An Inverted Faith

August 4, 2019

David Sorn

Too many Americans have turned their faith upside down and believe that God exists to serve them rather than the truth that they exist to serve God.

An Inverted Faith

August 4, 2019

David Sorn

Too many Americans have turned their faith upside down and believe that God exists to serve them rather than the truth that they exist to serve God.

SERMON TRANSCRIPT | 1 Corinthians 15:58



I want to take a one-week break from the Book of Luke this morning to explore a topic that’s been on my heart the past few months.

When we misunderstand God…and our relationship to Him…everything else gets out of wack.

How we think we are to live and even serve others can be completely skewed if we don’t first understand who God is and how we are to relate to Him.

And so this morning, we’re going to look at the words of the Apostle Paul…one of the great leaders of the Christian movement in its early days

(Page 934)

(Renovation App)

And we’re going to look at his words regarding service.

Which is a subject that I think many American Christians don’t have a great Biblical understanding of anymore.

In chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, Paul has talked about the power of both the resurrection of Jesus, and our future resurrection, and then he moves to a final practical statement on it.

Paul going to say…if the resurrection is true…if your eternal life is true…then…THIS.

We want to know what that is…so that’s what we’re going to study today.

(1 Corinthians 15:58) – NIV

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

This is a passage about giving yourself “to the work of the Lord”

What is that?

It’s God’s work on earth.

It’s the spread of God’s name, His glory, and His love.

First and foremost, that starts with serving in a local church.

But of course…it goes much further than that too.

One of the first things I want you to see in this verse is that it says: your LABOR in the Lord is not in vain.

That word labor is something that I believe many modern-day Christians don’t factor in when they think about serving

The very nature of the word “labor” implies that the work will be hard sometimes…not just a walk in the park.

It doesn’t say, “Your easy and fulfilling service in the Lord will not be in vain”

It says, your LABOR in the Lord will not be in vain.

And yet, today, I think most American Christians believe that serving the church, or the community, or whatever it is…should be fun, fulfilling, and life-giving.

Honestly, I think some of this stems from the American Church’s over-emphasis on Spiritual Gifts in the late 20th century.

Many of you who grew up in Evangelical churches probably remember the days when everyone was taking Spiritual gifts tests…

…and finding out which gift they had, and which serving role would therefore be the most exciting and life-giving for them.

While it IS true that God has gifted you uniquely, the point of finding your gift isn’t so that YOU can be most fulfilled…

It’s so you can best SERVE and GLORIFY God.

The manner in which Jesus describes serving is VERY different than how most American Christians think of it:

JESUS Himself says this:

(Luke 17:7-10) – NIV

7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

That sounds nothing like, “Pick a volunteer team that will be life-giving and fun for you”

That sounds like…LABOR…that ministry, and expanding the Kingdom is often hard work.

Yes, sometimes it is incredibly life-giving…you can see amazing things when God uses you…

But sometimes it’s a grind.

And if the only reason you’re serving is for you… you’re going to quit.

Ironically, you’ll quit as soon as it feels like LABOR

And the only reason that we think like this is because we’re looking at our relationship with God incorrectly, as I said in the beginning.

Let me ask you a question: Which of these is a more accurate description of your faith: (LEAVE THESE UP UNTIL THE NEXT BIBLE VERSE PLEASE)

God exists to serve me

I exist to serve God

It’s easy to answer #2 because you feel like that is the right answer…

But my sense is that about 80% of American Christians actually live as if #1 is true…not #2.

What would our actions, or our schedule, say about which one we believe?

If all of your prayers of the last 2 months were written down and compiled in a book for someone else to read…

Would they say it looks like you are praying like God is there to serve you or as if you are there to serve God?

I’ve been pastoring this church since it started 9 years ago, and I coach all of our church planters, and so I know that sometimes churches have seasons where they have a number of volunteers quit at the same time…or they’re struggling to create a culture of serving.

And so I feel like I have a lot of data on this.

Usually the line of reasoning is the same…

People will come to their ministry leader, and they’ll say: “I feel like God really wants me to take a break, to get my life balanced again, to not over-commit, so I’m going to have to step down from the greeting team, or in the kids’ ministry (or the KIDZ ZONE or whatever they call it in their church)

And the Parking Leader, or the Worship Leader, or the Children’s Pastor is going, “Well, apparently God is doing something odd, because he’s called 20 of you this year to stop serving, so you could focus on yourself”

And there’s another level of irony, because usually the children’s ministries (and the other ministries) are exploding with growth, and the workers are few.

It’s always hard to believe that God is saying, “I see you spending 50 hours a week entertaining yourself (like the average American), in tons of activities with your kids…so…what I NEED you to….

