Sermon Notes: The One Chance We Have to Fight For God (John 21)

Posted: January 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

The One Chance We Have To Fight For God (John 21)
In the film Gladiator, Russell Crowe’s character states before a battle, “What we do in life, echoes in eternity.”

Yet, did you know that last week a girl threatened to kill herself if Miley Cyrus didn’t start tweeting again?  
How lost and bored do you have to be to hang your entire life on Hannah Montana? But it wouldn’t surprise me if this girl called herself a Christian because we’re just as lost and just as bored.  We take salvation from the cross as if were taking something off the shelf at Wal-Mart and then live our lives like everyone else.
But also last week, I saw that Joni Eareckson Tada is quoted as saying, “This life provides the only chance we have to fight for God.”

Two pretty stunning contrasts.
With that in mind, let’s look at John 21:

1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

    4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

    5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
       “No,” they answered.

    6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

    7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

    10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

    11 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

 15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
       “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
       Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

    16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
       He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
       Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

    17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
       Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
       Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

    20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

    22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

    24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

    25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Forgiveness, cleansing and the promise of an eternal, physical, sinless future is mind boggling but to just sit and wait for that to happen is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.”
Peter was not just forgiven he was restored and he was restored through a commission to ministry and so are we.

For what it is worth, church tradition tells us that Peter, and most of the earliest disciples, died brave deaths refusing to deny Christ.  Today, most Christians act, look and feel no differently than anybody else. Why? Is it because we are too comfortable and materialistic? Maybe but how much of it has to do with churches trying to enter the G-rated entertainment business rather than the discipleship business?

Churches today tend to define success by the number of people who attend rather than the number of people who are discipled.

Writer Wendell Berry writes that the church is obsessed with “incanting anemic souls into heaven.”  What does he mean by that? We focus on getting people “converted” rather than on the hard work of helping them live out the story of Jesus everyday.  We tell them that if they just repeat a prayer and write the date on the back of their Bible then they are saved and we imply that they should now behave but is that what we see Jesus and the disciples do?

Discipleship is the struggle to worship God, to grow closer to God through study, prayer, engagement in the spiritual disciplines and loving each other and service via our own ministry.  This is why Revolution follows the mantra: Worship-Grow-Serve.  It is a process for discipleship, not just conversion.  We don’t want people who just call themselves Christians but people who follow Jesus so closely that they stand out and call others to the peace they posses.

In Christianity today, there are two models of being a church-the cruise ship and the battleship.  On a cruise ship, there is a lot of food and things to do and the staff take care of everything while you enjoy yourself.  On a battleship, it is all hands on deck. 

Which one do most churches look like?

The vision of Revolution is to be a battleship.
So, ask yourself this week, are you worshipping? Are you in a small group? Are you doing ministry? If not, what should your ministry be? Where is your heart?
Here at Revolution? Children’s ministry? Greeting? Music? Mission Groups?  
Outside of Revolution? The Father’s Table? Free Market? Redeem the Night? Recovery programs? Prison ministry? Nursing home ministry? Joni & Friends? 
This is the only chance we have to fight for God.  What we do now does indeed echo throughout eternity.

  1. Craig says:

    Thanks for the relevant analogy in this post, Matt. Changed my perspective this Monday morning. Wish I could motivate the body where I worship to embody that perspective!

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