Want to be more like Jesus - There’s an app for that
*I was driving south on Otterbein Avenue. I had just crossed Walnut Street and was making my way towards Schrock Road. Blendon Middle School was on my right and Jaycee’s Pool was on my left. I saw two people, a Mom and her maybe 10 year old son, about ready to cross the street. They had parked in the school parking lot and I assume were making their way into the Jaycee’s Pool, so I stopped my car and motioned for them to cross. They were about ½ way across the street when this 10 year old boy looked back at me and gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up! His thumbs up, was his acknowledgement to me – that what I did was good! “Way to go man! Thanks for stopping for my Mom and myself!” When was the last time you received a “thumbs up?” “Great MEAL, honey!” You practiced hard, awesome!” “Great job on that last project – you hung in there! Way to go!” What you said in that meeting was what we all needed to hear! Do you find yourself being more of a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” kind of person? Did you hear about the snake that hitched a ride under the hood of this families car? Watch this – Snake on the Windshield. Did you hear the criticism? How many here would have stopped? Sometimes criticism is ridiculous, but other times criticism is warranted. Especially if it’s constructive! For instance – do you think Jesus would give WCC a thumb’s up when it comes to accomplishing his purpose for his church? (What do you think?) Maybe we need to be reminded of the one huge purpose Jesus commands his church to accomplish! Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 28:16. Do you need a Bible? I also want to ask you to do something for me. Tear off this communication form and put your first and last name. We want to do a better job in knowing who’s really here and who’s not. Check out this sign – alligator! Family, we are concerned about you - we want you to grow. Matthew 28:16 introduces the section of scripture we call the Great Commission. The Great Commission is repeated in some form in Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20 and even in Acts 1:8. Hold Matthew 28 and now turn to Acts 1:8. (READ) As if seeing Jesus come back from the dead wasn’t freaky enough – Jesus does this! (Verse 9) Jesus just floats up into heaven! Can you imagine being there! I mean right there! These eyewitnesses are gawking. Let’s keep reading. Find verse 10. (Read 10-11)
Hey boys and girls, you’ve got a job to do! What’s the job? Go back to Matthew 28:16. (Read 16-20) Focus your attention on verses 19 & 20. The original language shows us that Jesus gives one main command in these two verses. Commands are almost always verbs! Did you receive a 5 Core Values bookmark last weekend? If you didn’t, we have plenty more sitting on the stage. One side has our core values – the other side has our mission and vision all driven by Jesus himself. Notice our Mission – Make Disciples! Now where did we get that? Matthew 28:19! Jesus’ main command is make - make what? Make disciples. Now how in the world is the church supposed to do that? School is starting back up again, right? Do you recall what a participle is? A participle is “a word formed from a verb and used as an adjective.”[i] Going is a participle of go. Present participles end in “ing” and past end in “ed”! Go back to verse 19. Circle these words. Go – literally it reads – “as you are going” – baptizing and teaching! Jesus tells us the purpose of the church is to make disciples and we accomplish that by going, baptizing and teaching! Going could be across the room, across the street or across the ocean! Dereck Mushayamunda called me last Thursday and asked me to firm a date in 2012 for another trip to Zimbabwe. Some of you would love to go, but can’t. But some of you can go! Do you want to see God work – do you want to see God work though you! GO! Go on a mission trip. Go to Africa or Haiti or Honduras or downtown Columbus, but GO!
That’s how the disciple making process starts! But there’s more. Baptizing and teaching also describe the process of making disciples! Dr. Mark Moore writes, “Baptizing and teaching are the marks of conversion and cultivation, the pilgrimage of every believer!”[ii] I’m curious? Have you been baptized? If you have not, why not? Why not today? If you were baptized as a baby – understand that’s what was done for you. You had no say in it! Now you can say emphatically, I believe! Baptism is the culmination of conversion. It’s a baby step, but ONE HUGE baby step. How can a person say, “I’m a disciple of Jesus, and yet not be baptized.” Not according to Jesus! But to be baptized is well, easy. But teaching – obeying all the commands that Jesus taught – that’s not so easy! Can you tell me what all these products have in common? Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, chewing gum, chocolate chip cookies, Kleenex, potato chips, popsicles and post-it-notes! Again – what do all these products have in common? They are all happy accidents![iii] 11 year old Frank Epperson left a container of fruit-flavored soda with a stick in it outside on his porch, and it froze overnight. He woke up the next morning to an icy treat! [iv] Happy accidents are products that were forgotten, abused - heat left on too long or not long enough. Or the product was originally designed for another use – as in post-it-notes. But all of these are happy accidents. Is there anyone here who wants to become more like Jesus? Well, there’s an app for that! You are the app. If you want to be like Christ it will not be the result of a happy accident. You must be intentional!
