2 Corinthians 4:3-6 (NLT)
If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
“I Wanna Be Like Mike” was a slogan that changed world of athletic marketing endorsements forever. It did not try to sell a product but rather the person. The promotion was centered on basketball great, Michael Jordan. His career catapulted the NBA into the spotlight in the 80’s and 90’s. Suddenly, it was not about the sport or even the product that people were trying to sell but rather selling the person’s accomplishments and using them to gather wealth. No longer did young men want to finish college but chose to base their career on personal ability. This would prove to be a gamble and risk for many as one significant injury could end their earning potential and career. Michael Jordan was exceptionally talented, but he is only a man. He has faults and failures just like the rest of us and I dare say despite all those Hanes commercials probably puts his pants on just like everyone else. However, the world of promotions have made him larger than life. A pair of “Air Jordans” his namesake shoe sells for no less than $100 retail. His talent and ability were sold to the world and they bought it. But for as many young talented athletes that enter the sports arena, few will become greats no matter how talented they are. Entertainment and sports is a fickle arena. Fame has a way of adding stress to one’s personal life with every fault and failure magnified for all the world to see. Michael Jordan is an amazing athlete but he is just a man. His life has had hardships, disappointments and hurts just like everyone else. So while he is fun to watch play the game of basketball, there is only one great man that we should strive to be like – His Name is Jesus Christ.
There is a lesson to be learned in the “I Wanna Be Like Mike” marketing strategy to be learned by us all but it’s not what you think. Why would you like to be like Mike? Most men would like his talent and ability athletically because let’s face it – the man is a beast. Some may want his fame and fortune but have no idea the price. Others would just like to be recognized by someone else as worthwhile and important. They desire purpose in their life that until now has been undiscovered. Michael Jordan is not a self-made man. His parents, James and Deloris Jordan, were just ordinary people who had five children worked regular jobs just like everyone else. I am quite certain that they encouraged and nurtured young Michael along with sacrificing time and money to make his dream of becoming a great athlete a possibility. He was offered many college scholarships giving him the opportunity not only to further his athletic ability but also gain knowledge along the way. He would marry a woman by the name of Juanita Vanoy and have three children. The marriage did not work out but she would gain about $158 million dollars in the settlement. He then went on to remarry. Both of these woman love and support him, but I wonder if he knows how much God loves him. Who does Michael Jordan want to be like? There is no higher power in the world than God. His Son, Jesus Christ has given us the opportunity to be like God by His Grace, Mercy and Love evident in the Blood that He shed for me. In a world of shameless promotion, I wanna be like Jesus.
I Thessalonians 2:4-8 (NLT)
For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.
If you have asked Jesus Christ to be your Savior and Lord and believe that He is the Son of God in your heart, welcome to the family business. You are a messenger approved by God instantaneously. You are now the Light of the World ignited by the Light of His Love. Our sole purpose now is to please God because we are empowered by Jesus Christ to do so. It is not to gain human praise, affirmation or acceptance. However in many cases, this is what the church has made it into. We try to entertain the world and entice them to church rather than loving them until they want a relationship with our Father, too. We make false promises based on ignorance and give them false hope when by faith confident hope is available. We have decided to settle for this world rather than pursing something or someone much greater. We all the authority and power of God sitting on the inside of us with full permission to use it, not for things but for people. Are we pretending to be friends of God for money? Are we imposters of faith to secure an inheritance? God sees right through it looking into our heart to see our motives. But really does He have to look that far? God is not looking for mouthpieces. He is looking for those who live out the Good News with their life. Are you a public endorsement for the Lavish Love of Jesus Christ? Can someone ever say of you, “He/She loved me so much that they shared not only the Gospel but their very life with me”?
John 4:23-24 (NLT)
But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
We worship God in spirit and truth. Let’s talk about this for a moment. We are to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Word of God wrapped in human flesh so we are to share God’s Word which is the Truth. Do you know the Truth? The Bible says that if you know the Truth that it will set you free. It also says that people perish from a lack of knowledge. I believe that there are many people today who cannot effectively share the Gospel simply because they do not know the Truth. Truth is found in the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing (what?) the Word of God. We are given a measure of faith to get us started but confident hope is produced when we continue to increase our measure of faith and build our belief system not on who we are but who He is. Less of me and more of you occurs by taking in more and more of the Word to empty us of the world’s substitutes and counterfeits that we have accepted to fill the voids in our life. We must worship in the Truth. We are also to share our lives with others. Now this is where it gets a little tricky for most people. Envision the three-foot hoola hoop that we like to call our “personal space”. We don’t like people to come right up on us or get in our face. It causes us to step back and reestablish boundaries. However, when it comes to Jesus Christ – He will get all up in our business because He fills us with His Spirit. Now you can try to ignore the Spirit of God living inside of you altogether or a label Him a silent partner but those who do limit their ability to worship the Lord in Spirit AND Truth. You will never change your mind about the Lord or truly worship Him until you allow the Spirit of God to guide you deeper into His Presence securing each step of the way with confident hope knowing the Truth about God. What is the primary focus? Love. The Gospel tells of His Amazing Love, but His Life showed it. To be like Christ requires intimately knowing Him by Spirit and Truth, and reaching out to the world in Spirit and Truth. This is worship. This is Jesus.
