A wise mentor of mine one time totally blew my mind by comparing Christianity to a contagious disease! “Many claim to have the disease we call Christianity, but seem instead to have been exposed only enough to be safely inoculated from the real thing.”
In the concluding session of Christianity Explored, we’ll consider Jesus’ own definition of being a true follower. According to Jesus true followers not only embrace the identity of Jesus as the Son of God and God’s only chosen King. They also follow him as their leader. Following means two further painful things: i) denying self and ii) taking up one’s cross (self denial to the point of dying to self).
The trouble with so many people who claim affiliation with Jesus today is this: they simply don’t fit Jesus’ own definition of a true follower. They associate themselves with Jesus through an extremely shallow understanding of Christianity. Almost like being injected with a dead virus! The immune system recognizes the attack and quickly summons the anti-bodies necessary to fend it off. On the outside, maybe the person’s temperature elevates for a while till the threat has been dealt with. But life as usual resumes now equipped for all future threats of exposure.
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:34-35 NIV)
Many who call themselves Christians today are like an inoculated patient. Contending with a mild dose of the virus, but not displaying the full symptoms. Perhaps inducted into the culture of Christian surroundings, but not fully convinced of Jesus identity. Not fully prepared to follow his leadership. Come check out the last session of Christianity Explored and wrestle with what getting the real disease involves!
Christianity Explored meets at Christ Community Church, 9:00 and 10:45 in room D-126.
We’re nearing the end of our series Simply Unconvinced. In the closing weeks we’ll be centering on the events of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. This week we’re looking at Pilate. As the Roman governor in charge of the Fifth Praefectus of Judaea, it was Pilate’s responsibility to enforce the Roman military occupation over the Jews in his territory. The list of things Pilate was uncertain and Unconvinced about was dangerously long.
Pilate was unconvinced of…
1- the validity of the capital offense Jesus was charged with by the Jews.
2- that Jesus’ was a legitimate king (Pilate recognized only Herod)
3- what a Messiah was supposed to be. He took the word of the Sanhedrin that Jesus was claiming to be God.
4- how dangerous Jesus actually was to himself. Jesus was powerless as an insurrectionist.
5- his own moral guilt in having Jesus executed (he deferred responsibility as much as possible).
6- the fact that Jesus was harmless. Jesus’ claim to a non-earthly kingdom did somehow unsettle him.
7- the need to protect Jesus. In the end he deemed it a lesser risk to execute Jesus than let him live.
Without understanding what the death of Jesus really meant, he cracked under the pressure of needing to do something to regain control of the Jews. Pilate would give the word to end Jesus’ life, but that was just the beginning of his troubles.
Come find out more about how Jesus’ death plays out. What became of Pilate? How will history remember him? What did the resurrection of Jesus mean for the Roman power system that put him to death?
Unconvinced meets Sundays at 10:45 in room D-126.
Come on out and bring a friend.
Week 11 – Text
Week 11 Handout
This week in Unconvinced we’ll trace some of Jesus’ final steps from the upper room to the Mount of Olives…and right back to the house of Caiaphas the High Priest. The events of the Passion of Christ are laced with irony atop of irony. One of the most difficult things to keep track of in the closing events of Jesus’ earthly ministry is that Jesus had to die. It was the Father’s plan. Though from God’s perspective not accidental, the trail and execution of Jesus was fraught with bumbling miscarriages of justice. A sloppy trial with rigged testimony. A pay off to an inside traitor by the highest panel of religious authorities. The very people Jesus is King over, are shouting for his crucifixion – with their religious leaders yelling the loudest.
Unconvinced meets at 10:45 in room D-126. Come join us, bring a friend and your questions.
The beauty of the willing death of Jesus is this. Although completely innocent of his charges, although initially acquitted by the Romans for lack of evidence, although the very thing hateful religious leaders demanded…and although the pinnacle of Satanic lust… the execution of Jesus was the day death itself was put to death in the cosmic justice of Yahweh! No one sincerely following Jesus thought Good Friday was the final act of a victorious Messiah.
