Calling All Disciples - Part 1 :: Class Dismissed
PART 1 :: Class Dismissed
Today, we are kicking off a four week series titled, “Calling All Disciples”. This is one thing I am extremely passionate about.
EXPLAIN: A disciple is simply an apprentice or a pupil.
So when we talk about a disciple of Jesus, we talk of someone who looks to Jesus as his Teacher and, learns from practical hands on experience and failure.
The Test of a Disciple: Shows competency. Heresy a test of competence.
If you are visiting, checking out the whole God-thing, we are so glad you are here. We are hoping to discuss what it might be like to be an apprentice of Jesus, or a follower of Jesus.
What would it look like if you were absolutely sold out for Christ? What would it look like to be his apprentice, follow him, gain competency, become like him, grab a hold of his motives, think like him? What would happen to people around you?
As an early follower of Jesus, I really wrestled with what discipleship was all about. Is it about becoming passionate for Jesus? Is it about living a good moral life? Is it about reading your bible regularly? As I learnt more about what it meant to live a good life, I would incorporate it in to my life. But eventually, a few problems emerged: My list of how to be a good person got too big; my emotions determined my response, and I had to be alert all the time, and I became exhausted. That doesn’t sound very liberating to me.
What does following Jesus really mean?
There are two groups asking for real disciples? 1) The Kingdom of God. Jesus is cheering you on to be a radical disciple (follower) of him. The Kingdom of God is cheering you on to be a radical disciple. Jesus instructed his church to, “Go, make disciples who obey my every command.” 2) The World. The world says, “I want you to be radical for Jesus, as long as, it does not affect me.” The world presents a confusing message. Many times I come across people who value moral laws – but if the conversation turns to Jesus, the say, “Tame it down.”
Have we settled for Confusing Christianity? The outcome of a confused Christianity is someone who is religious, but not radical. Here’s the problem: Many times we teach people how to scrub up on the outside so that they look great. Even people who don’t go to church understand this: I’m a good person. I don’t intentionally hurt anyone. It’s all about treating others as you want to be treated? - Which lasts as long as people treat you well. Then you have permission to grill them.
In Japan a new art style has been created, called, Superflat. It is filled with smiley cute faces with flat two dimensional images, flowers, mushrooms and bright colours. The artist behind this style was interviewed and asked why he continued with such a simple style that even a child could create? He responded by explaining that this style represents the Japanese culture, that although it is thousands of miles wide in superficial reality, when you turn it on it’s side it is only a few inches thick. Japanese society, and the western world for that matter, has built a great world of distraction from what is really lying underneath the surface. The happy looking mushrooms in his pictures represent the bombings that devastated much of Japan, but it has been glossed over as okay, never really dealing with the hurts and reality. We live in a Superflat society. A Superflat society has placed it’s demands on Christianity and asked it to be a Superflat Christianity. Many people live in this Superflat world, throwing of happy cute distractions, but settling for shallow faith.
Is discipleship simply about living a morally good life? How do we move forward as a follower of Jesus? What does this apprentice deal look like?
We are going to look at a passage today where the Teachers of the Law meet The Teacher. The Battle of the Teachers. Jesus, essentially, picks a fight with them.
The story that we will look at is found in Luke 11:37-54. Two of the other gospels, Matthew and Mark also record this account.
The Pharisee and Teachers of the Law noticed Jesus did not wash his hands to eat. Maybe they were concerned that Jesus may get worms. In the Matthew account, it turns out they are not concerned for health, but a custom. He compares Jesus’ actions with a custom. He had the ‘Good-O-Meter’ out on Jesus. He judged by what he saw Jesus do – and then compared his inaction to a custom or law. After all this Teacher of the Law seemed to be more informed than The Teacher. Imagine, he could teach Jesus how to be a good boy. The Teacher of the Law obviously was good at keeping the customs and law.
Let’s read Jesus’ response in vv.39-41.
In Mt 23:26 he says clean the inside of the dish and the outside will be clean also. When I was in Vanuatu last, at the closing ceremony where all the dignitaries were invited and gave formal addresses, many pastors of the churches within the province were asked to take part. One in particular was asked to open the ceremony in prayer. As he stepped up with great authority, I noticed that on the sleave of his shirt was written, “Devil”. In shock I ribbed my mates and asked, “Do you see what I see? Am I reading his shirt right?” It was a shock to a westerner like me. I heard God gently say to me, “It’s what’s on the inside that matters, not what is on the outside.” If you know the Vanuatu people well, then you know they have not got great choice in clothing as to what they have available to wear. Often they receive donations from people in what to wear. It is what is on the inside that matters. The Teachers of the Law were likewise shocked that Jesus did not keep the custom. Jesus takes an outward custom to explain an inner problem. In other words, Jesus is saying, “You Teachers – you teach people how to clean themselves on the outside only.” Every one knows that a clean cup on the outside looks nice, but if it is grimy and filthy inside, you don’t want to drink from it, no matter how nice the water is inside. Why clean the outside only? “You Teachers – you are experts in making people look good, but as for making them right before God, you are way off.”
