What does it mean to tell Jesus “I’m for you”? Today we’ll look at three radical ways to live for Jesus and experience life as it’s meant to be!
Good morning. It’s nice to see you. So today’s message is going to be a high challenge message. And my goal is not to point out one or two people who are like the biggest sinners in the room. That’s not what I’m trying to do. It’s high challenge because I believe that all of us are guilty of the things that I’m going to be talking about. And so if you’re feeling uncomfortable, just know that your neighbor feels uncomfortable as well, and so do I, that this message is a high challenge message. So with that, I’ll dive in.
One time Jesus looked at his disciples, and he said, “Many who call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will not enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of My Heavenly Father.” And he said, “On that day, many will come to me and say, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we cast demons out in your name, and in your name perform miracles?’” And Jesus said, “I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers.’”
Jesus tells this story that reveals a stark reality, that not all of us who call him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven. These people in the story, they wanted to follow Jesus. They were doing mighty things in his name. They were prophesying, casting out demons, performing miracles, but they didn’t actually know Jesus.
Is it possible that you and I call him, “Lord, Lord,” but won’t enter the kingdom of heaven? Is it possible that you and I would call him, “Lord, Lord,” but we would instead of hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” we would hear, “Away from me. I never knew you.”
I’m not trying to make you question whether Jesus has saved you or can save you, because the Bible is incredibly clear. In Romans 10:9, it says, “If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
That’s great news. Declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, and you will be saved. But the question is, do you live like God raised him from the dead? Do you live with Jesus as the Lord of your life? That’s the question. Is Jesus really Lord of your life? Because you can say Jesus is Lord, but that doesn’t mean that he is Lord, that you’re making him Lord, that he’s on the throne of your life.
Is Jesus really Lord? What does Lord mean? Lord means ruler or leader, king, master and commander, first in my life, supreme over all things. Is Jesus that to me? Is Jesus Lord for you?
In his book, Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman says this. He says, “Many have made a decision to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow Jesus.” And that’s true often of us, that we believe in Jesus, but we haven’t made that commitment to follow Jesus. And why is that? I do not think it’s because a lack of desire. I don’t think it’s because we just don’t want to follow Jesus, I believe that we do want to follow Jesus. I believe the disconnect is because we have fallen prey to false forms of Christianity.
We’ve fallen prey to forms of Christianity that are more inspired by the spirit of the age than by the spirit of Jesus. And these false forms of Christianity, here’s three of them. Three are: consumer Christianity, casual Christianity, and childish Christianity. And these forms of Christianity, these false things that masquerade as Christianity, what they do is they lower Jesus from the throne in our life when we buy into them. That they look like Christianity on the outside, but they are not true Christianity on the inside.
So what I want to do today is I want to help you discover the joy of fully committing to Jesus. The joy of saying, “Jesus, I’m 100% in,” so that when you call him, “Lord, Lord,” he will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter the kingdom of heaven.” Don’t you want Jesus to say that to you? Man, that’s what I want him to say to me. I don’t want to say, “Lord, Lord,” but end up being cast away because I didn’t know Jesus.
So my goal is to help you live 100% for Jesus. 100% for Jesus. In order to do that, we’re going to be looking at Colossians 1:15-29. So would you grab your Bibles, pass them down the rows, and make sure that everyone has the Bible; or if you don’t, make sure you’re sharing with somebody. We’re going to be looking at Colossians 1:15-29, so on page 1,015.
So as you’re headed there, let me give you some context for what we’re going to read. Paul is writing to the Colossian Christians, and he describes Jesus with the highest of terms. He describes a Jesus who is amazing, who is incredible. He describes a Jesus who you cannot just add to your life. He describes a Jesus who should be, and who must be, and who you want him to be when you understand who he really is, you want him to be Lord of your life. This is who Paul describes in Colossians 1, starting at verse 15. This is all about Jesus. Verse 15, this is the Word of God.
