Living Like Jesus

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Living Like Jesus

Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 13th October 2019

Can I ask us all a really simple question this morning?

What is it that makes our lives as Christians, different from everyone else in the world?

It’s a simple question with probably a thousand possible answers.  But I want us this morning to bring some clarity to who we are as followers of Jesus Christ.  

Because it’s really, really important that everything we do, everything we believe, who we fundamentally see ourselves to be – is all tied directly to Jesus Himself…

I’ll give you an example of the simplicity I’m talking about.

Jesus found Himself often being questioned by the religious men of His day – the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  

Actually, it reminds me of one of those dad jokes that our old Uniting Church minister and very dear friend, Roy Cowin, used to say.  

He said – do you know what those men looked so religious and miserable?  They were Sad-u-see…

That’s my first and last attempt at being funny this morning.

So, the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to trick Jesus – get Him tangled up in all kinds of issues.

One day they were even asking Him – if a man had more than one wife when he was on earth, how is that going to work out in heaven?  Who will he be actually married to?  And so Jesus explained that we won’t be married in heaven.  We’ll be like the angels.  So no need to fear that you’ll have two or three wives to look after in heaven.

Mark 12:28-31,  “Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The  first of all the commandments is:  ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall  love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

I just love it that Jesus is able to nail things with the greatest of clarity and simplicity.   

The religious people of the day had multitudes of laws and rules and regulations…  it was hugely complex…  but Jesus just clarifies the two commandments that cover everything else.

Have you noticed that many churches include in their vision statement – “Love God and Love others?”

It’s a great description for the vision of a church.  And it flows from Jesus’ own heart.

Our vision for Seacoast Church is basically the prophetic scripture that God gave us nearly 20 years ago – based on Zephaniah 2:6,7.

Zephaniah 2:6-7, “The seacoast shall be pastures, With shelters for shepherds and folds for flocks. The coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; They shall feed their flocks there; In the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening. For the Lord their God will intervene for them, And return their captives.”

For us – that sums up Seacoast Church.  A pasture – a shelter – a fold – Judah – which means praise – God intervening – returning those held captive…  captive to unbelief, deception, addiction, brokenness, whatever…

But let’s move beyond the church’s vision.

What is your vision for your life?   How simple can we make it?  Because when it’s simple, we can always easily determine if we are actually living by it.

And we need a vision that means something.  A vision that costs us something.  A vision that has the supernatural power of God upon it.  A vision that isn’t just temporal – but eternal.

Let me suggest a great vision for your life – in four simple words.

It’s taken directly from the Word – Philippians 1:21 “…to live is Christ…”

In fact if we were to add a simple vision statement to our church – and we have already looked at this as a team…  it would be “Loving God, Loving People, Living Like Jesus.”

But getting back to Philippians, Paul says in verse 20 (chapter 1), “…that Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”

So to live is Christ…  and by living in Christ we magnify Him.  And isn’t this what our lives as Christians should be all about?  Living for Him so that He alone would be magnified?  Exulted?  Lifted up?  and Glorified?

So, coming back to my original question – “What is it that makes our lives as Christians, different from everyone else in the world?”

Well what makes us different is that it’s not actually us that is living.  It’s Christ living in me.

It’s time we woke up to the fact that God is not our fairy godmother – or our Santa Clause – or Easter Bunny.  He’s not there to simply satisfy our every whim, to fill our every desire, to indulge us in all our self centred and self focussed pleasures.

If we have a vision for our lives based on self – on our happiness as the primary thing – we are going to be sorely disappointed – and ultimately dissatisfied.

Gal 2:20 sums it up – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

And just to breathe something fresh upon that scripture, here it is in The Passion – “My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me— we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine!”

It takes some mental gymnastics to get your head around the fact that we would die to ourselves and live for Christ.  How could I die so that Christ would live?  

I was thinking about this – trying to relate it to my life right now.  Have I really paid the price of death to self, so that Christ can fully live?  Am I really willing to die daily for Him?

I thought about my family.  My children.  My grandchildren.  Would I be willing to die so that any one them could live?  Do I love them enough to die on their behalf?

And I can honestly say – within a heartbeat – I can answer yes.  Without question.  I love them that much.

And then I transferred that over to Jesus Christ.  Am I really willing to lay down my own life today – to die to self and live for Him?  And again – as much as I often catch my “self centred life” wanting to rise up – I love Jesus so much that I’m willing for Him to take over…  He can have this body.  He can have this mind – these emotions…  He can have it all.

I think about how my life might have turned out without Jesus.  How empty!  How meaningless!  I wonder what self indulgent mess I would have made of my life!  Praise God, by His grace, I was saved from whatever that would have been.

But then we need to think about what a life lived in and for Christ might look like.

I did a little bit of reading and research to see what others think living for Christ means.  And to be honest, many writers paint this picture of a very Holy, pious, but very bland life.

If you really give your life over to Christ, buckle your seatbelt and hang on for the ride!

I love it where Paul went preaching to the Thessalonians.  Paul of course had given his life to serve Jesus Christ… If anyone was in Christ, it was Paul.  And he gathered many many others on the journey who became just as he was.

Apparently Paul and some of the other disciples spent some time with a fellow named Jason.  And so the sad old religious Sadducees went off to Jason’s house to stop them preaching the gospel.

