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Andy Stanley - Maturity

Andy Stanley - Maturity
TOPICS: What Our World Needs Now, Maturity

So I'd like to begin today with a pop quiz, because it's been a long time since most of you have had a pop quiz that you hate pop quizzes. Now sometimes in marriage there's a pop quiz, you know, we can talk about that at a different time. But this isn't that kind of pop quiz. This is actually a fill in the blank single question pop quiz. Please do not answer out loud, okay? Don't answer out loud and don't look at the person's paper next to you, okay? And there's only one blank in the pop quiz, but it doesn't have to be one word, you can put a sentence in. So we're all gonna play this together, whether you're watching or in the room, one of the rooms with us. So here it is. What our world needs now is, don't say it out loud, what our world needs now is, and not love, sweet love, okay? Don't do that, if you know that song. If you don't know that song, good for you.

But anyway, what would you do? In other words, you could push a button and you could do something that would just, boom. It would just be a big, big thing in our world that would just, you feel like would really shift things, change things, make things better. What our world needs now is. We're gonna come back to that in just a minute. As you probably know and have probably experienced or heard, or maybe you would, this is something that you would say, there's a big trend right now in the United States especially, but it really in the west as well, and in Europe. But we'll just stick with the US. There's a big trend right now towards spirituality, not necessarily Christianity or any formalized religion, but just general spirituality, personalized spirituality.

Write your own script, you know, grow your own spirituality. You may have heard somebody say, or maybe this is something you say, and I understand this, you might say, I'm not religious, I'm spiritual. And this means different to different people, which is kind of the point. Basically, you find what works for you and then you work it. And I'm not being critical because I think to some degree, even those of us who claim a, you know, an official, we wanna be Jesus followers, or maybe you're not Jesus follower, you're just sort of a general Christian, or you just kind of believe in God. But I think regardless of where we are on that continuum, there's something in all of us that kind of finds what works for us and then we just kind of work it.

For some people, this is actually a reaction to organized religion or a reaction to maybe a toxic church experience or bad church experience where you're like, oh, I can't do that anymore. That was so toxic. It was so destructive. I still believe there's something more to this life than what I see. I still believe there is something out there or somebody out there, but I just can't do the formal religion thing, the organized religion thing. Of course, I always say that what's worse than organized religion is disorganized religion. I've been a part of that too, you don't wanna do that either. But anyway, so for some people, this is a reaction. Or you may say, and this is similar, that this is a response to something to where you feel like you've gotta deconstruct and reconstruct your faith framework. A faith framework is basically the framework through which you view all of life.

And here's the thing, if your faith has been rattled or your faith framework has been rattled by reality, something you've seen, something you've experienced, something other people experience, and it's like, hey, that experience, this experience, or their experience does not fit in my faith framework, it's not large enough to incorporate that, well then it may be time to do some deconstruction and some reconstruction. That's not a bad thing. In fact, one of the things that we believe, and this is your first time with this, is we believe that a faith that isn't allowed, and sometimes it's not allowed depending on the church or the church system, a faith that isn't allowed to grow up won't bear up under the pressures of adulthood. It won't endure the pressures and the realities of our broken world.

So that's okay. It's okay to ask questions, it's okay to explore. I mean, that's a big part of this. The truth can always be questioned, right? But that's kind of the setup. Here's something that I think is interesting and I think it's really significant as well. And this may surprise you. In fact, if this shocks you like that can't possibly be true, then maybe you'll kind of do some of your own investigation. That's always a good thing. This is important, especially if you have incorporated Jesus into your faith framework. And it's really, really important if you're actually a Jesus follower, because you've already decided I'm gonna follow Jesus regardless of what Jesus is. But if Jesus is part of your thinking at all about your spirituality or your faith framework, this is really important and shocking.

