Radical is NormalPastor Jerry Gillis - January 31, 2016
Radical relationship to Jesus is the only way to rightly prioritize our relationships to everything and everyone else.
Community Group Study Notes
- Are there any obstacles in your life right now that get in the way (or have the potential to get in the way) of your relationship to Jesus? What are they? What can you do about it?
- What does it look like for Jesus to be the priority in your life? How is this different from saying that Jesus is one of your priorities? How can you demonstrate radical relationship to Jesus and why is that important?
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)
Sometimes when I hear conversation in our culture about Jesus, sometimes from areas that aren't necessarily people that are connected to Jesus. Sometimes they are. Sometimes the way that Jesus is talked about just feels a little bit too squishy. By that I simply mean, you know, you would think that maybe at some points when you hear some people talk about Jesus that they, you know, it's kind of a toss-up between him and a rabbit's foot, or that He's some kind of a lucky charm. Um, or maybe you know they refer to Him as their best bud, or the man upstairs or you know, or your co-pilot, you should get rid of that bumper sticker. Um, and so, you just start thinking about how do you break free from really kind of sometimes weird or awkward or warped ideas of who Jesus is, and the only way really to do that is to let Jesus actually speak for Himself. Because sometimes what you have is you have people that are conjuring up an idea of who Jesus is, and making Jesus into their own image and beginning to talk about him in those ways, as opposed to letting Jesus actually speak for Himself.
And in Luke's gospel, chapter 14 Jesus speaks for Himself. And when He does, He speaks very forthrightly such that it would be very difficult for us when we hear His words to categorize Him in any way that is squishy. Now, by that I don't mean to say that He's not compassionate, that He doesn't care, that, it's none of those things. He obviously does that. But some of the words that He chooses from time to time, you have to hear them because they are a bit shocking to our modern ear. And it almost feels like wow, could He really be saying those words?
Here's what He said in Luke chapter 14 beginning in verse 25, there were a lot of crowds that were traveling with Jesus and turning to them He said these words, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters - yes, even their own life - such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Wow. When you hear that, you kind of give up the hope that Jesus might be, you know, ripping out a seminar on how to win friends and influence people. Right? You start actually listening to those words and you're thinking is this actually how Jesus is trying to sell Himself and His ministry? That it goes something like this, hate those closest to you, hate yourself and get ready to die. Padopp-psssh, right? Is that really what's going on here? Is that's really what's being said and if so, has anybody thought about giving Jesus some PR coaching because this is not how you go about the business of selling yourself to the public.
Could you imagine if a politician tried those kinds of harsh words or tried to sell themself on kind of upside-down way how that would go? It might go something like this: Hello, America. This country is in need of change, and I am asking for your vote because I think that I am just the person to be able to bring the needed change to our country that we so deserve and so desire. Under my administration, we are going to work tirelessly to make sure that we create the most historically unsustainable economic future that we could ever imagine. Our hope is that we ultimately cripple the national economy, can deflate the global economy, and we will set up a system such that every individual will struggle to financially make it for the rest of their lives. Now, this is not just hot air, we actually have some policies that are going to be in place that are going to help us to accomplish this. First, we're going to create an 80% tax bracket for everyone and everything. Food, gas, clothing and your salary, 80%. This will ensure that everyone will be financially unsustainable. But, in addition to that, we are also endeavoring to, to build the IRS up in such a way that we will expand it by 4000%, Now the reason for this is clear. We need to be able to monitor you, every one of you, every single dime of what you do. And in addition to that, we are going to try and lower the living wage to the lowest historical portions that we could possibly entertain, and so we are hoping to phase that down incrementally until we can get to $.13/hr for every worker. Now this is our desire and this is our vision for the future. And so you've got a radical choice to make. I'm asking for your vote and my name is Gerry Jillis and I approve this message.
Why are you clapping? To clap after that is senseless. Is anyone actually voting for Gerry Jillis? This is the worse thing ever. No one is going to vote. His family is not going to vote for him. No one will campaign for him. This is a horrible thing. So, if that's the idea, right, that you you say these harsh words and nobody's gonna' listen to you because it's so over the top, let me propose something to you. What if the person using the harsh words uh, was, was different than the person that you heard on the presidential ad, and what if the context was completely different? It's possible that maybe those words could be heard differently, not those exact words but harsh words, could be heard differently if you understood it from a different person in a different scenario in a different context.
