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Follower or Consumer?

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
June 1, 2022 9:00 am

Follower or Consumer?

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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June 1, 2022 9:00 am

Christians might be “in the world” and not “of it,” but we’re still impacted by our consumerist culture! But what works in the marketplace doesn’t work in the church.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. When you discover, when you find out that he may not remove every problem from your life, you're going to go through a defining moment in your faith. You're going to go through a test like Peter did, and that test, that defining moment, is essentially this question, why are you following Jesus? Welcome back to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. You know, Christians might be in the world and not of it, but we're still impacted by our consumerist culture.

We shop around at different stores to get the best price, haggle with the cable company to get a better package, or throw things out when they no longer serve our needs. And there's nothing wrong with that mindset in the business world, but it does get dangerous when we bring that into our churches. Today, Pastor JD talks about the problem of consumer Christianity. Remember, you can always reach out to us at or give us a call at 866-335-5220. We have resources available to help you along in your journey with Jesus.

We'd love to hear from you today. Now here's Pastor JD with a question for us all. Are you a follower or consumer? Today, I want to talk with you, in our last of our series here called Phantom Faith, I want to talk with you on what is probably the worst oxymoron of them all, and that is half-committed Christian. Many people try to be half-committed Christians.

They want just enough of Jesus, it seems, to get them to heaven, but not enough to make them radical, not enough to make them a fanatic. According to Jesus, as I hope to show you this weekend, there is no such thing as a half-committed follower of his. This is our final week in a series that we are calling Phantom Faith, because we're talking about people who go through the motions of Christianity, but do so without the soul. I really wanted to call this series Zombie Faith, but our creative director told me there was no way in any chance we were going to call any message series with the word zombie in it.

So we settled on phantom, but my passive aggressive nature has worked that as an illustration into every single message, so I could stick it to her. But anyway, Phantom Faith, the idea is a zombie is a body without a soul. It's a body separated from a soul, and there are many people who are going through the motions of Christianity, but they're doing so without the soul, and they know something's missing. There's joy missing in your life. There's motivation missing in your life.

You just feel like you're going through the motions, and there's a lot of people that that would describe. So we've looked at three misconceptions that keep people from the soul of Christianity. The very first week, what we looked at was how so few people understand what it actually means to be saved by faith. The idea that salvation is received, not achieved.

There's very few people that, or a lot of people that just don't understand exactly what that means. The second week, we explored how Christian salvation is about more than just forgiveness. It is forgiveness, but it's also resurrection power that transforms your life from the inside out. This week, I want to look at what is perhaps the biggest contributor of them all to Phantom Faith is the idea that you can be partially committed to Jesus.

The misconception begins with how most people came to God. Most of us, you see, came to God as a consumer, and we felt like God had something that we needed. You were missing something in your life. Maybe you just got to where you felt overwhelmed.

Life was too big. Maybe you went through a crisis, and you're like, I can't make it without God, and so that drove you back to Him. Some of you came to God because you were scared of going to hell.

I mean, if you were really honest, that was the reason. It's like, well, I don't want to go to hell, and He seems to hold the keys to that, so let me figure out how to get on His good side. So you needed Him to get you out of hell and into heaven. Others of you felt like you needed religion to have a stable family. Can't tell you how many people I see as a pastor who, you know, it's when they have kids, they start getting back in church. When it was just you, you know, you weren't really worried about it. When it was just you and your wife, you know, dual income, no kids, you weren't worried about it. Then you had kids, and you're like, my kids are growing up to be pagans, and I don't want them to grow up outside of the faith, and so I got to get back in church. And that's what brought you back. Or maybe you just felt like you needed religion to be a good person, a complete balanced person. Whatever it was, you came to Jesus because you believed that He had something that you needed, that He could supply something that you needed. And honestly, listen, there's nothing really wrong with that. God uses our need to show us that we can't make it on our own.

That's the way that He works. But here was the mistake that we made. We thought that Christianity primarily consisted in us getting something from Jesus rather than surrendering ourselves to Jesus. We assumed that Jesus was someone that we could add to our lives rather than someone to whom we offered our lives.

