Input sound file: Audio 01 28 2018
I would like to tell you that I don’t really understand what Twitter is. Twitter came out in 2006. The idea behind Twitter was that you would have a group of people who are interested in what you are doing that you’d want to be in regular contact with, and you could send them a short message. At first, it was only 140 letters. Now, how in the world can somebody say something really useful in 140 letters? Well, they doubled it to 280. Me, I need about 10,000 letters and then I’m just getting warmed up. But the idea of it was that people who were interested in you could receive little messages from you throughout the day automatically sent to your cell phone or your computer. I’m standing in line at Starbucks. Boy, the line is really long. Wow, I can’t believe how much whipped cream that fat guy has on his coffee [laughter]. As if we cared. Now movie stars and all the celebrities instantly got all excited about this because every stupid, insignificant thing about their life, they could tell thousands of people instantly. That’s a tweet, 140 letters.
The name Twitter came from that short message idea, a short burst of inconsequential information, about as informative as birds chirping. And you know, it kind of fits perfectly with that. And so, as a [inaudible] of that, you have this little image on the screen. Jesus is talking to a young man, someone who understands all about cell phones, and computers, and the internet, and Twitter, and Instagram, and all those things that are mysterious to many people. And Jesus is trying to correct some misinformation this young man has. He says, “No, I’m not talking about Twitter. I literally want you to follow me.”
Now, we need to let that sink in because, somehow over the last century or the last two thousand years, what people have come to believe is that discipleship is about the sharing of information. The discipleship is about Jesus telling you something that you need to hear in 140 characters or less and you letting that information sink in. Friends, that’s not what discipleship is about. Jesus literally wants you to get up off of what you sit on, and do something about it. It’s not enough to know if knowing does not lead to doing. And the greatest problem that we are dealing with today in the faith is it’s almost become an addiction for us to think that what we need to do is know about the Gospel rather than to do it, rather than to live it. Friends, you cannot follow if you stay on that log. You cannot follow while you’re sitting down. Now, those of you who know that’s really sad because I love to sit down, and I love to talk to people, and I love to think, and I love to sit down and read. It’s possible that preachers like me have contributed to the idea that the faith is something where we get information rather than us actually getting up off our seat, and going where Jesus is, and doing what Jesus asks us to do. You cannot follow while you sit still.
This goes along with something else that’s happening in our society. Apparently this battery is not enough. Okay, Ken? When I go like this– Jared and I had fun with this last week. When I go like this– a number of years ago, Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam published this book. It’s a very long book. It’s a very big book, has some very interesting information in it. But the main thing he was talking about is the way our culture is changing. Back in the ’50s, there were lots of people who would go bowling. Do we have any bowlers here, people who like bowling? You like bowling. That’s just great. And you would go bowling on a team. Now the point that Putnam is making in this book is not that people aren’t bowling today. They are no longer bowling on teams. Do you know why? If you bowl on a team, you have to show up. If you bowl on a team, people are expecting you to be there. In fact, they’re counting on you to be there. If you bowl on a team, you have to make a commitment and you have to keep it. And we’ve become a culture that does not see the value of making a commitment. Why is that? What we’ve learned is that we love our freedom of choice, and we want to participate in things that let us do whatever we want whenever we want because we think we’re very entitled to do that.
