Disruptive Discipleship | Love Outside the Lines

Hello, everyone. During this very disruptive season we find ourselves in, we’re in this series, Disruptive Discipleship, and we’re calling it this, because truly following Jesus disrupts the old life and the old sinful patterns, it disrupts previously held mindsets and enemy-held territory, and true biblical discipleship requires stepping into new things and often relinquishing the comfort of the old. Now, that’s disruptive. I shared with you this quote by Eugene Peterson that helps us really define what discipleship truly is. He said, “To be a disciple says we are people who spend our lives apprenticed to our master, Jesus Christ. We are in a growing-learning relationship, always. A disciple is a learner, but not in the academic setting of a schoolroom, rather at the work site of a craftsman. We do not acquire information about God, but skills in faith.”Discipleship is, in part, about growing and acquiring faith skills. If I wanted to acquire skills as a pianist, I’d sit with a pianist. If I wanted to be a craftsman, I’d find someone great with woodworking skills and experience. And so, to grow with Jesus, we must be with Jesus, and we must spend time, I think, with others who follow Jesus. Now, this is one of the reasons that I think small groups is so very, very important. In a group, you get to do life with other Christ followers, people who are skilled in faith and skilled in following Jesus. So let me encourage you to find a small group today. You can call our team, you can email us, just let us help you get connected.And I also told you that following Jesus is not just something we say, but it’s something we do, because faith is action, based upon a belief, sustained by a confidence that what God’s word says is forever settled in heaven. And listen, when you read the four gospels, you’ll find that Jesus always called people to follow him unconditionally and with no excuses, no matter the cost, and always to the end. Did you hear me? No matter the cost, and always to the end. See, Jesus never taught that you could be a Christian and not be his disciple. In fact, he warned against such teaching. He said in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”And then we spent the remainder of our time last week, and we taught seven essential elements of the gospel. We need to know these, here they are. God’s kingdom is here, Jesus is the Christ, he died for our sins, he was resurrected, repent of sin, believe the gospel, and follow Jesus. Listen, disciples must know the gospel. It’s not optional. Know it, and teach it, and share it. Teach your kids, teach your grandkids. Let’s teach this next generation. It’s not optional. So as we continue disruptive discipleship as his apprentice, let’s look what it means to love others like Jesus loved people, and I think the Dr. King holiday is a perfect backdrop for this message.So today, our title is, Love Outside the Lines. We’re good at drawing lines, “This is what I’ll do. This is what I won’t do. I’m drawing a line. I’ll go there, but I won’t go there. I’m drawing the line. I’ll eat seafood, but I won’t eat oysters, too slimy. I’m drawing the line. I’ll spend my money for this, but I won’t spend it for that. I’ll give time for this, but I won’t give time for that. I’m drawing the line.” And a lot of those lines that we draw, it’s fine, and we should, but what if those lines started sounding something like, “I’ll go to their house, but I won’t go to their house. I’m drawing the line. I’m friends with this group of people, but I won’t associate with that group. I’m drawing the line. I’m not prejudiced against that group, but I would just never,” and you fill in the blank, and you will never, because you’ve drawn a line.I want to show you this today. “To love someone ‘outside the lines’ is disruptive because it’s not our natural, sinful disposition. It’s disruptive because it requires us to realign the loves of our heart around Christ in order to be formed by him, and therefore to love like him.” I want to show you three stories today in scripture where our master teacher, Jesus himself, went outside the lines, outside the lines that have been drawn culturally, and even religiously, and yet every time, every single time, he loved people, and in doing so, he teaches us to do the same.Here’s story number one, The Woman at the Well. The disruptive behavior of Jesus happened in Samaria. Oh, those people, those Samaritans. The understanding in that day for the Jews was, “Don’t go to that neighborhood,” and for some, “Don’t even go through Samaria, go around it.” What was causing the divide between the Jews and Samaritans? Let me take you back into history, and see why these racial lines were drawn. In 722 BC, the Jews were living in the Northern Kingdom, and they had been taken captive by the Assyrians, and some Jews were deported to Assyria, and some Assyrians were imported into the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Now, this resulted in intermarriage between Jews and Assyrians, and this inner marriage gave birth to a new ethnic group of people called Samaritans. Are