All right good morning. You can go ahead and turn in your bibles first John, Chapter five, good morning, family. For those that don’t know me. My name is Mike and I serve here on staff with the college ministry. And if you’re visiting this morning, again, we’re so happy that you decided to join us for our Sunday service.
If you haven’t been with us the last few weeks, as you can see here on the screen, we’ve been in a sermon series called Practicing the Way of Jesus. And specifically the question that we’ve been asking as it relates to practicing the way of Jesus is what does it mean to be an apprentice of Jesus? And what we’ve learned so far of this question is that to be an apprentice of Jesus or to be a follower of Jesus is to order our lives around three goals in this life.
And goal number one is to be with Jesus and being with Jesus, as Tony talked about a couple of weeks ago, is to learn to be in two places at once. And being in two places at once means, as we are involved in our regular day to day tasks, we are also in the presence of God.
So for some of us, being in two places at once means being at the grocery store and in the presence of God, being at your job and in the presence of God being with your family and in the presence of God. You get the idea. Being with Jesus means we are to be in a constant state of awareness of Jesus. And being with Jesus means we are to be in a constant state of connection to Jesus. This connection, this intimacy is what we are called to.
First and foremost, the call is to be with Jesus. And then last week for goal number two, God used Chase in such a powerful way and he helped us to focus on becoming like Jesus and Chase emphasized that it’s not enough to have a knowledge of Jesus it’s not enough to just be forgiven by Jesus. The real goal, as with Jesus, is to actually be transformed by Jesus. He challenged us to not live safe and comfy lives, but to live radical, transformed lives.
And today I get a chance to take a crack at goal number three of being an apprentice to Jesus. And the third goal to being an apprentice of Jesus is doing as Jesus did and doing as Jesus did, especially in the context we live in today, can seem like such a daunting task, because, as you know, the world as we know, it is an absolute shambles. And I don’t need to remind you of this because we’re all reminded of this right day in and day out.
I mean, everywhere we look, whether it’s from the news cycle, is from social media or from the radio or perhaps from the people closest to us, we are constantly reminded of how terrible this world is.
I mean, you can literally go down the list in your mind or like I said, looking at those social outlets, we can look at things that make the world terrible, whether it’s the mass shootings or the sex trafficking or the drug trafficking or racism or classism or child abuse, substance abuse, homelessness, broken families. You get the idea. The list goes on and on. The world we live in is in absolute shambles. And, you know, because the world is in absolute shambles, this leaves us with wanting the world to be different.
And the desire for this world to be different is awesome. But at the same time, the challenge with wanting this world to be different is that we can sometimes look to the solutions of the world to make the difference.
However, the solutions in the world that we hope would change this world would not make the difference that we hope for.
Wanting change is not the issue, but I do think there’s an issue with looking to this world to bring lasting change in this world, because as the world tries to create tries to create solutions for change, the world is also creating the problems that negates the change. Thanks, babe. The world cannot solve the problems because the world is perpetually creating the problems, you get what I’m saying?
So if we if we can’t look to the solutions to this world to change this world, what or who can we look to?
How does this world truly change?
I believe the answer to this question can’t be found in this world, but the answer to this question can be found in the people who has overcome the world.
First John, chapter five verse four through five puts it this way: for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world?
Only the one who believes that Jesus is the son of God. The Scripture says everyone born of God has overcome the world with God.
And so that means the answer to overcoming this world and changing this world is found in the believers in this world.
John, chapter 14, verse 12 doubles down with the same idea. It says very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing. And they will do even greater things than these because I am going to the father. In this passage we see Jesus speaking to what’s going to happen when he leaves this world.
And we learn is that not only will the believers in this world change this world, but the believers in this world will also do the works of Jesus in this world. And, you know, when Jesus said to his early disciples in this passage, they will do even greater things, I’m not exactly sure if they knew what Jesus was referring to, but boy, oh, boy, did they do greater things.
One example of the many examples of the greater things that the early disciples displayed according to church history, was that without raising an army or even raising their voices, the disciples raised the dignity of the people around them in the midst of their own pain. And in the midst of their own poverty and in the midst of their own persecution, these early disciples provided an oasis of love and compassion to their neighbors. And this oasis of love was most evident in the late second century, when there was a series of epidemics that plagued their entire communities. And it was reported that there was about five thousand deaths a day in the Roman community. And these early disciples, even though it was life threatening for them to stay in that that situation in their communities, they decided to stick around in the city.
They decided to look for ways to serve their neighbors. And what makes this this situation remarkable is that these these same neighbors that they were serving, they decided to help out during these epidemics. These neighbors didn’t want to have anything to do with them. Why? Because they disagreed on the God that they worship, the neighbors, the pagan neighbors. They worshipped the pagan gods.
