Samuel Rodriguez - Less Is More
What if I tell you today that the ridiculous, radical, revolutionary, redemptive, restorative, redeeming, reconciliatory, Christian truth that makes our faith unique on this planet is the following undeniable truth. Watch this, when you follow Jesus, more demands less. "What you talking about, Willis? More means less, what"? More of God means less of you. Once upon a time there lived a man convinced that he knew God. God wanted more for him and more from him. So we encountered this man on the road to a city called Damascus. The outcome of that more encounter changed the world forevermore, Acts 9. "Meanwhile Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was committed, eager to kill the Lord's followers". Lord's Pastor Lauren DeMoor, where are you? Is pastor Lauren here? Pastor Lauren, in light of the comedy sketch on this stage and the fact that you're wearing your Paul sandals, your Brooks, come up here right now. Give it up for Saul of Tarsus, please. Give it up for the best sandals on the planet.
Pastor Lauren: I'm a foot model.
Samuel Rodriguez: Did you get them done recently? They're all shining.
Pastor Lauren: I just gotta polish them every once in while.
Samuel Rodriguez: You polish them every once in a while?
Pastor Lauren: Yeah.
Samuel Rodriguez: Okay.
Pastor Lauren: I mean, it's diamonds.
Samuel Rodriguez: You put little diamonds in the middle of all that?
Pastor Lauren: Yeah, crystal gel.
Samuel Rodriguez: Crystal gel.
Pastor Lauren: I don't think it's awkward.
Samuel Rodriguez: We don't judge here, buddy. That's all you, be you.
Pastor Lauren: Pastor Mondo...
Samuel Rodriguez: Pastor Mondo sent you that place, okay. So this guy with the sandals went to the high priest. He requested letters to address it at synagogues in Damascus. I love this, asking. Do we, asking for the cooperation in the arrest of any of the followers of... Can somebody read that for me? I'm wearing my Clark Kent glasses today. Any of the followers of... Can anyone... This is not scripted as you can tell. Can you tell me what's interesting about the word, Way? Do you think that's a coincidence?
Pastor Lauren: No.
Samuel Rodriguez: Throughout the Book of Acts, Dr. Luke filled with the Holy Spirit, Dr. Luke writes this every time he talks about the Way, he capitalizes the word, "Way". Look, randomly, is there's just a word Way, and it's capitalized. Of any of the followers of the Way, So Christians were not called Christians in the beginning. Do you know what we were called? The followers of... That's it, I just gave you the first descriptor assigned to us. "He wanted to bring them both men and women, both men and women, both men and women, both men and women, back to Jerusalem in chains. As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shown down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me"?
If you're taking any notes, I'm gonna be very brief here today. Number one, more of God means less of your Way. More of God means less of your Way. Well, let's do it one more time. Followers of the what? Capital W. Listen, we live in a world with many ways, many ways to express opinions, many ways to engage in relationships. Many ways to self-identify ethnically, sexually, otherwise. Many ways to acquire information. In this biblical passage, I love this. The Holy Spirit drives Luke to say, we're not just a Way. We are followers of the... oh boy, early Christians were known as followers of the Way. I love this because it was a capital W, It was a capital W, which makes it unique and exclusive.
And I wanna double down on this, in this church, we don't offer a thousand ways. We don't offer you a hundred ways. We don't offer you 10 ways. We don't even offer you five ways. I'm gonna be honest, we don't even offer you three ways. We offer you one Way, and that Way happens to have a name. It is the most beautiful name in all of the universe. It is the name above every other name. It is the wonderful, powerful, liberating, chain breaking. It is the name that makes cancer shrivel up and die. It is the name that sets an addict free. It is the name that'll turn around a family. A family full of drama becomes a family full of destiny. It is the name that brings an end to every generational curse. It is the name that heals your mind, that heals your heart, that heals your body, that heals your soul, that heals your destiny. That heals absolutely everything.
