Want to be more like Jesus - There’s an app for that!
“Over the 2011, 4th-of-July weekend, a group of motorcyclists gathered in Onondaga, New York, to ride in 11th Annual Protest Run against the New York state law that requires motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. One of those riding in protest was a 55-year-old man named Philip Contos[i] from Parish, New York. During the ride, police say, his 1983 Harley Davidson spun out of control, and he flew headfirst over the handlebars. His head struck the pavement fracturing his skull and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Now both the police and the doctor treating the man said afterward that IF he had been wearing a helmet, he probably would have survived the accident. The group organizing the protest ride said that while they encourage the voluntary use of motorcycle helmets, they oppose mandatory helmet laws. Whatever the case for or against laws concerning motorcycle helmets, you cannot miss the irony of this accidental death: the man died protesting a law that—if he had obeyed it—would have saved his life.[ii]
Now the story doesn’t end there. Contos’ older brother Richard said that if his brother could do it all again – he would still ride his motorcycle without a helmet. Because and I quote, “My brother was a rebel who didn’t believe the government should tell people what to do, including instructing them to wear motorcycle helmets.”[iii]
How many would agree there’s a rebel in you? And that’s not negative considering the rebel can also mean “revolutionary” or “radical.” Jesus was a rebel. Jesus rebelled against the religious establishment that focused on externals. Jesus was a rebel with a cause. Sometimes others are rebels without a cause. They simply rebel against any and all authority which makes life miserable. I’m curious? When is a command merely a suggestion? I suppose it depends on who said it! Dad, I don’t believe you. Mom, you’re all talk. Police officer; once you turn your back I’m gonna drive even faster! Football coach, I’m not running another lap! Jesus, you want me to obey what? - Turn with me to Matthew 28:16. Jesus is not “suggesting” anything in these final verses of Matthew. Do you need a Bible? Also, don’t forget to fill out your Communication Form. Jot down your first and last name and anything else you’d like to communicate! Jesus is communicating to us his purpose for the church! Let’s read this section again starting at verse 16. (16-20) (Ashley Fultz baptism)
Again, when is a command merely a suggestion? It depends on who said it! Go back to verse 18. I get that! Jesus’ resume includes “Virgin born, performed miracles, told demons to be quiet, brought people back from the dead and he himself came back from the dead never to die again!” But what would you do if I said, “All authority on heaven and earth belongs to me!” Would it make you feel better if Stephen Hawking or Charles Swindoll or Sarah Palin or Nancy Pelosi or President Obama said – “All authority has been given to me!” That’s not true, but Jesus possesses all authority and he said, Teach disciples to obey everything I’ve commanded you! Well, Jesus taught more than just “make disciples.” Maybe you’re thinking, “Greg, it would be nice to have a little discipleship manual so I can be taught and then I can teach others.” Matthew has given us just that! There are 28 chapters in Matthew, but Matthew is conveniently divided into five major teachings. Jot down these numbers. Those teachings are found in Matthew 5-7 which is called the Sermon on the Mount. I was able to visit what is now called the Mount of Beatitudes in Galilee. Bananas now grow where people would have sat! As I walked a path near the Mount of Beatitudes I picked up some rocks. These rocks made me think of Jesus words, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. You can trust that what we read so long ago really did happen! The remaining four teachings are found in chapters 10, 13 and 18 and 24 & 25. In Matthew 25 Jesus asked, Are you ready? Keep watching and keep serving! But when you compare all four Gospel writers no one records more about being obedient to Jesus’ commands than John. I want you to turn John 13:34. (34-35) Go to John 14:15, 31. Jesus continues in John 15:9. (9-17)
But I don’t want to! That’s why it’s a command. Because loving people is so hard. Some people are irritating. Others are abrasive. I did a wedding yesterday. Married Patrick Connor and Kacey Young. I quoted comedian Rita Rudner who said, "I love being married. It's so great to find one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life."[iv] Some spouses are annoying; difficult to love. Have you heard of Jaron Lowenstein and his new band The Long Road To Love? They sing a song called, Pray for you! I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind! (Jaron Lowenstein clip (1:14) That song started off good, but went south fast. Who here has ever been jilted? Sometimes you’re the jilter and other times you’re the jiltee! You might be in a bad relationship right now and oh are you ever going to start praying for this person now! Truth is Mr. Jesus – I know you said to love but revenge tastes so much better! OR so we think!
