The Path, Part 1
From the series The Path - To the Life You've Always Wanted
In this message, Chip asks, "Are you ready to begin living the life you’ve always wanted?" People generally wonder about things like, How do I get started? How long will it take? Will it be hard? In his message today, Chip boldly declares that there IS a pathway, and he’s got a detailed map that lays out the route - what to look for, what to do, and where the pathway leads.
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About this series
The Path - To the Life You've Always Wanted
What path are you on and where is it taking you? Everyone is on a path. It may not be a path we think about, but everyone is ON a path. And there are different paths. Some are on a path to fame, some on a path to success, some are on a path to prove your own goodness, some are on a path that say, “I am going to avoid pain and rejection like I had.” Some are on a path to prove that someone who said you are a loser is wrong. Some are on a path to get people to like you. So the question is, "What path are you on, and is it taking you where you want to go?" Join Chip to discover the answer.More from this series
I want to start with a very, very simple question, and here’s the question: What path are you on and where is it taking you? What path are you on today and where is it taking you?
I am on a path; you’re on a path. Now, it’s an unconscious path. And we have different paths. And unconsciously, some are on a path to fame, some on a path to success, some are on a path that your kids will all turn out right, some are on a path that say, “I am going to avoid pain and rejection like I had.” Some are on a path to prove that your father or some significant person who said you were a loser is wrong. Some of you are on a path to get people to like you.
And here’s the thing: it’s so subtle, it’s so deeply rooted, it affects when you get up, all the little habits, what you read, who you hang out with, what movies you watch, where you go on the Internet. And the accumulation of all those little habits that is behind this idea that you may not even be aware of, these values and beliefs and some lies – you’re on a path. And here’s the thing about every path: it leads to a destination.
And when I asked myself, So, Chip, are you on the path that will bring what you want most, an intimate relationship with God and your wife and family and friends? Are you on a path that is going to create an authentic person that my relationships are real and I come out of the shadows and what I project and how I say I am really is who I am? And are you on a path that is going to allow your life to have the kind of impact that God designed for you?
And, you know, I did some deep, deep evaluation and the encouraging part was, in many ways, I’m on that path. And I have been walking with God for over forty years. And in other ways, I’m on a path that leads to things that I think: That’s not where I want to land in a couple relationships. That’s not the kind of person I want to be. And I had to pause and really evaluate. So, what is the pattern, what’s the path, what lies am I believing? Because I am still believing them and I’m guessing everybody else is here too.
Could you just say, out loud, “I’m on a path”? Could you say it now, like you mean it: “I’m on a path”? Okay. You are! Because, see, you don’t believe that! It’s unconscious. Some of you are on this path that: my kids have to get in this school. Some of you are on this path that: I’ve got to look like this. Some of you are on this path: I’ve got to have so much money, because when I retire. And some of you…
And it is so deeply rooted that your life, your behavior, when you sleep, what you do – and it’s producing a life. Now, here’s the thing, this isn’t new. This isn’t new at all. My goal is that we are going to look at the path that will bring about life and love and peace and purpose and the kind of relationships, are you ready? For the kind of life that you long for.
And there’s lots and lots of Christians in the Bible, Old Testament, New Testament, today, Church history, that were on the right path and very gradually they strayed – they did not end well. And it takes some real honesty and that’s what we are going to do today. You’re on a path.
The wisest man in the world gave us a warning, because when you’re on a path, you unconsciously and I unconsciously, we assume that it’s the right path. Solomon said, “There is a path that seems right to a person, but it ends in,” anybody guess what it might be? “There is a path,” by the way, “it seems right.” I’m getting up, I’m doing this, I’m hanging out with these people, I watch this, I’m in this job, I’m pursuing this, I’m reading this, I’m watching that. It seems right! I’m with this group, these are my closest friends.
“There is a path that seems right to a person, and it ends in death.” Heartache, divorce, separation, wayward kids, addictions. See, if you don’t really check out and honestly say, “What is the pattern? What is the path that I’m on?” then you’ll never evaluate, “Have I strayed? Or am I even on the right path?”
I am going to walk you through The Path. This is the most amazing good news in all the world. This is the path that gives life! This is the path that promises peace and right relationships and purpose. This is the kind of path that you stay on it, imperfectly like all of us, that you’ll end your life and you will have the kind of life that you always longed for.
