James Merritt - The Walk of a Lifetime
You know, the birth of a child is the beginning of a grand adventure. If you've had children, you know that, and they don't realize as a child what's happening to them, but we do, 'cause we've been there, and we realize that, as we look at little children, that life is an adventure. They don't see it that way. It's just a big game, but we know that life for them, it's all about learning new things, and you go back to your, to the time when you were a small child, you may not remember the exact time or the exact day, but how cool was it when you first learned to say your first word? How cool was it when you learned to read your first word? How cool was it when you learned to write your first word?
And of course, many of us can still remember how cool it was when we finally learned how to ride a bicycle, and then as we got a little older, you know, learned how to drive a car. And there's just a magical thing that happens in homes every day, all over the world. There's this moment of anticipation. It got, every time I had a child, we have three boys, every time I had another son, it, this anticipation got just bigger and bigger and bigger. And it starts from the moment that a child is born, and when this moment happens, I mean, grandparents and parents, they take videos, they put it on Facebook, they Tweet it out, they Instagram it, and I mean, joy explodes everywhere. And you know it's that magic moment when that child takes that first step.
And then of course there's weeping and gnashing of teeth for parents, because we know now the fun's really about to start, right? We know, this is gonna be a different day. But it's really something else when you see that little child let go for the first time and then they'll take that first step, and then that second step, and all of a sudden they have found out the joy of walking. And as I thought about that, I realized that God created us to walk. And I don't mean physically. I mean morally and ethically and spiritually, and he meant us to walk just the right path, and to walk in the right direction, and you learn that when you do walk the way the Lord wants you to walk and you're walking the right path, and you're walking the right direction, that you really are taking the walk of a lifetime, because that walk begins when you walk to Jesus, as I did as a nine-year-old boy, and then my mom told me to start walking with Jesus as I began to grow.
And then day by day, I walk for Jesus. If you're a guest of ours today, we're in a series in a book called Colossians We're calling "The Guardian Of The Galaxy," because of all the books in the entire New Testament, no other book in the Bible elevates Jesus and exalts Jesus and extols Jesus like this book. And today we're talking about the walk of a lifetime, because it's centered around Jesus. Now, let me tell you why I want to set this up, and I'm not tryin' to make us feel bad, I'm not trying to put anybody on a guilt trip, but I wanna tell you why this message is so important, and why we're gonna really go pretty deep today. See, we got a big problem in the Church, not just our church, every church, and that problem growing every day. We have an image problem. We have a perception problem, because too many people who call themselves Christians have either never truly walked to Jesus, or frankly, they've quit walking with Jesus and for Jesus, and they're walking in the wrong direction.
And that explains why research has found that among young outsiders, I'm talking about younger people who do not go to church, I'm talking about the Millennials, the Gen Xers, the Ys, the Zs, whatever you wanna call 'em, the reason why is very simple. 84% say they personally know at least one committed Christian, yet only 50% thought the lifestyles of those Christ-followers were significantly different from everyone else. In other words, there's a younger generation out there that says, "Oh, I know you go to church, and I see you maybe carry your Bible and you call yourself religious, but when I look at the way you live compared to the way I live and the things that you do and the things that I do, and the things that I watch, and the things that you watch, and the things that I say and the things that you say, I just don't see a lot of difference".
One of my friends, Dr. Albert Mohler, the President of Southern Seminary, he hit the mark when he said this. He said, "Now we face the challenge of evangelizing a nation that largely considers itself Christian, overwhelmingly believes in some deity, considers itself fervently religious, but has virtually no connection to historic Christianity". I read a book by a great young pastor down in Florida. You know what the title of his book was? Great title, I wish I'd thought of it myself. "Unsaved Christianity". Think about that. "Unsaved Christianity". Well, Paul wrote a letter entitled Colossians to a group of believers who live in a culture very similar to ours.