Jesus seems to have dealt with that all the time. The reason I say that is because what we're going to look at today in Mark chapter 8 is a series of statements that every single gospel writer includes, which may not be that significant to you, but realize how many things didn't get included in all four gospels. John 3 16 only appears one time.

God so loved the world, He gave His only Son. What you're looking at is something that appears in all four gospels, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the guy who was a German pastor who was executed for a failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a book called The Cost of Discipleship said, the fact that it's recorded in all four gospels indicates that it must be something that Jesus just repeatedly worked into every sermon. Some of y'all are irritated that I tell the same stories and make the same points in a certain sermon. Jesus did it, so deal with it, all right?

But this is one that was central to His message. It's a conversation He has with the future head of the church Himself, Peter. Now here we go, Mark 8 verse 27.

Jesus went on with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way, Jesus asked His disciples, who do people say that I am? And they told Him, well, John the Baptist, some people say it, others say Elijah, and others one of the prophets. Verse 29, but He asked them, well, who do you say that I am? And Peter answered Him, you are the Christ.

Now, y'all, that's a big, big deal. The Jewish people have been waiting for the Christ for 3,000 years. Christ just means the promised one.

It's the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah. That Christ, God had said, would overthrow Roman oppression, or whoever was oppressing the Jews at the time. That Messiah would right all wrongs. The Christ would stop injustice.

The Christ would put an end to the curse and restore the kingdom of God on earth. And Peter says, this is a big deal. Jesus, we recognize that the one we've been talking about for 3,000 years, that one is you. Verse 31, and Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed. And then after three days, He would rise again. And He said this very plainly, without metaphor or nuance.

He just came out and said it. Well, y'all, that didn't make any sense to Peter. A Messiah that suffers?

No, no, no. The Christ was supposed to put an end to suffering, not actually suffer Himself. And so Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. And every week after the first service we do here at four o'clock, I have a little team of people that meets me backstage and we go over the sermon line by line. At what point they tell me what I said that didn't make sense, what I said that was wrong. They tell me jokes that I've made that were lame and I should not repeat again.

They do that. It takes a lot of nerve to do that with Jesus, to after He gets done teaching, Peter takes Him aside and does sermon critique with Him and says, you shouldn't have said that. It was wrong. Verse 33, But turning and seeing His disciples, Jesus rebuked Peter and said, Get behind me, Satan, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God. You're setting your mind on the things of man. By the way, one of the reasons that we know the Bible is authentic is that it includes stories like this one. We're talking about the future head of the church. And Jesus calls him Satan.

Let me ask you this. If you were making up stories to try to bolster your floundering religious movement, is that the kind of story that you would make up? If you were trying to get a cynic here in the triangle to come visit our church, would you be like, Oh yeah, our pastor flunked out a seminary for cheating.

And Jesus once called him the great Satan. No, that's not the kind of thing you would make up. The only reason you put it in there is because it's true. It's true. Now, usually when you rebuke somebody, you do it privately.

That's just polite, right? The fact that Jesus does this publicly means that whatever Peter said was so dangerous and so wrong that Jesus felt like it needed a public rebuke. You see where it says he saw his disciples. He saw, he's like, we got to correct this in front of everybody. So verse 34, calling the crowd to him with his disciples.

He's kind of not just the desire. He got to bring everybody in on Peter's stupidity. He's going to be like, Peter, I'm going to embarrass you in front of all these people. And we're going to write it down in the Bible.

Sure, for 2000 years, you're going to be talking about what a dumb thing you said. And he said to them, if anyone would come after me, they got to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Now y'all, what Jesus said here was shocking. And sometimes I felt like we lose the impact of it because cross, that word just does not conjure up the same images for us that it did for them. For us, the cross is a sentimental symbol of our faith.

We decorate our houses with it. I knew somebody who, you know, their goal was to collect a decorative cross from every continent of the world and have them all displayed in their living room. For you, the cross is a piece of jewelry you wear around your neck that's made out of gold or diamond.

In fact, let me ask this. How many of you right now on some place on your body, whether it's in your ear or around your neck, or you got it tattooed or the grills in your teeth, I don't know, whatever. You have a cross either on your body or displayed somewhere decoratively in your home.

