Dr. Ed Young - You Need a Cheerleader
In 1898, a young student named Johnny Campbell became the first known cheerleader in the United States of America. On the campus of University of Minnesota, an athletic contest was taking place, and Johnny Campbell stood up and led all of those in the stands in a cheer for those who are playing on the field. He became the first cheerleader. We are looking today at a fabulous cheerleader. His name was Barnabas, and we see that he, all of his life, was constantly leading cheers. What happens when Al Twomay got up to the plate and the crowd is going crazy and they cheer? You say, wow, that didn't make any difference. Oh, it does. Let me tell you what happens, really what happens with our hormones, what happens when cheers go out.
I want you to look at these two chemicals, if you would. Oxytocin. Oxytocin is that chemical that happens when a mother is breastfeeding a child. Oxytocin is that chemical that happens when a husband and wife are making love. It is bonding. Oxytocin is what happens when we embrace and we support one another. It is a sense of belonging. Oxytocin goes out from the crowd, it goes to the team, and the team in turn returns some oxytocin to us. And when this happens, we feel like we belong, we are a part of, we're held, we're cuddled. This is a part of what we mean in the church family, that we have koinonia. It's family. We support one another. I, if I could, I would embrace you, and you would embrace me, and this is when oxytocin goes out. It's a powerful thing, a powerful ingredient that happens in genuine cheerleading.
Look at the next word there. Dopamine. Dopamine is that thing that surges through our body when we're running, when we're exercising. It gets us a feeling of happiness. It gives us a feeling of joy. And so in the cheering process, dopamine goes out from the audience all the way to those who are on the field. Or individually, it goes out, and it is the happiness pill that we receive. All of this happens when you and I become like Barnabas, real genuine cheerleaders. Let me tell you something. The more cheerleaders you've had in your life, the more secure, the more safe, the more gifted you are at this moment in your life. I looked back on my life and I said, who is the first cheerleader I can remember?
I remember being in the ninth grade, history class, sitting on the back row with all the bubbas. You know the bubbas on the back row. See, in my little town, and in most towns and cities today, basically there's the upper end, the country club crowd, and there's a lower end, in our town it was Masonite the hourly workers. And what happened was, we had a new teacher named Mr. West. He came to our high school, he didn't know anybody, he didn't know the town, didn't know the constellation. And the second day of class he said, I want all of you to go home and write a paper on any country in the world. A little two-page, handwritten paper, that was our assignment.
So I went home and I wrote a paper. I even remember the name of the paper. And titled it, Russia, colon, Sleeping Giant. That was my paper, little two-page paper. Turned it in. Back row, with the bubbas. New teacher. He didn't know the constellation, he didn't know the grading standard, he didn't know that the highest grade I'd made to that moment was a B, all the rest were down the road he didn't know that. But that day, he said, I read all of your papers, and he said, the best paper by far was written by Edwin Young. Oh, my running mates sorta exed me out, I want you to know right then. Those at the front said, who?
My first cheerleader in school. That changed my whole academic future. From that experience, through high school, college, graduate school, seminary, I got just a little stronger every year academically because I had a cheerleader back there. Who said just a simple word to me. To my knowledge, I never talked to him, I never dialogued with him, I don't remember anything, but I remember that one moment, and it changed my academic life, because of a truly... You've got people like that. Mom or dad, brother, sister, friend, aunt, uncle, somebody somewhere along the way. Somebody saw something in you that others had not seen. And they may have just said a breath of affirmation, just one little slight cheer, and it meant everything to you. Barnabas was a cheerleader.
Now Barnabas was a cheerleader he came from the upper end of society. So it works both ways, it's not just a matter of haves and have-nots, no no, that's not it. Barnabas was from Cyprus. And first of all Barnabas, was a cheerleader for the church. Well, how do you know that? He sold some property, he became a Christian on Cyprus, evidently. He sold some property and he took all the money from the property he sold and laid it at the feet of the apostles, he knew they needed funding as they started that first church.
Now, I want to teach you a little church history you're gonna need. So hang with me, it's important, and you'll discover it's very, very exciting. The first ten years of the history of the church, Pentecost forward, basically 99% of those who are part of that first body of Christ were completed Jews. They were Jews, who believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. First ten years, it stayed generally right there. Jerusalem, Judea, probably Galilee, a little bit right in that geographical place, for ten years. And the gospel did not go out to the Gentiles. Who were the Gentiles? In the Bible, anybody who is not a Jew is a Gentile. Got it? So when did the Word get to the Gentiles?
Well, the first was when when Philip went into Samaria and preached to them, and the Samaritans came to Christ. Remember, the Samaritans were half-Jews, so they were not completely Gentiles. And then Cornelius, who was a Centurion, he went to Peter with his family and said, we want what you've got, you've got Jesus, explain that to us. And so he was really the first Gentile. But the first group of people who became Christians was there at Antioch in Syria. Now imagine that we heard in Baghdad of people becoming Christians left and right, in Baghdad, today. We'd say, well, what's goin' on in Baghdad? Who's preaching, who's evangelizing? What's happening? We have to send somebody to Baghdad to find out what in the world's going on down there in that Muslim area, wouldn't we?
