The Challenge Of
Jesus' WOW Factor
Yesterday we reflected together about the WOW factor of Jesus. What does WOW stand for? Worthy of Worship! We saw together how as expressed in Colossians 1v15-20 Paul had a WOW factor about Jesus Christ! I shared how the WOW factor of Jesus for me included his uniqueness, majesty, tenderness, wisdom, strength and loveliness. That this extraordinary Jesus loves us with an unparalleled and creative passion!Then we looked at the WOW factor having an impact on communities by way of us as Christians being as Jesus, through loving, serving and giving to others! We saw that by using the power and strength of the Holy Spirit within us, meant that we would never tire of loving, serving and giving to others. Then finally, this Jesus will be returning and will do the most extraordinary thing to all those who persevere - Revelation 21:4 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
That's a WOW factor of Jesus! How has your WOW factor of Jesus been this past week?It would be lovely to just stay there and bask in that WOW factor but that would not be the full picture! We have to live between the present and the future and Jesus has left us with a job to do! Anybody here find that following Jesus closely easy? Not just me then!
1. Hard sayings of Jesus
Jesus said some very difficult things, even a cursory glance at the Gospel record will reveal that! Let's have a look together at just a couple of examples from many!
a. I want to be number one!Here is a case in point! Jesus wants to be number one in the life of all those who choose to follow him! Jesus wants supremacy over everything in our lives, including family, friends, and possessions!! Alas, that's a cost too high for some! Within the Gospels, there is the story told of Jesus' encounter with a man, who we shall call, Basil. Basil runs up to Jesus and wants eternal life, wants it now and asks Jesus about how to get it. He has fully kept the commandments listed by Jesus.
However when Jesus said to Basil that in order to follow Him, he would have to give up all his wealth and possessions in order to have treasure in heaven and eternal life, Basil leaves disconsolate and shattered. The life of Basil, this rich young ruler, reflected a life of absorption with his own self-interest and self-importance!.It was a step too far for Basil. He wanted his riches and also everlasting life, but Jesus said he couldn't have both. He remains the only person that we know of, who left Jesus' presence sorrowful, and that due to putting his trust in himself, his riches and wealth alone. Now riches, in and of themselves, are not necessarily wrong! But for Basil, well, he was not willing to make the sacrifice required to follow Jesus. He couldn't count the cost of following Jesus- it was too high a price for him to pay!What have you given up in and as a result of your decision to follow Jesus?
Making sacrifices to follow Jesus is all part of the WOW factor of Jesus. Jesus demands His being number one and supreme over everything else in your life - yourself, family, others and material goods including money and possessions. How's your WOW Factor now?
b. Watch what you say and think! Here is another case in point! As part of our living as followers of Jesus, here is something which has the capability of affecting every person on the planet.Jesus, our Master, said in Matthew 12:36-37 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
Jesus took words and thoughts extremely seriously! Jesus' words encouraged others gently towards paths of right living. He spoke words of love, kindness, rebuke, forgiveness, encouragement and blessing upon and to others! Jesus is to be our guide and Master in the use of thoughts and words.In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus equates calling somebody a fool with the physical act of murder! Murder has its beginning in anger developing into uncontrollable rage! Improper attitudes, words and thoughts can lead you and I to sin if we don't stop their destructive use quickly! May the words we communicate and think about, be like those of Jesus - "full of grace".
How is your WOW factor of Jesus now? When Jesus Christ called you to follow Him, He called you to follow Him wholeheartedly and be committed to only Him. Jesus calls you and I, to love God and be totally committed to Him.We are to be little Jesus' to a community that probably has the wrong idea of our Jesus. A Christian living a life without the commitment is not being a "little Jesus". In reality such a person is just a better rip-off artist. Being a 'little Jesus', is endeavouring to be an authentic representation of Jesus. How is your WOW factor of Jesus now?One way is to be encouraged in these matters is by gathering with other Christians! Tim has recently been away to New Wine and is going to come and share with us of his experience there!
2. Go Live!
As part of this life of following Jesus, being totally committed to Him and using our words and thoughts appropriately, we have a job to do! As those who claim to follow Jesus, we are to be witnesses of the goodness of the God! We are to proclaim and call people back to a full life in God. Its part of the WOW factor! The followers of Jesus are to show and tell others of this WOW factor of Jesus to all people of all time. It is not forcing people to adopt Church standards! It is not simply a message of join the church as a symbol of good works. It isn't just "making converts" as it were and leaving them! That's almost spiritual abuse! No! It is making disciples and ensuring that a measure of guidance and care is given to these new Christian disciples. We are to make disciples who love God and show they love God by serving and giving! How's your WOW Factor of Jesus now?
I wonder if sometimes you feel just like giving up and just being buried by whatever is burdening you. I guess, almost everyone has felt like that at one time or another, so I wont be alone. Maybe its because you are undergoing troubles or suffering - physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. Whatever it is, as a Christian you are to persevere. We persevere, because as I shall soon reflect upon, we are not alone in our troubles. Also, if we think about it, in the light of eternity, the time of endurance through these troubles, is but the blink of an eye! How is your WOW factor of Jesus?