“The Son,” Jesus, “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he’s the beginning and the first born from among the dead, so that in everything he might have supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross.
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior, but now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. If you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
Now, hold on, we’ve got some more. Verse 24.
“Now I rejoice in what I’m suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I’ve become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness; the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”
Would you pray with me? Jesus, we thank you that what you have spoken in your word, you are still speaking today. So God, would you help us to hear your word? Would you help us not to just have it go in one ear and out the other, but that it would go into our hearts and transform us from the inside out. Jesus, help us to live 100% for you so we can experience life as it’s meant to be. We pray this in Jesus’ name. And everyone said…
Amen. I want to invite the ushers to come to receive today’s tithes and offerings. So if you have those, now is the time to get those ready. Thank you for giving generously to God’s kingdom. We believe that when you give, you’re making a huge impact. And here’s why we know that. Because people gave before you, and the reason you get to sit here now, the reason that someone was able to say, “Man, come to Life Center with me,” is because people gave before you and made this possible.
But it’s not just happening here, it’s happening all over Spokane. As you go out on mission with Jesus, that’s what we’re trying to accomplish is helping people find and follow Jesus. And your generosity is making that possible. So thank you for giving generously. I appreciate it so much, and so do the people whose lives are going to be transformed by it. Pastor Joe says this is the most joyful time in the service, so I’m glad that you guys are still joyful right now.
So what did we just read? We read a New Testament letter. So this is after the time of Jesus. Paul is writing to Christians in Colossae, and he is writing to them for a specific reason. Why? Why is Paul writing this letter to them? Well, scholars look at this letter and they say, “This is a really friendly letter.”
In other letters like 1 Corinthians, the Corinthians had major problems, you guys; like they were one jacked up church. And so Paul was writing his, and he had to address those issues head on. But in this letter, it’s interesting because it’s a friendly letter. But most scholars agree that, even though it’s friendly, there are still problems in the Colossian church. And the problems are similar to ours in that they were endangered from heresy from like another religion, an opposing religion, what they were in danger from was Christian teaching that, again, was more influenced by the spirit of the age than by the spirit of Jesus.
It was teaching that looked really good on the outside, but it was not Christian on the inside. It was teaching that if you really looked at it, you’d say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, Jesus would never say that.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, Jesus would never endorse that. What is happening here?”
And so Paul writes them, and what he does is he just points back to Jesus. He says, “Look. Jesus. Look at Jesus. Would you see Jesus? And if you would see who Jesus really is, it would change everything and help you make him Lord of your life.”
So I hope you caught this while we were reading. This is in verse 16. He said, “He’s the image of the invisible God,” that, “All things were made through him and for him.” The big idea today, I hope that you caught this, is, I’m made for Jesus. I am made for Jesus. Would you look at your neighbor and say, “You’re made for Jesus.”
You are made for Jesus. So how do we live for Jesus? Now, friends, we understand this concept, that you use something for what it is made for. Correct? You don’t use a Frisbee for a cell phone. Right? No. Someone is in the back like, “Oh yeah. No, it’s great.” You don’t. We understand that you use something for what it is made for.
And in the same sense, we’ve been made for Jesus. So how do we live 100% for Jesus? I’m going to share three ways with you today, and the first way is this. Daily live for more. Because you’re made for Jesus, daily live for more. Again, in verse 16, he says, “All things were made through him and for him.” You were made for Jesus.
Paul points to Jesus, and he says, “Look. This guy isn’t just a big deal. He is the image of the invisible God. If you want to see God, look at Jesus.” And he says, “Look. This Jesus, this God that you can see in Jesus, he loved you so much that he became a human like you to redeem you, not because of your goodness, but so that you could experience goodness in Jesus.” So you’re made for him. So how do you live for him? I know I’m made for Jesus, the problem is I don’t live for Jesus all the time. The problem is I often get distracted by other things, I start living for other things, I start pursuing other things.
