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Follow the Leader

Notes & Transcripts

Sermon on Romans 15:5-6

Title:  Follow the Leader

Theme:  Christians move together behind Jesus Christ

Goal:  to motivate Christians to follow Christ together.

Need: We may follow but have trouble following together.

Outline:

Introduction about not being able to follow together

1.       Encouraged to follow Jesus through a benediction.

2.      Encouraged to follow as a unified body.

3.      Follow together for the purpose of God’s glory.

Conclusion:  Challenges in each area

Congregation,

           "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today are Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle.  That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” 

          You want me to repeat that.  They are the words of a powerful speaker and priest named Brennan Manning.

          The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today are Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle.  That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

          That’s pretty direct isn’t it?  Kind of hard to step around something like that It’s almost too obvious.  The biggest thing that causes people believe there is no God is to look at those say they believe there is a god and then live like God isn’t around.  One of the greatest causes for people being against the god that we worship is because the Christian life all to often happens all within the confines of the church worship service.  Pass through the doors after experiencing the grace and love that God showers on us and we so often forget about it until next week.  Same time.  Same place.  Same as always.

          Simply, we leave and go our own way.  We neglect to follow the leader.

          The passage that we read from Romans this morning touches on the theme that Trenton Christian School has been using for this school year.  Their theme is Follow the Leader.   As Paul is writing this letter to the house chruches in Rome.  He is calling the church to be together and unified in the world.  In these verses we hear that reminder again.  We need to follow Jesus Christ.  We need to follow our leader.  If we truly believe that we have a part of the spreading of salvation through out the world, and engaging all parts of life from the Scriptural perspective, then we had better do what it says in the passage.  We need to follow our leader.  We need to follow Christ.

          To understand that a little further, let’s go back and look at those verses again.  Typically when Paul is writing a letter he will use a very direct form to make sure that the people he is writing to hear the clear message he is trying to send.  Typically we would here Paul giving advice.  Put on the full armor of God!  Put to death the ways of the sinful nature!  Do not mourn like those who have no hope!   The apostle Paul often was very direct in telling people what God expected.

          But Paul switches the way he encourages the churches for these couple of verses.   He is going to motivate the churches to be unified as they follow the leader.  But he does it by giving a benediction or a blessing on them.  Verse 5 again says, “5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.”

          When you give a blessing like this it does two things.

          ON the one hand it’s a prayer before God.  Paul is calling upon God to allow the Christians in Rome to follow the leader together, follow Jesus Christ together.  So it’s a request before God on Paul’s behalf. 

 

          But when you receive a blessing it also will make you take that blessing as a calling on your life. 

          Students, May God keep you securely in his hand as you study hard.  Did you hear it in there.  The student here heard me say they need to be studying hard.  That is what I said, but not directly.  The blessing also is a mandate.  It’s a get out there and do it!

          Paul say, may God give you unity as you follow Christ.

          You can hear what believers ought to be doing then.  As you follow Christ.  As you follow Christ.  We need to be following our leader Jesus Christ.

          If we would dig into what this means we would find that there is so much to this things that believers ought to be doing.  We ought to following Christ.   

          Paul doesn’t get into it here entirely.  Its more of an assumption made that we know what it might look like to follow Jesus Christ, to make him our leader and continue on after him.  For us today it means getting out of the pew and acknowledging Christ in every aspect of our life.  Jesus did not shy away.  Every part of his life was focused on one thing.  The purpose of Christ’s life was to glorify God above in everything that he did.

          Don’t you wish you could have seen Jesus as  a carpenter.  You wonder how many times he messed up cutting a board.  That would be a tough person to be in business against. You can either buy your chair made by Kosher Kupboards for the best in hand crafted furniture in Palestine or you could get it from the SON OF GOD.  The creator of the universe who stretched the heavens made that coffeetable.  We can only imagine that he worked yet to be excellent at the work of carpentry.

