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Summary: We as Christians are at our best when we are personally growing in our intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders. (Special thanks to North Point Community Church for the 3 Vital Relationships concept.)

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Three Vital Relationships: Intimacy with God

This morning I want to start a short series on a subject I have covered a half-dozen times over the past 10-12 years: Three Vital Relationships. I have covered it so often because I believe it is crucial that we fully understand how important these three relationships are to our growth as followers of Christ.

This morning we begin with the most important relationship—our relationship w/God. We follow that with our relationship with those inside the church and then those outside the church.

Tebow-mania

How many of you have heard of Tim Tebow? Tebow-mania? How big is Tebow-mania? According to the ESPN Sports Poll, Tim Tebow is now America's favorite active pro athlete. (12/’12)

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ESPN reporter Ed Werder says Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow is very sincere, almost childlike and allows people to get very close to him. He is a Christian, born to missionary parents, and is not shy about his faith; that is what makes him so polarizing: people either love him or they hate him.

The ESPN poll, calculated monthly, had the Denver Broncos quarterback ranked atop the list for the month of December. In the 18 years of the ESPN Sports Poll only 11 different athletes -- a list that includes Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and LeBron James -- have been No. 1 in the monthly polling.

"To put this in perspective, Tim Tebow rose to the top of the list before the end of his second pro season. It took Tiger Woods three years, LeBron James eight years and Kobe Bryant 11 years."

Tebow has done some amazing things this season. I am certainly a fan of his—though not of his team, the Denver Broncos—but I know how fickle fans can be. Tebow-mania goes far beyond the state of Colorado—though whole nation is following him. But just as they are cheering him now, if he fails to deliver he will be booed out of town. That is the nature of a fan—they have a ‘what have you done for me lately’ mentality.

Fan or Follower? The big question I want to ask this morning is: Are you a fan or a follower of Jesus?

There are a lot of people who would say they are a follower, but in reality they are nothing more then a fan. They have a ‘what have you done for me lately’ mentality. When they have a serious need, they pray more, attend church more, maybe give more—why—because they need something from God; as soon as the situation passes, God is put back on the shelf. It’s not about a relationship with Him, but more about what He can do for us.

But is that what God desires from us—a relationship based on favors?

Question: Are you more interested in Jesus for what He can do for you or for who He is?

In John chapter 6 there is a very familiar story about the time Jesus feed the 5000. A large crowd had tracked Jesus down, gathering to hear Him teach. His popularity was at an all time high; word had spread about His miraculous healings and so as He sits with his disciples this large crowd has gathered. After a full day teaching Jesus knows people are hungry. He soon turns to His disciples and asks them ‘how are we going to feed these people”? One disciple, Phillip, tells Jesus that even if they had eight months wages they couldn't feed everybody. Jesus knew what He was going to do and He is just testing his disciples to see what kind of faith they had. Jesus multiplies the bread and fish, provided by the young boy’s lunch, and the people eat their fill.

After dinner the crowd decides to camp out for the night so they can be with Jesus the next day. These are some huge fans of Jesus. The next morning when the crowd wakes up and they're hungry, they look around for Jesus—otherwise known as their meal ticket—but He is nowhere to be found. These fans were hoping for an encore performance...a breakfast burrito or maybe a fish taco. When they realize that Jesus and his disciples were gone, they begin to search for Him, eventually finding Him across the lake. By this time they are starving, they missed their chance to order breakfast and they are ready for lunch. But Jesus has decided to shut down the all-you-can-eat buffet.

The verses 25-26 says...

When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. John 6:25-26

Jesus knows that these people are not going to all the trouble to follow after Him because of His teachings, No, they are following after Him because they want some more free food. Was it Jesus they wanted or where they only looking for what He might do for them?

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