Uh, some of you might have seen this past week in the news that um, there was a British gentleman who was making a journey across Antarctica and was trying to cross the whole of Antarctica by himself and uh, he ended up not making it, and ended up passing away. It was a very tragic, sad story. He was 91 or so miles from actually doing the whole thing and couldn't quite get there and was dehydrated and um, and and they tried to life flight him and they he ended up passing away, it was terrible. What I ended up finding out was that he was trying to recreate the journey uh, in some sense, he was trying to complete the journey of Sir Ernest Shackleton who on his with his crew, the Endurance, in the early 1900's tried to cross Antarctica. And he was, uh trying to raise money, this gentleman was trying to raise money in completing that particular mission. Now one of the things that was interesting about Sir Ernest Shackleton's mission is the ad he took out in the paper, because I want you to, I want you to hear what it actually said, we've given you a recreation here on the screen: Men Wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success. Isn't that interesting? And do you know what? Mr. Shackleton had more applicants to go on this trip, men that were applying to go on this trip than he had room for. It's startling when you think about it, that sometimes when you change the context that actually the strong words take on a little bit of a different meaning and it appealed apparently to a number of men's sense of adventure. Even though he was very forthright in terms of what he was talking about.
But another thing comes to mind and that is Matt Damon's character from the movie the Martian. Some of you have seen that movie, some of you haven't, um, some of you read the book, cause it was based on a book, not true story, but just a book. And so the long and short of it is I'm not ruining anything by saying that Matt Damon's character, a botanist, got left on Mars, that was the plot of the whole deal and just as an aside, how much money has Hollywood spent rescuing Matt Damon? I mean, it's like saving Private Ryan, Interstellar, and now the Martian. We have committed billions of dollars in fake money in Hollywood to try and save Matt Damon. He needs to like just do something different. Um, so he's stuck on Mars, right? And he's gotta figure out a way to live and get off because you know kind of as time goes and the relativity of time it would take so long to be able to get back there and blah, blah, blah. So they end up figuring out a plan for him to be on this little kind of individual space craft so to speak and he's just gonna' have to launch it into into space and somehow reconnect with the mother ship and get intercepted in space however that goes. But the problem was is that his spacecraft was far too heavy and would be traveling at too far too fast a speed for them to be able to rescue him. So they needed to make it much lighter and much slower.
So what did he do? Well, NASA started sending signal into him that you've gotta' remove all the stuff that's in your basically that's in your little space, you know shuttle thing that you're gonna' use. So you've gotta take out like all the additional seats and just one seat for you. And you're basically taking out all the computer like boards and all the stuff and equipment that's in there and literally just throwing it out, just throwing it out. You just need whatever's gonna' blast you off into orbit, that's pretty much what's gonna' happen, that's all we need. And oh, by the way, after doing all that, it was still too heavy, so he had to remove the top of the ship. Just pull the top off and throw it out. So the whole cone of the ship, you know, like when you're blasting off into space, there isn't one. He's just got a tarp on it now. Very realistic, the whole story, right? Very realistic. So he's just got a tarp on it. Well, why did he do that? Because it was an emergency. The only way that he's going to be rescued in this emergency, is to make sure he gets rid of everything that could be hindering him in this process so that he has a shot a being able to get where he's going and ultimately being rescued and that meant he had to put aside a whole bunch of stuff to see that happen. Even stuff that you think is really important, it had to go because ultimately it was only about being rescued and that was the thing that mattered.
You see, that is actually a little bit more like the words of Jesus than the presidential silly ad from Gerry Jillis. It's a lot more like it and here's why. Because Jesus knew in this context when He is talking to these people, He knew that Israel was in an emergency. That this was a dire situation for them and here's why, because all of their life they had hoped and prayed for the Messiah, and now He's here and they're missing it. They are missing Him, they are confused, they are encumbered by a whole bunch of other things that looked religious and looked good and all of that stuff. But Jesus knew this is a fundamental emergency ultimately for Israel. And so in doing that He actually speaks in very specific and very straightforward and feels like very stern terms. He uses terms of hate. He says hey, if you want to follow after me, if you want to be my disciple, you're gonna' have to hate your mother and your father, your brother and your sister, your wife and your children. And you're gonna' have to follow after me.
