What We Say about Jesus

Paul can be really confusing to read sometimes. Dr. Harold Bryson, one of my professors at Mississippi College used to always joke that we preachers like to preach on Paul, not Jesus, because Paul was hard to understand. He said Jesus wasn’t hard to understand, He was just hard to follow.

There’s nothing confusing about loving your enemy. It’s just hard to do!

One of the more interesting books to read in the Bible is 1 Corinthians, because when you read it, you see Paul going through so many different emotions with the church in Corinth. He gets angry. He gets frustrated. He loves them. It runs the gamut.

Today he says something amazing in 1 Corinthians 4: 14-15. Listen to what he says:

I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

He says; if you want to see what a Christian does, imitate me.

If you want to see how a Christian lives, watch me, and do what I do.

If you want to follow Jesus – follow me.

Wow! Those are big words. Can you imagine going out to the world and saying – he y’all, you want to see a Christian? Watch me.

Wow, that’s a big and bold statement. That’s what Paul tells the church. I have a theory as to why he said it, though.

He said it, because it was reality. It was what was already happening. Whether he said it or not, the church was going to watch him to see what they should do. To see what a Christian should do. To see how a Christian should act. To see whom they should be.

And today, in our lives, the same thing is going to happen to us. There are going to be eyes watching us. Seeing what we do. Seeing how we live. Listening to what we say. Following us.

Seeing if our lives match our words. Seeing if what we say about Jesus matches what we live about Jesus.

Today, folks will be watching us.

Today, what will they see? Today, may what say about Jesus match what we live about Jesus.

Today, folks will be imitators of us. May with our lives, may we set for them an example of what a Christian should be.

We Need Each Other

Christianity is easy on Sunday.  Well, outside of getting out of bed and getting the kids dressed. That part can be a challenge.

But, it’s really easy to be a Christian on Sunday. There are folks all around us that are of the same purpose and vision and desire.  Everyone is smiling, everyone is together, everyone is supporting.  Everyone is trying to behave.

It’s easy on Sunday morning to be a Christian.

What about today?  Today will be a lot harder. Not everyone will be supportive.  Not everyone will be pulling for us. Not everyone will support you in a your faith. Some may mock you.  Some may laugh at you.

There will be temptation. There will be trials. There will be opposition.  It’s tougher to be a Christian on a Tuesday than it is in a Sunday.

Listen to what Paul says today about this in Philippians:

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

Paul said that we are to live a citizens of heaven and live in a way worthy of God.

How?  How do we stand up to temptation and do these things.  He tells in us in the end of that passage.

Stand together as one.  One spirit.  One purpose. Fighting together for the faith. Stand together.

We need each other.  We need each other on Sunday, we need each other on Tuesday. The only way that we can stand as Christians is to stand together.

That is our calling today. That is our duty today. To be one.

Today, when you are tempted. When you are struggling. When you are in need. Turn to a fellow Christian. Let them help you. Let them pray for you.  Let them uphold you.  Let them be your strength.

And today, if you see a fellow Christian in need, help them.  Support them.  Help give them courage and strength. Be there for them.

We need each other. Today, and every day. We need each other.

Different

One of the things that I know Jesus calls us to is to be different.  We, as Christians, are just supposed to be different.

Different from our culture.  Have a different set of views, a different set of eyes, a different purpose.

As I said in my sermon Sunday, as Christians we are to live a life that makes those all around us say – hey, I want that!  I want what they have!

Now, that life is not perfection. That life is just, well, different.

Ok, what does that different look like?  Here’s what Jesus said today in Matthew 20

But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus says it must be different among us. As Christians, whoever wants to lead, must serve.  To really show what a great Christian you are, we don’t pound our chest, we don’t see who can quote the most verses, we don’t try to “out holy” each other.

We do what our Savior did.  We serve.

We care.

We forgive – others and ourselves.

We love.

We help.

We are called to be different. We are called to be a little weird. In the world, it’s about power and fame and wealth.  In the faith, it’s about Jesus. It’s about service.  It’s about love.  It’s about humility.

