Whenever we get to summer, it can be tough. All of our vacations and long weekends. I’ve always thought that during the summer, if you’re here, you are serious about Jesus; you’re committed. That’s why I like to tackle some hard stuff in the summer. So we are going to spend this summer on some of the hardest things Jesus ever said. This is not for the faint of heart.
In my position I’m pretty fortunate in that I get to observe a lot of culture – the things that are happening in the 21st century. I get to listen to and talk to a lot of people. And what I’ve seen is that Christians have lost their passion. The fastest growing religion in America is “no religion.” Christianity is declining at a rapid rate and Islam is growing in America. What is it about the Gospel and what is it about Christians, that is so unattractive and causing people to look elsewhere?
As I’ve thought about this, I think what is happening is that we use the word “disciple” so lightly. We’ve used “disciple” to define church attendance that has nothing to do with following Jesus; but instead coming to a stationary place once a week (maybe once a week) and then going back to our lives. So what has happened is that Jesus is watered-down and domesticated.
What is a disciple? A disciple is someone who has undiluted devotion to Jesus as Lord. Second, a Kingdom of God worldview. And third, a missional lifestyle.
So this summer we’re going to focus on those three areas. I want to teach on this rebel Jesus for next 8 weeks. The revolutionary gospel; an undiluted Jesus.
When you talk about a revolutionary Gospel, the rebel Jesus; the Jesus movement was revolutionary and subversive movement. For the first three centuries of this movement thousands of Christians who publically declared their faith were executed.
What we’ve done is portrayed a domesticated Jesus. Sort of a Mr. Rogers type Jesus. The Sunday School Jesus is so different from revolutionary Jesus. What we’ve done to Jesus in America has been to make the cross a flag pole.
We’ve got to come to terms with real Jesus, not the Sunday School Jesus but the rebel Jesus.
I want to begin here: think back – What first attracted you to Jesus (share)?I asked myself that question – my earliest memory was that people in my church didn’t talk about Jesus. They talked about a general sort of God or some moral/ethical way of living. I remember a few people who were different. Who talked about Jesus and Jesus seemed to make a difference in their life. (mission/change the world)
Red letter Jesus far more radical. He said things like deny yourself; loose your life to find it – it’s not for faint of heart. Following Jesus is not an easy “believism.” Not about sitting or staying in stationary place but to follow. I was in college before I ever heard that Jesus is God. I started reading the teaching of Jesus and found out that it was so different than I had ever experienced in church.
So what we want to do this summer is rediscover the rebel Jesus; the red-letter Jesus. Here’s where we’re going to start: this rebel Jesus has started a new revolutionary kingdom (empire). We call it the Kingdom of God/Heaven. The Kingdom of God is anyplace that Jesus is reigning.
When we belong to Jesus and to the kingdom we reflect a revolutionary lifestyle based upon a relationship with the rebel.
Upside down living – opposite of culture; new priorities/revolutionary living which goes against culture and identifies you as a Jesus follower and person of his kingdom.
“You have heard…but”
Belief does not save us; obeying saves us
What we want to do this summer is not for faint of heart. We’re beginning with the teachings of Jesus and understand what it means to follow Jesus and see what Jesus does.
As we start I’d like you to read Matthew 5,6, 7 this week. Read it as many times as you can before next week. Start to get familiar with what Jesus says. And then we’re going to see what it means to follow this rebel and to become revolutionary in a world that is upside down.