Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: This message looks at the difference between discipleship and religion

The past few weeks we’ve looked at diseases that plague the church. Last week we looked at negativity, and I have to tell you, this week I was challenged more than ever... Isn’t it amazing how when God speaks to us, he often uses trials to teach us? Real life examples...

So this morning I want to dig into a problem that I have witnessed for as long as I can remember - in fact, I think this is one of the greatest problems that the church faces: It’s the idea of religion vs. discipleship.

I was reading this past week in 2 timothy. There is a great list of problems in Chapter three (read) and then I ran into vs. 5 - a verse that’s pointed at us... “They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.” I had been reading Paul’s list to Timothy of things to avoid, and saying my “atta boys” and then all of the sudden God said - hey this one’s for you... Because I am guilty of from time to time making a show of religion - and not allowing the power of Christ to really transform me...

There’s a passage in the New Testament that I think illustrates what this is like - Its found in Luke 18:9-14. (Read the passage) Two people come to the temple. One looks great on the outside, he has all the appearances of being right with God. He looks like he’s in good standing. The other guy is the exact opposite, but he recognizes his problem. He recognizes that he needs God and he’s willing to humble himself and ask for God to save him...

I think if we are not careful, we begin to think and act and behave like that first guy. It’s called religion. Its this idea that if I do certain things, then I will please God and I will clean myself up and all will be good...

I spent most of my life living under that system. Let me share with you a little bit of my story - I grew up in church. My parents went Sunday mornings and evenings. We went to training Union. We went wednesday nights and I became Christian pretty early in life - at the age of 8. I was a good kid. I was pretty moral. I didn’t cuss or drink or spit or date girls that did... But somewhere along the line I learned the game and I started playing it.

The game was religion. The game was that if I looked good on the outside and hid what was on the inside then I could do whatever I wanted...On the outside, I looked pretty holy - but on the inside sin had some very deep holds on my life. On the outside, I went to church and did all the right things, but on the inside I really lived for me. I wasn’t giving up anything for God - I was selfish. My deepest desire was to become a successful architect and make a lot of money and be rich.

In my Junior year in high school though, God decided to shake things up... I met a guy who looked right through the little game I was playing and challenged me to more. His name was Carter Frye. He was giving a Bible Study at a retreat that I attended and his lesson went well over everyones head. I was impressed, and that was something that didn’t happen often. I did what I knew to do... I went up to him that evening and tried to impress him with my religion. I told him about the books that they were making me read in High school - books like A Brave New World, and 1984. I knew that he would find them terrible and I would impress him by saying how bad they were... But instead he said, “don’t you see what an opportunity you have?” I looked at him with a blank stare. He went on to tell me that both of those books were stories of societies without God and they were dark and depressing - I had the opportunity to shine for Christ and point that out in my classroom. ...that one conversation changed my life, because I realized for the first time that I had been playing a game. I realized that Christ wanted more...

Here’s the test - if you want to know if you are religious or if you are becoming a disciple - here’s the test: What are you giving up?

I think religion doesn’t ask you to give up much... A couple hours a week to come to church, a few dollars in the offering plate - not too much...

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