How about our creative team? And we so appreciate John and Miriam Flowery letting us take a peek into their life. No, I’m just kidding. They’re wonderful, wonderful people.
Also, want to welcome those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. And I’m going to do something here in faith. I really hope and pray that, mom, you will see this one day and realize that we were all praying for you.
That being said, we are in a series called “Hot Mess,” and it’s a five-week series. And what I like to do is I usually believe there’s atlas some visitors in every service, and people that maybe missed a week or two. And I don’t want anybody to feel like that they don’t know what’s going on. So, let me tell you what we’re doing in this particular series.
I started off at end of last year, as I started to plan out this year, I knew that right after we did our first series, which normally is about our vision and why we exist, and sort of resetting for what we’re doing for the year. I wanted to come right out with a series that I felt gave us an opportunity to experience God’s transformational power in our lives.
I am a firm believer that the more I live, the longer I pastor, the longer I teach as a professor, the more I just live, that the greatest sign of Jesus’ work in your and I’s life is not whether or not we can quote scripture, or tell somebody how they should view a certain issue morally or ethically. But it is the change in difference that people see in our lives. That we have moved from the way we were into a way that is different. The transformational power of God in our lives, when you look throughout the whole New Testament, is the thing that people notice, and want to know what’s going on in our lives.
And so, I wanted to have a series where we came out, and we talked about all of the great things that God could do. And so, the “Hot Mess” series is based on that. And it’s based on two major foundational issues that I’m not sure we all get deep within.
The first one is that Christianity is not a performance based endeavor. A lot of times we think that you got to believe the right thing, do the right things, act a certain way, and then you’re a Christian. It’s not based on performance. It’s based on relationship. The performance that makes you and me, the opportunity that provides you and me, the opportunity to come back to God is not what we’ve done. It’s what Jesus has done on our behalf.
And the second part that I think we need to understand is that every single one of us have issues. None of us are perfect. We need to learn to give ourselves a little bit of a break.
Now, that doesn’t mean we just continue to live however we want to live, but it does mean that we need to give ourselves a break. And I think when we understand both of those concepts it really starts to allow us to live a life of freedom.
And so, for the last two weeks I’ve really been trying to talk about this idea of God’s magnificent grace. I mean, it’s the name of our church. We believe in grace. The Greek word for grace means unmerited favor. We believe in all of that.
But what I want to do today, and I want to make sure that you all understand this, I am wore out. I haven’t had any sleep this week. I flew back late Friday, and tried to spend time with the kids on Saturday. And of course that was really tough, and challenging. And so, I’m tired. So, if I come across, in any way, shape, or form as snarky or as trying to put guilt on anybody, or whatever, chalk that up to the fact that I’m just a poor communicator, or chalk it up to the fact that I’m just tired. Because that’s not what I’m about.
As your pastor, I truly, from the bottom of my heart, want to see you walk in this church walk, and all of the things that God has for you and me. I literally put my hand on every chair once a week, and pray for every single person that will be in those chairs. That God will truly show up in their life. And so, if you’re sitting in a chair that’s what I pray. And I mean that.
So, I want to make sure that you know that there’s nothing here coming from me, because today’s message is weighty. As a staff we often times pray, “Hey God, read our mail. Just read our mail, and show us what’s going on so that we can become what You really want us to be.”
And so, if you feel like your mail’s getting read a little bit today don’t assume that I’m in a bad mood or something, okay? Just let God speak to you. Because what I want to do is I want to talk to you about something that is probably one of the most foundational of what I consider myself doing as a pastor. And that is helping people understand the wonderful grace of God.
And so, today, what I want to do is I want to talk to you about that. And I want to talk to you about how we can free the imposters that are in our lives. And we all have them to some degree. But to do that I really need to talk to you about grace.
And some of you all, this is going to be a little bit of a challenge for, but I want you to just allow it to be a challenge.
There are two sides of grace, and the first side meets us where we are. I mean, it’s just absolutely true. Jesus took tax collectors in, and allowed them to be disciples. He took zealots in, and allowed them to be disciples. He met prostitutes, and allowed them to follow Him. He met women caught in adultery, and loved on them. There is no question that the grace of God meets us where we are.
