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Watch 2022 online sermons » Andy Stanley » Andy Stanley - Rebranding

Andy Stanley - Rebranding

Andy Stanley - Rebranding
TOPICS: Investigating Jesus

Okay, so here's something that does not look good on anyone. This is basically a wardrobe option that everyone should avoid. Okay? Self-righteous, self-righteous. Doesn't look good on anyone. If you know somebody who wears this, I mean, you just kind of feel it as they walk in the room. It's like, that just doesn't look good on you. This doesn't look good on anyone. And because I have too much experience with this as I'll share in just a minute, I understand, unfortunately, that as it turns out the people who are self-righteous are rarely self-aware. Okay? They don't know that when they walk in the room, when they start talking, everybody kind of feels pushback and a little bit condemned. They don't know that they're wearing it. Okay? They're wearing it and everybody knows they're wearing it, but they don't know they're wearing it.

Now, when you hear the phrase self-righteous we immediately think in religious terms, but being self-righteous can interface with being self-righteous religiously, but self-righteous incorporates a whole lot of things. So here's what happens when a person is self-righteous. It happens when our rightness about something in particular, a view or the way we see the world, when our attitude, our perspective, when our rightness is so internalized that it becomes part of our identity. And when any view you hold, you hold so close that it becomes part of your identity, you immediately, without meaning to, you immediately when you meet people who don't see the world the way that you do, or don't view that, whatever it is, the way that you do or don't hold your view, you immediately internalize it on them as well.

So you're not just right. We're not just right about the view. We are actually righteous. The there's something righter about me, not righter about my view. There's something righter about me than there is right about you. And when that happens, we automatically, we don't make a decision, it just happens. We automatically begin to dismiss, look down on and disdain the un-right, the people we associate with the other view. And again, it's not out here in a world where we can talk about it. They are wrong because we are right. We don't just hold the right view. We are right. We are righteous and therefore they are, and we don't use this term, but it comes across, they are unrighteous. Now, here's the lesson for the day. When a view, okay? When a view about anything becomes an excuse to be disrespectful or dismissive toward another person, the person across from you, you may be right but you are not righteous. According to Jesus. Anyway, more on that in just a bit.

Today, we are in part five of our series, "Investigating Jesus, How We Know and Why We Follow". How we know there's anything even to the story of Jesus. And then even if there is, why in the world would people in the 21st century follow a first century rabbi, day laborer from Galilee that was crucified by Rome and rejected by His own people? Why in the world would we do anything this guy says and why in the world would we wrap our lives around and incorporate His value system into our lives? And why in the world would we worship Him? So these are really, really big issues. They're important issue because the credibility, and we've said this every week in this series, the credibility of Christianity, the veracity of Christianity rises and falls on a single individual. This individual we're talking about, Jesus of Nazareth.

So which means that if you are considering faith for the first time, the Christian faith, or if you are reconsidering faith, because you walked away and now you're re-interested. Or if you're considering leaving faith, you're unconsidering the Christian faith, the question that you should wrestle with, the only question that's pertinent to that discussion in terms of should I embrace faith, re-embrace faith or walk away from faith? The biggest issue is not is there a God? The existence of God is fun to debate, fun to talk about. Whatever view you take, there are a stack of books to support your view and I love reading those books on both sides, but that's not the real issue. And the real issue isn't is the whole Bible true. That's fun to talk about as well. And given enough time, I could probably demonstrate to you that there is a view of the Bible that you can take everything in the Bible seriously, but that's not the starting point for the Christian faith.

The starting point for the Christian faith, the only question to wrestle with is this question: is Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, a reliable account of actual events? These are the four accounts of the life of Jesus written in the first century that were eventually bundled together by the end of the first or the beginning of the second century. And then eventually bundled together with the letters of Paul and the Hebrew scripture, and in the fourth century became the Bible. But long before there was the Bible, in terms of the assemblage of all those ancient documents, there was the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. And if even one of these accounts is a reliable account of an actual event, then what they say about Jesus is true. And if what they say about Jesus is true, we all need to sit up straight and pay attention.