And so you see the disciples giving the heart they’re giving their lives, they’re giving their focus to the people that are experiencing these epidemics. And as the disciples give their hearts to them, the neighbors, the pagan neighbors, they start to experience the love and protection by these same disciples.
And this is so countercultural for these disciples. It was so impactful. It was so inspiring. It was so moving that the bishop of Alexandria, Bishop Dionysius I hope I said that right. Had this to say about the early disciples. Most of our brothers showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ and with them departed this life. The best of our brothers lost their lives in this manner, a number of presbyteries, deacons and laymen winning high accommodation so that death in this form, the result of great piety and strong faith, seems in every way the equal to martyrdom.
So this bishop, he looked at the lives of the disciples and he just had to acknowledge their impact. These men and women, these brave, selfless, loving, inspiring Christians, did not just die for what they believed. They died because they acted on what they believed.
And this just wasn’t a one time occasion. They had a reputation of acting on what they believed. They were so countercultural with their convictions.
They were so counterculture with their love that this community, this Jesus community went from about one hundred and twenty followers to thousand years ago. And peep this, the number from 120 is now at two point three billion followers today because of their love, because of their impact, because of their service. We get that the two point three billion followers of Jesus may be a little tainted, maybe a little corrupt here. But here’s the point I want us to realize, because these disciples had continued doing what Jesus did in the world, they ended up changing the world.
And guess what, brothers and sisters you and I were invited to do as Jesus did and change the world as well.
Do you believe that. We don’t have to rely and look to the solutions of this world to change this world?
Because we have a Jesus that overcame the world? We don’t have to rely on a policy change or a political change or a climate change to bring change. You and I can rely on doing what Jesus did to bring the change.
So what’s so special about doing what Jesus did? What makes this special?Being an apprentice of Jesus, being a follower of Jesus, Jesus is inviting us to follow him and to do as he did. And guess what? You don’t have to prove yourself.
You don’t have to jump through religious hoops to do as Jesus did. You don’t have to be a scholar of the whole Old Testament to do as Jesus did. All you have to do, according to John, 14, verse 12 is believe. Isn’t it encouraging to know that despite all of our weaknesses and all our failures, Jesus invites us to carry on his works by doing his works?
Isn’t it encouraging to know that even at our worst, we can still participate in what Jesus participated in?
You know, Jesus is not like the people that might have said to you over the years that you don’t respect. Jesus is not like the people that says, do as I say, not as I do. Jesus is not like that. Jesus, is not all talk. Jesus is not all fluff. Jesus did a ton, a ton of incredible things for this world and he invites us to do the same things for this world. You see, doing as Jesus did, is never out of our reach, you and I can decide to do as Jesus did and we can saturate this earth with what heaven is like.
Are you excited about that? If you are a Jesus follower, you get a chance to leave a trace of heaven here on this earth.
As Dallas Willard said, We’re providing a biblical and practical understanding of how God is really in our world when we do as Jesus did. When we do as Jesus did, God is made accessible through us as we offer him to this decaying world around us. When we do as Jesus did, God’s rule and God’s way and God’s standards for this world ends up permeating and bringing change to this world.
Our imitation of Jesus changes this creation for Jesus. Do you believe that? That’s the main thought, that’s the main idea, our imitation of Jesus changes his creation. That’s the main idea that I’m trying to get at today.
So if our imitation of Jesus changes this creation for Jesus, that begs the question, what did Jesus do? We have to ask that question, right?
If imitating Jesus brings change to this world, what can we imitate from Jesus to change this world for Jesus? So for the next couple minutes, I want to look at a few passages that highlights what Jesus did to change this world in his day so that we can take on imitating Jesus, so that we can change the world in our day. Amen?
But before we get there, before we focus on what he did, I just want to remind us, like Chase said last week, our aim should be becoming who he is.
And so as we do what Jesus did, we should also have the heart that Jesus had.
None of us are exempt from having the heart of Jesus. None of us has the license and the name of trying to imitate Jesus. None of us has the license to be unkind. None of us has the license to be bitter. None of us has the license to be vengeful in the name of trying to imitate Jesus. Here’s what I’m getting at. We cannot justify flipping tables like Jesus if we don’t have the same heart of Jesus.
We’re going to talk about flipping tables later. But here’s the point. If we’re going to follow what he did, we have to also adopt the heart of why he did what he did.
Does that make sense? So for the next couple of minutes, I want to look at three illustrations of what Jesus did. And from there, I want to specifically highlight how we can imitate Jesus to change this world for Jesus. So go ahead and go to Mark Chapter one. You don’t need to go there if you don’t have a Bible. You can look at the screen here, Mark, chapter one, verse thirty two to thirty four. It says that evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon possessed the whole town gathered at the door and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drive drove out many demons, but he would not let them know who he was.
