Everyone has authority in their lives. Some are intentional and some are not. In this week's sermon I talk about 4 unreliable authorities in our lives. We then learn how to make Jesus the A.U.T.H.O.R. in our lives. Along the way I tell the story of running the Marine Corps Marathon 12 years ago.
Every week I publish my sermon notes so that you may read them for yourselves. For my parishioners, this could be a good review from the weekend before. And it gives you a chance to see what I intended to say! For other pastors and ministers, feel free to borrow and use any of this material. I'd love for God to be glorified by you incorporating these notes into your own worship.
Ghostwriting: Making Jesus The Authority in My Life - 02.03.1 / Hebrews 12:1-3
Introduction: I’ve noticed a trend in many popular novels these days. There are lots of ghost writers. Have you noticed? James Patterson has an entire production of writers for him. His name in big letters (what sells) followed by someone else (smaller letters). Same is true for Tom Clancy & Clive Cussler. It got me thinking - “Who is the author of my life / story?”
When I type “author” in my Bible search, 121 results, “authority”
Author is the root word in authority. Who is the author of my life? Who is the authority? If I don’t deliberately and daily choose Christ, then one of these 4 will default to my authority:
4 Unreliable Authorities In My Life:
- ___POPULAR CULTURE___ - Truth by Popularity: “Everyone is doing it!” But God says: “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.” Ex. 23:2 (NIV) Whatever is cool today will not be cool tomorrow.
• ___TRADITION___ - “We’ve always done it that way!” No tradition lasts forever. They become obsolete, invalid.
Jesus: “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men!" Mark 7:8 (NIV)
• ___REASON___ – Rely on my own intellect. Sometimes what you think is reasonable isn’t right.“It sound logical! “I’ve always thought” What seems reasonable is often wrong!
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 16:25 (NIV)
• ___EMOTION___ “Feels right, so must be right” “I do what I feel”
Problem: Feelings LIE! You can be fooled by feelings! You’ll spend your life manipulated by your moods. The best things you do you don’t feel like doing - It’s called MATURITY!
“At that time there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing.” Judges 21:25 (The Message)
There’s one place where “author” shows up (in NASB & KJV):
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2a NASB
In other versions: “author & finisher” (KJV), “founder & perfecter” (ESV) “pioneer & perfecter” (NIV) “source & goal (GW)
The word in the Greek is ἀρχηγός archēgós; arch = founder of first cause, ruler, beginning, basis of all the rest. Think of how we use the word - arch enemy, my biggest enemy; arch angel, leader of angels; the root word of arch-itech, meaning the designer of the building. // ηγός ēgós - meaning simply “to lead”; put it together and you have the founding leader, the biggest leader, the designer and leader. That’s why so many different versions use different words - author, founder, pioneer, source.
There are two other places where this word ἀρχηγός is used:
- “You killed the author (pioneer - NIV) of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” Acts 3:15 NIV84
- “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author (founder - ESV) of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Hebrews 2:10 NIV84
So Jesus is the author, the first leader, the pioneer, the founder - both of our lives and of our faith. There would be no Christianity without Jesus. AND each of us would not be a Christ-follower without Christ!
He’s more! 12:2 says he is the perfecter of our faith as well. This is why it is so important that you and I keep our eyes “FIXED” on Jesus.
Our faith is neither started by us - or finished by us. If I don’t rely fully upon Christ as the author and authority of my life story, I’ll most certainly fail in my faith journey.
3 Reasons WHY I may not want to keep focused on Jesus:
- Mistaken belief that I know what’s best for me. My plan, not Jesus’.
- Mistaken belief that I can count on me, Don’t need “crutch” of faith.
- My eyes wander. Good intentions, but I lose focus on Jesus and drift.
All are wrong. Christian faith, life, and story have at the center a dependance upon Christ. In order to run this faith race successfully, I must “fix my eyes on Jesus.” How do I do this? The verse before, 12:1 -
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
6 MUST DO’s if I want to keep eyes focused on Jesus...
To Make Christ the A.U.T.H.O.R. of my Life Story, I must:
A. ___ASPIRE___ to learn from other Christ-followers.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses...” Hebrews 12:1a NIV
Chapter 11 talks about all the great people of faith that had gone before. Paul paints a picture of all these people of great faith cheering us on. “Cloud” of witnesses. I should aspire to learn from their stories - and other Christ-followers, both dead and living. Who am I reading about? Who am I allowing to mentor me? One way to follow Christ is to follow the examples of others who are following Christ! Keep my eyes focused on Jesus, but learn from the good and the bad of others who have been down this road already. Illustration - When I ran in the Marine Corps Marathon, the marines lined the race. Inspirational!
