Community Group Study Notes

  • Who does the Bible say I am in Christ Jesus?
  • If I am being shaped by Christ’s love, how am I living it out?
  • Remembering Ananias and Sapphira, what areas of my life am I keeping back from God?
  • What changes do I need to make in my life to show I am a child of God?


Memory Verse

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:15)

Sermon Transcript

It's my guess, though I don't know for sure, that most people probably don't know who Ivy Lee is. Now, some of you, depending on the discipline that you studied growing up, you might know who Ivy Lee is. Let me give you a heads up on him. In the early 1900s is when Ivy Lee existed and Ivy Lee was working for the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Pennsylvania Railroad had an accident and what Ivy Lee did is he, in the early 1900s, represented the side of Pennsylvania Railroad not as an attorney, but as someone who wanted to communicate to the kind of now burgeoning press who was going to get the word out to the rest of the world about what the Pennsylvania Railroad did and what they didn't do in this particular accident. Some would actually argue that Ivy Lee is called the father of modern day public relations and that Ivy Lee actually is the one who issued the first press release ever when he talked to the press about what the Pennsylvania Railroad had and had not done in representing their side, so he became known as the father of public relations, so to speak, because his job was to represent the interests of the railroad, the image of the railroad, and represent that through the press to everyone else.

Well, not long after Ivy Lee some other people started picking up on this idea and they started doing this same thing. In act, in about 25 years from that point we have something that happened at the White House. This was either right before or during the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the president and what was created at the office of the White House was, for the very first time, a position called press secretary. The press secretary basically had this job, to represent the image of the administration to the public. That was the job.

Now, in the day and age that we live in, one of the fastest-growing jobs in the PR field is that of image management, where the goal is that companies hire people to manage their image to the public so that the public has a particular impression of that company. That's actually a real live job. In fact, some of the seeds of that idea of how you want to represent image as a company to people were captured in the late '80s, early '90s in what was considered then one of the more brilliant ad campaigns at the time. I'm dating myself because I remember the ad campaign back in 1990. I was four or whatever I was. I can't remember. Don't do the math. I remember this really well.

Who they used ... It was Canon cameras and they were doing an ad campaign and they used a tennis player named Andre Agassi. Does anybody remember Andre Agassi? Yeah, a bunch of you do, right? If you remember him, he looked like this, for those of you who are younger. You're kind of going dude, those pants are hideous. Well, you got to remember it was the '90s and those people that are sitting around you, if they're like in their 40s now, they wore that, so just picture them that way. The people you're sitting near, picture them that way and you're going to be I've lost all respect for you. That's okay because you wear weird stuff, too. Andre Agassi was really known for his hair. That was his deal. That was his image. He's got the long locks and he's out there playing tennis. It was for the Canon Rebel and so he was kind of a rebel in the tennis world. The phrase, the tagline for this particular ad campaign was this, image is...

... everything. You've heard it. Image is everything. That was the tagline that they were using at that time. Now, here's the crazy thing. When you begin to pull back beneath the surface when that ad campaign was going on, you'd actually find some things out about Andre Agassi that you didn't see externally, but that were going on beneath the surface. You see, what he was known for was his hair, man. That's his thing. He's a player and he's playing and his hair's flying everywhere, but what you didn't realize is that in some of these pictures that you got in the ad campaign, it was a wig because his hair was falling out. You see, he actually said this. He said it was happening to him and that he said he would wake up every morning and he would find another piece of his identity on the pillow. He'd find another piece of his identity draining around the shower drain because his hair was his image.

It started falling out, so he was wearing a wig and right before the 1990 French Open, he started having some problems particularly with the wig. In the shower before the finals of the 1990 French Open, his wig started coming all apart. He realized that he was going to be playing tennis in front of millions of people in one of the largest tennis tournaments in the world. It's one of the big three or four. It's one of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments. It's a major. There's going to be millions of people watching him in the finals and his wig is actually coming apart and so what they did is it took like 20 pins. I have no idea what this is all about because, as you can tell, I'm limited on hair. All right. I don't have flowing locks. It took him like 20 whatever things that you use to stakes or staples or bobby pins or whatever it is you use. I have no idea. Things that you keep hair ... Clips, we'll call them clips, clips, it took 20 clips to keep his hair in.