When you follow Jesus through the gospels, in other words, if you read Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, when you follow Jesus through the gospels, you'll discover that he never invites anyone to participate in spirituality. He never ever once encourages anybody to be spiritual or to be more spiritual. In fact, he never even uses that term. He never uses the term spiritual or the term spirituality, which is shocking. It's like, well, wait a minute. Jesus is a religious figure. Certainly he talked about spirituality. He doesn't, he talks about the Holy Spirit, that's a specific entity. He talked about evil spirit, spirits which are specific entities. He says that God is spirit, but that's a specific entity. But he doesn't talk about general spirituality or invite people into some sort of realm of spirituality.

He actually invites and points his followers in a different direction, a better direction as we're gonna discover, a better for you direction and a better for the people around you direction. He didn't point his followers towards spirituality. He insisted on, and you may hate this, he insisted on maturity. And his version of maturity, as we're gonna see, actually stands in stark contrast to all about me spirituality. It also stands in stark contrast to all about me Christianity. And it stands in contrast to our sort of modern all about me what can I get out of it theology. Because the ultimate expression of maturity, even the maturity that Jesus points us to, the ultimate expression of maturity is, as you know, even though you may have not have had these words, the ultimate expression of maturity is saying no to me for the sake of we.

Now, we all experienced this in middle school and high school personally. And if you're in middle school or high school, this is not an insult. This is just part of growing up. Because one of the things you have to remember about maturity, maturity always takes time, always. Anything that matures, the whole idea of maturity means this is a period you can, a period of time. You can cram for an exam, you cannot cram for maturity. Maturity takes time. And where we struggled with this in high school was our parents, or would say things like, the only person you ever think about is yourself. And we would think, who else am I supposed to think about? I mean, you're my mom, you're just my dad. You're just my uncle. He's my gnat little brother I just want to swat at him. What do you mean the only person I think about is me? What else is there to think about? I mean, and then we grew up and realized, oh, I'm like in a community and things are gonna do a better, right? Because that's growing up. That is maturity.

Now, the other place where you might have bumped into this differentiation between spirituality and maturity is also in your home. If you grew up in a religious home, maybe a Christian home where your parents were spiritual, your mom and dad were spiritual, they were vocal about their faith, even if it wasn't the Christian faith, they were vocal about their faith, vocal about their spirituality. Maybe they had a Bible verse for everything. They had you in church all the time, you know, kind of every time the doors were open. But in all that spirituality and all those verses and all that church stuff, there was kind of a thread of hypocrisy. They were sort of one way in public, a different way at home. They were unkind, maybe they were critical, maybe they were judgmental. Maybe they were self-righteous, I don't know.

And in growing up in that environment, you experienced just this difference, because your parents probably considered themselves spiritual. They would say, oh, we're a spiritual, we're a spiritual family. We're a Christian family. And maybe you didn't use this word, but what you sensed is they lacked maturity. They lacked others' firstness. They were always right about things, but they didn't always treat people right. They were always right about what they believed and what you were supposed to believe, but they didn't always treat you right. And just to be honest, people who do what I do, pastors and church leaders, if we're not careful, we can facilitate this way of thinking as well. Jesus didn't, but we can.

In fact, Jesus reserved his harshest criticism for men who camouflage their all about me immaturity with DIY, do it yourself spirituality. When he caught people kind of creating their own spirituality with its own rules, and this is what you do and this is what you don't do, but they created it in such a way as to serve themselves and it harmed other people. He had no patience for that. He reserved his harshest criticism for that. In fact, he had a name he would call these people, and this doesn't make a lot of sense to us because of the way we bury people. But he referred to them, this was, I mean, this was so emotional. He referred to them as whitewashed tombs because they, in that culture, they would bury rich people, or rich people would have a building basically built for them to be buried in. And on the outside it was beautiful and it was literally whitewashed. It was white and they kept it clean. He says, you're a whitewashed tomb.

