Summary: Christians are to be radically different than anyone else - not for the sake of being different - but because it is our nature.

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January 20, 2008

Morning Worship

Text: Matthew 9:14-17

Subject: Fasting

Title: Why Aren’t You Like Everyone Else?

We live in a very confusing time in our culture. Sometimes it becomes difficult to differentiate between the good guys and bad guys. Of course we understand that as a sign of the times when people will begin to call evil good and good evil. I watched a video on the Internet the other day and a lady told Governor Mike Huckabee she couldn’t vote for him because Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics. She asked him, “You aren’t one of those narrow minded people who think that just the Baptists are going to heaven are you?”. To which he responded, “No, I’m more narrow minded than that. I think there are a lot of Baptists who won’t make it.”.

As we were growing up many of us heard comments like, “Why can’t you be like the other kids?” or, “Why do you have to be so different?” And then when we do the same things the other kids were doing we were asked, “If they jumped off a cliff would you follow them?” I grew up in a time of mixed messages. But early on I made up my mind that I was going to be different than everyone else. For much of my life that difference was headed in a negative direction. Then there was a time when I was just like everyone else and living for the devil. When I became a Christian I was so convinced that it was right that I determined in my heart that I was going to live it for all it’s worth and try to be a radical Christian. I think that’s the only kind of Christian. It goes against the grain of the world for you to be a true Christian. It’s OK to go to church but don’t go overboard. But in our passage today Jesus is telling us that is exactly what needs to happen. We need to be radical in our worship, our thoughts, and our actions. If not then we become just like the “religious” people. The world is asking the same questions that many have heard from parents.

Why can’t you be like everybody else?

The one thing that I enjoy about my Christian faith is that Jesus has never asked me to be just like someone else. I am a new creation but with a personality of my own. Paul said we are supposed to imitate him because he imitates Christ but I’m not Paul, I’m Mike. Even though we all read the same Bible and the words mean the same to us the way we live out our faith is expressed in our individuality that fits in to the whole of the body of Christ.

Let’s look today and see what Jesus says about being like everyone else.

I. CHRISTIANS DON’T DO THE SAME THINGS (14) 14Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” In this verse there are three different groups mentioned. 1) John’s disciples. This is talking about John the Baptist. Even though by this time John was in prison and had already introduced Jesus as the Messiah, John’s disciples still clung to him. Listen to what John said in John 3, 27 “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. 28You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ 29The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30He must become greater; I must become less. John’s disciples followed him because of the message of repentance that he preached. They had seen firsthand what religion had become in Israel. They knew that there had to be some changes made. John came along and offered them something different than what they had heard before. For a period of time there must have been great personal satisfaction and spiritual reward in being the agents of change from the old established religion. But their position had become a source of spiritual pride. You see, what God was doing in their midst had not been totally revealed. They had left their life of sin and had repented and been baptized, but now they see Jesus and His disciples eating with sinners – the same kind of people that they once were. Back in verse 10, 10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” 12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Go back to verse 14. There it tells us that the John’s disciples fasted. They were following the example of their leader who humbly preached the baptism of repentance. Even though their attitudes were misdirected, they were fasting for the right reason – to draw closer to God – and I believe their hearts were right but their revelation was lacking. 2) The Pharisees. This was the “religious” class of the Jews. When we think of Pharisees I think we tend to lump them all together. That’s a mistake because even though their religion had become a religion of strict devotion to the Law and their interpretation of the Law, there were still some Pharisees who loved the Lord their God with all their hearts. Nicodemus appears to have been one of them. The Pharisees fasted. But to many of their leaders it became a display of their “Holiness” in front of the people. They fasted so they could be seen as holy. Jesus said this about the Pharisees in Matthew 6, 16“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. John’s disciples fasted for the right reasons. The Pharisees fasted but it was for the wrong reasons. 3) Jesus’ disciples didn’t fast at all. John’s disciples were saying that they wanted to believe what John had said about Jesus, but He was so radically different in what He did, what He said, and what He believed that it became extremely difficult for them to accept Him. Yet this radically different truth that Jesus taught was THE TRUTH. Here is the truth that Jesus is still communicating today. Matthew 8, 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. John’s disciples didn’t understand it. The Pharisees surely didn’t get it. And today, the world and “religious” people don’t get it, that true disciples of Jesus Christ are not concerned with being like everyone else but follow the voice of the Holy Spirit.

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