“Move On” Mark 6:6-13 As I am writing this, the “US Open”

 Pastor’s Message
“Move On” Mark 6:6-13 As I am writing this, the “US Open” has come to town. During
my commute, the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing looks ready to go. Despite
the images on screen, tennis is not an easy sport to master. The top professional tennis
players make hitting the ball and dashing around the court look almost effortless.
However, when novices stand on the court, they hit more errors than good shots. Even
between intermediate players, wins and losses are determined by errors, not wins and
aces. Along with technique, fitness, and strategy, mental tenacity is a key factor. You
must learn good stress management skills in order to be a good player. When things are
not going their way, many get upset and angry and lose control of their temperament.
They throw a tantrum as if they were little children. All players must learn how to deal
with mistakes, failure, disappointment, and heart-breaking defeat. When we fear losing,
playing games is no longer fun even though they are supposed to be. Of course, if college
scholarships, career ambitions or money is at stake, understandably, players can lose their
perspective on the most fundamental aspect of the sport: play for joy. I have worked with
some young players who stopped playing competitively because they were afraid to lose.
They figured the easiest way to avoid loss is by not competing. No game to play, no
game to lose. Frustrated parents asked how their children could eliminate errors and keep
winning. I replied, “If s/he plays in the lower level tournaments and hits the safest shots
all the time, s/he would win tournaments more easily, but such experience would not
satisfy her/him. S/he needs challenges and needs to learn how to overcome fear instead of
avoiding it, in order to grow to be a better player.” Kei Nishikori was the runner-up of
the 2014 US Open. His career win and loss record is 235 wins and 115 losses according
to the official statistics of ATP: Association of Tennis Professionals. He must have
moved on after many difficult losses before reaching to his current world ranking of #4.
Success in challenging situations requires all of us to learn how to MOVE ON. Jesus
was rejected by his hometown of Nazareth. Jesus knew about how to succeed and how to
deal with failure in ministry. He gave his twelve apostles clear instructions how to do
their missions: work as a team, travel light, persevere, and not to be discouraged, even if
people didn’t welcome or listen to you. Dust off on your feet, and MOVE ON. No fear of
failure. There is no time to waste in self-absorption when things don’t go as planned. The
history of Christian missionaries is the history of the unexpected. All missionaries have a
strong desire to proclaim the gospel in new lands. However, the fruits are often not
exactly what they hoped. We do our work to share the good news faithfully and
perseveringly, and accept humbly and gladly the fruits that God’s plan brings to us even
though we don’t know what it is. Recently a seminary friend shared with us, at the annual
conference, a simple definition of Christianity that he learned where he serves:
“Christianity is about fixing you and helping others”. We sometimes see some passionate
Christians mistakenly practice the other way around: trying to fix others’ faith, while
helping themselves by a sense of self-righteousness. When we recognize our weakness,
insufficiency, and shortcomings as Christians, we can think of how to fix it, how to
improve our weaknesses, how to be better Christians. We can focus on our own
repentance in order to help others. 2 Corinthians 12:9 gives us great encouragement and
assurance. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. So, I
will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in
me.” Power is made perfect in weakness. Weakness can be transformed into the mighty
power in Christ. Jesus was crucified as if he was helpless and powerless, but his
crucifixion was a part of God’s Great Plan called God’s glory. When our lives are not
going well, there is a temptation among us to point our fingers at others. It is an easy
shortcut for us to blame somebody else. We sometimes become discouraged and less
inspired to do our work for God’s glory to become better Christians. Even worse, some
give up making an effort because of the magnitude of challenges we face. Don’t jump off
the ship at the first sign of difficulty, disagreement, and disappointment. Just MOVE ON.
We shall keep our eyes on Christ, the light; keep on walking, keep on knocking on the
next door. The greatest thing is yet to come, as God made the promise to us.
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