Our current series is Invited and we are walking though the DNA of our church these days by talking about our top layer Core Values: Obeying the Bible (Luke 24 Challenge!), Glorifying God (one of the ways we Glorify God is through our praise and corporate worship). JT taught about that last week. Don’t block the Shabach!! Glorifying God is all about making Him more famous than us - In ALL we do. The church is not about you, (or me or JT)...it’s about Him.
So, in this new year of preparation and transition, we are inviting you to join us in a life of relationship, discipleship, and mission. On the weekend of February 6, we will have a RSVP commitment time where we will Invite you to join us on this mission. We need to know who we can count on to be the church here, and who will be the core of our church for the future.
This is a commitment to start moving with us toward this, not a card saying you have arrived or you’ve got it all figured out. This is the starting line not the finish line and we accept you for wherever you start. We are just going to challenge you not to stay where you start!
Today we are talking about Loving People deeply and seriously. Let’s answer this by going to Mark 10…
First of all, we see The Petition. Mark 10:35-40 says, "Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
Now we see The Principle. Mark 10:41-45 says, "When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Whoever is greatest among you… It’s not about me – it’s about HE and WE. We are like the attendants for the bride of Christ. We do the hair, the nails, the make-up and cater to the bride. We are unseen servants putting others first and selves last. So counter culture!
It’s that Toby Keith country song, "I wanna talk about me! Wanna talk about me, wanna talk about I, wanna talk about #1 – oh my me my… What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see!!!!" Are you so self-absorbed with your agenda that you missed His agenda??
Now we see The Practice. Mark 10:46-52 says, "Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
So many blind folks around us if you look! Those in need of help and hope - and others who think they can see/are well, who need to have Jesus remove their spiritual blindness!
What was your condition when He found you? Some of us have been found so long we have forgotten what it’s like to be lost. How do YOU see people around you? How do you see the "blind Barts" of our world? The addicts, the prostitutes, the last, least and lost ones who have nothing together (and the one who seem to have EVERYTHING together). They aren’t just ‘those people’ you know. Those people are me and you!! And ‘those people’ are His people. They’re desired and loved by God.
When you see someone in need this week, what if you (like Jesus) stopped and acted. What if this week you heard the God of heaven shouting... “Hey YOU! Here’s your chance! God chose you to go love that person." The one with the scarlet letter, the track marks, the lame, blind, broken – the one nobody else notices...
When we look at people, do we show condemnation or compassion? James and John were the ones who made this original petition from which this entire teaching flowed… so maybe some background on John as I close.
John was the son of Zebedee and brother of James. James and John were fishermen with a reputation. In fact, their reputation was so well-deserved and known, they actually had a nickname – Sons of Thunder. You don’t get that nickname by being president of the ladies’ tea society. They were bad aaaapples… the kind of guys who rode around on Harleys and got in bar fights. You can maybe picture them coming into town with ‘sons of thunder’ neck tattoos.
So you can imagine how shocking it must’ve been when Jesus chose them to be two of the 12 disciples. Turns out Jesus is not looking for prim, proper, and perfect. He’s willing to choose raw, rough, and rowdy. STILL does BTW!
One time, Jesus and the 12 came to a town that didn’t receive them very well. James and John went up to Jesus and said, "Let’s call fire down from heaven to destroy these people." Let’s nuke 'em. Nice... But when you are a son of thunder, that’s how you respond to rejection. That’s how John thought, so that’s how he acted. Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind! But then something happened to John. Jesus happened to John!
He started spending time together with Jesus day after day, and after three years, John developed a different way to think about life and more importantly, people. Jesus told him if he wanted to be the greatest, he would have to be the least - the servant of all. So, John began to see himself not as a son of thunder, but a loving son of God. How do we know this? Because John started calling himself by a different name. Listen to what John wrote about himself in John 21:7 - "Then the disciple whom Jesus loved, said to Peter, "It is the Lord. He is no longer John the fisherman, no longer a son of thunder - he's the one Jesus loves."
We also know this because John went on to write 1 John, a little Bible book that only has a few pages at the back of your New Testament, but it includes the word love more than 30 times! 1 John 2:10,11 gives us an example…"Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them."
Some fascinating words from a former son of thunder! So much so, that by the end of his life, people started calling John by a new nickname – the apostle of love. Tradition says he would go around as an elderly apostle, hunched over on his cane saying to everyone who would listen – "little children, love one another. Little children, love one another."
If you will start spending time following Jesus (that’s next week’s core value/message) day after day something will happen to you, too. He will give you a different way to think about yourself and others. You will love your neighbor as yourself. You will, like Jesus, Love where you live. And you will realize in the process that you are not un-lovable - you are also the one that Jesus loves.
I’ve got a preacher buddy who didn’t grow up in church and needed to be reminded that he was not the one Jesus hates, but the one Jesus loves. So that’s why several years ago he decided to get tattooed - while he was preaching nonetheless! He got a tatt that showed to all his true identity and one he would never forget. Wanna know what his tattoo says - the one Jesus loves. Perhaps that will be the new identity for someone else here today.