2a We are to be productive! As we go about this, living a lifestyle worthy of Jesus Christ, for now just three quick things that Jesus said about being His disciple!As His followers, we are to be productive and bear fruit for Jesus and the Kingdom of God! We are to do this, Jesus tells us, by continuing to love Him and to show this love by sacrificially loving others joyfully. Part of the WOW Factor of Jesus Christ, is to show we love God by loving, serving and giving to others. By doing these things, we will bear much good fruit for God's greater glory. Not all the fruit you produce will be seen by you in your life time! I am looking forward to meeting the thousands of people who have heard my voice over the internet and never physically met yet! I am hoping that I have been an encouragement to them in their life of Christian discipleship. How are you bearing fruit for kingdom having been sent by Jesus into the community here in Ringwood? How is your WOW factor of Jesus now?
2b We are to be prepared! (John 15v18-27)As we bear fruit, we are told that we are to be prepared! Prepared to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ. Are you prepared for that? In John 15, we read that all followers of Jesus Christ will suffer for the kingdom by way of persecution and hatred by those who are not followers of Jesus.Jesus is always honest about following Him and having the WOW factor about Him. In John 15, Jesus declares a warning and the context into which He sends His followers. Opposition to the message of Jesus is unavoidable. Opposition is to be expected simply because of who Jesus is (John 15v21). As you and I share in the life of Jesus and the way the world out there treats Jesus is the way the world treats all His followers (John 15v20-21). Opposition also comes through revealing evil, because Jesus, as the Light of the World, exposes evil and sin through His words (John 15v22) and works (John 15v24).
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus commanded all those who follow Him, to also be "lights of the world". This is done by consistently ensuring that our works and words match our lifestyle and that no hypocrisy will be found. Opposition brings persecution, and regularly throughout history, Christian believers have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus. In our own time, perhaps the most persecuted century of all. In the UK, we don't have too much apart from ridicule and ambivalence. But we do have brothers and sisters in countries around the world who daily face death simply because they choose to follow Jesus.Being a Christian is not an easy decision, particularly for those where systematic and endemic persecution exists, but it is worth it. But how is it endured and overcome? How is your WOW factor of Jesus now?
3. We are to persevere!
We are to produce fruit! We are to be prepared! And we are to persevere! Persevere through times of trouble, through persecution and through times when things are going well! Here is a WOW factor for you! We are not left alone to our own devices! If that were the case, the church wouldn't have survived a month let alone 2000 years so far! No! Part of the WOW factor of Jesus Christ is that we have help! Praise God for that! The reason we can bear fruit and endure persecutions and sufferings is because we have help available!
3a. Jesus! A major help available to us is Jesus Himself! Jesus has overcome the world and nothing can prevail against Him!We also have Jesus' provision, through answered prayer! When we supply the needs of others, through loving, serving and giving, prayers are answered! I cant tell you how many times the needs of Youngmi and I have been filled just in time! Who knows whose prayers you may answer by helping to supply their needs! That's why we aren't to be greedy with the resources we have been given by this Jesus, hoarding them for ourselves to the mutual exclusion of others! WOW! How is your WOW factor about Jesus now?
3b. Holy Spirit The other person to help us produce fruit, endure persecutions and suffering and to persevere is that amazing person, God the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit who lives inside us, comforts and urges us on! WOW!The Holy Spirit seeking to glorify Jesus Christ and testify about Him! The Holy Spirit who lives within and ministers to people in need. The Holy Spirit declaring, interpreting and illuminating the Bible to people! The Holy Spirit convicting people of sin, righteousness and judgment. Through this third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, followers of Jesus Christ are born again, regenerated, indwelt, sealed, secured, sanctified, baptised and filled. I realise these are big words and concepts and if you need help understanding them, come and ask, as I have some material I can get to you about it.
God is working in you and I to will and to act accordingly to his purpose! Let's produce! Let's be prepared! Let's persevere! How is your WOW factor of Jesus now?
The way the Holy Spirit works within you, is probably going to be entirely different to the way He works in somebody else! How He fills, controls, baptizes and transforms you may not be how He fills, controls, baptizes, convicts and transforms that person sitting next to you! I used to think that the Holy Spirit only worked in a one-size-fits-all mode! I was only recently convicted of that attitude and no longer try to fit Him into a box!The Holy Spirit deals with each individual on an individual basis and that is His right to! Too many Christians that I see and counsel are more worried about how the Spirit works in the life of somebody else than they are about how He is working in their own life! Get over it! We each have our own individuality and personality, so let the Holy Spirit work within you and don't be so concerned about how He is filling, baptizing and transforming somebody else.As for your use of words, let the Holy Spirit who lives inside you, help you to use your words for the supreme glory of Jesus Christ, who after all is your Master! By doing that, you will truly be seen to be one of His followers! Jesus is to have supremacy over all things in your life, including your words! How is your WOW factor of Jesus now?