U. ___UNLOAD___ whatever holds me back.
“... let us throw off everything that hinders...” Hebrews 12:1b NIV
What is it that is holding you back from being all the Christ-follower you could be? Is there another commitment, another priority, another relationship that comes before your commitment to follow Jesus? No one was more serious about this that Jesus himself. “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” No room for half-committed Christians. Jesus wants all of you. Unload whatever it is that holds you back. Illustration - Runners will tell you that they want to strip down to almost nothing. Who has watch an olympian runner with a winter coat on? Lighten the load!
T. ___TURN FROM___ whatever causes me to miss God.
“... and the sin that so easily entangles.” Hebrews 12:1c NIV
Sin quite literally means to “miss the mark.” It is used in archery, when the arrow misses the target - it is a sin. When you do not become the man or woman that God designed you to be, you are missing the mark... sin. When you do that which is not pleasing to God... when you don’t do what would be pleasing to God - sins of commission and omission. Illustration - Cannot run in one direction while looking in another direction. A sure way to stumble! That’s why “so easily entangles.” Too many of us are trying to run the race for Christ, but we are just too easily distracted, looking around at any and everything that comes along. What’s going on in your life that is causing you to “miss” God?
H. ___HASTEN___ my intensity for Christ.
“And let us run...” Hebrews 12:1d NIV
Let’s not skip over this word “run.” It’s not walk fast, jog, or hike. It’s RUN! Heart racing, breath in and out fast, intense, cardio intense, serious as a heart attack RUN! When you run, you know it. Everything about your life keys you in on what’s happening, You breathe faster, your legs quiver, your arms ache, your brain is focused! It’s intense. That’s why for real runners there’s a runner’s high. There’s adrenaline! What kind of intensity is there in your faith journey with Jesus? Is it the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? Do you fall asleep in bed at night exhausted because you gave all you had to Jesus? Too many of us are trying to fit Christ into our budgets and our schedules. What we should be doing is all we can to cram our finances and schedules into Jesus!
O. ___OUTLAST___ my failures.
“... with perseverance...” Hebrews 12:1e NIV
It seems to me that the biggest reason people give up on their Christian faith is because they allow failure to outlast them rather than them outlasting their failures. This is what perseverance means. It means hanging in there when it would just be so much easier to quit. It means NOT giving up, quitting. We become discouraged with our failure. We give up because we just can’t do it any more. Illustration - I really do understand this. Running a marathon is more about “not quitting” than winning. MCM is run by more than 30,000 runners from 50 states and 50 countries. Do you think that only the guy from Kenya who crosses the finish line first is the only winner? Or would you agree that anyone who finishes is a winner? Around mile 20 most runners hit “a wall.” I desperately wanted to quit. One foot in front of another. In Christianity, there is no question of failure. You WILL fail. Want to know how to be twice as successful? Fail twice as much! Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Realize there is a reason why 12:2 says that Jesus is BOTH the author and finisher of our faith. We ultimately come to give up on ourselves and more fully rely on Him!
R. ___RELINQUISH___ the navigator role in my life.
“... the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1f NIV
Ultimately, if we want to live the Christian life Christ created us to live, we have to give up the idea that we are mapping out our own course. Initially you may feel that this robs you of your freedom, but it’s exactly the opposite. Once I give up the navigator role in my life and become Holy Spirit led... once I allow the “Ghostwriter” to lead my story... there is great freedom in following Christ in the perfect plan He had for me. Takes great trust. Here, though, we discover our greatest successes! Illustration - At MCM I wanted to get off the course. Back hurting. I’d sought treatment at First Aid. They wanted to put me on ambulance. I though they were taking me to start line. They were taking me to hospital. I refused treatment. They weren’t happy but they returned me to first aid station. Couldn’t get through to start line. Only way there was to run/walk “the race marked out.” I didn’t have to use a map. I didn’t need a navigator. I just had to follow the route. At the end, I wanted to get off the course because I didn’t feel like I could accept the prize, having gone to the aid station and the ambulance. But I couldn’t get off the course! Marines and barricades guarded the course! Give up trying to figure out everything and just follow Jesus for today... even just for this hour.
Conclusion - There is a reason why Hebrews 12:1 is written in race code. Allowing Jesus to be the A.U.T.H.O.R. of your life is so much like finishing a race! Final Illustration - At the end of the MCM there are young marines who put the race medal around our neck. I felt so undeserving because these young men were on their way to Iraq in 2001. I should have been putting a medal around their neck. Same for us. Jesus has made the sacrifice so we can finish the race well.