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The Acorn & The Leaven

The way of Jesus is entirely different than the way of America.  It’s not quick, cheap or easy, but eventually, it takes over everything.

Transcript:

go I was in DC last year and I was just in awe walking around our capital and went into the place where they have the Declaration of Independence in a constitution and it was just I was reflecting on the American Way and as we approach this series called the way of Jesus I was thinking about the American Way and and life liberty the pursuit of happiness and all all are created equal and and it's a really an amazing way the American Way it's an incredible way I feel so privileged to have grown up in this nation and it's an you know every every system has a way doesn't it and some some things are good some things aren't so good and I was thinking about that in light of the way of Jesus and we lived in Croatia for several years and they have another way matter-of-fact democracy had a hard time getting taking root in Eastern Europe they often say that you get 10 Crowe outs in the room you got 15 different opinions so it's hard that I come to agreement and I was thinking now that sounds like here anyway but they had but it's just another way and I was as I was thinking about the way of Jesus it is that is a very different way different strategy than any other way than any other system that maybe we've been familiar with whether it's our democracy or a republic or the monarchies or communism or dictatorships the way of Jesus is uniquely different than any other way and Jesus described his way unlike any other any other way of living he he describes it in his parables in Matthew chapter 13 if you have a Bible been interned in Matthew chapter 13 we're gonna unpack two little kind of analogies is probably a better word than parable it was not there's not really stories they're just kind of an analogy about his way and and as you're turning there I was thinking about that that the reason the gospel of Jesus Christ the way of Jesus has had so much impact in any culture or context is because it doesn't attach itself to one particular way so Christianity isn't attached to the American Way just like Christianity isn't attached - another way it's it's above those ways it's it's different then and it's it can thrive it's amazing about Christianity is it can thrive in communist China which it is and thrive in in the Republic of America right it can really control a s-- any time any location regardless of whether it's embedded in what we call a Christian nation haven't I I don't feel like I've gotten your attention quite yet so let me just go a little bit further here and talk about this the goal of Jesus was not to change communism to Christianity ok I think I got their attention now Suzanne the goal of Christianity goes the way of Jesus wasn't to change not even not even to take Christianity and have it become the national religion of any state this is not what he had in his mind when he when he told stories about the kingdom about his way it wasn't it wasn't he wasn't thinking about superimposing his way and and that and that it replaces every system on planet Earth listen so you're going well that's isn't it but isn't that what's going to happen and yeah actually every knee will bow eventually to the way of Jesus but that's not today there's another way that the that the gospel of Jesus Christ gets embedded into our society remember the two weeks ago I talked we were gonna go off-road we were going to go on some well some not not so well-worn paths on this journey of discovering who Jesus is and the reality is and the stuff that makes the the makes it so hard sometimes to follow Jesus is because he gets into our business he doesn't allow us to stay where we are to think the way we think today he's all constantly challenging us to go beyond and to rediscover his way and when I know for sure is that the kingdom of God the kingdom of heaven the way of Jesus is does not and will not look like the what we think it will see the goal of Jesus wasn't to superimpose his way to assume listen to some a democracy is the best environment for the way of Jesus to thrive is simply arrogance it's it I mean come on you guys it's not I mean to say that that Christianity is the best place for it to thrive is in our country when I look around the world and I see what's happened is there's this is that is that the way of Jesus is associated so closely with the Way of America that it's hard for the gospel to take root in Syria and yet what we're seeing is the gospel is starting to sprout fruit in every corner of the earth all right good it's one couple people a couple people all right this is how I know this is true turn to Matthew chapter 13 I told you that let's look at Matthew chapter 13 verse 31 here it is the kingdom of heaven so Jesus uses this phrase the kingdom of heaven sake Kingdom to describe his waist another way of saying the way of Jesus so the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed I mean could he think of something a little bit better than to describe his way he intentionally uses this idea of a mustard seed planted in a field because why because it's the smallest of all seeds now some of you botanists in the room would be like excuse me pastor Steve that's not the smallest seed I know it's not this mostly but Jesus is making a point to say this is