Responding to the Call: Part 2

In last week’s message, and again this week, Jesus is talking about what it means to be an authentic disciple. Last week, Benny began with the illustration of Frederick Remington’s paintings. They set the image of what we thought and still think about the America West. Cowboys. Rugged individualism. Stunning panoramas. And Benny said there were 37 of them in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, but after a study, only 23 were proved to be authentic. The rest were replicas. Even the great experts had been fooled.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is talking about what it means to be an authentic disciple of Christ. The numbers are somewhat disputed, but a conservative estimate is that sixty percent of Americans claim to be Christian. But how many are genuine disciples? The word “Christian” causes us to think about a person’s belief system. The word “disciple,” however, focuses on action. Jesus is calling us to choose the narrow gate, the hard way. The path you choose will shape your life. If you choose the narrow gate, you will find it difficult, but you’ll also find the wonderful, freeing blessing of kingdom living.

The Parable Jesus tells of the two builders underscores the significance of his teaching. It’s a call to obey. If you’re going to follow Jesus to the cross [for salvation], you need to follow him from the cross in obedience. This parable is an analogy: The person who obeys Jesus’ teaching is wise; the person who doesn’t obey is a fool, moron, idiot. (The word “fool” in the original language means “moron.”) There is a purpose and place to be politically correct, but here Jesus is saying there is also a time to be direct, and this is that time. There are two builders, wise and foolish, and there is no middle ground. You have to choose.

What Are We Building?

A life of obedience.

In Matthew 7:24, the one who hears Jesus’ words and puts them into practice is building on truth. Because Jesus is the Truth. His Word is truth. The gospel can stand alone; it is always true and doesn’t need something else to make it valid. But it needs a context. Believing and doing is the key. Sound doctrine is crucial, but not enough. True faith leads from belief to obedience. The church is the context in which the truth gets lived out. Our belief, our faith, is genuine as we do what we believe. God is calling us to be the living, breathing hands and feet of Jesus.

A life of commitment.

Looking good is not good enough. Knowing right is not right enough. We’re building a life of commitment. If we’re genuine disciples, like those Remington replicas we have a touch of the original inside us. An authentic life of commitment appears by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. It shows up in honesty, fidelity, love, kindness, perseverance. Commitment goes way beyond our simple presence at a church meeting. We are living, breathing replicas of Christ.

A life of endurance.

In verse 27, the rains came and the floods came and the wind blew and beat upon the house. We get beat. I know you know what it feels like to have the rain fall, fall, fall. And the water rise, rise, rise. And the wind beat, beat, beat. You feel that at times in your life. What will get you through? The truth of the Word of God. You have heard Jesus’ Word as he has spoken it in this Sermon on the Mount. We endure because we are obeying his Word. We are called to a life of obedience, commitment and endurance.

We will be able to tell the difference between the genuine and the replica when the storms come. When you trust in him, obey him and follow him, you will endure.

Belief and Holiness

There is content to our faith and belief. Jesus is speaking with an authority above the law, the scribes and Pharisees. The Jews listening to Jesus’ message understood that he is teaching about the kingdom of God coming as if it’s his to bring (verses 28-29). He is saying the Son of Man has come to set you free. There’s one God, one Savior, Jesus Christ. We can’t believe the wrong thing.

There is also a life of holiness, a visual of that faith, a righteousness of heart that exceeds the outward show of the Pharisees. It is different in kind, born of the heart, but it has action. This parable says there is no room for half-heartedness, for compromise, for saying one thing and living another. Purity of heart and holiness speak of a devotion and commitment to Jesus.

On closer examination, would we be determined genuine or a replica? We follow a set of doctrinal beliefs, but those doctrinal beliefs are wrapped up in Jesus Christ—who he is and what he has done and will do. Jesus has never, will never let you down. Jesus is the truth. He was the only authentic man ever. Everyone else is a replica. Yes, you can follow good replicas, people who lead in Christ’s kingdom, but remember you are not looking at the real thing. They are imperfect and they sin. They can let you down.

Jesus is the real thing. He’s calling us to a life of holiness—to walk by faith and be an authentic demonstration of the living God. Brokenness and failure are a temporary condition. God is making his church holy. The church is a structure that has taken a beating and gloriously reflected the truth. True faith leads to a life of obedience.

Failure to live out the Sermon on the Mount is self-destructive and foolish. But living the way Jesus describes gives a life of peace, joy, commitment, obedience and holiness. It is where we want to be. By his grace and Spirit within us, we can be his disciples.