This is the sermon I will be preaching November 11th 2007.
BEING A CHRIST FOLLOWER PART 2
WORLDLY CHRISTIANS AND CHRIST FOLLOWERS
INTRO: Last week we started a two part series that we are finishing up this week. The name of that series is, “Being a Christ follower.” As I said last week, I am using this term, “Christ follower” as opposed to “Christian” because in these days and times, the term “Christian” has lost its meaning. Whereby the term “Christ follower” means exactly what it says, “to follow after Christ, to let Him take the lead.”
Last week we look at “What it means to be a Christ follower.” We looked at Luke 9:23 ESV – “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” While this passage is not a popular passage, it is one that is sure needed in these days and times of the me church mentality, or thinking that God is just some type of Santa Clause up in heaven that we can demand to get what we want, or that if we live a certain way, we will get what we want. God is much bigger and deeper than what people of this world and especially religious leaders describe Him as.
This week we are going to look at the subject, “Worldly Christians and Christ followers.”
One of the more heroic stories to come out of the Korean War involved a young sergeant by the name of Gardolibov. He had been engaged in the severe fighting on Heartbreak Hill. When the shooting had subsided, a rescue team was dispatched to the area to aid the wounded. The sergeant was found dying, but they discovered something very unusual. Although his hands were paralyzed, he had clenched between his teeth the two ends of a communication wire that had broken. In that moment when one would expect his every thought and concern to be directed toward his own needs, he was still doing what he could to keep the messages going through. He was faithful unto death! Many so-called “soldiers of the cross” are put to shame by his noble example. Sad to say, when the going gets rough, the demands too great, the sacrifice too costly, or the shame of the cross too much to bear, they desert their post and flee back of the lines where it’s more comfortable and secure. Some even go AWOL.
You see, the path of the Christ follower is never an easy path. It is always one of struggle. We have to struggle with the powers of the enemy, the world, and in my opinion the greatest struggle of all is our struggle with our own flesh, or ourselves. Sometimes it is just so each to want to give up during these times of struggles. But Christ-followers recognize this one important factor – that the Christ that they follow is also the one in whom they find the strength to go on.
Now here in this passage Jesus gives us Mark’s version of what is called the great commission. They are to go out into the world and proclaim the gospel to everyone. Now not only the apostles here, but we are as well. You see, we are suppose to be carriers of the gospel, or the good news. And to be honest what this world needs is not another religion, not another story about a religious or political leader who fell in sin, and not even the books of our self-help and religious gurus; what the world needs is Jesus Christ. It needs His followers taking Jesus to the lost and dying just like Jesus told us to do.
This morning I want to contrasts Worldly Christians with World-Class Christians, or Christ followers.
1. Worldly Christians.
Let me first state that this is not some knew thing that we have in the church today.
They have been around since the first Century Church. Paul had to deal with them.
Paul calls them in the ESV as people of the flesh in one such passage dealing with them.
1 Corinthians 3:1-15 ESV – 1 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
First off, before we go further into this passage, v. 15 does state that they are believers, and while they may be saved, but because of the fleshy desires running rampant any works they might do would be burned up. Paul could not address these Corinthian believers as spiritual, but as carnal and fleshly. Why? Because they had within their body jealousy, strife, and behaving in a human, fleshly manner. They were holding up one minister over another, picking and choosing their favorites. Paul was telling them it is not about one minister or another, but it is about Christ who is the one who gives the increase.
Let’s look at some modern day examples and attitudes of Worldly Christians. They looked to God primarily for personal fulfillment. While they are saved, they are not Christ-centered, but self-centered. They will attend self-help seminars, but not outreach seminars. Their prayers are me-centered, all about getting blessings, meeting needs, and happiness; never about the Church, the Pastor, the lost. They want God to fulfill their purposes – instead of being used for His purposes.
2. World-Class Christians or Christ-followers.
These are those Christians you humble themselves before God and mankind.
Their prayers are not focused on themselves, but on the needs and concerns of others.
When the study the Bible, it isn’t about their interpretation or the interpretation of their favorite preacher, but it is about reading it in context with the help of the Holy Spirit – always learning.
These are those who recognize that life isn’t about personal enjoyment or fulfillment, but about God’s purposes being fulfilled in their lives.
These are also those who hurt under the pain of persecution, not only from the world, but Worldly Christians, but ultimately know that their strength is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
These are Christians that practice and follow the great commandment and the great commission.
Matthew 22:34-40 ESV – 34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36″Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 28:19-20 ESV – 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
3. What kind of Christian do you want to be?
God invites each and every one of us to participate in the greatest, largest, most diverse, and most significant cause in all of history – His kingdom. You see, History is actual His story. He’s building a family that will take His gospel to the lost and live it amongst other believers here on earth. There is no greater purpose or cause that we can have.
CONCL: For the next few moments, I want each one of us to just close our eyes and take this personal survey. It is between you and God and be honest about it this morning. Right now, right where you are, how would you assess yourself in light of this? Does your thoughts, actions, and prayers seem to indicate that you want God to fulfill your purposes, or do they indicate that you want to fulfill God’s purposes.
How many of you want God to use you to find your mission, make a difference in this world, and make the Great Commandment and the Great Commission your own?
If you can say yes to these, there is only one way this can happen, you must become a Christ-follower. Deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follower after Christ.