The problem was he was so concerned because he was freaking out because he was about to go out and play tennis and he's got hair clipped in all over the place on these flowing locks. He was so concerned in the final in front of millions of people watching this on television. His major concern was that he was going to be found out, that he's going to be playing and a chunk of his wig's going to come off and this piece is going to come off and this piece is going to come off and people are going to realize that the was losing his hair, if not having already lost it. He was concerned more about his image and about being found out than he was about winning the tournament that he obviously didn't win.

You don't really have the backstory when you see the phrase image is everything, but it tells us all we really need to know, that sometimes what we're seeing out in front of us is not really everything there is to see. In fact, this tagline, image is everything, is still used by loads and loads of companies when they just use it in terms of their public relations. You can go online right now. If you're a company, you can hire an image coach. You can just hire them and they can coach you on how to develop your image, how to present yourself to the public. By the way, you can do this as an individual, if you've got some cash. Celebrities do it all the time. They get an image manager or an image coach to teach them how they can make their image in a certain way in the public eye even if that's not who they really are.

Now, in our day and age, we are all kind of image managers because on our social media sites what we can do is we can show what we want to show and we can not show what we don't want to show. The beautiful thing about that is now we're all image managers. In fact, if we put up a picture and we say, "You know what? I don't even like what I look like in this picture." No problem. We've got filters. We can just put filters on the picture to make us look like we want to look and to, listen to this, to make us look like we want people to see us instead of seeing us for who we actually are, who we really are.

You see, when we grow up in this kind of world, when people start growing up in this kind of world, it's really hard to know what we really are because everything seems to be about image. We're bombarded with images of success in print and in media. We posture ourselves, listen to this, we posture ourselves when we haven't attained that level of success, that image of success, and we start giving ourselves an image as if we've attained that when, in fact, all we're doing is pretending. Now, we pretend for long enough that we forget who we really are and what we really are and we get ourselves into all kind of a blur and we've got an external persona that is not real to who we are. We get images that are bombarded to us about what beauty actually is and what bodies are supposed to look like. You've got young girls and now you've got lots of guys who feel this incredible struggle in terms of their own body image because they've been given images of what beauty is supposed to look like. Now that we can't measure up, we're never happy with it. My nose is too pointy. My nose is too crooked. My eyes are offset. My hips are too wide and everybody's always looking and freaking out about their image of their body.

It's difficult in this world that we live in because images bombard us and it's impossible, really, to get away from them. In fact, you can't get away from them because we live in an online comments section world where everything that you put up everybody can speak to. You want to put up a picture of yourself because you want everybody to bombard you with oh, aren't you beautiful? Oh, aren't you a stud? You get that, but every now and then, you get that person who comments, "Well, you got to do something about that mole on your forehead." You're like what? You might've gotten 30 comments of how incredible you are and how beautiful you are and da, da, da, da. Then mole person shows up and you go back into hiding, right? You're like now you got to go spend a zillion dollars getting that mole off and then you're going to put up a picture of yourself after that and they're going to be like, "That's a nasty scar." Right? It's like you can't run from it. Everything is about our image and how we demonstrate ourselves and how we show ourselves and everybody can ... You can't run from it because what happens is people will foist an image upon you that may or may not be true of you or sometimes, you'll try and create an image of yourself that sometimes people believe and other times people can see right through.

You see, this is a real, big difficulty in the world that we live in because what it does is it keeps pulling us back to the question what am I? What am I? Everything's about image and I've made myself into all of these various brands and all of these various projected images. What actually am I? Well, we're not the first generation to ever have to deal with this. You could go back all the way to the life of the Apostle Paul and he was dealing with stuff like this, too. You see, Paul, you remember him. He used to be Saul and he was a persecutor of the church. He was a religious zealot and he was pursuing this perfect holiness of Judaism and he wanted to follow everything related to the law, not only what was in the Scripture, but what human beings had created in religious zeal.

Anybody that was not like that he was dealing with, particularly those people, those confounded Christians who were kind of a break off of Judaism, who claimed to be following the Jewish Messiah that he's saying oh, no, that can't possibly be. He's persecuting them. He's having them put in jail. He's having them put to death. Then all of the sudden, the very ones that he is persecuting he ends up finding their leader, but the leader had died and risen from the dead. Paul's on a journey toward Damascus, Syria and he meets the resurrected Jesus and his life is forever transformed. Just a heads up, a pause right there. If you meet the resurrected Jesus, your life is forever going to be transformed. He did and this is a guy who was killing people for the message of the gospel who now has been so transformed he's actually preaching the message that he was persecuting and killing people for.