Now you read that and you think to yourself is Jesus saying really, is He saying to hate these people? Well, of course not. That would run completely against the grain of everything that Jesus is. He is the embodiment of love. There is no definition of love outside of Him. So of course He's not saying that. What He's using is He's using a comparative term. In other words He's saying this, that your allegiance, the emergency is so great in terms of you being reconciled to God because you're missing this and you're confused, the emergency is so great that your love and your allegiance to me should be so high in priority that every other relationship to everything and everyone looks like hate if compared to it. He's not suggesting that we hate other people, in fact Jesus knows full well that when we are loving Him well and loving Him first and loving Him with all that we are and that's where our allegiance is we'll actually be better husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters. That will come from, be the result of, our priority allegiance to Him.
So, He knew this was an emergency and He knew that there were many things that were vying for Israel's attention trying to get Israel to think about other things other than this, and so He used that kind of language. You see, Jesus knew in using this language, He was trying to say to people you've got to realize that the highest priority of your life is reconciliation and relationship to God. That there is no bigger thing, because Jesus knew you were created for relationship with God. You were not created just to be self-sufficient. You were created for relationship to God. And there is only one God, and that will mean that no person and no thing other than Him will be God. And so, He's trying to get everyone's attention by using very strict very kind of um, stern language in comparative terms to say you need to understand how much of an emergency this is, how important this is.
And then He follows that up with a sentence in verse 27 where He says whoever doesn't carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Now listen, ladies and gentlemen, this was no allegory to Jesus. You know how there's some people in our day and age that use that idea of carrying a cross in such weird terms, right? I mean, if their grass grows really fast and they've gotta' mow it twice a week instead of once a week they're like, well, everybody's got their cross to bear. What? What? Are you kidding me? That's a crazy use of this term. This term was not an allegory for Jesus' audience. This was real.
If, if you read some of the historians that were contemporaries of the Romans who were ruling Israel at that time, guys like Pontius Pilate who was the governor there in Jerusalem. If you read some of the historians like Philo who was a contemporary of Pontius Pilate, and Josephus who was born during the life of Pontius Pilate but who who lived a little bit later than him. If you read those those historical sources, here's what you'll find. You will find historical records of how many people Pontius Pilate put to death in Israel by way of crucifixion. A cross was something very familiar to the Jewish people. You see, when there was either a rebellion or an insurgency of some type or an insurrection of some type, Rome would stamp that out in as clear a term as they could. By squashing that rebellion and then taking what they considered to be law-breakers and putting them, nailing them to a cross on the side of very public, very traveled roads, so that everybody that was walking around in that public sphere would see what will happen to you if you start messing around with Rome. This is exactly what happened.
Now, when Jesus uses this term, this is not an unfamiliar term. Some of us that haven't thought about these things may think Jesus is either the only person to have ever been crucified or the first one to ever have been crucified. That couldn't be farther from the truth. The sources that we read in history teach us that Pilate himself probably crucified at least hundreds, maybe thousands in that time. So this was something that they all could see, that they all understood. And Jesus actually says, not only should your allegiance and your love for me be so serious as a disciple that every other relationship pales in comparison to it, but you also need to be ready in the event that this costs you your life. You've got to take up you cross, your instrument of death and bring it along with you, because this may very well cost you your life, because the world and its system will rage against it.
