Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 3
Thesis: The kind of "life" that following Jesus produces is only "relationally" different from the kind of existence most people experience.
Introduction: Last week we looked into Jesus' call of Levi. We saw that the call challenged Levi's heart-held theology of anger and rebellion. We saw that the call challenged Levi's course of life. And we saw that the call gives us a peek into the true nature of God's created universe.
This morning we are going to look into Levi's reaction. On the face of it, the anger and rebellion vanished; the course of his life dramatically changed; and he began a life-long learning experience of what it means to be a child of the Kingdom of God.
There are two major obstacles to Levi's reaction. The first is the problem of "Love's production of love" and the second is "Revelation's production of faith". Neither of these problems have easy solutions. Love's production of love is obstructed by the deep-seated selfishness of human beings who do not want to permit anyone to determine the course of life for them (a completely lice-infested hair-ball -- God determines the course of everyone's life without asking for permission). On the other hand, Revelation's production of faith is obstructed primarily by false understanding and immature expectations.
This morning we are going to focus upon the second of these problems: Revelation's production of faith. We are going to do this because all of us need some help in understanding the Life to which Jesus calls us.
July 1, 2007
- I. The Call in Terms of What It Does Not Mean.
- A. Following Jesus does not mean getting a free pass from any of the complications that we typically associate with life.
- 1. In the paragraph before us, "following Jesus" did not deliver Levi from the major issue that had originally fueled his anger and rebellion.
- a. If our grasp of Levi's heritage is anywhere on track, the major issue of his anger and rebellion was how people had treated him.
- b. In this paragraph, he, immediately upon beginning his "walk with Jesus", ran smack into an on-going continuation of rejection by the "people of status" in his culture.
- 1) It does not typically matter how big a crowd one can gather in any kind of show of support -- Levi gathered a significant crowd of his former "kind".
- 2) What does typically matter is whether those who disapprove continue to disapprove.
- 2. In the paragraph before us, "following Jesus" did not deliver Levi from the secondary methods of "life" that had pressed him deeper and deeper into the mud of death before he began to follow.
- a. Rejection always produces an attempt to compensate.
- 1) One of the typical "compensations" of a tax collector was to use his financial resources to try to impress.
- 2) Our text tells us that Levi's first "action" as a "follower" was to throw an extravagant party to which a great host of non-followers attended.
- a) The great host of non-followers in attendance tells us that they felt like extravagant parties somehow defined "life" in terms of "method" (otherwise they would not have come at Levi's invitation).
- b) Never again in the historical records of Levi's life with Jesus are we told that he threw any more extravagant parties.
- b. Rejection always produces an attempt to compensate.
- 1) One of the typical "compensations" of the rejected is to try to define life in different terms.
- a) Where "rejection" had created anger and rebellion because life was being defined in terms of "acceptance", there was an attempt to redefine life's terms.
- b) One of the obvious "terms of life" for the rejected was "stuffing your face".
- 2) Our text tells us that the great host of party-goers were at an extravagant feast where "eating and drinking" were going on full-tilt.
- a) Eating and drinking (this was not broccoli and water) are symptoms of holes in the soul that make themselves into tyrants without discretion.
- b) The uncomplicated gathering of a host of non-followers to eat and drink is a clear statement of the "methods of life" for those who have none.
- B. Following Jesus does not mean that acceptance by God can be wedded to the old methods of life.
- 1. There should be no misunderstanding here: methods arise from definitions.
- a. As long as "life" is defined in terms of "acceptance by human beings" one of the methods will be attempts to impress others for acceptance purposes.
- b. As long as "life" is defined in terms of "freedom to do as I please" one of the methods will be attempts to accumulate sufficient capital to do as I please.
- c. As long as "life" is defined in terms of physical satiation one of the methods will be eating and drinking.
- 2. The methods of life appropriated by non-followers are methods of death.
- 3. The Life of God cannot be wedded to methods of death: Life cannot arise from sources in which there is no life.
- II. The Call in Terms of What It Does Mean.
- A. It means being hated, impoverished, and starved.
- B. It means that Life's methods are radically reinformed.
- 1. It shifts from satisfaction by means of physical pleasures, financial success, and acceptance by men.
- 2. It shifts to satisfaction by means of divine approval [Hebrews 11:6 does not posit "impossible to please Him" because it is not seriously at the top of the methods of life, but because it is].
- III. The Call in Terms of What It Requires.
- A. There is only one thing that pleases God: faith.
- B. There is only one way to exercise faith.
- 1. It has to be divorced from all human failures.
- a. As long as a person is floundering under a burden of guilt that keeps saying "God will not accept me", faith cannot rise to the surface.
- b. As long as there is no understanding that acceptance by God is rooted in the provision of Jesus and the repentance of sinners, faith cannot rise to the surface.
- 2. It has to be wedded to divine revelation as the explanation of what God seeks to produce.
- a. Ignorance of the Word of God keeps faith from rising to the surface.
- b. Misunderstanding of the Word of God keeps faith from rising to the surface.
- 3. The major implication of our text is that one cannot "believe" and retain any hold upon any of the crutches of death: Levi forsook, arose, and followed.