What name am I talking about? The name of Jesus. If you believe there is power in that name, shout that name, praise that name, worship that name. It is that name. The one Way name, I love it. It's the Way. The early church, this guy came against. This guy came against the fight, he hated them. He wanted to kill them. Not my wording, we read it. Matter of fact, he wanted to kill them, the early church. All right, look around you for a second. I wanna show you some stuff here. We are comfortable. Let me explain, like look at us right now. We're in an auditorium in Northern California. It's gonna be 101 degrees today in Sacramento yet our HVAC units are working, air conditioning. You're in comfortable seating. You're so comfortable. Some of you either praise or nap, and sometimes you praise while you're napping.
You know our church, we're putting in massage chairs next year. Oh, we don't play. In the middle of the sermon, you're rather, you're gonna hear. It's either gonna be the Holy Spirit or you reacting to the massage chair. But look how comfortable, right? We have everything we need. Even if you look up here for a second, we have LED screens. Sometimes even people on LSD can see the LED screens. I mean, we have... somebody said, that's to be praise the Lord is my testimony. This is, stop it, don't. This is, seriously, we're comfortable. How many Christians, how many Christians, how many people that come to church, how many of us would survive if they started persecuting Christians the way they persecuted the first Christian for the first 300 years? There's a certain nation that is streaming.
So I'm gonna mince my words, 'cause there are people from that nation streaming and the government gets involved and shuts down the internet for certain people. In a certain nation today, Christians meet underground literally, they convey little messages. they leave little things behind to meet because if the government finds out, they come after you. They imprison you. And it's pretty amazing how Christians... And by the way, in that one nation that I'm referencing, it is the nation right now with the fastest growing number of Christians. What the devil doesn't understand till this day, 'cause he's such a liar that he lies to himself, he doesn't get it. The devil doesn't understand that the more you come after the followers of the Way, the more the followers of the way preach about the Way. What the enemy doesn't understand is that we're not a normal entity. We're not a government. We're not a political party. We're not people on Instagram and Facebook of our own little hustle.
This is not a side hustle, baby. We're not just anything. We are the followers of the Way. We are the followers of Jesus. Back in the Roman times when Saul was supposed to... This is pretty amazing that they would walk around. This is what people would actually do, not making it up. So you're a Christian, you had to be in the DL, you had to be in the... You had to cover your Christianity up. But you wouldn't, let me explain. You would walk around and go like this. This really happened. We know it because we have the archives and the Roman writings to prove it. People would go, there's nobody around. And they would do half a fish like this. half a fish, not the full fish. Then they would go like this and they would wait to see if somebody else would come and finish the fish. And if somebody would come and finish... Do you have that graphic up there, April? Can you go back up there?
If they would finish the fish, and whoever would finish the fish, that means they were a Christian, then that's it. And then this person would see that person finish the fish and then they would go and go like, come here, come here. We're gonna meet in the following house at the following time. We're gonna pray together, because Jesus told us if two or more... I don't know if you get this. If two or more, if two or more were gathered in His name, he would be in the midst of them. That's how Christianity became the greatest and largest faith group on the planet in the midst of persecution. What am I telling you? The world is falling apart. Everything seems to be going to hell in a hand basket. It looks like the devil released all the proverbial crack simultaneously.
Doesn't it look like, the devil basically went, Hey guys, might as well do this. Everybody get out, all the demons, y'all get out, get outta your buses, let's just go, let's go. COVID things, the economy, people, let's do away with every vestige of truth. Whatever everybody believed was true, let's do it. Let's just confuse people, let's divide people, violence everywhere, they're killing people everywhere. South Africa, Texas, Illinois, the former prime minister of Japan, a spirit of violence. Everything seems to be falling apart. Why is the devil freaking out and launching all his minions? Could it be that he knows this is the bottom of the ninth inning, and he's about to be... Could it be that the devil knows that his time is running out? What am I telling you? Church, get ready. We are about to see the glory of the Way like we have never seen before.
If you believe you're about to see Jesus, show up. They would meet. This is what Saul was after. Saul was after all the people that did this. He came after that. And all of a sudden, I love the writing. He says, Luke says, he just says, If this guy wasn't just after anybody, He was after the people of the Way. We are people of the Way. We are, Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am..." Stop it. He said, I am... Did he say, "I am a Way"? That's politically incorrect. Do you realize what we're doing? I can preach this message in Texas in Alabama. We're preaching this in California. We are preaching in California that Jesus is... Are you nuts? You're part of a church right now that believes that Jesus is... I don't know if, if you wanna water that down, go to another church. in this church, for every single day, this church is gonna preach and teach that he is the only Way.