So in this series, we are simply looking at one of the accounts of the life of Jesus, the account entitled Luke, named for its author. And right up front, and I've said this every week and I'll say it again next week, right up front, Luke lets us know he is not writing religious material. Luke is not sitting at a table, staring up into heaven, waiting to be inspired, to write sacred text so that people could know something and believe something and just kind of have a feeling in their heart and a warmth. He's not writing religious texts. He doesn't know he's writing anything sacred. It's very clear why he writes what he writes because he tells us right up front, he is simply documenting someone's life and he wasn't alone. He wasn't the only one, in fact, as we saw, here's how he begins his gospel. He says "many," not just me.

This isn't just God's doing something special through me and I'm gonna be a unique voice. He goes, "Oh no, no, no, that's not what's happening here". "Many people have undertaken to draw up an account," that is a chronological account, "of the things," the event, "that have been fulfilled," that happened, "among us". Not 50 years ago, not 100 years ago, not in some other place, that have happened right here among us. "Just as they," those events, "were handed down to us by those who from the first," that is the very beginning of Jesus ministry, "were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word".

So, what Luke is saying is this: look, something happened. And we realize, a whole bunch of us, not just me, a lot of us realize that what has just happened in our generation right here in front of us is not just for us and not just for our generation. God has done something, not simply said something, not inspired something, not simply spoken something, not simply move somebody to write something. Uh-uh, that's not what's going on here. God has done something in the world and what He has done needs to be recorded for all time because it's for all people of every single generation. So I am throwing my hat in the ring and I'm gonna be one of the many that tries to get this right because this is for everybody.

In other words, Luke's not writing the Bible. He doesn't know there's gonna be the Bible. He just knows something has happened, I know the key players and I'm gonna do my best as an educated man to get it down for those who are interested in the generations to come. He's simply telling us what happened. Specifically, this is so powerful, he's documenting Jesus paradigm shifting, culturally offensive, liberating, dignifying, hope giving, teaching, and activities. And Luke tells us, as the other gospel writers do as well, that Jesus claimed to know what God is like. And He claimed to know who God likes.

So case in point Luke 15, jumping ahead, another parable that became iconic. But the context of this very, very familiar set of parables, the context is the point of the parable and without understanding the context, we don't get the point of the parable. And Luke would tell us if he could stop and just speak to us, he'd say, "Hey, the point of these three parables is the point that Jesus was trying to make with His entire life and His death and His entire ministry. This is why Jesus branded His message 'good news.'" And then Luke tells us what unfolds.

One day Jesus is teaching and here's what happens. Luke 15. One day, now tax collectors and sinners, we have to hit pause here. We've said this before, but it's important to know the tax collectors were so bad they weren't even considered in the class of sinners. So you would say to your parents, "Well, at least I'm not a tax collector". You know, I can't believe you did that. Oh, I know that was horrible, Mom, but at least I'm not a tax collector. I mean, it was like the lowest of the low, but the tax collectors and the sinners, these are the unclean. These are people who are not worthy to enter the temple. These are people who are distanced from God, and many thought this group of people was hopelessly separated from God. But here is the amazing part of the beginning of this little narrative.

"Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus". And Luke's right and he would just say to us, "Isn't that amazing"? And for us modern day church people, we would say, "No, it's not amazing. It's embarrassing". It's embarrassing because people who are far from God don't gather around to listen to us, they think we're crazy. And they think we're judgmental and they think a whole lot of things, but nobody's gathering around to listen to us. Apparently the church didn't always get this right. Right? Which is one of the reasons that you're having to reconsider faith because you met too many Christians. I mean, bad Christians happen to good people all the time, right?

And Luke understands this. He's like, "I get it. I'm about to introduce you to the other crowd". But don't miss the point that people who are nothing like Jesus liked Jesus. He was righteous. He was not self-righteous in the sense that He carried His righteousness in such a way that it made the unrighteous feel pushed away. On the contrary, it made the unrighteous feel drawn in. Isn't that a amazing? Imagine if the church had been that way for 2000 years. Once upon a time, it was. If it wasn't, we wouldn't be here today. He continues, but there's another group. "But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law," and I love this word, we should bring it back. "The Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered". They muttered.

