Summary: Losing the crowd versus radical commitment
“SOMEONE WORTH LOSING EVERTHING FOR”
John 6: 53-66 (p755) Sept. 4, 2011
If Jesus tarries, over the next 9 weeks we’re going to examine what it means to Radically follow Jesus Christ…Our missions committee chairman, Doug Lucas asked if I might mention the book “Radical” by David Plat…and use some quotes in my upcoming sermons.
I told him I think I can do a little better than that since it’s one of my favorite books..and one of the most challenging CALLS facing the American Church today.
Maybe it’s one of those “God Winks” or “God Incidences” that I had been recently challenged by this book…and then they choose to make it a study for future missions planning…so I’ll try to use this theme, remain connected to God’s word…and be “Radical” through it all!
By the way the sub title for David Platt’s book is “Taking Back your Faith from the American Dream and the challenge is
“For Christians to wake up, trade in fake values rooted in the American Dream, and embrace the notion that each of us is blessed by God for a global purpose”.
My first 5 years or so at Fern Creek Christian Church were kind of the ones you dream about in ministry.
I felt without a doubt God had brought me and my family here…and I think the church felt much the same way…Fern Creek was healing…had gone through a difficult time… numbers had dropped.
But over the next few years God began to increase us…it felt really good to outgrow our facilities…it was the American minister’s dream to say, “We’ve doubled in size…we’re building a new facility.” Pictures in the paper, articles about our new place and our ministries. I started thinking about being a church of 1,000….I really did and do believe that every number is a soul…and each soul counts…so part of me always wants to grow…be bigger, reach more…it’s the American church dream.
But there a flip side to this coin…one that’s always challenged me….almost yelled at me spiritually and ministerally…
“CROWDS DON’T EQUAL DISCIPLESHIP!” NUMBERS DON’T EQUAL SUCCESS
That’s not what my culture says…”Bigger is better….Popularity equals fame…the bigger the crowd, the better the minister”.
And my measuring rod for success is Jesus…not the American dream… and Jesus spent most of his ministry time with 12 men. When he left earth he had only about 120 people who were sticking around and doing what he told them to do…not exactly a mega church, huh?
Jesus…the founder of the mini-church! Who had a habit of turning away thousands of people…When the crowd got too big he’d say—“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
I have to tell you this request is probably not found in any church growth literature.
Can’t you imagine Peter….whispering to James (probably a pretty loud whisper too)…”Oh Man…not the drink my blood speech! We’ll never get on the list of fastest growing movements if you keep asking them to eat you!”
Jesus clearly wasn’t interested in building a crowd…he wasn’t interested in marketing himself to the masses…by the end of this speech only 12 men remained…the crowd left…and Jesus was o.k. with that…because
I RADICAL OBEDIENCE FOCUSES ON THE FEW THAT BELIEVE HIM.
Folks, this is a radical statement…so radical the crowds dessert Jesus. “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink” might make a little sense to many of us now because of communion…but there is no such context for this crowd..even the disciples say….
“This is a hard saying…who can accept it?” And they start to mummer…grumble to each other about this…”Eat his flesh…drink his blood…that’s crazy…that’s too radical a teaching!”
And Jesus responds “Does this offend you?” The answer is yes! It did!!!
And here comes the radical challenge for American Christians today.
1) Do we believe Jesus enough we accept his radical message even though it drives the crowd away?
And then the bigger challenge:
2) Will We Obey JESUS?
Maybe our greatest fear in America is that we’ll do exactly what most people did when they encountered Jesus in the 1st century. Hear his words and walk away…content to settle for our definition of what it means to follow Him…Instead of Radical Obedience I am content with the American definition of “Christian.”
Many times that just means someone who believes in God…for many it’s something like this…”I don’t want to go to Hell!…So I’ll take enough of Jesus to get to heaven, but not enough to change my daily lifestyle.”
Francis Chan in the book “Crazy Love” says:
“Some people claim that we can be Christians without becoming disciples…I wonder then why the last thing Jesus told us was “to go into the world, and as we are going make disciples of all NATIONS, teaching them to “obey” all that He commanded?