weekend Broadcast

Christ Not Causes, Part 2

From the series What Now? What Next?

It’s not too far-fetched to say we’re living in one of the most disruptive times in history. Hardship, injustice, and corruption are everywhere. So how are Christ-followers to respond? In this program, Chip describes the example Jesus modeled for us, back in the 1st century, which focused on one word: unity. Too often we as Christians let political, social, or personal beliefs divide us. Chip pushes us to lay aside those secondary issues and focus on loving Jesus together.

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Message Transcript

I would say that it’ very important to think we are living in a day that is much more like the first century than the last century. And the last century, a good portion of it, there was a, in America at least, a collective worldview and culture that actually supported your faith. Being an honest person, telling the truth, having a marriage and staying married, basic morality.

I remember my dad selling a car and he shook a guy’s hand. There wasn’t paperwork; there weren’t lawyers. And so, to be a Christian was to be esteemed. Now we are in a day where if you are interviewed for a job on a court and you’re a female who says, “I,” because of her faith says, “I believe the life of the unborn is very, very important,” then two senators say, “We could never have a judge like that, because she is dangerous.” How do you get to be dangerous because you just care about an unborn child?

Well, then what is our model? I am going to suggest our model and our mandate is Jesus Himself. Here’s the good news. If you’re taking notes, I left this one blank I think. There’s hope! Luke chapter 4, do you remember it? Do you remember? Jesus is starting His ministry, He has been tempted, He goes back to Nazareth where He had been brought up, and was as His custom, He stood up in the synagogue on the Sabbath day and they gave Him a scroll. And He unrolled the scroll, the book of Isaiah.

“‘And the Spirit of the Lord,’ He says, ‘is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, to recover the sight of the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the favor, the favorable year of the good news of Yahweh, the Lord.’ And He closed the book, He gave it back to the attendant, and He sat down and the eyes of all the synagogue were fixed on Him and He began to say to them, ‘Today, this has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”

What I want you to know is the world is looking for a Messiah. Memo: He came. We have one. He is our hope. We need to just follow Him and proclaim Him. But it gets better than that. There’s help. It’s not just His model. Remember His mandate?

We often talk about, “Go into all the world,” literally it’s, “As you go.” This wasn’t for some little group of people and you have to go on a trip. This is – participle – as you go to work, as you go around the block, as you go to get your coffee, as you go to pick up your dry cleaning, as you go to wherever you go, “make followers of Jesus,” authentic, fully devoted, Romans 12 as we read, followers of Jesus.

Now, of who? Not just of nations out there. The word is ethnos. To every people group. And what are you supposed to do? “Well, I want you to baptize them in the name of the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit.” And in that day, that primarily was: help them move their identity from their darkness into light.

And this moment of baptism is when they say, “I’m a brand-new person and my alignment and my family is the Church, this supernatural community.” Well, then teach them. Well, what do you want us to teach them? Teach them, it’s not about coming to a service and listening to someone and singing three or four songs and trying to be a nice person.

“Teach them to obey everything I taught you.” Well, where is that? It’s this! [the Bible] And what I love is, here’s the help. Before He gave that in verse 19, He says, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Me.” We’ve got all the power we need.

And then when He finished He said, “And I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” His presence. But His presence isn’t manifested to everyone. His presence is manifested to people that are about making disciples.

It’s making disciples in a disrupted world.

So, then the question then raises, well, how do you introduce Christ to our disrupted world? And there’s a little acronym that the Lord gave me as I was processing this that we will walk through.

But if you look at Jesus’ life, He proclaimed Christ, not causes. There were lots of causes. The cause of women, infanticide, slavery. And it was those people who followed Jesus with all their heart that addressed those biggest causes. But they focused on Him first and foremost. They were a healing community. They weren’t hostile and angry over what Rome was doing.

They focused on relationships, not real estate. There weren’t even cathedrals built or places to go to for three hundred years. They met in homes and catacombs. They just loved each other. They ate meals. They did innovation, new wine in new wineskins. They weren’t indignant. They were people that focused on substance, not success. I don’t think they were counting all the numbers; I think it was Yahweh. He’s the Lord our God. We are going to teach people the great truth. We are going to be men and women who know God’s Word, who share God’s Word, who teach our children.