Now, these Christians were surrounded, just get this in your mind. They were surrounded by those who worship the stars, they were into astrology. They worshiped false gods, they had substituted their own reason and thinking for God. And so Paul's writing to this church, and remember, he's never been there, he's there visited these people. He doesn't even know who they are. He just knows there's a church there. And he's writing a letter and he says, "Hey, let me just remind you what a true Christian looks like. Let me remind you of what it means to be taking the walk of a lifetime".
See, every day when you get out of bed, you do the same thing that I do. You decide that day how you're going to walk, not physically, but spiritually and morally and ethically. You decide what path you're going to take. You decide what direction your feet are going to take you, and Paul said, "Every day ought to be the walk of a lifetime". And he tells us three steps, that if we'll take those three steps on a daily basis, we will be taking the walk of a lifetime. Step number one, fully love Jesus. That's step one. Fully love Jesus. Now what he does, he goes back to kind of Christianity 101 and he says, "Okay, let me tell you what the first step is of becoming a true Christian". So we pick up in Colossian 2:6, and by the way, if you brought your Colossians, if you brought your little discipleship booklet, it's on page 58 in your booklet, all right. Here's what he says. "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord".
Now, practically every word in that sentence is very, very important. And matter of fact, I can't find a better definition of what a true Christian is than that sentence right there. A Christian is simply someone who has received Christ Jesus as Lord. Now, if you can say that and you could mean it, then you have every right to call yourself a Christian. That word received means to take with you, or more, it means to take into you. So let me just tell you what Paul was saying. You can believe in Jesus, but never received Jesus. That's why he didn't say, "If you believe in Jesus", he said, "So those of you who had received Christ Jesus". You can believe in Jesus, but never receive Jesus.
See, there's a difference between believing that Jesus is Lord and receiving Jesus as Lord. There was a Harvard religion professor. His name was Harvey Cox, and he described the first as an act of the head, and the second as an act of the heart. Here's what Dr. Cox wrote. And by the way, he was a liberal. He wasn't even a very conservative Christian at all. I'm not even sure he was a Christian, but here's what he wrote. "We can believe something to be true without it making much difference to us, but we place our faith only in something that is vital for the way that we live". Because notice who Paul said that we're to receive. He said, "You have received," and then he uses this combination of words that's very unique, "Christ Jesus as Lord". It's a very fascinating way that that Paul puts that.
Let me tell you why. In the New Testament, there are three different names or titles that are used for Jesus, Jesus, Christ, Lord. Those are the three titles you read over and over and over, Jesus, Christ, Lord. Here's what's so fascinating about this verse. That combination of words is found 74 times in the New Testament, but the way Paul puts those words together in this text is the only way it's ever done in all of the New Testament, 'cause he does something very interesting. He puts a definite article before the title of Christ, and a definite article before the title Lord. Never done anywhere else in the New Testament. So literally this is what he said. "So then just as you receive The Christ Jesus, The Lord".
Now, why do you think he did that? All these different combinations, 74 times it's used, but this one time talking to this one church, he said, he doesn't just say, "Christ Jesus is Lord" or, "Jesus Christ is Lord," or, "The Lord, Jesus Christ". He says, "You have received The Christ Jesus The Lord". Here's what he was saying. Here's who you received. Who is this person you say you've received? First of all, he is The Christ. That is, he is the Jewish Messiah. He's the one that you read about all through the Old Testament, all of those prophecies and all those predictions and all those promises that were given by all of those profits, every single one of them was talking about Jesus. He is the ruler, he is the redeemer of the nation of Israel. You've received the Christ. And then he says, "You've received Jesus". That was his human name.
In other words, he says, "Listen, this wasn't just a Mickey Mouse figure. This wasn't just some mythological Zeus or some of the false god". He said, "This was a real person with a real name who lived in a real time, in a real place, and had a real human experience". But then he wrapped it all up when he says, "He's not just The Christ, and he's not just Jesus, he is The Lord". In other words, he's not just your buddy, he's not just your genie. He's not just your butler. He's not just the good guy or the man upstairs. He said, "He is The Lord". He is the Lord that the Bible says we're to love with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind, and all of our strength.
