Disruptive Discipleship | A Disciple Reflects the Character of Christ

Speaker 1:
We’re in this series, Disruptive Discipleship. And following Jesus is just that, it’s disruptive. It’s disruptive to the status quo and it will be disruptive to life as you now know it. We’ve told you the Bible talks about 12 young adults, 12 young men. And when Jesus called to them and said, “Come, follow me.” They turned from life as they knew it and they walked toward Jesus and they followed him and they learned from him and they were witnesses of his miracles and they participated with him. And ultimately, these young disciples turn the world upside down. I want to be like them. I hope you do too.

Audience:
Yes.

Speaker 1:
In the past few weeks, we’ve covered important territory in this series. A disciple of Jesus we said, knows the gospel, loves outside the lines, is rooted in biblical community, is empowered by the Holy Spirit, and a disciple submits to the authority of scripture. And last week, a disciple of Jesus lives with pure love. That was such a powerful and such an important message last week and we talked about sexual purity and love within marriage, and sex within marriage.

Speaker 1:
Today, we’re going further and going deeper, straight to the heart literally of biblical discipleship because Jesus taught that everything flows from the heart.

Audience:
Yes.

Speaker 1:
In other words, what’s underneath all of this is more important than all of these, or what you see on the surface is not necessarily what’s happening underneath it all. For example, one of the great stories of the past century was the Titanic, the design, the construction, and the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic on April 10th, 1912. What a magnificent vessel for that day. It was said to be indestructible, the design was flawless. They said nothing could sink a ship like this, but you know the story of those who took that trip from South Hampton to New York City, 1,507 people went to a watery grave, including Leonardo DiCaprio, but Kate Winslet survived, right? Her name was Rose. No, that was the movie.

Speaker 1:
But how could this unsinkable ship possibly sink? Could it be that underneath the gold leaf and the mahogany of the great Titanic ballroom? Could it be that the steel in the hole of the ship and the rivets that held it together were both inferior even for that day? In addition, due to a construction timeline to meet the company’s deadline for the voyage, history records it was discovered that the workmanship had been compromised with less than expert materials and less than expert craftsmanship. What I’m saying is, researchers have concluded had the Titanic been made of the right stuff and by the right people, even an iceberg would not have sent Titanic to the bottom of the icy Atlantic. Now, let me ask you a question. What keeps our lives afloat? What keeps us sailing in the worst of times and the best times? Are you ready?

Speaker 1:
It’s character. It’s godly character, which has our faith woven into the very fabric of it. And I want to tell you today that godly character, Christlike character must be formed, shaped, and chiseled into the heart of every disciple of Jesus. Here’s what I want you to know. Godly character, it just looks different. It sounds different. It acts differently. It’s counter-cultural. For example, listen, it tells the truth even when the truth isn’t popular. It doesn’t lie for personal gain or economic gain or political gain. It submits to God established authority. Godly character reflects Christlike humility and it comes under the things that God has placed over us. Someone with character serves those people in need, or he or she looks for opportunities to meet the needs of people around them. Listen, character is generous from the heart and it has a work ethic that gets the job done no matter how difficult it is. Godly character does what it says it will do. Did you get that?

Audience:
Yes.

Speaker 1:
We just do what we say we’re going to do. I love what Dr. Mark Rutland says in his book he wrote, Character Matters. He opens the book by saying that the English word character is from a Latin root that means engraved. He writes this, he says, “A life, like a block of granite carved upon with care or hacked at with reckless disregard, will, at the end, be either a masterpiece or marred rubble. Character, the composite of virtues and values etched in that living stone, will define it’s true worth. No cosmetic enhancement, no decorative drapery can make useless stone into enduring art. Only character can do that.”

Audience:
Yes, exactly.

