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Jun 27 2021 Engaging without Conforming pt 3

Lord, thank You for this time today. You have welcomed us into relationship through the cross – through Your death. Thank You that You condemned sin in Your body on the cross. You condemned the power of darkness – You were victorious that we might live with You. Speak into our hearts – may Your thoughts come through to each of us – through my speaking – I ask that You would fill these words – open our hearts and speak!

Back to last week and continuing - How do we engage in our world, for the purpose of bringing people to faith in Jesus, without being conformed to the world?

We are going to start there and move forward. Last week, we talked about the concept that we grew up with a shared narrative – a common worldview. There was one common way of looking at things in our country. That has changed. Not only has it changed – it is no longer coming back! We don’t have a common narrative or worldview. We could lament that – but I’m not sure – in wanting that to come back – well, we need to see the time we live in now as an opportunity to introduce the gospel into these competing worldviews. If we continue to look back wishing for what was, we miss this great opportunity for the gospel. The time we live in now provides an extraordinary opportunity for God’s work. This is an incredible time to live!

Last week – Cindy sent me a link to a Tim Keller interview – which I didn’t get to until later – and he pretty much covered what I spoke about last week and what I plan to share this week.

In light of no longer sharing a common narrative –

How do we engage in our world, for the purpose of bringing people to faith in Jesus, without being conformed to the world?

How do we do that?

With that in mind – Keller said – Our job as Christians is to connect the gospel to the cultural narratives of the people we are trying to reach

The gospel is both in opposition to and fulfillment of every human worldview and narrative. The gospel contradicts and fulfills our worldviews! Including the one you grew up with! It is in opposition to it – but it is also the fulfillment of it.

Keller went to 1 Cor. 1 to demonstrate this through Paul’s life:

1 Cor. 1:22 22 For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom,

Paul is getting to the core narrative of the Jewish people – referring to The Exodus – where God, through His miraculous power, freed Israel from slavery – this is a redemption story. That is the core of the worldview of Jewish people – that is what Paul is talking about here.

By the time we get to the time of Jesus, certain sects of the Jewish leaders – a wing, we might say – had hijacked this story – and by the time we get to Jesus in the gospel, their understanding of what this story meant had dramatically changed.

What they saw – God destroying Egypt by power and might – they were waiting for a king to come in and destroy the Romans and oppressors and free them from that! And when Jesus arrives, He is nothing like that – and the people are asking him for signs. They wanted him to come in and drive out the Romans.

The only sign you people are going to get is the sign of Jonah – 3 days and 3 nights….

They had forgotten the original call upon Israel during Abraham’s time – Abraham – I am going to bless you – more than the sand on the seashore – why? So that – and this is the total focus – so that all the nations will be blessed through you! Israel, throughout the Old Testament – just focused on THEM being blessed and having nothing to do with the others.

SO we see this gospel story contradicting and yet fulfilling their story.

The Greeks search for wisdom – philosophy – and they believed that those things would bring redemption.

Power and knowledge – how many believe that Science will save us?

How many believe that the right people in power will save us?

The gospel is in opposition to that – and we’ll see how these things are fulfilled in the gospel.

23 but we preach about a crucified Christ a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.

So He goes into HOW the gospel contradicts your story. It contradicts the story of all those living around us – but it will also fulfill it.

But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

He is basically saying – what you are looking for – you are wrong and you are right – you just have to change your perspective. The cross was a sign of weakness – but Paul says, No – the power of God is not shown in destroying the Romans – but through Jesus the Messiah hanging on the cross. And the wisdom of God is not shown through your philosophy – but through Jesus hanging on a cross.

Paul was really educated – the tops in his world – and in some sense, he set that aside – not to become simple – but wanting to understand things from God’s perspective. He understood people. He understood what was going on in his world. And he understood people from an emotional, spiritual, perspective – and he could present the gospel in such a way that that which they were longing for is only found in Jesus.

God wants us to learn that.

I think we would prefer to just beat people over the head with it.

Keller: You cannot convince people something is true unless they want it to be true.

His point – in talking through this passage – they need to see what the gospel offers is their solution -and once they believe that – and they want it – they will be much more interested in being convinced of it.