About 10 years ago, I got a letter from a lady who lives in Greenville, South Carolina. Wish she could be here today to give her testimony. But I got a letter from this lady, it was so powerful, I kept it. I haven't shared this with for 10 years, but I want to share with you what this lady said to me in this letter. She said, "Dear Pastor Merritt, This is to thank you for your very clear explanation of salvation in your sermon broadcast on TV today. So many people imply that salvation is a factual belief only, a belief only, and many are deceived. Here is my experience. I believe the facts and went forward to profess my faith without any surrender of my will".
I want you to read, listen to that, I'm gonna read it again. "I believed the facts and I went forward to profess my quote unquote faith without any surrender of my will. I thought I was saved. I even taught Sunday school classes, but I did what I wanted to do. I stood up for my rights. I was miserable. Finally, I made this commitment. Lord, I'm going to turn the whole mess of my life over to you. Do whatever you choose. That was a few years ago, and never once have I doubted my salvation". Then she closed with this. "Someone said once, 'A grace that doesn't change you is a grace that will not save you.'" You know what happened to that lady? She believed in Jesus, she never received Jesus. She believed Jesus is Lord, she never received Jesus as Lord. But there was that day when she came to fully love Jesus. She said, "I have now received The Christ. I've now received Jesus. I've now receive The Lord".
So I wanna ask all of you a very honest question. Have you ever taken that step where you could say, "I fully love Jesus"? "In fact, I know I love Jesus, because this Jesus has radically changed my life". Adrian Rogers used to say it so well. He said, "If your religion hasn't changed your life, you better change your religion". I'm gonna tell you something. You know why I know I'm a believer? You know why I know I'm saved? Because I'm telling you. I've told you this a thousand times. When I got saved as a nine-year-old boy, I didn't hear angel sing, I didn't see lights come on, I didn't hear the "Hallelujah Chorus" in Greek. Nothing like that happened to me. But when the lights on that theater came up, I knew the kid walkin' out out was not the kid that was walkin' in. Christ had radically changed my life. Fully love Jesus. Have you taken that first step?
Well, if you've taken the first step, then you take the second step. And that means you faithfully live for Jesus. If you fully love Jesus, then you faithfully live for Jesus. You know, every time I lead a person to faith in Jesus, I'm reminded, now look, just the other day, I was telling someone, "Look, what you've done is not the end of the Christian life. It is just the beginning". See, the first step is not a stop. You're not done. When you prayed to receive Christ as Christ, the Christ, Jesus, the Lord, you're not stopped, you're just started. It's not the ceiling, it is the floor. It's a start to a walk. So now listen to what Paul goes on to say. He says, "Okay, so then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord".
Let me just stop right there. Your testimony is, "Oh, I received Christ Jesus as Lord. I did that when I was nine," or "when I was 19" or "I was 29" or "I did it back then," or "I did it back there". That's great. Paul says, "Okay, now, you continue to live your lives in him". So let me tell you something. In the Christian life, this is true about every believer that's ever lived. In the Christian life, You never stand still, never, ever. You are either going forward or you are slipping backwards. It's always that way. As a matter of fact, that little phrase, that phrase "continue to live," that's actually one word in the Greek language, and we get the word peripatetic from that. You know what that word literally means? It literally means to walk.
What Paul literally said was, "Hey, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, keep walking in him". Because in the Bible, to walk was a picture of conduct. Your walk is the way you live, it's the way you act, it's the way you react. It's the way you treat other people. And Paul says we are to walk in his path before us. We are to walk in his promises to us. We are to walk in his purpose for us. We are to walk in his presence besides us. And you know what will happen? We'll do just what a child does. We'll mature and we'll grow. You know, you think about it, when a child learns to take that first step, then they learn to take that second step, all of a sudden they learn to walk. But no child ever stops there. Then the child learns, you know, I can put one foot in front of the other faster, and they learn not just to walk, they learn to run.