Raise your hand, all campuses. All right, so that's like three quarters of us. All right, now, I'm not trying to say that you shouldn't have that. I'm just trying to say there was something nothing sentimental or decorative for them about the cross. It was an image of oppression, of death, of horror, of torture. It'd be like a freed slave in the 19th century wearing a little lynching rope around their neck. Today, you go over to somebody's house and they have a cross above their kitchen table, or they have one above their, you know, in their baby's room above the crib, and you don't think anything about it. But imagine going over to somebody's house and above their table, they have a picture of somebody standing in front of a firing squad. And then you go into their, you know, into their nursery and dangling from the mobile above their baby's crib are some little hangman's nooses. You're not gonna be like, oh, how sweet, they're religious. You're gonna say, kids, we don't really play at this person's house, right?

We don't spend any time alone there unattended. Now, again, I'm not trying to tell you that you shouldn't wear a cross or decorate your house with it. I'm just trying to make sure that you don't lose the shock of what Jesus said. Because Jesus uses this image to confront a satanic perversion of faith.

The one that is still commonly held by Christians, Christians who have the cross tattooed to their body, or wearing it around their neck, or have it hanging up in their home. A satanic perversion of faith, one that is held even by Peter at this point in his life. It is called consumer faith. Consumer faith and it has three elements.

Here they are, if you're taking notes. Number one, you have consumer faith if you expect Christ to remove all hardship from your life. Peter assumed that the Messiah would end suffering for God's people.

Y'all, and this wasn't without warrants. The Old Testament repeatedly promised that a Messiah was going to come who would end injustice, right wrongs, end suffering, restore the kingdom. But see, there was also a lot of talk in the Old Testament about a suffering servant. And the identity of the suffering servant confused the Jewish people, but they never in a million years imagined that the suffering servant and the conquering Christ were the same person.

So Peter, along with most Jews of his time, could not conceive of a suffering Messiah. And so he expresses what I consider to be the heart of Christian immaturity. The heart of Christian immaturity is this, Jesus Christ came so that I would not suffer. Jesus says, no Peter, I'm not going to save you from suffering. I'm going to save you through suffering. And in the same way, I'm not going to stop your pain in this life. I'm going to redeem that pain and I'm going to give that pain meaning. And I'm going to use that pain to bring life to yourself and your family and the world. Just like I'm going to use my suffering and my pain to bring life to you. And Jesus tells Peter that until he understands that, he should stop speaking for the Messiah.

You think it's harsh, get behind me Satan. That's Peter, that's Jesus saying, shut your mouth until you understand this. You know, literally look in your Bible in verse 30. In verse 30 it says, Jesus said, do not talk about me any longer until you get this. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. And we'll be right back with more teaching in just a moment. But first, let me remind you that as we're learning this week, it's not enough to simply go through the motions of Christianity. We need a faith that truly lives.

And the best way to do that is through community. We want to help you learn how to connect more fully with those that you're closest to in our devotional called Devotions for the Distracted Family, 15 Days on Relationships, Rest and Faith. It comes with your generous gift to the ministry right now.

So give us a call at 866-335-5220 or check it out at Now let's get right back to today's teaching. Here's Pastor J.D. You see, there's a lot of immature Christians today who still believe and many who stand in pulpits and they stand in pulpits. But they're still immature Christians who teach that salvation means an end to all suffering in your life. And if you suffer, God is somehow not keeping up his end of the deal. Or you just don't have enough faith to end the suffering. But Jesus says salvation does not end the problems in your life. In fact, sometimes salvation means the problems in your life intensify. My problem is not, my promise is not that all these problems are going to disappear. My promise is that in these problems I'm going to be working to produce life. When you discover, when you find out that he may not remove every problem from your life, you're going to go through a defining moment in your faith. You're going to go through a test like Peter did. And that test, that defining moment is essentially this question.

Why? Are you following Jesus? Are you following Jesus because of something that you thought that he could do for you? Or are you following him because you believe knowing him was more valuable than anything else that life could give? You see, every single one of us has certain expectations when we come to Jesus. Your expectations are not the same as Peter had. I mean, Peter believed the Messiah would overthrow Rome and give freedom to Israel. Most of you didn't grow up dreaming about war with Rome.

