Steven Furtick - Chosen On Purpose
It's okay to care what people think about you. It is not okay to be controlled by what people think about you. In Matthew, chapter 20, Jesus has just finished giving his disciples two consecutive lessons on the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God was not a new concept, but Jesus was the first one who called it that. In Matthew's gospel, you'll see the phrase the kingdom of the heavens, because the Jewish audience Matthew was writing to would be offended if he used the name of God. It was not to be spoken. So he referenced it in a more abstract way: the kingdom of the heavens. You'll see it in other gospels, the kingdom of God. It was preached about over 100 times through the mouth of Jesus, but he didn't just preach about it; he demonstrated it. Everywhere he went, he taught the kingdom of God, not so much so they could learn it by principle but so they could observe it by demonstration.
How many know a good sermon is one you can see and hear? Jesus did just that. He would teach it, and then he would do it. He would talk about it, and then he would transformatively heal or bless or forgive. He was demonstrating this kingdom of God everywhere he went. It was not the kingdom his disciples expected. It was not a kingdom that delivered them from Roman oppression. That's what they wanted. That's what they prayed for. You could make the case that for the twelve disciples he chose, they signed up to see his kingdom come. They signed up so they could witness his kingdom, but when they saw it, they almost missed it, because they were looking for something so different than what he came to bring. It was right in front of them, but they were looking past it to something in the future that Jesus did not even intend to bring, which was political deliverance, which was an economic deliverance, which was a military reign or rule, but Jesus came to preach the kingdom of God.
This particular instance in the ministry of Jesus did not happen at the beginning, but it was just before his ministry would start to come to a close on earth. The Bible says this mother of Zebedee's sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. I think the most profound question is the one Jesus asked next. The question sounds simple on the surface, but let's take a moment and think about it as a new year begins. Jesus asked this mother, "What is it you want"? We all have a list, but usually in church we are taught to downplay our desires and to pray prayers we don't really mean because they sound good, but they're plastic. What I admire about this mother in the passage is that she got honest with Jesus and said, "I want my boys to have VIP seating in your kingdom". Don't you love somebody who will be honest about what they want? Don't you ever have people who call you on the phone and you just want to tell them, "Cut the crap and tell me what you want. I know you're not calling to check on me. You never do. Do you need $20? I'll Cash App you just to get off this phone right now. What do you want"?
Or even with my kids… I love being a dad, but when they're being too nice, there's something behind it. "How was your day, Dad"? "Okay. You can have more video game time". "What do you want? Let's just get to it". But Jesus is asking the question not on the level of inconvenience, like, "What do you want"? because everything the woman is doing, this mother of Zebedee's sons, is on the surface exactly what you should do. Let's look at it really quickly. She comes to Jesus. That's what you're supposed to do, I think. I don't know where else to go. How many have something in your life that people can't do for you that only God can do for you and the only way you're going to get it is if God gives it to you? Will you come to him? That's why I came to church: to get something from God. I didn't come here to hear the same thing I hear on the news that the world is falling apart. I came for a gospel message that there's something greater than who sits in an office, that there is a kingdom that cannot be shaken and we have access.
So she came to Jesus. She came to the right person. She knelt before him. She had the right posture. She brought her sons. She had the right priorities. What parent doesn't want their kids to go to the best school? But this takes helicopter mom to a whole new level, because these boys are 30 years old. Still setting up play dates, and they have a beard. These disciples are not just any disciples. I want to show you something. Can I show you something? I'm going to do it anyway. Mark, chapter 3. The Bible gives an indication of who Jesus chose when he came to set up his kingdom. Notice this: the kingdom of God had already been established, but it had never been reflected in human form. When Jesus got ready to show what the kingdom of God looked like, he could have come looking like Thor. He could have come looking like Dwayne Johnson. He could have come with biceps, but he came as a baby. That's fascinating to me, to know that when he wanted to show us the kingdom, he started with the ultimate emblem of weakness. He did not start with deliverance; he started with diapers.
