Let’s start with a look back at our past 7 days: (seriously try to remember)
· Who would testify that this past week you demonstrated to them an extraordinary level of love?
· To whom did you give the time of day despite the fact that they make you feel uncomfortable?
· When you met with someone this week who did the most talking?
· What painful or dangerous place did you run to this week?
· Can you think of a situation in the past 7 days into which you brought a little bit of peace and sanity?
· Did you face any persecution in the past 7 days?
These are all practical diagnostic questions that would indicate whether you are living up to the nickname “Christian” for they speak to these tests 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.
These are 6 of the big ideas we gleaned from our study this summer in the Gospel of Mark, examining the life, teaching and mentoring of Jesus.
· We were trying to answer the question – What on earth does the nickname “Christian” mean?
o Our assumption – if we went back to the original interactions between Jesus and his first followers we’d get a clue as to what he wants us to be.
Last week was began a review of the summer…6 ideas that shape our understanding of Christian
· Today 7,8,9,10 and 11
· Next week we’ll wrap it up with idea #12 and then some insanely practical suggestions for application
I’ve grouped our 12 ideas into 4 sections:
As followers of Jesus, how are we to treat people? (ideas 1,2, and 3)
As followers of Jesus, what is our calling? (ideas 4,5, and 6)
Last week was all action oriented and external. This week we go beyond the surface…down deep into our motivations, our hearts, our souls.
Our two categories for today:
As followers of Jesus, who are we to be inside? (ideas 7 and 8)
As followers of Jesus, how are we to relate to God? (ideas 9,10 and 11)
As followers of Jesus, who are we to be inside?
We got a clear answer to that question in a testy, combative interaction between Jesus and some hot shot local pastors and politicians…
One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. Mark 7:1-2
· Reminder: Pharisees were utterly committed to fulfilling God’s laws completely so that they would be set apart from the world and holy!
· They were so crazed about never violating the law and never crossing the line into bad people territory that they made an arbitrary fence of laws around the original law so they would not go near…or even have a chance of violating it. Ritual hand washing was one of those fences.
o This was not about hygiene, it was about legalism – man made holiness.
o This was about doing enough of the right stuff to look good to people and to God.
o This was about doing enough of the right stuff to avoid that feeling of guilt.
· We all do it. We make fences to protect us from accusation. We create ways of appearing good to cover up what’s inside us. (actions, language, clothing, posture) All to get people to like us and to get God to like us.
But there’s a problem with that approach… which Jesus points out…
Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ Mark 7:6-7
· You are play acting (hypocrite). Your life is an act.
o You talk a good game
o You do the right things
o You make yourself look presentable.
o You’re a relatively good moral “Christian”
· But…“your hearts are far from me.” You’re a fake. Counterfeit.
80% of Americans claim some kind of connection to Jesus. Would say they are Christian but when push comes to shove and you ask more probing questions about the state of their heart and their actual beliefs…the vast majority come out as phonies.
Why is this such a big deal? Well, let me give you 3 reasons why spiritual hypocrites are in trouble:
1) Your eternal life is on the line – fakes don’t make it to heaven. (more in a minute)
2) Hypocrites have no power.
a. Remember ideas 1,2,3,4,5, and 6? All those “doing” active descriptions? You don’t have a ghost of a chance of success in any of them without heart change!
This is why Jesus made it crystal clear about internal transformation…he gave the ultimate solution for hypocrites: So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ John 3:7
· To be born again means to “take it from the top” …hit reset on your life and turn your trust away from your own ability and place it in Jesus. Have you been born again?
· This was our 7th idea of the summer (and perhaps the most importantJ
7. Followers of Jesus must be transformed from the inside out.
3 reasons why spiritual hypocrites are in trouble…there is another reason fake Christians end up being flop Christians.
3) When life falls apart they have no capacity to endure.
We learned that when life urns nasty and tragic , true Christians have a remarkable amount of resilience.
35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. 38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” 39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” Mark 4:35-41
He was frustrated that though they had been walking with him for months and seen miracle after miracle they still didn’t get it. …or more specifically didn’t get HIM!
· They didn’t assume that since he was in the boat with them they were ultimately going to be OK.
You could re-write his exasperation with them to say “Why are you afraid? I’M RIGHT HERE!”
Faith is not an ability to handle a storm it is a steady gaze on Jesus through the storm.
Faith is less about personal courage and more about confidence in Christ.
One of the most memorable moments in this series was when during this message I stopped an interviewed Todd and Cathy Erb. They recounted their faith through the most horrific of tragedies.
· Note: a full interview podcast is available for you to listen to. Ist week of September – home page
8. Followers of Jesus have confidence in Him even through storms.
Our last category of ideas from this summer is…
As followers of Jesus, how are we to relate to God?
If you call yourself Christian – what’s does your relationship with God look like?
Jesus put to rest any equivocation on this question. If anybody thinks God can be a hobby or a buddy or a casual afterthought. He quashed that outright when he said:
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, OIsrael! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ Mark 12:29-20
· It would be impossible to overstate the intensity of this command – with 4 words he turns this into the ultimate mic drop moment…
o You are to relate to God with love… unconditional, unqualified, unrestricted devotion
o He is to you your LORD = kyrios = owner and absolute master
o Your love and devotion should dominate your world 24/7
§ All emotions, All of your motivations, all of your intelligence, all of your will
· Let’s cut to the chase: True followers of Jesus are freaks. They are extremists for God.
9. Followers of Jesus love God in the most extreme ways possible.
We saw this demonstrated in two clear ways this summer…
The story Ken Kamau told us...
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21
Jesus loved the guy’s passion but cut him no slack…you gotta “let it go” brother
· Love for God comes with “open palms”
Makes me wonder about us…“ There is one thing you haven’t done …one thing you haven’t let go of…what is it?
· People’s expectations
· Being right?
· Public Perceptions
10. Followers of Jesus release our most cherished possessions to God.
Finally, we came to this story…
3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head. 4 Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. 5 “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly. 6 But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? 7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” Mark 14:1-9
Talk about bring a freak…this woman pours $50,000 worth of essential oil all over the head of Jesus.
· Wrecked her reputation
· Wasted money that was likely the family’s retirement plan
· Wasted a resource that could have fed an entire village of poor people for a year.
And yet Jesus said… - I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.
Ultimately this woman acted out of her deeply held theology…what she believed about Jesus. This is THE LEAST I can do. Give him the most precious gift I can possibly give.
· He is no mere mortal
· He is not Jesus the great – he is Jesus the only.
Our world says…
· Don’t be so sentimental.
· Don’t go overboard with religion.
· Be Christian if you’d like but
o Don’t make Jesus out to be better than other religions
o Don’t’ tell me what to believe.
That’s what our culture says to us.
I wonder if we’ve accommodated them too much.
I wonder if we’ve tamed our worship.
I wonder if we’ve watered down our delight in Jesus?
I wonder if we’re nickel and diming Jesus?
I wonder if our worship is too civilized?
I wonder if our worship is too careful?
I wonder if our worship is too nice?
I wonder if it’s time for a new generation of Jesus freaks to rise up.
I wonder if it’s time for passion?
I wonder if it’s time for reckless?
I wonder if it’s time for crazy?
….because if Jesus is the son of the living God, savior of the world and Lord of your life….then we better not hold anything back from him.
11. Followers of Jesus hold nothing back from God