The Walk - Week 2: Everyone Loves a Parade

Sermon Transcript

[Video]

Sometimes being a Christian in today’s world feels a little bit like warfare. We try to equip ourselves to rise above and to walk forward, but the bullets still come. Sexuality, greed, distractions, prejudice, cultural expectations, politics. And it seems impossible to walk the Christian walk when we’re just trying to survive. And everybody’s watching. What if our strength could be the catalyst for others to rise? How do we shield ourselves against all the temptations? Will the enemy ever cease fire? What does it take to walk the walk?

[End Video]

I want to introduce you to a term. It’s a sociological term. It’s called “collective effervescence.” I think you’ll naturally intuit what that means as I sort of talk to you about it. Have you ever been in a group of people, like maybe you went to a Hillsong concert, and everybody there is just worshiping and it’s like you’ve just never raised your hands before in your life, but you just felt like you need to raise your hand because everybody in the group was doing it? It was just awesome?

Or maybe you’re an introvert and you went to a football game for the first time, and, all of a sudden, you ripped your shirt off and started putting stuff on your chest. You’re like, “Why did I do that? What created me to do that?”

That’s called collective effervescence. It’s when a crowd gets going and we get moving and everything’s going and there’s a buzz and an excitement. We just sort of naturally go with it and we don’t know why we do, but we do. And maybe when you did that, it was not the greatest experience. Maybe when you were in college and you think back when you were in college and remember you didn’t study like you were supposed to study. And so, that test that was 10 o’clock the next morning, you decided to cram for that test. Anybody remember doing that?

What you did is you got together with a group of people — and why we did that, I don’t know, because they didn’t do what they were supposed to do either, or they wouldn’t be cramming. So, we’re with a bunch of dummies in a room, trying to cram for a test that none of us prepared. At about 2 o’clock in the morning, that collective effervescence kicked in and somebody decided it was a great idea, and the group decided it was a great idea, to go to Waffle House at 2 o’clock in the morning. And back then, when I was in school, they would smoke cigarettes and they would drop the ashes in your eggs and it was awesome. It was scattered, covered, smothered, diced and all that stuff.

And at about 10 o’clock in the morning, when you took the test, you were like, “I should’ve never gone to Waffle House at 2 o’clock in the morning. Or maybe the other way was like you were at the state fair. Everybody’s been to the state fair. And you went to the roach coach and they sold those elephant eggs. And you got in there and they deep fried those things eight times in four-year-old grease. And what they do is put some powdered sugar on top of it so you don’t taste it. And you’re sitting there just stuffing your face with elephant ears and all that good stuff.

And then, all of a sudden, after about the fourth one, the group kicks in, collective effervescence, and everybody goes, “Let’s go on Gravitron.” And you’re like, “Yeah!” And so, you get on Gravitron, and that thing’s spinning you around. Those elephant ears are burbling. You’re like, “God, I’m being punished for every sin that I’ve ever done. I’m on a toilet bowl to hell right now.”

You know? All that great stuff. And, you know, hopefully as we get older, we decide that we’re not going to just jump at everything a group does. But I say all of that to say that in Scripture, we have an instance where that collective effervescence has kicked in, and there’s a lot of people that are on a parade, because everybody loves a parade. They’re on a parade with Jesus and they’re walking with Jesus, but they’re not really walking with Jesus. I mean, they’re walking with Jesus, but they’re not walking with Jesus.

And He has to turn around and talk to them a little bit about what’s going on. And since we’re in a series called “The Walk,” this is a great passage to look at as we continue to move through the series. Now, if it’s your first time here or you missed last week, we’re currently in a series called “The Walk.” What we’re looking at is how can we as individuals, as a church collectively, how can we walk like Jesus, how can we walk with Jesus, how can we walk in a way that really exhibits Jesus to our families, our friends, our church and society and the towns here that we live in.

And so, last week I told you this, and I’m going to tell you again this week. There’s two main things that I want to do, and if I don’t do these things, then I’ve not done a very good job in this series. I want to inspire you to want to walk with Jesus. Maybe you’re in here today and you’re like, “I’m not really sure about all that.”