Let me ask you a question. Do you think that there were some people now that he's preaching a message that he used to kill people for, do you think there's people who probably don't trust him, who are going, "Hey, no, I don't want to listen to that guy." Right? Do you think that he had maybe some people who were trying to demean his character and they were saying, "No, no, here's what he really is. He's really this. He's not really this." Do you think that Paul may have had some opponents of his who maybe wanted the glory that they felt like Paul was getting because he was launching churches and he was doing some great things for the sake of the kingdom and then all of the sudden, they wanted in on that action a little bit, maybe thought they could monetize that action a little bit and so they came up to Paul's new disciples and they started saying, "Hey, you know what? We've got something a little bit better. It's not Jesus. It's Jesus plus stuff. By the way, this is going to give you a better image in society. It's going to give you all this stuff."

You've got all of that going on in the life of the Apostle Paul. He's constantly being bombarded about who he is and what he is as an apostle of Jesus Christ and he's got to deal with all of it. Thank God there wasn't social media then, right? You know what he does? When he's writing his second letter to the church at Corinth, could've been his third, there was a lost letter not that was supposed to be a part of the canon, but he actually mentions that, that there was another letter that we don't have. This one, in his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul is writing and he actually starts to address some of his detractors and opponents, not necessarily by name, but he's trying to encourage the church at Corinth about the things that they've heard about him and he starts making some very strong statements, listen to this, about what we are. That's what he's talking about, what I am, what we are.

If I could summarize what he said, I would summarize it simply this way. What we are is plain to God. It's more than what we see and it's shaped by Christ's love. It's pretty simple, right? What we are is plain to God, more than what we see, and shaped by Christ's love. Now, why do I say it that way, Jerry? Where did you come up with that? Why do you say it that way? I say it that way because I'm literally lifting those things right out of the text and I'm going to show them to you because those are the ones that I want to peel back and I want us to understand a little bit better.

Here's what Paul writes. I'll show it to you in just a second. In 2 Corinthians chapter number five, now if you've got a Bible, I want you to turn there or, if you've got a digital device, I want you to scroll there. I told them in the last worship gathering it's taken us 2000 years, but we've finally gotten back to scrolls. Either way, I don't care, just find the word. Have it in some form or fashion. Listen to what he says in 2 Corinthians chapter five. "Since then, we know what it is to fear the Lord. We try to persuade others. What we are, what we are is plain to God and I hope it's also plain to your conscience. We're not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but we're giving you an opportunity to take pride in us so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than what is in the heart. If we are out of our mind, as some say, it is for God. If we're in our right mind, it's for you. For Christ's love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore, all died and He died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again."

You see, this is why I said just a moment ago that how we could summarize this is that what we are is plain to God, is more than what we see, and is shaped by Christ's love. I'm pulling that right out of the text. I want to take those one at a time because when we begin to understand this, we begin to understand something about image. We begin to understand something about what we are because what I'm doing here and what my job is is to take the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, listen to this, and to absolutely laser through all of the lies that this world continues to pour on us, that we look to the world that we live in to get an understanding of our image instead of looking to the reality of the truth of the gospel that can actually dispel all of that and lead us to a place of truth and rest.

Let's look at the first one. What we are is plain to God. What we are is plain to God. Now obviously, you know I took that right out of the first verse. Here's what it says in verse 11. "Since then, we know what it is to fear the Lord. We try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God." My points are plagiarized. I plagiarize the Bible every week. This is my job. I'm a professional plagiarist. I preach the word. What we are is plain to God. Now, there's a reason that Paul is saying that. He's not just saying that out of nowhere. He's saying that for a reason. He's actually saying that because of what he just said prior to it. Notice what Paul said just prior to it in verse number 10. He said, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body whether good or bad." Then he says, "What we are, it's plain to God."

