Every guy gets the commercials.
A man goes into a store to buy some razor blades. They’re locked up. He tries to get in, but it’s like robbing Fort Knox. No one is around to help. He tries harder, which sets off alarms that lead to him being assaulted by the staff. Blow darts, punches to the stomach. That kind of thing. Then the tag line: “It’s like they don’t want you to buy razor blades.” And it’s true. That’s what it feels like.
So when someone came along and offered a different way to buy razor blades, and advertised as much, it struck a chord. According to the Wall Street Journal, web sales of razor blades through such companies as Dollar Shave Club, have doubled in the last twelve months alone. They’ve gone from no slice of the market to nearly ten percent, with little sign of slowing down. Through the first six months of 2015, sales have already doubled over all of last year’s totals.
So how did a company like Dollar Shave Club, which didn’t even exist three years ago, storm onto the scene and take such a big bite out of a company like Gillette that has been in existence since 1901? That’s easy.
Gillette and its distributors looked at things from the inside – from their perspective – not the consumer’s. Looking at things from Gillette’s perspective (and certainly the store’s), locking up blades in the store makes sense. They were a semi-expensive product, and putting it behind a locked case deterred shoplifters. But in so doing, they made the experience of buying blades negative for shoppers.
So when someone came along and thought like a buyer, not a seller, they got a lot of buyers flocking to their side. You can only imagine the Dollar Shave Club people thinking, “Okay, people hate the way razors are sold, but stores don’t want them stolen … let’s just rethink how to get them in people’s hands!” And they did.
Too many churches look at things from the inside. They think about what is easiest for them, best for them or makes sense for them. They don’t think about someone coming in from the outside; what is easiest, best and makes sense for others. And thus is the reason for over 80% of churches experiencing plateau or decline; in less than two decades thousands of churches will not even exist any longer.
Today’s message will start a series on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and how to lead others to experience faith and following Jesus.
EXAMINE Matthew 8
Matthew 8:19-22 19 a scribe came up and said to [Jesus], “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
Disciples of Jesus have daily dependence upon God (8:18-20).
A scribe was a religious expert in the OT law. They were skilled at interpretation and making judgments, somewhat like lawyers are in relation to laws today. Therefore, the scribe would have been very interested in Jesus as a teacher. However, the scribe’s addressing Jesus as a teacher may be accurate but not adequate, seen in the following exchange.
The scribe boldly claims he will follow Jesus wherever. Jesus responds with a claim of His divinity (“Son of Man”) and a challenge of discipleship with Jesus is daily dependence without comforts of a home. It is likely the scribe understood discipleship as a fixed amount of time rather than full-time and forever of life following Jesus.
Ultimately, discipleship with Jesus went beyond listening and learning, to living out truth. Christianity today often likes to amass information. Let’s attend this Bible study… did you hear that sermon by the famous celebrity pastor… I want the preacher to teach on topic ___. While information and learning is necessary, there comes a point in our discipleship that we must transition from information to transformation. As one person said, “the gap holding back most believers is not the gap between what they know and what they don’t know. It’s the gap between what they know and what they’re living. Many Christians are…educated beyond their obedience (emphasis mine).”
à Dare I say, if you are merely attending more than 2 “Bible studies” each week but not leading any or living out to disciple another, then you are like this scribe only seeking Jesus as a lecturer but not as your Lord.
à Discipleship with Jesus implies a lifestyle that is limited with earthly comforts but maximized with eternal focus. For Jesus, in the 1st Century that meant homeless and going house to house among people of peace. For us in 21st Century what does this mean?
- White-collared professionals live in gated communities and business men & women have beach front property, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.
- It may mean we live on 60-80% of our income rather than spending 100 or 120% for material comforts.
- It may mean we live in neighborhoods that don’t have the top school systems or that we spend time with people who do not have similar access to quality education, food and entertainment benefits.
- It may mean we skip community sports teams in order to create sports leagues for underprivileged communities.
- What are the earthly comforts you could do without so you could invest more time, energy, and earthly treasure for the advancement of God’s kingdom?
Disciples of Jesus have distinct devotion to God (8:21-22).
Another person came to Jesus claiming desire to follow Jesus as one of His disciples but needed indefinite postponement. The request was not that the father was dead needing burial, but was alive and would need to delay discipleship for an extended and unknown period of time. Jesus’ response appears cold and callous for the man to leave his father to die and to follow in discipleship. Yet, Jesus was clarifying the distinct devotion required for true discipleship.
You see, Jesus’ statements are meant to shock and surprise yet too often we read today with simplicity and ease. There are things in our life that Jesus is calling us to abandon – even good things. Jesus wants His disciples to know there is blessing in following but there is also a burden; there is sweetness but there is also suffering; there is the joy of Jesus but there is also the cross of Jerusalem. Jesus is teaching and testing every would be follower – even one’s two thousand years down the road – that discipleship requires distinct devotion.
Jesus knows our idols. Again, these statements are meant to shock and call us to surrender. Yet, Jesus knows our every need – shelter, family relationships, etc. However, Jesus is prying away the things in each of our lives that hinder us from fully following Him into discipleship.
à What is Jesus calling you to abandon in order to have distinct devotion?
- An attitude of apathy or arrogance that is pervasive? Is Jesus truly your joy?
- An activity that you enjoy during times of leisure? Is Jesus really your treasure?
- A relationship that is pulling you away from faith? Is Jesus truly your love?
- A sin habit that is hovering and haunting daily thoughts? Is Jesus truly your rescuing freedom?
Matthew 16:21-28 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Disciples of Jesus deny self-made plans to the purpose of God (Matthew 16:21-28)
Another passage describing discipleship is with an exchange between Peter and Jesus. Jesus predicts His death and resurrection to show the type of Christ-Messiah He would be.
Peter expected Jesus to be a Messiah who would rebel against Rome and become king through a physical army. Peter rejects Jesus’ message of sacrificial death because he sought to hold onto life as he knew it. “May God mercifully spare you from this – this should no never happen” – Peter gives emphasis with a double negative to rebuke Jesus from this thinking. However, Jesus rebukes Peter even more strongly calling his perspective from Satan; a hindrance or stumbling block, or a trap (ska>ndalon). In other words, the cross of Jesus must happen and is of primary importance to God’s plan.
Jesus denied sparing himself and was calling Peter, along with all disciples, to do the same. Denial of self is contrary to the flesh but is the most important aspect to the faith journey.
à As a disciple of Jesus, what plans need to get pushed away in order to set your mind on God?
à What are you giving your life to instead of spiritual growth; and thereby exchanging your soul?
SPBC Vision: Growing Godly Generations
- Disciplemaking through 1) Conversion, 2) Connection to body, 3) Commitment to growth & multiplication
- See – Select – Shape – Send
- Bible Groups – Friendships – D-groups
- Sunday AM
- Sunday PM
- Sept-October then Vision 2016
- Less is more. Less events on the calendar and more life on life.
- Jesus says “Follow Me”
- Relationship with God
- Relationship with God’s People… solo is no go / solo = no grow
isolation from church is separation from Christ
 Dave Browning, Deliberate Simplicity (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), Kindle Electronic Edition: Location 515-18.
 K. E. Bailey quoted in France, R. T. (1985). Vol. 1: Matthew: An introduction and commentary. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (164). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.