Here's what they muttered. If this teacher really was from God, these people would avoid him like they avoid us. But since they're not avoiding him like they avoid us, obviously this teacher is watering down the Torah because if he was teaching it straight, they would wanna have nothing to do with him, they would feel condemned by him just like they feel condemned by us. Here's what Luke said they said to one another, this man, talking about Jesus. "This man," they had no idea, did they? This man, he's just another man. "This man welcome sin and eats with 'em". If he was from God, He would avoid them and eat with us. So Jesus is guilty by association.

Now let me just tell you one thing about Jesus and guilt by association. This is so important. If Jesus were concerned about guilt by association, he would've stayed in heaven. He would not have associated with us. He would not have associated with me for sure and apparently the person over here to my right, that clapped is like, "Hallelujah". He is not worried about guilt by association, right? So here's the point, okay? Now I'm gonna ask you to participate in just a minute so don't get too excited, okay? So now everybody's there. Everybody's there, you got the Pharisees, teachers of the law, you got the tax gatherers, you got the sinners, everybody's there and Jesus sees His opportunity. But before we look into what He says next, I want us to do a little survey, okay? We're gonna all participate.

So listen, I want us to join this story, okay? So here's the question. Raise your hand. No elbows. So which one are you? Which way do you lean? Do you lean self-righteous or do you kind of lean unrighteous? Now I'm gonna ask you to raise your hand, and I'm gonna go first so I'm gonna give you my category first and so you can decide to participate. So I lean self-righteous and here's what I mean by that. There's something in me that if I'm not careful, if I just take my, foot off the gas of my, you know, trying to follow Jesus and just coast, I veer toward what's wrong with those people? Those people. What's wrong with those people? Why do they act that way? Why do they talk that way? Why do they react that way? How could they vote that way? What's wrong with those... How could they believe that way? What is wrong with those people? Because you see, I'm not those people. They are those people and I'm better than those people.

I wouldn't say that out loud, except I'm in church, I just said it out loud, but if I just drift, that's the direction I drift toward, right? You're wrong. They're wrong. So if you kind of lean toward Pharisees, I want you to identify with me, hands up, anybody, you kind of just kind of go there? Yeah. Church full of Pharisees. That's a amazing, yeah. Now some of you are kind of like this, 'cause I don't know if everybody's gonna play. It's like I don't wanna be the first, especially if you're on the front row, you have no idea. You might be the only ones with your hands up, right? Everybody's back there going, "Whoa, I'm glad they're on the front row". So, now we're gonna go to the other group, okay?

So the other group is the group that you would say, "Now, I'm not really self-righteous. I, honestly, I'm kind of like unrighteous, like let me define it. I think maybe if there is a God, I guess God loves everybody 'cause I've heard my whole life God loves everybody, but I'm not sure God likes me. I mean, when I think about my past or my present, what I've done and I've asked God to forgive me, but in terms or, there's just something in me I just, I always feel like I'm trying to make my way and I know I can't earn my salvation. It's not that, it's just, I just feel like there's... I just have stuff, there's just shame and I just kind of feel distanced from God a little bit. I kind of struggle with that". If you would say I kind of lean toward feeling more unrighteous, hands up. Any unrighteous folks here? Look at the whole front row. I'm glad... Yeah. That's great. Yeah. You're the only ones who raised your hand. Just kidding. There are other ones. Most people watching online are unrighteous. Anyways. Just kidding. Okay.

So, all right, so here's the point. You got these two groups, both groups are confused about what God is like, and Jesus is about to explain it to 'em. And He does it with these three very familiar parables. There are three parables about valuable things that get separated from their owner. They go missing, they get lost. And Jesus, because He's the master storyteller, He begins with a question that'll put everybody on the same page and a question that everybody in His audience will answer the same way. Here's how He starts it off 'cause He's so brilliant. He says this, "Suppose one of you has 100 sheep and loses one of them". Well, this is easy, this is 101, because everybody there knows what they would do, they're like, "Well you go looking for it. If you lose one sheep, you go look, you leave the 99 and you go look for the one. That's just what you do".