You know what Paul is doing here? He's saying to us here's the deal. We are all going to give an account for our lives before the judgment seat of Christ. Now, as believers, that's not an accounting that's going to determine whether we spend eternity with Him in His kingdom or not. That's already been settled through faith in Jesus Christ, but this will determine we'll be rewarded or lacking rewards in this kingdom that is to come. This judgment seat of Christ is not a judgment of condemnation, but it is a judgment that should be sobering to all of us because what Paul says is we're all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, so understand this. What we are is plain to God.

For Paul, what he's saying is this. Why would I want to construct some superficial image of myself that is going to be completely stripped away when I stand before Jesus? Why would I do that? That's crazy. That's a waste of my time. It is a waste of time because I know that I am living life and I will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus. Why in the world would I construct some false narrative about myself? Why would I create an image externally of myself when all of that is going to be stripped away? Good point, Paul. That's something we should pay attention to. When we begin to live in light of the fact that we're going to stand before Jesus and account for our life, the things that we've done in the body, whether good or bad and it's not going to be a judgment of condemnation, but it is going to be a judgment where this is discerned and we are rewarded or not rewarded in accordance with what we have done for the glory of Christ in the spirit of God, not in the flesh, this should be sobering for us and should call us to be a people who live like that, who live in light of that, that what we are is plain to God.

Now, listen. There's a positive side to that for our living and there's also a really sobering side to that for our living. Let me talk about the positive side first. The positive side of the fact that God knows what we are and it's plain to Him, it's clear to Him, when I say this, so make sure you're hearing me correctly, make sure you're hearing the word correctly, I'm not saying that God looks at us as plain, like He looks at us and goes, "Meh." That's not what it's saying, right? What the Bible is actually saying is that it's clear. It's obvious. It's plain to God what we are, no hiding from that, right?

What's encouraging about that? What's encouraging about that is this, is that when we are people and it will happen in our lives, when we are people who get motives assigned to us that weren't really true of us, when people say oh, they did such and so for this particular reason when in actuality they didn't do it for that particular reason, here's the good news. God knows. God knows. He knows. He sees. It's plain to Him. We don't have to fake it or posture or whatever. We don't even have to necessarily make our case all the time. He knows. You know this had to be good news for Paul, right, that this had to be encouraging news for Paul. What we are is plain to God. People are talking about Paul, talking about what he is, talking about what he's done, talking about where he's come from. He's getting all things thrown at him and he's like God knows. He knows. Isn't that encouraging for you? Has anybody ever been misunderstood by someone? Has anyone ever had motives assigned to you that aren't true of you? Here's the good news. God knows, so you can rest in that.

Here's the sobering side. God knows. That's the sobering side. In other words, even that thing that you did that everybody commended you for and everybody said was so great when in actuality, at the root of maybe why you did it might've been a little bit on the self-glory side, but nobody knew that because you know the right angle and you know the right things to say and you know the right posture. God knows. God knows what's gold, silver, and precious stone and God knows what's wood, hay, and stubble. In fact, in the early church, God wanted to remind the early church that it is no joke to play around with trying to play with God and posture with God and pretend with God.

In fact, there was this couple in the early church, I mean talking about the early, early church. Their names were Ananias and Sapphira. Has anybody ever heard of them? Yeah, some of you are going, "Don't read it. Don't read it. Don't read it." I'm going to read it. I'm going to read it. I'm going to read it. Here's what it says in Acts chapter five. It says, "Now, a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira also sold a piece of property and with his wife's full knowledge, he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. Then Peter said, 'Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold and after it was sold? Wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You've not lied just to human beings, but to God.' When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died and great fear seized all who heard what had happened." Yes.

"Then some young men came forward, wrapped us his body, and carried him out and buried him and about three hours later, his wife came in not knowing what had happened to Ananias. Peter asked her, 'Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?' 'Yes, she said. That's the price.' Peter said to her, 'How could you conspire to test the spirit of the Lord? Listen. The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door and they will carry you out also.' At that moment, she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and finding her dead carried her out and buried her beside her husband."

You're saying man, that seems strong. Well, listen. The issue is not hey, should they have done blank thus and so with the money? Peter said to them, "Didn't you sell it and have all the ... Wasn't it yours before you sold it and then when you sold it, wasn't the money at your disposal to do whatever?" Do you know what they were actually doing with that money? They were posturing, in a public sense, to make people think that they were doing something they weren't doing. Here's why I know that. Because in the verses just preceding that, you saw a guy named Joseph ... Listen, here's what it says, actually. I'll show it to you in chapter four, verse 36 and 37. "Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus whom the apostles called Barnabas," you remember that name, right, which means son of encouragement, "he sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet."