That’s fine. Just sit back, chill out because we’re a church here that you can belong here before you believe. We’re all good with that. We believe you hang out with us long enough, you’re going to come to know who Jesus is because we think Jesus is actively involved in our church. And so, we just want to inspire. And if you’ve been here for a long time, I’m hoping I can inspire you to go, “You know what? I want to walk with Jesus.”

Maybe some of you used to walk with Jesus and you’re thinking, “Yeah. I would like to be there again.”

It’s all good. I want to inspire you. But if I just inspire you, it’s not going to be as good because you need to be equipped. We all need to have tools in our toolbox so that we can walk this walk out, and it’s very, very, very important. So, when we think about taking a walk with Jesus — and last week we talked about sort of the complexities of what that means, and we sort of started to move towards this inspiration, and now moving to inspiration and equipping and all of this stuff. I think the next step is we’ve got to start asking the question, “Okay. Where would we go to find material of what it looks like to follow Jesus?”

And I think some of us may say, “Well, in the Old Testament, it really doesn’t mention Jesus,” although I think Jesus is in the Old Testament. And we could go to the epistles, and the epistles tell us things about Jesus. But really, to look at Jesus and where Jesus is at, we go to what we call the first four books of the New Testament. We go to the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John because they tell us about Jesus, they talk about Jesus, they introduce us to Jesus and we sort of need to go there and look at what’s going on.

Well, one of the difficulties that we have — and we talk about this a lot here at Grace — is the Bible was not written for you and me. It was written to you and me, but not for you and me. I mean it wasn’t written to you and me. It was written for you and me. It was written to a group of people at a specific time and in a specific place. And so, a lot of times we have to go back and sort of mine through what’s going on, go back 2,000 years and dig out some things. Because, a lot of times when we read Scripture, we’re reading Scripture, but it might not necessarily be what Scripture was really intending to say to those original people. And once we understand what that is, then we can start making application in our lives. And so, we’ve got to dig.

Much like I have a son, his name is Luke. We call him, in the house, he is our resident raccoon. Because he goes through every drawer, every closet and everything. He likes electronics. He walks around and he’s got a screwdriver, an Allen wrench, a pair of players. He goes into your room and starts taking apart your TV and everything. I mean, he — yeah. You all are laughing until it’s your TV. You know? It ain’t that funny. I’m glad you all are laughing at my expense.

So, what we do is because we know that he likes to dig through stuff, we get him these things called “dinosaur eggs.” They’re like clay and sand and he can dig through that dinosaur egg and inside is a skeleton or a dinosaur. He loves doing that because he loves finding things. Oftentimes, when we go to Scripture, we’ve got to dig through to really figure out what’s going on.

So, when we go to the Gospels, a couple of things are really important here. The Gospels are rooted in history. In other words, Jesus really got on a boat, He really lived in Jerusalem, He really — Mary and Joseph and all that stuff. It’s all historical. But they weren’t written to teach us history. That’s not why they were written. They were written to tell us about Jesus. They were written to tell us theological truths about Jesus. And we know that because the Gospels are carefully redacted documents. What do I mean by that? What I mean is that each writer set out to make a point to the congregation that they were writing to, and they assembled the material in a way that best fit their theological point. These are historical events, but they’re not trying to teach you history. They’re trying to teach you about Jesus and about who He is.

And Luke tells us that in Luke 1. You can go home and read it after service today. Luke 1:1-4. He tells you, “Hey, I took a lot of stuff and fragments and everything that people had written down, and I got it all together and laid it out. Then I started putting it together in a way so that I could make sense out of what is going on.”

That’s called redaction. So, they’re carefully redacted documents that were to be read and worked out in the community of faith. This is so important. The Gospels were written so that a congregation would get together, read the Gospel and then what they would do is they would say, “How does that apply to us? How does that work in our life?”