Speaker 1:
Wow. And then Dr. Rutland suggests that we are a nation that has squandered character. And I thought about that. Have we become a people without God etched virtues and values? Do we ignore basic Bible moral truth and ignore the basic character teachings of Jesus for personal and political gain and somehow think everything will turn out okay? It won’t. No, it won’t. Look around us. Are we taking on water with breaches and rips in the hole of our lives due to someone selling us inferior steel and lousy cheap rivets? Are we just trying to survive before we go to a watery grave two miles deep? Is that where we’re at? My question today is, where is character today? If it’s not in our government, if it’s not in the media, if it’s not in our universities, God help us. It must be found in the church of Jesus Christ and in the homes and the businesses of Bible believing Christians. And if it’s not, it’s not because Jesus didn’t live it and he didn’t teach it, because he did. And it’s here in the scripture.

Speaker 1:
Character is found in the authority of scripture, but as Jesus’ apprentices, have we learned it? Is it being etched in our core? Do we model it for our kids? Will we demand it of ourselves and expect it of our children and hope for it in our children’s children? Where does godly character come from? Let me suggest four ways that it can be obtained.

Speaker 1:
Number one, godly character, it can be modeled. Of course, we can model it as parents, pastors and spiritual leaders should model it. Coaches model it, mentors, friends, family members. And yes, sometimes it’s better caught than taught. Many of you are products of those who modeled Christlike character for you. And the next generation, listen, it is desperate for this. Let’s not let them down.

Audience:
Yeah.

Speaker 1:
Also, character, it comes through life experiences. Paul said in Romans chapter 5, that there’s a process in life that produces character. Romans 5, tells us we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope. The reality is this, that there are certain aspects of character that are forged through suffering. I love what pastor Rick Warren says. He says, “God never wastes an experience.” God is using every life experience, including suffering to shape us into his image, to shape character in us. We also know that character, it’s established daily by the Holy spirit. God is changing us daily. We are changed into his image by the Holy spirit day by day, sitting at the master’s feet in a daily quiet time. When we do this, it enables us to be more like him. You know, there may be nothing that produces greater results than that right there.

Speaker 1:
The Holy spirit is powerful. He works in us powerfully when we sit with him.

Audience:
Amen.

Speaker 1:
With his word and in worship and in the quietness of prayer. And also we know character, it’s carved in hearts through obeying Jesus. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go there today. Let’s hear from Jesus and do what he said. Let’s see what Jesus said about this. As a disciple of Jesus, here’s the question. Do we have the inner strength, the inner qualities, the character of Christ to sustain us in the best and the worst of circumstances? Character’s not only important, listen, not only important to sustain us in the worst of times when maybe when we’re heading toward an iceberg that’s barely seen, but we also need it in the best of times.

Audience:
Yeah, that’s right.

Speaker 1:
Because we’re also making decisions when the sun is shining and the bank account is full and there’s opportunities galore. And in these good times, we need Christlike character to guide us and protect us, or we’ll serve only ourselves and we’ll ignore the voice of God and realize one day that our faith has been hijacked. So I want us to look. I want us to look at a place in scripture where Jesus is just sitting down with people and he’s just talking to them. He’s just teaching them heart to heart.

Speaker 1:
In fact, in Luke chapter 6, some theologians say this passage is Luke’s version of Jesus’ sermon on the mountain. We know the sermon on the mountain. Jesus was just teaching, teaching truth, teaching principles, but in Luke 6, it’s sometimes called the sermon on the plane. The point is, what did Jesus say? What can we learn from him? And as his apprentice, I want to lean in and I want to learn from him. So at Luke chapter 6, verse 17-19, it says, “And he came down with them and stood on a level place,” a level place, maybe a plateau on the hill, “with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.”

Speaker 1:
Whoa. So he’s teaching the word of God’s going forth. People are being healed. How many of you think maybe, just maybe, when he started healing people, he had their attention?

Audience:
Yeah.