Then it tells this story. See, here's what happened. Barnabas actually had a piece of land. He sold it and he brought it, all of it, and he put it at the apostles' feet and said, "Here, I want you to use this for the glory of God and for helping our brothers and sisters," because they were beginning to face persecution. Things were about to happen. There were people in need and so he wanted to make sure that they were helped. Well, Ananias and Sapphira saw that and they're thinking to themselves, hey I got a piece of property. Everybody, of course, was saying to Barnabas, "Man, wow, thank God. That was awesome. Thank you, man. That's incredible." Ananias and Sapphira saw that and they're like hey, we got a piece of property and so what they did is they planned together and they're like look, here's what we're going to do. We're going to sell this piece of property, but we're going to keep this amount. Then we're going to give the rest and everybody's going to think we're giving it all and so they do that and Peter goes, "You think you can lie to the Holy Spirit?" Now, that's a level of insight that an apostle has that Jerry may not have all the time. You going to lie to the Holy Spirit and they died, a reminder to everyone that God knows and He's not playing. God knows.

See, this is both positive and sobering. It's encouraging and conflicting at the same time, but what we need to remember is what we are is plain to God. You also need to remember this, that what we are is more than what we see. What we are is more than what we see. When we talk about this idea of image, we have to realize that what we are is more than what we see. Listen to how Paul said it. After he said what we are is plain to God, he said, "And I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We're not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us so that you can answer those," listen to this, "who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are out of our mind, as some say, it is for God. If we're in our right mind, it's for you."

You see, here's what Paul was doing. Paul was addressing something that was basically about people that wanted to foist an image upon him and wanted him to keep up appearances, I should say. There was a '90s television show that came out of England called Keeping Up Appearances. Did anybody ever see that show? Yeah, there's like four of you. It was super popular, actually, in England and in the rest of the world. That sitcom ended up being sold to over a thousand global stations because it was so popular. Now, the main character, her name was Hyacinth Bucket. That was her name, Hyacinth Bucket, B-U-C-K-E-T. She was from the Bucket clan.

Now, the interesting thing was is that she was embarrassed of her kind of middle class upbringing. She wanted to be an aristocrat, so whenever she introduced herself, she didn't introduce herself as Hyacinth Bucket. She said, "I am Hyacinth Bouquet. It's spelled bucket, but it's bouquet." No it's not. You're a Bucket. You're from the Bucket family and so Hyacinth Bucket was always involving herself in trying to act pretentious and to be socially proper and all that stuff, but the whole time, the reason it was so funny to the audience is because everybody could see through it and she was always failing at her opportunities and she's always trying to image manage away her crazy uncles and her cousins and her family that she's embarrassed of. She's doing all of this and so everybody got a huge kick out of this because this woman, it was obvious that she was trying to keep up appearances, but she was really not doing a particularly good job at doing so.

Now, what some of Paul's detractors wanted is they said, "Here's what Paul's doing. Paul is keeping up appearances in this sense." They wanted people to have an image of Paul in terms of keeping up appearances because they said, "Hey, the dude's slap out of his mind." That's a southern way of saying it, slap out of his mind. He's crazy. That dude's a madman. You can't trust this guy. He's traveling all over the place. He's like an adrenaline junkie. He's like a hair-brained adventurer and there's trouble everywhere he goes. If it's not with people, it's like with spider bites and stuff. The dude is always in trouble. Paul says, "Hmm." He says, "You know what? Here's the good news. What I am is plain to God. If I'm out of my mind, it's for God. If I'm in my right mind, it's for you."

You see, Paul actually knew that his motive, that God knew his motive, that everything that he was doing, every place and island and shipwreck and spider bite, everything that he had gone through, everywhere he went, it was for God and for people. It didn't matter what everybody was saying about him because even if they looked at him externally as some guy who's always going places, getting into trouble, an adrenaline junkie, finding all this stuff, fine. They can say what they want, but there's something going on in here that God knows and God knows that what I'm doing is for God and for others.

