Matthew R. Perry

If Jesus Is So Wonderful, Why Are His Followers Such Jerks? Part III: Are Christians Wanting Holiness, or Just Heaven?

In Culture, Evangelism on September 21, 2007 at 9:48 am

(Be sure and read the introduction , Part I , and Part II or you can listen to the sermon in its entirety.)

I read one time that all types of criticism (whether constructive or even destructive) has some value to it. It’s human nature to find ourselves getting defensive about the criticism and then fire off criticisms to them. Pretty soon, we find ourselves just shouting insults and criticisms that have no redemptive value to them whatsoever.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7 (which we looked at in Sunday School), Jesus poses a challenge to all followers of Him: do not be like the hypocrites. So the culture and Jesus have a problem with hypocrites — and in fact, would it be fair to say that Jesus has more of a problem with the hypocrites in the church than any other person on the face of this earth? Absolutely. Why? Read with me 2 Cor. 5:19-21:

In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Christ came to reconcile the world to Himself. A major component in his work of that is that he entrusted to His church the message of reconciliation. Then he gives us a title and an office as followers of Christ: ambassadors for Christ. An ambassador is a delegate who represents one nation while in another. If you were an Ambassador for the United States to Trinidad & Tobago, you would represent the United States (obviously) while living amongst the Trinbago peoples. You would work to maintain the dignity and the core values that come from being a citizen belonging to this country.

We are ambassadors in this world, but we represent another country and another Dignitary — Jesus Christ. And Jesus has a problem with his ambassadors living in this world who say they represent him, yet live contrary to the mandates, precepts, and doctrines of the country and dignitary they represent.

Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” You see, integrity and genuineness is not reaching a place of perfection and staying there. Philip. 3:10-14 shows Paul:

That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Christians are not perfect, nor will we ever be in this life. But the question remains: is aim of your Christian life simply about getting to heaven? According to Scripture, our Christian walk is about becoming holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:16). We are to press on to Christlikeness — that’s our calling. See Romans 8:29-30:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. [30] And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Conclusion

In the most recent issue of Tabletalk, John MacArthur heard something several years ago from a parishioner that no pastor ever wants to hear. He had invited a business acquaintance to their church. The man replied, “You go to that church? I wouldn’t go to that church. The most corrupt lawyer in two goes to that church.” Although Dr. MacArthur had and still has no clue as to who he was talking about (since there were dozens of attorneys in that church) and prayed that it was a case of mistaken identity. He announced this from the pulpit: “If the lawyer that man described is here this morning, please take a lesson from Zaccheus: repent and do whatever you can to restore your reputation in the community. In the meantime, stop representing yourself as a Christian. You’re destroying the whole reputation of the church.”

Dear Christian, while we do acknowledge that the standards for Christian life are hard, that the insults the world hurls at us may indeed stem from hurt or even an unjust accusation, we must realize that our actions influence others and shade people’s opinions not just about our reputation but also about Christ’s reputation. Considering who He is and what He has done, do we truly want to sully and spoil the reputation of the One who is truly worthy of all praise? He is innocent, he is pure, he is spotless — we are here and have hope and life and joy because of Him.

But if you are here and you call yourself a Christian, yet you have no desire to represent Christ, give it no thought, but simply live for yourself and by your standard — you may be calling yourself a Christian, but you very well may not be one.  Come to the cross and delight in the One who paid such a high price and stood in your place to atone for your sin, to absorb your punishment, and to allow you into His heaven.  Come to Jesus Christ and live for Him as He lives in you. 

Romans 3:21-26

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— [22] the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:  [23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  [24] and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  [25] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  [26] It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

   

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  1. You are right. I have the same view on this issue, but I do not know how to write so beautifully.

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