You look good on the outside, but on the inside you're full of rot and you stink. And it's gross, right? Because he said, hey, if you're gonna pretend on the outside, but it's not going on on the inside, I don't have any patience with that. And if that's the kind of spirit, if that's spirituality for you, he would say, that is not what my Heavenly Father represents and that's not what I'm calling people to. Now, speaking of Jesus, here's how Jesus introduces this idea of maturity. And he introduced it very early in his ministry. And because it's part of the Sermon on the Mount, which is a message that everybody believes he spoke, he preached over and over and over and over in various places with various different details. And consequently, it's one of those sermons that by the end of his three years with the disciples, they could probably all quote some version of this sermon that we call the Sermon on the Mount.

And here's what he says. And in our English text, it's a little, it's not misleading because the English text can't be trusted. It's a little misleading because if you don't read this in context, it's kind of like a, there's no way that I'm doing that. Here's what Jesus says. This got their attention. He said this, and this is at the end of a long kind of paragraph. He says, therefore, here's the conclusion of what I'm saying. "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect". To which we're all like, well, I'm out, right? I mean, I can't be perfect compared to anybody else, I'm supposed to be perfect compared to God? But the little Greek word translated perfect in these two places is actually the word, Greek word, teleios. "Be teleio, therefore, as your Father in heaven is teleios".

And what it's referring to is not perfection in terms of having no imperfection. What it refers to is the idea of being complete, or as we're gonna see, mature. In fact, the context, if you read this in context, what comes before it, it makes sense, because he's just finished saying, look, the two of the people, he's saying that he's invited to follow him. He goes, look, if you're gonna follow me, you can't just be good to the people who are good to you. Everybody does that. That is so immature. I mean, that's what children do. Come on, you gotta grow up, and God is not like that. And they're like, God's not like that? And he's like, no, God doesn't just like the people who like him. And God doesn't just bless the people who bless him. And God doesn't just love the people that love him. And then he gives this illustration, pretty famous illustration. He says, after all, "God causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good". The sun doesn't just come up for the good people, it comes up for everybody. "And he sends the rain, not just on the righteous, he sends the rain on the fields and the crops of the unrighteous".

So he says, when he talks about being perfect, like his Father in heaven is perfect, he's saying, no, I want you to be grown up, I want you to be mature. I don't want you to be like everybody else. So for example, if Jesus saw you returning good for evil, somebody treats you poorly and you treat them good, or somebody was unkind to you and you return their unkindness with kindness, your heavenly Father would say, that was perfect. That was the perfect response. You nailed it. That was amazing. Now you are so mature. Nobody does that. I mean, you're like your Father in heaven who sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous and who loves the just and the unjust. That was the perfect response. Way to go, you are so mature. That's what Jesus called his followers to. It's not about spirituality, which is almost really undefinable. It's about something that's very definable and very easy to observe, maturity. Then the Apostle Paul comes along, the Apostle Paul wrote about half the New Testament.

The Apostle Paul took the teaching of Jesus and he teases it out and he applies it for non-Jewish people, people like us, most of us, Gentiles. And lo and behold, read all of his letters. The Apostle Paul never calls people to spirituality either. In fact, in 1 Corinthians, his letter to Christians living in Corinth, he actually chastises the people in that church for their pseudo spirituality because they kind of created their own idea of here's what makes a person spiritual. And he called them children. He says, you're so immature, you need to grow up and quit acting like babies. And they're like, we're not babies. We're so spiritual. It's like, no, you're not, no you're not. You have it all wrong.

So again, the Apostle Paul, he doesn't call people to spirituality either. He calls them to maturity and he uses this same Greek word, teleios. But in our English text, it actually is translated in your English Bibles, mature. Here's what he says. So I'm gonna read you a passage. It's a little bit long, but it's, you gotta kind of have the whole thing to really get the point of what he's saying. So I'll read this to you. Here's what he says. Again, this is a letter that he wrote. This is actually a letter to Christians living in Ephesus. Here's what he wrote. He said, "Christ gave the church", these people who did specific things in order to build up the church. "He gave apostles, and prophets, and evangelists, and pastors, and teachers". and he gave these people these gifts. And he gave the church these people, "in order to equip his people, the church people for works of service".