Speaker 1:
I do. And in verses 20-26, he talks to them about loving their enemies. And we discussed that in detail in this series in the message entitled, A disciple loves Outside the Lines. We are to love our enemies. Jesus taught that. So we’re going to pick up his teaching today in verse 37 and here’s what he says, in Luke chapter 6, verse 37. He says, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

Speaker 1:
Now, this is an important passage. It’s one of the most quoted yet most abused scriptures in the New Testament I think. In fact, people today who don’t know God, they often refer to this verse to justify their own sinful behaviors or lifestyles. For instance, have you heard someone say, “Don’t judge me” or they say, “Who appointed you judge?” or they try to justify their sin by suggesting you’re the sinner for judging them. Maybe you’ve even done that. But Jesus is actually teaching his disciples that we must be careful not to draw conclusions about other people while overlooking our own sin or ignoring our own weaknesses. That’s what this is about. The Pharisees and those influenced by the Pharisees were experts in exposing and in judging other people’s faults while being completely oblivious to their own. Jesus say, “A person of Christlike character doesn’t make rash judgments about others.” And you certainly don’t judge someone without addressing your own issues first.

Audience:
That’s right.

Speaker 1:
Come on. You might as well say amen because Jesus has more to say about this in a few verses in just a moment, so stay with me here. This is so important for our hearts. In John 7:24, Jesus was also talking about this when he said, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” Let me say something very important right here. This is so important for us. Rarely do we know enough about any given situation to speak in finality about it.

Audience:
Correct.

Speaker 1:
We just don’t. We think we do, but we don’t. The person who understands this reflects godly character. Let’s be slow to speak, slow to judge. James 1:19 says this, “Know this, my beloved brothers, let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” Jesus is teaching us, “Examine your own heart first.” And once you’ve done that, allow the authority of scripture to be the judge about someone else. I hope you’re leaning in and getting this.

Speaker 1:
For instance, if someone is clearly lying, you’re not judging them by exposing their lie. You’re simply loving them enough to tell them the truth. Or if someone’s stealing from the company, or someone is living in sexual sin or immorality, you are not judging them by gently pointing out their sin. You’re simply loving them enough to let them know what they’re doing is spiritually dangerous. That’s love. I heard missionary Dick Brogden, an amazing man, he said this recently in a social media conversation. Dick is just one of the most amazing kingdom heroes I know. He serves with the Assemblies of God World Missions today. He’s a great missionary. But he was asked about a study by Barna research, which indicated that over one half of millennial Christians say this, they believe it is morally questionable to share your Christian faith with another person, especially in a cross-cultural setting. Or in other words, many now believe we should not attempt to convince someone who has different spiritual or behavioral views than us.

Speaker 1:
What? Dick said, “The enemy is so clever at confusing the narrative.” So now, what is termed as hate and bigotry is what the Bible describes as love. If we’re really concerned about someone’s eternal future and not just focused on the now, we will want them to live forever in joy and justice, peace and truth. But what our modern times have told us is, “That’s hateful. That’s bigoted. You can’t have an exclusionary view of how to have eternal life and live forever so don’t share that because you’re just hating on people and you do.” That’s so bizarre, because the Bible teaches absolutely the opposite of this. Listen, if we really love people, we will tell them how sins can be forgiven and how heaven can be gained.

Audience:
Amen.

Speaker 1:
The enemy is really good at what he does, but I love what Dick said. He said, “Instead of being agitated or upset this, let’s just be really good at what we do.”

Audience:
Yeah.

Speaker 1:
As disciples, let’s be really good at. And that should be, that we’re really good at loving people and knowing the truth and sharing the truth in love. I tell you this because since we have the authority of scripture, we can speak in finality, but we must speak it lovingly and gracefully because God’s word is the final word. Paul said in Ephesians 4:15, I love this. He said, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” And then in the last part of verse 37, Jesus says, “When you live my life in front of others,” to all those seated there, he says, “Forgive. Learn to forgive so that you can be forgiven.” Jesus is saying, “If you want my character to be seen in you, you must forgive others.” That’s a word for somebody today. Christ is seen in you when you forgive. Forgive.