Please go back to John 13:34. What’s Jesus talking about? These commands are not new. Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to love God and Leviticus 19:18 tells us to love people. Jesus summarizes these two commands in Matthew 22:37 by saying love God and love people. But what made John 13:34 “NEW” is that this type of love is sacrificial. I pray that we as a church will never forget what Jesus said. First, Make disciples. But that won’t happen unless we’re willing to love people sacrificially. Why would I care about making disciples of Jesus if I don’t love him and them? PLUS, this task is so huge! Jesus doesn’t say just make disciples he says, Make disciples of all nations! Just how many people are we talking about?
A blonde is watching TV and she hears that two Brazilian men die in a skydiving accident. She starts to cry, “That is so sad!” But then she wonders, “Just how many is a brazilian?"
Is it a million or a billion? How many is “all nations?” How in the world are we as disciples supposed to reach the 6.9 billion[v] plus people which happen to occupy this planet? Well, let’s see. Jesus poured his life into 12 imperfect people and through those people – he changed the world. Jesus didn’t physically reach everyone. I won’t either, nor will you. But I can reach some. If you did not receive one of our 5 core values bookmarks, you can pick up one today. A 3rd Core Value of the New Testament church is Small groups connect people and foster growth! Disciples worship. Disciples disciple others! Disciples grow! Do you want to become more like Christ? Well, there’s an app for that. You are the app. Nothing grows us more than choosing to sacrificially love another person. You can’t do that on the same level for everyone. Do any of these names right a bell - Richard Adams, Edna Carpenter, William Forder, Lisa Hawkins, Paul Mullins, Enrique Ross and Doreen Wagner[vi]? All of these folks live in Central Ohio and all died sometime this past week. I did not know any of them. Death makes me sad, but I did not know them personally so while I feel for their families; I’m indifferent to their deaths!
The Bible teaches that God so loved the world and we are to love people too, but let’s break the world down into manageable groups of people. Group #1: Neighbors. Jesus taught in Luke 10 that anyone we come across in life is our neighbor. If they are in need we should help them. That is without a doubt showing love.
Group #2: Your personal family. Jesus had a family. Even at his death he was caring for his mother. I would guess most of us here have a physical family. That family probably comprises a group of maybe 3 to 6 unless your family happens to be the Duggar’s and you are at 19 and counting! Whew! But we are to love each other in our families. Despite personality quirks, bad habits, even bad decisions – we are to love sacrificially! Group #3: Your church family. Jesus knew allot of people. Jesus stood before crowds and interacted with hundreds if not thousands but (Group #4) he was close with 12. No matter what size church we become – you’ve got to be connected with at least 8 to12 people. ARE YOU? These few really know you! These few can say something hard, but you receive it in love!
I find irony really interesting! This coming September will be the one year anniversary of the death of James Heselden, the owner of Segway. What’s ironic is that he died while riding a Segway! Philip Contos died protesting a law that—if he had obeyed it—wearing a helmet - would have saved his life.[vii] Jesus commands us to love! But we argue! I won’t do it! I refuse to do it! I’m gonna remember every bad thing you ever did to me! I’m going to hate. I’m going to be bitter. Revenge sounds more satisfying! And people wonder why life just stinks! Seems ironic, doesn’t it! I met my daughter’s Spanish teacher this week! How do you know someone can speak another language? How do people know we are disciples of Jesus? WE LOVE!
I haven’t been to church since I don’t remember when
Things were goin’ great ‘til they fell apart again
So I listened to the preacher as he told me what to do
He said you can’t go hatin’ others who have done wrong to you
Sometimes we get angry, but we must not condemn
Let the good Lord do His job and you just pray for them
I pray your brakes go out runnin’ down a hill
I pray a flowerpot falls from a window sill and knocks you in the head like I’d like to
I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls
I pray you’re flyin’ high when your engine stalls
I pray all your dreams never come true
Just know where ever you are honey, I pray for you