This is so interesting. He said, God put these people in the church not to do something for themselves, but to equip everybody else to do something for everybody else. Because that's what the church is really all about. He goes on, he says, "so that", or the result is, "the body of Christ", that is a local church, "the body of Christ might be built up or grow up". And then he continues. And this is gonna happen, "until we all reach unity". Unity is maturity. We've talked about unity before. Unity in the faith and in the knowledge, because knowledge is built over time. It's part of maturity, it takes time. "And in the knowledge of the Son of God and become", and here's our word. And if all of this happens and everybody participates over time, individually and collectively, we become mature, teleios. In the Greek text, it actually says, you'll become a grown up man. You'll become a grown up adult.

So God gives the local church and he gives people in the church spiritual gifts, not so you can be more spiritual. God gives individuals spiritual gifts so that the church can grow up and become more mature. To which maybe we should ask, well, how mature and what does that look like? Paul's like, I'm glad you asked. I would love to answer that question. He goes on and he says this. "Attaining", that is over time, "attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ", which is just a fancy way of saying, the goal is that the individuals in the church would become, over time, grow up to be like Christ. Or the word that we use is that we would all grow to be Christlike, not Christ light, Christlike. And then he contrasts this to make sure that we all understand exactly what he's talking about. He goes on and he says this. He says, then, and then he gets specific. Then we will no longer be babies sucking our thumbs, babies, infants.

And this was one of the things that drove him crazy. All these people in some of these cities, 'cause he planted churches in some of the most sophisticated, cosmopolitan educated cities in the first century. And these people were very educated, they were very smart, but they thought they were spiritual. He's like, no, you're not. You're not even supposed to try to be spiritual. I want you to grow up. I want you to become mature and you're acting like babies. You're at each other and picking at each other and criticizing each other and nah, nah, nah, and you won't do this. And he's like, come on, we're supposed to be Christlike. And then he kind of takes a jab at people who do what I do. He says this, "Then we will no longer be infants", who are easily talked out of things and talked into things. Isn't it easy to convince a child of just about anything? And one of the problems in our nation right now with Christians is watching Christians being talked into things and being talked out of things so easily.

Paul would say it's because they're babies. They never grew up. They can quote things, they learn the books of the Bible, you know, they learn the songs, but they've never matured. He goes on, he says, "Then we will no longer be infants tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching". Every new idea that comes along, it's all the chickens run over to that side and then they run over back over to this side. Now this is the coolest thing and the newest thing. And Paul's like, good grief. How are we ever gonna get this thing off the ground? And, now he points at people like me, "And by the cunning and craftiness of people and their deceitful scheming", because Paul had experienced people coming along behind him who took bits and pieces of the gospel and bits and pieces of the teaching of Jesus and they crafted their own kind of worldview, their own spiritual worldview and confused people and drag people off into all kinds of crazy directions.

Again, and this happens today because of people who do what I do. Because we are the spiritual leaders. And I'm the pastor and I'm Reverend Stanley, and you'll never know the Bible as well as I do, okay? I mean, good luck, okay? If you don't come and sit in rows and listen to me, how are you ever gonna know what God wants? You know, it's sort of that, you know, spiritual leader thing. They use spiritual language to manipulate people. They use actually spirituality as a cover for their own personal immaturity, because, and here's the language, because people who do what I do, we have a special anointing by God. So you're, I mean, God loves you, but then there's me, okay? Come on, right? I mean, I get on an airplane, people are like, "Pastor, I'm so glad you're on this airplane".

Like, me too, I'm glad you're on the airplane, okay? I don't think you know how this works, or you know, I would coach so much baseball and the parents are like, "Oh, we're so glad you're the coach. We know we're gonna win". I'm like, it doesn't, you know, it just doesn't work that way, okay? We're gonna get as many rain outs as everybody else. But people who do what I do, they kind of gen this thing up. And, you know, sometimes people, and I just appreciate so much when people compliment me and they'll say, you know, "Pastor Stanley, we feel like you're just really anointed by God". And I just say thank you. But let me just tell you the truth, okay? I'm not. And neither are any of those other people. Read the New Testament. It ain't in there.