When you go to the grocery store, have you noticed? There used to be two kinds of coffee, decaf and regular. Now, there might be 50 kinds of coffee. There used to be two brands of coffee, the expensive kind and the cheap kind. Now, there might be 100 brands of coffee because what they’ve learned is that we like making choices. And you know something else, we like keeping our options open, and because of that, we don’t like making commitments that we’re going to be at a bowling team on Tuesday night. We’ll go bowling when we feel like it. We don’t like to make a commitment that we’ll be at a committee meeting on Monday night. We don’t want to be interfered with because maybe this week on Monday night our favorite TV show– something’s going on that we prefer to do. I have no idea what’s on TV Sunday morning. But you can literally see it in the statistics. We have become a culture that doesn’t make and keep commitments because we want to keep our options open. We have a lack of commitment to commitment. And here’s the problem if that has to do with following. If you want to come to church on Sunday morning, you have many roads that you can take to get here. Some of you come the highway from the south, some of you come down from the north. Kim and I have begun to be very careful of where we drive through town because we find bumps uncomfortable. Finding the right road through town without any bumps, quite a challenge. Some of you are nodding. Maybe you feel those bumps too. There are lots of ways to come to church. You can come up third street, you can across our next street. If you want to, you can go down 37 to the interstate, take the interstate to [inaudible], go out toward [inaudible] and then come up past [Forbes?], and actually, come in this way. I don’t know why you’d want to do that, but I want you to know that people love having lots of options and they hate the feeling that they don’t have choices. Here’s the point about following. If you’re going to follow Jesus, He’s going to take one road. And guess what, if you’re going to follow Him, that’s the road you’re going to take too. If you’re going to follow Jesus, He will make the choice and you will go along with Him. And it’s not something our culture really likes these days because we don’t like anyone, even God, telling us what to do. Isn’t that strange? we don’t like anyone, even God, telling us what to do. From that time, Matthew 4:17, Jesus began, He preached this throughout his entire ministry. Here’s still the summation of what He’s saying today. He began to preach saying we can’t. And we talked about the meaning three Sundays ago, how it wasn’t an emotional thing to repent, but it was a matter of seeing things from God’s viewpoint. It was a matter of rethinking so that you would have a new perspective, God’s perspective on what you have done that is wrong and what you should be doing that is right. And the reason we need to repent is because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Why? Well, because the King is actually here. Here are the verses that come right after this statement. As He walked by the sea of Galilea, He, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. And He, Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately, they left their nets and they followed Him. Next line, please. The word follow in Greek is this word [ianudible] and is followed by this modifier that where Jesus is saying come after me, come with me, is time to get up and go, come behind me and it says that they left their nets and followed Him. It’s interesting it’s a different word that’s used there. The word that’s used there implies that they are joining him. They are now going to accompany him wherever he goes, attend to him and what he says and what he needs. They are going to follow him. and that Greek word is literally based on the word that means erode, a path. When Jesus says, “Follow me,” he creates a path for you to walk on. And in fact, the earliest name the Christians gave themselves was “The Way”. We’re going to follow Jesus. That’s who we are. He makes a way. Next slide, please.
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, in the boat with Zebedee, their father, mending their nets. And he called them. Immediately, they left the boat, and their father, and their business, and their work and followed him. What does this stress on immediately mean? we have lost one of the most important concepts of following. Next slide, please.
“Follow me” is important be Jesus isn’t waiting. The reason they got up immediately is because Jesus wasn’t standing around waiting for them to do something. God wanted him to be busy doing God’s work, and Jesus was not standing around twiddling his thumbs, waiting for them to get up off their seat and follow him. “Follow me,” he said as he was walking and he kept walking. And if they didn’t get up and go, they’d lose sight of him. Now, over on the left-hand side of the screen is a beautiful picture. This is a picture of Jesus holding the lambs, Jesus the Good Shepherd. It’s made of crushed stone mixed with resin and molded and finished to be a beautiful statue of Jesus. And guess what? You can put it in your front yard. You can put it in your backyard on your patio.
And you can say to yourself, “I’m going to go out and sit and spend some time with Jesus,” because you’ve found yourself a Jesus that doesn’t move. You’ve found yourself a Jesus that stays put. You’ve found yourself a Jesus that doesn’t do anything except sit there all day long and wait for you to make some time for him. Here’s the problem with that. That statue’s not alive. Little boy in this picture, this is my great nephew Oliver. That little yard that you see there, that’s the playground, whatever you want to call it, at the magnolia place in Waco. And if you don’t know what that is, you’ll have to talk to me afterward.
But they have all these kids. And I’m sitting there, and I hand Oliver this ball, and he drops it on the ground. And he kicks it, and he just takes off. He is not waiting for me. If I’m going to be with him, I need to get rolling because he’s not stopping. What we need to understand about our faith is that Jesus is alive. And the difference between alive and dead is alive means movement.
Jesus is moving and He’s not waiting for you or me. We need to get up off our seat and follow Him. The only Jesus that just stays right there waiting for you to do something is a dead Jesus. And for all too many years, the church, in some ways, has preferred a Jesus that doesn’t do much. Secondly, because Jesus is alive, He is moving. I also want to tell you this, Jesus doesn’t have an address. Right now you are sitting at 308 East Third Street, but Jesus doesn’t have an address. Thank God He comes by when we gather. He promised, “Two or more gather in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” But Jesus is not stationary. You can take this statue and put the statue any place you want, but you cannot put Jesus where you want because He’s alive and He keeps moving.
