Following Jesus must be a well-rounded endeavor, not just a matter of learning. Yet, learning about Jesus is still an important aspect we cannot ignore.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
If I can, I’d like to start with an awkward confession:
My left leg is longer than my right.
It’s not super obvious, so you can stop looking.
In fact, I didn’t even notice it until a couple years ago when I was 29.
I had started to run pretty long distances. Close to 10 miles at a time.
And over time I started to have growing knee problems when I would run.
It got to the point where I couldn’t run anymore.
It hurt even walking.
I saw a few physical therapists who couldn’t figure it out, and I spent over a year not running…
But finally, I got referred to an orthotics specialists (you know the people who put inserts in your shoes) because my physical therapist said I also turned my foot inward when I ran
And my orthotics guy spent about 5 minutes with me, and said, the real problem is your left leg is longer than your right…
And it’s probably something you never noticed, and it probably didn’t matter, but once you really got into it…and started running long distances, your body just broke down. It didn’t work.
And I’m thinking, that would have been nice to know a year ago.
My body can’t keep up with all of this Culver’s and no running.
And turns out, he was totally right…he gave me customized inserts to balance things out, and I haven’t had a problem w/ it since.
But what do the inserts in my shoes have to do with your life.
Absolutely nothing. No, I’m just kidding.
See…I think…in the spiritual world…a lot of us get out of balance.
We get spiritually bloated on one side…and we fall over.
We tend to work really hard on following Jesus in one area, but we totally neglect another.
It’s like…for me…when it gets too cold outside to run…so, say like 65 degrees.
Nah, I’m just kidding. But when it gets too cold, I hang my head, and resign to running on the most boring machine in the world: The treadmill.
But when I’m at the gym, and note, I’m not much of a weightlifter, but I always see these guys that are way out of proportion.
I don’t know what it is, but guys are obsessed with their upper body.
“Must…have biceps the size of Nebraska
And some of the guys huge pecs, huge biceps, and then these itty bitty little legs.
They’re not proportionally balanced.
They don’t have a holistic, or complete work out plan.
And I think a lot of Christians don’t have a holistic or well-rounded plan to grow as followers of God.
To grow as a disciple of Jesus.
Because that’s the goal: That every one of us is growing as a disciple of Jesus.
What’s a disciple?
A disciple is someone who follows another and their teachings
Just like the original 12 disciples followed Jesus
So our goal, is to be a disciple of Jesus…to follow him around…to learn from Him…and to become like Him.
BUT…but… I think too often, especially in the last century in America, discipleship has been reduced.
Reduced to just right here (the head)
We’ve oversimplified what it means to follow Jesus.
And we’ve watered it down to just head knowledge.
And churches say: If you just study the Bible, and take the right adult Sunday school classes, and do a Beth Moore Study, do a class on Henry Blackaby’s book and Rick Warren’s, and do a BSF (and I know some of you new to faith have no idea what I’m talking about…and that’s okay)
But for those that do…you know…that 90% of what we’ve tried to do to create disciples over the last 50 years has been focused on the HEAD.
The thought is…if we can just grow in our knowledge of God…and in our knowledge of the Bible…then PRESTO…we will be a disciple.
You’ll be a disciple with a bloated head…but a little heart…and miniature hands…and diminutive feet.
You’ll be like the guy at the gym that looks like he could crush you, but then you see his legs, and realize you’d just have to kick him in the shin, and he’d cry like a little girl.
And so we believe there needs to be a SHIFT in what we call discipleship.
That is the process of becoming a disciple of Jesus.
And thus…this series: DiscipleSHIFT.
(AT THIS POINT, SWITCH TO THE TOPIC SLIDE W/ THE DRAWING OF A MAN)
We want to shift you off of seeing Discipleship (following Jesus) as just a matter of learning about Him.
Or just a matter of the heart…or serving.
But as a matter of the head, of the heart, of the hands, AND the feet.
A Matter of learning about him with our heads, having him change us in our hearts, serving with our hands, and bring his good news out with our feet.
Wherever you are, we want to paint a holistic, or well-rounded perspective of what it means to be a complete follower of Jesus.
And I want to encourage you, this series makes the most sense if you are here for all 4 weeks.
Otherwise, you might feel a little lop-sided in your knowledge of it. Your left leg might grow longer than your right.
So make a commitment to be here in October.
If you have to miss a week, watch the video online.
