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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - Why Should I Be a Christian?

James Meehan - Why Should I Be a Christian?

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    James Meehan - Why Should I Be a Christian?

Well, welcome to this week of Switch. Today, I wanna tackle a pretty foundational question that I honestly don't think we ask enough. And that question is simply this, why should I be a Christian? Why should I be a Christian? You know, it's one of those things that all the time we talk about, like, what it looks like to be a Christian, how we can follow Jesus faithfully, how we can serve others in our community. But sometimes I think it's helpful to take a few steps back and start with the why question. And so what I wanna do is look at a story found in John's Gospel that shows the importance of this question, and also helps lead us to an answer. So if we look at John 6, a little bit of context for you. In this moment we've got Jesus who is surrounded by giant crowds of people. Because right before this, He has performed a miracle multiplying bread and fish, feeding tons and tons of people. And that draws a lot more people because they're like, oh, this Jesus guy can feed me. I'm showing up for that.

And so what we read is this huge crowd of people shows up and they're asking Jesus to, basically, do again what He already did. They're looking for Him to perform a miracle, to provide food for them. And instead of doing that, Jesus gives what the Bible calls a hard teaching. And it leaves some of the people in His audience a little bit confused, a little bit unsettled, and a little bit uncomfortable to the point where we read many of those in the crowd left and walked away. And as this is taking place, we pick up in John 6:66, where we read that, "From this time, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed Him".

What's interesting is we actually live in a point in time where there are many people who have grown up in Christian homes that are turning their backs on Jesus and choosing not to follow Him as they grow older. And maybe this is something that you've wrestled with. Maybe it's somebody that you're close to, a friend, a family member, somebody that you looked up to who used to be a great Christian influence in your life. But at this point they're not going to church and they wouldn't even call themselves a Christian. That was exactly what was happening here in this scene. And then what we read is Jesus turning to his 12, right? The closest of His followers, the 12 disciples, the one that we read so many different stories about, and He asks them this question, "You don't wanna leave too, do you"?

I think this is a question that Jesus would ask all of us today. As you see these other people unfollowing Jesus, I'm wondering what you would say to that question. You're not gonna leave me too, are you? And I think that's a question that's really meant to be asked out curiosity. What Jesus wants to know, are you going to continue to follow Him or not? Now I love the answer that Peter gives when asked this question. Because honestly, this is an answer that I've given when I've wrestled in my faith. When I've had questions. When I've wondered, is it worth it to keep following Jesus or should I just go and do something else? Because there are times where this just seems really difficult. When faith doesn't seem to be working the way that I want I've questioned, is it worth it to keep following Jesus?

And I've gone to these words of Peter as a comfort and a reminder that you know what? I genuinely believe that it is. And here's what Peter says when asked that question. He says, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God". Lord Jesus, where else would we go, right? Because all of us were following someone or some thing as we are trying to answer the big questions about life. Maybe the person that we're following is an influencer on social media. Maybe it's a celebrity we look up to. An athlete that's just really good at what they do. And we're starting to kind of model our lives after them, our mannerisms is what we say, the choices we make, the products we buy, so that we can be more like them because we think, man, if I follow their example, they can take me where I want to go. But here's what Peter acknowledges, and this is what I've found to be true for me as well, is that there is nobody better than Jesus to follow.

So why should you be a Christian? Because nobody is a better guide to the good, the true, and the beautiful, than Jesus. Because only He, has the words of eternal life. Because He is the Holy One of God. So what I wanna do is look at three reasons why it makes sense to be a Christian. And I recognize that as I'm saying this, that they're gonna be some of you who would say, yeah, I'm a Christian. I am committed to following Jesus. And if that's the case for you, my hope is that this message would encourage you to know that there are good reasons to follow Jesus. There might be others of you who maybe you're a part of Switch and you show up pretty regularly, but honestly, you're not really sure what you think about all this Jesus stuff, right? Like you consider yourself a Christian, you believe that God is real, but some of the other things about church you're not quite sold are worth it. My hope is that this message would be an invitation for you to begin to take Jesus a little bit more seriously.

And maybe there are some of you who you're here listening to this message because somebody sent it your way in a link or maybe somebody invited you to experience it, and you wouldn't even say you believe in anything, right? Like you would say, I am not religious. I don't even believe in God or anything like that. Well, I hope this message would do is actually cause you to question maybe some of the things that you've heard about Christianity that's just not actually real. Because in the same way that people say a lot of things about a lot of things, there are a lot of different ideas and opinions that have been spread about Christianity that just aren't true. And so hopefully, what this can do is kind of clear away some of the confusion and the bad ideas so that you can begin to evaluate Christianity for what it actually is. And I recognize that in the context of this conversation, in what I'm sharing, what I'm offering is going to be incomplete and imperfect. This is not meant to answer every question, it's simply meant to spark a conversation.