Fathers, that when we rise up and when we go to bed and when we walk by the way, who impart and model what it means to be a follower. The substance of authentic followers.

And finally, they were people who weren’t waiting for the next technology. They had their technology – the Roman roads, the aqueducts – they had lots of technology.

It’s interesting, when someone said, “Lord, will You tell us, what’s the work of God? I mean, how are we really going to do this?” John 6. “This is the work of God: that you believe on Him who He has sent.” There’s a lot of things we can do, but without faith, without trusting Him, it’s impossible to please God.

The blessing of being in countries and places where the gospel is not well-received and it’s very hostile, is people have to trust God. The challenge of being Americans who are wealthy and affluent like all of us who live in nice places like this, we have to choose to trust God. And it’s hard.

Even among fellow Christians, to really trust God, I mean, really trust Him with everything, you’re swimming upstream. So, what’s next? Let’s get started, very, very practically as I wrap our time up.

I believe what is next is there is a question to ask, there is a decision to make, and there’s a path to follow. And I’m going to tell you on the front end, it’s going to be a process.

But here’s the question to ask. It’s the question that Jesus asked to one of His favorite, favorite churches. If you know the history of the Church and how it came to be in Ephesus, it grew and it had such impact and now Jesus, about thirty, thirty-five years later through the apostle John is going to go back to that church.

He says, “I know the things that you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance.” So, they were active. They were doing good stuff. They didn’t give up. “But I have this complaint against you. You do not love Me or each other as you did at first.”

But Lord, we’ve got services going, got a lot of impact, we’re giving money. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But you have lost your first love. I have become a compartment, I have become a part of your life, I have become an appendage, I have become maybe even an important part of your life, but not your life.

He says, Look, pause, just back away and kind of look at your life and all the stuff and get perspective. “See how far you have fallen! Turn back,” the word literally is repent, “turn back to Me and do the works that you did at first.”

Lean back and just try and remember. Remember what it was like when you first tasted grace? Remember when you were obnoxious, because you were telling everybody about Jesus and it wasn’t like I got to, ought to, should read the Bible, but it was like, “Oh man, this is so exciting!” And you were memorizing passages and it was bubbling up and you were just like this crazy person that needed a little maturity. I think we’ve got a lot of dry maturity.

And Jesus said, “I want to ask you a question.” Not, is your doctrine right? Not, are you faithful to church? Not, are you a bit more moral than most people? Have you lost your first love? Your passion for Me?

“If you do not repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.” A lampstand is a picture, it’s His presence. You do understand, there are lots of churches that Jesus doesn’t show up at. They are all across the world and they are all across America and I’ve been in a lot of them. You just, you start to teach and you just realize, it’s like BBs off of a tank. There’s no openness, there’s no sense of God’s Spirit, there’s no presence, there’s no power. Oh, they are religious, do some good things.

So, let me ask you, how about you? Have you lost your first love? That’s the question to ask.

Then there’s a decision to make. We read about it. The apostle Paul, after the clearest presentation of eleven chapters of what the gospel is and what it means says, “And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God,” literally the word is offer, it’s a tense in the verb that means at a certain day on a certain time. It’s punctiliar. It’s not just some general thought. On a certain, on a certain time, have you ever said – this isn’t salvation – that’s chapters 3 and 4 of Romans. This is lordship.

This is the question: Am I all in? Give your bodies to God as a living sacrifice. Well, why? Is it to earn His favor? It’s because there’s a transaction? Is it to get His blessing? What does it say? Look at your notes. Look at the passage. “Because of all that He has done for you.” It’s His mercy; it’s His love. “Let it be a living and holy sacrifice,” so it’s not something you do one day, although it happens. It’s a lot like marriage. You do it on a specific day and then you live it out every day. This is truly the way to worship Him.

If you ever wanted to pause and ask a really big question, it’s how I came to Christ, actually. “If there is a God and if He actually exists, what do You want from me?” I didn’t grow up as a believer. And I was just around enough hypocritical Christians and watched just enough of the really bad Christian TV, the best I could tell is all they wanted is your money and to use you.

