Summary: There are really only two types of people who profess to follow Christ 1. The FRINGE BENEFIT FOLLOWERS 2. The FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS Which are you
Sermon: The Discomfort of the Christian Life
There are really only two types of people who profess to follow Christ
1. The FRINGE BENEFIT FOLLOWERS
2. The FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS
1. FRINGE BENEFITS:
We are all acquainted with the term “fringe benefits.”
It usually refers to the benefits or privileges received by merely being associated with something or someone.
For instance, when I worked for Reckitts, Maddy and I had an excellent free private medical insurance plan.
I also had the use of a company vehicle and free petrol.
I got these benefits merely by working for a particular organization and lost them when I left Reckitts
On the other hand, we sometimes enjoy certain fringe benefits from our association with particular people.
For example, I knew of a dentist who was a member of a church congregation and who never charged the vicar for dental treatment. “Professional courtesy” he called it
In our Gospel reading this morning, we are told of a group of people who associated with Jesus solely for what they could get out of it.
They followed Jesus for selfish reasons.
You may be thinking, “But that doesn't happen today here in rural Norfolk!”
But it does.
We have Christian consumerism today - we love the good feel that our sort of singing brings.
We love the stimulation of great preaching (no chance of that here this morning!) and a Christianity that makes no demands on us
And when the going get tough, the local Church struggles, the Christian consumers move on to other churches, claiming that He is leading them to a Church that is where they are more comfortable.
We see some politicians and businessmen - especially in the USA - who are quick to speak of their “Christian faith” in order to appear honest and trustworthy before the voting public.
These are “fringe benefit followers.”
They lay claims to Jesus only for what they can get out of it.
The sad fact is that any “supposed benefits from this type of relationship with Christ” will not get them anywhere in eternity.
Look at some of fringe benefit followers of Jesus’ day.
1.1 THE RELIGIOUS THRILL-SEEKERS
i.) Those who were excited by miraculous healings.
Matthew records that 5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Matt.11: 5
People followed Jesus like people go to watch David Copperfield today – to be entertained
ii) Others were excited by being miraculously fed.
Earlier in John 6, we read of the feeding of the five thousand.
And we read in Matthew’s Gospel of the miraculous feedingof the four thousand (Mt 15:29-38)
But seeing or experiencing miracles in itself is not enough to make one a disciple.
Jesus himself said that:
although you have seen me in action, you don't really believe me. (John 6: 36)
Another type of “fringe benefit follower” was
1.2 THE POLITICAL ACTIVIST
Some in the crowd followed him because they hoped he would be a political Messiah - someone to deliver them from Roman rule.
Jesus was speaking at the high point of Jewish nationalism – The Passover in the Helmand province of Israel – Galilee.
And today we have people in Church who view Christ and the Church merely as vehicles to accomplish their own personal political agendas.
Another type of “fringe benefit follower” was
1.3 THE RELIGIOUS
You see Religion is all about keeping rules and regulations – rather than being about relationship.
And the Religious can be some of the most difficult to win to Christ, because they think they have already made it!
Some of the religious in the crowd followed Jesus because he was saying what they wanted to hear.
He castigated the religious excesses of their leaders. After all Jesus was a Pharisee – but they could stomach the sting in HIS tail.
When he said that they need to “eat his flesh and drink his blood” if they were going to gain eternal life, FOR THEM JESUS had gone beyond the pale
Jesus said to those who were offended by him:
"Does this throw you completely? ……Sheer muscle and willpower don't make anything happen.
Every word I've spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making.
But some of you are resisting, refusing to have any part in this."
(Jesus knew from the start that some weren't going to risk themselves with him. He knew also who would betray him.)
He went on to say, "This is why I told you earlier that no one is capable of coming to me on his own. You get to me only as a gift from the Father." (Jn 61-65)