Is to pull back from discipling the next generation for Christ 1 hour a month in those classrooms that are bursting with kids…

…so you can have another hour of focusing on you.

It sounds ridiculous when we say it like that, right?

And yet, it happens every week in churches all over America

And it happens, because people are thinking about serving in an UNBIBLICAL way.

They’ve fallen into the lie that God exists to serve me, and that God is there to balance my life

They think, “If my life gets stressful or difficult…God wants me to pull back from the hard things…so I can be okay. “

That’s not a Biblical faith.

In fact, that’s an inverted faith.

When you invert something, you reverse the order, or you make it upside down.

But God does not exist to serve you…

His purpose is not to remove stress and difficulty from your life.

In Scripture, many of things God asks His followers to do are incredibly stressful and difficult.

“Jonah, go to Nineveh and tell the wicked people to repent.

“Moses, go talk to that evil Pharaoh and tell him to let the slaves go…thus ruining his economy

“Jesus, my son, go to the cross.

In the Book of Acts, Paul is going around from city to city telling people about Jesus, and repeatedly, he’s stoned and thrown in prison.

And you don’t see Paul saying, “You know what, this can’t be God…I need a break…I need some balance…I need to just focus on me…God wants me to have some self-care in my life right now”

Surely none of us are getting stoned and thrown in prison for our faith….

So why is Paul able to do what so many of us are not?

He understands that He exists to serve God!

And why is Paul willing to give his life to serve God?

Doesn’t that sound like drudgery?

Well, look at the first word of our verse…it tells you why Paul can serve with his life.


The old Bible rule is: Whenever you see a therefore in the Bible, you have to ask, “What’s it THERE FOR?”

It’s always pointing back to what came before it.

And what comes before it?

It’s Paul’s eloquent chapter on the resurrection of our bodies.

Let’s look at the few verses before ours:

(1 Corinthians 15:54-57) – NIV

54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

And THEN…we get to our verse (Play up the therefores (heaven, saved, cross):

(1 Corinthians 15:58) – NIV

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Paul, and so many others in the Bible, are able to serve and LABOR…even when it’s really hard…because they KNOW THAT ETERNITY IS COMING.

And for us (as believers), death will have no sting…

But they also know…that for those without Christ…the sting will last forever.

And because of that…I will suffer for Christ.

I will suffer…I will labor…so that I can be a small part of helping Jesus save others.

The Bible simply does not describe serving as something we do to bring more self-fulfillment and good vibes our way.

If you hear that…that’s just American sales-pitching and not Biblical discipleship.

Look at how the Scriptures read:

(1 Corinthians 9:27) - NIV

27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

(Romans 12:1) – NIV

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

You want to worship God?

Don’t just come here and sing songs about how He’s great and can rescue the sinner…and then do nothing.

To do so…is to mock Him.

You want to worship Him?

Offer your body…as a living sacrifice.

Sacrifice…let go of some comfort…or something else on your calendar…so that God’s Word may be heard.


One of the things that this verse presupposes is that every brother & sister of the Lord (every Christian) is giving themselves to “the work of the Lord”

You can’t give yourself fully to the work of the Lord…if you’re not doing anything for the Lord.

Let me ask you: What are you doing for Jesus Christ right now?

Specifically, what this verse is asking is: What are you doing to advance his work?

Of how many of you, could it be said, “They are a servant of Jesus in advancing his kingdom.”

Christians love that verse from Matthew 25 …where the Christ figure in the parable says, “Well done good and faithful servant…come and share your master’s happiness”

And we imagine God saying that to us when we get to heaven.

And yet, we must ask ourselves, could God even truthfully label you as one of his servants?

If He’s going to say “Well done”…what have I done to advance His kingdom… (because again, that parable is about expanding his work…2 to 2; 5 to 5)…

We have to ask: “Where am I serving…where God could even say… “Well DONE…servant.”

And many of us have all sorts of excuses:

We say, “Well, I’m raising my kids to follow Christ…or I’m being ethical in my business.”

Yes, good!

There are plenty of verses about your family…or verses that say things like, “In all you do, do it to the Lord!” Wonderful!

But if all of us are just take care of our own families and are nice and ethical people…Christianity will evaporate from this country in a generation or two.

The Word of God calls us to give ourselves to the work of the Lord.

That starts on Sundays…but the word “always” surely means we would be thinking about advancing God’s kingdom more than just Sundays too.

if you call Renovation Church your home, we encourage every single person, Adults AND teenagers, to find a place to serve here.

100% of you. No joke.

On top of your chairs when you walked in today, was a list of 11 different teams where you can serve here at Renovation.

This is a way you can apply the Word today…actually live this out.

Every single one of these teams have needs.

To fill up all of our teams for this growing church, we would need to fill about 80 volunteer positions.