And we’re trying to do that in 2018. We’re trying to take the Bible, say, “What does it mean, and how can we work that out in our lives as Christians in 2018?”

And there’s all kinds of ways to do that around here. You can do it through service projects, through small groups, through supper clubs and through all kinds of stuff. But that’s what we’re trying to do here. And so, we’re going to have to dig a little bit to make sure that we understand what’s going on because this passage that we’re going to talk about today in many ways has been taken a lot of times to beat people over the head and really create some guilt and some bad feelings and stuff. And it’s not really what Jesus is saying, but He is asking us to think through some things.

So, here’s the way it works. In the Gospel of Luke, anybody who studies the Gospel of Luke, any good scholar, any good professor realizes in Luke 9 there is a pivot that happens. And Luke tells us he set his face towards Jerusalem. And so, from Luke 9 forward, it’s all about Jesus walking to Jerusalem. And as He’s walking to Jerusalem, a lot of people decide to walk with Him. It’s this collective effervescence. It’s like, “Jesus is awesome. I mean, He heals people. He says things that nobody’s ever heard before. He’s an interesting character. People really are astounded by Him.”

And so, they start walking with Him because they’re under the impression that Jesus is going to do what they want Him to do. That He’s going to conquer Rome when He gets to Jerusalem. There’s going to be some sparks fly and all of this stuff. He’s going to take on different people and all of this stuff. And so, the Jesus that they’re following, everybody’s sort of caught up in the moment, they’re caught up in the buzz of following Jesus. They’re walking with Jesus, but they’re not really walking with Jesus.

And so, Luke tells us in the middle of this, as He’s walking towards Jerusalem, He has to turn around and talk to the crowd. And let’s look at this and let’s see how it works for them and then see how it works for you and me.

Luke 14:25: “Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them...”

In other words, all these people were walking with Him, but they weren’t really walking with Him. And so, He turns around and what He says, many people take — I’ve heard people get beat up by this. I had some real questions early on in my Christianity, and I’ll explain that to you. It sort of sounds like a really, really tough statement, so we’re going to have to unpack this. We’re going to have to dig through those dinosaur eggs to get this.

“Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.’”

It’s like, “Man. That is tough.”

I remember when I first read that as an early Christian, I remember having a moment. I read that and I’m like, “I’m out. I’m out because I love my mom. I’m out. Yeah. I’m not going to hate my mom. I don’t know why He would want me to hate my mom.”

But again, I was reading it through my understanding. I’m not understanding what’s going on here or what He’s actually saying, because He’s not really turning around and being nasty to these people. He’s turning around to these people and having a moment with them, because what He’s really asking is, “What does it mean to be my disciple?”

He’s going to say that three times.

“You can’t be my disciple. You can’t be my disciple. You can’t be my disciple.”

What’s He saying? Well, first of all, we’ve got to get out of our heads this idea of what we think discipleship is in the American church. We think disciples are people that know a lot. That’s what we think. Put them in a room, learn and learn and learn, learn and learn and learn and learn, recite Scripture, learn how to pray and now you’re a disciple. Being a disciple is not about what you know. I know plenty of professors that know more about Jesus than anybody in this church, but they don’t know Jesus at all. It’s not about knowledge. It’s not about let’s get into a group and learn more Scripture. It’s not about that.

Being a disciple is very simple. Being a disciple is simply a follower of your teacher. That’s all it is. Now, you can become a mature disciple, but a disciple, at its very fundamental root, is someone who just says, “I’m in. I’m in. If we’re going to go over here, I’m in. I’ve decided that I’m going to follow you.”

That’s the deal. But see, Jesus turns it back on us because in John 15:16, He says, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you.”

He’s turning everything. He’s saying, “If you’re going to be my disciples, here’s what it is. If you’re going to really follow me — because, see, you guys are walking with me, but you’re not really walking with me. And so, we need to have a moment here. I need to turn around and explain what’s going on.”

And He says, “If you don’t hate your own father and mother...”

