Christian motivation and Christian living (Sunday Sermon)

It is a bit of a rush job today, because I am going to be away from the computer for a few days. And so here is an unedited, mistake ridden, but still readable (hopefully) Sunday Sermon transcript.

For this sermon you will need to read Luke 6:12-38

The Sermon

Let’s face it, Christianity is a bit confusing. More specifically the confusion comes after actually becoming a Christian. What are we meant to be doing after we believe? What does being a Christian actually look like? What do we do, how does our life change, does it change?

I think if we read the scriptures enough, it is fairly clear that becoming a follower of Jesus does have significant ramifications for our lives. But what are they? Now I think here, there are some usual answers.

One thing is that we are to witness about Jesus, we’re to tell our friends about Him and what he has done. We are to go out into the world and make disciples in all nations.

But what does making disciples actually mean, does it just mean making converts, people who accept Jesus into their heart and nothing else, people who get the free ticket to heaven and stick it in their back pocket for a rainy day? And to that we answer no.

But what does a disciple look like? Well we say, a disciple should grow in their relationship with Jesus; they should read their Bibles every day, they should have a morning quiet time, they should go to Church on a Sunday, and if it’s possible they should attend a small group, and finally if they’ve really made it as a christian then they should go on the roster at Church?

But is that it? coming back to our first question, is this what we’re meant to be doing after we accept Jesus into our heart? Is this what being a Christian is all about? No, no it isn’t. Now don’t hear me wrong, these things are a part of being a Christian, but they are certainly not the whole thing.

And so then again we ask what are we to do after becoming a Christian? And as we’ve just seen our scope is a fairly limited one. We’ve turned discipleship into a kind of personal piety, with church attendance thrown into the mix.

And so our scope is too narrow, but it also seems our motivation is confused as well. What motivates us to be disciples? What motivates our personal piety and Church attendance?

In answering this question I want to offer two alternative suggestions.

The first motivation for our discipleship is fear of God. We can be so afraid that this Holy and Righteous God will smite us if we step out of line. And so we make sure we read our Bibles, we make sure we go to Church, and we make sure we go on the roster, because if we don’t then we’d better beware. God is going to get us.

So if the first motivation is fear, the second motivation is Getting what I want from God. We may say, or at least think, God if I do this for you then you can help me get this. God if I read my Bible for the next week, everyday, then can you let these lotto numbers be the winning ones.

God, I’ll go on the church roster, but only if you make that speeding fine disappear. The worst part of this motivation is that, if something doesn’t happen, then we become really angry at God. We think God owes us something. We say, “I kept my end of the bargain, why didn’t you keep yours?”

And so there are just two motivations for our discipleship. And this is where the confusion comes in, which one is right, are any of them right?  Now, let me just say that these are not the only two motivations that we as Christians have.

People are motivated to read their Bibles and Pray because they want to grow in their relationship with God more, and that’s a noble motivation. However, it seems, that these two that I’ve just mentioned are often the most common motivations.

Let me just at this time also throw into the mix a wrong motivation for not  being pious, or good. And this is the motivation of Works and Grace. People who hold this view believe that if they do good works then they are actually taking salvation into their own hands, and so they don’t do it.

If I do good then I am making Jesus and his grace redundant, and I don’t want that so I will just live a sinful life, and get full value out of Jesus’ death and free grace given to me. And to that the Apostle Paul says in Romans 6:1-2. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!”

So it seems that what we do as Christians after we believe is somewhat narrow in scope, and secondly it seems our motivations are also at the best confused and at the worst sinful in themselves. And so what is the alternative? What should our motivation be, and what should we be doing as Christians, how do we widen our scope.

To answer these questions we need to turn to the beatitudes or blessings in Luke 6. Now before we go into the details let’s quickly outline Luke 6:12-38 because we have a few things going on.

Firstly Jesus chooses his twelve disciples, secondly he gives them four blessings, then he gives them 4 curses. Each of these 4 blessings match each of the 4 curses, they are sort of like a list of opposites. Lastly in this passage you have a list of actions and responses, and each of these responses is the opposite to our natural human responses.

Now we’re going to look at this passage in it’s natural order, sort-of. And so by doing that we then come to our first question; What should our motivation for Christian life be? And to find the answer we need to look at verses 12-16.