We have these many competing narratives – and I will look at one.

This narrative – our identity worldview. We live in a world where your identity is the most important thing about you. There IS value in that – but it goes on to say that being true to your identity is your greatest achievement.

The gospel will both contradict and fulfill that story.

In the past, your identity was pretty much determined for you – you were Irish, American, Catholic, blue collar worker or whatever.

With social media, we decide what our best identity is! And the problem – you have to live up to it! You have to have better Insta pictures than your friends –

Social, sexual, political, cultural – It would take forever to talk through each of those – but we attach them to the core of our being.

This is me – but the problem with that – the solution – our true identity is in Christ. That is where true identity comes from.

When we take that identity away from Christ – there is so much missing in who we are.

Keller: Christian identity is the only identity that is received, not achieved

We don’t have to stress over it – am I who I am supposed to be? The receiving of that identity is the same the father gave to Jesus at the Baptism – This is my beloved Son with Whom I am well pleased.

We are His beloved children with whom He is well-pleased.

That sits at the core of who we are.

The older brother – in the parable of the Prodigal Son – the older brother created his own identity – He talked about how he never left, worked hard – was never given anything – he was the dutiful, obedient, respectful son.

How many Christians have created that identity for themselves? What is wrong with that? You might ask. The older brother tells us exactly what is wrong with that – He either forgot or never understood that he was the father’s beloved son – in whom he was well-pleased.

The father tells him that – you have always been with me and everything I have is yours… -but the older son never got it and the story ends with the older son LOST in his self-righteousness.

Paul became:

  1. To the Jews Like a Jew
  2. To those under Torah Like one under Torah
  3. To Gentiles Like a Gentile

This is kind of like the younger son…

1 Cor. 9:21 21 To those not having the law (Torah) – referring to Gentiles - I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law.

Pagans – to sinners – I became like a sinner – would be a bad translation – because he became LIKE a Gentile – or like me saying – to non-Christians, I became like a non-Christian. Then the question comes up – how MUCH like a Gentile.

(though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law.

And the law of Christ – what is the greatest in the Torah? Love God, Love your Neighbor.

Paul is saying he engaged in the world in every way possible – as long as he would be faithful to the law of Christ.

And he is telling us to engage in every way possible as long as we are faithful to the law of Christ – love God, love neighbors. Where does my engagement in culture cause me to become unfaithful to the law of Christ? Where do I stop being faithful to the law of Christ? And then don’t go there! Stop at that point!

It is kind of like – it is based on conscience – get as close as your conscience will allow you! There are so many ways to be like Jesus without crossing the line – becoming all things to all people – motivation is at the heart of it.

Sometimes, the motivation is to get people to like you are a Christian – so in order to get them to like you – and it is okay – let me put it this way – no matter how hard we try, if we are living for Jesus and sharing the gospel, there will be people who do not like you. That is a reality.

But on the other hand – some Christians believe it is a badge of honor to not be liked! SO they do everything possible to NOT be liked by non-Christians, and that is not so good either.

Sometimes our motivation is to show we are cool Christens. Like those who are known for drinking beer as a Christian. Sure, that’s fine – but to be what you are KNOWN for?!

Sometimes we become all things to all people to maintain a standard of living.

You go out and buy the most expensive Tesla they make so you can reach Tesla drivers! You can drive whatever car you can afford, but is that a motivation? Sometimes it is just continuing in our bad habits!

For Paul, it was really simple – go back a couple weeks – a slave – a servant to all.

Then Paul wraps it up with this:

22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.

There is a missing word here – LIKE – he became weak – following the example of Jesus – who existed in the form of God – and did not regard equality with God a thing to hold onto – He became human so he could reach humans.

Paul is doing the same – laying aside rights, privileges, advantages – and becomes weak to win the weak.

I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

Paul wraps it up with this in 2 Cor.

2 Cor. 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you by his poverty could become rich.

Paul is just trying to follow this. This is what it means to become all things to all people..

Hebrews says that Jesus became like us in every way – was tempted in every way – yet without sin – so He could bring us into His family.

He engaged in the world for the purpose of bringing people to salvation without conforming to the world.

2 Cor. 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

1 Cor. 9:23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.


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