To Lead the World We Must Follow Christ
Matthew 8:18-22; Romans 8:6-8; Luke 14:16-24
There is a question hounding us throughout
the majority of our lives. The question is stated in different
ways at different intervals of our lives. When we are young the question
is, “What am I going to do with my life?” In middle age we begin to ask,
“What am I doing with my life." If we fail to answer this question
properly we will come to a point in our lives where the question turns to,
“What have I done with my life?” Wherever you are, whichever question you
are asking, remember it is not too late to surrender your life to a higher
When the question becomes troublesome for
us to live with the call of the flesh is heard the loudest. It
calls many to max out their credit cards. Some find a new hobby to fill
the void. Some take up a new sport. Others seek new relationships. Some
look for a new job. A majority bury their heads in the television set,
which leaves them delusional.
We will never discover a realistic mission
purpose for this church until we have accepted Christ’s mission for our
personal lives. Christ must become the driving force of our lives.
The challenge for each of us is to conquer the fleshly desire to
live according to the standards of this world.
For the mind set
on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not
subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and
those who are in the flesh cannot please God. NASU
Have you been wondering why the world is
becoming such a deadly place to live? Paul gives us the answer—the
mind set on the flesh is death. The darkness sweeping over this world—over
the church—is the result of the darkness within the human heart.
Think about what has happened in the last
couple of weeks.
12 year old girl abducted and murdered this
14 year old boy killed his best friend in a
Two twelve years old boys dragged a 12 year old
girl into school restroom and sexually assaulted her.
This is the result of the world’s deadly
focus. Paul says the mind set on fleshly desires brings death. Our
fleshly desires refuse to summit to God, the flesh is not able to do so,
and furthermore the flesh doesn’t know how to please God.
23 I know, O
LORD, that a man's life is not his own;
it is not for
man to direct his steps. NIV
We live in a confusing world. We
may convince ourselves we are following Christ, when in reality we are
following our own selfish interest.
At the Heart of Following Jesus Is Surrender
The church is experiencing the result of
living in a dark world as leaders are wondering which way the church
should go. Should we stay where we are so as not to upset the
older Christians? Should we take a new direction to reach this new age?
Many see the church in a dilemma. The only dilemma facing us today is our
willingness to focus our lives and mission on Jesus Christ.
18 When Jesus
saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the
lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will
follow you wherever you go."
replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of
Man has no place to lay his head."
disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
22 But Jesus
told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." NIV
Surrender is at the very heart of
following Christ. Surrender is not a foreign concept. We do it
every day. Some surrender to temptation. Others surrender to drugs. Young
people surrender to peer pressure. Astonishingly, surrender always demands
total commitment for it involves yielding or handing ourselves over to
that which we are surrendered. We give control of our lives to whatever we
15 What then?
Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
16 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him
as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are
slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to
Surrender is not optional for we will
become slaves to whatever it is we obey. There are only two
choices—the flesh, or the Spirit. Whatever choice you make you choose to
give your life to it.
We should never worry about the cost of
surrender, for either way surrender will cost you your life.
There is no way for Christ and his kingdom
to come in second place in your life without it retarding the growth of
What Is the Drawing Force of Your Life?
Our lives are naturally drawn toward the
choices we make. Jesus was raised up on the cross to draw us to
him. The hardest challenge is to not allow our fleshes desires to draw
away from God.
replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many
guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those
who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.'
18 "But they all
alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field,
and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.'
said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them
out. Please excuse me.'
another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.'
21 "The servant
came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house
became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and
alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the
22 "'Sir,' the
servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.'
23 "Then the
master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make
them come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of
those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'" NIV
The Jewish religious people had already
been invited to the feast, but they were too busy with their own
agenda—they rejected the Messiah’s invitation. So Jesus turned to
those uninvited and compelled them to come.
Do you know how Jesus compelled the
multitudes to follow him—it was the drawing power of his life that drew
them in. He drew them into his kingdom because he was a great
leader with the heart of a servant. He focused on their needs.
Jesus exemplified what he taught in his
life. The last thing Jesus did for his disciples before he was
crucified was wash their feet. Do you know the first thing he is going to
do when we meet him in heaven? He is going to dress himself like a servant
and serve us as we recline at the table in his kingdom.
32 "Do not be
afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the
kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for
yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be
exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where
your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
35 "Be dressed
ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like men waiting for
their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and
knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be
good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I
tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline
at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good
for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the
second or third watch of the night. 39 But understand this: If the owner
of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not
have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the
Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." NIV
Jesus will be dressed to serve us when he
meets us. He will invite us to recline at his table. Do you want
to change the focus of your life—sell all your earthly goods? Sell them
and give the proceeds to those who need them.
