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What Now? What Next?
Making Disciples in a Disrupted World
In the day-to-day reality of increasing upheaval and discord, how are Christians to think and behave? How do we anchor our conversations and attitudes when everything in us wants to either retreat or lash out in anger? In this new series, Chip provides a biblical path to allowing Christ to reign in us and work through us no matter what's going on.More from this series
When I read the Bible, my first reaction is stuff like this, “I can’t believe His family did that. I can’t believe those disciples are like that. I can’t believe those religious leaders. I mean, He told the guy, “Get up and walk. I mean, man, their head was in the sand!” Right? And I somehow read the Bible like I am on the good team and everybody else…
And when I’m a lot more honest, I realize I’m a lot more like His family, I have been angry.
Anybody else been angry this last year? I have been livid. I have been ticked off. Now, I have wisely not posted where I’ve been ticked off. And I think some of my ticked off is righteous anger and it’s good and I think God says, Way to go, Chip! It’ll motivate you to do some good.
And I think some of it is just downright sinful and selfish, because there’s some stuff that I want my way, there’s some stuff I think is important. And it looks like it’s not going to be that way. And I just have to remember, Okay, God didn’t promise it would be that way.
So, here’s the question: What was Jesus’ attitude and what was His response to rejection, indignation, unfulfilled expectations, and injustice? I am a master of long sentences with lots of words. But I do want you to know I choose them carefully. And you know where this is going, don’t you?
If this is Jesus’ response to rejection, it needs to be mine. If this is Jesus’ response to indignation that He experienced, it needs to be mine. If this is His response to the unfulfilled expectations of people who say, “I thought You were going to do this for me,” anybody have some of that going on?
Like, in this season, after all that you have done for certain people and how you have tried to help people and you’ve gotten stuff thrown back in your face, and then just some of the injustice that is so terrible.
Well, here’s His premise. Sandwiched in between the indignation and sandwiched in the major innovation, Jesus tells us what He’s going to do and why He’s going to do it.
You have heard it quoted before, but I’m not sure you have heard it quoted in context. His response to the indignation and rejection is, “No one pours new wine into old wineskins, otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.” Right?
Just in the day, right? If you’ve got new wine, it’s going to ferment. If you put it in old wineskins, as it ferments, it will burst them. And you’ll lose the wine and the wineskins.
So, here’s the principle, “But new wine,” new teaching, new method, new kingdom, disruption, future, the way life is supposed to be rather than the way it is, “new wine,” Jesus’ new wine, “must be put into fresh wineskins.” New containers, new ideas, new methods.
“And no one, after drinking the old wine wants new, for he says, ‘The old wine is fine.’” Translation, when you begin to innovate, when you begin to respond in ways the way Jesus did, Jesus said, “Even though it’s new wine, people get so accustomed, they would rather have the old, the tradition, the “this-makes-me-comfortable”, even if they know it’s not the right wine, or the new wine, or the best wine.
He’s making a commentary on human nature. Are you ready for this? We are all this way. Now, some of you like change a lot more than other people. But there is some level where we, I am one of those people that, I really like change until it affects me, right?
And we live in a world of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists and startups and we like change, yeah! Man, let’s go! Way different than a lot. But we don’t like it when we see some of those changes and the government makes a new law that caps that, or we can’t do this, or someone says that, or we don’t get funded, or… Or we don’t like change that affects our family or our rhythm or our comfort and life.
And so, what I want you to see is what Jesus’ practice is.
First of all, and again, I can’t go through all the passages, but I have given them to you so that, with your cup of tea, someone told me once, “Would you stop talking about coffee? I don’t drink coffee.” And I say to them, “There’s still help for you.” But herbal tea is great.
First of all, Jesus challenges the status quo and what He does in Luke chapter 6, is He goes for the jugular. If you were very familiar with Judaism at that time, in fact, even to this time, if there is a religious marker, those people that are in and those people who are out, the symbol is the Sabbath.
You can go to Israel to this day, and completely pagan Jews, they honor the Sabbath.
They figure ways. They pre-program all the elevators in Israel so you don’t have to push a button and violate the Sabbath. So, you get on the, and it goes by itself. And they preheat everything, and they do all kind of amazing things. But it’s the external thing. And so, what does Jesus do? He goes with His disciples and they are walking in the fields and He is purposefully, don’t miss it, He is purposefully, He’s going to poke them in the eye. He goes, “You think it’s all about keeping these external rules that make you right with God. I’m going to take the biggest external rule that you have, I’m going to poke you in the eye, I’m going to challenge the status quo.”
And He does that and then they get all upset. And then the text, right, the text flows right from that one to, and He’s in the Sabbath and there’s a man with a withered hand, and they are there thinking, Is He going to heal on the Sabbath? Like, what could be worse? Helping someone on the Sabbath. Wow. Right? The logic of it is amazing.