Somebody say, "One Way". One Way to be saved. One Way for eternal life. One Way for abundant life. One Way to do away with your past. One Way to do away with your sins. One Way to shake off hell. One Way to fulfill your destiny. One Way to live out your purpose. One Way to change the world. He is the Way, he is the Way in, He is the Way through, and he is the Way out. He is the Way out of your Egypt through your desert and into your Promised Land. He is the Way out of your past, through your present and into your future. He is the Way out of your hell through the heartbreak and into heaven. Somebody say, "He is the Way". Do you know why we serve the God of the Way? Why of the exclusive Way, we serve these? Why the Way? Because we don't serve a little g god.
—Well, you know, 'cause we're part of the Way and it's not like little god, it's big God, big G.
Samuel Rodriguez: The big G. Then why do certain people act like they serve the little G god and they pray and they live like they serve the little G god. There's a bunch of little G gods. In this church, we don't pray to the little G gods. We pray to the big G God. I know about you. Somebody comes in, you go, "Why are you guys so loud? Why do you praise so big"? We praise big because we serve the big G God. Any worshipers in the house, we don't pray to the little g god, we pray to the big G God. We don't worship the little g god, we worship the big G God. That's the whole thing?
—That's whole thing.
—You gotta just make sure pastor is saying that you're not throwing up like keep that thumb in there.
—Big G, you don't wanna throw a big C. Just throw a big G.
Samuel Rodriguez: What are you talking about? What in the name of the good Lord are you talking about? What, ain't have that in Bethlehem? Throw a big G God, big C God.
—Just keep that thumb bent.
Samuel Rodriguez: Keep the thumb bent. Like if I have arthritis?
—Exactly, exactly. Is your generation committed to the big G God?
Samuel Rodriguez: You know there are little G's in your generation, but you have your generation worshiping a bunch of little G gods, The G of narcissism and secular humanism, of ideologies and teachings and social constructs that just totally come against what God says. But you guys are gonna rise up. You already did. Your generation's about to change the world. You're gonna reintroduce the world to the glory of God like this world's never seen before. What does that mean? I'm gonna be honest, guys. This is not scripted. I just wanna tell you, you all preachers and you're gonna be preaching with pastor on your campuses. We don't need more speakers. We need more preachers that preach that Jesus is the only Way. We don't need more singers. We need worshipers that usher in the glory of God. I'm gonna be honest. We don't even need more conferences. We need more gatherings where Jesus shows up and devils run out, where Jesus shows up and bondage runs out.
I don't know about you, but I do believe. I traveled in New Zealand, went around at different countries in the past week and a half. I'm seeing hunger. I'm telling you, listen, don't be surprised. We're about to, there are two types of people right now. There are people saying right now we should reduce churches. This all came out in the last few weeks. We think we should be... 30% of Christians are not coming back to church. So they doubled down and they studied that 30%... They predicted 36% weren't coming back. 30% of people that went to church prior to COVID are not coming to church now. So churches on average are 30% emptier than what they were before COVID. And then some of these people are saying, we're not coming back, period, whoa. So I'm just here to... There are two types of pastors and leaders. There are those that are going, we should reduce the auditorium times, and we should cut down on our programs. I know churches that literally shut down for the summer and said, they're gonna pick up in September. That's that kind of church.
Then we have some Coco for cocoa puff people on the other side that say, "Shutting down smaller, find me a bigger building, we have more people that are about..." Somebody praise like you know God's about to show up. How many believe that God's about to show off his glory like we have never seen before in your family, in your home, in your calling, in your ministry. If you believe, if you still believe that we are about to see our prodigal sons and daughters come back home, now give God the best shout of praise you've given to him all day. Praise him, praise like you believe it. Serve the big G God, worship like you believe it.
