Good morning, everyone. My name is Chase Denoux for those of you who don’t know me and I have the privilege of working here on the church staff at the Broward Church, and specifically I work with the youth and family ministry. And in the last few years, it’s been a really special time to work with the teens and the families having grown up here myself. It’s been very special for me and I am excited to have the opportunity to speak to you this morning.
As stated earlier we are in week two of a series we’re calling Practicing the Ways of Jesus. In the heart of this series is that we’re talking about discipleship. We’re talking about what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Last week, Tony talked to us about being with Jesus, about being in his presence.
And I love the story of the monk. His name was Brother Lawrence, and it talked about how he was initially put into the kitchen at the monastery. But he had this great quote, which basically said that when he was in his time of work or business, it was no different from his time of prayer.
I loved that. The thought was that we can always be with God, we can always be with Jesus. We can be in his presence all the time.
And in order to practice the ways of Jesus, you have to start by being in his presence, right.
By being there. But today, we’re going to talk about the natural next step in practicing the ways of Jesus after being in his presence. But before I tell you, I want to tell you a story about a pilot. I read a story about a female pilot, and she was actually practicing high speed maneuvers in the air in a fighter jet. So it is extremely fast, hundreds of miles an hour.
And she was flying so fast that at one point she maneuvered to go straight up, but she was moving at such a high speed that she didn’t even realize that she was actually upside down.
And so when she turned the controls to go up it actually went straight down and crashed into the ground. I know it’s kind of a somber way to start a sermon, but I think that in many ways this thought, the thought of thinking we’re going up and crashing into the ground can describe our world today.
We move at a fast pace. We don’t know if we’re upside down, if we’re right side up, if we’re moving left, if we’re moving right, if we’re crashing into the ground. We’re living in a world where everyone thinks their opinions need to be heard. And no one is wrong or everyone is wrong if it works for you, cool if it’s true for you, it’s true for you.
If it’s true for me, it’s true for me or everyone disagrees in your canceled altogether.
So it can be hard to tell what’s right and what’s wrong. But I would contend that the only way we know without a doubt that we are flying right side up and in the right direction is what we’re going to talk about today. And that is to become like Jesus. See if we’re with Jesus, if we’re in his presence, like we talked about last week, we can’t just keep sitting there and not change as we sit and we learn we have to make changes in our lives as well.
And Jesus calls us to be more like him and to make some pretty challenging changes in our lives. Stick with me. I’m just going to rapid fire some scriptures about some changes, some things that Jesus calls us to. Matthew, five thirty eight through 40, it says you have heard that it was said eye for eye and tooth for a tooth, but I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
Matthew, five forty three, three forty five, you have heard that it was said love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your father in heaven. Matthew, six twenty four, no one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Matthew, six twenty five I put. Do not worry just because it’s long, but it’s talking about don’t worry about the clothes you will wear, the food you will eat. If God takes care of the birds of the air, he will certainly take care of you as well.
And then it goes on to talk about don’t be anxious about anything. It talks about how by worrying we can’t add a single hour to our lives. Luke, nine twenty three, deny yourself and take up your cross daily, Luke, fourteen, twenty six if anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters. Yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. And those are just a handful of many teachings and callings where Jesus is calling us to be more like him and to make changes in our lives, but the thought of becoming more like Jesus is so important because Jesus tells us in john 14, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.
See, Jesus and only Jesus and becoming like Jesus and only Jesus is the only way to reach God.
So this morning, I actually want to focus on some of the reasons why we fail to become more like Jesus, and before we jump in, I just want to say to open your mind in your heart to this thought today, if something stings you or you feel a little bit defensive, just ask yourself, does the shoe fit? And if it does, then wear it and own it and make some changes where they need to be made amen? . All right. Let’s jump in.
So, you know, I read a story about a young girl who is from the Midwest, from a humble upbringing, and she graduates from from high school and she gets into Harvard University. So she moves to Boston and she’s from, like I said, a humble upbringing in the Midwest. She’s not very wealthy. And if you didn’t know, most people that go to Harvard are quite wealthy. It’s an expensive school. And because she’s lower in financial status, even at Harvard, she’s looked down upon by her classmates.