Let me tell you what I am. I'm just like you in this way. I have a gift and I work really hard. I have a gift. I'm a good public communicator and I work really hard. You have a gift and you need to work really hard. And this is why none of us can ever be proud or arrogant. Arrogance is ignorance. Arrogance is ignorance. Arrogance is, nobody gave me a gift, I did this all by myself. Well, mature people know better. When you meet a an arrogant person, they're immature. I don't care what they know or what they've done, they're just, they've lost sight of reality, right? You've met arrogant people. It's like, I just don't wanna be around them. So we've all been given a gift and a responsibility. Our gift is the thing that you're just naturally good at. I didn't ask her if I could share this, but Sandra, who's here today, she loves to organize people's stuff.

Can I share this? I already started, didn't I? Anyway. She loves it, so yesterday she had an opportunity to go be with one of our kids and get something organized, 'cause they just moved into a new place. And you know, she could not wait to get over there and organize it. That is a gift, okay? And she's good at it. Well, all of us have this. So what Paul is saying is, look, he's saying, look, don't be confused by the person with the microphone because they didn't have microphones. Don't be confused with the person who's been given the position of authority in the local church. They're just like you. They have a gift and they have a responsibility. And if you are mature, and if you are mature, you won't fall for the razzle dazzle Bible verse thing that makes them feel like they're a cut above you and you owe them something and God spoke to them and therefore you ought to go.

In fact, if you're in a church where the pastor says, the Lord spoke to me and here's what you need to do, let me tell you what you need to do. You need to find another church. That's what you need to do. Not because God told me, but because I've read the New Testament. And if you choose to stay in that church, that's your business. Do not raise your children in that church. You will pay for it. Okay, that was my rant. That was none of that was in my notes. Anyway, so back to Paul, okay? But this is important. And again, I think part of it is what breaks my heart right now in terms of what happens in our nation is watching Christian leaders, they're not even leaders. Let me tell you why they're not leaders. If you have to have an enemy in order to lead, you're a poor leader. If you have to have an enemy, well thank you, yes. If you have to have an enemy, this is what I tell leaders all the time.

Look, if you wanna swim over to the other side of the pool, swim over to the other side of the pool. Don't kick off the wall, just swim over to the other side of the pool under your own strengths. If you gotta kick off the wall, you need to look in the mirror. So anyway, so the Apostle Paul is saying, look, if you'll grow up and if you'll be mature, and if you won't fall for spirituality and you will seek maturity, you won't be confused. Back to Paul. He says, instead, that have fallen for all the razzle dazzle and all the spiritual speak, "speaking the truth in love, speaking the truth in love", we collectively, including me, we collectively, well here it is again. "We're gonna grow over time", the idea is maturity. "We will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Christ, of him, Jesus," who is the head that is Christ.

That individually and corporately, over time, we will mature, we'll become more like our king. His point is simply this, that as Jesus followers, we are all called to pursue maturity. Maturity, not spirituality. Which leads me at last to the title and the point of this series. The title of our series is in fact what our world needs now. And what our world needs now is not more privatized, grow your own, make it up your yourself spirituality. What our world needs now is you and us. What the world needs now is Jesus followers who are striving to become more mature. Jesus followers who are growing up into the fullness of Christ. Jesus followers who want to become more Christlike and who are putting in the work in order to become more like Jesus. People, to borrow a few phrases from the Apostle Paul, these are right out of his letters to other Christians.

What the world needs now is Christians who put childish ways behind us. What the world needs now is Christians who refuse, these are his words, who refuse to bite and provoke each other. Who bites another person? Children do, babies do. And if you ever, I hope that you never had that experience of, I mean, it's one thing if a child bites your child. In some ways it's worse if your child was the biter because you're so embarrassed and you're like, what do I do? And can we come back? And I'm so embarrassed, but you're in your, you can't really chastise. And he says to Christians in some of these churches, you're like babies who bite each other and devour each other. And that's what he says.