And then one day child learns, "You know, if I just kind of bend down a little bit and leap, I can jump". And so all of a sudden the child discovers, "Man, there's so many things my feet can do. My feet can walk, my feet can run, my feet can jump". And guess what? As they get older and they get bigger, they learn all of a sudden, "You know what? I can walk longer and I can run stronger and I can jump higher," because the sign of health is growth. Anything that is healthy should grow. Anything not healthy will die. And so he says, "Look, now that you've learned to walk, learn to run, learn to jump, walk longer, walk stronger". And then he says, "As we walk with Jesus, here's what will happen. We will be rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, And overflowing with thankfulness".
Now, what is he talking about there? To be rooted in Jesus, that's an agricultural term, right? He's talking about a tree that grows from the roots. That's how a tree grows. That's an agricultural cultural term. Then he says, "we'll be built up in Jesus". That's an architectural term. Now why is Paul, I mean, he's kind of getting deep in theology, and he's talking about walking, okay, we get that. Why all of a sudden does he say, "Hey, let's talk about trees for a moment"? "And let's talk about, you know, let's talk about foundations and let's talk about buildings for a moment". Why does he do that? Why does he start talking about architecture? And why does he start talking about agriculture?
Here's what he's telling us. A foundation is what determines the strength and the stability of a building. It's the same thing with a tree. As the roots grow deeper, a tree gets stronger. As the foundation gets wider, the building gets steady. So how do we make sure that our roots get deeper in Jesus? How do we make sure that our foundation gets wider for Jesus? He says, "Here's how you do it". He said, "You are to be strengthened," now watch this, "strengthened in faith as you were taught". Now he's talking, not talking about faith, like believing, you know, your belief. That's not what he's talking about. He says, "strengthened in the faith". We say, what's the difference between and the faith, okay? Faith is how you believe. The faith is what you believe. So anybody, let's see how, you ought to know this by now. If I've been your pastor for a while, you'll know this.
Where do we find the faith? Where do we find what we believe? Somebody tell me, where? Where do we find what we believe, where? Thank you, the Bible. That's the faith. Paul said, "This is how you get strong". In other words, this is what Paul was saying. The faith refers to the teaching of God's Word, so it's real simple. Paul says, the more you put your faith in this faith, the more you know this faith, the more you get the Bible into you, and the more you get into the Bible, here's what will happen. You'll grow sturdier, you'll grow stronger, and your walk with God will be something like you cannot ever, ever, ever believe. Listen, you know what's happened to me in all the years I've been a Christian? I am more sure today of what I do believe, and I am more sure today of what I should believe than I have ever been in my life. And you know why? Because the longer that I walk with God, and the more I get into the Word of God, the more God strengthens my faith and weakens my doubt.
And I don't mean this to brag. I have never, ever been less worried. I have never, ever been less afraid. I have never, ever less, been more, less concerned about facing death than I am right now, because I know to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I know that the moment I take my last breath on earth, I'm going to take my first breath in heaven. I know that Jesus is going to walk with me through the valley of the shadow of death. It's not a hope, it's not a feeling. It is a rock-ribbed faith, and it's so strong because I've done, I've been placing my faith in the faith, and this is the point Paul is trying to make. If you fully love Jesus, you will faithfully live for Jesus, because when you walk to Jesus, and then you begin to walk with Jesus, you wanna walk for Jesus.