Now, these are serious words from the Lord Jesus Christ, and the reason that He's so serious is because He knows what an emergency this is, and He knows how confused the people of Israel are. How do I know that they're confused? Because of the story Jesus told right before He said these words. Jesus told a story that really gives us a picture of what Israel was going through and I want you to listen to it. He had been Jesus had been to a dinner at a Pharisee's house and at a particular banquet, and then I want you to listen to what Jesus says when He tells a story in the midst of that banquet in Luke chapter 14 beginning in verse 16. Jesus said, "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. And at the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' "Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out, please excuse me' "Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.' "The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' "Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, or has already been done but there is still room.' "Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one f those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'"
You see the banquet, this is in big picture, Jesus is giving this kind of impression. He's telling this story for a reason. Israel has longed for this banquet of God to come, where the Kingdom would show up among them. They have been praying for that and longing for that. They are the invited guests because they, by God's own elective choice, God selected Israel and said I want to demonstrate my glory through this people. These are the people that I am inviting to this wonderful banquet that I'm throwing. And so Jesus, the servant, shows up and announces "Hey, the banquets here, the Master has said 'banquet time', it's here." And guess what Israel does. Makes excuse after excuse after excuse as to why they can't attend. And so at the very least, even though it means more than this, at the very least, others get invited into that context to fill the places of those who have decided they didn't want to come and had excuses for why they weren't going to come, and at the very least it means that Jesus is teaching that the Gentiles or those who are non-Jewish are going to be invited to the party.
Now that's good news for all of us that are not Jewish, right? And God's not done with the Jewish people also by the way, but that's a different message for a different time. But this is imperative, because this is an emergency and Jesus when He gives these words about what it means to be a disciple is concerned because they are missing it. They aren't willing to lay aside everything and ultimately count the cost of what it actually looks like to be a disciple. What it actually looks like to follow Jesus. And so, He tells them a couple of.. gives them a couple of stories about what it means to actually decide and count the cost of what it means to follow Jesus.
The first story He tells is in verse 28. It says this "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, 'This person began to build and wasn't able to finish.'" Now on the surface that seems really obvious right? Don't start what you can't finish, right? You kinda listen to that story and go okay, I get what that means. Don't start what you can't finish. But do you realize that there's a subtext that's going on here as well? If you understand who Jesus is talking to, He's talking to Jewish people in Israel, and He's using a story about the building of a particular building or tower.
Well, what do you think the subtext of that is? Well the Temple, of course. Because ultimately Herod the Great, the great builder, started the building of the Temple in about 19 BC. Before Jesus was even around, before He was conceived of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. And in that time there was a temple and it was called Zerubbabel's temple, remember the first temple was Solomon's temple and it was great and beautiful and grand and then there was Zerubbabel's temple which was kind of after the exile temple, and it wasn't near as big and as ornate and as beautiful. And so Herod decided he's gonna' beautify this thing, and it's gonna' he probably had more political ideas for doing that than he had religious ideas for doing that because because he's Herod and he was mean and he'd do anything for power. But he started building this and it was glorious. And in fact, a large part of what he wanted to see done happened before he actually died, but the building actually went on from 19 BC all the way to 63 AD. I mean it went on for a very long time. When you start reading some of the historians, like Josephus, Josephus tells us that there were 10,000 skilled workers that were working on the temple through the course of its building, this building project. That's a lot of jobs. And in fact he told us, the places where those skilled workers were not allowed to go in the Holy Places, right, they weren't allowed to go into these places. So they actually trained 1,000 Levites, priests who were able to now do skilled work to go into the temple and be able to modify and beautify even the most Holy Places there, because they were allowed to go into those places. It was really a staggering thing when you begin to think it.
Now, what's even more staggering is that ultimately when you start realizing how long this was going on and in fact, when you're in John chapter 2 you can figure out how long this was going on, because Jesus was having a conversation with some people about who He is and what He's done. Listen to what it says in John chapter 2: The Jews responded to Jesus, what sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all these things that you're doing? And Jesus answered them "destroy this Temple and I will raise it again in three days and they replied 'it's taken 46 years to build this temple, and you're gonna' raise it in three days?" Now we know Jesus was talking about His body, right? But when they heard that, in the time that Jesus was saying that, they were saying, hey, temple construction's been going on for 46 years at this point. This has been going on a long time and you're gonna' destroy it and rebuild it in like three days? Are you kidding me, it's been going on for 46 years, these's been 10,000 skilled workers and a thousand Levites and you're gonna' do this in three days. So that was their understanding.