So I’m going to stop here. In this passage, we just get a small snapshot into Jesus’s schedule and in his schedule we learned it was all about people.
And here’s the point. As it relates to how Jesus changed the world, Jesus changed the world by caring for the sick and needy in the world.
You and I can do that, yeah, we can change the world by caring for those who can’t care for themselves, we can change the world by serving those who can’t serve us in return.
The world can be changed when we, as Jesus followers, decide to see the needy with dignity and to not see the needy as burdens.
When we decide to see the needy as image bearers, we can change the world.
We don’t have to look at the needy as projects to be fixed.
Instead, we can look at the needy as people to be served. We talked a little bit about the issues earlier. Homelessness, broken families, drug abuse.
We can change the world church. Do you believe that? Sometimes it’s hard to see caring for the sick and needy because they are just so many people that are sick and needy. There are so many needs out there, it can be overwhelming, right? It can be stressful to give our hearts and to give our lives and to truly invest in the needy around us because we don’t want to leave anyone out. So in an effort to not leave anyone out, we decide to not serve anyone at all.
Can you guys relate to that? Here’s another option that I think would be helpful as we care for the sick and needy. And the thought is, instead of thinking if we can’t do for everyone that we shouldn’t do for anyone, we should consider the thought, do for one what we wish we can do for everyone, do for one what we wish we can do for everyone. This may sound a little strange, but I believe you don’t have to meet every need to imitate Jesus, but you can meet a need to imitate Jesus.
Here’s a reality. You won’t be able to meet everybody’s needs, but you can certainly meet someone’s needs. And this is why this community, this community of Jesus is so important, because as individuals, we can only do so much.
But as a unit, our efforts are multiplied. As a body of Christ, we can really become the figurative mouth of Jesus, legs of Jesus, the hands of Jesus, the arms of Jesus, outstretched to a community that needs Jesus.
Do you want to be a part of that? Before we go to our next illustration of Jesus, here’s a question I want you to consider. What needs can we meet in our community? And make it specific for you. What needs can you meet in your community? If we’re going to do as he did, we need to be people who meet needs not ignore them, but lean in and serve to meet the needs. How are you doing with that?
Are you willing to take that on? That’s part of imitating Jesus. Here’s the second illustration I want to look at here, Mark. Chapter two, verse 13 of 17. Like I said, we to go through three illustrations really quickly, Mark, chapter two, verse 13 and verse 17. It says, once again, Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him and began to teach them his and he walked along he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collectors booth.
Follow me, Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him while Jesus was having dinner at Levi s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors they asked his disciples, why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners? On hearing this, Jesus said to them, it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.
We can observe a ton from this passage. But one thing that screams out to me is how Jesus spent his time. Jesus spent his time. Jesus changed the world by eating and drinking with people who were far from God. The people that were nothing like Jesus were welcomed by Jesus. Jesus spent time with the people who gave no time to God, while the religious of the day pushed the non-religious of the away, jesus kept them extremely close. And so we can change the world by helping people to see that everybody matters to Jesus, whether Jesus matters to them or not. As Jesus followers, we have the opportunity to affirm those who are far from God that God wants to be close to them. Do you want to be a part of that? We can change the world by making room for the world at our table.
And not only can we change the world by making a room at the table, but we can also change the world by showing the world world that there’s room for them in God’s kingdom as well. So here’s a question for us. What’s your relationship like with those who are far from God? I know we’re in a crazy, awkward, intimidating time with covid. I know we’re all trying to navigate this, but you have to ask yourself, when was the last time you made room at your table, at your physical table for those who are far from God?
You have an opportunity to be like Jesus, to imitate Jesus, you have an opportunity to make those who are far from God feel like they can be close to God. You have that opportunity. So as we go to our final illustration, I want to challenge us to practice bringing a plus one to the table. Make bringing a plus one to the table commonplace in your community.
And when you make that commonplace in your community, watch God do some uncommon things and some incredible things in your community.
Jesus invited those who were far and they left feeling close. What impression do you leave on those who are far from God? I think as a community we can actually imitate Jesus steps and literally do what he did. Our final illustration here let’s go to the end of John chapter two, verse 13 and 17 so you can how to turn your Bibles there or you can just look at here on the screen it says, John, chapter two, verse 13 to 17.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And in the temple courts, he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and he drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned the tables. To those who sold doves he said, get these out of here. Stop turning my father’s house into a market.
His disciples remembered that it is written, zeal for your house will consume me.
In this passage we learned that Jesus changed the world by taking a stand against the corruption in this world.
Jesus changed the world by taking a stand against the corruption in this world.
And what’s most challenging to me in this passage is that there were other people present in the temple, but notice who stood up. Even while others were there, Jesus was the only one that rejected what was happening in there. Why? Why? Did some background here. Back then, the temple was supposed to be the place where people can come to be in the presence of God. And what happened here in this passage is that the temple focus shifted from being about God’s glory to being about man’s greed.
