I am a human being, a man, a Caucasian (though ¼ Spanish), American, Hoosier by transplant (lived more than half my life here), Indianapolis resident, baby boomer, husband, father, pastor, foodie and amateur chef, Colts Fan and Pacers Fan, and I am a Christian.
· All of those words and phrases describe me.
· All of them help you understand me more…well, except one…Christian
o The nickname “Christian” really doesn’t help at all because you don’t know what I mean by it do you?
§ Does it mean…
· I am a good moral guy?
· Not Jewish not Muslim, not Hindu?
· Religious?...a Church goer?
· Politically Right wing?
· Politically left wing?
· I believe in a literal Jesus?
· I believe in the bible as truth or not?
These days it could mean any of those things or none of those things – the word has lost its meaning. It’s confusing, it’s tired and it’s controversial.
Originally it was nickname given by Roman/Greek government to a group of people who did not have a name.
· It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians. Acts 11:26
· Originally a kind of slur (“little Christ’s”)
o Living by the teachings and modelling the lifestyle of Jesus.
· In time these people “little Christs” took it as a badge of honor (Peter’s comment)
o But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! 1 Peter 4:16
· But…in the intervening years between then and now it has become a catch all for all kinds of definitions and meanings.
And it shines a light on the identity crisis in which we now struggle.
· Who, indeed, are we who identify in big or tiny ways with Jesus?
· What did Jesus intend his followers to be? And how did he intend his followers to live and act?
In these days of social confusion, political upheaval, and in a time when the world groans in its brokenness and our families cry out for direction …. We need to know who we are.
So, with that as the backdrop …this summer we’ve tried to clear things up.
We studied Jesus. Looked at many stories of his life but with a bias…what kind of community was he trying to create?
We looked at his stories through the lens of mentoring …how was he shaping his followers? Who was he hoping they would become?
· Our text – Mark ( the memoirs of Peter)
Today and for the 2 weeks following we are going to do a synopsis of or summer together and take a deeper dive into application.
· Today and next week a review of every sermon
· September 1-2 – implications for us and this church
There were 11 big ideas that I expanded to 12 as I took one of them and broke it into two.
· I’ve ordered these 12 ideas into 4 broad categories:
As followers of Jesus, how are we to treat people?
As followers of Jesus, what is our calling?
As followers of Jesus, who are we to be inside?
As followers of Jesus, how are we to relate to God?
· I can only a few moments on each of the ideas and if you’re taking notes I’ve numbered them to keep us on track.
One other tool I’d recommend to you – a very cool devotional series created by one of our summer interns – Nicco Ravenna
· Next weekend printed copies will be at the Info desk and a doigotal version will be linked to a Grace email later this week.
As followers of Jesus, how are we to treat people?
The answer to that in Jesus eyes is unequivocal:
Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus (Mark 12:31)
One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, OIsrael! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. 30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
Love God totally. Love people completely.
This may be the prime test of certification of a Christian. Do you love God totally and do you love people completely?
· We’ll come back to our love for God later (this is the big idea I split into 2) …but seriously, do you love people completely?
This command is so extreme that it short-circuits the brain and heart.
· First there is the definition of love: Love is an unconditional, unqualified, unrestricted devotion and affection with an extreme bias toward the needs of the other.
· Then there’s Jesus definition of love: There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Jesus (John 15:13)
· Then there’s Abraham Lincoln’s definition of love in the Gettysburg address called it “the last full measure of devotion”
In the last week, in the days since Charlottsville, I’ve seen a lot of outrage (justifiable), calls for prayer (again, good idea), and some calls for love… #lovewins #loveoverfear
But let’s be crystal clear. Our love for people is to mirror our love for God.
· Our love for people cannot be limited to social media comments
· Our love for people cannot be limited to random acts of kindness
· Our love for people must be a premeditated determination to show people our last full measure of devotion.
