New Life Chapel

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Sermon April 11, 2010 – Primal Introduction

Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity – Based on book by Mark Batterson

Week 1 – Introduction

Love God!

Loving God is the more important aspect of being a Christian. Jesus took thousands of years of tradition and laws and simplified it to Loving God. We are going to spend the next several weeks looking at exactly that. We are going to see what it truly means to Love God.

This series is based on a great book written by Mark Batterson, Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity. I had never heard of Mark Batterson until a Pastor friend of mine recommended this book on his blog. Mark Batterson is a Pastor of a rapidly growing church in Washington DC. This Easter they launched their fifth location. It was pretty exciting to see how God was working and pulled everything together in such a short period of time.

Well enough about Mark, I want to talk about how God used this book. I read Primal a few months back and it touched me deeply. At times I was able to say, I like that, and I am doing that. Other times I read it and was convicted and felt God telling me things I did not necessarily want to hear.

God used this book to reassure me that I was on the right path, but to also point out areas that I needed to change. I pray that this series, and if you choose to pick up the book, will touch you as it has touched me. I believe God used the lessons covered in this book, to make me a better Christian.

Imagine you are visiting Rome and checking out all of the tourist destinations. As a Christian you also have this fascination with Rome and its impact on the early Christian church. Depending on who was ruling Rome at the time, Christians were either safe or hunted. They were either living in peace, or were worshipping in secret and being persecuted for believing in Jesus Christ. Needless to say there is a lot of history for the church in Rome.

On your trip you end up visiting this small little church that is not on any of the tourist maps. As you wander through the church you find that you can take a tour of the catacombs. The church you are standing in was built upon other ‘holy’ sites and used to be a site of worship for the early Christian church.

As you begin the decent, you begin to feel the air around you change. You realize you are walking farther and farther underground, the air is damp. As you continue down the flight of stairs you notice that it is getting darker and darker, you cannot see as well as you did when you were in the church. You begin to hear the sounds of underground streams, rolling through the catacombs. As you finish your decent, you feel like you are in another time. After all you are standing where our spiritual ancestors stood. It was here that they worshipped Jesus; it was here that they hid from the persecution that came along with being a follower of Christ. It was here that they lived their faith at the basic level, they had a Primal faith and daily they sacrified.

How does that compare to today? Early Christians lived in fear of their lives just for believing in Jesus, we have a right to practice our Christian faith right out in the open. Today to be a Christian it means we give up a couple of hours each week to gather and worship. The early Christians, those we would be following in those catacombs, gave up everything. In comparison what we sacrifice today to be a Christian, would not even be classified as a sacrifice 1500 – 2000 years ago. I wonder if as Christians in 2010 here in the United States, have we forgotten how hard it can be a Christ follower. Do we understand what it means to really sacrifice for Christ? Have Christians as a whole lost touch with the primal essence of their faith? This is what we will be digging into in the coming weeks.

Christians disagree about a lot of things. There are debates about when Jesus will return in relation to the great tribulation. There are major divides about beliefs surrounding the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There are also disagreements about if a person can lose their salvation or not, plus more recently the ordination of homosexuals. I am sure we would have difficulty naming all of the disagreements between Christians; there are a lot of them.

There is one thing that we can be confident about, and that is that they all agree what is the most important commandment. After all Jesus called in the Greatest Commandment of all.

Mark 12:30

“30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” NIV

Loving God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength is the foundation to all that is Christian. Now the definition of the word Primal is first, original, of first importance, or fundamental. We can easily describe the Great Commandment with these words. We know humankind was created to be in communion, to be in a relationship, with God, which means the first and original purpose for us was to Love God. When asked by one of the teachers of the law, Jesus tells us which commandment is of first importance in Mark 12:29-30.

 “29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

In answering this way to the teacher of the law, Jesus was saying that they had complicated faith by creating 613 laws. The only one that really mattered and was of first importance was loving God. Jesus simplified it for us.

Loving God is also fundamental to being a Christian, without loving God you cannot have a relationship with him. So we can also call the Great Commandment, the Primal Commandment. It is fundamental to our faith, it is of first importance, and it was part of the reason we were created. Loving God is the basis of all Christianity; we need to be GREAT at it! 

One of the first things we need to do is address the primal problem with the perception of Christians. Sadly Christians are more know for what we are against than what we are for. As people, we tend to point out what is wrong others.

Matt 7:4-5 says:

“4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Basically we need to work to change the perceptions that we are worried about the speck in others eyes. We have plenty of planks in our own eyes to worry about. I got this story in an email recently and would like to share it with you. It says a lot about perceptions and how it impacts on how people view things.

In Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.
4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in  the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
10 minutes:
A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:
The musician played continuously.  Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace.  The man collected a total of $32.
1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition…
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception.

People walking by Joshua Bell playing music in the subway perceived that he was just another bum, begging for money. In many ways we Christians are viewed poorly based on the perceptions of those around us. The challenge for us is to not be viewed as a bum playing in the subway. Joshua Bell is one of the best musicians in the world, was playing some of the finest music every written, and was using one of the most beautiful instruments ever made. He had a lot to offer, but perceptions got in the way. As Christians we have even more to offer, but we need to get past the perceptions that are out there. We need to show people that we are different, that we really do Love God and Love others.

What it really comes down to is we need to be better at the Great Commandment. It is safe to say that we are all good at the Great Commandment, but we really need to be GREAT at it!

Since Jesus said to Love God with our Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength we need to spend our time and our energy to really understand what Jesus meant, and how we can be Great at it. To be great at the Great Commandment, we need to know that it is not enough to love God with our mind alone, or with our heart and soul, we need all four. We need to Love God with All our Heart, All our Soul, All our Mind, and All our Strength.

To quote Mark Batterson

“The heart of Christianity is Primal Compassion”

“The soul of Christianity is Primal Wonder”

“The mind of Christianity is Primal Curiosity”

“The strength of Christianity is Primal Energy”

As we go through this series, my prayer is that each of us will be open and honest with ourselves and God. We will allow the Holy Spirit to work in us so that we can develop a renewed passion for loving God. My prayer is that we will be full of genuine compassion, infinite wonder, insatiable curiosity, and boundless energy.  This will not be an easy journey for us. As we look into the primal aspects of our faith, we will be convicted. God will work on each of us, but when all is said and done our faith will be based on genuine and complete love for God.

Craig Groeschel asked this question; “Does your heart break for the things that break the heart of God?”

Do you remember a time when God broke your heart? Do you remember a time when He placed a passion in you for something that He wanted? I hope so!

Today as you think about it, do you still feel that passion or has it lost some of fire? The goal of this series is to help each of us return to that place where loving God will all of our Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength is all that matters. To that place where are hearts are break for the things that break God’s heart. We need to return to the point where all that matters is Loving God with all of our Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength. Nothing else matters.

We need to remember Jesus said it, we need to believe it. We need to make it a fundamental part of our faith.

We need to be GREAT at loving God!

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April 12, 2010 - Posted by | Sermon

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