Well we’re bringing this series on the Revolutionary Jesus to a close. We’ve spent the summer really getting to know what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount – the red letter Jesus. What Jesus had said has been helpful, corrective, challenging, and uncomfortable. Jesus has upset what we think we believe about him. That’s a good thing. Anytime Jesus can get into us and wake us up and redirect us is never bad. And I hope this revolutionary Jesus has awakened you to some new possibilities.
Christianity from the very beginning was a subversive movement and Christians were considered rebels because they recognized and confessed that Jesus was the highest authority. So for the first 300 years of Christianity it was illegal to follow Jesus. To say that Jesus is Lord was a politically charged term. By law, no one was Lord but Caesar. Christian defied that law and were executed by crucifixion or in coliseums as sport. Christians refused to submit to national and religious laws that conflicted with Jesus’ authority. So for the first 300 years wherever the church went it was met with resistance. Paul’s missionary journey to Greece (Thessalonika) – Jason – Acts 17. So when did the church become so tame and domesticated?
About 300 Constantine converted. Made church legal for the first time. Legal is not good for the church. Every time we become accepted, we become comfortable and we lose the revolutionary nature of the gospel.
So now we get to Matthew 7 – the end of the Sermon on the Mount. And what we find out is that its not just about hearing but its about practice. One of the things we struggle with is that week after week we’re hearing the words of Jesus, but we’re not practicing them and that’s powerless. Christians look like everyone else. We believe that Jesus is Lord, we confess that Jesus is Lord, but we miss the place of practicing the Lordship of Jesus. There’s a disconnect between mind and lifestyle. That’s the problem in the Church and why we miss the point that Christianity is revolutionary. Jesus is radical. We are not saved by what we believe, we are saved by what we obey. We’ve created this institutional Christianity that is just based on believing in belief. Look at what Jesus says in 7:21; but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven. We’re not save by what we believe; believing in belief. We’re save by what we obey. 7:23 – we’re not saved by our works. We’re not saved by what we believe; we’re not saved by our works. We’re saved by faith and the fruit of faith is obedience to what Jesus teaches. Jesus is command is not to confess – the demons believe that Jesus is Lord. The command is to “follow me.” So faith is acting on Jesus’ command to follow him. Which means his lifestyle becomes our lifestyle. Our sole priority will be based on Jesus’ priorities. In Jesus, God is fleshed out. So in Jesus we have the absolute authority of God.
Here’s our problem, we allowed other authorities to mix in with Jesus’ authority. There are three of them that I see. The first is secular culture or secularism. Secularism is a worldview or philosophy that among other things says that this world around us is all that’s real. If I can’t touch it, see it or taste it – its not real. There is a morality that is attached it secularism that says “you do your thing and I’ll do mine.” I won’t judge you, you don’t judge me. What’s right for me is right and what’s right for you is right. There are no absolutes; no authority. So its no longer about the authority of Jesus or even the authority of Scripture, it’s the authority of me and my rights and my voice. Then Jesus is not Lord. I am lord. And I mold my religion to fit what I want and how I look at the world. Our first priority is not Jesus or his lifestyle. Its me and whatever I want to do that makes me feel good.The second is national allegiance. Some how we’ve mixed the flag and cross and put them on equal ground for authority. Somehow we’ve come to believe that America is God’s chosen nation. Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world. Jesus kingdom is the kingdom of God. Now I’m glad I live in America, it’s a kingdom of the world but it’s not God’s kingdom. And the kingdom of God has authority over all kingdoms of the world. And there will be times when the authority of the nation conflicts with the authority of God. Now I might not like the tax code or the health care bill but that’s not a right to defy national authority they don’t conflict with the authority of God. But if your enemy hungers feed them. Here’s the third one: Ourselves and self-authority. Its called pick and choose. We read Jesus’ teaching and we make our self the exception. Well, this stuff that Jesus said doesn’t really apply to me. But Jesus said we’ve got to deny ourselves before we can follow him.