So with that being said, we're gonna look at three different reasons why it makes sense to be a Christian. Part one, is the good. Because nobody is a better guide to the good than Jesus. Now, a common objection that I hear people say is that Christianity can't be good because so many Christians have actually done bad things. And this is a really fair objection because the amount of harm that Christians have committed throughout history is something that is talked about really frequently. Like we can go back to the crusades about a thousand years ago. And the atrocities that were committed by Christians. We can look at the inquisition and the witch trials that happened during the Renaissance period. We can look at the Christians today, who are leading these churches making a bunch of money for themselves and taking advantage of other people. We can look at the judgmental hypocrites that claim to follow Jesus, but the way that they live doesn't look anything like Jesus.

And that's where this objection comes from. But here's my response to that. And this isn't meant to dismiss those objections because I think they're really fair and worth considering. But my response is this, is that how we define good and bad in the modern world has been more shaped by the ethics of Jesus than anything else in history. You see, we live in a world today, where just about everybody acknowledges that it is good to do good. That having mercy for people that are in need is a really great thing. That caring for people, showing them that they matter, feeding the poor, taking care of the sick, visiting those in prison, that all of those are really good things that as people who have the ability to do so we should look out for the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized.

Like there's almost nobody who thinks that's a bad idea in our world today. But what we cannot forget is that that idea did not exist before Jesus, right? Before Jesus, the ethic of the Roman Empire and the different world powers of his day was that might makes right. That if you have power, you are the man or woman of the hour. That you take what you want. That it is actually virtuous to crush the weak. And so when Jesus showed up in history and began preaching things like, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek for, they will inherit the earth".

The idea of people who are poor, who are mourning, and who are meek being blessed is a uniquely Christian idea that did not exist before Jesus. And yet that is something that almost everybody in our world agrees is a good thing. Why? Because the movement and ethic of Jesus has had a larger impact on how we define good and bad in our modern world than anything else in history. Jesus, in that same series of saying blessings goes on to describe that, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, when they persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me, rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, because in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you".

You see, when Jesus began saying these things, it wasn't like, yeah, that's great. It was more like, wait, are you sure that you mean to be saying what you're saying? Because to call us blessed when in reality we are oppressed seems really backwards. And yet we live in a world, a culture and a society today, that places so much value and importance on taking care of others, of showing mercy, of kindness, of giving to those that are in need. And I just got to remind you that that is a uniquely Christian idea.

Now, what I'm not saying is that you have to be Christian to care about those things. But I think it's important that when we zoom out and look at the scope of history, that prior to the time of Jesus and the movement that He started, those were not considered good ideas. Those were considered weak ideas. In his book, "Dominion, How the Christian Revolution Remade the West", agnostic author, Tom Holland, shows bit by bit, step by step, chapter by chapter, the influence that Christianity has had on the modern world. And he does so in a way that I think is really fair, unbiased, but also enlightening for those of us who have only heard about the negatives about Christianity, and not actually been exposed to all the good and true that Jesus introduced.

Which brings us to part two. I believe that you should be a Christian because nobody is a better guide to the true than Jesus. That's part two, the true. Now the common objection to this is that Christianity is opposed to science and critical thinking. Now, while it's fair to say that there are some Christians who are very anti-science and very opposed to critical thinking, my response to that objection is that actually pursuit of truth is built into Christianity. And what is what gave birth to the Scientific Revolution. You see it as Jesus himself in John 14:6 He said, "I am the way the truth and the life". Built into Christianity is the belief that Jesus is truth. And that if we follow truth, it will bring us to Jesus. And if we follow Jesus, it will bring us to truth.

And what's interesting is there are a lot of historians today, who have acknowledged the reality that the Scientific Revolution was born out of a Christian worldview, right? Like when you look at the different cultures around the world, you sort of notice that their scientific advancements stopped at a certain level, except for in the areas of the world that were dominantly Christian, because they had some really key beliefs that made it more possible for science to happen, right? Like if you look at the fathers of the Scientific Revolution, people like Newton, and Kepler, and Bacon, these different individuals were committed Christians. And the reason this is important is because inside of Christianity are three specific qualities that led to the Scientific Revolution.

Those qualities are this, that an orderly universe comes from an orderly God. It's the belief that because the God of Christianity, the God of the Bible is orderly, and what He creates in the world is orderly. It's not a bunch of chaos. It can actually be tested. The second idea was that our rational minds as human beings, the things that give us the ability to investigate the natural world comes from a rational God. Not a random chance thing that just happened to come about because of some karmic force that's guiding the universe unseen or the random product of evolution. But no, actually, our rational minds are the product of a rational God. And the third idea that led to the Scientific Revolution that these Christians held was that doing science was actually an act of devotion. That by investigating the natural world, they were discovering more and more about the God who created all of it. And it was their devotion to God that motivated them to do science.

St. Thomas Aquinas, said it this way. He said that Holy Scripture naturally leads men to contemplate the celestial bodies. What he's saying is that the Bible and the truths found within God's Word naturally lead us to ask questions, to consider and explore this universe that our creator God put in place. And so maybe you've heard that Christianity is opposed to science and critical thinking. But the reality is that throughout the Christian story, from the time of Jesus, until now, and even before Jesus stepped onto the scene, throughout the Old Testament, with the Jewish people, followers of God have been committed to pursuing truth wherever it leads. This is why I think it makes sense to be a Christian because nobody is a better guide to the good, the true and the beautiful than Jesus.

