Jesus vs. The Church Part 1 sermon notes (John 15:1-17)
Have you ever seen the South Park episode “Die! Hippy Die!”? My favorite scene is at the “Hippy Jam Festival” where Stan, Kyle and Kenny keep asking all of the “college know it all hippies” when they will get all the people together and take down the corporations. The only response they get is that hippies don’t need corporations just weed and “crunchy grooves.”
What does this have to do with the Gospel of John? I’ll come back to it.
Evangelism may strike you as pushy if not creepy. Ever had someone hand you a tract that began with something like “you’re an abomination!” Great way to start a conversation, huh?
Yet, Jesus gave his followers a very clear order to make “disciples” (Matt. 28:16-20). Now, as I’ve preached before, a disciple and a convert are two different things, but I won’t beat that horse right now. Just know that to be in a relationship with Jesus means to love him the way he asks to be loved and that means introducing people to God and helping them grow in their relationship to Jesus.
But how do we do it without appearing like we are recruiting for a cult?
Let’s look at John 15:1-17
15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Notice that Jesus stresses his love for them and that they will love him by keeping his commandments, which includes making disciples but love always comes first. So, obeying Jesus out of love means loving others. We get to know those outside of the faith, we love them and then, once we have established a relationship with them, we introduce them to Jesus.
And think about who Jesus disciples and how? Does he just hang out in Nazareth with his fellow carpenters? Nope, he recruits a zealot (the 1st century equivalent of an ultra-right wing, militia man type), a tax collector (a traitor to the state of Israel, kind of like an American fighting for Osama Ben Laden), and blue-collar laborers. He also loved Samaritans, who were viewed as an “inferior race”, and prostitutes, etc. He loved them, he hung out with them and he taught them by word and deed. This is what the church is supposed to do. This is how we are to love Jesus.
Sound easy? No brainer? Every church should be able to do that, right?
Well, Dr. Leonard Sweet reports that there are more strip clubs in America than healthy churches i.e., disciple making churches. Don’t believe me?
There are more than 300,000 churches in the U.S. 25% of churches are growing but nearly all at the expense of other churches. Only 1% of churches are growing by reaching the “unchurched” or “dechurched”. There are 2700 strip clubs in the U.S.
Sweet calls the people in the other 99% of the churches as “consumer junkies” or “users”. That is, they are so use to going somewhere to “get something” rather than to “give something” that they treat the church like Wal-Mart.
I have worked at traditional churches and become so frustrated that I wanted to scream and start tossing hymnals across the pews! I mean, how many men’s retreats and Beth Moore bible studies do we need to have before we actually put that knowledge into practice? There are 297,000 churches that appear to be in perpetual spring training. When do they got off the sidelines and into the game?
Now, before you point fingers at other churches know that Revolution has the same problem!
The Leadership Team defines success at Revolution by discipleship and the process for this is: Worship (what we do here on Sunday nights) – Grow (what we do in small groups) – Serve (what we do on the streets of Portsmouth) and we are a long way from success. We have had more than 120 people worshipping with us every Sunday night for months and it is slowly but steadily growing but the groups aren’t growing and the service projects are largely staffed by the same people.
So, how are we any different from the hippy in the South Park episode who talks a good game about changing the world but really just wants to do nothing and listen to “crunchy grooves”?
Where are you at? Are you a disciple or a consumer? Are you making disciples or are you hanging out? If not, what are you all about?
I can promise you one thing: that no matter what you do with your life, the only thing that will echo through eternity is the people you love and disciple in the name of Jesus. If you do so then you are “abiding in him” and he is abiding in you and that is what life is all about