Now I have some good days following Jesus. Does anyone else have good days? And then I’ve got some bad days following Jesus. And on those good days, I go to bed, I’m like, “Yeah. That was awesome, Jesus. I hope you remember that forever.” And then on those bad days, I’m like, “Jesus, I hope you forget that day. That was not a good one, Lord.” We all have good days and bad days. Right? But what we’re trying to do is say, “How do we live 100% for Jesus all the time?” If you’re made for Jesus, how do you live for him? And I say, “Daily live for more.”
So there’s a man in the Bible who came to Jesus, and he really wanted to follow Jesus. So he got down on his knees and said, “Jesus, how do I inherit eternal life?” And Jesus looked at him and said, “Okay. Here’s what you do. Don’t murder. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t commit adultery, and honor your father and mother.”
And this man got a huge smile on his face. And he said, “Jesus, I’ve done all of those things.” And it says, Jesus looked at him and loved him, and said this, “You still lack one thing. Go sell all your possessions, give it to the poor, and then come follow me.” And the man went away sad. He didn’t do it. He couldn’t do it.
See, the man came to Jesus looking for eternal life. He wanted to follow Jesus. But when he got the answer that he had to take his stuff, sell it, give it to the poor, and then come follow Jesus, it was too much for him, because he wanted the gifts more than the giver, he wanted the creation more than the creator. See, the stuff that he had accumulated in life got in between him and Jesus. The stuff. And he couldn’t let go of the stuff. And because of that, he walked away from eternal life and chose lesser things.
Friends, we are in danger of becoming this man because we live in a consumer culture. Don’t we? We live in a culture that tells us, “If you would just get more, you’d be happier. If you aren’t happy with what you have, get something bigger. If you don’t like what you have currently, upgrade it. Get something better.” We live in a culture that tells us, “You constantly need to put stuff into your life. You need more stuff.”
And what we’re doing is we’re piling stuff in between us and Jesus, and we’re in danger of becoming like this man. And one day we would look at Jesus and get sad because we cannot part with our stuff. We cannot put him first in our stuff, and we’d walk away from eternal life. We’re in danger of becoming like this man because we live in a consumer culture.
But it’s subtle sometimes. It’s not obvious all the time. My wife and I, a year-and-a-half ago, we sold our house, and we were looking for another house. So as we’re looking for another house, we’d go into a house and we’d like it. We come out first, “Oh, what did you like? What did you not like?” And in my head, I’d be like, “Oh, it’s nice that it had two bathrooms, but I’d really like three.” Or, “It’s nice that I had a back deck, but I really like a front porch.” Or, “You know what? I just like a little bit bigger house.” Or, “I wish it had a hot tub in the back.” How many of you wish you had a hot tub in the back?
And what I started doing was I was thinking that a little more would make me more happy. A little more would make it better. A little more would give me the happiness that I was looking for. But what I was doing is, I was placing my happiness in things that could never make me happy. I was looking for stuff to fulfill me, but those things can never fulfill me. I was looking for things that only Jesus can give me.
And that’s what consumerism does. It’s a lie that you can find fulfillment, that you can find happiness, that you can find joy, and love, and peace outside of Jesus, but you never can. You can only find those things in Jesus. See, consumer Christianity says, “I will follow Jesus, but I better get what I want.” “I’ll do those things, Jesus. I’ll pray, but I’m only going to pray for what I want, not what you want.”
“Sure, Jesus, I will obey, but I better be blessed.” “I’ll do those things, Lord, but I want what I want, and I better get what I want.” Jesus becomes like a spiritual vending machine for us, and we only come to them when we need something. We want stuff from him, but we don’t want him. So when consumerism meets Christianity, Jesus just becomes a new way for us to get what we want.