See, here's what grieves a pastor. Too many believers are stuck, too many believers, they take that first step to Jesus, but they never take that next step of walking with Jesus. If you don't walk with Jesus, you're not gonna walk for Jesus. Dorothy Day, you may have heard the name, probably not, but a lady who came to faith in Jesus, and she was known, she lived out her faith. She was what they called a Christian activist. I like that term. She was a Christian activist. I mean, she really put her faith to work, publicly, privately, she loved Jesus. She said something, and the more of the time I read, it just convicts me. Here's what she said. "We ought to live in such a way that our lives would not make much sense if the gospel were not true". That's a powerful statement. "We ought to live in such a way that our lives would not make much sense if the gospel were not true".
Now, you sit there and you say, "Now Pastor, I fully love Jesus". Okay, then ask yourself just one other question. Am I faithfully living for Jesus? Are you faithful in your devotion to God's Church? Are you faithful in your financial support of God's Church? Are you faithful in sharing the message of God's Church? Are you faithful in doing the ministry of God's Church? All Paul is saying is this. If you fully love Jesus, you will faithfully live for Jesus. If you have received the Christ, Jesus the Lord, you will continue to walk in him. Now, when you take the first step, fully love Jesus, you take the second step, you faithfully live for Jesus, then the third step of that walk of a lifetime is you firmly look to Jesus.
Now, this is the most important part of the message, 'cause this is for the 21st century. At the moment you walk to Jesus, the moment you say, it's not your, I didn't know this at the time, but the moment you walk to Jesus, the moment you truly go from believing Jesus is Lord to receiving Jesus as Lord, the moment that happens, you've just made three mega big enemies. Because at that moment, the world said, "I'm against you," and the devil said, "I am against you," and the flesh says, "I am against you". You didn't know it. You drew a line in the dirt and you just got on the other side of the world and the flesh and the devil, and they've got just one goal in your life.
See, the devil's number one goal is to keep you from ever walking to Jesus. If you're here today, and you're not a believer, you've never trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, can I just be honest? The devil's happy with you. You're doing exactly what he wants you to do, and you're not doing the one thing he doesn't want you to do. But boy, the moment you take that step and you say, "Okay, I am walking to Jesus," the devil never gives up and the world never gives up, and the flesh never gives up. So they'll say, "Okay, we tried and we failed". "We kept, we couldn't keep you from walking to Jesus, but I'll tell you what we're gonna do. Now we're gonna try to stop you from walking with Jesus, and now we're gonna try to stop you from walking for Jesus".
So now Paul gives this advice, and this is gonna get very, very practical, and for some, maybe a little uncomfortable. He says this. "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition, and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ". Now, I know there's a lot there to unpack. Just kind of stay with me. It's not really as deep as you might think it is, okay? That little phrase, that phrase, "take you captive," it's actually a great little translation. That's exactly what Paul says. He said, you gotta be careful, because there's all kinds of false things out there, philosophers and traditions that will try to take you captive to one of two things, either human thinking or human tradition, and it will go against the truth of God's Word.
So now let me just be clear before I get into this. I wanna make something very plain. This book is all true, but it doesn't exhaust all truth. Everybody hear that. This book is all true, but it doesn't exalt all truth. Okay, if you wanna be a math major, this is not the book you need to be reading. If you wanna learn how to do brain surgery, this is not the book to be reading. Now, if you don't wanna overcharge your patient, this is a book you ought to be reading. But as far as the how to, this is not a book on brain surgery, it is not a book on math. It doesn't exhaust all truths. So I say that for this reason. Paul is not saying that we can't learn from great thinkers. Paul's not saying that we cannot learn from great philosophers. Paul's not against philosophy. As a matter of fact, the word philosophy, you know what the words philosophy means? It comes from two words, the word philio, which means love, and the word sofia which means wisdom. Philosophy simply means the love of wisdom.