If you read that, you should remember in Ephesians 6, Paul says, “You need to honor your father and mother.” So, how can you honor your father and mother and hate your father and mother at the same time? What does that mean? Okay. The word “hate” is an idiom. This is why you’ve got to dig back sometimes to understand what’s being said and what these people would’ve originally heard when Jesus said it.

An idiom is this: I’m so hungry I could eat a horse. Well, you all know what I mean by that. You’d say, “Pastor Chip’s hungry. Somebody go get him something to eat.”

You don’t really think that I’m going to go outside and take down a horse. That’s not what you — you know that. I mean, you know that. Now, if you don’t know language very well, you might misconstrue that and think that I really mean I’m going to eat a horse, just like I’ve had people tell me, “Hey, if you don’t hate this and hate that, you can’t follow. That’s the way it is.”

And I’m thinking, “Man, who’s going to do that? Who can live up to this?”

What He’s saying is you guys have a definition in your culture of what it means to be a follower of Yahweh. And in their world, family was the thing. And different than us. Family was way different. Family was the unit. You didn’t make a decision. Like you and me, if we decided we want to go to the movie, we go to the movie. Some of you might call your wife and say, “I’m going to go to the movie,” but if you’re out during the day and you want to go to the movie, you just go to the movie.

Back in the Ancient Near East, back in the first century, you didn’t do anything unless the whole family did it. Nothing. In other words, if the family made a decision, the family made a decision. That’s why like in Acts 16, when the Philippian Jailer says, “Guys, what do I need to do to be saved?”

They say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, and your household,” because they know when they baptize the Philippian Jailer, the whole house is going to get baptized. Because you don’t act as individuals back then. You act as a family. Like, see, when you think of Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong is the last name of the family. “Un” and “Il” is the first name. Because, see, they have a different world than we do. The way they associate with family is so important.

What Jesus is saying here is, “Hey, listen. Guys, gals, are you following me here? Let’s just have a moment. If you really are going to follow me, if you’re really going to be in, there’s going to be times where this here is going to create a rub and you’ve just got to figure out where that allegiance is. Is it going to be to me or is it going to be to the things that are cultural in your life?”

Because they’re following Jesus because they’re nationalists. Man, they love Israel. They love their country. They want Israel to win. They want all of these things and they think that Jesus is for all that stuff. And they have no idea what He’s doing when He’s going to Jerusalem. The walk He’s on is completely different from the walk that they’re on because they have a Jesus that they have in their own image of what He’s going to do, and He turns around and says, “Listen. I’m not trying to be snarky. I’m not trying to be mean. I’m not even trying to be a jerk. I’m just saying hey, guys. Listen. If you really want to take this walk with me, you’re going to have to take a moment and just think through it. Not only that, but if you don’t bear your own cross and come after me, you can’t be my disciple.”

Now, we think of this and we go, “What does it mean to bear your own cross?”

I’ve heard people go, “Oh, I broke my arm last week. I’m just bearing my own cross.”

That’s not what that means. This is another idiom. Okay? Yes. Did people go and bear crosses? Yes, they did. Did people go and hang on cross? Yes, they did. Okay? But this is an idiom. Bearing your own cross means that when people got crucified, that was a public and open, shameful way of killing someone. And so, bearing your own cross became an idiom of saying, “You might have some shame and mocking and ridicule.”

That’s what it means to bear your own cross. So, what Jesus is saying is, “Hey, guys. You’re walking with me, but you’re not really walking with me. Here’s the reality: You’ve got some things that you hold onto real tightly, and unless you’re willing to let me be first, it’s probably not going to work. And if you’re not willing to be ridiculed a little bit and have a little bit of shame and some mocking, you probably aren’t going to be able to follow me. It’s just not going to work.”

He says, “You can’t really be the one that follows me if other things sort of get in the way along the way. You’ve got to sort of make that decision. You need to take a moment.”

And so, He says, “Hey, listen. Which of you desiring to build a tower? Guys, gals, listen. If you’re desiring to build a tower, who doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, whether you have enough to complete it?”

