Who you rolling with?
Synopsis of Sermon 01/03/09
Delivered by Bishop Walker III
Mark 8:34-38:34And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
When we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, it has to be more than a simple profession. It is a lifestyle of conviction, loyalty, integrity, and trust. Many of us follow the Lord simply because of what God can do for us. The reality is our relationship with God should not be unilateral (binding on one side). Instead our relationship with God should be reciprocal (done in return for something else). One cannot just follow the Lord for what he can do for us. It must be also about what we can do for him.
There is an interesting moment in the text. In the text Jesus shares the reason that he has come. Jesus calls the multitude together with his disciples and reminds them or prepares them for an imminent journey of persecution and ultimate death for the cause of Christ. It is literally the cost of Discipleship. We shared some time ago that Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) , German Theologian recorded in a book the “The Cost of Discipleship” the cost of Discipleship. He wrote that when God calls us, he bids or welcomes us to come and die. You must understand that there is s distinct difference between a member and a disciple. A member of a church does what they want to do and they come when they want to come, but a disciple is one who literally follows the Lord and who is a learner or imitator of the teacher. He also observes what the teacher has taught them and manifests it into their day to day lives. When you look at this, it is important to understand that what God is after from us is true discipleship. Bishop explains that he saw some boys a few years ago having a conversation. They were getting ready to take a journey and the question was raised, “Who you rolling with?” Bishop said he didn’t understand it then but since then he has come to understand what they were really saying was, who are you going to be with when crisis come? Whose side are you going to be on? Who you roll with will determine where you will end up. As we begin this new year with fresh opportunities and fresh expectations, the Lord wants to know who you rolling with? Are you going to roll with the Lord or the devil? Are you going to be on the Lord’s side and are you going to trust him? It has to be more than lip service. Who you rolling with? It has to be more than just coming to church or religion. This has to be about a relationship. Who you rolling with? It has to be more than just lifting your hands or shouting Hallelujah! It doesn’t matter how high you can jump when you shout. It is about how straight you walk when you come back down. Who are you rolling with? It has to be more than name dropping (the Lord’s name). When crisis comes, who you rolling with is going to show up! This is why you have to have a relationship with Jesus Christ for yourself. God speaks to us today not only to evaluate ourselves. He wants us to ask ourselves are we truly sold out on him. Are we truly in a committed relationship with him? Many of you have made up in your mind that this year you are going for the real thing. You want to be where God wants you to be and you want to do what God wants us to do.
The gospel of Mark is historically the first gospel though it is the second gospel that appears in your bible. The other gospels drew their material from this one. Mark was written at an interesting time, because Mark’s audience was truly being persecuted by Nero the infamous Roman persecutor. Even though Mark is writing what he hears Jesus say, the audience during the time he is writing this does not hear this metaphorically, they are hearing this literally. It was imminent that they might be crucified. It was imminent that they might actually be persecuted so Mark tells them what Jesus has said which was if a man desires to come after him, he must first deny himself, take up his cross, and follow after him. Let’s understand a Disciples Priorities.
I. Disciples Priorities
Mark 8:34 says 34And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. When he speaks to his disciples, he makes a distinction between them and the multitude. To follow him, he says they had to deny themselves. This is a struggle. In all of us, there is a duality. There is in us nature that wants to do what we want to do and then there is a will inside us that wants to do what God wants us to do. Paul wrote about this in Romans 7. He says what he wants to do, he doesn’t do and what he doesn’t want to do, he does. He says he keeps finding himself going back and forth. Ex-You see that cake and say you can’t have it. What we are trying to say is that we spend a lot of time trying to talk ourselves out of doing what we are not supposed to do. It is about denying ourselves. When you come to this place it is what the song writer wrote about when he says I give myself away so you can use me.
1. Must be Spiritual -You cannot be carnal to achieve this. A carnal man has allegiance to the flesh. Your flesh wants to deny this. When you are spiritual, you begin to understand what is said in 1 Corinthians 15:31: 31I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. Romans 6:11: 11Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. – When you are spiritual you wake up every day saying you want to crucify your flesh. It is our flesh that wants to get ahead of God. Once I do this, I understand the value of sacrifice.
2. Must sacrifice – Nobody wants to give up anything which is why this is hard. Romans 12:1 says 1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.- We must sacrifice meaning we are willing to be stretched for a cause greater than ourselves. It is not about us, it is about him. Nobody wants to focus on the goal; they want to focus on the role.
3. Must be submissive – This means we are willing to share. We are willing to do what we must do and be what he is willing for us to be. The dedication to your service or assignment is taking up your cross.
4. See your Purpose -This is literally about you purpose. Even though Jesus may have struggled every now and then, he knew his purpose. Remember when the woman asked if her sons could sit beside Jesus in heaven and he said that it wasn’t for him to give? We are anointed to carry our own cross. Can’t anybody but us do what we do. We are anointed for our purpose
5. Will experience Pain – Taking up your cross will bring pain. Philippians 1:21says 21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 2 Timothy 2:12 says 12If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:-Everybody has got to go through some pain. There is no such thing as a Cross-less Christianity. You can’t get a crown without a cross. Everyone must go through. Just take up your cross and walk. Ex-Bishop Walker explained that he went through a period of time where he had a pity-party before (Referring to the death of his first wife). Bishop explains that God told him that this was just his cross. Your goal is not to focus on yourself. God is trying to get the glory in earth realm.
6. Must Persevere -Members that are disciples that hang in there. They realize they will be hated of men for his sake. No matter how rough it gets, just hang in there! Prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, the cross was a death sentence. Now it is a prelude to the next dimension of your life. Jesus is at the right hand of his father. Many want the elevation without the cross. Without crucifixion, there can be no resurrection. With no resurrection, there can be no elevation. We have to be willing to allow God to take us through whatever we have to go through as long as we are going to be elevated. Some people thank God that they went through the crucifixion (they have been elevated).