Are you ready? The path is a person. It’s Jesus. The path is an actual person. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to Father except by Me.” It’s not a path, it’s the path.
Every world religion, I mean, New Agers, right? Everyone, if everyone lived like Jesus, the world would be an awesome place, right? I mean, different religions, He is the model, the most loving person who has ever lived and walked.
I mean, if you were married to someone that lived like Jesus every day, that was kind and forgiving and others-centered. Or if your boss was just like Jesus. Or if every employee was just like Jesus, if every dictator of every country was like Jesus, the world would be a great place, right?
So here is the deal, though. We all say, “He is so loving.” He is! But this is from Jesus’ own mouth. He is also, He is the most religiously intolerant person that has ever walked the earth. He didn’t say, “I am a way that you can mix with other ways.” “I am the way.” The word is hodos. It’s, “I am a road, I am the highway, I am the direction.”
He is intellectually intolerant. Intellectually intolerant. He didn’t say, “I am a truth and there’s lots of truth and you can choose.” “I am the truth,” definite article. He is metaphysically intolerant. I mean, the whole, metaphysics and life and philosophy and what’s it all about? He goes, “I am the life.”
I mean, there is such a crossroads, this loving, powerful, fully man, fully God. The path that you need to be on is the Jesus path. It’s a person. And so it’s relationship with Him and the guidance and the direction and the Scripture teaches He literally will take up residence inside of you by the Holy Spirit and lead and guide you and that’s the path. It’s following Him on the path that He blazed for you and me.
Second, the path is simple. I think we get this so complicated. It’s super, super simple. It’s loving God and loving people. That’s the path. It’s not religion. As important as reading the Bible, coming to Church, doing good works – all those things are periphery as an evidence. You can do all those things, we know, and not love people and not love God and do it for all the wrong motives.
Now, they are important, but you’ve got to understand, the path, the evidence, what matters when the God of all eternity looks into your heart and your soul is not external activities. Do you love Me? Do you love him? Do you love her? Do you love your enemies? Do you love your boss? Have you forgiven your ex? When they came to Jesus and they said, “What is the greatest commandment?” trying to trick Him. He said, “The greatest commandment,” He reaches back into the Old Testament, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength.” Talk about surrender! “This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like unto it: ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
So you have to have an appropriate self-love. And your neighbor, according to Jesus, is all the people you come in contact, especially those in need. “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” In other words, they fulfill everything. You know, we evaluate ourselves in so many ways. Just ask yourself: am I loving? Would my kids say I’m loving? Would fellow employees say I’m loving? Would my heavenly Father say I really love Him? I don’t mean just an ooey-gooey feeling. I mean by His definition.
Third, the path begins with a spiritual birth. In other words, you’re not born on a path. You have to get on a path. And many of us, our paths were formed by family of origins and, you know, ideas and thoughts by people.
Jesus was very, very clear. This is a quote that He said to the most religious, morally good person that we can identify in all the New Testament. And He said to Nicodemus, who was a priest and a super good guy and morally squeaky clean. He said, “Truly, truly,” for emphasis, or, “verily, verily I say unto you, unless you are born of water and the Spirit, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
So here’s a guy that, if the path is being nice, being kind, being religious, not sinning, not logging on the Internet, not cussing – I mean, if you’re squeaky clean and you think that gets you there, Jesus says to him: Physical life demands a physical birth. Spiritual, real life with God demands a spiritual birth.
If you’re a woman here and you have had a baby, when you turned to your husband and you said to him, “Honey, my water just broke,” what do we know is coming? That’s what He is talking about here. Born of water. All He’s saying is kids don’t get born, children don’t get born until that water breaks and there is a birth.
“That which is born of water, but that which is born,” literally, “a second time.” And here’s my greatest fear. My greatest fear for people all across America, for people all around the world who say, “I’m a Christian, I’m a follower of Jesus,” I think there is just hundreds and hundreds and hundreds who think, I go to church now, I’m trying to be a good person, if my good deeds weigh out my bad deeds. That’s how I grew up.
And my concern is if you don’t have a spiritual birth, you don’t have the power, you don’t have a relationship with God. Jesus came from heaven to reveal what God is like, live a perfect, absolutely perfect life. And then He died upon the cross to build the bridge from us who are sinful people to an absolutely holy God.