You see, isn't that the teaching that we get in the scripture itself? Do you remember when Peter was teaching, listen to this, he was teaching women about how God views them. Listen to what he said, in fact, in 1 Peter chapter three. He said, "Your beauty shouldn't just come from outward adornments such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes, rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." Here's what he's saying. He said, "Man, everybody's always looking at the external. You can get all dolled up, but if you've got a really ugly heart, that's not what God is looking for. God's looking inside of you, so it doesn't matter what you look like necessarily on the outside. Do your best. Do what you want to do. It doesn't matter what your shape is, if you're a cucumber or an apple or a pear. Who cares? God's looking at the heart. This is what He's concerned about."

You remember the Old Testament story of Samuel, who had been told by God that he was going to and anoint a new king in place of King Saul, the first king of Israel. He sent him to a man named Jesse, who had come from Bethlehem. Jesse had a bunch of sons and some of those sons were straight up studs, like Eliab. Listen to what Samuel said. It says, "When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and he thought surely the Lord's anointed stands here before the Lord, but the Lord said to Samuel, 'Don't consider his appearance or his height, for I've rejected him.'" The Lord doesn't look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord, He looks at the heart.

You see, here's what happened. Eliab looked the part, but David was the part. You see, this is what you and I, this is what we're going to have to answer the question when it comes to the idea of image. We're going to have to answer this question. Do we want to just keep keeping up appearances or do we want to be who we really are destined to be? Do you want to look the part or do you want to be the part? Sir, if you're married, do you want to look the part of a good husband so that kind of everybody from the outside sees that or do you actually want to be one? Ladies that are married, do you want to look the part of a good wife or do you want to be one? Do you want to look the part of a great employee or do you want to actually be one? Do you want to look the part of a leader or do you want to be one?

Here's the thing. Do you want to look the part of a disciple of Jesus or do you want to be one? See, that's the question that we have to answer. You want to look the part or do you want to be the part? See, the problem with us when it comes to disciples of Jesus is that we've created our own subculture and we know all the ins and out and the things to say and the things to show to make everyone from an image standpoint think that we're incredibly awesome and spiritual. We've even created our own language. It's called Christianese. I saw one of these satire pieces. I don't read a lot of Christian satire because I don't want to. I love the church of Jesus and I don't want to become jaded and salty and there's a lot of snark in our world already, but I do read them occasionally because sometimes, you just got to laugh at your family sometimes. One of those pieces talking about how to be a perfect Christian, which is just a funny statement and title anyway, how to be a perfect Christian, they talked about Christianese and that you actually need a translator for some of the things that we say because they mean something completely different.

Let me show you some illustrations. Here's a Christianese phrase. I'll keep that in prayer, brother or I'll keep that in prayer, sister. Here's the English translation. I have no intentions of praying for you. In fact, I've already forgotten what it is you were going on about. Why are you still talking, right? Let me give you another Christianese phrase. Lord willing. Here's the English translation. I'm going to do it whether the Lord wants me to or not, but I want to sound like I'm trusting God in this situation. Some of you are going, "Uh oh." Let me give you another one. I got them all day. I'm just really focusing on dating God right now. This is for all my single friends. I'm just really focusing on dating God right now. She says that to somebody who's asked her out. Translation, I'm not interested in you, but I don't want to hurt your feelings, so I'm going to play the God card. All the single ladies, all the single ladies.

Let me give you another one, Christianese phrase. I'd love to have you over for some fellowship soon. That's such a good one. Here's how that actually translates. I run a home-based business and I'm going to try to sell you stuff for the duration of our relationship. Has that ever happened to you? I swear it has happened to me. Oh, man, I'd just love to meet you, just I want to hear your heart and here's some crap to buy. Oh, man, it's a Christianese phrase. Here's another one. I just don't really feel called to that ministry opportunity. Here's the translation in English. That ministry sounds suspiciously like work and involves little to no glory or acclaim, so I'll wait for something a little more glamorous before I'll hear the Lord's still small voice calling me to serve. Oh, man, those are fantastic.

There's a reason I don't read them all the time, because I don't want to get snarky, but sometimes you have to point some of this stuff out because what we are is more than what we see. What we are is more than what we hear and so sometimes we have to be reminded that we put up these kind of guises in language and in show that make people look and think of us in a way that may not actually be true of us. You see, what we are is plain to God and what we are is more than what we see and what we are is shaped by Christ's love.