Now, why does Jesus tell this story about beginning a project and not being able to finish it and then people ridiculing you? Because if you begin a project and you put all your hope and all your faith into that particular project but it's really not the ideal thing that you should be giving your attention to, that if you don't finish it, people ridicule you, but even if you did finish it but it was worthless, they would also ridicule you. Because here's what happened. In 63 AD they finished the Temple. And in 70 AD it was completely destroyed. They had put their hope in a building that was representative of something that Jesus had already made clear that He was. Jesus was the express manifestation of the presence of God on earth. Not the building. He was very clear that all of Israel used to refer to the Temple as the Light of the World, and Jesus said, Hey! I'm the Light of the World. I'm the express representation of the Deity. I am God in bodily form. But they missed it. It was an emergency, and so Jesus gives them a story to help them understand it.
Well you know, the people that He was talking to some of them were Zealots and these probably were fighting words. If you're talking about this idea of the Temple and not being so concerned about it because it's not really place where you ought to be putting all of your priority, they might be mad thinking to themselves this is what this is our national identity. This is what our national identity is and nobody is taking our Temple from us so Jesus tells them a second story.
Listen to this story. He said 'suppose a king is about to go to war against another king in verse 31. Won't he first sit down and consider whether he is able with 10,000 men to oppose the one coming against him with 20,000? And if he's not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. Now this is staggering isn't it? Because now Jesus is saying I am giving you the opportunity and telling you this story to help you understand something. You should make peace with the Romans. What? Yeah. They're way, you're way out-manned and way out-gunned, you'd better be thinking about this before you think about wanting to go to war with the Romans. They're going to crush you. If you think you're gonna' win by the power of your swords against their chariots and their gazillions of soldiers, you got another thing coming. You better understand that. And you should make peace. Well if we make peace, Jesus, then we're gonna' lose everything that we have. Jesus didn't seem real concerned about that. He didn't seem concerned about that all, because He said in the same way, just like you'd lose everything you have, in the same way, you ought to be willing to give up whatever you've got to follow after me, because here's what Jesus knew. Jesus knew that the kingdom was not coming by swords. Jesus knew that this was not going to be a military conquest. And Jesus was not concerned with the fact that they might lose some of their stuff because ultimately the only thing that was of immense importance was relationship to God through Him. Everything else can find its way out, but that cannot be replaced.
You see, Jesus is giving some extraordinary stories to illustrate some extraordinary points. Because Israel's confused, because it's an emergency and because Israel had rendered themselves ineffective in the mission that God had called them to anyway. That's why Jesus says at the very end when He's talking to them in verse number 34, He says this: "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness how can it be made salty again? It's fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear."
You see, when you hear that it would make perfect sense to them, it's sometimes hard for us to understand because we only deal like with concentrated salt you know that's in a salt shaker that we put on eggs or whatever, how does that lose its saltiness? It was a different thing in their context. They would get their salt from the Dead Sea often and it was mixed with a bunch of minerals and in the wrong kind of environment or in extreme heat or whatever the salt kind of doesn't do well and decomposes and then you've just kind of left with minerals that are tasteless. And see, the point of the salt was actually so that it could be used Jesus says, there were many uses for it, but Jesus talking about a specific use that had to do with kind of a um a fertilizing preservative. That's what he was actually referring to in this context. And He says you know what if it's all decomposed and it's not there and it's tasteless and it's got no saltiness to it, it's not gonna' do any good for fertilizing then it's no good for anything, you just you throw it out on the roads where people trample on it, that's what you do. In other words He's saying this, Israel, you were called as my own people to myself, and you were called to be a vehicle through which I would demonstrate the glory of who I am to the nations. And you've become useless. Why? Because you've missed me. You've missed it. The banquet's here, the Messiah's come. I'm here and there is no bigger issue for you than to be my disciple no matter what it costs you, that your allegiance has to be so deep and so rich that everything else will be ordered appropriately around that.
So, maybe you could write this down: Radical relationship to Jesus is the only way to rightly prioritize our relationships to everything and everyone else. That's the only way. Radical relationship to Jesus is the only way to rightly prioritize our relationships to everything and everyone else. You see, ladies and gentlemen, in our day in age, I know we're not Israel and I know we live in a different context and a different culture, but we are just as much in danger of figuring out ways to avoid the call of Jesus on our lives. We are in just as much danger because we are still often times an excuse-making culture or a culture that wants to build stuff that they can put all their hope and trust in, or we want a war against things without really thinking it through. That's the kind of culture we are.