The good news is you don’t have to give up all of your things to follow Jesus, you just have to put Jesus first in all of your things. And if you cannot put Jesus first in your things, you need to get rid of those things. So what in your life have you not put Jesus first, and what in your life is Jesus not Lord over? Because he deserves to be Lord. He already is Lord over all things. So when you are keeping them out of those things, you’re keeping him out of something where he is rightfully Lord. Where do you need it to make him Lord in your life?
I told you we live for a lot of different things, and we’re made to live for Jesus. So what are you living for? What are you living for today? We’ve got good days and bad days, but today, what are you living for? What’s preoccupying your mind? What are you pursuing? We were made to thank Jesus for all things, to praise Jesus in all things, and to love Jesus through all things. Are you doing that? Is he Lord of your life, or are you pursuing something else? What are you living for?
We’re going to continue on in verses 24 and 25. So Paul has just told us about how incredible Jesus is. That he is the image of the invisible God, that all things were created through him and for him. He’s the head of the church. That he is supreme over all things. And then Paul tells us his response because of who Jesus is in verses 24 and 25. This is what Paul says.
He says, “Now I rejoice and what I’m suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present you the word of God in its fullness.”
So Paul says, “Look. Because of who Jesus is, I have become a servant of his church. I’ve become a servant of the gospel. I will suffer and sacrifice for the sake of Jesus’ church.” Paul is saying, “I’m going to answer the call of Jesus wherever and whenever. I’m going to say yes to Jesus when he calls.” So point number two is this; daily answer his call. Daily answer the call of Jesus in your life. Paul was not a part-time Christian with part-time faith. Following Jesus was not a hobby for him, this was his life. He was fully committed to following Jesus. That’s why he wanted to answer the call of Jesus.
Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of people say that you don’t have to go to church to follow Jesus. And it’s interesting that Paul would give his life, and suffer and sacrifice to an institution that you don’t have to be a part of as a Christian. It’s interesting that in Ephesians 5, it would say that Christ gave his life for the church, and yet we as Christians sometimes don’t think that we need church to follow Jesus. Now, I want to pose this question to you, do you have to go to church to follow Jesus?
This question misses the point. This question misses the substance of the issue. If we’re asking, “Do I have to go to church to follow Jesus?” we’ve missed what church really is. And listen, I know I’m preaching to the choir because you’re here at church. Right? Whoo, you made it baby. But what is the church?
I think, often we have a critical misunderstanding of what church is. When Jesus talked about the church, he called it the ecclesia. That’s the Greek word translated church, ecclesia, and it means meeting or assembly. And so Jesus, interestingly, only talked about the church two times. In Matthew 16 and in Matthew 18, Jesus talked about the church. And in Matthew 16, Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Jesus was saying, “Look, I will build my assembly, I will build my meeting, I will build the people who gather me, and the gates of hell will not prevail against the people who I’m empowering.” Are you glad that Jesus said that about us?
God is for us, He’s with us, and we are his ecclesia; his church, his meeting, his gathering.
Now this word, ecclesia, it came to mean meeting or assembly, but it’s an amalgamation of two words, ek, kaleo; ek-kaleo. Ek means out, and kaleo means to call. And so the word literally means to call out, or the called out ones. And so why did this word to call out; the called out ones, how did it become meeting or assembly?
In Jesus’ day, when there was going to be a meeting in the town, someone would go throughout the town and call out. They’d say, “Hey, there’s a meeting. We’re going to meet over here, right now. So come.” And if you came to the meeting, you were the called out ones; you were the ecclesia.
And I believe that Jesus used these words on purpose. He didn’t use synagogue, which had a broad base of understanding in his culture. Everyone knew what the synagogue was. It was a congregation. It was a meeting. Jesus didn’t use that word, he used ecclesia, because he wanted to call people out from their culture and into his community. Jesus wanted to call people out from darkness and into the light. Jesus is calling you out to be a part of his meeting, his assembly, his people. Are you answering the call?
