Welcome to the final week of Reality 2.0 – If you’ve made it this far, I have a sneaking suspicion you might just want to stay and be a part of what we’re doing here. I truly hope so!
If today is your first time, or you’ve just been gone on vacation or something, let me catch you up. We’ve been doing a five part series titled Reality 2.0. As the new Pastor of Reality, God gave me pretty clear directions on what to do – and in this series I have laid out exactly what that is.
The first week was our foundation and vision. The second and third week was our two-part mission. And last week and this week I am covering our three CORE values. Last week I covered the first two.
Our foundation is that we are grounded in God’s word.
Our vision is that we are dedicated to seeing lives changed by the transforming, restoring power of Jesus Christ.
Our mission is two part. We will see lives change by
Doing life together in authentic community.
Loving Others together in Community involvement.
As we do these things we will have these attitudes – these core values:
Add Some Awesome & Keep It Real
And today I will reveal the third and probably the most important of the three – even though they are equal.
Before I come out and say it, I want to illustrate it from the Bible and see if you can guess what it is.
First, let’s recap the story of Jesus that I said all three core values were demonstrated in.
10 Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, 11 and a woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten herself up completely. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her to him and said, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” 13 Then he placed his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14 But the president of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the crowd, “There are six days on which work should be done! So come and be healed on those days, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from its stall, and lead it to water? 16 Then shouldn’tthis woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be released from this imprisonment on the Sabbath day?” 17 When he said this all his adversaries were humiliated, but the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful thing she was doing.
Last week I pointed out how the act of healing the woman even though she didn’t ask was a good example of adding some awesome, of seeing a shortage in awesome and doing something about it.
Also, Jesus was keeping it real. He was emphasizing the truth and not concerned about looking good, but only about what was right.
And the third core value is in there too, but we will come back to that.
Another story that illustrates the third and actually all three core values is the familiar parable of the “Good Samaritan”.
It is found in Luke 10, but instead of reading it I thought I would show you a clip from what I believe to be one of the best Jesus movies out there. It’s call “The Miracle Maker” and it’s in claymation, but quite good and accurate.
Luke 10 (Good Samaritan)
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Notice that the Samaritan added some awesome by helping the man. He kept it real by doing the right thing despite racial animosity and went the extra mile by caring for the man to completion. And there’s something else here that is at the heart of what Jesus was all about.
Maybe we can find it by looking at what the other two characters did or didn’t do.
First, the priest. Why didn’t he help the man? To be fair, he wasn’t sure if he was dead or not, and as the video version stated – he believed he couldn’t touch a dead body because of the Law from Numbers 19:11 which says “All those who touch a dead human body will be ceremonially unclean for seven days.” Since he was a priest, his job was in the temple. If he was unclean from touching a dead body, he couldn’t go into the temple for seven days. So, he assumed the man was dead and stayed away. Seems like a legitimate reason. And since it’s just a story that Jesus told, we really can’t try to pull apart the details and see just how obvious it was the man was still alive. The point here for the priest is that he really didn’t want the hassle.
Next, the Sadducee – as the video Jesus called him – the actual word used in the bible is “Levite” or “Temple Assistant” – he would have been under the same law and practice as the priest, thus his reasons were probably the same. He couldn’t touch a dead man and still do his job.
These are things the original listeners would have known well as it was a part of their culture.
One commentary suggested that robbers in that gorge were known to put out a dead body as a decoy to get people to come near it and then they come out and attack. So their motives could also have been their personal safety.
The Samaritan, on the other hand went out of his way to help the man. Now, he didn’t have the same concern about the ceremonial law because he wasn’t going to the temple anyway. In fact, if he was going to Jerusalem – he would probably be making a quick return as his “kind” were hated by the Jews. A hatred that dated back centuries. (not unlike the racial tensions of the 60’s)
While he didn’t care about the temple, this wasn’t exactly convenient. He still had to deal with the danger, and of course the hassle of carrying a nearly dead man on his horse. It probably cost him a good deal of money as well – all for someone who likely would have spit at him if they had met under different circumstances.