I got a Doctor of Philosophy degree because I love wisdom. And Paul doesn't have anything against learning from or engaging with the thinking of other people. He is not warning against philosophy. In fact, he's very, very specific. He says read philosophy, study philosophy, think philosophically, but watch out for hollow and deceptive philosophy. You say, "Okay, what does that mean"? Well, I did a little thinking and I thought, okay, what are the characteristics of false philosophers and teachers? Well, how do you recognize that? What are the characteristics of that kind of teaching that will draw you in, that will capture you? So I've thought about it a lot, and I'm gonna give you just three ways to recognize it, okay. There are people who teach things that are cool. I mean, they're just, they're cool.
You know, they go with the flow. They hear, they keep their ear to the culture, not to the Word, to the culture, they listen to what the culture is thinking and what they basically get up and say everyday is, "Hey, we gotta get with it. We gotta stay with the culture. It doesn't matter if what I'm about to tell you runs into the wall of biblical truth. Don't worry about that. We gotta be cool, we gotta be hip. We gotta be this, we gotta be that". So they teach whatever's cool at the moment. And then they teach what's comfortable. They wanna maximize the comfort of the hearer, and they wanna minimize the conviction of the hearer. I like to put it this way. They're really defensive about not being offensive. That's their number one goal. "We're not gonna be controversial, we're not going to say anything that might make somebody upset. We're not gonna upset anybody's apple cart. You come here, we're, you know, you won't leave mad and you won't leave sad. you're gonna leave glad every time you, we're gonna make it comfortable as we can".
And then it's convenient. In other words, it always takes the easy way out, and never takes the hard way in. So here's what they do in a real slick way. They either dilute the truth or they deny the truth, and they'll package it up real nice and real sweet, and everybody goes out, you know, kumbaya, but the truth isn't there. So I wanna put this very simply and very plainly, if you don't hear anything else I say today, this is the one I want you to remember. If a teaching drives you farther from the Jesus the Bible talks about, or in the Bible that Jesus taught from, you had better reject that teaching. If a teaching drives you farther from the Jesus the Bible talks about, in the Bible that Jesus taught from, you had better reject that teaching.
See, here's what I've learned. I don't know, we're all like this. People fall in love with new things, right? I mean, you know, when you go and you buy Christmas gifts, if you're buying for people that you love, you don't go to Goodwill and buy stuff. You buy new things. People like new things, you know? And I get that, right? Well, because new kind of means cool.
Well, I just wanna remind you. C.S. Lewis wrote a book called "Screwtape Letters". If you've not read it, you ought to read it. But he wrote a book called "The Screwtape Letters". And if you don't know what it's about, it's about two demons, One is named Screwtape and one is his nephew, and the head demon is Screwtape, and what he's doing, he's teaching his nephew the ropes. He's trying to teach his nephew the tricks of the trade. He's trying to teach his nephew, here's how how you tempt people to lead them away from God. And in one of those lessons, Screwtape reminds Wormwood, that's his nephew, he says something, it's so brilliant. He says, "Old error in new dress is ever error nonetheless". "Old error in new dress is ever error nonetheless".
I get so amused when I hear these, some teachers and preachers, and you know, they think it's new, they think it's true because it's new. It's the same old stuff, just a new dress. Heard it before, been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. And see, Paul's saying, "You gotta be careful of human thinking that's deceptive". But then he goes the other way. He says, "You know what? You gotta be careful not just of new things. Sometimes you better be careful of old things. You better be careful of human tradition". Now let me just stop and say something. Tradition can be good, and I think there's some traditions that ought to be honored for life. I think that there's some traditions that have proven over time. They are good, strong traditions. That's not, so anything that's good, I'm all for it. Old, new, I don't care.
If it's new and it's true, or if it's old and it's true, if it's new and it's good, or it's old and it's good, I'm all in. But here's what amazes me. It amazes me how many Christians take notice in a church when they don't follow their own particular religious tradition. They get all upset about it, but it doesn't bother them with all the people that disobey God's Word. That doesn't seem to get on their radar screen. Let me give you a perfect illustration. Every now and then, we get asked this question. We don't get defensive about it, we have our reasons. But every now and then we get asked the question, "Why don't you take the Lord's Supper every Sunday"? Some churches do. I don't think that's wrong. I don't think there's a right, you know, I don't think there's any magic number, but they ask, "Why don't, I just don't, it just bothers me that you don't take the Lord's Supper every Sunday".