If you keep biting and picking at each other, you're eventually gonna devour each other. And in so much of Christianity today in our nation, and I don't know if you follow all these things and you know, I don't even like to bring 'em up, but there's so much of this biting and biting, and Paul says, if you keep this up, you're going to devour the church in your community. And what happens is, and if you're not a Christian or not a Jesus follower, you get this, 'cause you stand on the outside and you're like, okay, if that's the way Christians are, I can be like that and sleep in on Sunday. So I can be just as nasty and just as critical of other people, but I sleep in.

So why do I want that version of nasty? And then you all go and sit in rows and get some preacher to stir you all up and you go out to be nasty toward other people. It's like, who wants that? And that leads to the next thing Paul says over and over. The world needs Jesus followers, "whose daily lives win the respect of outsiders". If we aren't winning the respect, not the belief, if we aren't winning the respect of outsiders, we are doing it wrong. If the church in the United States of America isn't winning the respect, not adherence, not gonna join your church, not believe, no. If we are not winning the respect of outsiders, we are not doing it right. And the people who aren't doing it right are right in what they believe, but they're immature. They're immature.

And Paul says none of that, we're never gonna win this. We've lost the plot line. We're never gonna invite people into the kingdom of God and illustrate the kingdom of God the way it should be illustrated if we're biting and devour each other and if we're so ridiculously immature. So grow up and quit camouflaging your immaturity with your spirituality, with your knowledge, with your routines, with all those things. What the world needs now, bottom line, is men and women who are led by the Holy Spirit who dwells in each of us to grow us up. What our world needs now is mature Jesus followers who not who all vote the same way, but who are all pursuing the same goal, which is Christlikeness.

So here's what we're gonna do, that's the introduction. For the next few weeks, we are going to unpack one remarkable passage of scripture from Paul's letter to Christians living in the Roman province of Galatia, which is in modern day Turkey. For many of us, these are very familiar verses, but in these verses, he describes what grownup looks like and what grownup acts like, and what grownup reacts like. And while it is a list, he gives us a list. It is not, and this is so important for the next few weeks, it is not a to-do list. We have all to tried and we have all to failed, okay? It's not a to-do list. Paul refers to these virtues and these behaviors and these actions and these reactions as fruit, something produced in and something produced through us by another agent. He calls them, as you probably know, the Fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of spirituality. That's not even a thing.

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit, a specific agent that lives in us that produces fruit through us. Not the fruit or the outcome of our best effort or our discipline. The fruit produced in us through the Holy Spirit. Basically it's the outcome or the fruit of our submission to God's spirit inside of us. It's a whole different thing. It is a process. It takes time. And the result isn't more spirituality, the result is maturity. Here's how he sets it up, and then we're gonna stop and we'll pick it up next time. Here's how he sets it up. He says, since, this is kind of in the middle of a paragraph. "since we", talking about Christians, "since we live by the Spirit", in other words, since God's Spirit lives inside of you and you've been given new life, "let us keep in step with", or in another place he says, "let us walk in accordance or walk by the Spirit".

But I love this phrase. He says, this isn't super, this isn't like spirituality. This isn't hocus pocus. This isn't some weird thing. He says, no, it's very simple. You are to keep in step with the promptings of the Holy Spirit. That is the Holy Spirit prompts you, you are to keep in step with the Spirit. Now, this is his illustration, not mine. In Ephesians chapter five, he talks about the same thing. And he compares walking in the Spirit or being influenced by the Spirit with being drunk. So for example, how many of you have ever been drunk? Just kidding. Just wanna make sure you're paying attention, right? If you've ever been drunk, you know that you were under the influence of, you were animated by alcohol, right? And maybe you had the unfortunate experience in college or some other point where the next day when you sobered up, somebody brought their phone in and said, dude, look at you. And you're like, whoa, I was animated by alcohol.