I’m often, sort of, surprised. I don’t go to the gym. The only thing I run from is my problems, but the reality is that a lot of people tell me, “I got a gym membership.”
I’m like, “That’s fantastic. Where do you go?”
“Well, I don’t go yet.”
And I’m like, “What do you mean you don’t go yet?”
“Well, I got to get in shape.”
I’m like, “Seriously? Is that where we’re at?”
But, you know, as a pastor sometimes I’m out, and I’m like, “Hey, we’d love to have you come to service one time.” And here’s the response I get often times. Seriously. I get this response.
“You know, I’m just not living right right now.”
I’m like, “Dude, that’s why you need to come.”
I mean, it ain’t a matter of getting cleaned up. That’s not the way it works. And God meets us where we are. And we really, really, really believe that around here. We believe anybody who walks in these doors needs to be loved on, and greeted, and all that good stuff.
But there’s another side of grace that often times gets discredited. Especially in the church today. And it’s the side of grace that doesn’t leave us there. There is a transformational power of grace in the life of those who follow Jesus.
And let me explain how we got to where we were. And listen, I’m not stepping on anybody’s toes. I’m not trying to be difficult. The people that did this, many of them were good people, and the issues were Biblical. But what happened in the eighties is the church decided that it wasn’t doing a very good job of infiltrating society, because it didn’t evangelize, which is what it was supposed to do. And instead it got, sort of, sidetracked and became a political institution called the moral majority. And we aligned with certain things, and we became these people that told everybody how they ought to live. Many of the people in this were good people, and the issues were Biblical, many of them. But the reality was it became, sort of, this checklist. “If you don’t believe these things, or do these things, or act this way then you’re not in.”
And a lot of people got tired of that, because they looked at the lives of the people that were telling them how to live and they weren’t living any differently transformed lives than the people who didn’t believe this stuff. And so, what happened was two things. A lot of people walked out of church. That’s why the church decline started, and it just continues to go in a road today. A lot of people stayed there. But the people that stayed in church, or went to a different church, said I’m tired of all that legalism.
And again, the people that were doing that, they were focused on this side. They were focused on this side even too much. So, people decided, “I’m done with this stuff. We’re going to the other side.”
And what they did is they went all the way over here, further, further, further away where God meets us where we are. And so, now if anybody even says, “Let’s go do something,” or, “Let’s go pray,” or, “Let’s go whatever,” they go, “Oh, don’t give that to me. That’s just a bunch of legalism and whatever.”
The fact of the matter is if we go to one extreme or the other on grace we’re going to be in danger. And it’s important that we understand this.
In fact, what I would tell you is this, and I want you to lean in here and listen to this. If you hear a Biblical verse that when you hear it it rubs you wrong, you have a problem. I’ve done that before in my life. I bought into so many things where, you know, a pastor gets up and reads something. I don’t like what he’s reading, because it doesn’t fit with what I want. That’s a problem.
What you’re doing is you’re reading into Scripture something that you want. The Bible should interpret us. We’ve got to fall at Scripture, and say, “God, no matter whatever it is, no matter it looks like, it can’t be what I want it to be. It’s got to be honest.”
And Paul, in a little known epistle, Titus, says it best. He says, “The grace of God has appeared…” – It’s come. It’s shown up. It’s here. – “… bringing salvation for all people.”
In other words, you didn’t have to clean up. You didn’t have to get right. None of that. Salvation came to everybody. You want to be a part. You want to be in. It meets us where we are. No question about it. That is true.
But Paul doesn’t end there. He says, “It trains us (us, us) to renounce ungodliness, and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
Both of these things are true at the same time, and what we tend to do is run to one end or the other. And what we see in Scripture is this: We see passages written to people that are going to one extreme or the other.
Many of us love the passages in the Bible like Galatians, and Ephesians, that are written against people that are trying to make faith something legalistic. We love those. We’re like, “Man, ‘It is by grace that I am saved through faith, and that not of my own. It is not of works, lest anybody should boast.’”
We go, “Yes.”
Ephesians 2:8-9. Bam. Right there.
Galatians. “You can’t be saved by the works of the law. It is by Jesus…” –And all that stuff.
And that’s awesome. And those are so true. There’s nothing untrue about those things.