Here Jesus picks his 12 disciples. Sure, great, but how is that a motivation for us? Well Imagine this. On a school oval there are a whole lot of kids playing with footballs, aussie footballs. Then all of a sudden the sport teacher gathers the kids around, and picks two lots of 18 kids. What do you think he is doing?

He’s picking two teams to play a game of footy. How do we know this; well everyone is kicking footballs on the oval, and we know a football team consists of 18 people.

Now what do you think Jesus is doing here picking out 12 disciples, and no, he is not picking out a cricket team, and a 12th man. What’s he doing? What is so significant about the number 12, why pick 12 and not 10 or 20 or 14? How many tribes were there in Israel? There were 12.

What is Jesus doing? He is choosing his new people, his new Israel. In Ephesians 2:19-20 Paul says, talking to the Gentile Christians, [Read]

Who was his people? Israel, who was his household? Israel. Followers of Jesus are then what? The new Israel.

Now I know this may be a bit of a big thing to understand but let me try and pull it together. Jesus was choosing a new redeemed set 12 Patriarchs, his new Israel, and we as his followers become fellow citizens of this new Israel, we are built onto the foundation of the twelve apostles and on Jesus himself as the Chief cornerstone.

So here we are and here are the disciples as the new Israel, but how is that a motivation? Well we need to understand what Israel was chosen for in the first place, and if we understand that we then understand our motivation as the people of the new Israel.

Let’s read Genesis 12:2-3. Here we have the first words to Abraham, the father of Israel and the real message is what we find at the end of the passage. Abraham and his descendants were going to be a blessing to the world. They were going to be the people that God would work through to restore his broken and fallen creation.

We see this explained in more detail in  Exodus 19:3-6  When the people of Israel are rescued from the Egyptians and are camped at the foot of Mt Saini. Exodus 19:3-6. God had rescued the people, had been singled out amongst the nations and was going to be a royal priesthood and a royal nation. They were going to represent God, and partition God on the worlds behalf, and they were going to live out God’s ideals. They were going to be a nation that had the heart of God, and shared it with the world. And after these verses God gives the Israelites the Torah, the law.

And it is now we begin to see parallels in these two stories. God Choses the Israelites as his people, his representatives, to bless and restore the world. In today’s story Jesus choses the New Israel as his people, his representatives, to bless and restore the world. So our motivation then, as Christians is to live in this world as a blessing to it. We are to represent God in the world and we are to also represent, or display God’s way of doing things.

Also like the passover we took last week, like the Israelites in the Exodus story, we are also motivated because God has rescued us from our sin and destruction. We are a redeemed, rescued people, blessing the world around us.

But Just like the Israelites were, given their motivation and then given their law, so too does Jesus give his 12 disciples, the new Israel, it’s law in the form of blessings and curses, just like we see in the book of Deuteronomy. If you do this; blessings, if you do this; curses.

In verse 20-23 we have the blessings. [read] Now these blessings can be quite confusing, but all we can say is what is the spirit behind them? And to understand the spirit behind them we read on. [24-38] Taken together we have this upside down opposite law, or spirit of how we as the new Israel should live.

When people hurt you, do what you would have them do to you to them. Love them, bless them, care for the poor, unlike the world who makes them poorer. Care for the sick and elderly. Lend without expecting anything back. Pray for those who hurt you. Basically anything that is your natural response do the opposite. And by doing these things you, as God’s people, bless the world.

The reality of this hit me the other day. {Tell the story of the drunk man}

I was rescued, and redeemed, I am part of the new Israel. I am meant to be a blessing to the world, and I sent him packing. What was I meant to do? I was meant to do the right thing, the things God’s people should do. I was meant to think about what I would have wanted someone to do to me if I was in his position, and then do that for him.

As Christians, we are meant to read our Bibles, and pray, and go to church, and help out on the roster, but we’re to do a whole lot more, we’re to live our lives as a blessing to others, to the world around us.

And what is our motivation, not that we might get something, not that we’re afraid that God might smite us, but because God has redeemed and rescued us, and we are his people, representing God and his ways to the world so that the world may be restored and reconciled.

Again I want to go to the Apostle Paul to give us our final motivation, and scope for living this Christian life.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Let’s Pray

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