Which leads us to part three. The beautiful. Now, a common objection, a common reason, that people aren't interested in Christianity is because they've been told, or they've experienced a version of Christianity that is repressive and robs us of an enjoyable life. But the truth that I found in so many others have found is that only Jesus can lead us to the richness and fullness of life that we all long for. Jesus is the way the truth and the life. And in John 10:10, He tells us that He came so that we may have a life and we may have a life to the full. If you have ever taken the time to commit yourself to the teachings of Jesus, what you're going to discover is that it is through following Jesus, that we find true freedom and fulfillment. The true freedom isn't being free of all responsibility. It's being free to be who God called you to be and do what God's asked you to do. And that's exactly what Jesus invites us into.

St. Augustine, once said that, "To fall in love with God is the greatest romance. To seek Him the greatest adventure, to find Him the greatest human achievement". Because it is only in Jesus that we can find the richness and fullness of life that we all long for. So why does it make sense to be a Christian? I would argue it makes sense to be a Christian because nobody is a better guide to the good, the true and the beautiful than Jesus. Because He shows us and leads us to what is truly good. Nobody else in history has had a larger impact on how we define what is good and bad than Jesus. He shows us what is true because pursuit of truth is built into Christianity because we believe that Jesus is truth.

And Jesus leads us to the beautiful. It is only in Him that we can find freedom and richness, the life that we are longing for. And so, I wanna go back to that question that Jesus asks in John 6. He turns to his disciples after many in the crowd have turned their backs on Him and are no longer following. And Jesus says to them, "Hey, you don't wanna leave too, do you"? And then Simon Peter answers, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God".

So where will you go? To whom will you turn? Because all of us are following someone or some thing hoping that that thing or that person can lead us where we want to go. But I would argue that it is only Jesus who can lead us to the life we're longing for. That nobody is a better guide to the good, the true, and the beautiful than Jesus. So what would it look like to give Jesus one more chance? Or maybe to give Jesus a chance, to commit yourself to Him, to his teachings, to his ways of living, to the example that He set and invited us into through which He tells us that we can experience a union with God. Where will you go? Will you choose to do what Peter, and these other disciples did and stick with Jesus, or will you do what a lot of people have done and turned their backs and gone their own way?

Heavenly Father, we come before you right now, so thankful that you have the words of eternal life. God, I thank you for the people that are hearing this message right now and they're wrestling with the big questions of faith. Like why does it make sense to follow you? Why does it make sense to dedicate our lives to you? Maybe for some of them they're hearing this message and acknowledging that they've kind of just been towing the line of what it means to be a Christian. And for the first time they're saying, you know what, God? I want to give you my everything. I wanna take Jesus seriously. I wanna see what happens when I choose to follow Him. Will He truly guide me into the good, the true and the beautiful that I'm longing for? And God, I pray for those people. And I ask that you will help them discover the richness and fullness of life that comes from following your Son, Jesus.

Still in an attitude of prayer with heads bowed and eyes closed. There's others of you right now, who you're hearing this message and for whatever reason, you're finding this desire to actually, give Jesus a chance. And maybe to you, it doesn't make any sense. There's something inside of you that you don't know what that is. We believe that that is actually, God's Spirit drawing you in to a relationship with Him. Because God's great desire is to be united with you, his family, his people, his creation, his masterpiece. This is the beauty of the biblical story that in the beginning, God created everything. He called it good. And the final act of creation was creating you and me, human beings in His image that we could live in a relationship with Him.

But the problem is is that we have all sent, we've done things that hurt ourselves and others. And that sin fractured our relationship with God. It separated us from Him. But that's not what God was okay with. And so what He decided to do is become a human being. That human being is Jesus. He entered the earth 2,000 years ago. He lived a perfect life. He died a death on the cross that He did not deserve for the forgiveness of sins. And then on the third day, the good news is, is that Jesus did not stay dead. He was raised from the dead so that anybody who puts their trust in Him through faith could be made new, they could be forgiven, they could be united with God.

And maybe that's exactly why you're here today. To say YES to a relationship with Jesus. To put your trust in Him. To allow Him to guide you into the good, the true and the beautiful that you have been chasing after. If that's you and you're saying, you know what, Jesus? I wanna follow you. I wanna give you a chance. I wanna see what happens when I choose to put my trust in you. Would you just type it in the chat down below. Say "Jesus, I'm choosing to follow you. Jesus, I want a relationship with you". Whatever that is just type that in the chat down below.

And as you're making that decision, I want you to know that there's no better choice you could ever make than that. Because in that moment what we believe, is that you become a new person no longer defined by the sin of your past, but defined by God's love for you. And as there are those of you making that choice, we wanna pray together as a Switch family. Because even though you had to make the decision on your own, I don't want you to have to pray alone. So out loud together, repeating after me. Altogether:

Heavenly Father, forgive me. I'm turning from my sin. I'm turning towards you. I need your love. I need your grace. I need your mercy. Today, I give you my life in Jesus' name, Amen. Amen. And Amen.

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