But there’s also Scripture that’s written to churches where they presumed on the other side of grace. In fact, the writer to the Hebrews is writing to people who are trying to go back their former way of life. They’ve decided that the persecution and the heat that they’re under, they’re going to go back to the way that they were. And the writer says it this way. He says, “Work at getting along with each other and with God.”
And people read that like, “I don’t want to hear that part of grace. I don’t want to see that part of grace. That’s not what grace is about.”
Listen, you can’t go to on side or the other. These are tough passages, and you’ve got to let them speak to you. We have to let them speak to us.
“Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’re never going to get so much as a glimpse of God.”
You go, “Man, I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to deal with that.”
That’s because you’re focused on the one side of grace rather than the other side. They both are true.
He says, “Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: Trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing, but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.”
Now, the ESV, which is what I normally read out of, a very literal translation, says it as clear as day. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.”
See, these are true, and whether we like them or not they’re true. And it’s true that God meets us where we are. It’s true that we can’t do anything to get it. It’s true that God loves with a love that’s so beyond what we could ever understand. But it’s also true that when we become a Christian that God’s Spirit, who lives within us, gives us the ability to live a different life.
And you see that in a lot of people in Scripture. You see it. Everybody likes Jesus. Nobody has a problem with Jesus, right? So, let’s talk about Jesus here. Jesus says it this way. He says…There’s a crowd going on. You know, Luke’s taking here. He says there’s a crowd going on. There’s, you know, thousands of people, and everybody’s stepping on each others toes. And here’s what Jesus says. Listen to this. He goes, “But Jesus’ primary concern was His disciples. He said to them…”
Now, what’s interesting is when we read Scripture we tend to not think that it’s being written to people that are believers. We tend to read some of these things and go, “That’s just for people that are not like me.”
No. No. No. Jesus is reading our mail. He’s talking to His disciples. He says, “‘…Watch yourselves…’”
You go, “I don’t like that part.”
Again, you can’t pick and choose what you like. It’s both are true at the same time.
“’Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness.”
“Don’t get caught up in that, guys. Guys, lean in here. A lot of people are around. Everybody’s… It’s a big crowd. I want you to listen to Me. You’re my boys. Listen to Me. Don’t get caught up in this stuff, because… – “‘You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask…’”
Now, Eugene Peterson, who’s the guy that wrote the Message translation, he’s got this really right. The word hypocrite, which we see in Scripture, comes from a Greek play term. And it’s when somebody would go out on stage and put on a mask. And as they put on a mask to play a part that became a negative term later on in Greek culture. That you were putting on a mask, and you were not being your true self.
He says, “‘You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask is going to slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public. The day is coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.”
It’s like, man, that is some heavy stuff. It’s like, “Can we just move on from that? It’s tough now. Can we move on?”
No. We can’t move on. We got to let this settle in.
Paul now is more verbose than Jesus. You know, Paul likes to use a lot of words. He’s a rhetorician. Jesus was sort of just a simple teacher. He made real clear sense. Paul likes to talk big words.
This is what Paul says. He says, “Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be…” – And so, when we see this we go, “Yeah. That’s the way the world’s going to be.” No. No. No. No. No. Paul is writing to the church. Not writing to the world. He’s writing to the church.
He saying, “Hey, I’m the biggest proponent of grace. I’m the biggest proponent of telling you that God meets you where you are. But let me tell you something, you’re missing it completely if you think that He leaves you there.”
That’s why in Romans six he says, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? May that thought never even enter your mind.”
Because even though grace meets you where you are it doesn’t leave you where you are.
He says, “As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse.”
It’s like, “Could you just stop, Paul. Please? Could you just stop?”
Oh, no. No. No.
Some of y’all think I go long. Paul went long so long one time that a guy fell asleep, and fell out of the window and died, okay? So, his name was Eutychus. So, seriously, the only difference is if somebody fell out of the window here they probably wouldn’t die. Which is good, because then I could resurrect them. This guy fell out a window and he died, and Paul resurrected him.
So, anyway, “…crude, coarse…” – He’s not done. – “…dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags…” – You’re probably thinking that’s what I am right now. – “…addicted to lust, and allergic to God.” – Listen. Lean in. – “They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.”