And a cross reference says, “Jesus looked at them with disdain because they were so blind.” And He brings the man up, and remember? “Open your hand.” He is healed. And let me just, let me just read for you, this is the response of religious leaders who know the law, who have major portions of the Old Testament [memorized], who fast a couple times a week.
“And Jesus says, ‘Hold out your hand,’ so the man held out his hand, and it was restored. At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage, and they began to discuss what to do with Him,” namely, kill Him.
And then notice, “One day soon afterward, Jesus went up onto a mountain to pray,” and what does He do? He innovates. And He says, “I came in hopes that the religious establishment would receive its Messiah.” And what you’re going to watch is a series of innovations. So, there’s a new vision. He grabs a new group, prays all night, calls them disciples, and then He does this miraculous thing where crowds come. And the text is very clear. They come from Jerusalem and as far out as you can look on the map. And it says specifically they are all healed. And then He goes up onto a mountain and He preaches the Sermon on the Mount and basically says, “There’s a whole new vision. This is where we are going.”
After that, it opens up, He finishes the Sermon on the Mount, Luke 7, there’s innovative compassion. We don’t get this, because we don’t have the cultural bias. He heals a Roman soldier’s slave. They hated the Romans! And He goes, “No, no, no, this new vision, it’s not, you don’t get to choose Black, white, Asian, Indian, rich, poor. No, no, no, no. In this Kingdom, there’s a new vision.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are you when you are persecuted for My name’s sake.” This is a new Kingdom with a new way. And there’s going to be compassion for everyone.
And then there’s innovative action. He says, “You know what? Let’s make sure, this isn’t about talk, this isn’t about a new ideology.” So, a widow comes by and you could almost see Him taking the big miracles that happened before. Elijah did this one; Elisha did that one. And He is going to go and mimic each of them to know that one greater than them is here, and He raises this boy from the dead.
He goes, “This new Kingdom is power!” This is power! This isn’t about talk, this isn’t about coming to religious services, this isn’t evaluating, “Well, so-and-so talked a little bit too long and I wish we’d do a little bit more hymns, and that chorus was okay, but the drums were a little bit loud, and let’s go to lunch.” You know, those big things that we talk about in church. He says, “No.”
And then His teaching. His teaching wasn’t like, “Okay, you’ve got to stay in the synagogue.” He starts teaching and tells stories and then He tells parables, and then He does Q&As, and then, oh, by the way, Let’s pause and let’s heal someone over here, and let’s let people challenge Me.
And let’s do this out in the marketplace. Let’s invade what is happening in the world. Let’s not have a little place where we are asking everyone to come here. I’m going to go out and we are going to live, and we are going to love, and we are going to help. And the world is being transformed.
And then He innovates with His teaching and then His methods. And the world is changing. It’s internal, not external. It’s His Kingdom, not your kingdom. It’s for all people, not some people. It’s about power, it’s not about talk. And now it’s not about head knowledge. It’s putting aside all of our prejudice and it’s living it out.
So, what is our attitude to be? This is where we are coming to. It’s not long, it’s not hard to understand, it’s just very challenging to apply. Our attitude – we have talked about our focus, our response, and our priorities. Our attitude is innovation, not indignation.
The command is in Romans chapter 12, verses 14 through 16. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.” I don’t know about you, but I didn’t grow up knowing what it meant to bless.
It means to want the favor and the blessing and the good things of God to be upon another person. First and foremost, it means you want salvation for them, eternal salvation. Second, it means, notice it says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.”
And the first step is always forgiveness. That’s the command.
I want you to think about that person that hurt you the most, that made you the most angry in the last year. See, this isn’t a lecture, people.
This is the birthing of a movement of God, if we will allow it. And God says to each one of us – me – I want you to bless those people you’re ticked off at. I want you to get them really clear in your mind. I want you to feel how angry you have been. And then to bless, actually, is a prayer. You begin praying, see, the only thing that can change your heart is you begin to pray for people what God wants for them. Lord, would You bring them to know You? Would You bring them to know You? Would You bring them to know You?
But the second part is you can’t pray that with a heart that is hardened. Lord, would You [help me] forgive them? By the way, forgiveness is a whole other message. But forgiveness is a three-step process. It’s a decision, it’s a process, and then it’s a culmination. To forgive is a choice. I release you from the payback that I want you to have for the wrong that I think you have done. The process begins, I begin to pray for them. I never take a Lord’s Supper unless I pray for them. I pray for them daily. And it starts out with, “Change them, change them, change them, change them, change them.”
And then He will soften your heart. And you’ll say, “God, give them a great marriage.”
“Lord, some of the, they need a good job.” And you’ll actually start praying like you care about them. And as you pray and do that, it may take six months or a year, in my case, it took over two years once when I was betrayed.