That's what you said wasn't, look how animated I was. I was under the influence of a substance outside of me that was controlling me. That's the illustration the Apostle Paul uses. He says, instead of being animated and controlled by alcohol, I want you to be animated by, I want you to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit. And how will we know, how will we know if we're keeping up, if we're in step with the Holy Spirit? He says, well, others are gonna notice. But better than that, others are gonna be better off. So back to Paul. Here's what he says. He says, the Fruit of the Spirit is, and then he lists them. But I don't need to show you the list, because you already know what would be on this list.

The Fruit of the Spirit is exactly what you hope your spouse is. The Fruit of the Spirit is exactly what you hope your fiance or boyfriend or girlfriend will strive to be. The the Fruit of the Spirit is the person that you, is manifested through the person you hope your children marry someday. The Fruit of the Spirit is what you hope your boss will be or would be, or the people who you've employed or worked for you or report to you or you work with. The Fruit of the Spirit is what you hope is manifested in their life. And if you're not a Christian or you walked away from faith and maybe you're thinking about coming back or somebody forced you to watch this, if you're not a Christian, here's the thing. I don't know you, but I would imagine the Fruit of the Spirit is actually what you strive to be. And like me, you fail occasionally or often.

Just to quick list, this isn't the fullest, just to kind of get us get our heads in this. The Fruit of the Spirit is you'll be good at and good to. You'll be the person that's like, he's just such a great person. She's just, I don't know, just good. The Fruit the Spirit is patient. And immediately some of you're like, well, I'm out. No, you need to be filled with the Spirit. That's the point. Well, I'm not good at that. Exactly you're not good at that. You're not, I don't know you, you're not good at any of these, okay? I mean, if the standard, if the standard is the full measure of Christ, isn't there so much we all need to grow up in and mature to? You know what patience is? Patience is this. I care more about you than I do my own progress. Patience is, I'm gonna choose to walk at your pace because I care more about you than where we are going. You are more important than my destination. That's Jesus in the gospels, patience.

Some of you are like, my husband, my wife really needs this series. I'm so glad. Okay, the kind, you know what kindness is? We've talked about this. Kindness, this is so powerful. Kindness is loaning someone else your strength rather than reminding them of their weakness. I'm not gonna remind you that you fail. I'm not gonna remind you that I reminded you. I'm just gonna pitch in. I'm gonna loan you my strength. This is a Fruit of the Spirit. It's kindness and self-controlled. See, this changes the world. This changes an economy. This changes perhaps anything that needs to be made better. And then Paul, in this list, at the end of this list, I'm gonna show you one more in a minute. He makes the most extraordinary statement. It's one of the most insightful statements in all the New Testament. He says, this is amazing. There is no law against any of these. In other words, there's a law against, you can only be so bad before you, they take you to a bad place, right? You can only be so impatient to the point that you're gonna lose a relationship. You can only be unkind to a certain level before you lose a relationship or get arrested.

Paul says, let me tell you about the Fruit of the Spirit. You can max them out. You can't overdo them because they are a manifestation of the character of your God and your savior and your king. Oh, and faithful. See, some of you have, are still trying to get over someone being unfaithful. Some of you are wrestling with you being unfaithful because the temptation was just too much, or they just, you know, they just didn't deserve your faithfulness anymore. And your savior has been faithful to you regardless of you and in spite of you. And he says, now I want to produce that in you. So imagine a family characterized by the Fruit of the Spirit. You don't, when a relationship is characterized by the Fruit of the Spirit, you know what? You don't have any rules in that relationship.

There are no rules because you don't need them. Because if I'm for you, and you're for me, we don't have to have rules. You don't have to have laws because I'm for you and you're for me, and I'm mature and I'm going to put you first. Imagine a community characterized by those. Imagine a city characterized by those. Imagine a nation characterized by all of that. If our nation was characterized by the Fruit of the Spirit, our economy would be on fire forever. The productivity would skyrocket. Children would be safe, the world would be a better place. Why do we resist it? This is, again, when I know this, this is a lot of pushback to this. I don't understand why everybody wouldn't wanna follow Jesus.