I look even better in HD.
That’s not true.
I look better live. J/k
CONTRAST W/ THE PHARISEES
By the way, before I forget, Happy 4th Birthday to Renovation Church this weekend!
God’s done some pretty amazing things in just 4 years!
Like start two more churches out of our church and of course seeing 120 people start a relationship with Jesus Christ!
So today, as we look at what it means to be a really well-rounded follower of Jesus…I want to be careful to point out that we’re not saying that “the head” or “the mind” isn’t an important part of discipleship.
It is. In fact, that’s what the bulk of today’s message is on.
But we have to beware of the extremes.
Like, take for instance, the Pharisees that Jesus always interacted w/ in the Bible.
If you’re unfamiliar, the Pharisees were the religious Jews that meticulously observed every command of the Old Testament including 100’s of other commands & laws they added themselves.
And they knew a TON. They knew the first half of the Bible (the 2nd wasn’t written at the time of Jesus) like the back of their hand
Yet…their hearts were cold. They didn’t really know God. Or His love.
So cold, that these people KILLED and murdered the son of God in the name of God.
That’s lopsided, out of balance discipleship.
And scarily enough, that’s the side American Christians have leaned towards over the last 50-some years.
We might not live it out…but boy could we dominate you in Bible trivia!
Yet…many churches have already woken up to this sad reality and have started to make changes.
However, too many now are throwing the baby out with the bath water.
We are, like the pendulum theory, over-reacting, and not stopping in the middle.
And I hear more and more people say nowadays: “It’s not about knowing God’s word, it’s about doing God’s word.
But here’s the problem with that: You can not do what you do not know.
So the answer is not to get rid of learning…as a way of becoming better disciples.
As we SHIFT what discipleship (becoming a follower of Jesus really is) The answer is to make sure that we are balancing it with a HEAD that’s learning the Bible….a HEART that’s growing in Jesus…with HANDS that are serving…and with FEET that are sharing the Good News of Jesus.
YOUR PICTURE OF GOD DETERMINES A LOT
One of the ways you can see this theory of holistic discipleship played out is to just look at the disciples of Jesus in the Bible.
What did they do? Or, more importantly, what did Jesus do with them?
Did they just hang out with Jesus? Did they just serve the poor w/ Him? Did they just tell people about the messiah? Did they just learn from his teaching?
When your read through the Gospels (matthew, mark, luke, & john), you know what you see? You see all of that!
In the 3 years they spent with Jesus…they hung out a lot. They followed Him everywhere. They served with him…They told a ton of people about Him…and they learned from His teachings.
A lot. A Huge chunk of the Gospels are dedicated to the teachings of Jesus.
So a lot of discipleship still has to be learning.
In fact, WHAT you learn about God, in a sense, is a huge determiner of what kind of disciple you will be.
Most things start in the mind.
In fact, what you’ve learned about God, in a very real sense, determines how you interact w/ God.
In other words…how you’re painting God in your mind, determines how you will relate to him.
Let me explain.
Think about how you would answer these questions (which are based upon your KNOWLEDGE of God)
Do you think God is loving? What if you screw up? Still loving?
Do you think God’s in control? Do you think God planned for you to be here today?
Do you think God has your life in his hands?
Do you think God has a purpose specifically for you?
Why do you think God has allowed suffering in your life?
See, what you KNOW about God is a huge determiner for how you will relate to Him as a disciple.
If, in your knowledge of you think God is, you think God doesn’t forgive you when you commit a major sin, you’re going to relate to Him way differently than someone who knows that Jesus died on the cross, yes, even for that sin.
If you were to lose your job, how you relate to God afterwards would certainly be majorly affected by whether or not you believed (based on your knowledge of who God is) that God was in control or not.
See knowledge of who a person is…determines relationship.
And thus learning about God…is really, really important if you want to grow in your faith.
It’s not just about hanging out and walking through the woods together to enjoy a nice sunset.
It’s a COMBINATION of getting to know about a person and learning about a person.
So for example, because I’ve been dating/married to my wife for almost 15 years now, I know her decently well.
And I know that if I do something stupid…I KNOW how she will react to me.
Like…for example, I’m not much of a multi-tasker.
When I’m in the car…if I’m driving…and I get talking…which is most of the time…
Even though I’m really good with maps & directions, if I get lost in what I think is some brilliant thought, there’s no way I’m going to remember to turn right.
