Summary: We are called to be disciples of Jesus which means we are to follow Him and obey Him as Savior and Lord. We must not allow the idea of discipleship to morph into membership, and Christianity to be replaced by "churchianity."
A. Today’s sermon begins a new sermon series on discipleship that I am calling “I Am A Disciple Of Jesus!”
1. I spent some time wrestling with what to call the series.
2. I thought about naming the series “The Discipleship Adventure” or “The Discipleship Journey” – those titles sound inspiring and inviting.
3. Another possible title that captivated my imagination is “Becoming a True Follower of Jesus” – that would have brought attention to the need to be an authentic disciple of Jesus.
4. I almost went with the title of the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.”
5. But in the end, I kept coming back to the positive statement: “I Am A Disciple Of Jesus.”
B. And that’s exactly where I want to begin this series, by turning the title of the series into a question, so let me ask you: Are you a disciple of Jesus?
1. I know you might think it strange that I would ask that question to a gathering of Christians during a Sunday morning Christian worship service.
2. You might be thinking that asking a group of Christians if they are disciples of Jesus is like walking into JoAnn Fabrics and asking if anyone is into sewing, or walking into a sports pub here in Syracuse and asking if anyone is for the SU Orange.
3. But let me clarify what I mean by asking if you are a disciple of Jesus by telling you what I am not asking:
a. I am not asking if you grew up in a Christian home and went to VBS or church camp.
b. I am not asking if you have been a church member or if your name has appeared in a church directory.
c. And I am not asking if you go to church regularly.
C. What I am asking is: are you a disciple of Jesus?
1. You might say, “I’m a Christian and a church member, isn’t that the same thing?”
2. And in theory you are correct, because when a person believes in Christ and turns to Christ in repentance and baptism, they become a child of God, a member of God’s family, they are added to the church, and are therefore a Christian – a Christ follower.
3. But one of the things that I want us to see and understand in this sermon series is that there is a big difference between seeing yourself as a “member of an organization” (the church), and seeing yourself as a “follower of a person” (Jesus the Christ).
4. Tommy South explains it this way: the term “member” is an organizational term and identifies your place in a group, but the term “disciple” is a relational term that means you orient your whole life around someone – someone who shapes your thinking, your priorities, your behavior.
5. Tommy South explains that a disciple is a learner and follower of someone – they attach themselves to a teacher to learn from Him and imitate His life.
6. I’m afraid we have allowed the idea of discipleship to morph into membership, and Christianity has been replaced by churchianity.
7. And when that happens we begin to think of ourselves as members of Jesus’ club, rather than followers of Jesus who walk in His steps, take on His character, and accomplish His mission.
8. And so, the place to begin determining if we are a disciple of Jesus is to evaluate whether or not Jesus is everything to us – that He holds the right position and place in our lives.
D. Let me use an illustration from the book The Disciple Maker’s Handbook: In the Spring of 1985, the leadership of Coca-Cola took a big risk.
1. At the time, the company was steadily losing ground to Pepsi, which had captivated American soda drinkers with its sweet taste and catchy advertising.
2. So Coca Cola brought in a consultant and went back to the proverbial “drawing board.”
3. The consultant encouraged them to reconsider what was the core of their mission as a company.
a. The consultant drew a box on a white board and asked the executives to put one word in the box – a word that encapsulated what Coca-Cola was all about.
b. The overwhelming response was a single word – taste.
4. So the folks at Coca-Cola immediately began concocting new formulas and conducting blind taste tests.
a. They settled on a new soft-drink flavor that they believed would win back their old customers who had gone over to Pepsi.
5. They called the new product “New Coke,” but guess what happened?
a. The American public’s reaction to the change was very negative, even hostile.
b. People wrote hateful letters and many began stockpiling old Coke in fear that it was going away forever.