Speaker 1:
Now, look with me at verse 38. This is a verse many of you are familiar with. In the middle of a world that’s all about me, me, me, and get, get, get, and me first, Jesus said in verse 38, “Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, it will be poured and put into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Now, this verse has been used in a lot of giving sermons. I’ve used it, a lot of offering talks. We’ve used it and that’s okay because no matter what you’re giving or what you’re sowing, there’s a principle at work called seed time and harvest. And what you give or what you sow, it will come back to you.

Audience:
Yeah, that’s correct.

Speaker 1:
But notice how Jesus connects this. Don’t judge. He says that’s a character issue. Don’t condemn others. That’s a character issue. And don’t carry unforgiveness. That’s a huge character issue because it’s not like Jesus. And then he says, “Give.” In other words, “If you want to look like me,” Jesus says, “have a generous attitude of love and grace towards people.” There it is. In the context of this passage, Jesus is saying, “You can address your judgmental heart and you’re condemning attitude and unforgiveness by being a giver.” Not necessarily money, but by having a selfless heart, a giving heart, by blessing others, love others, give to others, serve others, forgive others. I just think Jesus is saying here, “Don’t judge, but give grace. Don’t condemn, give mercy. Don’t withhold forgiveness, give and forgive.” And then he adds a promise to it. “And God himself will measure our giving. And in return, he’ll give it back to us. Good measure. Pressed down, shaken together, running over will be poured into your lap.”

Speaker 1:
He’ll give back grace. He’ll give back mercy. He’ll give back forgiveness. Whatever it is. Do you see that here? He will give it back to you. You know, when we’re following Jesus, we’re looking for opportunities to be a loving expression of Jesus to others. Listen, we may never be more like Jesus when we’re giving grace and we are generous to forgive. All right, let’s keep going. Luke chapter 6, verses 39 and 40. He also told them a parable, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Here’s my paraphrase of those two verses if you’re taking notes, “A disciple needs his teacher, so won’t fall into a pit.”

Audience:
Right.

Speaker 1:
We need our teacher. Character is taught by our teacher so we don’t fall into a pit or sink when we can avoid a Titanic-like iceberg that comes crashing in on us. Now, Jesus is coming on pretty strong. He’s talking to his listeners because he knows how the sin nature wants to point fingers. We don’t like to admit our own faults or our own weaknesses, which by the way, admitting weakness reflects godly character.

Audience:
Yeah, it does.

Speaker 1:
But we don’t like that. And far too often, we prefer to point out other people’s sins and weaknesses. And Jesus says, “That’s a problem.” That’s a problem. Look at verse 41, he says, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log or beam that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself don’t see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite,” he says, “first take the beam or the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” Listen, godly character enables us to see our own issues before pointing out issues in everybody else.

Audience:
Good. That’s good.

Speaker 1:
This is so important. David Brooks, author, wrote a book, The Road to Character, and he said, “In 1950, the Gallup organization asked high school seniors, ‘Are you a very important person?’ And in 1950, 12% said yes. They asked the same question 2005 and it was 80% who said they were a very important person.” Look at the difference. “So we obviously now live in a culture that encourages us to be big about ourselves.” And I think he said, “The starting point of trying to build inner goodness is to be a little bit smaller about yourself.” Now this was a secular article or book, but it’s speaking to a biblical truth.

Speaker 1:
A lack of character will always cause you to see yourself as more important than others. What did Jesus say as it pertains to being invited and seated at a banquet? Do you know? Do you remember? He said, “When you arrive, don’t sit in a seat of honor, but take the lowest seat or prefer others first, because then you may find yourself being invited by the host to go up higher or come up higher.” He said, “then you will have respect by those who attended dinner.” Listen, that’s a good word for us. When there’s a log or a beam in your eye, it’s hard to see that. And you’ll always want the most important seat. And somehow, you’ll think you deserve it and you’ll rationalize why others don’t. A log in the eye, a beam was a problem in Jesus’ day. And I think it may be a bigger problem for us today because we’re living in a culture fighting for the best seat or the best post or the best picture. And we quickly see the speck in someone else’s eye, but not our own. And this is rooted deeply in the sin nature.