This is what you want. This is what the world needs. This is what we all in our own way strive for. And Paul says, I'm telling you, strive all you want, you'll go do pretty good and you'll do better than others. And you'll have some strengths and some weaknesses. But I'm inviting you, he says. I'm inviting you to invite the Holy Spirit to produce these things through, you know, one quick just disclaimer to all the men. I wanna say something to all the men. And I've said something like this before, okay? Look, when we start going through this list, they seem, these words are so soft and they're so passive. And you already think the church has been too feminized anyway, and we come in here, everybody always looks nice, you know, when you put pretty people on the stage and we sing the songs and your wife's crying, you're like, I don't even like this music anyway. And it's, and the pastor right here doesn't even play golf or hunt.

So the whole thing is just kind of, I don't know, I'm just kind of putting up with this. Look up here, I don't want you to miss. This is important, okay? Before you write this off as soft and passive, I dare you to follow Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem in the last few days of his life. Just find a gospel and start there and go, I challenge you to follow the Apostle Paul on even one of his missionary journeys. In fact, man, let me just give you a reading assignment. If you're not currently reading the bible, this'll get you going.

I want you to get a Bible online Bible, they're free, or Bible or pick one up, get a translation you can understand. And I want you to turn to Acts chapter eight. It's Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts. And I want you to read Acts eight and nine. That's Paul, the killer and the arrester and the, you know, like, I mean, he's just awful. And then I want you to skip to chapter 13 and just follow him on one of his missionary journeys. And tell me he's soft and he's passive. Tell me you could withstand any of that. Tell me you believe anything as strongly as he believes. Jesus in the Apostle Paul, I'm telling you, they're the most courageous, they're the most bold, and they're the most loving and compassionate all at the same time. Because they were filled with the spirit of God.

Man, you want the courage to stare death in the face unafraid? That's who wrote this. Multiple times he had that experience. Do you want the courage to risk your life for the people you love? That's who wrote this. As he followed and as he became more like our king who did the same thing. This is an invitation to allow the life and the character and the courage and the confidence of Jesus to be expressed through your personality in your current environment. So this isn't soft and this isn't passive. This is for everybody. This makes you a better father. This makes you a better husband. It makes you a better man. And the first one that we're not gonna unpack because it doesn't need to be unpacked is love. But the Fruit of the Spirit is love. This is the catchall. This is defined by everything that follows. And what follows is what grownup, mature Christlike acts and reacts like.

So for the next few weeks we're gonna unpack each one of these different Fruit of the Spirit. We're gonna tease it out one at a time. And along the way, we are all gonna think, wow, I really struggle with that. Bingo, you are exactly at the epicenter of where God needs to work in your life. You are at the epicenter of where you need to invite the Holy Spirit to do through you what you cannot do on your own, because you have tried. That's the point of opportunity. That's the point of maturity. That is less me and more we. Less like me, more like Jesus. And along the way, we're all gonna be reminded that in our own strength we can't.

That's why it's Fruit of the Spirit. This is why there's an outside agency producing this through you. And when you bump up against your inability, and when we bump up against our insufficiency, that's our cue to hit pause and say, I can't. I can't, I need you. Before I walk through that door, you gotta do something to me. Before I hit send, you gotta do something to me. Before I respond, before I bail out, before I turn it on, before I turn it off. Holy Spirit, I need you to do through me what I cannot do on my own. And then the world changes. It's why we're here.

You know this, our nation right now is focused on who our world needs now. Let's be what our world needs now. Last thing, I'm done. If you're not a Christian, perhaps you have encountered too many spiritual people who reminded you of how wrong you are, but they did not remind you of Jesus. And if that's your experience with us, I'm sorry. And I have been guilty of that. And you need to know that you are not wrong to expect better of us. And I just hope that you will look past some of us to the one in whose image we seek to be conformed, because he is worth your attention. And we will pick it up right there next time in part two of what our world needs now.
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