Summary: Pastor Jonathan expounds on Mark 1:16-18, citing three ways to know you are a true Christ-follower: 1) a calling, 2) the guiding hand of God, and 3) a change of heart.
This week is back to school. It is the worst time of the year. After an incredible summer when you can sleep till 2 o’clock apparently (Jessica tells me), you can do whatever you want and the kids are enjoying themselves, then all of a sudden you’re jolted back into reality and it’s time to go back to school.
I thought this would be a good time as a church to also go back to school, to go back and rehearse some important truths about what it means to be a follower of Christ, because listen, I know this is true because I face it in my own life, we get to a point in life where we think that we’ve got it all figured out, we think we’ve got it all under control and we start going down our own path, and what began as a Christ-follower now becomes not a Christ believer but a self-follower. Anybody here understand what I’m talking about? We trust God, we love God, and He saved me and it’s awesome what He did, but then we come over here and we come in and wave the flag on Sunday, but the rest of the week we go our own path.
Sometimes it’s good to get back to basics, to get back to training camp, to that moment when you rehearse what it really means to be a follower of Christ, so I thought over the next couple of weeks we would begin to ask ourselves that question and look at what it means to truly, truly be a Christ-follower. I don’t mean a self-proclaimed Christ-follower; I mean a Christ follower. And a church—not just this church but any church—is full of self-proclaimed Christ-followers. But I can tell you this: I don’t want a church full of self-proclaimed Christ-followers. I want a church of authentic Christ-followers. And so every once in a while we have to go back and ask ourselves what that means.
Now you know if you’ve been here at Thomas Road for any length of time that our mission statement is to change our world by developing Christ-followers who love God and love people. Now we didn’t sit around one day and try to figure out a cool little slogan that would be our mission statement. No. What we did is what all of us need to do. We went back to the very words of Christ. You’ve read them, probably, Matthew 28, Mark 16, when Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel. Go out into the world and make disciples of all the nations.” So we looked at that passage, the passage when Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment. You remember what He said? To love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.
So what we did is we decided that our mission statement as a church ought to be the mission that Christ put us on 2,000 years ago in the passages of Scripture that He gave to us. When I looked up some different mission statements of different churches and different organizations, I was struck by lots of different statements. A lot of church mission statements are really good, and then there are some that are not so good. There are a lot of mission statements for churches out there that talk about works and what we do and the importance of being good neighbors and going out to our community. All of those are great things, but I’m going to tell you something: there has never been a good neighbor who has gotten to heaven by being a good neighbor. It is all about Christ, and what we do and the decisions we make and faith in Jesus Christ.
So when we talk about our mission statement as a church, to change our world, that’s the Gospel. Because I’m going to tell you something: there is nothing that will change our world other than the Gospel. It’s not going to come from the White House; it’s not going to come from the capital; it’s not going to come from the United Nations; it’s not going to come from any body of government that is out there; it’s not going to come from wars; it’s not going to come from battles; it’s not going to come from trees. The only way to change our world is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through His death, burial and resurrection. That’s it.
And so we change our world, we want to change our world by developing Christ-followers, authentic followers of Christ who are passionate in their faith and who want to walk after Him and run after Him and make sure that we are not looking at ourselves or others as to what we should do, but rather we are looking to Him for guidance, looking to Him for the guidance that we need. And then to love Him with all of our hearts and then to love people as ourselves.