you with me?During the Persian period, the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the walls, and many of you’ve read about that in the Book of Nehemiah, but this attempt to rebuild the wall was resisted by the Samaritans, who were now a mixed race of Assyrians and Jews, and they didn’t want to see the City of Jerusalem successfully rebuilt. They resisted God’s plans because there was already a lot of hatred, but it went both ways because on the other hand, the Jews were now determined to maintain the purity of the Jewish race, and so they wouldn’t even have allowed the Samaritans to participate in the rebuilding project, even if they’d supported it. So there was this awful feud. There was this awful racial division, racism, if you will, that actually continued until Jesus’s day, and that old fight and that old divide was the historical and cultural backdrop for that encounter between Jesus, the Jew, and the woman from Samaria. The lines had been drawn.All right, so let’s look at this story, John 4:1. “Now, when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee, and he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.'”Now, let me point out that when Jesus traveled with his disciples through Samaria, he was not merely taking a shorter route. When it says, “He had to pass through Samaria,” that’s true, but not really. It’s not exactly the way it reads. He didn’t have to, because many Jews just didn’t do that. They avoided that neighborhood, so to speak. There was another route and longer route, so he didn’t have to, and culturally, he shouldn’t have gone there, but no, he had to. He had to show his disciples, he had to show how to love outside the sinful lines that had been drawn by the Jews, but just going outside those lines was one thing, overcoming the cultural prejudice of the Samaritans was another.This is why in John 4:9, the Samaritan woman asked him, she said this in verse nine, “‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)” She was shocked at his request, and she couldn’t believe that he was asking her for a drink, but it was even more than that, watch this. It appears that he was asking her, watch this, to let him use her cup. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”Pastor Tony Evans in his book, Oneness Embraced, he writes this, he says, “To put his Jewish lips on her Samaritan cup was an intimate act of fellowship and warm acceptance. It was something that wasn’t done in this woman’s neighborhood. It was also an action that gave the woman value. Jesus was letting her know that he had a need, and that she was in a position to meet that need. He esteemed her with value by placing himself in a position that acknowledged that she possessed the ability to help him.”Wow. Let’s think about this. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to drive this home for a moment. Even though many other Jews would not go through Samaria, he went through Samaria, but he not only went through Samaria, he engaged in a conversation with a Samaritan woman and likely, he also drank from her cup. But he not only drank from her cup, he engaged her about her life because there was something bigger, something larger, more important about this encounter. He was able to tell her about true worship and living water. And so, his actions disrupted everything for her, but not just for her, for her friends, for the townspeople, and he was even disrupting for his own disciples, because now they had to follow his lead. That’s what disciples do. They follow Jesus’s lead, whether it’s comfortable or not, whether it’s inside your lines or outside your lines.Let me shift for a moment. When it comes to race, did you know that whatever race you are now is what you’re going to be in heaven? What I mean is if you’re white now, you’re going to be white in heaven. If you’re black now, you’re going to be black in heaven. If you’re caramel, you’re going to be caramel in heaven. You are who you are in heaven. We know this because John said in Revelation 7:9, watch this, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples, and languages standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” Wow. John saw them. The differences were visual. God has people from every background and every demographic representing his kingdom, and he loves them, and when our master teacher engaged her and drank from her cup, he gained an opportunity to share life with her. Now, don’t miss that. When you go outside the lines and love with God’s love, a door of gospel opportunity can be opened.Let me ask you a disruptive question. Is there anyone right now who’s of a different ethnicity or a different skin color? They’re black, you’re white, or you’re black, they’re white, or they’re just different than you. You’re rich, they’re poor. Stay with me here. You voted Republican, they’re Democrat. You’re liberal, they’re conserve… You live in Judea, they live in Samaria, or they live in a neighborhood that all your friends avoid. Listen, this takes us way past the forgiveness part of the gospel, and it challenges us to follow, to follow Jesus and practice the gospel of the