See, it’s not just something you go to, it’s something you become when you answer the call; you become his ecclesia. And I love that there’s this incredible parallel between Jesus’ use of the word ecclesia in Genesis 3:9 at the fall.
See, in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve made the decision to disobey God. And when they did, they sinned and they’d fallen from his good grace. They’d fallen out of relationship with God. And what did they do? When they sinned and they realized they were naked, they went and hid. They went and hid. They hid in the bushes, they hid from each other, and they hid from God, because they were ashamed of what they’d done and they were guilty.
And so in Genesis 3:9, the LORD is walking through the garden, and it says he called out to them. He called out to them and He said, “Where are you, Adam and Eve?” And they came out and they said, “We’re here, and this is what we’ve done.” And God clothed them in the skins of animals, but then he had to send them out of Eden.
And ever since then, humanity has been hiding because of our guilt and shame. Humanity has been hiding because of what we’ve done. Humanity has been hiding because of fear and rejection. We’ve been hiding ever since then. And now Jesus has come, and he once again, is calling out to us. He’s calling out and saying, “Where are you? Would you come out of hiding?”
But instead of clothing us with animal skins, Jesus is clothing us with himself. He’s clothing us with his righteousness. And he’s not just calling us out so he can cast us out of Eden, he’s calling us out so he can bring us into the kingdom of heaven. This is the completion of what God started in Genesis 3:9, now Jesus has come to call us out to be a part of his beloved community, to come back to Eden.
So why wouldn’t we answer the call to be a part of his ecclesia? Why wouldn’t we answer the call to be a part of the community that Jesus gave his life for? Do you see how we’ve had a critical misunderstanding of what church is? For instance, in the Bible, in the New Testament, the church is described as the body of Christ, which is a really fun analogy, because then you can ask like, “What part of the body am I? I’m a fingernail. What are you?” How many of your lobe?
Did you know that the church is also described as the Bride of Christ? In Ephesians 5, Paul talks about marriage between a man and a woman. And then he goes on to describe, he says, “Look, what I’m really talking about is Christ and the Church. As though he is equating Christ as the husband and the Church is the bride. The Church is the Bride of Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 11, it talks about how we’ve been committed to be a bride for Christ. In Revelations 19, it says that we are the Bride of Christ. The Church is the Bride of Christ. Jesus loves the Church. He’s committed to the Church. He gave his life for the Church.
When I asked my wife, Sarah, to marry me, I didn’t ask her to be my wife just on the weekends. I didn’t ask her to be my wife when it was convenient for her, because the Lord knows that it’s not convenient to be my wife, right? But she’s still my wife. We made a commitment to each other that we would be with each other for the rest of our lives. We made this commitment. And Jesus in the same way is calling you to be his bride. Not just his bride on the weekend, not just as his bride sometimes, but his bride completely and fully. He’s calling you into intimacy and relationship with him.
In his Not a Fan, again, Pastor Kyle Idleman says, “Jesus wants to have a DTR with you.” Do you know what a DTR is? It’s when you’re dating or when you’re in like with someone, and then you have the define-the-relationship talk. We’ve all had those, right?
I can remember mine with my wife. When we were dating, we’re up on this rooftop. We were just at the end of this wonderful date, and my heart is pounding because I’m thinking like, “Man, this is the woman I want to marry. I really like this girl, but I don’t know if she feels the same way.” And so I’m thinking like, “What do I say? Well, how do I do this? How do I approach the subject that I want to marry this woman?”
And so what I said is, “Hey. You know what? I really enjoyed what we’ve been doing. Do you want to continue to do this for life?” And fortunately, she said, “Yes!”
Jesus wants to have a DTR with you. He wants to define the relationship. He wants to say, “What are we? How do you feel about me? Are you committed to me? Is this an exclusive thing or are you pursuing other things? Am I first in your life?” Jesus wants to know where you are.