Uh, think about the excuses for a minute. The excuses when Jesus told this story, the excuses that they gave were excuses around property. They said hey I'm sorry I just bought a field I gotta' go and see it. There were excuses around work, I just got I got a whole load of oxen here, I gotta' go try them out, right, cause these were agricultural people. And excuses around relationships. I just got married, sorry. Can't do anything for you. And when you start thinking about the excuses that we make around these very things, you can probably think of a bunch. You may have said some.
I mean think about the stuff that we have, the things that we own, property, houses, land, stuff, money, all of that kind of stuff. To see some people in their particular social media platform of choice, putting up all of their stuff about their cars, and their clothes and their house and all the stuff that they got and their bling, you know, and here's all my cash I'm floating it on to make it rain up in here, what's going on, right? You look like a video, you know, whatever you're doing. The funny thing is usually here usually those things usually have a 'hash tag', 'hash tag' blessed. Heh, heh, heh. I might say 'hash tag' confused, cause these things aren't going to save you. Sometimes we end up hiding behind our stuff because we get so enamored, listen we get so enamored that no longer do we own the stuff, the stuff owns us. And that actually is a roadblock for the call of Jesus who says, I want your highest allegiance, I want your highest love where everything and everyone else pales in comparison. I want your highest allegiance and your highest love and sometimes we can be so in love with our stuff that it gets us real upside down.
I remember in Florida when I was much younger, I'm still extraordinarily young, I mean like crazy young, stupid young. But back when I was really, really young uh, and Edie and I and my family we were living in Florida. And we rented, we were there for eight years ministering in a church there that we still love and we, we rented where our living space, our houses, we rented for the first six years. But we finally came around to feeling like God had given us clearance to be able to build a house. And so, you know, we were gonna' build a very modest that's what we could afford a modest home, you know, but we wanted to build one. It was cool and we got a good deal on land, and we had a builder in our church who did it, you know at a very good cost for us and all of those kinds of things. Edie said to me, she said you know, we're gonna' build this house and Jesus is probably going to let us live in it for about two years, and then He's just gonna' He's gonna'call us, you know, out. And you know I was like, wow, shut up um, I didn't say that. I didn't say that. She, she was exactly right, by the way, that's exactly how that went down. Um, we got to live in it for two years, thank God based on the laws there that because it was just over two years we didn't have to pay capital gains tax, we were like thank you, Jesus cause my wife was like all you know woooo we're gonna' be in here two years and then we're going and I was like hoo hoo hoo still there still there I don't know what you're talking about. And then that's exactly how it happened.
But when we built the house, you know what a lot the people in the congregation were saying to us? It's very interesting. And I know what they meant, they and it was really sweet on their part. Man we are so glad you are putting roots down. It was a great teaching moment, cause I said ohhh you must have misunderstood something. You know, we're just building a house, and they're like, yeah, yeah, yeah, putting roots down. I went oh no, our roots are up. Our roots are up. This structure doesn't mean that we stop listening to Jesus whenever, however and wherever He says. It's just that. So, we can't let, ladies and gentlemen, our stuff start dictating to us who and what we're going to do and how we're going to do it. Our allegiance should be such to Jesus that no matter what, no matter what, whatever He asks of us we're willing and ready to do it. We're just willing and ready to do it. That's His call on our lives.
But we start making excuses. Do you know what excuses are, by the way? Listen carefully to this, this'll help you. Do you know what excuses are? They are undercover idols. That's all that they are. Because when we're making excuses when Jesus wants to call us to something, our excuses are just an excuse, they're just a facade of an undercover idol that we love more than Him. Haven't heard that definition of excuse before, have you? Excuses are undercover idols, that's what they are. And it gets revealed oftentimes when we're dealing in our stuff.