Now, most of us as Americans, we think what would I do with 100 sheep anyway? And if I lost one, I wouldn't even know I lost it. I got 99, so we cannot identify with this at all. So I want you to think in terms of credit cards and children for just a minute. Okay? When you lose something of value, here's what you don't do. When you lose something of value, right? You don't console yourself with what's un-lost. You don't say, "But I still have my MasterCard and my five year old". "I don't know where my American Express is or my eight year old, but I still have my MasterCard and my five year old," said nobody, right? No. When you lose something of value, you are laser focused not on what's found, but on what is lost.

So they all get this first one. And then Jesus interprets it. He pulls out of the parable and He says in the same way, this is so powerful. He says, "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent". And when they heard the word repent, they understood this meant reconnect. Reconnect. Back in the family, back in sync. Jesus is, I'm telling you, there is more rejoicing in heaven over that one sinner. Oh, you mean the sheep was the sinner and the 99? Right. Which means that they're thinking, wait, wait, wait, hey, don't go too fast. So are you telling us that God views unrighteous people as something valuable that got separated from its owner? Jesus is like, "Exactly".

Well, that's not really how we view unrighteous people. Jesus is like, "And that's why I came". This is what He would say to me. For of us who raised our hand at self-righteous. He would say, "Hey, before we move on, is that how you view people not as right as you? As something valuable that maybe got disconnected from the owner, is that how you view people not as right as you or maybe not as left as you"? Hmm. Here's something to think about. Isn't it interesting the two things we're not supposed to talk about, over Christmas dinner and Thanksgiving at the dinner table is religion and politics? You know why religion and politics go together like this because of what Jesus is talking about. Those two areas are where we get self-righteous really quick. Those are the two areas more than any other area where we so own and identify with our view.

It is so internalized that we automatically internalize the other view in the you across from us. And we can't help become across as self-righteous. What have we got over that? What have we led the way? And I'm not even arguing that you change your view as we're gonna see just a minute. Remember Jesus, His views were correct. And yet, somehow He didn't carry himself with this self-righteous I'm better than you, righter than you posture then. What happens next is extraordinary and no English reader of the Bible gets this. And most of the people probably who had not been following Jesus didn't get this, but you're about to get this, this is amazing. There was a subset of people in Jesus' audience who immediately got this. Jesus goes to the second parable and it begins like this. "Or suppose a woman".

Now we hear that, we go, "Yeah. Oh, you gotta have men and women. That's what we do". That's not what they did. I'm telling you when Jesus said "Or supposed a woman," the women in the audience sat up straight like, "He's talking about us". I mean, women had virtually no value. They're traded as little girls. I mean, virtually no value. Even within that community. Just we can't even imagine. Well, we can imagine. There are places in the world where what's self-evident to us about the equality is not self-evident, right? We've talked about that before. But more amazing, the people who were following Jesus, His disciples who understood how His parables worked, they understood that in every single parable, there is a God figure. Remember, last time we were together, the story of the Good Samaritan and they realized, oh my goodness, Jesus is about to make a Samaritan the hero. And sure enough, Jesus made the Samaritan the hero and the Samaritan is the God figure because he acts like God. In this little short parable, Jesus does the unthinkable. He associates the hero of the parable, a woman, with God.

Now, let me pause and say this. Women, if you could fully understand, regardless of your religious background, what you've heard, church experience, if you could begin to grasp, and when I say grasp, I don't mean because you're not smart enough. I just mean because of the information that maybe you haven't been exposed to. If you could begin to understand the significance of Jesus' words to and about women and what He did in His culture about women, I think every woman in the world should have a bumper sticker on the back of her car if she has a car or whatever she owns, it says, "I love Jesus". You should, whether you believe He's son of God, whether you worship Him or not, I'm telling you what Jesus began, the flywheel that He began pushing on, on the dignity of every single human being, especially women, it is remarkable. And we miss it because it's self-evident to us that everybody's equal.