And if some of us are going to be honest, we’re going to have to tell Jesus, “Hey, Jesus. I really like you, but right now I’m not there. Right now I am not a fully devoted follower. Right now I’m not 100% committed to you.” Is it because we don’t want to? I don’t think that’s the case. I think the reason that we would have to say, “Jesus, I’m more of a fan than a follower,” is because we’ve fallen prey to casual Christianity.
It’s this sort of Christianity that says, “I will follow Jesus, but only when it’s convenient.” Only when it works in my schedule, only when all the stars align, then I’ll follow Jesus. But if it’s inconvenient, I cannot do that. So the actions of a casual Christian is, “I’ll pray when I have time. I’ll come to church if I don’t have other plans. I’ll read the Bible if I have enough energy. I’ll talk to Jesus if I really want something.”
But this is casual Christianity. It’s taking Jesus lightly. It’s taking Jesus only when it’s convenient. But the call of Jesus is not casual. The call to pick up your cross is not a casual call. Jesus has called us to be his bride; to be fully committed to him. It’s not just about going to church; it’s about being the Church, his bride. One of the ways to do that is by coming together.
When I took my wedding vows, I promised to love my wife in sickness and in health, for better or worse, in good times and in bad. And what I was saying is, “I will love you, honor you, cherish you, serve you, even when it’s not convenient.” And can you say the same thing to Jesus? Can you say, “I will love you, honor you, cherish you, serve you, even when it’s not convenient, Lord. I will make you Lord of my life, even when it costs me things. Even when it cost me my reputation with this friend group, even when it costs me something at work, I will serve you, and love you, and honor you, Jesus.” Are you there with him?
Verse 27 says this. Paul says… Oops, one page too far. Paul says, “To them,” the Church, the Lord’s people, “God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
I told you Jesus isn’t asking for a weekend wife. He’s not asking you to be just a committed follower on the weekends, Jesus is asking you to answer his call 24/7, to be his 24/7. And how is that possible? It’s possible because Christ is in you. Because wherever you go, he goes. When you go somewhere, he goes there. And so are you committed to following him in every situation, because he’s in every situation with you. Are you committed to a 24/7 relationship with Jesus?
The ecclesia starts as a meeting, but it continues and advances as a movement. That when we gather together, we are commissioned by Jesus to then scatter and go into our workplaces, our families, and be the Church, his hands and his feet, wherever we go. So this isn’t just something where you come and you be the Church here, you get to be the Church, you get to be Jesus’ hands and feet wherever you go. Are you committed to following him at that level?
I hope that you are. It’s not always convenient to follow Jesus, is it? But it’s always worth it. It’s always worth it to answer the call of Jesus. We’re going to read verses 28 and 29, and then you move on to Point 3.
Paul says, “He,” Jesus, “is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end, I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”
Point number three, the third way to live radically 100% for Jesus is this; daily contend for maturity. Daily contend for maturity. See, Paul says that he worked with all the energy that Christ was working within him to contend for the maturity of the believers, the Church, and also for himself. Paul was working hard with Christ energy to contend for maturity.
I recently received a pair of like the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells for my birthday, and I have great intentions to get super buff. I want to do it so I can like throw my kids in the air and impress my kids. I’d love to do that. Now the problem is great intentions never made anyone strong. Great intentions never made anyone successful. Great intentions never made anyone a better Jesus follower. Great intentions can only get you great intentions. They don’t get you any farther than that.
I think when it comes to following Jesus, I have great intentions. I have great intentions to be a prayer warrior. I have great intentions to be a faith giant. I have great intentions to be a love-slinging, joy-flinging ninja for Jesus, but what am I doing about it?
My great intentions won’t get me there. And when it comes to working out and pursuing Jesus, there’s many times where I think about, “Okay, I need to get up and I need to work out,” and the problem is I just don’t have the energy, or I just don’t have the time. And so I come to this great intention, and it falls flat because it hits the roadblock of my lack of energy or my lack of time, my busyness.