kingdom, with people who are different than us. Jesus shows us here, his love has no lines, no limits. Love crosses every manmade sinful line or boundary, and yes, even political lines. Jesus showed us and taught us that we should love in such a way that we’re even willing to drink from the same cup, post-COVID, of course.Let’s keep going, this is getting good story. Number two, The Adulterous Woman. Okay, here we go. This story is in John 8:1, and by the way, this woman has taken the rap for 2,000 years. But don’t you know, there was also a man in this story? He’s not the main character, but it takes two to commit adultery, and both are sinners. That’s not my point here, but the question is this: how do we, how do you view sinners? I mean, of course, sinners who have different sin than you have, right? Love them or judge them, love them or lose them, love them or leave them, love them or stone them, or maybe do what Jesus did: love outside the lines. Now, rather than me telling you this story, I want to show it to you from the Bible Project film series. It’s pretty cool, and here it is, John 8, verses one through 11.Early, the next morning, he went back to the temple. All the people gathered around him, and he sat down and began to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught committing adultery, and they made her stand before them all.Teacher! This woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. In our law, Moses commanded that such a woman must be stoned to death.[inaudible 00:13:11].Now, what do you say?They said this to trap Jesus, so that they could accuse him, but he bent over and wrote on the ground with his finger. As they stood there asking him questions, he straightened up.Whichever one of you has committed no sin, may throw the first stone at her.Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground. When they heard this, they all left, one by one, the older ones first.Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there. He straightened up.Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?No one, sir.Well then, I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again.Now, Jesus wasn’t supposed to love this woman, he was supposed to condemn her. That was the law, but Jesus teaches three powerful truths. First, we don’t condemn sinners, for I am one. Second, we repent and leave the life of sin. Don’t continue in sin. Third, self-righteousness is a sin all of its own, and most people are guilty of it, but usually oblivious to it in their own lives. But Jesus exposes this hypocritical tendency in most of us.So I wonder, what might Jesus have written in the sand the second time that would’ve exposed the hypocrites and caused her accusers to leave so quickly? Was he writing names, maybe the names of people they had slept with? That would certainly make someone leave in a hurry, wouldn’t it? Listen, we’re sinners, we’re all sinners, and no better than the worst of sinners, but praise God for his great love and mercy, and the Psalm has said that he lifted us up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and he set our feet upon a rock and he established our way, and he’s put a new song in my mouth, and it’s praise, it’s praise to my God. Jesus treats sinners with kindness and compassion and says, “Go, and don’t continue to sin.” Perhaps the most striking thing about this story is how skillfully it illustrates the harmony of justice and mercy in our salvation. God pronounces judgment on sin, but provides a way to escape condemnation. That’s mercy.John 3:17, I love it, in the gospel it says, “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Jesus does not encourage the sin. He does not condemn the sinner, but he loves the sinner. I think someone needs to hear this right now. The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 that, “If we confess our sins, he’s faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And guess what? That means the sin is gone. The blood of Jesus is powerful enough. Come on. It’s powerful enough to cleanse you and to make you brand new, and this happened for this dear lady, because Jesus loved her outside the lines. He loved the sinner with mercy and grace, and you know what? We’re called to follow him and do the same.Okay. Now, for our third example, it’s actually story number three, and I’m calling it our story. Our story, because it’s really about something we all face, and some of you are dealing with this right now today. When I say this word, someone’s face is going to pop up on the big screen of your mind. Are you ready? Are you sure? Here it is. Here’s the word, enemy. Your enemy. And as a follower of Jesus, God wants us to get this right. He wants his story to become our story.So look at these verses with me, 10 verses from Jesus’s sermon on the Mount in Matthew five. It says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth,’ but I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also, and if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.””You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven, for he makes his son rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”So