Now, this is important. This is actually humorous. Hard for us to see how humorous this us because we just think of a tower or whatever. No. This tower here is a self-defense tower. You would erect it so that you could see what was going on. You’re going to defend your family. You’re going to defend your land. You’re going to defend all that stuff.

He says, “So, hold on. If you’re going to build this tower, wouldn’t you sit down for a moment and sort of figure out whether or not you had the ability to actually complete this thing? Because, if you’ve laid a foundation and you’re not able to finish it, everybody’s going to laugh at you.”

Because, here’s the reality: They’re going to think, “This guy wanted to build a tower to self-defend himself? He don’t even have enough sense to know whether or not he has enough money to actually build the tower itself.”

He says, “They’re going to mock you. It says this man began to build and wasn’t able to finish. Guys, gals, you’re walking with me, but you’re not walking with me. Take a moment here. Let’s count the cost here. Or how about a king going out to encounter another king in war? Will he not sit down first and deliberate whether he’s able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? I mean, won’t you just take a moment and go, ‘I’ve got ten thousand. They’ve got twenty thousand. This probably ain’t going to work. We’re probably not going to be able to do this. It’s not going to work.’”

He says, “And if not, aren’t you going to go send a delegation when this other king is way off and ask for terms of peace? I mean, guys, you’re walking with me. Everybody’s excited. Everybody’s going to Jerusalem for their reasons, but I’m going to Jerusalem for a lot of different reasons. It’s not going to work out the way you think it’s going to work out. You’re walking with me, but you’re not really walking with me. And I’m not trying to be snarky, and I’m not trying to put a guilt trip on you and I’m not trying to do anything. I just want you to take a moment and realize that if you’re in, you’ve got to sort of be in, and if you’re not in, what’s going to happen is you’re going to get tripped up along the way, and somewhere along the way you’re going to be like the guy who built a tower and it’s not going to work out. Or you’re going to be like the guy who went to war and it didn’t work out because you didn’t stop for just a minute and think through the issues.”

Which is why He says, “So, if any of you doesn’t renounce all that he has, he cannot be my disciple.”

He’s not saying, “Go sell your house and sell your cars,” although maybe God would ask us to do that at some point. All He’s saying is take a moment and think through this walk that you’re on. And so, we’re talking about walking with Jesus. And, at some level, every one of us has to have that moment where we really are being asked by Jesus what would that look like?

So, here’s where I try to get real practical and try to take this stuff and make sense out of it and try to give you something that you can take home. But, in honor of my son, Luke, I’m not going to call this take-homes this weekend. I’m going to call this “digging through Luke’s dinosaur eggs.” Okay? So, that’s what we’re going to do here. And let’s work here on this.

The first thing — and this is you’re. The first thing: The walk, at some point, will elicit a “count the cost” moment from you and me. And it happens differently for all of us. A lot of people think that the only way people get saved is they’ve got to make that decision, it’s got to be right then and all this stuff. Listen, the disciples — just take Simon Peter. Simon Peter was a work in progress. He was even a work in progress even after the Day of Pentecost. I mean, in Galatians 2, him and Paul are arguing about what it looks like to be a Christian. But here’s the reality: The disciples saw Jesus, He did things, He healed people, He did all kinds of stuff. He healed people in synagogues, healed Peter’s mother-in-law. It wasn’t until they went out on the boat and had a big catch of fish that they dropped everything and followed Jesus. It was time. It was progressive.

But if we decide collectively — anybody in here, if you decide, “I want to walk with Jesus,” at some point — and it’s not a guilt thing, it’s just an honest thing — we’re going to have a moment where we have to figure out, “Have I really thought through what this looks like to follow Jesus?”

Because, if not, we’ll get tripped up along the way. We have to have that moment. And so, what I would say is when we put Christ at the center of our life — and I could put all kinds of other things around here. But, at some point, we’ve got to start asking, “Would not these things start to take on some different looks if I’m really a disciple and I’m really following Jesus? Would it possibly be that maybe I wouldn’t be putting things in my body that I’m putting in my body? Is it possible that I would be thinking in those ways? Is it possible that all of a sudden I went from maybe saying a prayer three years ago at a Thanksgiving dinner because we just said it to where I go, ‘Man, I probably do need to spend some time in prayer?’”