And I say this with respect, but what I wanna ask them, does that bother you more than the fact that most Christians don't even come to church on Sunday? We had someone here recently got very upset because we don't have a cross on our steeple, and we don't have a cross in this building. I thought, okay, but we preach the cross every single Sunday. And I know there are churches that have steeples, they, with crosses on 'em, and they don't come within a country mile of the cross. Why do we get worked up because there's no cross on the steeple, and not get worked over more and more churches that don't even preach the cross? It's amazing how one bothers us, but the other one doesn't.
So let me just take a shot at making somebody mad today. Y'all look so pleasant today. Let me take a shot at it. Whenever your tradition trumps the Bible, your tradition just became trash. Forget it. That's why we must always in the way we think, and the things that we think are important and the way we live, Paul says, "Would you just look to Jesus? Would you just let Jesus be your guide"? And that's why Paul closes by saying this. This is how he wrapped it all up. He says, "For in Christ, all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and every authority". In other words, here's what Paul's saying. Only in Jesus will you ever find the fullness of God, because it's in God that the fullness of God dwells.
So when you walk to Jesus and you walk with Jesus, you want to walk for Jesus, because Jesus will be the center of your life, he'll be the circumference of your life, he will be the core of your life. So yeah, I just have a conviction, and if you're a guest of ours today, let me just kind of go ahead and warn you. This is us every week, and here's what I mean by that. We make a lot about Jesus. We talk a lot about Jesus. We preach a lot about Jesus, because he is the ballgame. He owns the team, he's the coach of the team, he's the quarterback of the team, he's the running back of the team, he's the only All American on the team, and he wears red and black. All right, the last part is just human tradition. I'm just kidding. But we make a lot about Jesus, because this is what it's all about. That's what the walk of a lifetime is.
Let me tell you something. If you're not walking, if you've never walked to Jesus, you're not walking with Jesus, you're not walking for Jesus, I got some bad news. You're just taking a walk, and you're going in the wrong direction. So I'm gonna wrap this up by giving you a little history lesson. If you went back to the first few years when the Church was just getting started, right after the resurrection, these early Christians became known for a lifestyle that was completely counter-cultural. They became known for lifestyle that was just so radically different. So for example, where the culture of that day, by the way, like the culture of our day, you know, exalted materialism and wealth and comfort, you know what those early Christians did?
They sold their possessions. They pooled their resources. Gave, they they gave to people that had need. And where everyone else would take prisoners and low lives and they'd ship them off to dungeons or they'd ship 'em off to isolated islands just to be forgotten, these early Christians, they'd visit these people in prison. They would go to the leper colonies. They would take food and warm clothing and the gospel. And then where many religions were marked with paganism and sexual orgies and drunkenness and complete idolatry, these early Christians would get together for what they called a love feast. They'd do this strange thing where they would break bread together, and they would drink wine together, and they'd worship Christ Jesus the Lord, and it just blew their cultures away.
So the question is, what was it that motivated a lifestyle that was so out of step with the culture of that day? What was it about these Christians that everybody stood up and took notice, where they even, the, by the way, the Christians did not begin calling themselves Christians, you know that, right? They were first called Christians by people who are not Christians. They said, "These people are so radically different. Their lives have been so transformed. Hmm, they follow Christ. Why don't we call them Christians"? How did that happen? What in the world motivated them to do that? When you go back and read it, there was one simple reason. When they heard the gospel, they received Christ Jesus as Lord. They took that first step, they walked to Jesus. They took that second step, they walked with Jesus. They even went to their death walking for Jesus. They had learned the walk of a lifetime, and I pray we'll get back to that walk.