In the ancient times, it was not self-evident to anybody. And Jesus came along, He says, "But women and children, servants, the least of these, the Samaritans, all made in the image of God". It was paradigm shifting. Then Jesus... Oh yeah and I forgot the parable. So anyways, Jesus, this woman, sorry. Had to get excited about my sermon. This woman had 10 silver coins. There's a woman that had coins. She loses one, and then He asked the question, "And what do you do when you lose one"? And the women want to answer. They know what they would do, but they can't answer because of just the cultural context. But Jesus had addressed them, had elevated them. And the answer was, women knew we go search until we find it, right? Then Jesus gets to His most famous of the threes. One of the most famous things He's ever taught is iconic and people all over the world know bits and pieces of the story even if they don't know who originally said it.

This is the power of the teaching of Jesus. A wealthy man has two sons. Two sons, and the younger was waiting on Dad to die. And his dad just wouldn't die. He just kept getting older. And he's like, "I wish my dad would die so I could get my half of the inheritance". And he finally loses his patience. And he says, "Father, give me my share of the estate". Now, when Jesus says this, He's sharing this parable, both groups, the sinners and the tax gatherers and the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, both groups and everybody in the middle, they gasp. Ugh, this boy wishes his father was dead. That's tantamount to murder. This boy should be stoned. And the master storyteller continues.

So, instead of stoning him, "he divided his property between them," and the crowd is like, "Oh, why? Why? Why? No one would do this. You're losing us, Jesus. Why would anyone do this"? But anyone who understood the first two parables and anybody who understood the point Jesus was making in the first two parables would understand immediately why a father would divide everything he'd spent his life accumulating between his two sons because his son was lost to him and he wanted him back. Because his son was lost to him and he wanted him back, and he was willing to do almost anything to get him back. He wanted him back so he let him go. His son was lost to him, not spatially. He's right there. He was to him, relationally. And he wanted him back. And the son takes the money and runs. Then he spends it, you know this story, he spends it.

The older brother has spies in the city where the younger brother went. He knows what his younger brother's up to. He spends it. I mean, he just runs through the money. He runs through the money that it took his father half a lifetime to accumulate. And then eventually he's broke. And some of you, this is your story. You know, you hit a bump. You know, first it was just sprinkling. And then it was raining and you're like, "Oh, I can get through the rain". And then the whole bottom falls out, right? It's just one thing after another, after another. So he's broke and then there's a famine. We don't understand famine. We think famine is quick, you know, there might be an ice storm in Atlanta, so let's go get a, you know? Suddenly there's no bread or milk. I don't know. That's what we choose.

Now, we got water bottles. Famine, so famine is, there's no food anywhere. If you don't have it, you can't get it because there's not gonna be any. So now there's a famine. And then he has to get a job. He's never had a job. He's gotta get a job. And the only job he can get is feeding... Jesus, I'm telling you, Jesus is the master storyteller. He just goes lower and lower and lower. And he gets a job as a pig farmer. And His audience just like moans, "Oh no, a pig farmer". And now he's starving. And Jesus says, "And nobody will help him". And the audience, Jesus' audience, all of 'em together, He's got 'em right where we wants 'em. The whole audience is going, "Yes, he's reaping what he's sowed. Let him sow, let him sow, let him sow".

First time this group has agreed on anything. And then as you know, if you know this story, I love this phrase, one day he comes to his senses. He wakes up. It's like, what in the world, he comes to his senses and he thinks to himself, "What am I doing? What have I become? Whose story is this? This isn't my story. I'm living somebody else's story. This is horrible". He comes to his senses. In fact, that that may be your situation right now. In fact, the reason you're listening or watching, the reason somebody got you to come to church, or maybe you slipped into church all by yourself is because at some point recently you looked in the mirror and you looked at what you saw and you thought, who is that? And you look at your life circumstances and you think, "Who's life am I living? This is exactly what I intended to avoid. This is exactly what I'm always critical of when I see it in other people". And now it's you.

And I just want you to know it's not an accident you're watching or listening or in the room with us. You're at the right place at the right time. This is for you because Jesus is about to explain to His audience and to us what God, the Father is like and who God, the Father really likes. So he continues having this conversation with himself. You know, my father servants are better off than me. And then he comes up with a plan. I know what I'll do. I will go back. "I will set out and I will go back to my father and I will say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you". So he's broken. I mean, he's at the bottom. "I am no longer worthy. I'm no longer worthy to be called your son; just make me like one of your hired servants". I'm willing to work and have a job. And so he got up from where he was, quit what he was doing and he went to his father and he's rehearsing his speech all along the way.