Acts 17:6,  “But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”

Jesus turned the world upside down.  So did His disciples.  If we really take on the life of Jesus Christ as He has commissioned us to, then that’s exactly what we will do as well.

So if you feel as though the world is turning upside down around you – it’s just Jesus in you doing what He does best…  

A true follower of Christ will cause havoc with religious spirits, spirits of unbelief, evil spirits, unclean spirits…  you name it – when Christ freely lives in you – people will notice.  Things will change for the better.

Jesus was a Revolutionary.  But here’s the thing.  And this is where many writers correctly portray His life.  He revolutionised how people viewed God – and how they were meant to view each other…

He revolutionised what a religious leader looked like.  And it’s not very religious!

As the King of kings and Lord of Lords, He didn’t come to dominate and control in an authoritarian manner.

Matthew 20:27-28,  “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served,  but to serve, and to give His life a ransom  for many.”

To live as Christ is to become a servant to all.  He served in obedience to every word that came from His Father.  Even to the point of death.

But even more than that – He served those who were sick, He fed the hungry, He comforted those who were in grief…  he looked out for the nobodies.

He would see people…  like Zacchaeus sitting up in the tree.  One that others hated because he’d treated them badly.    But Jesus took time to reach out to the one.  He’d give them his time – he’d minister to those that the religious people would frown upon and avoid.

If Christ is living in us – wouldn’t we be doing the same?

One of the overriding emotions that Jesus portrayed was compassion.

Matthew 9:35-36,   “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.  But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”

There’s absolutely nothing selfish or self centred about Jesus.  It was always about others.  And He felt for people.  It wasn’t His duty…  it was His heart that drove Him to serve and love others.

And how many people do we see scattered – without a shepherd…  in other words, without real purpose or any kind of leading in who they are to be, or what they are to do?  Many people are wandering aimlessly.  

But do we just judge them as lost – or do we have compassion on them and do whatever we can to give them a hope and a future?  A destiny and an identity.

We are Christians.  We have something wonderful and profound to offer people.  But it has to come from a place of love and compassion, otherwise it could simply come across as religious as the Pharisees and Sadducees. 

I pray that we as the church can offer that kind of revolutionary approach to faith in God.  Not religion – but genuine relationship and love – from a place of compassion.

What about grace?  

It scares me how much judgement and condemnation is cast around these days.  It seems like everyone has their own self righteous opinion which is intolerant of others.  I’m not talking about in the church…  but this is the world we live in.

Jesus was righteous.  He was Holy.  But He could bring conviction and an opportunity for people to repent and be forgiven, without slapping them down in condemnation with the law.

Here is a classic example:

John 8:3-5,  “Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”

I always think it’s interesting that the man wasn’t caught in adultery. Maybe she was in adultery all by herself. 

And of course, not only were the religious ones condemning her to death – they were testing Jesus to see how He would respond.  So he starts writing something in the dust… 

John 8:7,  “So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

They all disappeared, one by one, because they knew in their hearts that they were no better than her.  Maybe Jesus was listing all their sins in the dust.  No one knows.

John 8:10-11,  “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and  sin no more.”

He gave her the greatest gift – He gave her grace! She didn’t deserve it.  None of us deserve it.    He gave the opportunity to change – to truly repent – to find new hope.

If we are going to allow Jesus to live through us – then we are going to have to live graciously – and extend grace abundantly.  We are not self righteous judges.      We are ourselves sinners who have been saved by grace.  

People who are broken and deceived by the devil’s lies, who have only ever experienced rejection and abandonment, who have maybe suffered from abuse…  They don’t need condemnation.  They need healing.  They need restoration.  And if we are going to be Christ to others in this world, then His outpouring of grace is going to have to come through us.

And the more we make choices to be compassionate, to be gracious, to lay down our own lives for the sake of serving others…  the more God is able to do a deeper work in us, and change us from the inside out.

The more we make room for the Holy Spirit to move, the more He changes us.

And the more we are changed by the Holy Spirit, the more we step into true freedom to live and love as Christ.  

Really what we are doing, is desiring to move further and further away from our Pharisaical roots of religious law and binding tradition.

This is really important – because that stuff is still rampant in churches today – and let’s be real with ourselves – it still has an influence in our own church.  We can have our own form of religiosity.

So as we talk about living like Jesus – or Christ living in us – now would be a good time to say Jesus – break off us any bondage to the old – so that we can fully embrace the new.

I’m excited about this.  I feel that today is going to see a separation from the tradition of men…  the binding oppression of the law…  and a releasing into the freedom we have in Christ.

This morning – a veil is being lifted.

Let me read this:

2 Corinthians 3:7-18,  “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is  liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

The glory of Jesus is being formed in us – and the more we make choices to live for Him and in Him, the more that transformation will be manifest in our lives.

Our freedom and liberty isn’t into just doing anything…  it’s a freedom to be as Christ to this world we live in.

It’s a freedom to serve, to be holy, to extend grace, to show genuine compassion, to be the person that expresses the magnificence of Christ.

What makes us different ?  The glory, the Holy Spirit.  The decision to live and love as Christ.  To come back to the simplicity of dying to self – and living in the resurrection power of Christ.

We will turn the world upside down.  Loving God.  Loving People.  Living Like a Jesus.

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