4. Jesus makes a reappearance!
But what sort of things will we have to go through for the sake of Jesus, as we go about bearing fruit for Him as we love, serve and give to others generously. What opposition and temptations will we face? We get a good idea of that by reading the rest of the New Testament and in particular the early chapters of the Book of Revelation! For here, Jesus reappears to his old mate, John! We don't have time to go into every nuance and detail, but again, you can do that for yourself! Here is a good book for you! If you want it, come and see me after and I will give it to you.
From our first reading we heard how John describes the ascended Jesus in Revelation 1v12-16! WOW!I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. John had just a got a new WOW Factor of Jesus! That figure is the risen and ascended Jesus Christ! The one proclaimed as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Here in Revelation 2 and 3, this Jesus sends messages to seven groups of people who have taken Him up on that offer of salvation!: the first century churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. The message has gone out as commanded into Asia!Look how Jesus describes Himself in these messages!
4a. Jesus own WOW factor
Jesus holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. Jesus who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again! WOW! Jesus who has the sharp, double-edged sword, is the Son of God and whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. WOW! Jesus who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. Jesus who is holy and true and holds the key of David. Jesus who opens what no one can shut and shuts what no one else can open. Jesus who is the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. WOW! Hows your WOW factor of Jesus now?
4b. Keep doing! To these 7 churches, of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Jesus praises them individually and separately! They are to continue doing such things as working hard for the Gospel, remaining faithful, not tolerating evil, not being seduced by false teachers, for persevering and enduring hardship and not growing weary. Jesus praises them for being faithful through suffering, poverty and persecution for His sake. Jesus praises them for remaining true to Him and for not renouncing their faith! Jesus, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, being ever gracious to His followers. WOW!I wonder what Jesus would praise this church and you for?
4c. Stop doing But He also rebukes them and commands that they stop doing certain things! They are to stop listening to various false teachers and prophets, being swayed by their clever and seductive words and actions. He rebukes because they have forgotten that they are to love Jesus above all and they have forsaken him. In his rebuke, Jesus commands that they repent, that is to ask Him for forgiveness and be willing to turn away from the false teachers, false prophets and false way of living.I wonder what Jesus would rebuke this church and you for?d. The blessings!Now, we have a real WOW factor here! To all those who persevere, overcome and are victorious, Jesus will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. To all those who overcome and are victorious, they wont be hurt by the second death. To all those who overcome and are victorious, Jesus will give the victor's crown! WOW! Those who overcome and are victorious, will be given authority over the nations! WOW! To those who overcome and are victorious, they will be in the temple of God, never to leave it! Jesus will do the most extraordinary thing, of writing on them the name of God, the city of God and His new name! WOW! To those who overcome and are victorious, their name will be in the book of life, and Jesus will acknowledge them before God the Father and his angels. WOW. Then finally, for those who overcome and are victorious, they will sit with their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, on His throne, just as He was victorious and sat down with His Father on his throne. WOW - that's you and me if we hold out to the end! How's your WOW factor of Jesus now?
What can we say as we conclude?We saw that Jesus had some hard things to say to those who would follow Him! In our examples, Jesus wants priority in all aspects of our lives and he wants us to speak and think like He does!! As we live for Him, we have a job to do and we are to be productive, be prepared to suffer for the sake of Jesus and to persevere through thick and thin! Then we saw how Jesus sent a message for 7 churches through his beloved friend and follower, John. A message about Jesus, the things they were to keep doing, things they were to stop doing and how as overcomers they will be blessed! That's all part of the WOW factor of Jesus!It is this Jesus, we need to get out there, by all means possible. We have a creative God with a vast imagination! We, as a group of believers, can reflect that creativity to those not knowing Jesus personally.
But it will take working together, and with other churches here, celebrating our differences yet united in our worship of the living Jesus Christ. The same Spirit lives within all those who are followers of Jesus!The WOW Factor of Jesus - the church as an image of the Trinity who love each other, just as each member of the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit love each other!
The WOW Factor of Jesus which says if we in the church cant love each other why should those outside the church take any notice of our God we proclaim to love?
Let me ask again, how are your travels with Jesus?
Let us go from here determined to be effective witnesses for Jesus in our community, going out to produce fruit for the Kingdom of Jesus, being prepared to be persecuted for our faith and knowing that as we do these things, we are not alone, because we have the power, strength and encouragement of the Holy Spirit within us.
Finally, you may not yet be a follower of Jesus Christ. I don't know. If that is you, then I would urge you to accept His call upon you: for He is calling you. You may not get another chance. If that is you, then please don't leave here without talking to somebody about this Jesus. Know that Jesus calls you by name, just as He did Saul, myself and innumerable others. Jesus invites you to have a WOW factor with and about Him.
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