When Jesus’ Life Becomes the Driving Force
What happens when Jesus becomes the
driving force of our lives? We will become as bold about our
Christian lifestyles as MTV was about displaying hedonism at half-time
during the Super Bowl. The sad part is it takes place every evening in the
majority of homes. It is hard for the pulpit to compete with such
performances. I can tell by our lifestyles that they are winning our
minds. Those people only live to please themselves.
They are proud of it, until they are afraid it will cost them revenues.
Our world is seeking a life of pleasure as
it seeks to avoid pain—it is seeking a life of hedonism. Hedonism
is totally a self-centered approach to life. We are seeking to believe in
our selves. We pursue our personal dreams. We create our own agenda for
life. We work hard with a determination to never give up. Many times we
are successful but miserable. It’s because we have missed our purpose in
I was speaking to a person in charge of
the Pinellas County schools athletic departments for the county Friday
afternoon. He said that he was surprised at what some of the
schools encouraged their teams to do to win. He said they are really not
winning when they cheat to win. I agreed that at the most it was an hollow
victory. Our world says win at any cost. When you have to cheat to win it
leaves an emptiness inside—or it should.
The world’s philosophy leaves us empty
because life isn’t about us; it is about God. There is something
from within each of us seeking to point us to God. It’s prodding is the
sharpest when we become successful but feel a great emptiness within.
Jesus Presents Leaders with a Dilemma
We need to study the scriptures so
thoroughly that we see the reflection of Jesus Christ in every passage.
The Scriptures will forever remain confusing until we can do this. There
is too much study for knowledge sake—we must study them until we see
Jesus. We must study them until we begin to live as Jesus lived.
The great leaders of the first century
digested the message of Christ for themselves until Jesus was reflected in
the way they lived. They knew there was no other way to lead
others to be committed to Christ.
When Jesus called the future leaders of
his kingdom they pulled their fishing boats up on shore, they left
everything on that beach and boldly followed Jesus. I have always
wondered what happened with all the fish they caught. Why didn’t they sell
them first? They had families they were concerned about and responsible
for. But they left it all and at once and followed Jesus. These are the
men who became great leaders in Christ kingdom—they were the apostles.
We need leaders like this to rise within
the ranks of the church today. You don’t have to have anyone’s
permission to lead. The apostles didn’t need the religious hierarchy’s
consent—in fact they considered them ignorant and unlearned, but they
turned the world upside down for Christ.
Just do it; others will appreciate it--as
long as you are doing it to build Christ’s kingdom. People will
know whether you are trying to build a church around yourself or around
Christ. They will appreciate you leading them to Christ. They will
eventually recognize you as their leader. This is the only honorable way
of becoming a leader in the Lords kingdom. If you are never honored as a
leader, continue to do all you can to serve others to bring them to
Christ. The Lord will honor you in the end.
If you desire the noble task of leading
God’s people—your desire should be revealed by engaging in the work of a
leader—simply demonstrate your desire. Let people see you growing
spiritually, let them see you are more concerned about their needs than
you are about getting your own way. If you do this God’s people will
eventually recognize you for what you desire to be.
1 Timothy 3:1-4
3:1 Here is a
trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he
desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the
husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable,
hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but
gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. NIV
1 Timothy 3:7
7 He must also
have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into
disgrace and into the devil's trap. NIV
Don’t worry about what others think, or
what others are doing. Simply rise to the task. Don’t be afraid
others will out do you as you seek to lead. You want those around you to
excel you. That’s when the kingdom expands. You can’t lead while holding
others down. You can’t hold others down without holding yourself down.
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith
in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than
these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in
my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for
anything in my name, and I will do it. (NIV)
Jesus is not afraid that he is going to be
out done, why should you be afraid you are going to be out done.
The humble are exalted as they allow God to be glorified in their lives.
We should be proud of this fact. Jesus says, "And I will do whatever
you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father."
When Christ empowers the weak, it glorifies God. He is more than happy to
glorify your sincere efforts.
Jesus knew his church would never go
forward until leaders from within his kingdom rose to the call of putting
first things first in their lives. Great leaders keep their eyes
on Jesus Christ; they are able to say with Paul, “Follow my example, as I
follow the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV).
The church really is in a dilemma today—it
needs its members to follow Christ. We need leaders out front who are
We need to remember our baptism was about
dying with Christ to arise out of the grave of baptism empowered by the
Holy Spirit to follow Christ.
If you haven’t decided to follow
Jesus—it’s not too late. You can come to Christ confessing his
name accepting Christ as Lord and ruler of your life as you meet him in
his death in baptism to have your sins taken away. Christ will meet you in
your baptismal death to give as the Holy Spirit is implanted in your heart
to raise you to a new way of living.