Summary: In this sermon, we try to get an overview of what discipleship looks like in everyday life.
A. The story is told of a big, 2000 member church that was filled to overflowing one Sunday morning.
1. The preacher was ready to start the sermon when two men, dressed in long black coats and black hats entered thru the rear of the church.
2. One of the two men walked to the middle of the church while the other stayed at the back of the church. They both then reached under their coats and withdrew automatic weapons.
3. The man in the middle announced, “Everyone willing to take a bullet for Jesus stay in your seats!”
4. As you might expect, the pews quickly emptied, followed by the choir, the choir director and the assistant minister.
5. After the dust settled, there were about twenty people left sitting in the church and the preacher was holding steady in the pulpit.
6. The two men put their weapons away and said, gently, to the preacher, “All right, preacher, now that the hypocrites are gone, you may begin your sermon.”
B. If we are honest with ourselves, there are times when hypocrisy is a challenge for all of us.
1. None of us are perfect. There are times when all of us should be trying to be better than we really are.
2. Hypocrisy, though, hits full stride when we are no longer really trying to be who we should be, but are just pretending to be something that we are not.
C. I like the story told of the man who came out of the Louisianna backcountry, swamp land - He was all dressed up and was carrying his Bible.
1. A friend saw him and asked, “Elias, where are you going all dressed up like that?”
2. Elias said, “I've been hearing about New Orleans. I hear that there is a lot of free-runnin' liquor and a lot of gamblin' and a lot of real good naughty shows.”
3. The friend looked him over and said, “But Elias, if that’s where you’re goin’ why are you carrying your Bible under your arm?”
4. And Elias replied, “Well, if it's as good as they say it is, I might stay over until Sunday and go to church.”
D. Robert Redford was walking one day through a hotel lobby. A woman saw him and followed him to the elevator.
1. “Are you the real Robert Redford?” she asked him with great excitement.
2. As the doors of the elevator closed, he replied, “Only when I am alone!”
3. Who are you really? Who are you when no one is watching? Who are you when you are alone with just your family?
4. Truth is – there should really only be one of us! Should we not be the same person with whomever we are with and even if we are alone?
E. John Stott wrote, “Hypocrisy is hideous. What cancer is to the body, hypocrisy is to the church. It is a killing agent. Unfortunately, hypocrisy is also addictive. And even though Jesus reserved his most severe words of condemnation for the hypocrite, we still seem to prefer that lifestyle to truth and authenticity.” (John Stott, Sermon on the Mount)
F. We are in a sermon series called “A Healthy Church.”
1. So far, we have been learning that we should be striving to be a healthy church because that’s the kind of church that pleases God and that’s the kind of church that grows, both spiritually and numerically.
2. In last week’s sermon we talked about growing deeper through discipleship.
3. We looked at some of Jesus’ most challenging teachings about discipleship – I certainly was challenged, and I hope you were too!
4. We were reminded that Jesus said that discipleship is costly. He said, “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”(Lk 14:27)
5. Following Jesus is serious business and requires our greatest efforts and commitments.
6. We must be willing to put Jesus before anyone or anything, or we cannot be one of His disciples.
G. A lot of people, perhaps us included, say that they believe in and love Jesus, and yet they refuse to obey His commandments.
1. Jesus once challenged people like that by asking, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)
2. Jesus was saying, in effect, that their actions contradicted their testimony.
3. He was accusing them of hypocrisy.
H. It is hypocritical for us to say “Lord, Lord” and then not obey Jesus.
1. It is hypocritical for us to attend church services on Sunday, sing enthusiastically and then go home and live very worldly, unspiritual lives the rest of the week.
2. The book of James makes it unmistakably clear that true religion and true discipleship make a distinctive difference in one’s life.