But Lindsey will calmly just say…”Turn right”
And I don’t worry about what she’s gonna say….cuz I KNOW about her. And because I know who she is…I know what to expect.
I know she’s not going to get mad and say, “YOU MISSED YOUR TURN! WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE!!”
And with God, yes, we can talk to Him and relate to Him, but so much of what we can know about Him, we learn about Him…in the Bible.
So thus…it’s critical…if we’re going to be like Him, we must study who He is.
Just like…let’s say I decided I wanted to be just like Billy Graham (who’s 94 now)
I’d probably go meet with Billy, if he’d let me.
But I’d also try and read everything I could about him.
And it’s not just that learning about God helps us be more like Him…it’s that our minds…are also the battleground for what we do.
It’s a similar thought really.
Because “you do what you believe.”
Your actions are merely just outputs from what you believe in your mind.
That’s why people can say stuff all the time like, “I believe it’s a really good idea to care for the poor,” but you can’t really believe that they truly believe that until you see it in action.
“And if that’s true, if your mind is really the determiner for your actions…then what you learn… what you believe… what your view of the world is actually REALLY important to the overall quality of your life.
To how you will grow as a person
And most importantly, how you will grow as a disciple of Christ.
Jesus says it this way:
(Matthew 12:35) – NIV
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.
We actually did a whole series called “Mind Control” on this concept of what goes into your mind affects your actions.
Your mind is the battleground for your actions…for your life.
(Colossians 2:8) – NIV
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
So we want to BUILD our minds on WHO Christ is…not the deceptive philosophies of this world.
Paul fleshes this out a little more in Romans.
(Romans 12:2) – NIV
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Turns out that part of becoming more like Christ, growing in your faith, is to let God do a Renovation project on your mind.
I don’t know about you…but my mind is a battleground. It’s a constant fight for good and evil.
And sometimes it feels pretty messed up.
But it’s NOTHING like it used to be.
Before I knew Jesus, I can’t even begin to tell you about the hate that used to be in my mind…I literally just hated people…a lot of them.
Not to mention, the perversion…the judgment…the constant worrying…the anger…you name it.
But in the 13 years I’ve been a disciple of Christ, God has done a work!
And so much of that renovation that’s gone on up in my head…has been not only from spending time with Jesus…the great physician…the great Brain Surgeon…
But also from learning who HE is. And How He treats people. And How He forgave people. And how he loved people. And how He’s in control.
Knowledge of Who He is…can change Who you are.
The more you can know God’s path for you…the more you can live in the light.
In fact, just 3 or 4 days ago, I was out walking, and I started just praying this…I said, “God, I am SO thankful that you have TAUGHT me your ways and how to live.”
The life I find just in living for Him…is so good.
I tell you what…as someone who’s been on the other side.
I don’t care what the world tries to throw at you with its glitzy lies about sex about money about success…
From my life, I can tell you, there’s nothing better than just being a faithful husband and being in love with my wife.
Than just loving my kids.
Than just praying with my family
Vegas has got nothing on that.
It’s just a fake and illusionary pleasure that hurts in the morning
My family and my God that’s real life.
So, as a disciple you learn his ways. But you have to learn the path to real life.
It’s not going to automatically find you unless you learn his ways and learn what the Bible says that path actually is.
HOW TO GROW AS A DISCIPLE OF THE HEAD
So how do you do this? What can you actually do to become a better disciple of the head? How can you learn more about following Jesus?
Well, it starts with the Bible.
This is God’s story. His writings to you.
It’s what should guide our life.
Best thing you can do is to make a commitment to be in the Bible every day. Even if it’s just 1 chapter…which in the Bible isn’t very long. 3-4 minutes.
Make a commitment to do it daily.
That’s what “disciples” do. They commit to LEARNING about who they want to become.
If you want to become a doctor…you aren’t going to do it just by hanging out by the pool with other doctors.
You need to learn some anatomy.
If you want to become a disciple…a disciple of Jesus…it’s time to learn about Jesus.
If you’re not sure where to start in the Bible, I’d recommend the book of Matthew to you…the first story about Jesus.
I can’t recommend enough that you pick up a Bible reading plan in the hallway. We have two really, really good plans out there for you.
And again, if you don’t have a Bible, please take the one under your chair. We want you to have it.
If you Hate reading…get the YouVersion App for the Bible. It’ll read the Bible to you. You can do it on your commute.