See, what Paul is saying is, “Hey guys, Jesus could not meet you more where you are.”
Jesus says the same thing. “I love everybody. I came for everybody. But if you think I came just to give you a bunch of love you’re missing the holiness part of who I am.”
See, love without holiness is infatuation. Holiness without love is legalism.
It’s both, and often times, because we want to only center one side, we don’t allow the truth of the Gospel. See, the Gospel is, sort of, difficult to understand, because we say Jesus was God and He was man. We go, “How does that work?” Nobody knows. That’s just the truth.
You go, “Well, is God sovereign? Is man free?”
Yeah, both of those are true.
And you go, “Well, no. I don’t want that. I want to go to one side or the other. Was the Bible written by people or is it the Word of God.”
And you go, “Well, I don’t like that. I want to go one side or the other. Is grace loving, and kind, and meeting me where I am? Or is it transformational and changing me?”
And you go, “Well, okay. That’s tough.”
Yeah, because this is where faith comes in. This is where we just got to buy in. God’s ways are beyond our ways. It’s not going to make a lot of sense to people, because God doesn’t ask us to have knowledge. God asks us to have faith. Big difference. Big difference.
So, what we’re seeing here, and this is the rub for all of us, is that people who love God, people who follow God, can be an imposter. They can say all the right things, and do all the right things, but they can be an imposter by focusing on one or the other. And an imposter is simply a person who deceives others by pretending to be someone else.
We saw that right in the bumper video. Many of us have done that. If you haven’t done it, you’re not being honest. We’ve all done it at some point. We’ve been in the middle of something and then turned it on. And it really wasn’t who we are. And we were living the life of an imposter.
Now, as a Christian, and as a pastor, and as a professor, what I’ve found is two major areas in our lives in the church where we are, what I call, the Christian imposters.
One is an outward thing that we do, and one is an inward thing that we do. And I think all of us are going to relate to this. All of us are going to have these areas in our lives, but what God wants for you and me, He wants to free these things out of our lives.
Listen to me. I want you to lean in here and listen. And if you’re listening online listen in. This is so important. The Bible is very clear that the place that we come to worship to, the church, James says it this way. James says, “Confess your sins. One to another.”
In other words, share your faults, one to another, that you may be healed. The word “you” in the original language is plural. It means by me sharing my deficiencies we all get healed.
Can you imagine if the church was a place where we could be open and honest, and share our struggles without fear of judgment, without fear of criticism. If we were a place that loved, and accepted, and encouraged, and uplifted, people would beat the doors down to get in here, because that’s what people are looking for. Honesty and genuineness.
The first one is the inward imposter, and the inward imposter, we’ve all done this before, we don’t want to be found out. We don’t want anybody to know what’s going on in our lives. We don’t want anybody to know those particular things. And so, we put on the show.
And we’ve taught it in the church. This is what we do. We go, “Hey, look at this family.” We bring the family up front, and they look pretty. The husband’s in good shape, and everybody’s tan. And the kids are dressed really good. And they all go, “Yes. Praise the Lord.” And all of us go, “There’s no way in the world I could ever be that. And if that’s what it is then I got to put on a show, because I can’t be that.”
Or you leave the church, because you’re tired of seeing imposters.
Listen to this. The people that leave the church have more ethics and morality than those of us that play the game. Let that sink in.
The inward imposter doesn’t want to be found out.
Steve Brown, great, great man, says it this way. He says, “The reason we aren’t honest is that we are playing a game called let-me-show-you-that-I-am-a-good-Christian and the game’s killing a lot of Christians who’ve left the fellowship because they simply couldn’t play the game anymore.”
I put it this way: As a general rule, we would rather work ourselves to death and hide the mess than undergo the painful and humiliating experience of allowing the truth to come out.
Listen, I want to tell you, as your pastor, not one person in here doesn’t have an area of struggle. Not one person in here doesn’t have areas where they’re deficient. We have got to get to the place that when someone comes and says this is what is going on in my life, we need to be encouraging. And we need to be loving. And we need to be compassionate towards them, because our day’s coming, and if we don’t create a place where people can be forgiven, and the grace of God can meet people where they are, we’re never going to create a place where the grace of God can transform us, and not leave us there. We’ve got to get rid of the inward imposters, and it starts with you and me.
