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To Be, or Not to Be?

To Be, or Not To Be?  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  49:30
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To Be, or Not To Be?

“To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep, No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish'd.” — William Shakespeare, Hamlet
When Shakespeare penned those words in 1603, I wonder if he realized how profound they really are?
“To Be, or Not To Be....” To Live, or to Die..... That is the ultimate question....
While Hamlet asked this question as he pondered suicide.... Christ challenges the Christian to ponder the same question....
You see.... The Christian Life is a choice — Life, or Death? — “To Be, or Not To Be?”
Life in eternity with Christ, or Death without Him?
This is why Paul tells us:
Romans 6:3–8 NIV
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
To be Baptized requires a choice..... We must choose to place our faith in Christ…to follow Him…to commit to a New Way of Life!
That is what the Gospel is all about!
Your old life…your past sins…whatever it is that happened to you, or that you did IN THE PAST..... doesn’t matter… Christ paid the price…You have been set free…given a new life to live!
How Awesome is that!?!
BUT.... You must CHOOSE to live that new life!
You see — It is not about whether you go to church every Sunday or not..... It’s not about whether you lead a Bible Study, or “hang out” with Christian friends or not.... It is about a commitment to Christ!
A commitment to the Kingdom!
M.I. — Commitment to Christ is more than simply “believing” in Jesus, it is faith that leads us to a life that astounds normal human life, and leads us to the lowest places, for the Glory of God.
Commitment is about Choice!
Revelation 3:15–17 NIV
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
We CANNOT sit on the fence.... We must either choose to commit to Christ, or to the world....
We either choose to be Christians, or we choose to be worldly people.....
I want you to think about something for a moment....
What is the Greatest Commandment?
Luke 10:27 NIV
He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Let me tell you — We CANNOT fulfill this command without a commitment to God!
What is the Great Commission — the thing that EVERY church leans on to define its mission?
Matthew 28:18–20 NIV
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We CANNOT fulfill this without a commitment to God!
A commitment to God is THE requirement to BEING Christian....
Luke 9:23 NIV
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Anything less than a TOTAL and COMPLETE commitment to Christ is nothing more than what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace” --
“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices....”
“...Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” — Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Church — Christ.... demands that we make a commitment — one way or the other — He will accept nothing less!
Revelation 3:15–17 NIV
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
Either we choose the world, or we choose Christ, but.... We CANNOT Choose Both!
We are going to spend the next several weeks in Chapter 9 of Luke, because that is what Luke 9 is about....
Luke 9 is a turning point in Christ’s ministry.... It is the point in which His focus turns from the surrounding communities and focuses on Jerusalem....on the Cross....
Luke 9:51 NRSV
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Up to this point, Jesus has walked the walk.... He has lived as an example of the commitment He EXPECTS from His disciples..... and that has not changed!!!!
He is still living that example, but in a radical new way! He is now focused on Jerusalem....He is committed to the Cross, and He expects His disciples to follow Him......
Jesus invited them in the beginning to “follow me”.... He invites us to “follow Him”… into a radical new way of life!
Christ was “committed to the Cross,” and He expects us to do the same....
Let’s take a minute....and consider Christ’s life — His example.....
Jesus had no home in this world....
— as an unborn baby, Jesus traveled “from Nazareth to Bethlehem” but there was “no room for Him at the inn” (luke 2)
— he was homeless throughout his adult life
— (4-9) tell us of the constant movement from nameless town to nameless town.... Culminating in His declaration in:
Luke 9:58 NIV
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
His followers are supposed to do the same...
We talked about this last week....
We are called to make our home in the Kingdom, which means we do not have one here!
We are called to live the same “itinerant” lifestyle that Christ lived....
Do you know what “itinerant” means? It means — “traveling from place to place.” We are called to live lives that are on a journey with Christ!
That means that we are NOT to put down roots in this world!
“The impermanence of this itinerant lifestyle is essential to the Kingdom of God.” — David Hearne, NBBC
But.... What is that “itinerant” lifestyle? (I’m glad you asked!)
— willingness to be alienated from family
Luke 8:19 NIV
Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd.
Luke 12:53 NIV
They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Luke 14:26 NRSV
“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.
— having no home — no ties — in this world.
Luke 2:6–7 NIV
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
called...James, Peter, John...
Luke 5:11 NIV
So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Levi (Matthew)
Luke 5:28 NIV
and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
Luke 9:57–62 NIV
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
— willingness to forgo financial security (trust in God)
Luke 9:3 NIV
He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.
(our preparation for Korea)
Luke 10:4 NIV
Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
— Willingness to endure community polarization
Luke 12:51 NIV
Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
Luke 10:10–16 NIV
But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
The “itinerant” lifestyle that Christ calls us to is an extreme lifestyle..... It is completely “counter cultural”… It goes against everything the world says is “right”.....
Think about it — The world says ....
.... “family first”
.... “your home is here, in this world”
.... “look out for yours and your own”
.... “follow the community standards”
.... “keep the peace”
But Christ says, “Follow me.”
If we are following Him, then how can we put down roots in this world? It’s not our home!
So… How can we live this lifestyle? How can we live lives that fulfill all that Christ has called us to?
Commitment --- Commitment to the Cross....to the Kingdom.....
Christ has called us to duplicate His radical devotion to the Father’s mission.
To Be, or Not To Be?
Let me ask you — Is Jesus’s mission too hard for you? Is it too much?
Do not try to “water down” Christ’s mission — to make it more comfortable — and think that you are still on mission with Jesus.
Christ has called us to make a radical commitment to follow Him.... NO MATTER WHERE HE LEADS US!
“Commitment to Christ must transcend the emotional ups and downs of life.” — Ken Heer
It is that commitment that will change your life!
It is that commitment that will speak volumes to those around you!
It is that commitment that makes us strong in the face of trials and tribulations!
Because that commitment astounds the world!
Let me tell you — People in this world cannot understand how Christians can stand strong and faithful in the midst of great suffering and loss.... It confuses them!
Holman New Testament Commentary: Luke I. Introduction: How Easy to Believe

