Summary: Second in a series on our church’s vision; this one also addresses the issue of being passionate Christians, using Peter as an illustration of how Christ builds passion in us as followers.
Series: Our Vision
Sermon Title: Transformed and Passionate
Don’t you just love this 2+ year election cycle? I heard on the news the Canadians are going to manage to have a national parliamentary election, start to finish, in 36 days! Wow.
There’s a topic that keeps coming up ad nauseam -- from candidates and pundits: it’s the issue of “experience“. The question is, can someone without much “experience” in specific areas be qualified to hold high office? In many ways, the question misses a point. That’s because just having “experience” -- like specific training or holding a position for “X number” of years, by itself, never qualifies a person. The question of experience almost always ignores qualifications -- like judgment and character.
I want to begin with a verse that illustrates that to some degree - it talks about a man we want to discuss today; it’s Acts 4:13 -- it’s printed on your outline. Dr. Luke describes a response from the religious elites to Peter and John --
"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13)
You might know the circumstances surrounding these words: it was the great supernatural movement that began when Christ birthed His Church, by sending His Spirit to be on and in His people. The result was, huge numbers of people responded to the gospel and put their faith in Christ. It wasn’t long before “religious” folks reacted. They had Peter and John arrested for preaching about Jesus -- Acts 4:2 says, they were greatly disturbed over the disciples’ claim that Jesus resurrected.
They examined them and realized, Peter and John weren’t like other teachers and preachers. They had none of the theological training or “experience” that normally accompanied their communicators. What took them aback wasn’t only what was missing, but what John and Peter showed: character, attitude and confidence. They displayed confidence that none of them possessed. They were untrained men who’d never been to school nor sat under their great rabbis. The conclusion they had to draw…. they had been with Jesus. They had encountered something like that in Someone else -- in Jesus Himself. Mark 1:22 and Matthew 7:28 tell you, when people listened to Him, they said things like, Jesus taught with authority and not like the scribes. And John 7:44 records that the priests and Pharisees at one point, dispatched officers to seize Jesus -- they came back without Him. When they asked why they didn’t arrest Him, the officers just said, No one ever spoke like this man! (John 7:46)
I want to think more today about the kind of infused, life-altering impact Jesus had -- and still has on His followers. We’re spending 4 weeks talking about our vision. I said last time, Trinity leaders spent two years praying and studying, thinking and identifying what -- as a church -- God calls us to be and do. What we came to is summarized in the statement on your bulletin: Our vision is to grow a body of authentic, passionate Christians intent on loving and impacting Lincoln with Christ’s gospel.
Three strategy areas stand behind that sentence. It’s on these three that we’ll pray and focus, and commit time and action for the next years. We began the first area last week and continue on it today. It’s in those words -- “authentic, passionate Christians“. Next time we‘ll take up -- “building leaders who build other leaders“. Then in two weeks, we’ll talk about trusting God to move us through the doors He’s opening in Lincoln.
“Authentic, passionate Christians…” It is both biblical and crucial -- for us as believers and as a community -- to have a Christ-centered dynamic. See, the need of the hour in our time and place isn’t what we already have too many of -- it’s not more superficial, dysfunctional Christians or churches. That is not what Trinity needs to be about. Along that line, we need to grasp that biblical passion is the foundation stone for authenticity. If you’re wondering whether it’s biblical to pursue being passionate about Christ -- it is. I gave you a definition of passion last time -- it’s on your outline: Passion for Christ: it’s a desire, love and enthusiasm for Him which rearranges the rest of your life.
We’re thinking about passion as it’s demonstrated in two different individuals in the NT. They’re different from each other -- but both are ordinary people. And we need to think long about that “ordinary” issue -- most of us are still convinced that passion is some wild-eyed, mystical “thing“ -- it’s like a disease you catch.
We studied Mary. Today we come to Peter, the big fisherman Jesus called to follow, there by the sea of Galilee. When Peter first met Jesus he would not have been described like he was in Acts 4:13. We won’t have time to read all the passages that provide Peter’s story, we’ll just look at a half dozen or so -- but in over viewing Christ’s impact on him -- we can see some of the Components of Peter’s Passion (Mark 1:17)