We believe the main mission of any church is to make disciples.
That’s what Jesus commissioned the church to do.
So…our goal is to work with God to help create more disciples for Him…and we have a plan for that.
We want to see people start a relationship with God…here in the service...or through a conversation with you.
We want to see people then join a house group…as we believe getting around other Christians is CRITICAL to discipleship.
Being around other people who’ve followed Jesus longer than you…is HUGE!
We’ll talk more about our plan of discipleship in the weeks to come…but one other part I want to point out now…is that once you get in a house group…
We get you started on what we call “Personal Renovation Plans,” which are personal and customized goals sheets that you can set for how YOU want to grow in your faith…and learn the Bible etc.
And those come out in a few weeks actually in a house groups!
And they’ve been a HUGE help to people learning more about God at our church.
In fact, we believe that learning WHO God is and What the Bible says about Him is SO important that we’ve actually created a Renovation School of Theology to help you because a better disciple of the mind.
It might seem like, “Yeah, yeah, I know about this…” But we’re growing so fast I wanted to bring it up again.
In fact, we’ve had 50 first time visitors in just the last 3 weeks, so I know there are so many new people here.
(SHOW SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY PIC)
So here’s a 30-second look at the school that we offer each summer.
This four-class school in the summer allows you to learn the basics about God (in Alpha), How to Study the Bible, and then take two theology courses where you can study Christian doctrine on the Bible, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and tons more.
Because we believe that A PART of becoming a well-rounded disciple is filling your mind with TRUTH about God.
There are way too many churches out there that are JUST about learning…or just about doing…but it has to be both.
And I encourage you to learn on your own.
As the 50 people who took Mining God’s Word this summer got drilled into their heads, the best way to really learn God’s word is to feed yourself.
“To train yourself to be Godly” as 1 Timothy says
That’s to study the Bible…on your own…to read the Bible…every day…not just to wait for 1 meal a week on Sunday.
And there are plenty of others things you can do to grow as a disciple in your mind on your own.
Listen to podcasts of other Christian teachers while you drive or clean at home.
Check out pastors like Matt Chandler, or Mark Driscoll, or great thinkers Ravi Zacharias
Read books…check out what great minds like Francis Chan or Tim Keller have to say.
Start a Bible study with a friend where you just get together and learn about the Bible together.
If we really want to grow and be wise…we have to be commited to learn:
(Proverbs 1:5) – NIV
let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance
And let me issue a caution here…especially to those of you who love to learn:
Don’t let your left leg grow longer than your right leg.
Don’t turn into the person at the gym with huge biceps and bambi legs.
This is why it’s so imp you hear this whole series…it’s almost like one long msg.
We HAVE to be well rounded.
Because if you just LEARN…if you just become a disciple of the head and it doesn’t affect your heart.
Than it all means nothing.
Then, how are we any different from the Pharisees?
So yes, becoming a disciple in your head…is really, really, really important.
But only if the rest of the body comes a long with it.
For those of you that already know a decent amount about the Bible already, the question for you this morning is: Who are you discipling?
If you know a lot, then who you teaching?
We get poured into…then we pour out.
We’re not just black holes of spiritual information.
If everything you learn doesn’t affect your hands and feet, then it’s a waste of time.
One of the things that sickens me most about the American church is our obsession with growing spiritually only for our own sakes.
We only want to learn so WE can grow and become better.
But our vision as a church is to be a people being changed by God…to change the world.
SO make it your prayer that God would get in and renovate your mind…so that you would be become a better instrument for change…used by Him!
So that He would change your life and make you into a light for this dark world.
That’s why we learn! That’s why we study.
I mean, yes, learning the Bible will do amazing things in your life.
It’ll give you direction for your life, marriage, parenting.
It’ll give you purpose…
Teach you truth…Give you wisdom in tough situations
Teach you Who this AWESOME God is.
But…deep down…we learn…we study…we read when we don’t feel like it…we come to church when we’d rather sleep in…we take a class when we’d rather go to cabin…we learn everything we can about Jesus…
In hopes that we would continue to change us to change this world.
Because there are people all over this city…right now even…hurting.
Going through a tough divorce…thinking thoughts of suicide… alone and depressed.
Thousands and thousands…just in this city…alone…with out God.
So we learn…and we study…to be a disciple…so God could change us…but change us…to change the world.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.