Galatians 3:26-28 (NLT)
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The cost of one pair of Air Jordan shoes is ridiculous. I think it is crazy that anyone would pay that much for them. When we believe in Jesus Christ by faith, we become Children of God. WE are united with Christ and it says here “like putting on new clothes.” We put on a robe of righteousness that although we are all sinners, God only sees His Son, Jesus. Many people swear by Air Jordan’s and will wear no other shoe. Why? They are endorsed by basketball great Michael Jordan who by the way gets money every time we buy a pair of his namesake shoes. In fact, Michael Jordan has lent his image and name to many products and receives endorsements each time one is sold. Jesus Christ gave up His Life to set us free. He gave us a brand new life including benefits and blessings beyond that which we could ever imagine. He expects nothing but our love in return. What a difference? We are all one in Jesus Christ. We are Children of God with inheritances in Heaven that are beyond the wealth of even the greatest athlete. It belongs to us simply for the asking and acceptance of God’s Love – His Name is Jesus.
John 3:16-20 (NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
For God so loved the world that He gave. Jesus Christ came into this world not to condemn it, we had managed to that all by ourselves. He came that the world through Him might be saved. He had every right to come in His Full Power and Authority to call this world into subjection but He didn’t do that at all. He didn’t stand on the street corner yelling you’re all going to hell so you better get right today. He did not scare people into the gate but rather held it open for them calling it His Grace. His Kindness led them to repentance. In a world filled with mega churches built by shameless self-promotion, I wonder if they have lost sight of what Jesus did. If you wanna be like Jesus, you must give your life away. Having all the power of heaven at His Fingertips, Jesus humbled himself rather than exalting Himself. He came to be Light in the darkness. What is your purpose in life? There is a world famous preacher coming to our town this week who is charging admission to attend his meeting. Tickets begin at just $11.00 and go all the way up to $93.00. For pastors who would like to sit on the stage, a “seed” of $10,000 must be sown into the ministry. Are you kidding me right now? How much did Jesus make people pay to be encouraged with the Good News of Jesus Christ? Not a penny. I do not judge this Man of God, I am just using this as an example. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” There is no greater love than to lay our life down for a friend. (John 15:12-14) Jesus gave His Life just for me. Who the son sets free is free indeed…to live and love by faith that He will always love us more. (John 8:31-36) Jesus lived to do one thing – the Will of His Father. He lived to please God. (John 8:27-29) Love is obedience and obedience is love. (John 14:23-26) There was no sin in Jesus so we must strive to live apart from it as well. (I John 3:1-5) Anyone who we exalt to a higher level of importance than Jesus Christ, anything we deem more important than living the Gospel of Love with our life, and anything we do that is a priority over serving Jesus Christ humbly, faithfully, completely is sin. Don’t kid yourself. Love overcame the law. Just because you mimic a Christian life does not make you a believer, but to live this life by His Spirit and Truth is to be like Jesus Christ. To be like Christ is to live in pursuit of perfect love. It is to live in fearless expectation that what He has to offer is better than anything this world has to offer. “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (I John 4:16-18) To pay for the Gospel is like paying to breathe, air is free. If more people would live out the Gospel of Love with their life, no one would have to pay what Jesus has given us for free.
2 Peter 1:3-8 (NLT)
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God has given us EVERYTHING that we need for living a godly life. Just knowing the Lord is enough to live a fruitful and productive life in Jesus Christ, if only we would spend a little time getting to know Jesus like we know our favorite movie star, athlete and yes, even preacher. He has given you His Glory and Excellence as well as great and precious promises that all belong to you and are yours for the asking. But we do not expect God to do anything for us because we do not know Him as Father. God loves you as a child. He does not need you to be anything you are not – He loves you the way that He made you. The only thing about you that He cannot tolerate is sin. Therefore as we make every effort to live apart from sin, we are responding to Gods’ Promises. As we come to know the Truth, we are set free to live in the prosperity of God intended for our life. Not to build big churches or powerful ministries, but to be the Body of Christ wrapping the world and everyone in it in the Love of Jesus Christ. It is my job to love others. It is my sole purpose to discover the vast parameters of His Love for me and share it with you. When was the last time you told someone you loved them and truly meant it outside of your immediate family? When was the last time you reached out to another with the Love of Christ even after they were rude to you? When were the last time you offered someone your life rather than a few dollars to solve their spiritual problem? Jesus loved us so much that He gave us His Life. To be like Jesus we must do the same.
I Peter 3:14-16 (NLT)
But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.