1. Followers of Jesus love people in the most extreme ways possible.
Now. twice in this series we went deeper and more practically in this business of loving people:
Amy told us the story of Mark 2: Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) 16But when the Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum? Mark 2:16
Amy forced us wrestle with some tough questions about who we relate to…
· Are there people out there that you would rather not hang out with?
o People that maybe make you uneasy or uncomfortable?
o People that you strongly disagree with?
o People that are just so different from you?
o People that are just so difficult?
o Or people that carry so much baggage?
· Amy suggested (I agree with her) that “as the body of Christ have done some significant damage in this area” I think there is a big world out there that views us – Christians – as a judgmental and self-righteous and at times angry group of people. And I believe much of that has been brought on by us and our words and our actions. And I believe this is absolutely contrary to everything Jesus was about.
We don’t need to wait for people to get cleaned up – to be presentable – we just need to engage people in whatever shape we find them … And let the Holy Spirit will take care of the rest.
At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel. Maya Angelou
2. Followers of Jesus meet people right where they are.
Barry a few weeks later reminded us that this complete love of people must include paying attention.
He pointed this out from several overlapping stories in Mark 5
· The story of Jairus begging Jesus to come to the aid of his little sick girl…
· And while on the way…a desperate woman with a bleeding problem touched him through the crowd.
Who touched my robe? Jesus (Mark 5:30)
Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.
Jesus could have ignored her in his haste to get to his next thing but he didn’t. He stopped. He paid attention.
· He acknowledged her. He dignified her. He healed her.
· Jesus paid attention! He was constantly attentive to the needs of those around him. Physical needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs, relational needs.
· He expects as much from us.
3. Followers of Jesus pay attention to the needs of those around them.
So, if you call yourself Christian you should have a reputation.
· You love people and they should know you’d sacrifice whatever necessary for them
· You don’t have a heavily curated list of people with whom you relate. You hang out with all kinds of people, wherever they are…mess and all.
· You are unusually interested in others. You are known as a person who pays attention to the people around you.
As followers of Jesus, what is our calling?
By calling…our mission…our motivation
Way back in June we studied Jesus first few days with his brand new disciples:
· Mark 1 – Jesus immediately threw them into many encounters with seriously ill people and numerous demon possessed folks.
· He dragged them from town to town…from one messy situation to another.
· And in one dramatic scene Jesus defied all protocol and
Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched the leper. He said. “Be healed!” Mark 1:41
Jesus made it clear that Christians do not shy away from a scrap. Followers of Jesus don’t hang back when it gets nasty. When it gets uncomfortable we don’t run away…
We run to it.
4. Followers of Jesus run to it…the pain, the danger, the tragedy and the chaos.
Tim took that one step further…reminded us as we run into the dangerous places of chaos and insanity…our goal is to bring freedom and peace.
· Mark 5– story of the demon possessed man with a legion of demons within him
· Tim suggested that mimicking Jesus …we should be people whose very presence overcomes chaos.
5. Followers of Jesus bring sanity and peace into the world’s desperate situations.
That all sounds noble and courageous but we did get a sobering reminder of the cost of all this bravery…
In a story out of Mark 6 we saw Jesus take it on the chin when in his home town…
…they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter…” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Mark 6:3
Christians who are following their calling…running to it…bringing peace in the chaos will be persecuted for it.
You will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. Matthew 24:9
Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.
One of the most accurate ways to detect and measure the activity of God is to note the amount of opposition that is present. The stronger the persecution the more significant the spiritual vitality of the believers. Nik Ripken, The Insanity of God
6. Followers of Jesus, who proclaim Christ, face persecution.
So then…all you human beings out there…men and women…who like to think of yourself as Christian. Are you?
Here’s your test of authentication:
Followers of Jesus love people in the most extreme ways possible.
Followers of Jesus meet people right where they are.
Followers of Jesus pay attention to the needs of those around them.
Followers of Jesus run to it…the pain, the danger, the tragedy and the chaos.
Followers of Jesus bring sanity and peace into the world’s desperate situations.
Followers of Jesus, who proclaim Christ, face persecution.
Next week. More soul searching as we review what we’ve learned about Jesus and you.