Yesterday I mentioned a sermon from Sunday and this morning it is on my heart to just share with you my notes jotted as I sat under the teaching of B. J. Leonard, one of our pastors.
The series is called “Overflow” and this particular message had a visual for us. On the table next to where B.J. stood there were two pitchers, one filled with green water and one with blue. There was an empty glass as well.
He opened with a story of a soccer game played with friends back in his teen years. They were at a camp with no official field and goals marked so they used landmarks. B.J. talked about how he had an awesome game and scored numerous goals only to find out at the end that he had misunderstood the designated goal area and had scored nothing.
He likened this to our Christian faith sometimes. We are passionate and playing hard, but we have misunderstood the goal and thus at the end have missed the mark completely.
While Jesus paid everything and it costs us virtually nothing to be a Christian, Discipleship is a whole different ball game. Sharing some facts about even the difference in the label of Christian versus the description of being a disciple; he taught us the name “Christian” is only used three times in the New Testament and then by outsiders of the faith describing followers of Christ.
The indicator word “disciple” or “follower” is used over 300 times and by Jesus. He reminded us that labels like “Christian” can be vague and misleading while a “Jesus follower” can be clearly defined. It describes a clear action. A Jesus follower follows the teachings of Jesus.
He said, “We will define the name “Christian” by how we live. By what we do, what we stand for, what we will give up.” It is our Christ-following that defines our label of being a Christian.
Using Matthew 10: 38 as the price Jesus set for following Him, B.J. reminded us that at the height of Jesus’ popularity with the masses, He busted out this promise for those who choose to follow Him.
“If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you:ll never find yourself. But if you forget yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”Matthew 10:38 Eugene Peterson The MSG
Other translations are the warning that if you don’t take up your cross and follow Him, you are not worthy of Him. B.J. reminded us that in the language of our day that would be akin to “take up your electric chair”…makes more impact when put that way, doesn’t it?
So how to we do this? How do we live by forgetting ourself?
Using the pitchers, B.J. reached for one of the pitchers and the glass and explained that the glass represented his life and the pitcher of green represented his self desires and nature. He filled the glass to the brim with all his hopes and dreams and desires for how he is wired. Not bad goals…not bad plans…but self-directed and underneath the humanity that is so frail in all of us.
As he held the glass full up he described how as he bumps into the inevitable stresses of dealing with others who are also carrying their glass full of self, he will become frustrated, jealous, bitter, angry and as the tension of the reality of life on planet earth took on greater force, he began to shake the glass. Of course the contents splashed out all over the towel he had lid out.
Green stains soaked into the white fabric as he described how a life full of self begins to spill out toxic waste on the other lives around it. Also the glass was now getting low and so he said he had the option to reach back for that same pitcher of self and refill it only to repeat the pattern again and again and again.
Or he could empty out the glass and pour out all that in his human capacity to live and exist, and fill it with the other pitcher which represented the Holy Spirit. I thought to myself how often I have realized I need to let God be poured in, but I have not emptied the glass first.
I thought as I looked at the two pure colors of green and blue, how murky I let my life be when I fail to pour out my “self-centeredness” first and then let God fill me.
As I watched him pour the green liquid back in the first pitcher and then fill the glass to the tip top with blue, I knew that is what I want. To pour out my rights, my desire to be first, my wants and needs and will and then to be filled with the pure love of God.
He ended with a simple prayer we all can pray.
God, show me how to empty myself and show me what actions to take.
As the Church, now more than ever, we need to be praying this prayer and then moving forward in what God leads us to do in His Name and for His Glory.
Again, here is the sermon link for this teaching. I hope I did his teaching justice, but a listen to the real thing would do you a world of good.
God bless each of you today <3