Sermon-LiveGenerous—Thankful and Obedient

This is a sermon I preached on October 28th, 2012, at CrossPoint EightTen during the LiveGenerous series. I was asked to preach specifically on tithing and Luke 17:1-21.

First and foremost (again): There is so much more going on in this amazing passage than I am able to get into here, not to mention the awesomely confusing verses that immediately follow. I was asked to speak on tithing. Is this passage about tithing? Not really. But it does deal with thankfulness and obedience in a sense, and since the series was on tithing, I wanted to make the connection that we give tithe to our local church out of thankfulness and obedience for God’s faithfulness to us, and so that money does not become our god.

Also, in the beginning of the sermon I way oversell the self-deprecating, disappointed church-goer bit about the sermon being on tithing. I did this out of iniquity in me regarding this subject and myself. Made aware of this after, these are things the Lord and I are working on. Also, the sermon is not nearly as much about about tithing as it is our reaction to God’s activity.

Amendment: About 20 minutes in I say that CrossPoint is able to give away millions of dollars a year to help people in need. This is not true, I did not take a close enough look at the budget, but they do help people in all the ways mentioned. I apologize for the mistake.

October 28, 2012 from CrossPoint EightTen on Vimeo.

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Sermon-The Temptation of Jesus

This is a sermon I gave at CrossPoint EightTen on September 2nd, 2012, regarding the temptation of Jesus account in Luke 4:1-12.

First and foremost: There is so much more going on in this passage than I touch on here that it pains me to post this. I have trust in the Holy Spirit of God to help us glean truth from this, but this sermon is certainly not the final word on the passage. Dive in for yourself, read the passage in the context of the Luke’s entire narrative as well as its immediate surroundings, discuss with people close to you and in your church (hopefully those are some of the same people), and begin to see for yourselves the tremendous implications of this passage.

A couple other things: The beginning of the sermon is brutal; awful delivery of a joke I had no real grasp of in the first place, and later on I steal a bit from Dallas area pastor, Matt Chandler, so bear with me on that. And thank you, Matt.

What I was hoping for with this message is to talk about Jesus as the most human human. Or the one human who is truly human in all the ways that God has desired and designed us to be human. I wanted to show that through his temptation he identifies with all of us, displaying for us and freeing us to be truly human. Whether I accomplished this or not I will let you decide.

Here’s the potential controversy: I call people to personal responsibility. I have at times, in a manner of words, essentially been accused of moralistic deism. That by our own effort we can earn salvation apart from the grace of God. I do not believe this. But I also do not believe in using the devil, or the story of Adam and Eve and concept of “original sin” as a scapegoat from personal responsibility; from being the image bearers of God. Sometimes life beats the crap out of us. Other times we force life’s hand.

September 2, 2012 from CrossPoint EightTen on Vimeo.

Is Jesus Lord?

Is Jesus Lord?

No.

Sufficiently upset, or delighted to hear me say that? Humor me. I haven’t done extensive study on lordship in the early church’s context, but I think I understand enough to claim that most of us have no concept of what it means for Jesus to be Lord.

When we read or hear the words, “Jesus is Lord,” most of us, I imagine, jump straight to the translation conclusion, “Jesus is God.” And, sure, okay, but there’s a little bit more to it than that. The word “Lord” is based on the Greek word kyrio, meaning “Lord, or lord, or master, or sir.” The word is used around 717 times in the New Testament alone, and the same root word kyrio is translated in all four ways, as well as our word for “owner.” It is used a lot, and it is used, it seems, with varying degrees of contextual hierarchy. So the word kyrio could be translated as “sir” every time, or “Lord” every time, but that would not make much sense contextually. In order to figure out whether by the word kyrio the author intended “Lord,” “master,” or “sir,” you would have to understand the context of who is being talked to, with, or about. “Lord” is the most reverent, “sir” was not as reverent.

The early church used as one of it’s primary mantras, “Jesus is Lord.” This only makes serious sense in light of the fact that one of the primary mantras of the Roman Empire was “Caesar is Lord.” And when one of Caesar’s messengers (apostolo=“apostle”) would roll into town, he came proclaiming the “gospel of Caesar.” When Julius Caesar was assassinated he was elevated to the status of a god. Before his death he adopted his distant nephew Octavian as his son. When Octavian officially took the newly minted throne of Rome he changed his name to Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus, or appropriately in English, Commander of the world, Son of God, Messiah. In Rome, Caesar was Lord, God, Ruler, Master. The will and worship of Caesar ruled the day to day lives of the people. Caesar alone was worthy of praise, because it’s treason otherwise. There was a particular way of living under the lordship of Caesar, the Commander of the world, the son of god, messiah and Majestic Ruler, just as there is a certain way of living in the United States under the banner of the Gospel of Democracy and Capitalism. It’s a culture, a worldview.

So for the early church to boldly proclaim that indeed “Jesus is Lord,” was to effectively counter proclaim “Caesar is not Lord.” If Jesus is the ultimate Lord, Caesar cannot be. “Jesus is Lord” is a subversive, political counter claim against the way of living under Caesar, introducing thus a backwards orientation of a new world order. Peace is not brought through Imperial discipline, but rather by the One slain under Imperial discipline. Order is not kept in loving your friends and hating your enemies, but in loving your enemies until they become your friends. Love itself is the ruling ethic, not misguided concepts of virtue. For early followers of Christ, the notion that “Jesus is Lord” gave them a completely different worldview. Allegiance and service is fully granted to Jesus, his Holy Spirit among them, and the God of Israel who anointed him, not because of the threat of punishment, but because his love for them (as displayed during his life and on the cross) and among them (through the power of his Holy Spirit) had so, they believed, brought the course of human history to its climax and was dramatically shifting the world from one of kingdoms and nations ruled by violence and oppression to a kingdom ruled by love: the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God for them was an “already/not yet,” not simply some future ethereal reality that we’ll all sort of eventually reach. The kingdom is a reality in the present! Inaugurated by the true Son of the true God, Jesus the Messiah, and carried forth by his church to this day. Jesus is the Lord of this kingdom. But we (very much including the church) often fail miserably to recognize him as such. What has happened to our concepts of love, and community, and service, and worship, and mastery, and governance, and observance, and faith, and righteousness, and justice that have allowed us to view ourselves as Lord in place of Jesus, and view the Holy Spirit of God as simply our individual helper buddy with whom we never speak? What would it mean for us to again know and recognize that “Jesus is Lord?” Ponder it, as I am, and perhaps discussion for another time.