The compelling heart of the Gospel is that in spite of what humanly speaking looked like a tragic mistake, Jesus willingly gave his life in the most humiliating way thinkable. Humanity’s choice forever after is to embrace the embarrassing mess that carried forward the love of God to pay for our sin…or to reject it all as non-sense. To be convinced of the Cross of Christ is to own the will of the Father to have his Son suffer for us and in spite of our ugly and hateful insistence that he die.
Week 10 Handout
Week 10 – Text
Well… you can decide that for yourself based on what Jesus told his disciples just hours before he was executed. The weird thing about Jesus dying on the cross is that you’d figure his sacrifice would clear the way for humanity to be more accepting of his followers. At least make people more sympathetic to our cause. Nope. Just the opposite says Jesus.
17 This is my command: Love each other. 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:17-19 NIV)
Come jump in with us this week at Unconvinced – Christ Community’s seeker venue. Meets at 10:45 in D-126.
Far from magically wiping away the world’s hostility, the sufferings of Jesus flow over to his followers in the grand scheme of God’s redemption plan. Jesus doesn’t say come follow me and I’ll make you popular. His invitation to follow in a funny way is the only way to really understand the world’s hatred. Come follow me, says Jesus to his followers, and you’ll learn the heartache of loving a world infected with its own hatred. Living in victory over that hatred is the same for Jesus’ followers as it was for Jesus himself. It only comes through self-giving, self-sacrificing love.
Week 09 Handout
Week 09 – Text
“For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
(John 9:39-41 NIV)
This week in Unconvinced we’ll see why Jesus gets in such trouble for healing a blind man. Ironically it’s only those who willingly bring their blindness to Jesus who will see the light. Pride is the only untreatable eye problem to Jesus. Unconvinced meets Sundays in room D-126 at 10:45. Come join us and bring a friend. Brent will be our facilitator this week.
Not sure you can believe everything you read on the internet (including posts from church pastors like me) but according to my painstaking research over the past 12 minutes on Google, the worlds most expensive grapes are the Ruby Romans. Ever heard of Ruby Roman grapes? Me neither till 12 minutes ago. According to an article in the Japan Times a couple paid over $5,000 for a single cluster of 30 golf-ball sized Ruby Romans for their wedding reception.
This week in Unconvinced we’re finishing up the 8 “I Am” statements of Jesus. I am the true vine (#8) claims Jesus. He who remains in me will bear MUCH fruit. But in the same breath Jesus says that apart from him, you can do nothing. Branches that bear no fruit (much less $180 per grape Ruby Romans) are cut off, picked up an burned!
Each week we’re discovering that Jesus’ identity claims are far more than mere pithy word-pictures tossed out by a flashy public speaker. In all 8 “I Ams” Jesus is making serious identity claims with huge implications for his listeners.
Week 6 resource sheet
Week 6 – Text
Come on out and join us this week. Unconvinced meets at 10:45 in Room D-126. Bring your questions. Bring your doubts. And bring a friend and join in the discussion. The above links are the resource sheets for last week’s session.
This week in Unconvinced we’re doing part one of Jesus’ famous I AM statements. When you read the Gospel of John you’ll notice he records Jesus making a series of theological identity statements. There are 8 of them that are commonly talked about by bible scholars. “I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am the Bread of Life.” Each of the next two week we’ll take a look at four “I AMs… Each revealing something core to Jesus’ identity. Each of them somewhat controversial based on the reaction Jesus got from them.
How controversial could Bread really be?
One thing I keep seeing again and again in John’s Gospel is TENSION. The verbal barbs Jesus trades with the Pharisees are smokin! Not even Donald Trump can get himself in as much hot water as Jesus. How controversial could “I am the Bread of Life” really be? When I’m reading it in my Bible, I think… “Nice Jesus. Great comparison there to manna. You’re speaking to their Old Testament story-line with that imagery.” Then the next thing know Jesus just pushes it over the cliff!