And when you hear something good about the people that you have desperately hated or who betrayed you or you think is wrong, and when you hear something good about them, and you can honestly rejoice you’ll know - they are forgiven.
And by the way, it’s supernatural. And you say, “Well, how would that really work?” Notice the instructions. “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”
See, the context is, at verse 14, Romans 12 completely changes and it answers the question: how do you respond at the evil aimed at you? “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Can you imagine what would happen if a white policeman saw the hurt of a Black radical that maybe threw rocks at him, and visited him in the hospital? Can you imagine what would happen to a policeman after being injured in a riot, to have a Black radical come and say, “Man, I’m so sorry and I had no idea that – the intent was never for that.” Can you imagine what would happen if the people that you disagree with politically and ideologically, if you got to know them? That when they had a miscarriage, that you would go and pray with them? When they were hurting financially, you’d say, “I know we come from different worlds, and you may not allow me, but I’d like to help out in this.”
That’s what it’s saying. That’s what the early Church did. They walked arm in arm into stadiums, “Oh Lord, thank You for the privilege of suffering. Will You please forgive these people?” as they would be thrown to wild animals.
Nero would actually impale Christians on poles and use them for his cocktail parties and then set them aflame. And they would sing as they would be burning to death, forgiving their captors. That’s the Christianity that changed the world. It wasn’t a Christianity of they went to meetings, gave a little bit of money, went on a mission trip every two or three years, and tried to be nice people.
Jesus was a revolutionary; He started a revolution. Anytime it gets to be religion, it dies.
And then finally, there’s a warning. When you start to take steps like that, he says, “Be of the same mind toward one another.” Who is the “one another” here? It’s not fellow Christians.
Basically, it’s try and think – can you imagine if you could ponder from instead of how you live, you know, I live in a very unique world where one my closest friends in Charlotte is the pastor, a Black pastor, of a very, very significant church. And Charlotte has been through just utter hell in some of the racial things that have happened, and people being killed.
We have grieved together. And then I have a lady on our staff whose husband is a police officer in Columbus. And he is finding himself in situations being called to go around the country and put on combat gear. And it’s a bizarre world. And the hate just keeps flowing. It doesn’t stop unless someone says, “I am not that. There can’t be an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. We can disagree; we can look at things differently.”
But be of the same mind. Try to understand where a person is coming from and what they have experienced and how they see life. You don’t have to agree. But when there’s no empathy, there is no hope of reconciliation.
And then the other warning is very clear. He says, “Don’t be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.” Don’t somehow think, Oh, we are going to be the Christians and we are going to solve things. And these people don’t really get it, but we do. And we are a little bit better.
He said, “That’s self-righteousness, that’s ugly.” “Do not be wise in your own estimation. There is no room for superiority, self-righteousness, no class mindset, there can’t be an “us” or “them”, there can’t be, “It’s their problem.” There can’t be a denial of our own need.
Some of you are thinking, This guy better wrap this up pretty quickly, because it’s getting a little heavy.
Summary: God is using the now, this moment in history, to shake His world. He always starts with shaking HIs own people. Most of His own people will respond with indignation and will protect their turf, their view, their rights, and their power.
That’s what will happen with most of Christendom in the United States. But there will be some, and I’m praying it’s us, and there will be pockets all over the U.S. and pockets all over the world. There will be some who understand the times and know that following Christ, we must innovate. We must have a new vision of the Kingdom, not how God can fix America or make our personal lives work out.
We need to innovate with compassion, and not just care about the people that look like us or think like us or agree with us. We need to innovate with action and replace a lot of words and a lot of going to meetings with a lot of specific help of real people. And we need to innovate with teaching that is fresh and life changing, and focuses on the everyday in every way, followers of Christ.
And then we need to innovate in our methods. Methods that connect the heart and the mind where we become followers that are saying, “24/7, three-sixty-five, Jesus, You lead, I’ll follow. P.S., Lord, I am scared to death. And thank You that You will give me everything I need. And I cannot do this alone.”
We respond with innovative ideas and thoughts and ways and attitudes that bring restoration and healing and life.
Lord, we are in desperate need of You, of Your grace, of the ability to see ourselves for where we really are instead of where we think we are. Lord, we need eyes to not condemn other people and judge them and assume that our view is completely right and that we have nothing to learn.
And, Lord, there is evil and it means taking a stand and not being doormats and being strong, but, Lord, Your strength was with meekness, not weakness. It was with power under control. It was power submitted to the Father. It was power submitted to the Holy Spirit. You didn’t have to call, but You could have, angels down. You modeled for us that good is more powerful than evil. And so, we ask You now, in Jesus’ name, that You would help us apply that in our personal life. Amen.