You heard the old joke about Grandma really is enjoying life since she started walking five miles a day? Yep. Well, she started doing that last year and we have no idea where she is now, but we know it’s 1,000 miles away. If Jesus wants you to follow Him, it doesn’t He’s going to stand there and wait until your ready to make a commitment. If the disciples did not get up and go, He’d be out of sight. They might get another chance, but “follow Me” literally meant, follow Me. Next slide, please.
And here’s what happened when they followed Him. And He went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues. He was teaching and He was preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. Oh, and He was also healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. Word began to spread. Verse 24, “So His fame spread throughout all of Syria.” Next slide, please.
And His people heard that He was coming to where they were. They got up and they went to where He was and they brought Him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics, and He healed them. Verse 25, “And great crowds followed Him from Galilee,” and the Decapolis, and Jerusalem in Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. Miracles happened wherever Jesus went. And do you know something amazing? If we follow Him, we will see many of the same things. But there’s one other very subtle truth that we’re missing from what it means to follow Jesus if we just simply read this– Next slide, please.
When Jesus said, “Follow Me,” he did not say, “Follow Me and I’ll show you, pastors, how to attract a crowd.” He did not say, “Follow Me and I’ll show you how to be famous.” Jesus did not say, “Follow Me and I’ll show you how to do worship the right way.” For some people that means drums and guitars, and for some people that means pipe organs. But Jesus didn’t say, “Follow Me and I’ll show you the right way to do worship.” He didn’t say, “Follow Me and I’ll see to it that you have the right information that you know what you should believe. He did not say, “Follow me and I’ll teach you right from wrong. I’ll teach you what holiness means.” He did not say, “Follow me and we’ll have Bible study.” Bible study’s good. And believe me, they heard the Word coming right out of His mouth every day. But He did not say, “Follow me and we’ll study the Bible together.” He did not say, “Follow me and you’ll learn how to heal people.” He did not say, “Follow me and I’ll show you how the Church should be different.” There’s some people today who think that the Church is dying and so everything needs to change. There’s some people today who think the Church is dying because we aren’t doing it the way we’ve always done it before. And they want to go back to the way the Church was 100 years ago. Jesus did not say, “Follow me and I’ll show you what the Church should be like.” This is where we need to repent. This is where we need to rethink. This is where we need to change our perspective. Jesus said, “If you follow Me, I will show you not only how to become a disciple, but how to make disciples. If you follow me I will teach you how to fish for people.” And then in the Great Commission, You said, “Now you go teach them how to fish for people.” And when we follow Jesus, people around us become disciples if we’re really following. But all I have to do is get on Facebook for two minutes and I’m gnashing my teeth. All I have to do is get around pastors for a few minutes and I’m just wanting to tear my hair out. I don’t have much left to tear out. Because everybody has explained that what Jesus wants you and I to do is one of the things on this list, and I just want to shake people. And of course being really big, when I shake them it could hurt. I just want to shake them and say, “No! Jesus wants you to follow Him and become His disciple because if you do that, you can’t help but influence the people around you to also become disciples.” But if you’re going to follow Him – next slide, please – you’re going to be dealing with this reality. Am I keeping up? Which way did He go? If you allow yourself to become distracted from being a disciple, to refocus on the things of the world to be a famous preacher and to be a pastor of a huge church, if you allow yourself to be distracted you will lose sight of what Jesus is actually doing. You have to pay attention to Him. Unless you have a dead statue Jesus. You don’t have to worry about him, he’s not going anywhere. But the Living Jesus is on the move. Next slide, please. And this is why you need to be on the move. You need to get up in the morning or whenever it is you do it, you need to find that prayer chair, and you need to sit down there, and you need to ask this question, “Lord, where are You going today, so that I can go with You?” You’re going to take your hand and you’re going to pray for your neighborhood, your friends, and family, the people you work with, the people you recreate with, have fun with, the people who geographically live around you because guess what? Jesus is working in your neighborhood and in those peoples’ lives, and if you come up out of your chair having heard from Him, you will be able to join Him in changing their lives, because that’s what it means to be a disciple and to follow the Living Jesus. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, thank you for being patient with us when we sit because Lord, when we sit or we kneel we can reconnect with You. We can pray. But Lord, there comes a time when You want us to get up and do, because there’s people out there who need You, and there’s people out there who need us, and there’s people out there who need You and I, You, us, and Jesus to work together to cooperate so that they might learn a life given relationship with You. Lord, we pray that people will see that in our lives and be hungry for it. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
The photo …
This post is based on the sermon “___” from the sermon series “___”
*date*, at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_2018.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.