Summary: Part 5 in series The Shape of Things to Come. Jesus said "Follow me." The question is "Where are we going?"
“Follow Me,” Where?
The Shape of Things to Come, prt. 5
Wildwind Community Church
October 4, 2008
Today is the last in our sermon series called The Shape of Things to Come where we have been looking at what Wildwind Church will be doing this year. I want to review because I have intentionally couched these messages in straight-on Biblical sermons so by now you may have forgotten what I have said about Wildwind!
First and most important, we’ll be not just telling you that you should be a disciple of Jesus, but showing you how. We’ll learn how to pray for those who persecute us, how to love our enemies, how to root lust and greed out of our lives, how to give generously, how to pray. We’ll learn about the obstacles that are keeping people from connecting to God. Perhaps most important, we’ll focus on ways that our current lives will have to be reshaped and restructured in order to be obedient to Jesus. Our goal for this year is to help people create conditions in their lives where Christ can be obeyed, then teaching them what Jesus said, and then teaching them how to do what he said. Pretty simple, huh? Pretty clear, huh?
I also have told you in this series that since there is no clear pattern for how the church is to teach discipleship to Jesus, each church must decide for itself. So last week I shared with you some of the community rhythms we have established to make sure we are on the same page. In our community those rhythms are:
1. Every member learning and practicing the means of grace
2. Every member serving God with their talents
3. Every member learning to love others in a small group
4. Every member making a financial commitment to their local church
Last week I threw open the doors and invited you into membership and many responded. I can’t wait until our next membership service. We’ll be bringing in quite a few of you it looks like!
I want to close this series today with a sermon I’ve entitled Follow Me Where? Jesus’ call to us is follow me. It’s that simple and sometimes that difficult. And in response to that call, some of us want to know, “Follow me where?” If I follow you, what will happen to me? How will my life change? If the purpose of the church is to make disciples of Jesus, what is a disciple? Tonight I’m going to tell you what I believe a disciple of Jesus is. I’m going to tell you this clearly and right up front so you know that this is our goal for every single person in our church. Young people and older people. Teens and little children and young adults. Men and women. This is what we believe makes a disciple of Jesus and we want to see every person making progress along these four lines. If Jesus said Follow me, the question is follow me where? If our goal is to make disciples, what do we expect to see happen? Well, from everything I can tell, a disciple of Jesus is a person who:
• Structures life around God through intentional practice of spiritual disciplines and bears spiritual fruit (personal)
• Seeks to overcome obstacles to wholeness/holiness (emotional)
• Cares deeply for others (relational)
• Engages in a mission to introduce others to Christ (missional)
That’s it. You might say, “How come prayer isn’t on there?” Pursuing spiritual disciplines. Or “How come you didn’t mention serving people?” If you truly care deeply for others you will serve them. Or “Where is involvement in world missions?” When we get active in world missions, we engage on a mission to introduce others to Christ. Or “What about controlling your temper and loving your spouse and children? Take your pick – that falls first under overcoming obstacles to wholeness/holiness, and is expressed in how we care for others. I can’t think of a single important aspect of following Jesus that is not somehow covered under one of these four areas. Let me take each of these individually and break them down a little for you. Remember here, we’re not talking about some fancy program that Wildwind made up yesterday. We’re talking here about Jesus’ age-old command follow me and this is an answer to the question, “Follow me, where?” If we follow Jesus we should expect our lives to change and I believe I’ve come up with a simple and clear way to communicate four essential areas of life change.
First, a disciple of Jesus is a person who structures their life around God through intentional practice of spiritual disciplines and who bears spiritual fruit as a result. What are spiritual disciplines, you ask? Anything you practice regularly as a way of getting to know God can be considered a spiritual discipline. Prayer. Meditation. Scripture reading and memorization. Silence and solitude. Celebration. Fasting and feasting. Worship. Confession. Sabbath. Those things cannot save us, but when used regularly and prayerfully, they can lead us away from worship of self and toward worship of Jesus.