She has to work to pay for her expenses of living in Boston and her main job is cleaning dorm rooms. And it got so bad that one day there was a boy who actually sexually harassed her, said some very inappropriate things to her as she was cleaning his dorm. And this young woman actually had two classes with this boy and both classes were moral reasoning classes or moral ethics classes, if you will. And he was actually top in their class in moral ethics. See, the point is that he was excellent in the academic side of moral ethics, but he failed miserably in the practice.
He valued intellect over moral character. And ultimately, this young woman quit her job and actually decided to leave school. And before she left school, she had an exit interview with one of her professors and she said this. I’ve been taking all these philosophy courses and we talk about what’s true, what’s important, what’s good, well, how do you teach people to be good? What’s the point of knowing good if you don’t keep trying to become a good person?
So how does this relate to becoming more like Jesus for me and for you? Well, the thought the question that I want you to be thinking about is, are you merely learning about Jesus or actively becoming more like him?
Now, obviously, I’m not saying that learning about Jesus is not important because it’s very important. It’s why we talked about it last week of being in his presence. But just imagine if after doing this lesson, I stepped off stage and one of you came up and you’re like, Hey, Chase, can can you help me with X, Y, Z? Can you help me find Jesus? And I was like, no, I don’t have time for that.
Everything I just said or I’m about to say would would hold no weight, it wouldn’t matter because you would see he’s not practicing what he just taught everyone. I know we have a lot of great teachers of the word in our congregation here in Broward, and I think I can speak for them and I think that they would say, you know, who cares what I know if I’m not actively becoming more like Jesus? It’s the whole point of learning about him.
If we’re simply sitting in the presence and yet our life doesn’t change, then something is off. And if you have a Bible this morning, you can be turning over to Matthew 19, if you don’t, we’ll have the verses up on the screen as well.
But we’re going to read two contrasting stories that kind of hit on this point. So starting in Matthew 19 and we’re going to start in verse 16, it says, just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? Why do you ask me about what is good? Jesus replied, there is only one who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments. Which ones? He inquired. Jesus replied, you shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony. Honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself. Verse 20. All these I have kept, the young man said, what do I still lack? Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come follow me. When the young man heard this, he went away sad because he had great wealth. See, this young man treated the commandments like a checklist, right? I’ve learned that, I’ve done that. I followed that. But he was called to put something into practice that he lacked, or rather something he had that he needed to give up. And that’s when it was too much for him and he walked away, sad because he didn’t want to give up his great wealth.
And the crazy part is that this guy is clearly impressive, right? He knows a lot. He’s kept the commandments that Jesus is listing off. But the issue was that he was he was looking for where he could stop. Not where he could continue to become more like Jesus. So what about for you, if you’re sitting here this morning, are you content with sounding impressive or maybe even being impressive in some areas or a lot of areas, or are you constantly looking for ways you can become more like Jesus?
Let’s look at a contrasting story we’re going be reading from Luke, 19, starting in verse one. It says, Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus.
He was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but he was short. I can relate. He could not see over the crowd, so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore fig tree to see him. Since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today. Verse six, so he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter he has gone to be the guest of a sinner. But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, Look, Lord, here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount. Jesus said to him, today salvation has come to this house because this man, too, is a son of Abraham, for the son of man came to seek and save the lost.
See Zacchaeus and the rich young man from the previous story we read outside of their wealth, they were very different. The rich young man was impressive with his wealth, but he also seemingly had his life on straight from what we saw right. He had lived out the commandments that Jesus listed, but he couldn’t make that one big change in his life. Zacchaeus, on the other hand, knew good and well that he hadn’t lived a life that he was proud of, but he commits to change his ways.
And not only that, he commits to atone for the wrongs that he’s committed against others, paying back four times the amount. So what’s the point for us of talking about not just learning about Jesus, not just being an academic of Jesus, but becoming more like him? The point that we’re trying to get at is that Jesus calls for radical transformation, not just behavior modification. Sometimes I think we get trapped in this life or in a cycle of what I’m going to call sin management.
Opposed to radically changing our lives and becoming more like Jesus on a daily basis. And I know some people might think, well, isn’t becoming more like Jesus and sin management kind of the same thing?
If I’m if I’m cutting this sin or avoiding this sin, aren’t I naturally becoming more like Jesus?
And I could see how you would think that, but I really don’t think they’re the same. And let me explain. I think the mentality of sin management, of just trying to avoid a sin or cut isn’t out or whatever it leads to us defining our Christianity by what we don’t do instead of what we now do.