About 40 of those are in Renovation Kids…as our children’s ministry is exploding in growth.

Come this Fall, there will be 140-150 kids back there every single week.

I remember when it was 15.

Just to keep up with the fast growth, and not overcrowd the classrooms, we’re having to add another classroom this Fall.

But honestly, we don’t even have enough teachers and helpers to function well at 4 classrooms, let alone 5.

We’ve hit an odd season in our church…

People are continuing to come…and were growing fast.

But a greater percentage of us are only consuming…not serving, not giving…just sitting.

Listen, God is moving here…but if we all come to suck in…we’ll will vacuum ourselves right out of a movement.

So if you’ve been coming here for a little while…even if it’s only been a month or two…but this is your church home.

Serve the Lord with us.

God does not exist to serve you…you exist to serve God

Others of you who used to serve in places like Renovation Kids (but you quit)…God needs you to serve…not just to come here for yourself.

Listen, you can fill yourself up with the Lord all week long…in your morning quiet times, with worship music, you can podcast a sermon every day of the week if you want.

But when we come here…you can do the one thing you can’t do on your own, you can serve.

Some of you that are saying, “I don’t want to serve in Renovation Kids because then I’d miss a service”

We do have 2 of them.

You can stay...or come early.

Drive separately from your family once a month…and stay.

If you’re already serving once a month, tell your ministry leader you can do twice a month.

That’s two hours a month…

Most people spend double that time…per DAY consuming entertainment.

We wouldn’t be asking too much of you if we asked you to serve every single week.

Our priorities are so inverted in life.

Most of you know I love to read the biographies of those who accomplished much for Christ.

On vacation, I read the biography of Nabeel Qureshi…it’s called, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”

He grew up as a devout Muslim, but in the early 2000’s, after a Christian friend challenged him to study Jesus and investigate the claims of Islam, he decided to devote his life to following Jesus.

Even though it cost him all of his relationships with his Muslim family members.

And yet, God went on to use him mightily as a witness for Jesus.

One of the themes that keeps jumping out to me when I read is that with much sacrifice often comes great results.

But the American church is in trouble because its people won’t sacrifice.

Some of the megachurches are now reporting that only 10-15% of their people serve in any capacity.

What has happened to Christianity in America?

God isn’t even calling most of us to leave our families, or go overseas…

But we won’t serve him because why?? Because it would take an extra hour…

Even though we entertain ourselves for 50 hours a week.

Our faith is inverted

We’ve lost sight of the resurrection…that this world is short…and heaven and hell are coming.

And Christianity is disappearing in America because we turned into something we suck in rather than pour out

The world around us is lost.

And I know many of you know that…because you keep inviting lost people to this church.

Whole families of lost people.

Kids are coming into these rooms…and they’re hearing the Gospel, learning how to pray, memorizing Bible verses.

Will you sacrifice with us?

Will you pour out for Jesus?

Will you serve your God who served you with His life?

If not Renovation Kids…will you “Labor in the Lord” (as our passage says) by setting up, or tearing down, or greeting, doing slides on the computer?

Or here’s another one: We’re going to have over 350 adults in House Groups this Fall…

But as of right now, about 100 of those people have no place to meet.

We STILL need 2 or 3 more families that will say, “Yes, it’s work…it’s labor…but I’ll open up my house that God has blessed me with for the Lord’s work”

A Christian’s life MUST be marked by service.

Every one of us…must pick up an oar…to row God’s Kingdom forward.

And it starts with serving.

If you’re not serving here yet, or you need to serve more often.

Mark a team on your connection card that came with the bulletin.

Or grab that ¼ sheet that was on your chair…you can put that in the offering later.


And through it all, we trust, as our passage said, that our labor is not in vain.

When you do God’s work it is NEVER in vain.

(Hebrews 6:10) – NIV

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

There’s a lot of what we do in life that is in vain…meaning that it has no use beyond this life.

All of the things we do to make our bodies look just right…

Yard work comes to mind…

Or endlessly entertaining ourselves.

Many of our hobbies.

But nothing that you do for the Lord will ever be in vain.

One, because we believe that God will use it

And two, because as that verse in Hebrews said, God will not forget your work.

Your work will have reward and fruit on the other side of eternity.

Think about this: We baptized 19 more people a few weeks ago…

And if you were there…you heard story after story after story of people who walked in our church…

…that was set up by you, they were greeted by you, the worship was led by you, you taught their kids, and on and on…

And when they responded to the Gospel message…

God saved them…from hell.

And God is transforming their lives…

From darkness to light.

He’s transforming their families.

Many of them, their kids are growing up now knowing about Jesus.

It’s amazing.

We exist to serve God…

And it’s a blessing to LABOR with Him…even when it’s hard.

Join the fight.

Let me pray.