This is what happened then. And so the church said, men, Gentiles, we hear, by great numbers are coming to believe in Jesus Christ, there in Antioch. We've gotta send somebody there to find out if it's real, if it's genuine. And they selected our cheerleader, Barnabas. Barnabas went to Antioch. He's blown away. He said, my goodness, no, how does this happen? How did all these people come to Christ? And he was overwhelmed, and he said, I really don't know what to do. And by the way, it says they were first called Christians, Jesus followers in Antioch. The word Christians means Messiah men, Messiah women, Christ, Christos. Huh. Do you know where we got that name? From pagans! Jews would not have called us Messiah men, Messiah women.
The pagan says those followers of Jesus, they are Messiah folks. Messiah folks. First, that name was given by pagans to those of us in that church in Antioch. A Gentile church, of all places on the planet. While we're there, let's look at some of the names which we have. In the Bible, Christians are called disciples. Disciple comes from being disciplined. Primarily it's used in the Gospels, also it's mentioned a little bit in Acts, but nowhere in the letters of Paul, nowhere in the rest of the Bible, do you find the word disciple. Disciples primarily were those who were following Jesus, and he was teaching them the disciplines of what it meant to be in his family, what it meant to know him. Disciples. Disciples. And then what's another name? We're also called in the Bible, saints.
Did you know if you're in Christ, you're a saint? Yeah. A saint! What is that? A saint is how God sees you, and how God sees me. Because we've received Christ, God looks at me and says, there's a saint! Really? Yes. We are covered with the righteousness of Christ. He sees you as a Christ, he sees me as a Christ, that's the exchanged life. So we were called saints, disciples, discipline, being training, mentored by Jesus, primarily we were called saints, because God sees us as perfect. God the Father looks on you, if you know Christ, he says, there's somebody that's perfect, there's a saint. That's how the word's used in the New Testament. And then he goes on, we're called believers. We're called believers in the sense that we look at others and we see in them what we have in us. We see there are believers.
As I've traveled the world, in different days I've met people that I couldn't speak their language, I didn't know a word they were saying, and they were Christian. So all of a sudden, I was closer to them immediately, because they were believers and I was a believer, than I am to my next-door neighbor who's not a believer. Immediately. Immediately. So believers is the general category of what we are. Then we're brothers and sisters in Christ. You're my brother, you're my sister, and that's when all of these chemicals worked in the life of the church, which is magnificent. As we give out those chemicals in our cheerleading and they return those chemicals to us, that is a wonderful thing, we call it koinonia in the body of Christ. To brothers and sisters. They were called witnesses. We're to tell the story, that's the outgrowth of who we are in Christ.
So we see, under the big title of Christians, you've got all these other titles that help us understand who we are and what we're about. Now, we need to understand here about being a Christian. We have the idea of what is the invitation to come to Christ. You say, well I am saved. I don't know if he's Lord of my life, in the Bible, the invitation to receive Christ comes first of all in Lordship. Romans, clear word, chapter 10, "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, then you are saved". We have the idea, we come to Christ, we walked the aisle, we're saved, we're baptized, and then we work on lordship. The invitation the Bible is always Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, it's the Lord Jesus Christ. We come to Christ, you know what we're saying?
We're saying, I want Jesus to run my life, to call my shots, to help me make every decision, to be the center of my life. That's the invitation. And following the invitation to let him run your life instead of running my own life or you running your own life. Then the salvation process takes place, and the biblical term is sanctification. Receive him as Lord, then the Savior comes, and then the salvation comes, here and of course in the future. First called Christians there. Here's Barn, overwhelmed with all these Gentiles, he said, I've got to get help. I need somebody to come help me put this together. Just for example, let's just say that God said to you, man, all these people are brand-new Gentile Christians, I want you to take and make a church out of them.
Oh, what am I gonna do? I need help! And old Barn began to think and pray, well, who could help me? And then we see he not only was a cheerleader for the church, he's a cheerleader for Paul. Paul. Can you imagine what Paul was thinking? I thought about that. Paul must have been thinking, you know, God has dressed me up to be the evangelist to the Jews. I'm equipped like nobody on the planet to tell the Jews that Jesus is the son of God, and to see them come to faith in Jesus. He said, I am surely the evangelist of the Jews. But that didn't happen, they'd rejected him. Now he's at Tarsus. Barnabas goes down and said, Paul, guess what? At Antioch, Gentiles, they've come to Christ, and I want you to be an evangelist to the Gentiles! And we know that's exactly what he became.
And my, the world has never seen anyone like the apostle before or since. Because Barnabas went and got him back. Put him back in the game, not where he thought he'd be, but where God had planned him to be. The greatest missionary who's ever walked on this planet. Now, what happened? Well, Barnabas and Paul decided to go out and tell the whole world about Jesus. First missionary journey. They took with him a guy named John Mark, a nephew of Barnabas. Young guy. And John Mark went with them. And they got to Perga, and they were goin' into Pamphylia, a district there that was rough sledding, a dangerous thing, and John Mark said, I've had enough of this missionary stuff. It sounded glamorous in Jerusalem, but out in the field, I mean, it's really something.
