Disciples Stay ConnectedSeries: Follow. James Dewhurst October 20, 2019
Disciples Stay Connected
Today, we are continuing in an 8-week sermon series we started a few weeks ago, called – Follow! Our weekly Real Groups are also discussing our Sunday morning messages in their homes each week. During this series, we have been talking about what it looks like to be Jesus’ disciple. It takes more than just believing in Jesus to make us a disciple. We’re not following until our believing becomes action!
True disciples of Jesus will follow, imitate and replicate everything that Jesus did!
We are motivated purely by love, to become a disciple and then to go make disciples.
Today, as we jump into the fourth message in our Follow series together, I want talk to us about one of the most important parts of Discipleship – Disciples Stay Connected!
How many of you have heard the new culturally popular phrase, “You Do You!”, repeated somewhere recently? This phrase has gained wild popularity mainly among “Generation Z”r’s (Those born after 1999). “You Do You”, which is just a modern rephrasing of the former phrase, “Just be yourself”, has become the slogan of the under 20 generation that prides itself on individual expression. It is the mantra of an entire upcoming culture that is telling the world that it is solely their right to decide and declare what’s best for themselves, and no one else has the right to infringe upon their choices.
Encouraging people to be uniquely themselves and to stand up for the right things is not only good, but it’s also even biblical. But that’s not what this is movement is saying.
While this mantra has done some good, in emboldening young people to stand up for what they believe in, the downside is it has narcissistic roots, and young people are increasingly making decisions based solely upon what feels good to them, regardless of collateral damage. The worst part is, self-expression has become an untouchable law!
YOU DO YOU, but don’t say anything about ME BEING ME!
The deep-seated belief in our culture today is that if people are allowed to completely express themselves, uninhibited, they will finally be happy and free. The problem is, self-expression and self-glorification only lead to self-absorption and self-centeredness.
The truth is, the more we focus on us the more broken our lives end up becoming.
Question: Isn’t “You Doing You” what got your life all messed up in the first place?
What started as a movement of individualism has developed into isolationism!
The former president of Asbury college stated – “Satan disguises submission to himself under the ruse of personal autonomy. He never asks us to become his servants. Never once did Satan say to Eve, “I want to be your master.” The shift in commitment is never from Christ to evil; it is always from Christ to self. And instead of God’s will, self-interest now rules and what I want reigns. And that is the essence of sin.”
The true answer to happiness and freedom is not to look further within ourselves, where sin and selfishness abound, but to look outside of ourselves to something greater!
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (ESV)
Self-expression and Isolationism is not the true path to freedom.
It’s a dead-end!
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (ESV)
Freedom is only found in Christ.
The world says happiness is self-expression, but Jesus says it is self-denial!
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (ESV)
When we surrender our identities to Christ and follow him we finally become free!
Disciples of Jesus not only find joy and freedom in Christ, but they also find it in the community!
> The world says, “YOU DO YOU!”
> The body of Christ says, “WE DO US!”
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (ESV)
1 Corinthians 3:8-9
8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (ESV)
What people don’t get is that when they sign up for Jesus they also get his bride!
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (ESV)
Jesus taught us that if we are going to be true disciples, not just Christians, we cannot live in isolation. Our commitment to God is lived out in relationships with others!
While not every culture is this way, our Western World has become very individualistic. We look up to Lone Rangers, try to be strong and self-sufficient and tend to walk alone. But the Bible tells us we can’t follow Jesus as individuals. We can’t claim to be disciples of Jesus, and then ignore the church he died for, created and commissioned us to carry!
It is impossible to obey what Jesus commanded, without connecting with others!
How can we make disciples by ourselves?
How can we love one another by ourselves?
The church is not a social club, a set of programs and events, or even a building. The church is a group of people committed to living and serving together to see life change!
The church is God’s strategy for reaching the world, and He didn’t make it an option!
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)
The word “church” is mentioned 114 times in the New Testament and comes from the two-part Greek Word “Ekklesia”, which means: to be called out from. What’s most interesting is that of those 114 times, 90 of those references were to group gatherings.
Disciples of Jesus have been called out from the world and connected to other believers to serve and be served, challenge and be challenged and band together in fellowship.
Regardless of how clear the Bible is about Christians staying connected, some insist on going it alone, or hopping from church to church, looking for the perfect place or people!
What if God never called us to go to church for us?
What if it’s for our neighbor?
I want to close with 3 invaluable benefits to being connected to God’s community:
1. People get to Know Your Name!
One of the most impactful human experiences on earth is the feeling of being known!
Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that “Before [God] formed you in the womb [He] knew you…”
John 10:27 (NIV) “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
The reason we love God is not that we know him, but because He knows us!
God did not create us to live in isolation, but to live in a community where we are known!
2. People help Carry Your Burdens!
Aesop – “United we stand, divided we fall.”
Galatians 6:1 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Billy Graham – “Church Members are like coals of fire. When they cling together, they keep the flames aglow. When they separate, they die out.”
3. People Challenge Us To Change!
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
The greatest catalyst for change is connecting yourself with challenging people!
Great closing quote: “Apathy is for cows, not for people.”
Ministry: Pray for people to take the leap to connect with Community!
Need Prayer? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org