It’s not about seeking our way. It’s about seeking His way.

That way of loving God and loving our neighbor.

Today, are we different? Are we living different from our culture? Are we living in a way where those around us say, hey, I want what they’ve got?

Today, as Christians, may we be different. And, in doing that, may we bring glory to our awesome God.

What’s Next Podcast

The sermon podcast for April 3, 2011 is up on Asbury Church’s website. It’s the fourth  in our series “Back to Basics.” It’s entitled “What’s Next” and the text is Matthew 22: 34-40.  You can listen to it by clicking here, or you can listen to it here on this blog by clicking below. And, as always, you can subscribe to my sermon podcasts through iTunes.

 

Different

I was thinking this morning about being different.  As I’ve been working on my first sermon for Asbury Church, I’ve been thinking about how I will introduce myself, my beliefs, my family, all these things that make me who I am.  And I’ve been thinking about how we are all different.  No two of us are the same, no two of us have the ideas about everything, the same passions, the same dreams, the same beliefs, even.

And, that’s ok. There’s something awesome about all us, with our ideas and own stuff gathering together around the table, worshiping our resurrected Lord.

Today, in one of the passages, Jesus talks about being different.  And He says, not only is it a good thing, but that we as Christians are called to be different.  He says in Matthew 20:

24 When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Jesus tells us today, the world understands greatness in terms of power.  Who’s the boss?  Who is the one in control?  Who is right?  Who wins?

That’s how the world works.

It is not so among you.  We are called to be different.  We are not called to be like the world.  None of us are the boss – God is.  Those of us that lead, lead not by our own wisdom or knowledge, but by God’s wisdom, and God’s knowledge.

The greatest among us is not the smartest or strongest, it is the one that serves.

We are called to be different. We are called not be the same.  We are called to find life, not in our own life, but in His life.

We are called to love.  To love our God and love each other.

So, don’t feel bad about being different.  In fact, be proud!  Jesus wants us to live different, to love different, to be different.  It is not so among us.  We are called to serve  one another.  And serve Him.

And, in these acts of service, though simple, small things, we find that power of God. We find the life of God. We find a purpose of life and for faith.

Though love. Through service. Through being different.

Today, an amazing, abundant day, an amazing abundant life are our there for that taking.  Through Jesus Christ.

Today, let’s go live that life. Let’s find that life. Through His grace, mercy, and strength.  Let’s love and serve with the power of God. And let’s find what it is we seek.

How We Treat One Another

Today was one of those cool days when I was reading and I noticed a theme emerge in the texts this morning. First, from Psalm 72, talking about the King:

1 Give the King your justice, O God, *
and your righteousness to the King’s son;
2 That he may rule your people righteously *
and the poor with justice.
3 That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people, *
and the little hills bring righteousness.
4 He shall defend the needy among the people; *
he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

Then, from Leviticus

9 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God.

And, finally, from 1 Thessalonians

12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; 13 esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

What is this common theme?  What stood out?  In each of these passages, as Christians, we are called to do something. Help those less fortunate. Care for those in need. Love one another.

Basically try, as best we can, to love God and love each other.

The light of Christ within us must make a difference not just in how we live.  It must make a difference in how we treat one another.

The Christian life is not only a life of moral stands, but it is a life of love and service to God, AND to each other.

The Christian life is not a life lived in an ivory tower.  It is a life lived among each other. It is a life lived in an imperfect world with imperfect people.  It is life lived in among challenges and trials and work and worry and sweat and tears.  It is a life that is sometimes very hard.

And, it is a life that calls us not to be just “good” people, it’s a life that calls us to make the world a better place. We are called, we are commanded, to work for good.  To care for those that are weak, to give our lives for something greater than ourselves.

To live for God and live for each others.

In the end, our love for God is seen in our love for each others.  If I say I love God, but hate my brother or sister, what good have I done?

The Christian life, in the end, is so much concerned with theology or belief or opinions.  The Christian life is concerned with our love for God Almighty. And with how we treat one another.