PAUSE: I don’t want to be a church that is great at making people look good. Most the religions in the world already do this well. Most of my mates, who don’t follow Jesus, do this well.
Let’s have a look at the Teachers motives a bit more: A clean bowl on the outside but not the inside is for show, not for practical use. A disciple of Jesus is not for show, he follows Jesus with real practical outcomes. A clean bowl on the outside but not the inside conceals reality. The motive behind suppressing reality is because we want other people to think well of us. When we live for a righteousness that is based on what people see, then we get ourselves in trouble. Because, as soon we are alone – we loose our prime motivator – other people’s approval or perception – and we relax all our law abiding ways. If our motivator is other people, then when other people are not around we make decisions based off my default motivator – my own desires. And because my default motivator is so contradictory to my people motivator, then whenever I am around other people again, I suppress who I really am. And what happens is; I hide who I am behind a religious facade. And while-ever I’m hiding, I can not deal with my default motivator.
The problem is, the only time I am willing to bring my defences down, is when no one else is around – but because I go it alone, I never have the strength to fully hand it over to God. The place where healing actually comes is not on my own, it is amongst others. That is why James instructs the early church to confess their sins to each another. Paul said, 1 Thes 2:4 “We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.” Paul was not trying to please men, but his prime motivator was to please God. And it is God who tests the heart. It is at the heart that Paul was concerned. Solomon says in Proverbs, “Above all else [the most important thing you can do], guard your heart.” Jeremiah looked ahead to a day where the law of God would no longer be written on tablets of stone, but on the heart of men. Rather than living off a code, we live off a heart.
Years ago, I asked the question of God, “What does it mean to follow you?” Over the span of a year and a half, God slowly revealed to me what it meant. The culmination of this was a verse that God challenged me with, 1 Cor 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.” I don’t want my motives to be unchecked by Jesus and left for the end of time where it all comes out anyway. God spoke to me through this scripture that he wants to deal with my motives now.
I don’t want to be a Superflat Christian. This is a scary compromise to make as a follower of Jesus. It buys in to the world’s agenda for disciples. Be radical, but don’t affect me. We end up buying in to a confusing Christianity. I don’t want to be a church that is great at making people look good. I want to be a church that is washed from the inside out. I want to be a church whose motive is to please God.
When you discover more of Jesus, you find that he is more than a teacher. He was a Renovator of Hearts. There is not one person who has gone so far that Jesus could not redeem them. Each person is made in the image of God and therefore they are special and loved by God. Jesus worked on a totally deeper level than the Teachers of the Law. Mat 7:28 says, “The crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” The Teachers of the Law could only affect the outside of a man. Jesus could affect the inside that would affect the outside. Jesus got his students out of the Classroom and in to Life.
What motives will be exposed at the end of time in your life? Indicators that my motive is ruled by people’s perception: 1) I am struggling with a sin that nobody knows about, but God & I; 2) I find myself comparing myself with other people which sometimes leads to judging them against my standards; 3) I get tired / exhausted in being a good person.
Can I encourage you not to keep this private between you and God? Can I encourage you to bring it to those whom you trust; often your PAR Group, which will break the outside motivators and make way for the inside work of Jesus Christ – the Greatest Teacher. This often starts best on your own with Jesus in contemplation where you have no more distractions between you and God and can be totally truthful about who you are. The next step is confession and allowing the Teacher to occupy your life. You will find that as you break the public façade of who you are, you won’t have to try to have integrity, because the inside work of Jesus is what people will see. The first step to being a radical follower of Jesus is to be honest with where you are at, and then start the journey with Jesus transforming you from the inside out.
If we took Jesus’ words seriously, his church would not only be affected, but the light of Jesus would have depth to shine. What would church look like if every person was a radical follower of Jesus? How would it affect those who are looking for Jesus? How would it affect those who want the good morals, but not our Jesus? Jesus is calling us to a radical shift, from living for the applause from men, to living for the applause of Him.
Jesus is Calling All Disciples who are willing to follow him uncompromisingly!