one of the smallest seeds and that and the kingdom is like that it's like a small seed planted in a field and it becomes the largest of garden plants now you might those of you that have maybe done a little research on this before is that a mustard plant is actually not one of the larger garden plants it grows to about four feet maybe maybe 10 but it's not it's not that big and so what was Jesus trying to do here he's trying to get people to lean in they're listening to this story and there's it was an agricultural society so they all are following with them and they're like actually that's not that big of a plan I wonder what he meant by that I'm gonna go like ask him see they're trying he's trying I think he's trying to get people to lean in but it but it grows into a tree and birds come and make nests in its branches see the whole point here well if Jesus is trying to say is that the kingdom of heaven starts what small it starts small but interestingly enough about this mustard plant is that it's it's you don't plant this in your garden the listeners are listening to this and they're going no actually you know this is not one that you want in your garden because it's an invasive species eventually it will take over everything interesting isn't it and then she just goes on to describe the kingdom in another term another terminology the kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman used and now let me just stop and just say that some of you that are Bible scholars know that yeast almost always in Jesus's teaching is used to describe sin or immorality but but I believe here he's using it to just simply to describe using a common object to describe spiritual principles about his way and so I think he's thinking about you know when his mom was cooking making bread in the kitchen and he was there as a young boy watching and here Eli and he and he saw some things and he realized that this is a lot like the kingdom of heaven yeast a woman used in making bread and even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour which which actually would have fed their village so Mary was probably baking bread for her entire village of small village that was and it permeated so this little yeast that was planted into the flour permeated every part of the dough that what Jesus is trying to describe for us is that his way starts what how small it grows slow but eventually it influences everything starts small grow slow but eventually it influences everything another interesting fact about this parable is that the seed in leaven are really without purpose until they are planted until they are put into the dough put into the ground before that happens there really there's not any purpose to them but once they get planted into the soil we're into the dough then all of a sudden their act and their purpose is realized they they come alive in a sense it's super interesting as we think about that in light of how the kingdom of heaven expands and grows in us and in our society you see what Jesus I think is partly what he's trying to do here is he's showing that his kingdom is is not and will not be constrained by political power or or time or place or culture or context that everywhere the gospel finds itself everywhere the way of Jesus finds itself it will start small grow slow but eventually it will take over everything it will have influence and permeate all of life there won't be any corner that that that is that is that is unaffected by the gospel of Jesus Christ I had a guy come up to me just after the service he said he's been to Kenya with the mysite tribe and he's been there as the my sire holding Bibles in their hand doing a Bible study the gospel gets everywhere and eventually eventually it will influence everything I think about Billy Graham I think about the influence that he had but it didn't happen overnight it was it was slow growing and eventually he had impact and influence and with presidents of nations and I'm not saying that's how we should you know heart that day of here if you're not doing Billy did you know but no it's like all of us have a part all of us have influence that where God has planted us where God has put us into the dough of society so to speak in what do we do there how do we how do we allow the seed of God's Way of Jesus's way to impact our every day life this is what I know is that the kingdom is working in your life like right now it's working you might not see it or feel it you might not you may think that you're so far from God that there's no way that he's using you but even the very presence of you in this room right now that there's a seed being deposited into your heart and what I know about the seed of God's Way is that eventually it will produce fruit in your life eventually it will it will take it will it will permeate your entire life and influence every aspect of your life there won't be any place in your life that that will be untouched by the by the the goodness of God as you avail yourself to his way that's why Jesus told us that's why pastor beau talked about this last week don't pull up the weeds you might get some of the wheat does anybody out there with me like yeah I got some weeds growing too no just just me okay all right thanks Stan we got weeds man there's there's there's things that are growing up with the with the wheat with the with the good things of God we all have things in our life that are growing up what and