And when Jesus saw the greed and when Jesus saw the corruption in his father’s house, he was not passive. He was indignant. The scripture says zeal for your house will consume me. He was zealous. He was passionate.
He was so indignant that he cleared out all the corruption he saw in that temple. Jesus had zero tolerance for corruption in his father’s house. And Jesus’s zero tolerance for corruption makes me wonder what’s our response when we see corruption? Do we get indignant about the things of God or do we just get indignant about the things of this world? I truly believe that we can change the world by taking a stand against the corruption in this world. But let me just say, the first stand we should be taking is not against the corruption we see around us, the first stand we should be taking is against the corruption we see inside of us.
You see, if we’re not checking ourselves first, I truly believe we do ourselves and we do this world a disservice.
We should not become comfortable or become satisfied with looking at corruption in our lives and just being content, if we’re going to be like Jesus, then we need to be willing to clear what we see in our lives out like he cleared the temple. Are you willing to do that? Are you able to do that? Are you interested in doing that? Here’s a question I have to ask myself. And here’s the question you have to ask yourself.
How are you doing with opposing the corruption in your own life and in the life of others? The corruption shouldn’t become something that we become comfortable with. It shouldn’t be something that we welcome into our lives. We need to oppose it. You know, addressing the mess around us and in us has the ability to change this world. And yeah, I know I looked at a ton of scriptures and I got a couple more, but I believe some of us may still want to rebel against imitating Jesus.
Some of us may still, in our heart of hearts, may want to rebel against imitating Jesus because some of us can view imitation as a burden. But imitation is not a burden. Imitation is a blessing. Jesus puts it this way. After loving, after teaching, after washing the dirty feet of his 12 apostles. Here’s what he says in John, Chapter 13 verse 17. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do what? If you do them. He taught, he washed his disciples feet. He loved to the very end. And he says after all the things that he did, he says the blessing is going to be in the doing. Jesus says there’s a blessing in doing. Jesus says there’s a blessing and imitating what he did. And in Genesis Chapter 12, we see God doubling down with the same idea of a blessing.
Genesis Chapter Twelve verse one to three, it says, The Lord has said to Abraham, go from your country, your people in your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse and all the people on the earth will be blessed through you. And so the point here is that God’s people are not here on this earth to just experience a burden.
We are here on this Earth to be a blessing.
When we live like God, we become representatives of God to a world that definitely needs God, our imitation of Jesus is not a burden, our imitation of Jesus is a blessing.
So for those of us that may be rebuilding in our heart, may be having some tension in our heart.
I want to encourage us to not be satisfied with putting off your imitation of Jesus.
Don’t be satisfied with having dreams of doing as he did, but is OK with starting what he did tomorrow.
Don’t be satisfied with being inspired by Jesus actions, actions, but being slow to imitate his actions. Why am I encouraging you in this way? The world around you is counting on you. Do you feel that? The world around you is counting on you, the world that is filled with so much hate and so much turmoil and so much division and so much pride and so much animosity is counting on you to move past just claiming Jesus and to actually step into living like Jesus.
You are invited into this this work.
In this world, you should be different if you truly want this world to be any different. So as we come for a close believe that your imitation changes God’s creation, your imitation makes a difference. Serving the one makes a difference. Standing against corruption makes a difference. Inviting those far from God makes a difference, so decide, decide this week. I’ve got three practices up here that I focused on today, decide one to focus on for this week, whether it’s caring for the sick and needy, or eating and drinking with those who are far from God or standing up against corruption.
Whatever you decide, the world’s condition hangs in the balance of your decision. So decide and let me just say eventually our aim as followers of Jesus, as apprentices of Jesus, as disciples of Jesus, is to be able to do the rest of these practices as well.
They might seem a little overwhelming, but just choose one from the three up here, but I want you to know that our aim as disciples of Jesus is to be able to adopt the rest of these practices of Jesus. And of course, this is not an exhaustive, exhaustive list. But I want us to realize, as we begin practicing and doing as he did, success will not happen in a day. But with some consistent practice, we can improve each day.
So decide to practice the way of Jesus with us as a community, decide to do as he did. And I believe this community and the community around us will be better for it. Our imitation changes his creation. Amen? Let’s pray for the community. Heavenly Father, thank you so much that you invite us to be a part of your work. Thank you. That you don’t hold our past against us. You allow us to be a part of the change in this world.
God, I pray that we can take on a practice of your son, that we can focus on a practice of Jesus this week, and that we can realize that when we do what your son did, we can actually change this world.
The early disciples did, and we can be a part of that as well. I pray that you give us the confidence, you allow us to be a part of that and that we can be as excited to to do what your son did. I love you so much. It’s in Jesus name I pray, amen.