So, what was the core value that the Samaritan exercised that the other two did not?
Here’s another one where Jesus practically spells it out.
9 Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, 10 where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)
11 And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. 12 And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one! 14 Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus.
So, what happened here? Just another Jesus healing? Well, to understand the problem the Pharisees had with Jesus healing on the Sabbath – let me explain what that was in those times.
Originally the Sabbath day was a command from God. In fact, it is one of the Big 10, #4 to be precise.
Here’s what is says – remember this was the law that God himself wrote into the rock with Moses.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Seems a bit open to interpretation. While this law is mentioned several times in the old and new testament, it doesn’t really go into more detail. But apparently God took this rather seriously because in both Jeremiah and Ezekiel he indicates that the Israelite’s violation of the Sabbath was one of the reasons for their exile.
Fast forward a few hundred years and the local Jewish religious leaders have taken that one statement and turned it into an excruciatingly detailed list of hundreds of very specific rules about what you can and cannot do on the Sabbath. And it was the ability to remember and follow all those rules that made the Pharisees so proud of their own righteousness.
Some examples of these crazy rules include:
They had restrictions on what kind of knot you could tie on that day – and concluded that if it could be untied with just one hand – it was ok.
They had rules on just how many letters you could write:
‘He who writes two letters with his right or his left hand, whether of one kind [of letter] or of two kinds, … is guilty. … Also he who writes on two walls which form an angle, or on the two tablets of his account-book, so that they can be read together, is guilty”
Plowing was a prohibited-work category, and few would dispute that plowing is difficult work. However, according to first-century rabbinic opinion, the prohibition against plowing could be violated by simply spitting on the ground. The spit could disturb the soil, which in the rabbis’ view was a type of plowing!
Women were forbidden to look into a mirror on the Sabbath, because they might see a gray hair and pull it out, and that would constitute work.
Wearing nailed shoes on the Sabbath was prohibited, because in the authorities’ view the addition of the nails meant they were carrying an unnecessary burden.
Even walking through grass was not allowed, because some of the grass might be bent and broken, which constituted threshing, one of the forbidden categories of work.
The religious leaders taught that if a house caught on fire on the Sabbath, its inhabitants couldn’t carry their clothes out of the house to spare them from the flames because that would be bearing a burden. However, they were allowed to put on all the layers of clothing they could wear and thus remove the clothes by wearing them, which was acceptable.
And that is just the very tip of the ice berg.
Now to be fair, there was sort of a good reason why they went this route – at least originally.
During the 400 years between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament there was a lot of history happening. Israel was taken over by the Persians and others, Then there was a revolt by the Maccabees and they were on their own for a little while only to be taken over by the Romans, which is where we pick up the story with Jesus. After the Romans took over a God-fearing group of Jews determined that they were again being punished for their disobedience and decided to do everything they could to obey all of God’s laws. They went so far as to put up buffers around the laws so that by staying within the buffers, they would never even come close to violating the law.
The Navy does this too. In the engineering plant there are certain limits as far as pressure and temperature go so that things don’t break. The manufacturer of the equipment has the no kidding limits. The big Navy Nuclear Power headquarters sets other limits just below those limits. Then the local squadron sets new limits just below those limits. Then the ship itself sets it’s own limits just below those limits – so that by staying within their own set limits they never get in trouble and certainly never violate the real limits. Unfortunately, this has a way of going too far to the point that if it was a speed limit you were only allowed to go 5 mph when the real limit was 75…
This was originally an attempt to honor God and get him to rescue them again. This group was called Pharisees. But you can see by Jesus’ time it was less about honoring God and more about honoring themselves. Because they had added so many more restrictions than the Law actually gave, they saw themselves as the righteous people because they could obey the letter of the law.
What Jesus was pointing out via these miracles and his teaching is that they had missed the heart of the law, which was far more important than the letter.