And then I met a group of real believers, and I had never opened the Bible. And the first passage I opened to was Romans 12. And the question I would ask, “If there’s a God, what do You really want from me?” I realized it was not my money, it’s not what I can do for Him, He wants me. He wants you. All of you. Every ounce of you. He wants your heart, He wants your dreams, He wants your family, He wants your future, He wants your money.

And it’s not to take something away. He wants you to take it and entrust it to Him in light of all that He has done for you, because surrender is the channel through which God’s biggest and best blessings flow. For you to experience the life that God wants to do in you and then through you, means that you need to get the controls over here and you become the co-pilot.

And finally, there’s a path to follow. And after that moment of surrender, he says, “Don’t copy the behavior and the customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

Literally, grammatically, it’s: stop allowing the current world system – lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – to mold you. In the vernacular it’s stop letting sex and salary and status be the goals in your life that shape what you do and why you do it.

Stop letting pleasure and position and power to be the things that, forget what your mouth says or what you say in your mind. It’s what your behavior is saying. And instead, it’s not about trying harder, it’s about renewing your mind. It’s putting a pause on the news, a pause on Netflix, a pause on the phone, maybe doing a three-day media fast from everything and going back to some of those key passages and renewing your mind and just saying, God, I need a fresh wind from You, because the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and makes it alive in your heart.

And notice the promise and the desire. “Then you’ll learn God’s will for you, that which is good, pleasing, and perfect.”

Three questions I think we have: Have I lost my first love? Am I all in? And is the world conforming me or am I transforming the world around me?

And I realize it’s a strong challenge and I would just say, when Jesus gave this challenge, hear His heart. They were living in the same world, the same problems, the same issues as us. And that’s the agenda because we get it in the New Testament. But Jesus is saying to you, what He’s saying to you, on this day, “Come, come, come unto Me,” right now, “all of you that are labored and heavy laden,” that are stressed out, that are overwhelmed, that are confused, that don’t know what to make of it, don’t know about the future, and have deep and overwhelming concern, “come to Me and I will give you rest, rest for your soul.” Let Me take over.

And then He goes on to say, “Take My yoke upon you,” let’s do this together. “My yoke is light.” Just let’s hook up and let’s do life together. And here’s what I want you to know, this isn’t me pounding you, it’s not going to, I’m going to take the best things away from you, because, “I am gentle.” This is Jesus describing Himself. “I am humble,” I have your, I put your needs ahead of My own. Remember? I went to the cross. “And I am gentle and I’ll give you rest.”

And so, my encouragement is for you to take this very, very seriously and even if it’s just a baby step, Lord, I am going to look at my life. Don’t make some knee-jerk, emotional response to anything.

Look at your life. Where is my first love?

And if you’re not sure, get out your financial statement and get out your calendar and it will tell you exactly where your first love is. And maybe, maybe the great step would just be, Oh Lord, I’m sorry. He loves you! He’s not down on you. Lord, I’m, gosh. I spend so much time playing these silly games and impressing people and saying things and worrying about that and anxious about that and consumed with how much I have lost and, blah, blah, blah.

And then for some of you, it may be today. But where He would say to you, if He played Texas Hold ‘Em, sorry, I had a gambling addiction before I came to Christ. I think in gambling terms. He would say to you and me, I want to give you the best and greatest life ever. I want you to take the stack of chips of family, the stack of chips of business, the stack of marriage, the stack of your future, all your money, all your dreams, and I want you to push them to the middle of the table and then I want you to say to the Holy God of the universe, “You deal. I trust You.”

“He that spared not His own Son, how will He not with Him freely give me all things?” Oh God, “You’re a sun and a shield. No good thing will You withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Is it fearful? Of course it is. But God, the world is crumbling. All that I am and all that I have, I want to be Yours.

Because the very last line, and this will be a journey for some, it will be a moment in time for others, God must work deeply in us before He will work significantly through us.

Lord, we love You. We do it very poorly, but God, we are so grateful that You love us and You do it so infinitely good. We have nothing to fear. Help us now on this journey to be Christians that live like Christians. Amen.