Unless you're like a video gamer and then you probably thought about it a lot. But most of us did grow up with a view of Jesus that corresponds to our American consumeristic culture. Our American consumeristic Jesus was part genie in a bottle. He's part therapist. He's part life coach.

He's part personal cheerleader and part financial advisor. He's a Jesus who exists for our purposes. A Jesus who completes our life. A Jesus who makes everything better. A Jesus who is at our beck and call.

Here is the question. What are you going to do? What are you going to do when Jesus doesn't quite live up to those expectations? There's going to be a moment of truth.

If you haven't gone through it already, you're going to go through it. Are you going to throw up your hands and walk away? It doesn't record this here, but at another point in the Gospels when Jesus said this, a lot of Jesus' disciples just turned around and left. They quit following him. And Jesus turns to Peter, John 6, and says, Peter, are you going to quit following me too?

And honestly, it's not very inspiring. Peter goes, where else am I going to go? I already left the fishing business. I got nowhere else to go. You're the one with the words of eternal life. In other words, no, you haven't lived up to my expectations. And there's some things I don't understand why you didn't do them. And I don't understand why you say them.

And I don't understand why you didn't do this. But I don't know anywhere else I can go because I know that ultimately life means knowing you. And that everything without you is nothing.

And I've got to know you even if it means it costs me everything. Peter passed his test. Are you going to pass your test? Because if you haven't gone through it yet, you're going to go through it where he doesn't do something you thought he should do. The cancer doesn't go into remission. The marriage never gets better. Your husband never comes back. Your kids don't quite turn out the way that you thought they were going to turn out. You don't get the job.

You don't get the raise. Whatever it was that you thought he was going to give to you. And that you can't understand why he didn't give to you. If you love me, why wouldn't you give me this?

And at that point, it's going to be a defining moment. Why are you in this? Because it's a test from him. Are you in it because you were in it for him? Or are you in it because of something you thought he could give you? Because the greatest gift he gives is you. Is himself.

Here is number two. You have consumer faith. If you think of discipleship in terms of self-fulfillment instead of sacrifice. Peter thought of the Christ as somebody who would make his life better. But now Jesus is talking about willingly picking up a cross. Why are you into this, Peter? Are you thinking that following me completes your life? Or are you thinking of following me as being an offering of your life for others the way I'm offering mine for you?

I'll tell you the time I think this really became clear to me is when I was a missionary in Southeast Asia. I'd been there for about a year. And honestly, all things were not going well. It had not turned out the way that I thought it was going to turn out. I was lonely. Relationally, I was not fulfilled. I didn't feel like I was growing spiritually. I wasn't fruitful on the mission field. I mean, just nothing was happening the way I thought was supposed to happen. And I was kind of, honestly, I was mad at Jesus. I'm like, you got me all the way over here and nothing's turning out the way I thought. Thousands of people were supposed to be getting saved. I'm supposed to be writing books.

And it's just not happening. I remember a friend of mine invited me to a ritual sacrifice, a Muslim sacrifice. Obviously, I didn't go as a Muslim. I didn't go to worship. I went to observe.

But it's once a year, they do a sacrifice that commemorates Abraham's offering of his son. And so you have to dress in white. And so, you know, they put me on the front row. There's like 500 people there. Somehow I'm on the front row.

And I'm already like a foot and a half taller than everybody. And so it's like, it's just like, I'm just really one of these things does not belong. And so these seven men take this bull. They do it the same way the Jews used to do it. They take this bull and they lay the bull in the grave, force the bull down on the ground. And this Islamic version of a priest takes a knife and he begins to say these ritual prayers over it.

And then at some point he reaches down and he begins to cut through the neck of this bull. Now, y'all, I do not want to give you the gruesome details, but it was the most horrendous thing I have ever seen in my life. I knew they did it all the time in the Old Testament.