When we become more like Jesus, it should be about what we’re becoming, what we now do and not what we simply avoid.
Think about think about laundry for a minute, hang with me here. I think most of you can relate unless you don’t do your own laundry and you’ll get it at some point in time. And, you know, I feel like I’ve repented in this area.
This is more of my young 20s, but still to this day when I when I do my laundry, I do not want to fold it right after I do it.
I don’t know why, but it just seems so monotonous. I don’t want to do it. But I’m an adult, so I start folding and I start with the socks, I always start with the easy thing and it’s not even really like folding. You’re like balling up your socks. And then I’m kind of like earlier in life, I was like. I’ll finish this later. Which never happened, and it would all the clean clothes would go back into the hamper, right.
And then the next day or the day after that, I start having to put my dirty clothes in the hamper and I’m like, oh, my clean clothes are still here. So then they come out of the hamper, they go on to the bed. But then I got to go to sleep that night and sometimes they just stay on the bed and I go to sleep. But then, you know, you pull them off the bed and you pull them, put them on top of the dresser and then that looks kind of janky.
So you take it off the dresser and you put it on the chair in the corner and then more dirty clothes need to go in. So then those clean clothes, and you understand what I’m saying.
The cycle goes on and on and on. And eventually there’s clothes everywhere. And you go crazy, you blow up. And this is how I view sin management. Kind of working on it here and there balling up the socks, avoiding the big stuff, but not really dealing with the root issue.
And ultimately, we simply try to avoid sin as opposed to becoming more like Jesus. And this this way of life will drive you crazy and eventually it will all pile over on top of you, and that’s when you make the big mistake or you have to have a big overhaul in your life or you simply just walk away. But where does this lifestyle come from, this lifestyle of sin management, where instead of becoming like Jesus, which brings refreshment, which brings a clarity that helps us fly straight.
You know, in the Christian world today, there’s this popular quote, maybe you’ve seen it on bumper stickers or coffee mugs or Pinterest or Instagram, but it goes like this.
Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven. Now, I know many of you might be thinking, yeah, there’s nothing wrong with that statement, right? But let me cut down the quote to what it’s boiling Christianity down to. So Christians aren’t perfect. So what are Christians? Just forgiven. So let me ask you, is that how you would define your Christianity or your relationship with God? I hope not. I know I would not define my Christianity like that.
And look, it’s obviously true that Christians are not perfect, right, and we’ll always need to improve, we’ll always need to repent, go back and fix some things, but there’s a lot of room between not perfect and just forgiven.
This thought can be a dangerous thought, because I know some of you might be thinking, well, it’s just the quote like, you know, it means more than that or whatever, but people live this way, right?
It’s a dangerous thought because people live this way and then they teach somebody else that way. And they teach somebody else that way. And you have all these people. Who think that they’re living a life where they found Jesus and they found salvation, but they’re doing whatever they want and they potentially never experience an actual relationship with him.
As Jesus says in Matthew 15, these people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Sunday Christians worship on Sunday, do whatever, Monday through Saturday. And Dallas Willard says it like this. What the slogan really conveys is that forgiveness alone is what Christianity is all about, what is genuinely essential to it. It says that you can have faith in Christ that brings forgiveness while in every other respect your life is no different from that of others who have no faith in Christ at all.
This view is so pleasingly presented on bumpers and trinkets, has deep historical roots. It is by now worked out in many sober tomes of theology, lived out by multitudes of those who sincerely self identify as Christians.
You know, he goes on to use this analogy about a barcode scanner, like at the grocery store where you scan your items and gives you the price.
But it talks about how all the scanner knows is what the what the barcode tells it, right. So if you if you find a barcodes and you find a ramen noodles barcode and you put it on a steak, that steak is now ramen noodles. As far as the scanner knows, it doesn’t know the difference.
Right. So this slogan teaches us that because we have this label Christian or this label of forgiveness, that nothing else matters and that God’s scanner will read us all as just forgiven.
But look, if you get up to the counter at the grocery store and you have 10 steaks in the total is a dollar because you scanned 10 ramen noodle packets, what do you think the cashier is going to say to you? They’re going to think you’re crazy, right? They’re not going to let you get away with that. So what do you think God will say when you’ve lived a ramen noodle life and ask for steak treatment at the end of your life?
So don’t be ramen noodles, be steak, or if you’re vegan, be guac and not salsa or whatever.