You know, I’ll be honest. I was in the ICU, the critical care unit in Asheville. My mom had to be flown from Silva to Asheville because of the situation. And here I am, supposed to be the pastor, you know. A man of faith, and all of those great things. Going in I’m trying to be a pastor to my dad, and a pastor to my brother. You know, hold it together and be strong. I’m not holding it together at all. And I’m thinking what a wreck I am. And God’s saying to me, “Son, you ain’t got it together. The only one that’s got it together is My Son. You just need to be honest, and these are situations where things hurt.”
And so, here I am, doctors come in and say bad stuff. And I’m like, “Oh, that’s terrible. End of the world.” You know, and all this stuff. And here comes one of my family members in, and I’m being a little facetious, but she probably couldn’t even find the Gospel of Mark in the Bible. That’s about the way it was.
She comes in. She goes, “What are you all down and out about? Don’t you know God’s a God that can heal? Don’t listen to the afternoon shift at the hospital. They’re the dumb ones. They’re the ones that don’t know.”
You know, and I’m sitting here going, “Man, what an imposter I am. Yeah. I’m not even a pastor. My name’s Chip.”
You say, “Why do you tell us that?”
Because I want you to be able to feel free to share your faults here. We all got them. I got them, too. Don’t be inward imposters.
Here’s the next one. The outward one. Same thing. It’s pride. Pride doesn’t want anybody to know, and then here’s the other one. The outward imposter, they got to be right on everything. You know when you’re an outward imposter is when you get frustrated when people aren’t listening to what you’re saying to them. You’ve made that issue an idol.
I call them the “Pitbull for Jesus.”
Come on, now. Some of you have been that. I’ve been that.
Let me tell you how this happens. I’m going to tell you how it happens. Here’s what happens. This can be simultaneous, or it can be subsequent to one another. But what happens is we come to faith, we come to understand who Jesus is, we love Him. And it might be simultaneous, where we have a massive, massive life change right up front.
Or it may be that we’ve known Jesus, and things weren’t working well. And maybe we got ahold of another book, or a DVD, or something that we felt like really changed our lives, and now we want to tell everybody about it. When they don’t listen to us we get upset and frustrated, or whatever.
And what happens is, whether it’s something that happened simultaneously or whether it’s something that has subsequently happened in our lives, we get to a place where that issue, or that thing, or that moral thing, or that doctrinal thing, or that theological thing becomes, sort of, our issue. And we become a pitbull at that point for that stuff.
And here’s the deal. We fail ourselves, and the church, and we fail the world when we don’t make sure that the main thing that we do is Jesus. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues that matter. And that doesn’t mean there aren’t Biblical truths. But what happens is when we get on our high horse, and we get focused, and we get frustrated when people aren’t listening to us what happens is we’re being mostly true to Scripture. We’re just not being true to all of Scripture at that particular point.
And you know why? Because the Scripture says that we shouldn’t be quarrelsome. Hello? Some quarreling Christians. I’ve seen it before.
“Chip, what do you think about Genesis six? Who are the Sons of God?”
I’m like, “I don’t care.”
They’re like, “Well, yeah, but you got to care. You teach theology. You do this stuff. Whatever.”
And I’m like, “Look, dude. I just believe in Jesus.”
“Well, that’s not enough. I need to know what you believe about Genesis six to figure out if you’re a Christian or not.”
I’m like, “Give me a break, man. Seriously?”
We’re that bad off that people go, “If you don’t the Book of Revelation the way I do you’re not a Christian.”
I’m like, “Really? You got to be on crack to understand Revelation.”
You know? Give me a break. Seriously.
People go, “You don’t believe the Bible.”
No. I don’t read it the way you read it. I believe it.
What happens is many times we got all on our high horse. We’re true to Scriptures. We’re trying to be honest, but we’re just not true to all of it. What about being patient? What about being kind? What about all those things? We got to stop being inward and outward imposters.