He changes these things. And what I would say is this: At some level, when we choose to not walk with God, haven’t we really decided that our way is better? I mean, at the end of the day there’s so many things. I mean, I talk to Christians all the time and everybody’s got all their little things that they’ve got. And they’ve got all their doctrinal positions and theological positions and all of this stuff. The reality is simply this. Here’s the reality: You and I know that the average Christian in America is about 300 Scriptures overweight. There’s 300 passages of Scripture that they know and they can quote, they just don’t do it. It’s like, “I don’t really like that. I don’t like that one and I don’t like this one either. Ooo, I do like this one.”

Okay? And, at some level when we’re walking with God — and this is just the moment. This is the “count the cost” moment. Aren’t we really saying — let me just be honest. Aren’t we really saying that we think our way is better?

Another question that we can ask diagnostically is in the network of the many loyalties that we have, will we allow our walk with Christ to not only take precedence over them, but also redefine them? I mean, it’s just a moment of taking a moment and saying, “Hey, what would it really mean to commit my life to Jesus?”

And so, that’s the first step. The second step, though, is huge. This is very, very, very important that we get this. The walk is not predicated on us getting everything right. This is so important that you understand this. It’s not about getting everything right. I mean, a lot of religious stuff makes you do that. So, you’ve got to follow Jesus, follow Jesus, and now you’ve got to get everything right. That is not what it means to walk with God. The walk is not predicated on us getting everything right, but on an active relationship with Jesus.

Big difference. Because here’s the reality. Look here. Jesus didn’t call us to a decision. He called us to a relationship. Big difference. A lot of people go, “Oh, I’ve said that prayer. I did the thing, but I’m going to do my own...”

No, no. Jesus asked us — the actual word itself, “to walk,” is an active engagement. All He’s asking is for you and me to walk with Him. He wants a relationship with you and me. He knows in that relationship that we’re going to be walking along and trip up and hit our toe on a rock. He knows that we’re going to get walking along and we’re going to go, “Oh, look at that,” and go over there in the ditch and He’s going to have to pick us up. What He’s looking for is an active relationship. That’s the whole predication of a walk.

And here’s the way it works. Like I’m in a relationship with my wife, Mindy. I love Mindy. I try my best to do the things that I can do to engender a great relationship. She does the same thing because we are actively involved in a relationship with one another. Which means that when I do something dumb — which frequently happens — or I just have a dude moment, she doesn’t say, “There’s the door. See you later. We’re done.”

No. Because we’re in an active relationship, she understands that we’re there. It’s not predicated on me getting everything right. It’s based on the fact that I am there and I am with here and vice versa. All God wants from you and me is for you and me to walk with Him. That’s what He wants. It’s not getting everything right, but we do need to take a moment to realize that if we’re going to walk with God, it probably ain’t always going to turn out the way that we want it to turn out. But we’re still committed to Him first in our lives, and we just want to walk along and have a relationship with God. And that’s so important.

The third thing that I would tell you — and this is the one where I hope you don’t hate me after this message. Maybe that’s an idiom. Love me less than you did before. You know? But this is the one where it really gets serious. This is the “rubber meets the road” moment here. Okay?

The walk entails us confronting cultural lenses. Listen: The reason Jesus talked about a tower and a war is because those people that were walking along with Him were figuring out how they could beat Rome in a war, how they could erect their towers to defend themselves. He’s not just choosing words for no reason. He’s very selective in what He’s saying. He’s confronting them at the lenses of their culture. What they’ve done is they’ve assumed that Christ is there to blend with their culture. In other words, He’s the best way to achieve their cultural goals.