What about our work, when our work becomes, when our work becomes our identity and our idol. Why? So that we can make lots of stuff that can in turn own us and keep us from Jesus. That's never the point. Our work is an opportunity. It is not an idol. Sometimes we treat it as an idol. And we find eh some of us, men and women some of us can only find our identity in what we do. We we don't realize who we are as sons and daughters of the King and instead we've tied up all of our identity and all of our worth in our jobs and how successful we are in our minds or in somebody else's mind. And so we work ourselves to the bone to impress people that don't even know us, and it ultimately keeps us and robs us of being able to hear the voice of Jesus and do what He says.
Or relationships. Again, these are the excuses that we're giving. Relationships, that can be the case, right? Pastor, you know, I really wish we could come on Sundays but we can't. It's the only day I got my whole family together, the only time for us to spend time together. Do you know why it's the only day that you can spend time together? Because the rest of the week you're running after a bunch of things that you have made idols instead of Him. This is one day a week, right? This is it. You know, I would suggest to you this is a great spot for family time. Just saying. You know, leading your kids and leading your grandkids to know and love Jesus and to worship Him for an hour and twenty minutes. Instead of sitting around in your pajamas watching a rerun of SpongeBob. I don't know, I don't know, I'm just trying to weigh them out. Figure out which one might make a better and bigger eternal difference in their lives? Moms, dads, grandparents, get it together. Jesus has called you to a higher way of living. He's called you to an allegiance that's gonna' transform the lives of our family. Stop hiding behind all the other idols that you've created in your world that keep you from Him?
You know I love you, and that's the reason I talk straight to you. And this isn't one of those like hey, I'm running for president kind of deals, right? I know that and by the way, Jesus was not actually campaigning for anything. When He's talking like this, He's just speaking truth into the lives of people because He loves them and He cares about them and He doesn't want them to miss the life that He has for them. Is there a cost associated with it? Yes. And Jesus makes that really clear, you'd better be willing to take up your cross and come after Him. There is a cost to following Jesus, but Jesus knows that the cost is so much greater not to follow Him. He knows that. And He loves you and He's trying to tell you the truth of what real life looks like. What a what a what a way of living looks like that is consistent with the heart of God.
So, I mean, you know you get into these excuses with relationships and work and property. I mean, relationships you could go on and on right there. Oh Pastor Jerry I, I don't know what to do, I know that he or she doesn't really love Jesus, but I've just fallen for them. Well, fall away from 'em. Because if they're gonna' start dragging you away from Jesus, you've got to understand that the priority commitment of your life is Him above all things, above everyone, above everything. If you actually want to be the best husband or wife, love Jesus more than you love your husband or your wife. If you want to be the best parent, love Jesus more than you love your kids. This is ultimately what Jesus is calling us to. That level of allegiance and that level of love.
Ahh, we could stay there for a while, I'm gonna' get off of it. Excuses, undercover idols. But you know, we also put trust in towers. Jesus told a story about towers. We do the same thing as well. We put trust in towers. Things. Maybe even religious things like temples in their day. That they are putting their trust in and as a result are missing it. Some of us think sometimes that we can show up to a gathering, throw a couple bucks in an offering plate like we're tipping God, like He's wait staff or something and think that we we're good. Here you go God, here's a couple of ones. Here's a couple of George Washingtons, now you keep the change, keep the change. Yeah, no, no, don't no, no, I'm glad to do it, I'm glad to do it, glad to do it, least I could do. Right? So we we talk about these ideas that are religious in nature, and think that just because we've done a few things that somehow we've impressed God.
Listen, when our lives have been radically transformed as people whose number one kind of our allegiance is so deep we will do things that will be to the glory of God. We'll be a generous people, we'll be a, we'll be a people who love and who serve and who pray and and who yeah, we'll do all of those things cause that's who He's made us to be. That's who He's changed us into being. We're not doing it to try to impress Him. We're not doing it because we think that we can put our hope and our trust in, hey you know, when I stand before Jesus, do you remember, hey Jesus, do you remember, I gave a couple bucks to get the building going? Oh okay. Did you read that story about the towers that I told?