And Jesus' audience, they're like, "This is gonna be good. We know what's gonna happen," because they knew what they would do. They did not know what the father would do, because they did not know what God, the Father is like. And this, Luke would tell us, is why Jesus came. It's what He came to explain. He would say these crazy things like, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father". Show us the Father, okay. Jesus would say, "Look, everything before me," this is so important for somebody today. Jesus would say, "Everything that came before me was a shadow. Everything that came before me was foreshadowing. Everything that came before me was a hint. It was kind of just to get people's interest and to keep the story moving. But what was a shadow before has shown up".

Now you can tell something about a thing by it's shadow. But if you wanna know what the thing is really like when the thing walks in the room or comes into the room, you're not concerned about the shadow anymore. And Paul told us that everything before Jesus was a shadow, but Christ is the reality. John said it this way, "For the Word became flesh". Before we were just guessing, trying to piece things together, trying to figure out cause and effect, but the word became flesh. And He became one of us and dwelt among us so we could know what God is like. Jesus' message through the Gospel of Luke is Jesus came to take away as much mystery as He could possibly take away. Not so we would have answers to questions about God, so that we would have a relationship with the living God because we knew His living son who became one of us.

If you wanna know, this is so important. If you wanna know what God is like, you begin with Jesus. If you wanna know what God would say, you begin with Jesus. If you wanna know God would do, you follow Jesus through the gospels 'cause he's God in a body who came to reveal the Father. He said at one point, "I glorified you on the earth". talking to His Father. "I glorified you on the earth having accomplished the work that you've given me to do". I've explained you on earth, that was the work you gave me to do. How do we miss this? "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with..". If the father was like you, what would go in that blank?

If you were the son, what do you hope goes into that blank? According to Jesus, we've all been the son because at some season of our lives, we've all been lost to God. The father saw the son in the parable and he was filled with compassion for him and the crowd just moans. And then Jesus, 'cause He's so good, He just pushes them to the edge of their capacity to follow Him in this parable. "And he ran," Jesus says, "And he ran to his son and he threw his arms around him" who'd been feeding pigs and he kissed him. Oh, the crowds like tearing their garments and throwing dust up in the air, like are you kidding? He touched his sons after he's been feeding pigs? And he put his mouth on his cheek? This is so disgusting. And the son immediately goes into the speech he's been rehearsing and all the way home, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I'm no longer to be called your son". And Dad's like, "Shh. Quick! Bring the the best robe and put it on him". Because I'm restoring him to sonship. "And put a ring on his finger," because he is my son. "And put sandals on his feet," because he's not a servant or a slave, he is a member of my household.

Now, here's how I respond to this. Shouldn't we wait a bit? I mean, do we kind of just react? This is a very emotional Dad. Come here, Dad, come here, come here, come here. This is a very emotional moment. I know you love your son. He's been away, but we need to see if this is real. I mean, he's had a really tough time. He's liable to say anything. Maybe we give it a couple weeks. Maybe say in a couple of weeks, we'll talk about the ring and the robe and the sandals. You know, you just go barefoot for a while. Shouldn't we? You know, let's just, you know? And you know what the father in the parable would say to me? And I'm making this part up. He would say, "No. No, no, no, we're not gonna wait". This isn't about his behavior. This is about a broken relationship being restored. Don't you understand that "for this son of mine" he's been my son was dead and he's alive. He was lost to me. And now he's found.