Now, here’s the great news. Get out your sheet of paper. These are the take-homes. This is the stuff that’s going to make you feel really, really good. This is going to help you out. This is practical stuff. Get a sheet of paper. Write them down. I’m going to do my best to hold them. Everybody says, “Man, you go through these things so fast.” So, I’m going to do my best to go through them in ten seconds, and see how fast you can write. I’m just kidding.
But the take-homes here. The first one, and this is hopefully good for all of us.
We all have areas in our lives where we’re imposters.
Give yourself a break for a moment. We all have them. Every single one of us. Every single one of us has inward imposters and outward imposters. We do. What God doesn’t want is for us to become a full fledged imposter, because that is not understanding grace.
And for those of us who are sitting here today going, “Yeah, you know. Some of this is true. I do get that way sometimes.” Let me share something with you. God is so much greater than mine and your issues, and struggles, and difficulties. Give yourself a break for a minute. That grace that transforms also meets us where we are, and thank God it does. Because if it didn’t we would all be in trouble. If it were based on performance none of us are getting in. I can assure you of that. We all have areas.
But let’s don’t just sit there, and stay there. Let’s go to the second one here.
When we tend towards being an inside imposter, and many of us do from time to time, we don’t want to be found out, don’t want anybody to see anything, we need to realize God already knows. He already knows.
You know, we play a game around my house called hide-and-seek. Many of y’all probably played it with the kids, too. And my kids will go get behind a chair, like this, and stand there, and act like I can’t see them. Like the chair’s hiding them. It’s like, “I can see.” And so, what I do is I play the game. You know, “Oh, I wonder where so-and-so is?” And they’re smiling, because they think they’re being hidden. They’re not being hid. I see them.
Listen, you’re not hiding anything from God. God already knows what’s going on. And you know what the beauty of it is? He knows everything that you and I’ve done, and He says, “I still love you. I still love you. All of it. The good. The bad. All of it. I love you.”
And so, don’t hide.
In fact, here’s what Scripture says. I’m going to read out of two different translations, because I want this to sink in. Because I think this is really the heart of the matter here when it comes to us just being honest with God.
You know, John says that, “If we confess our sins…” – The word confess is a compound word in the original language, and it means to speak the same thing. That’s what it means.
Anybody ever done what I do and say, “God, I shouldn’t have done that thing last week.” That’s not confessing. That’s just lying to God.
No. “God, I shouldn’t have said this to my wife.” That’s being honest. God just wants us to come clean. And here’s the beautiful thing. God loves us so much. It’s like, man, if we’re honest with God, listen, “…He is faithful.”
It’s not like God’s going, “No. No. No. I don’t love you.”
“He’s faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
He’s a faithful God. I mean, aren’t you glad God’s faithful? Because if it was based on my faithfulness I’d be in trouble. It’s based on God’s faithfulness.
Listen to the Message translation. I love this. “On the other hand, if we admit our sins – make a clean breast of them – He won’t let us down;…”
Man, thank God God’s not a God that ever lets anybody down. He doesn’t let us down. “He’ll be true to Himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.”
In other words, when we tend to want to be inward, just be honest. God’s already there for you. He’s already made ways for all of us. We just need to be honest at times. And sometimes those confessions come in the body. Sometimes we need to share it with other people. And I can tell you this. If we were a place where everybody could come in here, and say here are my struggles, here are my doubts, here are my problems, and you really felt like you could do that, man, we would have a powerful local body. Because you can do it with God, you should be able to do it in His church.
Third. When we tend towards being an outside imposter we just simply need a dose of, what I call, reality humility.
Here’s what I always say. I have friends that say I’m a theologian. Here’s my definition of a theologian. When an accredited school pays you to teach theology you’re a theologian, okay? That’s the way I look at it. You can think you’re a theologian. When you get paid to do it you’re a theologian.
So, here’s the deal. I’m a theologian, and I can tell you this, and I want you to hear me, and I want you to hear me clearly. Probably about a third of everything I believe is wrong. I just don’t know what third it is that’s wrong so that I can get it right. Follow what I’m saying? It’s not like I’m trying to be wrong. It’s not like I’m trying, but I’ve changed my mind so many times. I’ve changed my mind so many times that I’ve just learned, you know what, all this stuff that we argue about, and cling to, and, you know, get mad about, man, just lay it at the cross. Lay it down. Lay it down.
