Matthew R. Perry

Is Being Good Ever a Bad Thing? (Part I)

In Sermons on March 12, 2008 at 6:24 pm

(This sermon was preached on Sunday, March 9, 2008 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. You can read the Introduction or listen to the full audio of the sermon, click here.)

Lesson:  Being good does not require a personal relationship  with God!

Read with me again Luke 5:27-29:

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” [28] And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. [29] And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them (Luke 5:27-29, ESV).

As you read through Luke, I am sure you will begin to notice a particular pattern. First of all, Jesus clearly has in mind reaching the outcasts. There were certain types of outcasts: there were spiritual outcasts, such as those with unclean demons who possessed poor souls (Luke 4:31-37). There were physical outcasts — that is, those with leprosy and paralysis and other life-threatening illnesses (Luke 4:38-39; 5:12-26).

One other type of outcasts is an occupational outcast: people who were looked down upon based on their low-level jobs. Peter, James, and John worked as fishermen — they were not invited to the high end society gatherings. But even with them, they were Jews who stayed true to the faith and culture, per se. Yet, Levi was an occupational outcast because he was a traitor to Israel — he was a tax collector who in the name of the Roman Empire extorted his own people for personal profit. He would have been so reviled, that even Peter, James, and John would have looked down on him!

But notice that Jesus’ pattern was not just reaching them in a spiritual sense — He went to where they were! While many of those who were under demonic possession or had physical infirmities, they would come to Him — but at least he was accessible and approachable. But when Jesus comes to call for salvation and discipleship, He does it on their turf and works personally.

Has Christ come to you personally? When you talk to people who live in the Northeast or the Northwest — or really anyone who lives outside the Bible Belt — you will find them almost shocked at how cultural Christianity is. Churches dot the landscape and people find it part of the routine to just go to church on Sunday — because that’s what we do. But the New Testament in general and Jesus specifically never ever calls for a cultural Christianity (in fact, Christianity was seem as countercultural, almost subversive). Christianity is not even institutional — where we can brag about belonging to a particular institution (like Boone’s Creek).

Christianity is personal. When Christ comes in, interfering and interrupting your plans with his plans and purpose and will — and Himself — you then begin to realize that Christ is truly at work in you.


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