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Last message in series
Looked at the stuff that keeps us together
It is fitting that we finish by talking about discipleship, or what it means to keep us connected, abiding in Christ
Our relationship with God is what keeps us connected together
What has been the greatest faceoff you have experienced?
Godzilla vs King Kong
Daniel Larusso and Johnny Lawrence
Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker
Batman and Joker?
This passage is full of contrasts.
This or that.
We are given and called to live within certain sets of options.
This is what we are presented with and this is how we get to live it out.
Discipleship often feels like a set of contrasts.
The world presents us with options
Christ commands and calls us to live differently
As we look through the passage we are going to be faced with a number of and/ors.
Versus, if you will.
But the good news is even when we are faced with a versus, and and/or we recognize two things.
Every good story has tension in it.
You don’t get the great stories without a versus.
God has given us everything we need to flourish in the versus.
Self vs Christ
2 Corinthians 4:5-6
This first one, as I have recently mentioned, is, I think one of the primary issues we are facing in our culture right now.
Who is first?
Who gets priority?
For the last 200 or so odd years, history has been answering that question with, “I am.”
I am the most important
We have gone through bouts with the Enlightenment and modernity and the industrial revolution and post modernity, all resoundingly answering the question “who is the most important” with “I am.”
Again, I am not saying that you are not important or valued or loved.
But this is exactly the issue.
We have equated value with power and influence.
We equate value with priority.
I am valued because I have expressed who I am.
It is important that we hear that the Gospel is not us and we are not the Gospel.
Our proclamation is that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Anything less is not the Gospel.
Anything less is just us trying to puff ourselves up.
The great news is that we are not responsible to save.
TO be Lord.
We don’t have to do the heavy lifting of salvation.
Again I’m not saying that we don’t have a part.
But we have been told that it is up to us to accomplish everything.
to define everything.
We are responsible for salvation, for generating everything, for creating everything.
We have to define everything, even leading the defining our our very gender to our small children.
Among other things, the problem is, when we become the target of salvation, and are responsible for for everything, we become exhausted
Mental health issues are continually on the rise in America.
Our youth are struggling and are depressed, angry, even suicidal.
I think it’s partly because we have asked them to bear a burden no human was called to bear.
We are called to be our own saviors and we cannot sustain that.
Our human psyche and spirit were not intended to sustain that.
One of the best ways we can understand discipleship, or the act of following Christ, is to stop trying to be our own savior.
We can begin that by repeating the confession of John the baptist.
The teachers of the law asked him if he was the Christ.
- The first confession of discipleship is I am not the Christ
-There is now “no necessary embedding of our link to the sacred in any particular framework,”no necessary accountability to some externally defined orthodoxy.
“For many people today,” he argues, “to set aside their own path in order to conform to some external authority just doesn’t seem comprehensible as a form of spiritual life.”
- Great now we know someone else is.
Pressure is off.
We can’t save.
But now it begs the question that we need to be saved.
Let’s figure that out
Self vs World
2 Corinthians 4:7-9
Jeff and Cindy Whites French clay basket
This image of a jar of clay is the bridge between our understanding of self in the world.
A jar of clay was an everyday item, used everywhere for everything.
And Paul doubles down here and tells us that the jar of clay is us and that we contain, live in, know the power of God.
But that the power is from God and not from us
Again, what can, in our culture, be taken as a slight, is actually an encouragement.
It feels like a slight because we equate power with value.
Paul is not slighting value of humanity, he is telling us that we can break.
And that the way to not break is to understand where power comes from.
We are given four paradoxical statement, almost versus statement.
Afflicted but not crushed
perplexed but not in despair
persecuted but not forsaken
struck down but not destroyed.
Paul is pointing here to moments in his life where he has felt these life sucking things: affliction, perplexed, persecution, struck down.
These things can feel like death, or a death.
We will see that play out more specifically later on.
But we are told to recognize that even in things that feel crushing, they are not enough to crush us.
This is why Paul teases out and separates the power of God from a jar of clay.
Because he rightly realizes God’s power sustains Him.
In fact because of God’s power we are not crushed or despairing.
Being a disciple of Christ means we will face hardships.
But we face them with the strength of God almighty within us.
So even if it feels like we will never recover, we recognize that the treasure of God leads us to
wholeness (we are not crushed)
reasonable (we are not despairing)
Connected (we are not forsaken or alone)
we have life (we are not destroyed)
We feel deeply the affliction and the persecution.
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