And I think Luke would be like, "Do you understand the implications of this story"? That God, your Father, does not see good and bad people? He sees lost to God people and found by God people. Fun fact, and you're gonna be the only Christians who know what I'm about to share with you. I'm telling you, nobody knows this but me and I'm about to share it with you, okay? Kidding. Kind of, but this will... I mean, next time you're talking about the Bible, you throw this out, they'll be like... Okay, the Greek verb. Okay, the Greek verb used throughout all three of these parables that is translated lost, lost means lost, all these things were lost is apollumi. Apollumi. Let's just say it together to sound smart. Apollumi. Apollumi. Apollumi. Did you know that same Greek verb shows a up in the most famous verse in the whole Bible? But it's translated differently. It may be translated incorrectly. I'll quote it for you. Think about this.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not apollumi. Shall not be lost to God but will have eternal life". Wow. What if we saw people in terms of lost and found, not good and bad? What if the church people that pushed you away had thought in those terms? Now there's another character in the story, unfortunately it's my character. I hate to admit that. The other character in the story is the well behaved first born, get it right, live within the guardrails, make Dad proud, do it by the book, older brother, right? Who made this all about behavior.

So he's working in the fields 'cause he's doing what he's supposed to do, making up for his younger brother being gone. Comes back. Here's this party, calls the servant. Says, "What in the world's going on"? The servant's like, "Hey, I got some good news and some bad news, and they're the same news. The good news and the bad news which is the same news is that your younger brother's back, and I realize that's good news and that's bad news". And the older brother is furious. He gets cleaned up, but he is not going to the party.

The dad comes out, he says, "Son, I mean, come in. Your younger brother's back". And the older brother's like, "I know he's back. Dad, come on, seriously? All these years. All this time. All these years, I have been slaving for you, I have been living a right kind of life and I never disobey your orders. But when this son of yours, not this brother of mine, uh-uh, when this son of yours who has squandered... Dad, do you know what he's been doing? Because I know what he's been up to. Who squandered your property that you spent your entire life kind of accumulating, squandered your property with prostitutes, okay? I hope mom doesn't find out about this. Comes home, you kill the fatten calf for him! I don't get it. He doesn't deserve this". To which if Jesus was adding this part of the story, He would say, "Who said anything about deserve"?

I'm not celebrating. I'm not celebrating.. This has nothing to do with deserve or behavior. We're celebrating a restored relationship. And I love this. Jesus puts these words in the father's mouth, "I had to celebrate". You wanna know what's most valuable to you? Look at what you celebrate. I had to celebrate. "I had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead, he's alive". Not he was bad and he's good again. He was dead and he's alive. He was lost to me. And now he's found. Self-righteous. It doesn't look good on anybody. It especially doesn't look good on Christians, whether it's about our faith, our politics or anything else. And you know what? We should know better. We should know better because we are not any better. We're just a little bit better off because we were lost to God. And we've been by His grace found. We were dead and now we're alive.

So, what if just for a week, let's not make this too overwhelming. What if just for a week we viewed people like that? Just what if we viewed everybody like that? Not good and bad. Probably before we started judging those... Oh. Not doing that anymore. Be like my Father in heaven. Those... Well, they might be just disconnected from God or they may be connected to God and they may be my brother and sister. Oh no. How am I gonna be dismissive and angry if they're my brother and... Oh, this is just messing up all my categories. Luke is like, "I know, it's amazing! It's amazing, isn't it? The whole world needs to know this. Every generation needs to know this. I'm gonna document it along with a lot of other people".

If the world ever got their heart and mind around this, it would change everything. Not good and bad, lost and found. When we do, when we do, you know what happens? We will no longer size people up and write 'em off. And if your version of the Christian faith empowers you to size people up and write 'em off, you have the wrong version. You do not have the Jesus version. And perhaps you're not as right or as righteous as you thought you were. And I'm not being overly critical because unfortunately, that's my story. Because when our rightness, as I said earlier, becomes an excuse to dismiss those we consider less right, we're not as right as we think we are. And we are certainly not righteous.

Let me ask you one more question and we're done. Do you get disgusted with lost things? Do you get angry at lost things? No. You go looking for and re-connecting with lost things. And according to Jesus, your heavenly Father isn't disgusted by lost things either. The father in the parable, think about it. The father in the parable that Jesus manufactured so we get the point, the father in the parable sacrificed half of his possessions in order to entice his son back. And later in the Luke story, Jesus will sacrifice his entire life in order to entice you back. And the you across from you. Self-righteous. It doesn't look good on anybody. Especially Christians. And we will pick the story line up right there next time as we conclude the series, "Investigating Jesus, How We Know and Why We Follow".
Are you Human?:*