This is what I don't want you to miss because here's where Paul ends up landing in that set of verses that I read to you earlier in verse 14 and 15. He says, "For Christ's love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore, all died and He died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again." You see, Paul is saying here that his motive from the very outset was love. The love of Jesus is what compels him.

Listen carefully. I know when I hear people say to me and I know what they mean when they say this. Man, I'm doing what I do because I love Jesus. I got you. I hear you, but you're doing what you're doing because Jesus loved you first. You see, it's Christ's love that compels us. It's not just our hey, we love Jesus. We love Jesus because Jesus loved us. We are compelled by the love of Jesus. You see, here's the thing. When Paul actually uses the terminology here, he says we're convinced that one died for all and, therefore, all died. What he's reminding us of is this, is that Jesus died for everyone who is guilty. It's not just some cool thing that we look back on and go oh, wow, that's really neat that Jesus died and that's just a really inspiring thing to me that Jesus died and how He handled all of that and forgiving people.

No, no, no. Here's what you got to understand, that as a sinful person, you and I, who were sinners before God, who were enemies of God, that Jesus came and listen, He didn't just die so that we'd have a great example. He died our death. He died our death, the death that we deserve, the condemnation we should receive. Jesus died our death, took upon Himself our sin. He became sin for us. He who knew no sin, Paul says, became sin for us so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God. This is extraordinary for us to remember and here's why it's important to image because when we realize where we've all come from and that's it's Christ's love that has rescued us all and saved us, why then are we pretending? Why are we being so pretentious? Why are we trying to listen? Why are we trying to create and craft an image of our life that makes everyone think we're more deserving than they are? We are not. We have been saved by grace through faith and it is not of ourselves. It is the gift of God. It is not of works unless any of us should boast.

This is the heartbeat behind what Paul is saying to us here. Man, there should just be a sign in front of every church. Don't go put it up there, by the way. It's called vandalism. There should be a sign that just says no perfect people allowed because if we were all perfect when we showed up, we'd have no one to worship but ourselves. We're showing up just to worship Jesus, so all of us that enter in, we got some things. I've had conversations with people. "I just, I don't feel comfortable The Chapel because everybody's got their stuff together." Are you going to the same church that I go to? Everybody's got their stuff together. Look around, people. We don't have our stuff together. Look at me. I'm standing here like an idiot right now and I don't know why. That sentence would've been fine if you would've just knocked off the together. Everybody's got their stuff. Now, that is a true statement. Everybody's got their baggage. Everybody's got their scars. Everybody's got their struggles. Everybody's got their stuff. Everybody, including the dude who keeps rambling on up here. Everybody's got stuff.

Now, here's the beautiful thing. You don't have to live in it forever. You can be free. You can be delivered. You can break out of that bondage, but I'll tell you exactly how you cannot, by pretending. That is exactly how you cannot. You create an image for yourself that you're scared for everybody to see the real and as a result, you keep all of your stuff in the darkness rather than bringing it into the light and the light's the only place that it's going to melt away all of the junk and leave you in a place where you start becoming new in the image of Jesus.

This is what happens. We got marriages. Listen, from the external, people look and you've learned how to put on the right face. You've learned how to take on the public persona, but your marriage is circling the toilet drain and you know it, but you're not willing to bring it out into the light. You're not willing and I'm talking about to the right people. I'm not talking about people who are going to just blah, blah, do all. I'm talking about to the right people in the right places that'll really help, that'll really love, that'll really be with you, but you're too concerned about an image. They're people who know all the phrases, all the Christian phrases. They've been in church for a long time. They know all the lingo. They know how to look. They know how to act and they're addicted to pornography. They're addicted to alcohol or a substance or pills, which is kind of the suburban way, but we don't bring it into the light because we got an image, right? Well, they're so spiritual and they know so much about the Bible. They've been around and they're just good people. I know them and all that stuff.

We bought that so much that we like that. We like people's version of us better than what God wants for us and so we lock ourselves in this jail of bondage instead of bringing ourselves into the light in humility recognizing hey, you know what? I'm willing. I'm willing for a little while if it has to be this way, for people to not quite understand that I'm not everything that I was, they thought that I was so that I can become who God says I am. Do you want to play the part or do you want to be the part?

