We all know the motto of New York City. It is on every single T-shirt in the city. I HEART NY.
And since then, there have been about a million people who have stolen this idea and design. Everything from God to monkeys. If somebody loves it, there is probably a shirt that says I HEART _________.
But the original comes from New York. And to be honest, I have only been to New York once and I wouldn’t say that I loved it.
I enjoyed most of my time there. I enjoy big cities. But, I haven’t spent enough time there to know whether I heart New York or not.
I can say for sure that I heart Chicago. Chicago is a great city. I would wear a shirt that says I HEART Chicago, even though I think it’s a rip-off to use someone else’s slogan and just add your product.
So, this week I want to start a serious in Sunday School called I HEART. We are going to be talking about things that we love and things that are difficult to sacrifice.
And what we are going to do is look at some of the weirdest passages in Scripture. We are going to see people with a desire to follow Jesus… and what Jesus’ response to them ALWAYS is.
And over the next few weeks, we are going to be talking about things that we love. And my prayer is that through this series, we all realize how much God has given us and realize that 99% of what we have is temporary.
When you think of things people love about New York, what are some of the things people love about it? Broadway, Times Square, parades, parties, Wall Street, Statue of Liberty, home
I think that the biggest thing that people love about New York is that it is their home. There are a lot of tourists that come to New York and love it, but they don’t love it enough to live there.
The people of New York love New York, because it is their home. In the same way that I love Michigan, they love New York. I have lived in Delaware for a year and a half almost, but I still consider Michigan home… because home is where the heart is… and I love Michigan more than Delaware.
What do you consider home? Maybe it is your house, maybe your street, maybe your family… whatever it is that you consider home. That is what I HEART NY is all about.
People love their home. I love my home. You love your home. Home isn’t necessarily where you live. Home is where you find comfort.
I can remember the summer after my senior year of high school; I was on a mission’s trip to Humboldt Park… which is in the inner-city of Chicago. It was our second year going there.
And when we pulled up to Roberto Clemente High School (in the middle of the ghetto), it just felt right. I literally got out of the van and said, “It feels good to be home.” In the middle of the ghetto, I was in a place that I love… a place that felt like home.
So, let’s turn to Luke 9:57… As they were walking along the road, a man said to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, LORD; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
I told you… we are going to see Jesus being really weird for the next couple weeks.
3 guys walk up to Jesus and want to follow Him, and Jesus tells them all to go away. Or at least, Jesus gives them good reasons to not follow Him.
And I am pretty sure that this is ALWAYS how Jesus dealt with people. Because almost every time you see someone wanting to join Jesus, He is telling them to go away.
So what does this mean? Does it mean that Jesus doesn’t want followers? No. I think it means that Jesus wants dedicated followers… not half-hearted followers.
Guy number one walks up to Jesus… and I think that he thinks that he is doing Jesus a favor by following Him. All these men seem to want to follow Jesus and think that Jesus should WANT them on His side.
And guy number one tells Jesus that he wants to follow Him. And if I am Jesus, I would be elated. Another follower, isn’t that what you would think Jesus wants?
But Jesus says something very interesting… He says “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”
What do you think that means? It pretty much means… I’m homeless. I don’t have a house. I don’t have anywhere that I call “home.”
Jesus was homeless. Jesus didn’t have a house. Jesus slept wherever.
There is a difference in being homeless and houseless. To be houseless means that you don’t have a shelter that you live in. To be homeless means you don’t have a place of comfort.
I can live somewhere that is not my home. When I was at college, I didn’t live at my home. I lived in a dorm. It was never “home.” It was always temporary. Home is permanent.
Do you understand the difference? There are a billion houses in the world. But there are only 1 or 2 places that you would call home.
You sleep over at someone else’s house… that doesn’t make it your home.
Jesus had no home. If He slept inside at all, it was always someone else’s house.
And the disciples were the exact same way. They left their homes to follow Jesus. James and John left their comfortable lives as fishermen to follow Jesus. Matthew left his life of luxury as a tax collector to follow Jesus.
The man in this story did not want to leave the comfort of his home to follow Jesus. He said “never mind.”
This man who wanted to follow Jesus was not willing to give up everything to follow Jesus. He needed that place to sleep. He needed that comfort.
I HEART New York. I HEART my home. You HEART your home. We HEART comfort.
Everybody wants to be safe. Everybody wants to be comfortable. The American dream is to own a home with a white picket fence and have 2.5 kids.
Your whole life you have been told that to be successful means that you own a home. In fact, there are commercials where home ownership is seen as “arriving.”
I can remember this commercial where this family moves into a new house and the kids instantly run into the back yard and start yelling “we have a back yard.” And the mom has a tear in her eye as she looks at the husband and says, “It’s my first back yard too.”
And the whole point of the commercial is that the American dream worked and they finally got a back yard. And that back yard represents home. The safety and comfort of owning your own land. The comfort of home.
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with owning a house. I own a house. Pastor Brad owns a house. Jesus is not saying “don’t own a house.”
Jesus is saying… be willing to leave your home. Be willing to leave that comfort. Be willing to give up your home. Be willing to be homeless for Jesus.
My college roommate and I always tease each other about God’s plan for each other. And one night we actually wrote God’s plan for each other on our chests.
On his chest, I wrote India. Because he wants to be a missionary and I always said that he was going to go to India as a missionary. And on my chest, he wrote homeless. (And that comes from another joke) But pretty much, he would always say that I was too safe in my home.
He had spent a weekend being homeless for one of his classes, and he came back and told me that I should be homeless. And it really got me thinking about my comfort level. And he was right that I was not willing to do some things for Jesus. Being homeless was one of them.
And for the last couple years, almost every time we talk I ask him if he lives in India yet and he ask me if I’m homeless yet.
And it’s just a reminder to me to give up everything for God. Even if it’s my house. Even if God calls me to live on the streets and beg people for money… I must be willing.
That guy walks up to Jesus and says I will follow you… and Jesus says “no you won’t.” And Jesus was right.
Jesus doesn’t want half-hearted followers. And I am going to end by reading this verse… Mark 9:23 Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
Jesus says every single day, if you want to be My followers, you must be willing to die on a cross. And what that means is that you must be willing to sacrifice everything every single day.
Death on a cross is the worst possible and most humiliating death that someone could die in Jesus’ time. It would be like saying “sit on the electric chair…” in today’s world.
Only the worst criminals get electrocuted. It is just a humiliating and painful death for the absolute worst criminals.
Jesus says be willing to die that death every day for Me. And He isn’t saying this to Christians. He is saying this to people considering being Christians.
I’ve never heard an evangelist giving the altar call and telling people if they come forward that they need to be willing to take the electric chair for Jesus. I think that would drastically hurt the response. But that is what Jesus requires of His followers.
When someone says I HEART New York. Or I love New York. They are saying that they love their home. Home is where the heart is.
Jesus says “be willing to give up your home for me.” Be willing to give up the comfort and safety of your home. Be willing to be homeless. Be willing to move somewhere I call you. Don’t hold on to that safety and comfort. Let it go.
And this isn’t an unreasonable request. Jesus left His home in Heaven. And He died for me. He died for you. Jesus became homeless for you. God’s Son became homeless for you. Would you be willing to do the same for Him?