“My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them.” John 6:55-56
Little wonder that you see in that same passage: “Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves – How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Among the 8 I AMs…this is one of the more tame examples. Jesus draws even more heat for some of his other identity claims. The reason we’re going after the 8 I AMs is to wrestle with the person of Jesus for ourselves. Can we really come to grips with who he claimed to be? If we were in his audience that day, would Jesus push our buttons? Most people think Jesus was about as controversial as a blond-haired, blue-eyed sweater model who carried lambs around on his shoulders. Jesus was no wimp. Just about everywhere he went he nearly got himself killed. Come jump in with us and find out why.
Unconvinced meets Sundays in Room D-126 at 10:45am.
In case you missed last week, here’s the notes from our discussion – thanks Cheryl Perry for doing an awesome job as our facilitator:
Week 04 Resource Sheet
Week 5 Resource Sheet
Week 5 – Manuscript
Hope to see you Sunday. Bring a friend with you!
We’re so excited about another new year coming at us! A new year means a new message series called Simply Jesus. A new series always means a fresh look at the scriptures, Jesus and the Gospel good news! Wanted to make sure that you knew what we’ve got planned for Unconvinced – our seeker and skeptics venue at CCC on Sunday mornings.
Unconvinced meets Sundays during the 10:45 service in Room D-126
Each week we’ll take a look at the Gospel of John through the eyes of someone not yet convinced of Jesus. As it turns out there’s plenty of skepticism and doubt about Jesus staring at us from the pages of the New Testament. Healthy doubt plays a role faith formation. When you think about it, you’d expect people to struggle with the kind of things Jesus said and did. We should be suspicious of a bible packed with stories of unwavering faith where the hero always rides off into a victorious sunset!
Simply Unconvinced – Week One: Jesus the Stumbling Stone
It always surprises you to see who Jesus offends. Both testaments of the Bible in multiple places bear witness to the offensive nature of God’s chosen Messiah:
He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.
Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.” (Isa 8:14-15 NIV)
Jesus is the stumbling stone that has become the capstone in the economy of God’s salvation plan. Come on out. Bring your doubts and your questions. Bring your not yet convinced friend. We usually spend a few minutes looking at the bible passages themselves, then have lots of time for question and answer.
Click here for the resource sheet and teaching notes: Week 1 Resource Sheet
PS- can you tell where the capstone in this archway is? Look at the stone just below the diamond.
This weekend in UNCONVINCED we begin a new series on the topic of World View. Dr. James Sire has written the classic primer on the subject of World Views called The Universe Next Door. In the first week of our series we’ll define what a World View is and talk about why EVERYONE WITHOUT EXCEPTION has one. Sire claims that every world view regardless of its expression, answers 7 basic questions. Questions like: What is prime reality? or What is the nature of the material universe? or What is the human person?
Every world view imaginable whether we’re talking Theism, Naturalism or Pluralism answers each question in a distinct way. Understanding how world views differ gives us important insight into the uniqueness of the Gospel and how Jesus himself relates to the various options.
Come join in the exploration. Unconvinced meets in Room D-126 at 10:45 each Sunday. Unconvinced is a skeptics venue at Christ Community Church designed to meet the needs of those questioning belief in God and the meaning of Gospel. Bring a questioning friend with you. Each time we put a fresh topic on the wall and explore it with the help of a facilitator. Question and answer are generously welcome. Come prepared to share your perspective as you listen and learn together with others.
Tim Perry – Pastor of Spiritual Discovery
This week we’ll wrap up our 10 week adventure through the Gospel of Mark with teacher Rico Tice. Christianity Explored has been a seeker’s guide to the life of Jesus and the meaning of the Gospel. Come join us for the finale. We’ll finish things up with a two part extended play version of our Unconvinced class.
Unconvinced meets at Christ Community Church at 10:45 in room D-126.
After our usual class time, we’ll have lunch together in D-126, then transition over to the Student Center at 1:00pm. Not only will we finish up Christianity Explored, but we’ll also check out a cool app called The Big Story. We’ll sum up the message of Christianity. Not only will we review what we’ve learned, we’ll also ask some courageous questions of personal response. Come join in, even if you haven’t been to Unconvinced in a while. We’d love to see you.
If you plan on joining us for lunch, please email me and let me know you’re for sure coming, and I’ll reserve a lunch for you! So far we have 14 people coming. There’s still definitely room for more!
See you this weekend hopefully!