          But that’s our leader.  The Son of God pleased God with everything he did.  He showed in his worship, in his work, in his friendship. He showed in everything that he was following his leader, his Father, God in heaven. 

          That’s who we have to stay in step behind.  Perhaps as we look at our lives again we need to hear it all again.  Perhaps we need a renewed sense that the work that I do each and every day matters to God.  That’s the whole point of education in general.  And that’s at any school you go to.  Christians are out there following Christ, teaching in a Christian way.  Followers that are also educators value the image of God in every one of their students.  That’s what it means to follow the leader in that circumstance.

          That’s true in any occupation.  To follow Christ, you do what he asks you to do.  This is the new command I give you love each other.  Love your neighbour as yourself.  Have the fruit of the Spirit, Love Joy Peace Patience Kindness Goodness Faithfulness, Gentleness and Selfcontrol.  Live like that and you are following the leader.

          But though that may be our emphasis this morning.  Paul’s emphasis to the Roman churches goes even deeper yet.  He gives this blessing asking that God help the Christians in the way they follow Christ.  But the focus of this chapter to the Roman churches in is on the unity between Christians as they do so. 

        Paul blesses them and calls them to follow Christ TOGETHER!  In UNITY!  As a community.

          Now you can discuss this with your family today and see what you come up with.  If we look around at the church today I don’t think we are any further ahead than when Paul wrote this letter.  Two thousand years of reading Romans 15 where it says may God make you unified in your following Christ.  Are we any more unified today than they were back then.  In fact, I bet you could make a pretty convincing case that we are less together as Christians today as we follow the leader than we ever have been since the coming of Christ.  That’s quite a poor showing on our part.

          The community of faith is so important.  The unity we ought to experience as Christians can be seen as we commit to raise our children together.  Today, celebrating Christian Education Sunday we remember that a part of the Christian Reformed Church is a long term commitment to raising our children with God’s word central to their lives..  It is part of the DNA of our church.  Christian schools are what develops when families together decide to raise their children in a Christian community.    

         

          The reason its been that way is because this denomination and this church have felt that Christian education is a critical part of following the leader together in unity.  We encourage teach our children in a covenantal way.  Our support of Christian education can continue to be one of the ways that Christian community can be drawn together .  In unity and as a community we raise our children to be followers of our leader.  Followers of Christ Jesus.

          So Paul wishes God’s blessing on us to follow Christ, especially in our following of Christ to be completely unified with each other..

          Just so we don’t get to proud to think that this passage is for our sake, as we move on we are reminded:  Its not about us.  The ultimate reason for it moves beyond you and me, the church, or the school.  The reason for the unity is for the sake of God our loving father.  Verse 6 takes any attention off of us in this blessing a places it again on God.

          6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

          Following our leader, Jesus Christ in unity will make a difference in the world.  The culture can be transformed when Christians follow Christ together.  But beyond that, when we stand together.  Hopefully it won’t have to entail linking arms singing kum bah yah or something cliché like that.  But we will stand together so that we together can look and give all the glory right back to God in heaven. 

          When there is disunity among those who are following Christ it breaks down the voice of humanity opening up their hearts in praise to God.  It spoils our song to him.  It ruins our ability to give praise and thanks giving. 

          You know what’s not fair.  It’s not fair when the God who made us.  And the God who sent his son to save us doesn’t get our loving attention in return.  Do you know what’s not fair in this world? What’s not fair is when the people God made to praise him are instead itemizing their brother and sisters faults.

          Yoo-hoo.  Come on people.  Remember.  Its me the God that would die for you!

       So we are challenged:

1.   How must you show more perfectly that you follow the leader, Jesus Christ?

2.  How can you live and develop closer community among believers?

3.  How can you allow that success to be God’s glory, not your own?

          Follow the leader.  It’s the right thing to do.  It is what the world needs so that a fulfilling life is possible again.

          But most importantly, as we follow the leader, do so together.  Unified so that God who deserves everything gets the celebration and praise from us that he deserves.  Follow the leader together!

Say Amen?

AMEN

           

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