Speaker 1:
So before you count how many pictures someone have of themselves on their Facebook page or Instagram feed, maybe first count your own.

Audience:
Yeah, good.

Speaker 1:
Jesus continues in chapter 6, verse 43. He says, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth speaks.” Jesus is teaching an incredibly important truth here. He says the heart represents the center of our being and who we really are on the inside.

Speaker 1:
Secondly, the heart determines our outward behavior and it’s where godly character is forged right there in the heart. So here’s the good news. We believe Jesus changes hearts. How many of you have a changed heart? Come on, wave at me. You are not the same person today as you once were. Somebody say, “Changed. I’m changed. Jesus has changed my heart” yet apart from God. Without Jesus, the heart is wicked the Bible says. It’s deceitful. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things. It is desperately sick.” Who can understand it? Godly character is forged down deep. And Jesus says, “If the heart is bad, the fruit is going to be bad.” And guess what? It’s going to be eventually seen by what you say.

Speaker 1:
As disciples of Jesus, we need to not make excuses for ugly things we say or angry things we say or hateful things or dirty things or off-color things we say, because Jesus said, “That’s just a reflection of your heart.” When you say those things, you’re simply exposing your heart, your character, but listen, hearts can be changed by the power of the gospel.

Audience:
Yes.

Speaker 1:
Praise God.

Audience:
Amen.

Speaker 1:
My heart can be changed by believing and doing what Jesus said, which leads us into these next few verses. We’re going deeper here. Stay with me. These people are still listening to Jesus. They’re sitting there, listening to him speak these life giving words. And look at what he said in verse 46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?” Very important. “Everyone who comes to me and here’s my words and does them, I will show you what he is like. He is like a man building a house who dug deep,” say dug deep, “and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it because it had been well-built.” Listen, godly character is defined as simply as hearing the words of Jesus and doing them.

Audience:
Amen.

Speaker 1:
That’s what we’re talking about today. He is like a man building a house who dug deep. Dug deep. Say, dig deep. Followers of Jesus, dig deep. We go deep with the foundation. And that man, Jesus said is made of the right stuff. That man has the right steel and the right rivets will be strong enough to withstand the iceberg. That man has dug down deep and established a foundation in his heart of truth and faith that when the floods come, when sickness knocks on your door or COVID-19 hits, or when the marriage gets bumpy or when the financial plan goes out the window and when the cultural winds blow against you and you’re feeling pushed to abandon your position on the truth of scripture, stay with me, when the streams break against that, man, Jesus said, “That man will not be shaken” because his house, his heart, his character has been well-built.

Speaker 1:
But watch this. This is serious. Look at verse 49, “But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” The question is, as disciples, will we dig deep and build on a solid rock of faith that will be disruptive? Or will we just hear the words of Jesus and not do what he says?

Audience:
Yes.

Speaker 1:
As I close, I believe the granite of character is developed by the power of Christ over time when we do three things, three very important things. Number one, be intentional about being in environments where God’s word is taught, discussed, and held as the rule for faith and practice.

Audience:
Yeah, that’s good.

Speaker 1:
Be there, be involved. Like this worst experience, for example, like in-person gatherings, like small groups and growth track and special classes. God’s word is a change agent. Spiritual transformation happens through the power of the word of God. In John chapter 17, verse 17, Jesus prayed, “Father, sanctify them by thy truth. Your word is truth.” You become, what you take in. Say that with me, I become what I take in.