And the same is true for Jesus, when we have these great intentions to be this incredible Christian for Jesus, when we hit that roadblock of our energy and time, the great intentions fall flat, and we don’t do anything about it. And again, I don’t think this is because we don’t want to follow Jesus, it’s not because we don’t want to follow through on our great intentions, but we’ve fallen prey to a culture of Christianity that’s called childish Christianity. And that is the byproduct of consumer and casual Christianity, is the baby of those, it’s called childish.
And what we say when we’re childish Christians is, “I want to follow Jesus but I do not want to do anything hard. I want to do that, but when it becomes difficult, that’s where my great intentions fall flat and I don’t do anything about it.”
My kids, they really want to obey me. They want to please me. They want me to be so happy for them. They want me to be excited for what they’re doing. They want to please me, but they don’t always obey me. So I’ll be like, “Hey, Paxton. Would you pick up your shoes and put them away?” And he just runs away from me and doesn’t say anything.
Or I’ll say, “Hey, Paxton, Capri. Grab your plate and take it to the sink.” And they run away and I have to chase after them, and then I have to pick him up and hold him, and say, “Pick up your plate. Put it in the sink. Go have fun.” Right? They want to please me, but when things get difficult, their great intentions to please me fall flat.
And we can fall prey to the same thing with Jesus. We want to please him. We want to obey him. We want to follow him 100%, but when things get difficult, we just go, “Oh, it’s too hard. I can’t do that. I’m too busy. I don’t have the energy. I don’t have the time.”
But what Paul says is that, he is contending for maturity, not with all of his energy, but with all of the energy that Christ is so powerfully working within him. And what I have discovered is that, I cannot follow Jesus 100% on my own energy. Have you discovered that? That every time I try on my own energy, I will fall flat. Every time that my own energy, my own great intentions would propel me to follow Jesus with all that I have, I always fall short.
But Paul is saying, “Look, you don’t have to rely on yourself, you can rely on Jesus’ energy.” The same energy that rose Christ from the grave, the same energy that healed people yesterday, and today and tomorrow, the same energy that rose Lazarus from the grave, that is the energy that is working in you when you start contending for maturity.
But are you contending for maturity? Are you allowing your busyness and your lack of energy to keep you from doing hard things? Following Jesus is not easy. He never promised it would be easy. In fact, he promised suffering and persecution. But when you hit those things, will you contend for growth with Jesus? Will you contend for maturity?
See, we want to follow Jesus, but we want other people to feed us spiritually. We want to rely on someone else to hold us accountable, and we want to wait for Jesus to change us without any of our own effort going into it. That’s childish Christianity.
So three years ago I was at a mentor retreat, and we did this thing, it’s called a letter from God, where you take two hours. You go by yourself and you listen to God, and you say, “God, what do you want to tell me?” and then you write it out in the form of a letter. It’s a really powerful practice. So when I was doing this, I heard God speak one thing really clear to me. 100%, I was like, “This is God. I know he just said this to me.”
And he said, “Michael, if you want to thrive as a husband, if you want to thrive as a parent, if you want to thrive in your life, you need to get up at 5:00. And I was like, “Oh no, God. Not 5:00 AM. Please Lord, change it to 6:00, please.” And I was thinking like, “Man, if I don’t write this down, maybe like it cancels out…” I was like, “I don’t know how this works, but Lord, not 5:00 AM.”
I knew God said it to me, but for two years I ignored it. I knew He said it, but for two years I ignored it because I didn’t have the energy to get up at 5:00 AM. I didn’t have the time to go to bed early so I could get up at 5:00 AM. And so for two years I ignored it.
This last year though, I decided, “You know what, Jesus? I’m going to trust you in this as well. I’m going to trust you and see what happens.” So I started setting my alarm clock for 5:00 AM. Again, this is something Jesus said to me. He said to me, “Michael, if you want to thrive, you need to get up at 5:00.”