And Jesus will have none of that. And so, what we’ve got to do is this: Will we allow our cultural lenses to keep us from the walk itself? These people are walking with Jesus, but they’re not really walking with Jesus because they’ve defined Jesus in their image by their nationalism, by their country and by their stuff like that. And Jesus will have none of those things. And so, the question I have is what cultural lenses might keep us from walking with Jesus?

And this is where it gets real for just a moment. It’s not going to be too bad. You know? I’m a good phlebotomist. I’m not going to be too hard here. Okay? I’m not going to be the one that keeps poking you 15 times to find the vein. Okay? We’re going to do it right.

But let me just ask you a question here. Just take a moment and just let God search your heart here. How about more? How about “more”? “More” ever get in the way of following Jesus? I put -er and -est because, you know, we like bigger and biggest. We like best, bigger and all that stuff. Faster and fastest. We like all those things. Is it possible that “more” could keep us from walking with Jesus in the fullness of what He wants?

I mean, we’ve created a whole Gospel in America where Jesus — you put 100 bucks in, you get 1,000 dollars back. You do this and God’s going to do all these things for you. That’s a cultural Gospel. That’s not what’s in this book, but that’s how easy it is for cultural lenses to get attached to us, and all of a sudden what Jesus does is He becomes the totem pole. He becomes, basically, the mirror image of what we want Him to be rather than being the Christ that confronts our culture.

What about sexuality? I mean, I’m reading around today and I’m going, “I don’t even know if...” — sexuality today is like Outback. There’s just no rules. It’s just right. You know? I mean, that’s the way it is. And, listen, the Scripture is very clear about sexuality. Where it should happen, what’s the appropriate place. It’s not ambiguous. It’s not a grey area. It’s Adam and Eve and it’s a marriage and it’s all of those things. And we’ve blurred all that. Now we’ve got people in church that have pulpits that are redefining everything in Scripture because culture is now trumping Christ and culture is now trumping Scripture. And what happens is we walk with Jesus, but we’re not really walking with Jesus. Right?

How about this? How about politics? I’m not going to stay there for a long time, but I do want to say something to you here. The answer to our country and our world is not Washington. His name is Jesus Christ. Right? I mean, that’s the answer. I’m just going to say here that some people let that cloud their understanding of Jesus, and they’ve got Jesus as a card-carrying whatever they affiliate with. And He’s none of that. He’s the king of Kings and the lord of Lords, and His kingdom is not of this world. Don’t get bogged down.

How about this? How about security? What would you do to secure yourself? Would you love your enemy? Would you turn the other cheek? Would you do those things? Is it possible that our desperate need for security and our desperate need to feel like we’ve got control of our lives — is it possible that those things could keep us from really walking with Jesus? Just asking the question.

What about success? What about “I”? “I want this. I want success.” Are these things that could potentially — that’s what this is all about. Jesus says, “Hey, listen. I’m not turning around and giving you a guilt trip. That’s not what I’m doing here in any way, shape or form. I just want to have an honest talk with you for a second. This isn’t me trying to make you do something that you can’t do. I went to the cross and died for you. You can’t get on the walk by what you do or how many checkmarks that you’ve got or how well you do this or whatever. The walk was paid for by what I did on the cross. To walk with me is free. But if you want to walk with me, and you really want to be in an active relationship with me, I just want you to take a moment and realize what that might look like and what that might entail.”

This is not Jesus giving us a hard time, and it’s not Him putting a guilt trip on anybody. It’s Him just having an honest dialogue with you and me. So, here’s what I would say: Everybody loves a parade. Everybody can get caught up in the moment. Everybody can. And we see it. You see it on Facebook. People caught up in one way. Other people caught up in another. And everybody gets caught up in that collective effervescence, but I want to walk with Jesus.

And I want to ask you a question: Don’t you? Don’t you want to walk with Jesus? And so, what that means is we just take a moment. As we’re talking about this as a series, for me to start going, “Okay. Now, let me help you out to understand how you can effectively walk this out better,” at some level, before we even start there, we’ve got to figure out, “Am I in or am I not in? Do I really want to walk with Jesus?”