Everything God brings into your life will come in a small form. It will seem insignificant in the beginning stages. That's why you can't despise the day of small beginnings. You have to celebrate some baby steps this year. You have to realize God is working in your life, even if people don't see it to celebrate it. People don't know to celebrate what they can't see. So celebrate yourself for a moment, that you came to church on this weekend to get a word from God. I need you to know that Jesus picks people who have problems. Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Look at this passage in Mark 3. I still haven't gotten over this, so if I read it slowly, it's to keep from getting choked up, because I am someone who struggles a lot of times with believing that God chose me. When I read this about how Jesus was calling his disciples to establish his kingdom… He didn't go to a seminary; he went to the sea and found four fishermen, the first four…Peter, Andrew, James, and John. It says it in Mark, chapter 3, in such a beautiful way. "Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons".
I said, to have authority. Not just to get attention. We live in a time where people don't know the difference between attention and authority. It's embarrassing to me that we have created a generational perspective that doesn't know the difference between greatness and fame. If you don't believe me, grab somebody who looks like they're younger than you and ask them, "Would you rather be rich or famous"? Don't even put God in the question. Save that for later. "Would you rather have money or followers"? If they really get honest about what they want, they will tell you… It is a culturally pervasive issue of our day, and it's the Devil, and it's shortsighted, and I came to preach about it. I'm not salty, but I am serious. Everybody famous isn't great, and everybody great isn't famous. Somebody on your row might be great, and you don't even know their name. I came to preach about kingdom clout. I have a name that's registered in heaven. My name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. I might not have a blue check but he shed his red blood for me and I'm his. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
This is a five-week series, and I have to go slowly. It said he chose them to be with him and to preach. When we meet somebody, we identify them by what they do. "Hey, I'm Jerry". "I'm Steven". "What do you do"? He called them (notice the order) to be with him and to preach, so that what they did would flow out of who they were, but when you define who you are by what you do, it's shaky ground. So before he called them to do it, he called them to be it. Real kingdom authority comes from knowing who you are, whose you are, and not allowing this crazy world to define you by what you do, what you have, what you wear. Let me tell y'all something I didn't tell them last night. There was a preacher who was talking to me the other day about my shoes. He didn't ask me anything about a sermon, exegesis, insight from the text, or the Holy Ghost. He wanted to know about sneakers. "How about these? How about those"? I said, "Man, I don't know. Most of the stuff I wear somebody gave to me. I don't even know what it's called. And now half of it is in Elijah's closet, because he's my size, and I don't even get to wear it before he steals it".
It bothered me, because when we started the church, Holly would go buy me a button-down shirt, because I had a superstition. Every weekend I wanted to wear something new, but we didn't have any money, so she would find a $2.99 clearance at Dillard's. But I was proud of it, because when I would put it on and I would give myself a haircut… I didn't know how to fade my hair. I only had one guard on the thing. I didn't know how to fade. I didn't know how to dress. I didn't know how to do anything, but I was called, anointed, appointed, passionate, fired up, charged up. I was set apart. What I wanted you to know… I was so proud of those $3 shirts from Dillard's. I was anointed in those $3 shirts from Dillard's. See, when you really have something from God, it is not about externals. The external is fine, but it is the Spirit of God that makes you great. It is not an income level. It is not a number of followers. It is not clicks and comments and all this crap the world calls clout.
When you have a Father who is in heaven who knows your name, who chose you, who called you, you can do what you have to do because it's in you! He called to him those he wanted. Did you see that? He called those he wanted. God has options. There's a difference between having clout and being chosen. People can give clout. They can take it away. "Hosanna! Hosanna"! "Crucify him"! within a 72-hour period. They will change their mind. Oh God, they'll change their mind. But when you're called and chosen… Look at verse 13. He called those he wanted. What does it feel like to be wanted? Like that. See how happy you get? God has options. Sometimes you don't. Be honest. Sometimes you hang out with people because they were the only one available. Sometimes you hire somebody because they were the best available candidate. You make it work. God looks for exactly what he wants. I don't mean to get biological, but he fertilizes the right egg at the right moment.
Do you realize the percentage chance of you being born when you were born to do what you do? And you're going to walk around in self-doubt trying to figure out if God chose you? You ought to know God chose you, you ought to believe God chose you, and you ought to go through your life with your head held high no matter what is in your bank account because you're chosen. Eric used to always tell them, because they would make fun of him for being adopted when we were in high school… He'd say, "My parents picked me; yours got stuck". That shut them up real quick too. My Father picked me. He wanted you on the earth right now, and he wanted you short or he wanted you tall or he wanted you to have experienced this set of circumstances or the other, and he got what he wanted. He called what he wanted.