And so I started setting my alarm clock at 5:00 AM, and I’d get up and I’d get my coffee, and I’d start reading my Bible, and I’d pray, and I’d spend time with Jesus. And what I discovered is that I had more energy when I got up at 5:00 than when I slept in; that I was better during the day for my family, for my wife, for the people around me when I would get up at 5:00 and tap into the source of power that I could not do without. When I got up at 5:00, I was a better person because I was contending for maturity and Christ was working his energy in me all throughout the day.
So are you contending for maturity, or are you saying, “I don’t have the energy. I don’t have the time.” Jesus wants to grow you into a spiritual adult, a self-feeding, spiritual adult, who puts themselves to bed at the right time, who wakes up at… Jesus wants to grow you into a spiritual giant, but are you contending for maturity?
As we close, I want to ask you this reflective question. Today, what sort of Christian are you? Are you a consumer Christian, are you a casual Christian, are you a childish Christian? God wants to help you overcome the pull of Cultural Christianity and answer His call to be a fully devoted, committed follower of Jesus.
And here’s the more important question. What sort of Christian do you want to become with the help of the Holy Spirit? What sort of Christian do you want to become with Christ’s energy that is working so powerfully within you? What sort of Christian do you want to be when other people see you? Listen, friends. I’m not just saying this because like, oh, like, “We should all be better Christians. Hooray, Lambos and unicorns.” That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying this because the world needs fully devoted followers of Jesus.
The world needs people who are willing to say, “Jesus, I am 100% for you today. I’m 100% for you in this moment. I am ready, Jesus. Where are you going to take me? See, your family needs a faith giant. So become that with his power. Your friends need a prayer warrior. So become that with the energy of Christ that is working within you. Your work needs a super servant in Jesus’ name. So become it with his power and his energy that’s working within you.
Friends, this world needs us to be fully devoted to Jesus, 100% committed, because then we can be his hands and his feet, then we can be the ecclesia, the vehicle of his kingdom in this world. But will we contend for maturity? Will we trust Jesus that he can work his energy into us? I want to say, “Yes, Jesus. I’m trusting you today. I’m going to contend for maturity. I’m going to become what you intend for me to be, and I’m going to need your energy to do that in me. Are you ready? Are you ready to trust Jesus? Are you ready to say, “Jesus, you know what? I’m in. I’m all in, Jesus. Where do you want to go?”
What I love is that Jesus is excited about your future. Jesus is excited about where he’s going to take you. Jesus is excited for what’s next in your life. Jesus is excited for today and what he has for you. Jesus is excited for the next moment, because he knows that if you would step into it, that you would trust him, he would start working his Holy Spirit power into your life, and you would be the ecclesia. You would be the hands and feet of Jesus. You’d start living for more, not for less, and you would show the world the light, and the love, and the peace, and the hope, and the joy, and the Jesus that they need.
And so friends, the choice is yours. What sort of Christian do you want to become with his help? Would you pray with me?
Jesus, we thank you that you’re excited for our future. You’re excited for what’s next. Now God, help us to step into it. Help us to trust you. Help us to put you as Lord in our life. God, we don’t want to live for less, we want to live for you because you made us for you.
So God, we ask that today, you would empower us with your Holy Spirit, that you would help us to answer your call, that you’d help us to put you first in all things in our lives, God, so that we can see transformation in us, and through us, and around us, as Jesus, as you start spreading into the culture around us, so that culture doesn’t creep into our Christianity, but our joy, and our faith, and our love, and our Jesus creeps into our culture, Jesus. That’s what we pray, Lord, that you would empower us to be your hands and your feet. We pray this in Jesus’ name. And everyone said…
Amen. Friends, if you want to pray with someone, there’s going to be the prayer team up here. If you want to take a next step, go to the Welcome Center. Thanks so much for being here. We’ll see you next weekend.