This is what we have to ask ourselves about image, so what's it going to take because if we are consumed, listen to this, if we're consumed by Jesus' love like Paul talks about, his love compels us, do you know what that means? We then get, when we're consumed by Jesus' love, we're more concerned about Jesus' reputation than our own. We're more concerned about Jesus' image than our own. That's what happens to us. That's the beauty of what happens to us. When we recognize what God has done for us in Christ, then we want to see the beauty and the glory of who Jesus is be magnified through our lives. That doesn't come from creating some false image of who we are. It comes from being honest. We've got stuff. This is what we do.

What is it going to take? What will it take for you to live in light of the fact that what we are is plain to God? What's it going to take for you to live in light of Christ's love that can shape you? What's it going to take for you and I to live in such a way that we realize that we're actually more than what can just be seen, that there are hard issues that are going on? For some, it's going to require confession and repentance, repentance meaning simply turning away from those things and turning to Jesus to meet His grace and to meet His cleansing and to meet His forgiveness and to meet His truth. For some of us, it's going to require that we find accountability and you know where you're going to find that? Listen, in community. That's why the body of Christ needs one another, folks, because we don't all have our stuff together. We just all have our stuff. It's why we need one another, that we don't have to live in that forever, but that we can together pray for, encourage one another, share, be confidential with one another and move in the direction of Jesus. As iron sharpens iron, so one person can sharpen another. This is why we need it.

People that are unwilling to be involved in real Christian community, there's typically a reason. There's generally a reason. They're nervous that who they are becomes more known. Listen, what we are is plain to God. It's more than what we see and it's shaped by Christ's love. I want to remind you of something. Image actually is everything because what we want is not an image that we've constructed that's false, but we want the remade image of Jesus in our lives to be seen by the world because what the world needs to see more than they need to see mine and your fake images of who we are is who Jesus is and what Jesus can do and how Jesus can deliver and how in our weakness, Jesus makes us strong. This is what the world needs to see. Image really is everything as long as it's the image of Jesus in us.

Let's bow our heads together. We're dismissed in just a second. If you don't have to get up, I'd ask you not to out of the courtesy of people around you. If you're here and maybe you've just been kicking the tires on the God thing, maybe you're new to church, here's what I want to remind you of. Don't let your pride stand in the way of you surrendering your life to Jesus. Pride never gets us where we're trying to go. It ruins everything and sometimes we create an image of ourselves, but understand this. Your image, it's not like you're going to create this image of yourself and then you're going to stand before Jesus and Jesus is going to be going, "I am so impressed. I have no alternative but to just usher you in." That's just not how it goes. God is impressed with His son and when we find our place in Jesus, we are accepted in the beloved and so it means turning from our sin and putting our faith in what Jesus has done on our part, the one who was sinless who became sin for us, the one who died our death and who rose from the dead so that we could have reconciliation with God.

If you want to know more about what it means to begin that relationship, when we dismiss in just a moment, just come straight across the atrium into the Fireside room. There's some folks in there who'd love to talk to you for just a moment and then we'll let you be on with your day.

Father, for those of us who claim to know You, who are children of Yours, every single one of us has stuff that builds up in our lives from time to time that wants to hide out in the corners and in the darkness. What you've asked for us to do is to bring it into the light and to confess it to our brothers and sisters in confidence that we might find healing in grace. God, I pray that we would be a people who don't just play the part, but we become the part, that people don't look at us and they're looking at a constructed image that we have carefully manicured for them to be able to see, but that we're also not a people who think that it's a wonderful thing to air all of our dirty laundry just because it makes us look more authentic than everyone else, which is just as based in pride as if we hid it.

Would you help us to just be authentic people who know what it means to be humbled at the beauty of the gospel, to receive Your love, and to be shaped into Your image because that's what the world needs to see. Father, would you help our congregation at The Chapel to be a people that when we are out and about in the world that we live in that people actually see Jesus in us, not a constructed veneer, but they see Jesus at work in the lives of real people doing real things because that's ultimately what brings You glory, not our fake, pretend, well-crafted images. Shape us more into the image of Jesus. We couldn't ask for a better image. We pray You do this in Jesus' name. Amen.

More From This Series

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Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 1 - Jul 1, 2018


Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 2 - Jul 8, 2018


Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 3 - Jul 15, 2018


Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 4 - Jul 22, 2018

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