What people need is not Genesis six. People need Jesus. It’s what they need. We need a dose of reality humility. When we get issue focused, and all of that. “Oh, I know what the Bible says.” You know what, be careful. You might find yourself changed sometimes in your life. And when you change enough you start to get a little humble. And I’ve changed my mind a lot.
Here’s the dose of reality humility that I think all of us need to hear. Look up here, because this is just like the moment where we all go, “Whoa.” The Pharisees knew the Scripture better than just about anyone, and they hated Jesus.
See, let that sink in.
I can hear people running home. “Bennett says don’t read the Bible.”
That’s not what I said. What I said is that we can get so caught up in trying to be right that we miss the beauty of who Jesus is. Just don’t do that. Let’s don’t do that.
And lastly, and this is just beautiful. Especially at this time in my life, and where I’m at. It’s the fourth point. It’s that by freeing the imposter, or the imposters in our lives, we give God an opportunity to work through our weaknesses. We all have them. Everyone of you. And maybe you went to a church, and they told you that you had to be strong, or whatever else. You can be weak. You can be like me. I question things and doubt things. I love God. I know I’m going to Heaven, but it’s okay to be weak. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to say I don’t have it all together. It’s okay to say hey man, this week’s been tough. You know, I’ve had my ups and downs, and seeing my kids cry hurts.
And asking God. I go back and I say, “I know I told the congregation not to ask ‘why’. Ask ‘what’.” And it’s like I’m asking “why” all day long. I didn’t listen to a thing I said when I preached it, you know.
You say, “Why would you tell us that?”
Because I want to create an atmosphere in the church where we can be honest to free the imposters in our lives. That God’s grace is so great, it’s so two-sided, it’s so transformational in its very nature.
You know what’s great is the more vulnerable I became the more the people that were in the ICU were interested in who I was and what I church pastored. Because you know what people can relate to? Not strength. They can relate to weakness. Let’s be vulnerable enough to do that.
Let’s bow our heads.
With your heads bowed there, just take a moment if you’re here today, and maybe if you’re watching via the internet or mobile app, and you’re going, “Man, I’ve been living my life on my own. I really want to live it for Jesus.” Then, make that commitment. Just ask Jesus to come into your life.
Say, “God, I want to follow You.” Find somebody, if you’re watching via the internet or mobile app, find somebody that you know is a Christians, and get involved in a local church. Or if you’re here, find a staff member, somebody with a badge, and say, “Hey, I want to move forward with this. I want to get into classes to learn more, and get baptized.”
But for the other people here today, with your eyes shut, just take a moment to be vulnerable with God. Let’s take a moment and commit together as individuals that we’re going to be a real authentic church that’s sick and tired of being imposters, and sick and tired of trying to make it look like we’re better than we are. That we can just be vulnerable and weak, and we can talk about the greatness of God. Not the greatness of our self.
Let me pray for everybody.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for this church. I thank You, Lord, for being here today. I thank You, Lord, for being able to preach at a difficult time in my life. Lord, I thank You that when we go to the bottom we find that the bottom’s solid, because You are there with us.
Lord, I just pray that You would help us to be a place that’s open, and vulnerable, and honest before You. To be an authentic church that You’re pleased with. Lord, so that, not only those that attend here have a place that they can grow, but, Lord, those that might walk in here and be amongst us would realize that, man, this is an authentic place. They’re not putting on a show. They just really love Jesus. Lord, let that be the case.
Lord, I pray that You would birth a movement here in Lakewood Ranch. Birth a movement, Lord, that changes the way that people think about Christians, and church. Lord, help us to be open and honest. Help us to be freed of the imposters that we have in our lives, for Your glory.
And Lord, I pray that as we leave today, that You would watch over us and protect us. That You would lead and guide us. That You would bring us back safely to when we meet again. And Lord, I pray that You would help us to continue to reach out to other people. To bring them, too. Lord, let this church make it hard for anybody to go to Hell in Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota, because, Lord, we know the good, wonderful Gospel of Jesus Christ. That He came for people like us.
We love You for it in Jesus’ name. And everybody said amen.
Give the Lord a big hand clap, and tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. Have a great day.