The next 8 weeks we are going to discuss your most favorite of topic.
…it’s the topic you hope ever conversation eventually turns to.
…the topic you spend most of the time thinking about.
…the topic is: YOU …and your story.
Who are you? What IS your story? How would you describe yourself? Let’s see how you compare to the average American. If you are like the average American:
· you live in the state where you were born
· you are 37 years old (1960 – 29)
· you have a full time job
· you do not have a college degree – average just over 12 years education
· married or not married – 51% adults married
· if you are a woman – you’ve had 2.07 kids
· if you are a man you weigh 194 (1960 – 166) woman 164 (1960-140)
· have an IQ of 98 (like the French)
· You own your own home – 2500 Sq ft. – worth 120,000
· you make between 50-60,000$
· you do NOT live in a traditional nuclear family (father work/mom at home with kids)
· you produce four pounds of trash every day
· make four trips every day from your home
· in bed before midnight
· your car is 11.4 years old
· you do not smoke
· you have fired a gun
· you have placed at least one bet in your lifetime
· avg golf handicap is 16.1 men – 28.9 women
A lot of those stats came from interesting book - The Average American: The Extraordinary Search for the Nation's Most Ordinary CitizenHardcoverbyKevin O'Keefe
So, in many ways your story is that of an average and in other ways you are quite extraordinary.
What about spiritually? What is your spiritual story? How do you compare to other Americans when it comes to matters of faith?
25% Non Christian - Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic, “None”
25% Cultural Christians
· Prime goals: Happiness and family
o happiness greater than holiness
· Believe in God and maybe even Jesus
o God is at a distance – functional deists
o God is “out of sight out of mind”
o religion is a private matter
o spiritual life is not a priority
· Don’t believe in absolute moral truth
o believe the Bible is the good book but not inspired or authoritative
o Morally ambiguous – wide open to cultural perspectives
o I’m not going to impose my views on others
· Little desire to invest in a church though may show up from time to time
But still would refer to themselves as Christian because:
· they are not Jewish, Muslim, atheist, agnostic
· they went to church occ. as a child
25% Congregational Christians
· Believe in God – believe in Jesus (actually can have strong theological beliefs)
· Identify with a church or denomination and attend church either occasionally or even frequently
o most do not attach deeply to a church – not serving in significant ways or in community…mostly just show up for weekend services when they can or want to.
· priorities are all equal: God – family – happiness – success
o so…always a juggling act as to which priority rules at any given moment
· might even say they are “born again” - might have even made some kid of perceived commitment but… A huge majority of "born again" Christians "make a commitment" without understanding the ﬁne print.
· Congregational Christians see their faith as important for only two reasons:
o fire insurance (go to heaven when they die) “waiting for soul rescue while living for fat city”
o source of personal satisfaction – My personal relationship with God helps me feel better. Spiritual experiences like worship or reading the Bible are only as good as what they meant to me.
o Congregational Christians consume religion.
· Side note: these folks are producing the “nones”…they are nominal now and none later
· this is where most church goers are – and most of you.
· They have determined to surrender their lives to Jesus and follow him daily.
· Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection are the central point of history and their life.
· They are filled with the Holy Spirit
· Believe Bible is authoritatively God’s word
· Lives though not perfect and sometimes woefully imperfect clearly reflect practices of a follower of Jesus
· Focus of their life is on Faith not just belief – letting go not clinging – surrendered
· Jesus and his kingdom is the one and only priority from which everything else flows.
o Jesus > happiness
o Jesus > family
o Jesus > success
o Jesus > ideology
o Jesus = most important relationship of their life
Now, interestingly the most recent research indicates that this number is likely much lower…perhaps as low as 7%.
· It is quite possible that as few as 1 out of 10 people in America are Surrendered Christians.
· Hamilton County = 300,000 people 30,000 – Surrendered Christians
· Fishers – 80,000 – 8,000 Surrendered
· Here in this room (this is only my guestimate) – 1% non Christians, 10 % cultural – 50 % - Congregational – 40% Surrendered.
What is your story? Who are you? Where do you want to be? How do you want your story to play out?
For the next 8 weeks – in two parts I want you to understand and embrace this truth: Your best possible life will be found exclusively through surrendering to Jesus Christ and following him the rest of your days.
· We will not equivocate on that. That is truth. That you can take to the bank.
· Over the next 4 weeks we want to show you how to get from here to there. To the place of surrender.
Part 1 of this series:
1. who you are
2. why Jesus?
3. what does it mean to surrender?
4. what happens if you don’t?
Let’s get back to you…taker a deeper dive into your soul. Do an autopsy of your soul. It’s essential to know what’s going on down in there to see how crucial surrender to Jesus really is.
You are all so very different from each other – very few fit that composite average American profile but there are 3 things every single one of you shares:
1. you were born – naked and screaming
2. you all will die
3. we all (at one point in our lives) are separated from God. (because of what’s happening in our souls)
a. it is the prime human condition
Now how did you get there? What does that mean?
I’m going to explain this in two ways: First for all the left brain people (logical, analytical) and then for the right brainers ( intuitive, subjective)
So for the left brainers – the clinical facts about your soul: Romans 1:18
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
· You know there is a God – or at least sense it – for two reasons:
o created order and internal conscience
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
· You are looking for a god..Something that is super important to us that defines our existence = success, happiness, family, possessions, power, relationship, love
Romans 3:23 …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23
· not only are you making gods out of little things you also make choices – sin – that further alienates you from God – thus separated.
o fall short = deficient and lagging…behind (we are separated from God)
o glory = dignity and presence
And if jump ahead to Chapter 5:6ff – Paul describes the result of this sin in graphic terms: powerless , ungodly, objects of God’s wrath, God’s enemies
Clinically, theologically speaking, that’s who you are… looking for some god to make life work…continually making poor choices…sinning…and as a result separated from the true God and your best possible life…
That is the state of the Average American soul.
Let me say it a different way…for the right brainers…in a story…one that Jesus told (Luke 15)
Context: criticism for hanging out with sinners.
· purpose to say – “I’m like that shepherd”…that’s why I hang with ner-do wells.
· but in this story he designed you pretty well too…
You’re a sheep…
· you have one thing on your mind – eating grass. Your God is the grass. It is your happiness – it is your mono-focus- you’ll go wherever you think you can find it…and will wander from the one who always has your best interest in mind – the shepherd.
· As a result – you are lost…and you cannot find your way back!
· You are utterly incapable of becoming un-lost though you think you can
o you keep trying – it’s the American way – individual pull yourself up with your bootstraps
o you try self-help, you try yoga, you try fitness, you try religion and belief and church and good works of social justice
· …but you are lost and separated from the God of the universe and you need someone to save you – to rescue you.
Everyone comes to their sense about this at some point…usually in a moment of brokenness. Or maybe in a moment of the sudden shock of emptiness. Or at the tail end of your life…lying on your death bed when you suddenly panic that you’ve been good enough for God to accept (and by the way you’re not)
You cannot find enough grass to satisfy the hunger, enough happiness to fill the emptiness. You cannot believe enough or do enough good things to make you right with God.
So what I want you to hear is this: Your best possible life will be found exclusively through surrendering to Jesus Christ and following him the rest of your days.
I’ve tried to help you see yourself clinically, and through a story…now I want you to hear it in real life…