today, as we’re confronting these heart attitudes towards all kinds of people, there are two thoughts that I’d like to point out from this, right here, and then we’re going to close. The first point is this, write this down if you’re taking this, disruptive discipleship is radical in nature. Enter Jesus, who is not only saying radical and revolutionary things, but he was doing them in radical and revolutionary ways. Look what Jesus had to say about retaliation and retribution here.When Jesus says in verse 38, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,'” he was citing the Mosaic Law, the law of the land in that day. There was a dual purpose for that law, an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth, and that purpose was, it was to lay the foundation of justice, and to limit the compensation of his victim to an exact equivalent, and no more. The idea was here to define justice and restrain revenge, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we like this idea too. We like the idea of exact retribution. We want those who have hurt us to feel the pain like we felt it, and if we’re really honest, we often want them to feel more pain than we did, come on, as if that will somehow in some way, bring us greater peace.People say things like, “They’re going to pay for what they did to me! I hope they get what they deserve!” And you know what? That feels right. When we are wrong, we want it to be made right, but Jesus gives his interpretation of the law in verse 39 and it says, “But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil,” or perhaps a better translation is, “Do not resist the one who does evil to you.” Can we just pause for a second and sit with the fact that this idea grates against our human nature in every way possible? Why? Because we are marred by sin and we want to take justice into our own hands. We want justice done our way and on our timetable every time. In fact, the way it typically goes is this, that we want justice for everyone else, and we want mercy only for ourselves, but this is not at all what Jesus is calling citizens of the Kingdom to live like.Then he goes on to use four mini illustrations as to how that might actually play out, and we don’t have time to unpack all four of them. Let’s just take a couple of real quick that Jesus was talking about. It’s like Jesus was saying, let’s say you’re a fisherman, and you go on the road going back to town after you’ve spent a day fishing, you have to go through the collector’s booth, the tax collector, because that’s how things work. You get up there, and some ungodly tax collector says, “You don’t have enough to pay taxes on all these fish today, so you’re going to have to ditch some of your fish,” and you know he’s lying and trying to extort additional tax from you.But of course, you need those fish, that’s your livelihood, and so you’re like, “Hey dude, I mean, sir, I don’t have enough to pay,” but he jumps up on the table and just lets you have it. He backhands you, he slaps you on your cheek in front of everyone, his fellow Roman soldiers, your friends, everyone’s there. I mean, he just humiliates you and shames you. It’s official, he is now enemy number one, but you’re a disciple of Jesus. You’ve been hearing Jesus preach and teach on the mountainside. You’ve heard him in the synagogue, and you’re compelled by him and you want to follow Jesus. So what do you do? How do you respond to this guy who just slapped you in front of everyone?Or he says, well, maybe it’s the Sabbath, and you’re having a picnic with your family by the Sea of Galilee, and a troop of Roman soldiers walk up and they’ve been carrying their heavy bags, and they’ve been out on patrol and wherever these guys show up, it’s usually trouble. And there are all these families out by the sea having picnics, doing what they do on the Sabbath, enjoying the view, and all of a sudden, swords come out, and this Roman soldier throws his bag down and says, “You, Jew! Pick up my bag and carry it over the hill! Do it now, or you’re dead!” And they totally have the authority and the right to do that, and you’re a disciple of Jesus. What do you do?Now, let me pause right here and dispel this doormat theology, because Jesus is not teaching this passive, “Let people walk all over you,” idea, that’s not Jesus, and that’s not Bible. He’s not saying, “Shrink away from the evil tax collector,” or “Cower and let people walk all over you.” Instead, he’s saying, “Find a place within you, and it’s found in my spirit, living in you. You find my love inside of you to experience compassion for the sinful, arrogant, deeply broken and wicked man who’s desperately lost, and somehow, let this man see me in you.”So you might say, “Mr. Soldier, could I have the privilege of carrying your bags to your doorstep? Would you let me do that for you?” Or you say, “Mr. Tax collector, I see you’re having a tough day. Do you need to get any more of that out of your system? Okay, let me have it. Here’s the other cheek.” Radical. It’s revolutionary. And that’s not passive, but it is very intentional and active, and yes, it’s outside