All right, final, final, hold on. For you guys there, I'll let you guys go 'cause you're union workers. Here it is, 81% of Americans Gallup all, I'm gonna have this stuff for you on the app tomorrow so you can look at the studies. 81% of Americans believe in God. That number is down from 10 years ago. It should be 87%, 86, 87. The news articles that day, If you read the news or saw the news, NBC, ABC, CBS, and so forth, they were freaking out, "Aha, Americans are becoming less or less godly. Aha, we're becoming more a non-believing nation". 81% still believe in God. So the news put it like a Aha, we becoming secular. And then in Europe, they're going like 81% of you crazy Americans believe in God? We're like in the low thirties, mid thirties, your people still believe in God in spite of every commercial, every movie, every influencer, in spite of all the politicians, in spite of people cursing God, using God as a curse word, coming against God.
Notice how God somehow 81% of Americans say in spite of everything around us, we still believe in God. Close to 50% still believe that the Word of God is inspired by God. I don't know if you understand that. You would think no one believes that, but no, 49% believe the Word of God is inspired by God. There's a smaller number that believes it is the literal Word of God, every single page, every single word, but 49% believe it is close to 50%.
And then Harvard came out with the craziest study. Oh Harvard, we're gonna have this on the app. The Harvard University study, one of the largest studies ever. They wanted to know who are the healthiest people in America. They went through specific areas. What people in America are less likely to ever think about committing suicide. What people in America are, what group of people identified are the group of people less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety where it breaks them. So they went, who are the healthiest mental health people in America? They went through a bunch of categories. Who are the most joyful, who are the most this, who are the most this. Who are the most compassionate, the most loving, You know how they call us, like you're hateful. The most loving, the most loving, the most, guess which group came out as the healthiest group? The people in this auditorium on a hot Sunday afternoon in Sacramento, California. No, you missed it.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we don't have a religion. We have a relationship with the living God. If you are a Christian, you have joy. I said, if you're a Christian, you have joy. I said, if you are a Christian, you have joy. You have love, you have peace. Are there any followers of the Way here today? If you're a follower of the Way, lift up your hands and repeat after me: "I am a proud follower of the Way". Say it like you believe it, "I am a proud follower of the Way".
If you really are, if you know that you are followers of the way, Jesus is the Way, not a Way. And it's beautiful, it's not arrogant, it's compassionate. The world has broke and they need to know. They need to know for God to be the Way in your life, for you to live out the purpose of the Way, you must learn to get out of the Way. I will repeat that. For God to be the Way in your life, for you to live out the purpose of the Way, you must learn to get out of the Way. My thoughts are not your thoughts. My ways are higher than my ways. Isaiah 55:8-9. "You don't want to be in the Way of God having his Way in your life". Every single day get out of the Way as you live in the Way, permitting God to have his Way in your life. Alright, thank you. I can, okay, forget it, just thank you. Keep the thumb. Keep that thumb. Ready?
Pastor Lauren: Yeah.
Samuel Rodriguez: Stay right here. This happened, and I'll wrap up with this right here. Go right here. He hated, hated us. He was responsible for early Christians dying. In Acts 7, one of the first deacons in the church, a guy named Stephen, rockstar Preacher had a massive Instagram follower. Stephen came along, comes along. They literally dragged him out of a town. They told them, deny Jesus, He said, nah. They stoned him. They literally picked up stones, they put him like this, and they stoned him to death. They took his clothes and they brought the clothes to the feat, Acts 7, of a young soul.
In acts 22, He repeats verbatim after he's a Christian. He says, "I was there. I was there when they killed Stephen and they brought his clothes over". So all of a sudden this man is going on route to kill more Christians, the followers of the Way, and this happens, Jesus shows up. Just, this is Jesus post resurrection. By the way, this is gonna mess up many people theologically. This is Jesus' post. Everybody go... I love my church. That's probably a curse word in Italy and we just did it. Jesus, if somebody laughs after we go, I got that now.
Jesus, literally after the Ascension, is it after Jesus in Acts 1 went up. He does a cameo, a cameo. Jesus goes Bam! And Jesus is the light of the world. And he is shining so brightly, so brightly that the moment He shows up, this guy who is dark, he's dark, he's a killer, an assassin. He authorizes the death of Christians, the followers, the moment the light shows up, what does darkness do? Every time the light shows up in your life, darkness will have no other choice but to fall. I'm gonna repeat that one more time. Without exception, John 1:5, "Light will always overcome darkness". Every bit of darkness has no other choice but to fall. If you believe that, give God one more praise.