So John Mark leaves, leaves Barnabas and Paul, he goes back home in Jerusalem. They go to the second missionary journey, they're spreading out there, they're moving the gospel out, they're establishing churches all through Turkey, all through Asia Minor. And then they're going out again, and Barnabas says, I want to take John Mark with us. Paul said, no way! Man, he turned away, he went back home, we needed him, we can't count on him. And Barnabas said, oh, yes, I think he's growing, he needs to go with us. And so Barnabas and Paul got in a dispute, and one went one way as a missionary, one went another way.
Paul took Silas with him, Barnabas took John Mark with him. Time goes by, Paul is in prison in Rome, and he knows that Timothy is coming to visit him, and he says, by the way, Tim, when you come, I want you to go and bring John Mark with you, he really would comfort me. Isn't that something? Second chance Barnabas, cheerleader for John Mark. Incidentally, sometime in the Bible, when you get to the second book of the New Testament, you'll run right into the writing of this same John Mark. Barnabas was a cheerleader for the church, a cheerleader for Paul, a cheerleader for John Mark. Now you and I, are you a cheerleader? Are you pumping that hormone, oxytocin, into the life of people? Making them belong? Accepted? Are you a cheerleader and you're pumping into them some of that dopamine? Giving joy and happiness?
Do you do that? When you do that, it comes back to you, it's like bread and water, it comes back. We need to be a cheerleader, we need to be a cheerleader for life. For life. We need to be a cheerleader for marriage. For marriage. Somehow our all-wise Supreme Court doing absolutely legal gymnastics have tried to redefine marriage, and they found it somehow, I think, in the 14th Amendment, and nobody who can read and write or knows anything about law can find anything there, but evidently they found it. So now we are seeing an effort to redefine marriage. There is no such thing as gay marriage. Marriage is something. It's not only defined by the Bible, it's defined by the history of civilization for thousands of years. A man and a woman.
It does not need, and cannot have, a modifier, gay marriage. There's no such thing. By the way, there's no such thing as traditional marriage. Ooh! No, no, no marriage is a thing. You see, what we've let the liberals do, they have defined the terms in the debate that we're having. And you let me define the terms in the argument you and I are having, it doesn't matter what's right and what's wrong, I'll win every time if I defined the terms. There's no such thing as traditional marriage. When you take your kids to the zoo, you don't say, now there's a porcupine, and there's a traditional porcupine. A porcupine is a porcupine, and marriage is marriage between a man and a woman.
Now, we have to, in our culture, not try to out-pious everybody, not say, boy, this sin is worse than that one. We have to learn how to speak the truth in love, and we have to be cheerleaders. But our cheerleading has to be based on truth. People that just go and say, boy, that's fine, I'm for you, you're the smartest, most wonderful person I've ever met in the world, I've never had a friend. I mean, watch out for those folks. They're cheering for you, but it's not based on truth. We have to do that, to base it on truth. And we have to see these who are destroying their life, they're destroying their life. They're goin' against basic anatomy. they're going against the way God has created us, God has formed us.
God hadn't made a mistake when he makes a man a man and a woman a woman. God didn't get confused with gender selection. We have to realize, this is God's plan and accept it and understand it. Sometime it calls for chastity, sometime it calls for relationships, but we have to cheer on the basis of truth. And those who are going in the opposite direction, we have to say humbly, the health challenges that are here, the social challenges that are here, the fact when anybody, anywhere, anyplace, you and me, go against the basic principles of this universe and of God, they're always, their very life and existence is in jeopardy.
There's a couple, they were dating, they went to Carlsbad Cavern, and he was a photographer, he had an expensive camera and he prided himself on taking snapshots of sunrise and sunset. They were in Carlsbad Cavern and he went over there and he was taking a picture of the sunset, and he was so exacting with the camera, it was a selfie, he wanted himself in it, and he kept backing up and moving, trying to get the right angle, and behind him was a deep cavern, a drop-off. And his girlfriend was watching him, he was focusing and moving, and she saw that if he kept moving he was going to go over the cliff, but she didn't say anything. He kept moving until, finally, whoosh, he went over the side. Rescue workers came, pulled him out. Broken back, arm, neck, concussion, in the hospital.
Oh, five or six days go by, he's all wrapped up, bandages up, all strapped up, feet in the air, and she comes in and he says, why didn't you tell me I was nearing the edge? I slowly walked over there. Why didn't you tell me? She said, you know, I know that you're so serious about photography, and you have the exact way you want to do things, and I saw you setting that camera and getting yourself in it and she said, I knew you'd be upset, you'd be upset if I warned you about what you were doing. We have to be prayed up and have to learn how to warn people about what they're doing, the choices they're making, the decisions that will totally affect everything about their life. Become a cheerleader. Okay? The world needs cheerleaders. Become a cheerleader. Become a cheerleader. Become a cheerleader. Become a Barnabas, and we'll change the world, we'll change the world, we'll change the world.