But on a serious note, this quote says that Jesus’s life didn’t really matter. The things he taught didn’t really matter. Because it’s all about forgiveness. And this type of thought, this way of living is what gets us into this life of of laundry management, of sin management in a life of I’m a Christian because I don’t opposed to I’m a Christian because I do because of Christ.
Let’s look at second, Peter, one, starting in verse three, it says his divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him, who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Through these, he has given us his very great and precious promises so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Check this out for this very reason. Make every effort to add to your faith, goodness and to goodness, knowledge and to knowledge, self-control and self-control, perseverance and perseverance, godliness and to godliness, mutual affection and some mutual affection, love. So basically become more like Jesus. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters make every effort to confirm your calling and election, for if you do these things, you will never stumble and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You’ll enter into steak life. See, what Peter is teaching here is that we need to continually add to our faith into our character, and in this way you will become more like Jesus and be assured that you’re flying upright and in the right direction. Or as he says here, confirm you’re calling and election.
Look at it again, it says for if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in what? In your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, we talked earlier about not just learning about Jesus, but becoming more like him. And it says it right here. If you simply have knowledge but you don’t add the practices, you will be ineffective and unproductive in the knowledge you’ve gained. The knowledge will do you no good if you don’t add the practices.
So ask yourself from from when you first encountered Jesus to now. Have you continued to add to your faith into your character or did you stop somewhere along the way, kind of like the rich young man wanted, looking for somewhere to stop? Now, I want to set that aside for a minute and kind of kind of go off on another path just for a moment, maybe maybe you’re sitting here today and you’re thinking, this sounds great, but I am too deep in my sin.
Even if I tried to become like Jesus, he wouldn’t accept me for whatever reason. And if that’s you today, if any part of you feels that way, I want to read a story an interaction with Jesus in Luke seven and just listen. It’s not going to be on the screen, but just listen to the story. Luke seven starting in verse thirty six. It says when one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisees house and reclined at the table.
A woman in that town who lived a sinful life and she was actually a prostitute learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisees house. So she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.
As she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, if this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is that she is a sinner.
Jesus answered him. Simon, I have something to tell you. Tell me, teacher, he said two people owed money to a certain moneylender, one owed five hundred denari and the other 50. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now, which of them will love him more? Simon replied, I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.
You have judged correctly, Jesus said. Then he turned towards the woman and said to Simon, Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet. But she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with their hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven, as her great love has shown, but whoever has been forgiven little loves little, then Jesus said to her, your sins are forgiven. The other guests began to say among themselves, Who is this who even forgives sin? And Jesus said to the woman, Your faith has saved you. Go in peace. Look Jesus is wanting and waiting to forgive you no matter what you have done in your life.
This woman here was a prostitute, but she saw Jesus and knew he was special. Knew that he was God. And get this, she took what she once used for her life of sin, right, and brought it to Jesus, she brought her expensive perfume, her hair, which she used to attract men. She wiped Jesus’s feet.
It was like she was giving her old life away. So when we see Jesus today, when we we read about his life or we hear him being spoken about, I think we have two reactions oftentimes. We either turn away because it looks bad for our image or we’re afraid of what we might have to give up or for whatever other insecurity we may have or like this woman, we shamelessly adore him, no matter how foolish or desperate we look, because we understand who he is.
So if you’re sitting here thinking that this morning, don’t not come to Jesus because you think he won’t accept you because he will, he just wants you to come to him to give up your past life. And that was just an aside, but I want to hit on one more thing as we close out here. You know, after Jesus was in the desert for 40 days and he’s about to start his ministry, he starts to preach, repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near or in some versions it says is at hand.
So immediately when he starts his ministry, the people encounter Jesus preaching and they hear, if you want to follow him, you have to repent a complete heart and mind change. Why? Because the kingdom of heaven has come near or is at hand. But what does that mean exactly?
I mean, we could spend hours talking about exactly what it means, but Jesus here is saying that because of him coming to the Earth, because of his life, because of his death, because of his resurrection, and now through the spirit once we’re baptized, it gives us the ability to be in God’s kingdom right now.
I think sometimes we look at God’s kingdom as something to be accepted now, but it’s going to be in heaven, so it will be enjoyed later.
But if we become more like Jesus, if we become a Christian and we allow God to rule over our lives, we can actually here and now actively participate in the kingdom.