A brief slight of Stalin sent Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to prison for eight years. His prison life was worse than anything we can imagine. In an Arctic wasteland he labored as a mason from dawn until dark. This world-famous author had no pen, no paper, and no permission to write. He had no family to visit, since his parents were dead and his wife divorced him.

Surely such unjustified suffering would drive this gifted, sensitive man to insanity. Instead, it led him to self-analysis. He looked at his own vanity, superficiality, and selfishness. Asked to describe his time in prison, he blessed the prison for having become part of his life. Shortly before leaving prison, he penned a famous prayer later to be published in Vogue. He praised God and confessed how simple it was to live for him and how easy to believe in him (Redding, A Rose Will Grow Anywhere, 67–69).

Aleksandr’s response to his horrific situation was only because of his commitment to his God..... Because of his unconditional commitment to the Cross.
We may never have to face the extreme situations that Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or Mother Teresa faced, but make no mistake....
Christ has called us to live the same extreme lifestyle.
(the story of David, a normal Christian)
Holman New Testament Commentary: Luke IV. Life Application: A Normal Christian

Each day he walks the long, twisting halls of the major corporation for which he works. He uses crossovers to reach the three city blocks of buildings. Into each office he brings the daily mail and picks up outgoing mail. Nothing special, you think. Then you ask what is up? Or, how are things? Or, what is the good news today? Immediately you get the answer—Jesus saves. This is not just a slogan for David. It is a way of life. Everyone he sees hears a word about Jesus. Everyone who looks at his mail cart finds signs about the love of Jesus. Notice closely, and you will hear him quoting Scripture to himself as he rolls his cart, not just random popular verses. He quotes whole chapters, sections, or even books. He learns Spanish so he can witness to the Latino population of our community. While the rest of us fight to get on top and make the big bucks, David quietly lives out the mind of Christ in daily contact with stockers in the warehouse and with the corporate executives. Most would see him as one of the least of the world’s population. Christ most likely places him among the greatest.

To Be, or Not To BE?
Christ commands us to make a choice....
So, let me ask you this — Are you committed to the Kingdom? Do you have a Cross over your shoulder, weighing you down?
Or, Are you just “going through the motions,” fulfilling your earthly responsibilities, waiting for “the right time” to join Christ on His mission?
That time is now!
prayer:
God, show me the way to the cross. It is still hard to understand why the Son of God would let mortal men condemn Him to such a horrible death. What love you demonstrated in that act! Show me how to demonstrate that same love to the world’s needy. Give me your power…to do your work…as I set out on your mission. Help me to understand who you are. Help me to be and do what you want me to do. Give me eyes to see the world…to see people…as you see them. I will take up my cross and follow you to death. Amen.
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