and what we've done in the church typically we like focus on the weed get rid of the weeds in your life we bring condemnation and shame to bear on your life in order to hope that you just get rid you get so mad at the weeds that and what happens let me tell you from a person who has dealt with addiction in my own life as you focus in on the weeds guess what you keep doing weenie stuff just keep on living in that cycle right and the only way that I know and I'm that I'm living out the to have the weeds take back seat is to focus on the wheat to focus in on what God is doing and as you keep leaning into the way of Jesus what's going to happen start small it will happen slowly over time but eventually the weed the wheat will take over and encompass your whole life and and you and your look at your anything like man those weeds don't have that kind of kind of influence in my life they used to have because the way of Jesus though it starts small and takes time to grow will eventually permeate your whole life see but part of the problem with this is that we want the way of Jesus to overwhelm the way of the world right now in a big way we want we want we want the kingdom of heaven to start big grow quick and if and and take over everything right now matter of fact I'm gonna help that happen and so we go on that on the offensive too and we start fighting for Jesus and we and and we lose our way because what ends up happening is we do the very thing that Jesus described in this parable that we shouldn't do is that we superimpose the gospel over culture rather than infiltrating it inside of culture instead of putting rules and laws and over people to try to get them to live the way of Jesus Jesus says no no to live the way of Jesus right where you are whether it's in politics or government whether it's in the arts and entertainment whether it's in your home whether it's in your neighborhood with and your business live the way of Jesus and I know it doesn't happen as fast that way and I know that it it grows a lot slower that way but but in the end it will permeate the whole think about it anytime Christianity is try to impose its its way from outside through laws or government or power plays using the systems of the world we have done great harm in the name of Jesus using that strategy not not only that we have repelled people away we have pushed people away because of how we how we approached the way of Jesus and never forget the purpose of the seed the purpose of the sea being planted by Jesus through our lives is to create restore and redeem all throughout Scripture those three words just keep coming up in the old and the new testament of like is to heat god wants to create he's constantly in my life recreating things if i have ears to hear and eyes to see i find i mean every day if I if I if I just open my eyes I see God recreating his way and purpose in me you know he's constantly changing my mind and helping me understand how to live his way Jesus chapter 2 verse 14 describes this process of creating restoring and redeeming and the seed that's being planted for Christ himself has brought peace say peace oh you guys we need some peace in our land we need peace in our society we need peace the peat and there's only one place that the Prince of Peace comes and he plants his seed into us through Jesus Christ and as a result of that not only does it impact our relationship with God but look at this through that he unites enemies Jews and Gentiles into one people win in his in his own body on the cross he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us he's constantly creating he's constantly restoring us to relationship with himself and with each other and redeeming us he's bought he's bought us back with his blood by by his sacrifice he did this by sin ending the system of law which by the way he started that God started this system of law to try to try to bridge the gap with us with its Commandments and regulations any any and I and I mentioned this at the first of the year and he brought in a new and living what way to bear on our lives and as we live into this the next next section he made peace as a result of this between Jews and Gentiles by be creating in himself one new people from the two groups and he's still doing that together as one body Christ reconnected both groups to God by means of his death on the cross and our hostility toward each other I was put to death guys just interchange Jews and Gentiles with any group you want any any any ethnic groups any political divisive nosov people that you that you don't think are living the way of Jesus put that put that in there and put yourself on the other side of that and realize that the way of Jesus brings peace and reconciliation and restoration it's the way of Jesus as he infiltrates and and encompasses and and his way into our lives think about think about how Christianity was birthed and thrived in 1st century Rome how did Christianity ever even get out of the first century I mean Nero blamed the Christians for setting fire to Rome and I mean he's putting them to death and how does that ever how does Christianity ever get past the Roman Empire but what's surviving today what I mean when you go to the Colosseum and you walk into the coliseum up in front of the doorway into the Colosseum as a what the cross Christianity's still going pretty good not because not because it tried to dominate the Roman Empire or