Now, the difference is, is that while we’re here on Earth, there’s these other kingdoms trying to penetrate, right? You have Satan in his schemes. You have all the things that were tempted by the world, the lust of the world, the fame, the popularity, the money, whatever the case may be, comfort.
But obviously in heaven, we will not have to deal with that anymore. It will be God and God alone. But while we’re here, I want you to ask yourself, are you allowing other kingdoms to influence you? You know, I think this is big because this is the other way in which we start flying upside down and we don’t realize it and we end up crashing. Cause you’re like, I can do this for me, you know, I deserve some comforts, I deserve this, I deserve that. They have that they don’t seem to be that bad.
And we start to sway and we start to go upside down. But if you allow God to rule in your life, you will see that there is a better way to live. It’s like when the Internet first came out, I’m sure that there was some people who are like, I don’t know about this whole World Wide Web thing, probably won’t last seems kind of sketchy. And while those people did their research papers at the library, we were done because we used Google and it was simple.
But Jesus is telling us there’s a better way to live. Stop using the library. There’s a better way to live, and not just to simply learn about him or not simply to gain forgiveness and then try to live however we want or manage your sin forever.
But to enter into his kingdom. And also have a personal relationship with God, the father here and now. And then he gives us a purpose and a mission, right? He says, hey, you found this kingdom, now go help others find it as well. Hey, you have this relationship with God and with the son. Go help others have that relationship as well. Jesus is saying, hey, look. Let me help you straighten out, because you’re flying upside down and I don’t want you to crash and burn.
But as we close out, I want to give us a practice for this week. You know, I’ve been I’ve been practicing, I should say, I’ve been trying to practice silence and solitude. I’ve been going to the class on Wednesday night. And so that’s going to be a little bit involved here. So I hope you enjoy it. If not, it is what it is.
But I’d like you to take 30 minutes this week if you want to do more fantastic. But at least 30 minutes this week and journal about the thought of becoming more like Jesus.
I’ll give you a little bit of instruction. Think about the two contrasting stories we read today about the rich young man in Zacchaeus. Maybe you’re a little bit more like the rich young man here today, you’re following the commands of the scriptures, you know a lot about Jesus, but what is something in your life right now that you need to give up or you need to start doing to become more like Jesus?
Where can you keep going instead of looking for where you can stop, like the rich young man? Or maybe you’re a little bit more like Zacchaeus, maybe you’re not proud of where you are right now and you know exactly the changes you need to make in your life.
Ask for some help if you need it. Maybe you heard the lesson last week and you’re new here. You’re new to your journey of faith and you’re just trying to be with Jesus right now and you’re trying to be in his presence.
That’s OK. Keep reading about his life. But as you read and you come across something where you’re like, you know, I don’t live that way. Then change it or take steps to change it. Ask for someone to help you ask for how somebody else changed.
There’s so many great stories here in the church of people that had sinful lives, who had rough upbringings, whatever the case may be, and they’ve transformed their life in a powerful way.
But in order to get out of this cycle of sin management and only living for forgiveness and flying upside down without even knowing it is to become more like Jesus.
So as you go about your week this week, as you read about his life, as you sit in silence and solitude as you journal, really think, am I flying straight? Am I becoming more like Jesus? Amen?
Let’s pray together. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your son. Thank you for the example that he set for us in our lives.
Thank you for the fact that he sees us struggling. He sees us flying left and right and up and down in circles. And he and he straightens us out, God. He gives us the stability that we need in our lives. God, I pray that we won’t just learn about him, that we will become like him. God. And I pray that as we take the communion today, God, I pray that we think about not just his death, but the life that he lived us to follow God, that it won’t just be about the death in the forgiveness that comes through that, but we will follow the things he taught and he preached about in his life.
God, I pray that we won’t be Christians who live a life of sin management that will deal with the things that are going on in our lives, that we will not sit idly by and wait till they pile over for us to make big changes.
God, I pray for those who who are struggling with the thought that their sin is too much, that they can’t come to Jesus because their sin he wouldn’t accept them because of their sin God, I pray that that thought won’t hold them back, that Satan won’t be able to hold on to that, but they will fall to Jesus’s feet and weep if they need to.
God, I pray that we can continue to make radical transformation in our lives.
We love you, God. We pray that we honor you with our lives and your son’s name we pray, amen.