And it’s not based on how well we get everything right. It’s based on whether or not we’re in an active relationship that, honestly, our heart is towards Him and He is the one that takes precedence in our lives over everything else. And sometimes that challenges. Sometimes we get that all wrong. But, deep down in our heart, we know that the thing that we want to do is walk with Jesus in our life.

And here’s the reality: Everybody here has a different journey. Some of you all are here today and you’re not walking with Jesus at all. And maybe you’ve never walked with Jesus and you’re thinking, “Man, maybe that’s what I need in my life.”

Well, this is a great message for you to start. There’s nothing you can do to earn it. There’s nothing you can do to pray about it to get in. There’s nothing you can give. It is a free gift that God gives to you and me. The Scripture says it very clearly that salvation is a gift. It’s nothing that we can earn. It’s nothing that we can work towards. It’s a gift. And if you want to get on that walk, it’s just a simple deal of, “God, I’ve been going this way and now I want to go this way.”

The Greek word is called “repent.” Metanoia. It’s a change of mind. I was going that way, now I’m going this way. It’s all He asks is for us to change our mind and walk towards Him. Maybe some of you used to walk with God and you’re hearing this today and you’re going, “Man, I’d give anything to get back on that trail again.”

Well, let me give you good news. God’s not only the God of second chances. He’s the God of third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth chances. I mean, He is. That’s who He is. He is a good God. Some of you probably need to bring all the bags and go, “Alright. Here they are. Pop. Let’s start walking again.”

And do you know what He’s going to do? He’s going to go, “That’s fine. I died for those bags. They’re gone. Let’s go. Let’s walk.”

You say, “Really? He’s that...”

Yeah. He’s really that good. He’s that awesome of a God. And then some of you may go, “Well, you know, I am walking with God, but, yeah, you meddled a little bit on some of the cultural things. Maybe I do need to have a moment of prayer today and say, ‘God, search my heart and find those areas in my life where I am allowing other things to get in the way from my walk with You.’”

And so, everybody’s going to be at a different place, but I want to pray for you, and then we’ll get out of here. Let’s pray. Let’s bow our heads.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You so much for the wonderful people here at Grace. I thank You for what You’re doing here. I thank You, Lord, for the church that You’re raising up. I thank You, Lord, for the impact that this local community is making on our local community. And so, Lord, I pray for three groups today. I pray for those that may have come in here and have never walked with God in their life and are starting to feel like maybe that is what I need to do. Maybe I need to start a walk with God today.

Lord, let them, at their chair right there, say, “God, I want to start a walk. Right now, I want to start a walk with You. And so, Lord, forgive me of the things that I’ve done. Forgive me of the things that I’ve said. Forgive me of the fact that I’ve sort of been walking my own way for a long time, but today, I want to change that. I want to start walking with You.”

And if you’re praying that right now, if that’s going on in Your heart, I just ask you to find somebody after church and let them know so we can get you plugged into some Next Steps and some classes and help you out.

I also want to pray for those who are in here today who go, “I used to walk with God, Chip, but I’m not walking with God right now, and I know it. But I want to.”

Well, you’re not here by accident. God is a God of grace and He says, “Come on. It doesn’t make a difference what you did. Come on. I died for all of that stuff. Just come on. Let’s get back on track today. I’m not going to beat you up. I’m not going to give you a guilt trip. You don’t need to carry all that baggage. I carried all that baggage for you. Just get back on the road here with me and let’s start walking.”

And then, Lord, I pray for those that, as we all do at some point, allow certain things to get in our way in our lenses that keep us from really walking with You. Search our hearts, Lord. Find those cultural things that we need to shed in our walk with You.

So, Lord, I pray that as we leave here today, I pray that You would watch over us and protect us, I pray that You would lead and that You would guide us. And I pray that You’d bring us back safely to when we meet again for Your glory and for Your honor. And help us, Lord, to continue to be the church that You’ve called us to be, reaching the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. We love You, we thank You, we praise You and we honor You.

In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.” Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. See you soon. God bless you. Have a great day.

John Flowerree