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03-06-11 Leverage1 "consumer Christians"

March 11, 2011

Every single one of us is looking for more out of this life. We are chasing life to the fullest…. We want to maximize life… Jesus says He came to offer that…however, for a lot of us we are trying to move our life in this abundant direction but it would seem that our life is this huge weight on the ground and no matter how hard we push or pull or try to lift it, we just can’t get any movement.

We need two things to move our life, a lever and a fulcrum. With a lever and a fulcrum I then have leverage and with leverage I can begin moving my life. Both things are required though. A fulcrum alone is bet a stepping stone and a lever without a fulcrum is but a stick. Let’s look at the lever our life requires. The lever needed to move our lives has three unique assets; our time, talent, and treasure. We put our effort against this lever and quickly find that we need a fulcrum. We need something to lean our lives against… Something to prop our lives up on in order to get life really moving. This is where Jesus comes into play. When we lean our lives on Him things really start to change in our lives. When we lean all of who we are into all of who Jesus is then we can begin to experience maximum impact both in and through our life.

This concept of leverage is the key to the life all of us are looking for.

Luke 14:25-27 (New International Version, ©2011)

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

There are some verses in the Bible that Christians tend to like and gravitate to more than others. Like ask and you shall receive, or do not worry, or you are called friend of God, etc. Luke 14:25-27 is not usually one thought of when Christians think of the pleasing verses. Definitely not one I’d recommend right off the bat for either a new believer or someone just beginning to consider Jesus. This verse may make you want to jump out of the line to Jesus and find another belief system, but hold that thought. Let’s start where Luke starts here.

There is a difference between traveling with and following.

Time to DTR = Define The Relationship

This is that moment in the relationship where you determine your real level of commitment. A defining moment where you sit down and determine, “what do we really have here?” “Is this just an attraction; infatuation? Or is this moving toward a deeper devotion and commitment?”

Jesus has a big crowd “traveling with” Him. But He isn’t looking for travelers. Jesus is looking for followers, and there is a difference between traveling with and following. The passage from Luke above is the DTR moment for the crowd. It’s a tough moment where Jesus essentially draws a very clear line in the sand. He is giving an illustration of how extreme it is to be a Christ follower; a disciple; and not just a traveler.

Though the verse uses the word “hate”, the intent He is trying to get across to the croud (and to us) is “love less”. When we compare how we love others (even those closest to us) to how we love Jesus there ought to be so much difference that it looks like hate. Jesus is trying to thin the ranks and is really saying this, “I am not looking for fans; I am looking for followers.” He had a lot of fans in the crowd that just wanted to see miracles and be fed or see if He would overthrow Rome. Define the relationship. How long has it been since you had a DTR moment with Jesus?

Don’t get me wrong. Jesus fans are welcome and Jesus loves His “fans”. It’s just that He loves you too much to leave you in the position of a fan. He wants you to fully discover, experience, and walk with Him.

Luke 14:28-32 (New International Version, ©2011)

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.

So Jesus has already said, your love for everyone and everything else ought to pale in comparison to your love for me. And that we need to take up our cross and follow Him. And now He is saying that we need to count the cost. He is telling us that this isn’t going to be easy and we will have trouble with this. Here is where you may start to see your consumer idealism come into play. We usually look for deals when we shop and we want the best possible deal for the lowet possible price.

Is the lowest price always the best deal? Is there truth to the saying, “you get what you pay for”?

Many of us Christians have no problem coming to the cross. In fact we enjoy doing so. We desire to come to the cross, “Jesus forgive us”, “heal us”, “redeem us”, “restore us”, etc. We have no problem coming to the cross and asking for things. Christians however do tend to have great difficulty in carrying one. There areas of our lives where we don’t want to carry the cross. There are some crosses that we just plain don’t want to bear. Our past is one of those crosses often enough that none of us want to look into or learn from. We’d rather forget it ever happened. Here we begin to show that consumer personality. We are looking for the “best deal”, the lowest price, the route of least pain.

Here’s an example, “Jesus, I love you, and I know this relationship I’m in is not in line with who you are and what you teach, and what you want for my life, but I am choosing it anyway. Jesus, I am into minor changes. A little behavior modification, but nothing too big or fancy. Don’t reach into my life too deeply. Just kinda touch up the surface.”

We think “touch up work”. Jesus is thinking “renovation”.

We think “tune up”. Jesus is thinking “overhaul”.

We think “make-up”. Jesus is thinking “makeover”.

We think, “Jesus don’t ask me to stop yelling at or hitting my spouse, or to save sex for marriage, or give away my money, or forgive people who have hurt me, or to journey back into the pain of my past.”… Too many people want Jesus… at a bargain price. Capitalism and Christianity have collided in this country and we have become “Consumer Christians”.

We have created a culture where people come to church shopping for the best deal. People come into church with the idea of “what do you have to offer me”. This causes pressure in the church to say, “I’ll offer whatever you want”. This is the problem though, the message of the gospel says be willing to give up everything. The church must be very careful not to replace the message, “Jesus is King – deny yourself” with the message, “Burger King – Have it your way”. The lowest price is not the best deal. No pain, no gain. That originated with Jesus – not the Marines.

Luke 14:33 (New International Version, ©2011)

33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Everything else in life; every relationship, possession, desire, should be secondary to our relationship with Him. If you struggle with this you should know that you are not alone. It’s not a destination but a journey. But ask yourself, “Is my life really changing?” “Am I going anywhere?” “Am I moving?” “Where am I right now with Jesus?” “How much of my life am I really giving Him access to?”

Leverage your efforts on Jesus. Use your unique assets applied to your life on the fulcrum that is Jesus. It’s not about more effort from us. It’s about the fulcrum. “What am I leaning my life against?” “What am I depending on other than Jesus to provide me with life?” If you are leaning your life on anything other than Jesus, one question for you; honestly ask yourself this week, “is it working?” I’m guessing not. Think about this throughout the week, the closer I slide Jesus toward my life (all of my life including my brokenness, wounding, mistakes, junk, relationships – all my life) the less effort it requires of me and leads me to the life I am looking for. Start with baby steps. Leverage a little more of Jesus and a little less of everything else.

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