Or what about wars? He talked about that too. Some of us are warring against in our culture, we're warring against the culture. And there's definitely some things to stand up to and call out in our culture. But some of us do it with such vitriol, particularly in campaign seasons, that we give a wrong understanding of who really we trust. Some of us act as if our candidate whoever that is, he or she, if our candidate doesn't make it to the White House, it's Armageddon, right? Everything is going down. We are done. I'm telling you we are history, if so and so gets in the White House that's it, man I'm moving to Switzerland. They're not mad at anybody in Switzerland. They like everyone. I'm not even messing with this because, and then we talk about it, right? We talk about it in our conversations, on our social media platforms, and it's just we go bonkers about that. Now I'm not suggesting by the way, that you shouldn't get into political activity, you should. You should vote. This is a privilege that we have in the place that we live. You should do all of those things. And you should do it sanely. And you should do it spirit-filled, and you should do it in a way that's honoring to Jesus. Um I have a lot to say there, but particularly about who not to vote for, right?
But so, let's just say you go on and on and on and rant and rant and rant and rant and rant and rant and rant, here's what you're communicating to everyone listening, I don't trust God. I don't believe that God is the one, as Daniel says, who rules the kingdoms of men and gives them to whoever He sees fit. You're somehow putting Messiahship into the lives of these men and women as if they're going to be the great rescuers. Listen, men and women can do some good things that will be beneficial to human to humanity and to people, and so we should vote in accordance with that. But, they are not saviors, there is but One. And we ought to at least look like and sound like we believe that in an election cycle.
In fact, some of us, we actually give this kind of vibe. If we could just get my people into power, or if we could just keep my people in power, whatever it looks like for you. I'm an equal opportunity offender today so just, welcome. If we can just have the power. Does that sound like take up your cross and follow Him? It doesn't to me. It sounds more like the people who made the crosses. Something to think about. I'll be here for five more minutes.
So let me say this to you. All of these things in our lives get out of joint because we have not settled the issue of radical relationship to Jesus. Jesus doesn't want to be first, He wants to be all. This is the radical call of Jesus. He doesn't want to be first among, He wants to be all. That in every relationship to everything and everyone we demonstrate that the fingerprints of Jesus are on all of our relationships. Because our allegiance is to Him above everything and everyone else. That is the only way to rightly prioritize your world. So, Jesus showed us the radical way of sacrifice, of love, of surrender to the Father's will and as the Master so to the students. That we radically submit ourselves to Him. Because the way that we're gonna' turn the world upside down is by sacrificial love, because that's the heart of the Gospel.
Let's bow our heads together. Before we leave, I would simply ask you this, if you're here and you've never before entered into relationship with God through His Son Jesus I pray that you will come by the Fireside Room out in the atrium, we've got some folks that are in there, Pastors, some other friends, prayer partners who would love to take just a minute and talk to about what it means to begin a relationship with Jesus. Some of you may be confused that you have a relationship with Jesus that has transformed you, but in fact what you have is you have a kind of a biography of religion. You basically have a resume of religion that will not save you. Uh, I've gone through catechism or I i got baptized as a kid or okay, congratulations. None of those will save you. Jesus alone can save. That's it. Nothing and no one else. There is one name under heaven by which people must be saved. The name of Jesus. So if you've never been transformed, born from above, I encourage you to come by and talk to somebody about what that looks like. We want to help you in that process. For the rest of us I would ask that you would at least be willing in your own time with the Lord to examine your hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any places in you where maybe idols are starting to grow.
So Father, we trust you, because you are the only One who can do eternal work in the hearts and souls of people. The emergency that we face in our culture is not a political emergency, it is not an economic emergency, it is a soul emergency because there are so many things that are raging for our allegiance and our love and sometimes we are so willing to give them that place. May we remember that Jesus said the only ones worthy of being His disciples are the ones who say Jesus is my primary and priority allegiance and affection and I am willing to go to the grave if it costs me that to demonstrate the glory of Christ. It is a big call but Jesus thank you for the truthfulness of it because You are the Way, You are the Truth and You are the Life. You're not a way, some truth and a decent life. You are the Way the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through You. That's why it's an emergency because every one of us have been made for relationship with God and that will only happen through the Lord Jesus. So Father, help us to root out the idols in our hearts and to make sure that our priority affection is for You because in loving You well we will then be able to love other people properly and everything will be ordered as it should be. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well. We pray this for our lives in Jesus name. Amen.