Go back to that bookmark I gave you last weekend. Last week we looked at Core Value #1 – Authentic worship nurtures a vital relationship with God. Disciples worship! Now look at Core Value #4: Spiritual growth leading to maturity must be intentional. Disciples disciple! Better yet, disciples are taught so they can teach others. Not until I went to the wailing wall in Jerusalem did I understand the relationship between a rabbi and his disciples. I saw a rabbi teach his 8 to 12 disciples. A disciple is a student. A disciple is a pupil. A disciple is a learner. A disciple is a follower. Notice that Jesus does not say the purpose of the church is to make converts. Dallas Willard in his book, The Spirit of the Disciplines made this discovery, “The word “disciple” occurs 269 times in the New Testament. “Christian” is found three times and was first introduced to refer precisely to the disciples…”[v] A disciple of Jesus is taught over and over to obey the commands of scripture! Let’s get really personal here! What happens if a person stops at baptism? Does baptism guarantee that my mind will stay centered on Jesus? No, my daughter is taking pre-algebra this year. If I want to stay up on pre-algebra I can’t go 33 years between classes. I need a refresher course! Every time you open the Bible – every time you come here to worship – it’s a refresher course! Go back to verse 20 again. Let’s take what Jesus said here and create a responsibility chart. What I mean is this - when it comes to teaching – what is the responsibility of the corporate church and what’s the responsibility of the individual disciple? Let’s take the church first! I am to preach the whole counsel of God. After this series is done. I will start an eight week series in Job. I want to get you in both Old and New Testaments. My goal is that I will preach in or through every book of the Bible. Church responsibility #2: The purpose of the church is to make disciples and the primary task in accomplishing this is through Christian education. The model for ministry in the eyes of Jesus is education! Which is why we have preaching, classes, small groups, life groups, and conferences – just to name a few. But it can’t stop there! Several years ago I was talking to a man who still goes to this church! I was asking him what he liked about WCC and he told me a few things, but then he stopped rather abruptly and said to me, “Greg, you are not responsible for my spiritual growth!” His words were like a breath of fresh air, because often times I think I am responsible for your spiritual growth. I was reminded this past week. I can’t read your Bible for you. I can’t worship for you. I really can’t fit all of you in my car to get you to church. I can’t serve God for you! I can’t take the place of your small group. If you really want to become like Jesus. You must be intentional. You must want to grow. Here’s how WCC is going to be intentional. We are all about making disciples here. We do that by teaching you to love God and to love people. We also have next steps. We have Pizza & Pastors. We have Who God made me to be? Have you been baptized? Why not today and if not today, when? Choose to open up in a small group. Have you read the Bible? If not, start today. Read it in a year. If you’ve done that I challenge you to read the entire Bible in 90 days! But reading the Bible isn’t about academics. The goal isn’t to know more Bible, but to be more like Jesus![vi] That’s what Mike & Cindy Bish are doing! Pull out the insert in your newsletter. Sam Bish graduated to heaven a year ago today! They placed this in the Columbus Dispatch. Notice what it says at the bottom. What is this family doing here? They are teaching people to obey the commands of Jesus! Which one. Jesus said this in John 14:1! "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms…
Something tells me Jesus is giving them two thumbs up! Do you want to be more like Christ – choose to be intentional! I told you last week I saw a bear. Here’s proof. I was an eyewitness. I am not an eyewitness of Jesus though. None of us are. We are more “ear”witnesses. We tell other people what we have heard. And what have we heard. The teachings of Jesus are true!
[i] Google Dictionary.com
[ii] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 681
[v] Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, 258
[vi] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 682