take over the Roman Empire but because it found itself infiltrating inside of it working from the inside the life and love of Jesus and it was so compelling to so many people that they gave up all that they had to follow Jesus I think about that I think about the first century Rome and then I also think about present-day China and how did the gospel ever thrive in China I mean decades ago they threw out all the missionaries all the foreign missionaries and and I mean no Bible teaching no no no seminaries nothing everybody's out and all that was left were the few disciples few followers of Jesus that existed at that time decades later the American the Westerners came back in just and they expected to see Christianity had declined guess what they found a thriving Church meeting underground but thriving and so Berkeley the Berkeley Center did a research project on this kind of the comparisons between Rome first century Rome present-day China and they wrote this as a summary the Christian growth in contemporary China is quite similar to the Christian growth in the first century Roman Empire amid Wars natural calamities and social turmoil the number of Christians has grown in spite of persecution and suppression another message might be because of persecution and suppression but that's too depressing I'm not gonna go there right now but there's it's growing and they said this by now it has become clear that there are more practicing Catholics in China than in Italy and more practicing Protestants than in all of Europe if this growth continues which it has since this article is written at the current rate and it's actually sped up in less than two decades China will become the largest Christian country in the world yeah it's amazing and by the way that's going to happen within the next seven to nine years where the China will have more Protestant Christians in their country than combined in the rest of the world I don't know what that means I think that what that means is just let's keep let's keep our hands off of it and and and what Jesus is not trying to do and I mean I hope some Chinese believers listening to this what Jesus is not trying to do is make China a Christian nation man if they get off off center from the mission and vision of God to recreate restore and redeem and put it on making sure their government changes that's not what Jesus came to do it's not what he came to do he came to embed his way of love into the very fiber of society any society anywhere no matter what kind of government they have and as a result of that we're seeing the kind of growth in China that exists today one Chinese believer she said this she's she's like this girl is like really going for it says if everyone in China believed in Jesus then we would have no more need for police stations they would there would be no more bad people and therefore no more crime oh if that were true but what she's expressing is the work of God to create restore and redeem she's seen that that when Jesus gets ahold of people's lives they are changed and-and-and-and and everything should change and the start because it starts from the inside grow slowly but it eventually takes over infiltrates permeates the whole David Cameron former British prime minister said that Christianity could help boost Britain's spiritual physical and moral state see what am I saying that when the way of Jesus is embedded in your heart and then you go out wherever you work wherever you play whatever neighborhood you live and whatever school you're in as you walk into those places the gospel of Jesus Christ the good news that Jesus Christ has reconciled us and he's still creating and restoring he that comes in to bear in your place and it changes the narrative recently I saw a story about churches in Watson County in the state of Washington who joined together to pray for City transformation they prayed in seven with in regards to seven spheres of influence in that culture religion family government education business median entertainment and health care and they focused their prayer efforts on those seven spheres of influence and as I was thinking about that and watching the story I realized we have people of influence multiple people have influence in every one of these seven areas in our church the gospel is being embedded the way of Jesus it's a little mustard seed is being planted into the soil of your business it's being planted into the soil teachers of your classroom listen you don't need you don't need to put up the 10 commandments for the way of Jesus to have its way in your classroom if you live out the life and love of Jesus right where you're at it will influence it will have ripple effect into every student's lives that you touch and your business says Oh business leaders would you let the way of Jesus being to sprout up in the way that you treat your employees let the way of Jesus come to Barron and how you and how you walk in your neighborhood how you drive now we're getting somewhere how you tip oh now come on pastor Steve just back off the way if Jesus should show itself even how you tip you start messing with the pocketbook that's just too going too far Jesus let your kingdom come your will be done your way here in me here in my life in my school in my city in my neighborhood let your will be done here light and salt you guys light and salt Jesus described us as a city set on a hill for travellers wandering the dark