And I knew about it in the Old Testament. But until you are face to face, I mean, it literally, I mean, they begin to cut through that neck and blood, it just goes everywhere. I was like four feet from it on the front row and I'm covered in blood. And for about 90 seconds, that animal, as they cut through its trachea, just lays there and thrashes and kicks as blood spews everywhere and wheezes and gasps and dies. And I know that 90 seconds doesn't sound like a long time, but when you're standing there with nothing else to look at, it seems like an eternity. And I'm standing there just overwhelmed by this, and the Holy Spirit puts one thought in my heart.

Here's that thought. He said, this is the picture that I gave to Israel about what I was going to go through for their sin. This is the sacrifice I was going to make so that you could have me forever. It is also the picture that I gave to you about what following me was going to look like. Is this what you signed up for right here?

Because this is what you signed up for, then it doesn't make sense while you're complaining and mad at me because I haven't lived up to my end of the deal. You see, when Jesus bids a man to come and follow, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, he bids him come and die. Is that what you signed up for?

Is that what you thought you were getting into? When you came to Jesus, are you ready for this to be the picture of your life? What did you think Jesus' purpose was in saving you? Many people assume that it's just becoming a Christian means you clean up your life a little bit morally, and in response you get God's help and he takes you to heaven. Jesus said that coming to him means offering your life to him without restriction. Offering up your life for the world in sacrifice and service the way that Jesus did his. Here is my question. I know you say you come to Jesus.

Have you ever offered yourself to God this way? A lot of times I'll say that you need to have a Copernican revolution of the soul, and I don't take time to explain what I mean by that. Here's what I mean. Copernicus was the guy who figured out that the earth wasn't in the middle of the universe. Up until that point, everybody thought that the universe is rotated around the earth because that's what it looked like. Copernicus said no. The sun is at the middle, at least of our solar system, and we rotate around it. It was the Copernican revolution in science, the discovery that we're not at the center, that we orbit around something much bigger than ourselves.

A Copernican revolution of the soul is when you finally discover that Jesus is not somebody that you get into orbit in your life, but what you do is you discover how you get into orbit in his. You see, some of you came to Jesus because you're like, I need the sun to shine on my career. I need the sun to shine on my family. I need the sun to shine on my relationships.

And Jesus said, night start, but that's not anywhere close to being complete. You don't come to me to add me to your life. You come to offer me to your life.

You don't come to get me in orbit in your life. You come to say, God, everything I have belongs to you, and I want to know what you want to do with it, and I have no expectations because I'm laying it down as a sacrifice in front of you. Consumer faith says, God, I need you to give me this. Discipleship says it all exists for you, and I offer my life as a blank check to you. What exactly is a gospel partner?

Oh, my goodness, Molly. Gospel partners are so much a part of our team here at Summit Life. They're listeners who have become integral pieces of our boldly proclaiming the gospel through our radio and podcast ministry.

One of the things we want to do is we want to saturate the United States and even some areas outside of the United States. We want to saturate it in the gospel, in gospel-based teaching. And so this group allows us to be able to expand into new places where the gospel is not being preached this way, or it allows us to stay on the air in your area. Anybody can join this exclusive group with an ongoing gift of $35 or more each month.

When you give that, you're going to get a hand-selected resource from me in addition to exclusive updates on the impact of your giving. As a growing ministry, we would love to have more gospel partners join us because it allows us to accomplish that purpose of saturating our country in the gospel-centered teaching that we find in the scriptures. If God is stirring in your heart at all, just go to and you can find information out about how to consider becoming a gospel partner.

We'd love to have you join this special team today. Our latest resource here on the program is focused on helping you and your closest community dialogue about your faith. For whatever reason, talking about our faith with our family or closest friends can be awkward at times. So to help you break the ice, we have a set of conversation cards, simple cards to keep at the dinner table or around the kitchen island that have a question or prompt on them.

Some will be more lighthearted and others will get you into deeper conversations quicker. They come with a study called Devotions for the Distracted Family, 15 Days on Relationships, Faith, and Rest. It comes with our thanks when you become a gospel partner or donate to support this ministry at the suggested level of $35 or more. Ask for your copy of the devotional and the accompanying set of conversation cards when you call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or request the pair when you give online at I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to tune in again next time when we wrap up this short teaching series called Phantom Faith, Thursday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-09 23:47:22 / 2023-04-09 23:59:06 / 12

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