Speaker 1:
I read about a woman who walked up to a little old man on the porch. He was smiling and she said to him, “I couldn’t help but notice how happy you are, sir. What’s the secret of your long and happy life? He said, “Well, I smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. I drank a case of whiskey a week. I eat fatty foods and I never exercise.” She said, “Wow, that’s amazing. How old are you?” He said, “26.” Come on. You become what you take in, taking God’s word and live a full life, truly live immersed in God’s presence. Also, the granite of character is formed, number two, when we have regular and consistent, quiet times with God. I can’t emphasize that enough, so important. Quiet times of prayer, quiet times of studying the words of Jesus on your own daily reading. Doing that consistently each day, week over months and years, it will cause you to grow and change on the inside and you will renew your strength to mount up with wings as eagles and run and not grow weary.

Speaker 1:
Faith is growing and godly character is being etched and engraved in your heart when you do this. Thirdly, develop spiritual partnerships and make them a priority. People that are being transformed beneath the surface will tell you. There was a small group. There was a ministry team I served with for a long time. There was someone that I worked with, there was someone who mentored me. There was an accountability partner I had. There was a godly friend, someone I could confide in, somebody I could talk to, somebody I could pray with. There was somebody else.

Speaker 1:
What if two had been at the wheel of the Titanic on that dark night? What if two had their eyes peeled to the sea? Maybe the two of them would have seen the top of the massive iceberg that was showing above the surface of the water. And maybe, it would have been seen early enough, and maybe they would have been able to steer the ship clear of the disaster if there had been two. Godly friendships and spiritual partnerships and small groups and accountability is not about doing something. It’s about becoming someone. This is why Jesus poured his life into 12 guys. And he did it consistently for three years. It was a consistent kind of thing. You’ve got to have those partnerships.

Speaker 1:
As I close, let me summarize everything I’ve said, maybe in just one phrase. A transformed heart that builds on a solid foundation of faith will reflect the character of Christ.

Audience:
Amen.

Speaker 1:
And in this day that we’re living in, we need it now more than ever. Would you pray with me right now? Bow your heads with me. Lord Jesus, would you take my heart? Would you mold me and shape me today? Forge my character to look like you. Jesus, I give you my heart, come and do something deep within me. I surrender my life to you in a new and a real way. Jesus, I want a disruptive kind of discipleship. I don’t want to just go with you halfway. Jesus, I’m surrendering all to you today. Come on, right there where you’re sitting, right there where you’re at, just say, “Jesus, I’m surrendering all to you today. I want you to do something new and real and powerful in my life.” Just ask him right now.

Speaker 1:
In fact, if you’ve never asked Jesus to be your Lord and your savior, maybe you’ve heard the words of Jesus, but you’ve never done what he says. Maybe you’ve been in church and you’ve heard different pastors and preachers, teachers say things, maybe you’ve been watching people online, but you’ve never taken to heart the word of God. You’ve never said, “I’m going to receive Christ Jesus as Lord of my life. I’m going to do what he says.” If you’ve never done that, but you’re ready to make Jesus the Lord of your life and to do what he says, would you just right now, just begin to ask him? Pray a simple prayer, something like this. You can repeat after me if you want to, but it must come from your heart.

Speaker 1:
Just say something like this, dear Lord, Jesus. I give you my life. I ask you to work in the deep place of my heart today. And right now, I surrender my life to you. I confess my sin. I turn and I come and follow you. I want to be your follower. I want to be your disciple for you to shape me and to mold me and change me, to give me a foundation in my heart that I can build my life upon. Lord, I need a foundation that when those winds and storms come, when those good days and bad days come, that I am steadfast, that I’m walking by faith and I’m trusting you. So Jesus, take my life. Be my Lord and be my savior. I believe you died for me. Jesus, I know you rose from the dead and that you’re alive today. So I accept you as my personal Lord and my personal savior. Create character, your character. Let it be created in me, that I make glorify and honor you in everything I say and everything I do. In Jesus name. Amen.

Speaker 1:
Let’s just praise the Lord together. Take a moment and just praise him right where you’re at. Just bless the Lord. Hallelujah. Praise you, Lord Jesus.