II. Destiny in Perspective
Mark 8:35-37: 35For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
1. When you recognize your obligations as disciples then it is easier to see your destiny.
2. Jesus raises the question “What does it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul. We have a hard time distinguishing blessings and stuff. Our level of commitment is tied to the stuff that he blesses us with. What if God took our stuff away? Would we still be committed? This is what God did with Job. After all he went through, Job was spiritual enough to say,” Naked I came into the world and naked I will return. The Lord gives and he takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord…”
3. Jesus warns us about holding on to stuff at the expense of losing our soul. You have to be careful that you don’t equate your blessings with the tangible accumulation of things. We live in the world where we think stuff brings value. Your blessing should not be tied to stuff money can buy. Your blessing should be tied to the stuff money can’t buy. There are people that are reading this that might not drive what you drive or live where you live, but they can sleep at night. We thank God for peace, joy, mercy, and things money can’t buy.
a. We suffer from an ethic of entitlement. We think that life and everyone in it owes us something. We have this spirit of individualism. We think it is all about us. As long as God is hooking us up, we are alright, but the moment he stops, some of us stop coming to church, stop tithing, and stop believing. Stuff can never take the place of God. Your greatest desire in life ought to be for us to be saved. When the stuff fades away what will you have? There has never been a funeral with a u-haul tied behind it. Whatever you have when you die, you will have to leave behind. What is important is you are going to have to know somebody in that hour.
4. We got to be in a position to give an account for our soul. What good does it do to have a Cadillac and not have Christ? You got jewelry, but you don’t have Jesus. Imagine trying to brag on what you have when you get to heaven. Imagine trying to brag to the Lord on what you gained on earth. He would probably say up here you are poor. Up here is streets paved with gold. Secondly he would say depart from me worker of iniquity.
5. We would rather have Jesus. You have got to put stuff in perspective. Paul declared he learned how to abound. Whether we are driving or walking, we are rolling with Jesus. You may build all this stuff, but only what you build for Christ will last. Stuff is alright, but give us Jesus! We are rolling with the Lord!
III. Devotion must be professed
Mark 8:38: 38Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
1. You have this responsibility to share the good news. Whatever is good to you, you don’t mind talking about. Jesus knew his disciples would be put under tremendous pressure. Jesus said he was leaving but coming back. Jesus reminds them all that they will have struggles until he came back. Jesus kept trying to prepare them. He reminded them all the time that this is part of being his disciple. He tried to teach them that in the midst of all the trouble they encountered, they would have to know where they stood in midst of it. They were disciples in the midst of a sinful and adulterous generation.
a. Adultery means to break covenant. It is like being married, but wanted to act like you are not. People that are adulterers want the perceptions, but not the commitment. They want to look married, but not be married. Hosea prophesied that God is like a faithful husband who is in love with this metaphorical Gomer. Here Israel is compared to a prostitute. God is the faithful husband who marries a prostitute (us). Though Hosea, representing God brings the prostitute in, clothes her and elevates her, every night she sneaks back out to the street corner and keeps coming back bloody and bruised. Every day he patches her up and gives her water and loves on her and the next day, she goes and does the same thing over again. The woman represents Israel and the people of God. We are the prostitute and God is the faithful father or husband. We say we are married to God, yet we do what we want to do. In other words, we want the benefit, but don’t want the responsibility. We put God on our money, but not our money on God. We pray at the capital, but we legislate prayer out of schools. We want the perception that we are a nation of God, but when it comes down to it, nobody talks about God until they are in trouble! We don’t talk about God until we are in trouble. We pray when we get in trouble, but do we pray when we have a traffic jam in our driveway or a mall in our closet? Who you rolling with? God says he needs someone to take a stand in this adulterous generation. He needs somebody that will take a stand in the midst of folk making them think you are crazy. You have radio host, talk show host, and movies that have no respect for God. They make everything a joke because they have no respect for the church. This is how they see us. We are not a play thing. We have to let the world know that there is something to this.
2. Your deliverance must be shared. People need to know how we got where we are. They need to know our testimony. Jesus says if your are ashamed of him, he will be ashamed of you when you go to heaven. Last Sunday we talked about where Rome was viewed as evil. Seemed like everything that was evil come from that place. It was Rome that crucified Christ. Roman chapter 1 deals with the immorality of Rome. Paul confronted Rome in Romans 1:16: 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. – In other words it doesn’t matter what your social background is or your cultural background the same power that saved him is available to save you. He says there is no way he could be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why do you go around like you are an anonymous Christians and then you come to church acting like you all in it? God is ready for somebody to tell their real testimony! He needs someone who is not ashamed!
3. In closing: There was this friend of Bishop that would stand outside of this grade school waiting for his father to pick him up. His father picked them up every day. It would embarrass this friend though, because he had a hoop tie. The hoop tie would smoke and make a lot of noise. The friend tried to get his Dad not to come and pick him up. Some kids use to tease him, despite having to walk 2 miles to get home themselves. Others teased him when they didn’t have a father at all. Despite all of this, the friend’s father would come and get him and pick him up right in front of the school. The friend tried to negotiate with his Dad and have him pick him up in the back of the school, but his father refused. Bishop asked how did he get over this awful feeling? The friend said that when he got older he realized that it did not matter how he rolled up, as long as he showed up. In like manner, when you grow up, you going to realize that it doesn’t matter how God rolls up, you going to thank God that he keeps on showing up on your job, in your family, and in your health. Thank God he keeps showing up!