Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Follow in His steps

I Peter 2:21 – 25
“Follow in His steps”

During World War II, planes would come and go on the small islands in the south Pacific.  The planes would often be cargo planes that carried food and other provisions.  The supplied troops moving through the area and helped local people.  After the war the cargo planes stopped but they made such an impression on some people that they began to worship the cargo planes.  These became known as “cargo cults.”  The expression became a tag for religious systems where people worshiped in hopes of getting something...

It is possible, American Christianity has become a cargo cult.  We “name it and claim it.”  We search for “purpose” to make our life meaningful.  We enjoy “emotional experiences” and say they bring us closer to God.

Peter says: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”  In other words, we are called to “follow in His steps.”  The steps of Christ’s example can be in one word.  “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” [1 Peter 1:15]

We are called to be holy.  We are called to follow Jesus’ example.  In other words, holiness is not an option... its who and what a Christian is.

I.    To follow in His steps means to take Jesus seriously.

    A.    Reality: we live in a “whatever” generation.

        1.    Our culture has difficulty taking anything seriously.

            a.    We have a deep-rooted belief that somehow, ultimately, it doesn’t matter.

            b.    It’s how we can be can be so nonchalant and uninvolved in political issues.

        2.    When it comes to religion, our culture is very smorgasbord oriented.

            a.    We absorb and incorporate all sorts of belief systems, often contradictory.

            b.    For instance, define “success.”  Now think, was Jesus successful... by our definition.

    B.    Lets look at Jesus’ example of success:

        1.    “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree...” [1 Peter 2:24a]

            a.    Jesus was betrayed by a close friend and follower.

            b.    Jesus was tried, possibly illegally.  Falsely accused.  Convicted by His own words.  (It’s why we have the “right to remain silent.”)

            c.    Jesus was beaten, mocked, scourged (whipped so that the flesh was torn from His back), clothed in a purple robe (later removed, causing more bleeding), crown of thorns crushed on his head.

            d.    It became a public circus.  Jesus was forced to carry is own cross through the crowded streets of Jerusalem.  He was stripped.  His hands and feet nailed to the cross.

(Ill. “Passion of Christ” movie... graphically depicts the gruesome brutality of crucifixion.  But was no where near the reality.  Isaiah paints this picture: “his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.” [Isaiah 52:14b,c] In other words Jesus was so disfigured and marred that someone watching could not tell there was a human hanging on that cross.)

            e.    David, in Psalm 22 describes these details:

                1.)    “All my bones are out of joint.” [Psalm 22:14b]

                2.)    “My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.” [Psalm 22:15b]

                3.)    “They have pierced my hands and my feet.” [Psalm 22:16c]

                4.)    “I can count all my bones.” [Psalm 22:17a]

        2.    How was this success?

            a.    “...so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” [1 Peter 2:24b]

            b.    Jesus’ suffering brings healing from sin.  (The “double cure.”) His death means we can die to sin.  His resurrection means we have the power to live for righteousness.

(Ill. Count Zinzendorf, who was a key to the Moravian movement, once walked past a painting of the crucifixion.  Under the painting, someone had added a caption.  It said, “All this for thee; how much for me?”)

II.    To follow in His steps means to recognize Jesus authority in all of life.

    A.    Jesus is the template (a pattern for a processes such as cutting out, shaping, or drilling... a model or example. – Oxford)

        1.    Everything is measured by Jesus and everything must conform to Jesus example.
            a.    The expectation is “die to sins.” (First expectation.)

            b.    It is one thing to believe Jesus died for our sins and another to die to our own sins.

(Ill. A man wanted to climb down a dry well.  Thinking he had enough rope, he got to the end of the rope and discovered he was not at the bottom.  He struggled to climb out of the well but couldn’t.  Finally as exhaustion set in, the rope slipped out of his hands.  As he got to the end of his rope, he fell... all of three inches.)

        2.    “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” [1 Peter 1:23]

            a.    If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, it makes a difference.  You become “born again.”  Sin is in your past, so put it away and don’t go back to the old life.

            b.    “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” [1 Peter 2:11]

                1.)    Trouble is that we get “war weary.”

                2.)    It is just easier to give in to the sinful desires.

    B.    Ultimately to be a “Christian” means to be a follower of Christ... it means the cross.  Jesus put it this way:

        1.    “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” [Mark 8:34]

        2.    “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” [Matthew 10:38]

        3.    “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” [Luke 14:27]

III.    To follow in His steps means to obey Him.

    A.    Jesus is our template.

        1.    Everything is measured by Jesus and everything must conform to Jesus example.
            a.    The expectation is “live for righteousness.” (Second expectation.)

            b.    “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” [1 Peter 2:12]

        2.    The idea is this: that “good lives” will be such an example that those who do not believe will believe.

            a.    People cannot see Jesus, but they can see you.

            b.    While we will be judged by the template of Jesus, others are judging Jesus by your life.

(Ill.  Ever see the painting “the Mona Lisa?”  I have never seen the actual painting, I have seen reproductions of some sort in books.  These reproductions are the only thing that tells me what the real painting is like.  The Christian, follow Jesus, is the only thing that tells others what the real Jesus is like.)

    B.    So, how do we make this happen?

        1.    “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. [2] As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” [1 Peter 4:1 – 2]

            a.    It starts with ATTITUDE. (A settled way of thinking or feeling – Oxford)

            b.    It takes COURAGE. (The ability to do something that frightens one... strength in the face of pain or grief.  – Oxford)

(Ill. The “hero” is not the one who knows they can do something and charges forward.  A hero is someone who, despite fear, pain, or grief tries anyway.]

            c.    It takes DETERMINATION.  (Firmness of purpose. – Oxford)

        2.    If we take Jesus seriously, then we must recognize His authority (template) in all of life.  If we recognize His authority then we are going to obey Him.

*****Do you obey Jesus?  Do you recognize Jesus authority? Do you take Jesus seriously?*****

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