the darkness of the landscape of life and they see this light and they come running to it place of safety security hope salt just a little bit of salt man makes that meat taste so good that's that's how Jesus describes his way so ask yourself how is the way of Jesus growing in my life how is the way of Jesus growing in your life in your family in your business in your classroom ask yourself is is is is his way of creating restoring and redeeming taking roots in every aspect of my life where are there any places that I've kind of let I've said well god I'm gonna follow you in this part of my life but over here in this part of my life I'm gonna kind of do this myself and instead see Jesus come to bear comes to plant your seeds in every part of my life remember remember Teresa go to seed the the farmers scattering the seed everywhere everywhere there's potential for life because the kingdom of heaven starts small grow slow but eventually influences everything you might feel small and insignificant you might feel like what difference can I make I'm no Billy Graham and I want to tell you if that's you you're right where you should be in the kingdom parables it starts small whatever little bit that you have God will use it for his way pray God use my life let my life be like a little mustard seed growing or a little bit of yeast in a big wide world there's so many stories and I want to finish with this of God using the little we have to make a huge impact and I want to read one story I was thinking about just telling you the story but I started reading what how it's written on our website and I was like I got to read this it's so it's so good some of you will recognize who this person is if you have young kids especially or have had young kids on any given Sunday amidst the halls of Westside kids you will see groups of parents hauling their darling littles to their classrooms Halloween is a pretty good word for it sometimes their arrival is hesitant and timid or overwhelmed by the effort it took to clothe and load their children all the way here regardless of the state of these Westside families there is a beautiful constant that is always there to meet them at the nursery counter that constant is the kind smiling face of Jerry Butler Jerry has served faithfully in the nursery at Westside church for 22 years I barely survived in 18 years my kids 22 prior to moving to Ben Jerry's served at other churches too which means he's been rocking fussy babies blowing bubbles and changing diapers in the name of Jesus for a total of 40 plus years Jerry knew early on while raising his own four kids with a sweet wife Judy that God had gifted him with a capacity to care for kids in a unique anointed way as he neared the end of his 27 year career as a Deputy Marshal he started to think about what the next steps for him in life might be having found no scriptural basis for retirement as he says he knew that God wanted to continue to use him inspired by the words of Mark 9 36 that says anyone who welcomes a little child on my behalf welcomes me Jerry chose to say yes to serving the seemingly small opportunity has allowed him to impact more families and children than he could have imagined this is what he says it's my hope that the kids I serve will have love as the first and lasting impression of church in God both now and forever that's the reason that I'm willing to give him myself and of course I also love what I do the most rewarding part is that love is reciprocal he says so with every consoled baby reassured parent wiped runny nose and hearty hug that Jerry is slowly sowing seeds that will and have reaped a godly harvest in the next generation the gentle patient and sincere way that Jerry stirs Westside families opens the door for these kids to experience God's love in a tangible way this is what I want to do Jerry was in our first service and I got to honor him present but he he can't be away from our kids for very long so he's back there in the back corner I'll not not in this room but all the way back in the nursery right now and our walls are thin enough that if we cheered loud enough Jerry would know that we are appreciating him and honoring him for all these years that he's given to this church can you do that right now let's honor [Applause] I want to honor just one other group of people and and not to take away from Jerry a tall man when you go I mean if you don't even have kids maybe just walk that way as you leave today and just like give him a high five I'm gonna smile say or just say thanks Jerry he'll be busy giving kids back to their parents you know but make sure that you just honor him continue to honor him and by the way this is not a like retirement thing going on it felt a little bit like that like Jerry's done no man I've made him sign another 22 years down on the docket before I told this story but I want to honor the men and women who have been a part of this church sowing the seeds faithfully slowly patiently pursuit with perseverance into the fiber of this church and this community so if you have been a part of this church for over ten years would you stand up right now and I want to personally honor you good come on I know there's several of you out there more than ten years can we honor these as well thank you guys so much you can sit down listen you you can rest you can rest you can breathe easy today knowing that the kingdom of God the kingdom of heaven the way