riding, or sky diving, or went on an impromptu trip to Jamaica.
Carpe diem, #yolo, Paul says it. Go do it…
Maybe though, that’s not exactly what Paul is getting at here.
Yes, Paul is encouraging us to seize the day and realize that we only have one chance in this world, but what that truth should motivate us to do with our finite lives is quite different than what the rest of the world associates with #yolo. Yes, Paul is encouraging us to live boldly, brashly, passionately, and recklessly even, but he’s got a different idea of how that reckless passion should manifest itself.
Do you want to know what kind of seizing the day Paul was talking about? Well, if Paul were posting on Facebook it might go something like this: “I woke up today and I got to show reckless love for my God and my neighbor! I mean you only live once – you only get one chance to show your God how much you love him! #yolo! Today might be your last day on this earth so you better seize it and love your neighbor in the best way you can! #carpediem!”
It’s a completely opposite way of viewing your life in this world and how to seize the day. Instead of “you only live once” being motivation to get whatever you can for yourself in the finite number of days you have, Paul says it means it’s time to stop serving yourself and it’s time to start boldly, brashly, passionately, and even recklessly loving your God and loving the other people in your life.
Think about what a life lived with this kind of attitude would look like.
A life lived seizing the day would mean your Sunday morning thought process would go something like this: “Wow, this could be my last day alive. And if this is my last day I’m gonna make the most of it. I’m gonna go to church, I’m gonna get there early and stay there late. I’m gonna sing the hymns at the top of my lungs, I’m gonna smile, I’m gonna encourage every person I meet and ask them if they remember how awesome Jesus is, because this could be my last chance to do this, and there is nowhere else I would rather be and there is nothing else I would rather do!”
A life lived by the motto you only live once would mean that tomorrow when you wake up you’d think to yourself: “I only get one shot to be the best spouse I can possibly be. I might not get another chance at this, this could be my last day! Right here, right now, today, I’m going to love my wife with everything I have. I’m gonna put what she wants ahead of what I want. I’m gonna look away from every other scantily-clad woman this world throws at me because I’m a one woman kind of man and this is the only life I have to be that for her whether she’s around or not, whether she can read my mind or not. I’m gonna love my wife as I love myself.”
It means you wake up and you think: “Man I get to go to work today. I get to show my employers how thankful I am that they have given me this opportunity to use my talents in a meaningful way, and earn a living in the process. I get to go to the office and work with people who, yeah, they aren’t perfect, but that just means I have the privilege and opportunity to show them what selfless love looks like – I get to show them what Paul was talking about when he said to love your neighbor as yourself. I only have one life to live. This could be my last chance to do this for them.”
That’s the kind of “seize the day,” “yolo” life Paul is talking about. Each day is your chance to boldly love someone else. Each day could be your last chance to show the people in your life that you passionately believe that their wants and needs are more important than your own. And what better way is there to describe that kind of life than reckless, right?
You better believe our logical careful brains are going to label that kind of living reckless. Our logical, careful brains are going to be screaming, “Do you realize how foolish that kind of living is? You could get hurt if you put yourself out there like that? Who’s going to look out for you if you don’t look out or yourself?”
But the Bible is clear. You have to seize the day. You only live once. You only have one shot to lead the kind of life God wants you to lead. The Bible is clear, you get one chance, and then you die, and then you face judgment. So Paul’s advice is: it’s time to wake up now.
“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Yikes! That’s an awfully tall order… one I’m not measuring up to… I love my God, I love my wife, and I love you guys (my neighbors), but way more often than any of you know that love is far from selfless, anything but reckless – not even close to what it would be if I were actually behaving as if today could be my last day.
And, you know, it is a tall order. Paul makes no bones about that in the entire book of Romans. Paul himself confessed earlier in this letter that he knows he is supposed to be living like this, but no matter how hard he tries he isn’t – not perfectly, not consistently.
This is a tall order, which is why it is key that we understand that one little phrase at the end of what we read for today… “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul sais to clothe ourselves with Christ, and if we are going to understand what Paul means by that we need to keep in mind some other very important truths Paul has shared with the Romans in this letter.
Paul started out this letter by reminding us that none of us have come even close to making the most out of this one life that God has given us. Each and every day we all fail to seize the day in the way God would have us seize it, or as Paul said it, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
But Paul makes clear that that’s not the end of the story.
God looked at us and he knew that none of us are capable of seizing the day on this earth according to his standards, his law – standards summed up in the 10 Commandments and even further summed up by Paul and Jesus, loving God and loving our neighbors. God looks at us and he knows that all of us have botched this one chance, this one life that we have, this one opportunity to live as we must to be righteous, to live a worthy life that will earn eternal life with God in heaven.
“But now,” Paul says earlier in his letter to the Christians in Rome, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known… This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
There are two huge, key terms we need to understand: redemption and justification.
Jesus died to redeem us (to buy us back) because we failed to seize the day. He came to love us boldly, passionately, and recklessly – it cost him his own life on a cross to buy us back!
He died so that we could be justified (declared not guilty). Jesus came to live the one life we couldn’t live. He came to seize the day like we never can so that God could say, “Jesus lived the life I demand from you for you.”
And this redemption, this justification, it’s like a new set of clothes. We woke up this morning and as we were on our own we were clothed in selfishness because we don’t seize the day. But Jesus says to us, “Here, clothe yourself with me. Cover yourself with my life, my death, my perfection. I did this for you. This counts for you.”
This is a done fact, accomplished by Jesus – you are clothed with Christ. Meaning: when you die, and your finite time on earth is done, heaven is yours, not because you seized the day, but because Jesus seized it for you.
And, “Now,” Paul says, “being dressed that way, knowing that God loves you because of Jesus and there is nothing more you have to do to earn his love, do not think about how to gratify the desires of your flesh anymore.”
It’s a tall order to seize the day and live boldly, passionately, and recklessly but Jesus has taught us how to do that, he’s modeled it perfectly for us, but more than that, he also promises that there is forgiveness when we fail.
So seize the day. You know God is coming soon, and he’s coming to save you. Live your life as if it’s the only chance you have to thank God for clothing you with the Lord Jesus Christ.