Summary: Our learning must lead to Christ-like living.
Living a Transformed Life
Sermon Series: “PBC @ the Core”
Rev. Brian Bill
I want to begin with a brief excerpt from a book by Mark Buchanan called, “Your Church is Too Safe.” This appeared in the March 2012 issue of Christianity Today.
Historian Daniel Boorstin documents a momentous shift that occurred in North America in the nineteenth century: we stopped calling people who went on trips travelers and started calling them tourists.
Traveler literally means “one who travails.” He labors, suffers, endures…To get there, he immerses himself in a culture, learns the language and customs, lives with the locals, imitates the dress, eats what’s set before him. He takes risks, some enormous, and makes sacrifices, some extravagant. He has tight scrapes and narrow escapes. He is gone a long time. If ever he returns, he returns forever altered ….
A tourist, not so. Tourist means, literally, “one who goes in circles.” He’s just taking an exotic detour home. He’s only passing through, sampling wares, acquiring souvenirs… He retreats each night to what’s safe and familiar. He picks up a word here, a phrase there, but the language, and the world it’s embedded in, remains opaque and cryptic, and vaguely menacing. He spectates and consumes. He returns to where he’s come from with an album of photos, a few mementos, a cheap hat. He’s happy to be back. He declares there’s no place like home.
We’ve made a similar shift in the church. At some point we stopped calling Christians disciples and started calling them believers. A disciple is one who follows and imitates Jesus. She loses her life in order to find it. She steeps in the language and culture of Christ until His Word and His world reshape hers, redefine her, change inside out how she sees and thinks and dreams and, finally, lives ….
A believer, not so. She holds certain beliefs, but how deep down these go depends on the weather or her mood. She can get defensive, sometimes bristlingly so, about her beliefs, but in her honest moments she wonders why they’ve made such scant difference ….
You can’t be a disciple without being a believer. But—here’s the rub—you can be a believer and not a disciple. You can say all the right things, think all the right things, believe all the right things, do all the right things, and still not follow and imitate Jesus.
The kingdom of God is made up of travailers, but our churches are largely populated with tourists. The kingdom is full of disciples, but our churches are filled with believers.
After watching all these people get baptized this morning, I’d say that PBC has a lot of people serious about traveling with Jesus instead of just being tourists. Today we’re celebrating another value that we have as a church: “We value life transformation, not just information -- our learning must lead to Christ-like living.”