of Jesus is growing in you maybe you don't see it all the time I know I don't see it all the time in my life but I can but I know if I wait and if I keep persevering and I keep trusting if I keep having faith in him that something is happening in you something is growing in you of the way of Jesus and you're gonna find yourself year after you're living more intentionally the way of Jesus in your life don't rush don't rush to become something how many of you know it takes a really long time for our kids to become mature some of your like really long it's the same way spiritually you guys doesn't happen overnight as we keep investing ourselves into the way of Jesus over time because the kingdom of heaven starts small they grow slow but eventually it will influence everything Jesus thank you for your word today thank you that still thousands of years later your word your teaching gives life in hope and direction continue to guide us and lead us Jesus as we look at your teaching this year help us to hear what you want us to hear and see what you want us to see and Lord I say with all that for all of us do you just take what little we have and use it give us eyes to see the brokenness around us people that need a little bit of touch from you and help us to stand in the gap for those who need just like we do more of you in their lives keep your eyes closed for another moment and I want to invite those that have been investigating the way of Jesus maybe this is your first time maybe you've been on this journey for a while and today you're acknowledging the fact that at some point maybe you're not even sure when it happened but at some point you started following the way of Jesus and I want I want to give you an opportunity to acknowledge that decision to say yes to Jesus to say yes to his weight and maybe you don't know everything or I still I don't know anything instead but you're still leaning but you want to lean in to his way and understand more and more who he is and how he can guide and direct you and if that's you just want to acknowledge that decision today that you're on the pathway so we're becoming more and more like Jesus and following his way would you simply acknowledge that by lifting your hand looking up at me so I'm gonna do is just yeah awesome awesome great decision thank you Jesus yeah thank you Lord so many hands going up awesome that's great thank you Jesus for your work thank you god yeah awesome Jesus have your way in US deposit the seed of your life and love into us so that there will be nothing hidden from you so that we can grow in you and that ultimately Jesus ultimately one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that you are Lord Jesus name Amen a couple things you guys a couple things before you I take off the prayer team is available over at the prayer wall as you continue to seek first the way of Jesus seek first the kingdom of heaven God will come along and and provide all the things that we need to live in this life and just encourage you to spend some more time in prayer with our prayer team also if those of you that responded to the invitation to acknowledging the way of Jesus in your life we have begin packets since they're white packets they begin there at all the exits would you grab one of those it gives you some material to help you start on this journey and then also a way to contact us because we would love to walk with you on this at least first several steps on your own on your journey maybe even provide a mentor for you if you would like that we have a team that does that and then the third thing I want to mention is our annual membership meeting is next Sunday that's how most people feel about me and membership meetings Thank You Suzanne my wife my wife has to be there so she'll know it's gonna be great it's gonna it's an annual meeting that we have for our members if you're not a member but you would like to know a little bit more the ins and outs of the church where we've been where we're going I encourage you to join us it's going to happen during this service in the cafe we're still gonna have the 11:15 service and normal I'll be preaching in it but then our membership meeting will be happening during the service over in the cafe we did that simply because we have children's ministries available so parents could be involved in the membership meeting and also we hardly ever got anybody to go to lunch and then come back in the afternoon so we're hoping we get a little more participation if it's if it is of interest to you also part of our membership is ratifying church council members our church council oversees the financial aspect of our church I meet with them monthly along with our executive pastor Mike Alexander and we and there's just a wonderful group and so we're presenting four members to the membership to be ratified as part of the church council and so you can get their BIOS and find out a little bit more information about them on the website Westside church org slash Council - ratification / and you can get all the information you need about that about the people that we are presenting to you for ratification so that's happening again I'm iterate next week during the 1115 service 1115 service in the cafe while the regular service is going on all right it's all I got god bless you guys have an amazing amazing week we'll see you next weekend [Applause]

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