15 Jan (evening): Glorifying Him 2. The Gospel is Risk
Key Text: 1 Cor 6:19-20; Matthew 16:21-26
We are week 2 of our 4-part series on “Glorifying Him” a series where we are looking at your purpose in life.
Last week we looked at allowing God to illuminate His light into our lives so that we can see the beauty and wonder of Christ and the Gospel. This week I hope to show you the incredible challenge it is to live a life that Glorifies Him!
Our key text for the series is still 1 Cor 6:19-20 which says:
9 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Everyone’s purpose in this life is to glorify God! It is what we were designed to do. Most of us live far short of this reality and because of that live lives lacking the joy and purpose that living our design would bring.
Most of us live in this unfulfilled state because we have fallen into the trap of thinking life is all about being safe and comfortable.
Tonight, we will be addressing this ensuring that we live with gospel risk in order to discover our design purpose. Our text tonight is Matthew 16:21-26:
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Jesus is trying to emphasize the reality that His disciples will face in their lives it is given in the context of His impending death and it is a reality that every one of the disciples would live out in their ministry alienation, suffering and ultimately death, mostly violent.
Peter was crucified upside down
Andrew the brother of peter was scourged, and then tied rather than nailed to a cross, so that he would suffer for a longer time before dying. Andrew lived for two days, during which he preached to passersby.
Thomas was run through with a spear in India
James was beaten, then stoned and then clubbed to death.
Just to name some of the Apostles.
In fact; John was the only Apostle who did not die violently; however, he did die in prison.
How can I say that this is the purpose of life? Well, to answer that we should ask the question;
What is risk?
Simply, risk is an “…action that exposes you to the possibility of loss.” (Piper). Now, it must be said that there are a million ways to live risky that are profoundly sinful and inherently destructive.
In these there is no glory nor purpose. When I hear of young people dying on the high way because they were drunk or speeding I have to commiserate that that is a wasted life. There is no purpose in that.
However, the call of Christ – the call of the gospel – is to embrace the unknowable, to take the chance and trust Him for the outcome.
Jesus commands His disciples to “Take up their Cross and follow Him!” The call is not some un-relatable idea of dying to self (as we think of it today).
The cross was a present reality to his disciples the Romans had used it against the Jew’s to squash any idea of rebellion. Josephus (a famous ancient historian) writes of how Alexander Jannaeus crucified 800 Jews in one day for insurrection.
When Jesus says take up your cross; he is not talking about being a more humble person; he is graphically saying; what I am calling you to is to risk your life; to carry the weight of your impending death and follow me.
Simply put; you want to follow Jesus? Risk it all and follow; and yes it means it all!
Which leads me to my second point;
The dangerous illusion of playing it safe
As I have already said; many of us have fallen into the trap of thinking that life is about being as comfortable and as safe as possible.
Many of us as we enter our early adulthood believe that this is the sum total of why we are here; study hard so that we can get a good job so that we can earn lots of money to be happy, safe and comfortable.
This is not only wrong because it is not what life is about; it is wrong because it is a flat out lie that can never be achieved!
Safety and comfort are illusions and therefore Jesus gives the us this warning in verse 25
25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
It seems at first glance like a contradiction; I will lose my life is I try and save it and I will gain it if I lose it. However, it is a statement of our being and existence.
You see you and I are not omniscient; we simply do not know everything; therefore, risk (or the unknown) is woven into who we are. If we knew the possible outcomes of all choices, there would be no risk. However, we don’t we are finite; with limited knowledge. And therefore, risk is inevitable for us.
You don’t even know what the next few minutes’ hold; the illusion is that you will hear the end of this sermon; however, tragedy can strike at any time. So, all of life is in flux due to the nature of our finite knowledge why do we struggle unnecessarily to make our lives secure.
Maybe it is out of disconnected fear of our finiteness. However, a life lived to seek safety is a life that is lost.
Not only because Jesus said it, but because when our sole reality is to seek safety the call of God to step out for Him; to go into all the world, to be His witnesses is impossible because it violates our desire of seeking safety.
And in this we miss the very purpose of our being; the very reason you were put on this earth. And we do this for an illusion that can never be met; let me destroy this illusion once and for all; no matter where you go you can never be safe (in this life) and no matter what you do you will never be comfortable.
However, there is a greater reality a purer desire that you can pursue that will fulfil you and give you the peace that you long for…
If you are wondering why Jesus took Peter aside and said get behind me Satan in verse 23 it is because of this very reality.
Jesus start explaining to His disciples the impending reality of what lies before Him. Which is self-denial and death.
Again, this was never a risk to Jesus in His divinity as He already knew the outcome and in fact states that to them quite clearly; “on the third day I will rise again.”
However, we see from later passages that in His humanity Jesus longed for this cup to pass; he longed to not go through the agony of death and the separation that was coming due to His taking upon Himself the sins of mankind.
So, when Peter (in his finite thinking) tells Jesus don’t worry there is another way; we can fight for you; we can make you safe!
Jesus rebukes Him in the strongest way. I don’t know about you but I have rarely done something so bad that some has had to call me Satan as a rebuke!
The word Satan here means enemy or adversary; and Peter had become that to Jesus in his desire for the things of this life.
You see church the enemy of the gospel is always our self-preservation selfish ambition. These will war against the desire to actually let go; risk it all for the gospel and truly find purpose.
Our humanity is wired to fight against it and so when I call you to risk it all for the gospel; guess what? You won't or worse you will risk your life for the glory of it; to prove yourself!
That is not gospel risk; that is risk for your own sake. In this you risk not for Christ but yourself.
Christ Makes this quite clear; we are risking life for a very specific reason: Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t just say whoever loses his life will find it he states;
“but whoever loses their life for ME will find it.”
The focus is on Christ. For when Christ become all sufficient; when He becomes our all; then the risk is actually gain!
We risk in this life because this life holds nothing in comparison to Christ and His glory.
We can live lives where we stand up and risk hatred, persecution, pain and even death because our lives are actually with Christ.
And again, that is why you were made; that is why Jesus states;
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
What will it profit you to have what you always wanted? What is it actually mean if you create a safe and comfortable life for yourself; if you were never made for that?
Church we all do this; we sped our energy and time trying to carve out some level of comfort and safety in a world that can never promise it, when all along we were made for risk.
We were designed to risk it all for the one in whom there is absolute safety and absolute peace.
So yes the Gospel is risk; it is all or nothing; it takes you laying it all down. However, the surety lies in the fact that you were made for that kind of risk!
God designed us to live our lives in an absolute trusting state in Him and Him alone!
It is here that we find our call; it is here we find our purpose; it is here we glorify Him!