I’ve got news for you. The Scripture teaches: one sin, one thought, one lust, one lie separates me from an absolutely pure God because He can’t have it. But He loved you and loved me so much, Jesus came and when He hung upon the cross, your sin, my sin, the sins of all people, He took and He placed on Christ and He absorbed them and He cut, the word “atonement,” He covered them.
Everyone’s sin in all the world has been forgiven and the gospel is not a “do this and do that,” it’s an invitation, it’s a proclamation. You’re forgiven! The price has been paid. Here’s the issue: have you received it? Are you willing to turn from your self-will or your control and your patterns of sin and say, have a change of mind, repentance, That’s wrong. I am guilty before a holy God and I accept this gift freely given of eternal life.
And when you do that, the Spirit of God comes into your life and the life of Christ begins to live His life out through you. That’s getting on the path, being born again.
So, Jesus is the path. It’s very simple. It begins with a spiritual birth. But the path leads to spiritual maturity.
I mean, any path that you’re on, I mean, you go up to the Redwoods, or you go to the beach or you find a path. If there’s a metaphorical path. Every path leads somewhere, right? So, the problem with a lot of Christians is they think the path starts, Oh, I’m born again. I received Christ. I’m done. That’s like, can you imagine, those of us that are parents, a little baby is born. Oh my, oh my gosh. She is so cute! He’s so cute! You know? Oh, little baby.
Two years later: Little baby. Five years later: Little baby. Twenty-five years later: You know, we have been through a lot of diapers. I mean, you would be so disappointed. That baby is designed to be a toddler, a pre-teen, a teen, a young adult. It’s to grow up!
And the path in the Christian life leads to spiritual maturity. The apostle Paul gave us his mission statement in Colossians chapter 1. He says, “We proclaim Him, Jesus, teaching every man and admonishing every man with all wisdom that we might present every man, every woman, every person complete in Christ.” Circle the word complete in your notes.
The word is teleos. The root would be like telescope. It’s seeing something far away or you people in apologetics, the teleological argument is the argument of design. It’s the idea that you grow up and fulfill what you were designed to be.
And you were designed –are you ready? to actually be transformed, over time, so your life, your speech, your priorities would look more and more and more like Jesus.
And that’s why we were called Christians. The Early Church, they loved each other, they shared everything, they were generous, they were willing to give their lives for one another. And everyone said, “They’re nuts!” Being a Christian, it was in Antioch when they called them that, it was a slang term.
“These idiots! They are willing to die? But they hide out in these caves? They talk about some guy who came back to life? They sell their property, they help the poor, they touch lepers? I mean, give me a break! They’re just like their founder, Jesus.”
And Paul says that that journey for us and that journey for us helping others called disciple-making, it will be really hard for this purpose also. Look at verse 29 in your notes.
“For this purpose also, I labor, striving according to His power that mightily works within me.” We get our word for gymnasium. It’s a picture of a person straining under a weight. It’s a picture of someone reaching for the…
He goes, “I am going to do whatever I need to do to help every, single person become like Jesus.”
And so we have got to tell them there’s good news: proclamation. We have to teach them. So there are going to be classes and there are going to be small groups. And they’re going to have to get into the Bible for themselves. We have to admonish. We have to tell them when they’re doing well and when they’re not doing so well and we have to go through the difficult times with them.
And those of you that have grown in Christ, you realize you just can’t do that alone. It takes all of us together.
What would happen to everyone, where you work or your roommate or all the people in your family if you were twenty-five percent more like Jesus? Just twenty-five percent.
Twenty-five percent more loving, twenty-five percent more patient, twenty-five percent more forgiving. What would happen? You would be a catalytic something that would cause a change reaction in all the people around you.
And what if you got, like, carried away and two years from now you were sixty-two percent more like Jesus? By the way, you’re here because a group of people became more and more and more like Jesus to the point that we couldn’t deny that that is the path, that is the life.
Scripture says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” – why? “for God has worked in us.” And so there’s a part where, you know, it’s like God provides the oxygen, but He doesn’t suck in the air into my lungs. That’s my responsibility.
And we have talked about this, we talk about, it’s about life, it’s not about religion. And our little acronym is: BIO. You will never mature or stay on the path unless coming before God daily, reading His Word, hearing His voice, talking to Him.
And then moving through your day with that truth, seeking to apply it and be aware of it, and coming before God like a real priority that the weekends together matter.