What they had failed to realize or had forgotten or just plain ignored is pointed out to them by Jesus in this last story I will share:
7 One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. 2 They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. 3 (The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands, as required by their ancient traditions. 4 Similarly, they don’t eat anything from the market until they immerse their hands in water. This is but one of many traditions they have clung to—such as their ceremonial washing of cups, pitchers, and kettles.)
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”
6 Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7 Their worship is a farce,
for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’
8 For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”
9 Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.10 For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ 11 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ 12 In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. 13 And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.”
The root problem is pointed out by Jesus as a prophecy from Isaiah: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
That is what was wrong with the Pharisees, and the priest and Levite, and with many of the church world today.
We try to follow the letter of the law – we honor God with our lips, our Facebook posts, our church slogan T-shirts, our bumper stickers, and we hold ourselves in high esteem because of all the bad things we DON’T do anymore, and we look down our noses at those that fail to live up to the legalistic standard. But our hearts are not the heart of God.
So what is the heart of God? What does God care about more than anything else? What was the point he was trying to drive home every time he healed on the sabbath or called out the pharisees for their self-righteousness?
What could matter so much that God was willing to sacrifice his own son and Jesus was willing to lay down his own life to save?
People matter to God. That is where His heart is – not in rules.
People matter to God. And people should matter to us.
How much should they matter?
People Matter More.
That’s the third core value.
People Matter More.
If you have to ask…”more than what?” The answer is “yes”
This is the value the samaritan had. He wasn’t concerned about the hassle, the cost, the danger – he cared about the person more than all of that and did something.
This is what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. This is why we are to love each other so much, because people matter more.
Which people? Not me.
The people in my life that matter more are the people that are not me. The people in your life that matter more are the people that are not you.
All those one-another’s in the NT scream this!!
You can’t go two pages in the New Testament without seeing that this is the core theme throughout.
This is why Jesus gave us that new commandment.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Why, because people matter more to Jesus than anything – so much he was willing to die for us. So if we are to be his body. If we are to be his servants – then we must have the same value.
We must always remember, in all that we do, think, say, and feel that PEOPLE,
or personal preference,
but PEOPLE MATTER MORE.
People matter most.
This is what love is. It’s putting others above yourself.
So, those are the three core values.
1. Add Some Awesome.
2. Keep It Real.
3. People Matter More
All three are applicable to every situation. These three values are how Jesus lived his life, and he expects the same from us. And can you imagine a church that behaves this way? Can you imagine what it will be like if all of us embrace these three and start living it out? Could there be a better place to be?
Do you think this is what the early church had? Do you think this is why the Lord added to their numbers those who were being saved? I think so.
Let’s look again at that story and see how all three core values apply.
10 Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, 11 and a woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten herself up completely. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her to him and said, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” 13 Then he placed his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14 But the president of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the crowd, “There are six days on which work should be done! So come and be healed on those days, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from its stall, and lead it to water? 16 Then shouldn’t this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be released from this imprisonment on the Sabbath day?” 17 When he said this all his adversaries were humiliated, but the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful thing she was doing.
He added awesome – He changed that person’s life! – Our vision!
He kept it real – he did the right thing, not for popularity
And he did it on a sabbath to demonstrate that people matter more – then he told them all about it. He pointed out that they care more about their animals than about people. Wrong.
So, hopefully you can see how core values can be used. Don’t worry, I’m going to remind you constantly until we all get it.
So, to recap what this whole series was about. Of all the series you have been through and all the ones I’m going to preach – this one you need to remember well, because this is the new DNA of our church, of our family, of our body.
Now, here it is again in it’s final form. In fact I want you all to recite some of it. I’ll cue you.
Our Foundation: Grounded in God’s Word
Our Vision: To see LIVES CHANGED by the transforming, restoring power of Jesus Christ.
We will do that by
Doing Life together in Authentic Community
Loving Others Together through Community Involvement
And as we do this we will
Add Some Awesome
Keep It Real
And always remember that
People Matter More