the lines of anything that looks or sounds normal. It sounds like something Jesus would do, doesn’t it? Well, he did. He carried what wasn’t his to carry. He took the beating, and the blame, and the shame when he had done nothing wrong.Listen, it requires more strength, more power, more grace to live with this kind of love, but this love also has the power to transform people and transform relationships, and that brings us to the second thought and our final thought today. Disruptive discipleship is relational in nature. It’s relational towards a person who doesn’t look like you. It’s relational toward the outsider who’s struggling with sin, and it’s relational toward the one who appears to be your enemy. Again, again, Jesus says, “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'” We know that Jesus was referring to Leviticus 19:18 when he says, “Love your neighbor,” but then he says, “Hate your enemy,” there in verse 43.Where is Jesus getting that? That’s not God’s heart, but it’s just been said and mishandled by the rabbis. That’s not truth from God, because God said, “Love your neighbor.” He didn’t say, “Hate your enemy.” So who is my neighbor? Who counts? Who’s my neighbor? Who is in, and who is out? Is the Roman soldier included? Is the tax collector included? Is the black person or the white person included? Stay with me here. “Pastor, are you saying loving my neighbor might also mean loving my enemy? My enemy is also my neighbor?” Jesus says, “The love that God is commanding is a love without boundaries, and it’s outside the lines for people you hate, and people who hate you.” And yes, that’s disruptive, I get it.As disciples of Jesus, we choose to view everyone as a person created by God, and we show love and dignity, and regardless of their behavior, we choose to respond with acts of kindness or blessing. That’s what love does, and it’s this kind of radical and relational discipleship that is disruptive, and men and women throughout the ages have lived this in front of us, and we’re still compelled by them, even after they’re long gone.For instance, Dr. King, he’s one such person. He was deeply and radically transformed by the call of Jesus, to love outside the lines. It’s why he could say and he could live these words. Look, he said, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence, you may murder the liar, but cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence, you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”Listen, if you’re a believer, you’re also a follower. It’s not optional to not know the gospel. It’s also not optional to not love like this, love outside the lines. Let me ask you a question. Are you ready to ask Jesus to help you love like that? Are you ready to repent? Are you ready to allow his love to fill your life? Maybe you’re not a believer, maybe you’re not a follower of Jesus, but his life compels you to follow him. Christ’s life compels you to radically turn and follow him.Would you just join with me in prayer right now? If that’s you and you say, “Pastor, I need to follow Jesus,” or maybe you’re saying, “I just need a greater amount of God’s grace and power to love outside the lines, to love the sinner, to love the person who is very different than me, who thinks different than me, who acts different than me. To love the person that culturally, maybe even in my own family, I’ve been taught to dislike, or maybe even to hate.”Would you bow your heads with me right now? Let’s pray. First of all, Lord, we declare Lord Jesus, that you are Lord of all, that you are the Son of God. We declare that your word is true, the gospel is true, that Jesus, you are the son of God, and you died for our sin. We also declare that you rose again on the third day. So right now, we ask you, Lord Jesus, to take control of our lives, as we surrender them to you. Help us now to know what you said, and to do what you did, and to learn to follow you, but Lord, we can’t do that ourselves. We need your help. We need the power and the work of the Holy Spirit.If you’re watching this right now and praying with me right now, would you just invite God through the power of his spirit to come in and radically transform you, radically change you? Maybe you just want to stretch out your hands, just like this. Say, “Lord, Jesus, I need you. I need a greater work of your spirit. I want to love like you’ve showed me how to love, like you taught me to love. It’s so counter-cultural, it’s so hard, but God, I ask you for grace. I ask you for your power, to help me to see people the way you see them, to love them the way you love them, to serve the way you’ve served them, that other great kingdom leaders have served people, I want to do that.””I want to be your follower. I want to be your disciple. I understand it’s disruptive. Help me to be willing to walk it out, and to follow you, Lord Jesus. Thank you for what you’re doing in me today. Thank you for how this is going to impact my family and my friends, how this is going to impact my future, and the Kingdom of God, in Jesus’s name. Amen.” God bless you, as you love outside the lines this week. We love you.