Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dr. Jesus, HD

Tonight our sermon series through Mark continued with a message on “Dr. Jesus, HD.” At the conclusion of the message from Mark 2:13-17, I posed a series of questions. They are listed here for your consideration.

1. How do I view people that are lost without Christ? Am I burdened or am I boastful?

When I encounter people who are not followers of Christ, do I look down on them with a “holier-than-thou” attitude? Or is my heart grieved by their lost condition? In other words, which bothers me more: the idea that they are not meeting my standard or that they are in danger of dying under the just condemnation of God against their sin?

The example I used in the service tonight was this. Imagine I am at a restaurant and the person in the next booth has a foul mouth. Do I look down my religious nose, criticize them for “taking my Lord’s name in vain” and walk away? Or do I acknowledge, “There but by the grace of God go I?” Does their ungodly lifestyle lead me to criticize them or pray for them and seek to befriend them?

2. How much time do I spend around lost people for the purpose of showing the love of Christ?

Too often I am not only insulated but isolated. Christ spent time with sinners. It was not for the purpose of becoming like them. He spent time so they could become like Him. In our context, we don’t need people to become like us. We all need to become like Christ.

3. Do I have a critical spirit? In other words, do I enjoy correcting and chastening other people?

Some believers seem as if they were baptized in pickle juice. They’ve been weaned on persimmons and appear to be sucking on lemons. They’ve never seen a glass that was not half empty. And they spill their critical spirit on others at every turn.

Granted, there is a time to correct, for sure. And there certainly is a time to chasten. But it should be the least enjoyable part of our Christian walk. I realize that some spiritual gifts (teaching, for example) cause some of us to recognize doctrinal error more easily than others. And we do find a sense of fulfillment in bringing a word of correction through God’s Word. But that’s not really what I am referencing.

I’m talking about the spirit in which it is done. If you actually enjoy rebuking people, something is desperately wrong with your heart. Don’t attribute it to having the spirit of a prophet or being some spiritual watchdog. If you enjoy putting folks in their place, it’s probably because you are just plain mean.

We have some dear friends who once met a sister in Christ who seemed to enjoy putting others “in their place.” Her actual name was Rebecca. People who knew her best gave her the nickname, “Rebukah” because she loved rebuking people.

By the way, a good diagnostic question to ask is this, “When is the last time I found something commendable in my spouse…my kids…my pastor…and my church?”

It is always easy to find something commendable in someone else’s spouse. I don’t have to live with them.

It is always easy to find something commendable in someone else’s kids. They didn’t break your 5th generation family heirloom china.

It is always easy to find something commendable in someone else’s pastor. I don’t know him like I think I do. If I did, I’d see he has feet of clay too.

It is always easy to find something commendable in someone else’s church. I need to remember that everybody in that other town doesn’t go to that other church. There’s a reason for that. It’s not the perfect church that I think it is.

So if the only people I can commend are people that, in reality, I don’t actually know then it may be a sign I have a critical and sour spirit.

4. Do I consider myself to be a doctor or a patient when it comes to spiritual matters?

If I am never a doctor, I can never help others. God certainly wants us to grow up and mature to the point we can help others. That’s a fact. But how often do I see myself in need of a touch from the Great Physician? If I am always the one doing the correcting but I am never able to be corrected, something is woefully wrong.

John MacArthur comments this way on our text, “So our Lord's gospel ministry as any gospel ministry since is concentrated on those who know they are sinners, admit they are sinners, desire forgiveness and turn to Christ, the only source of forgiveness, the only one who has the right to forgive. Well in apostate Judaism in the first century where you earned your salvation, this kind of grace, this friendship with sinners was an outrage and threatened, really, to bring their whole system down, it was so opposed to it. So they hated Jesus and they're already early in His ministry formulating a way to get rid of Him before He brings the collapse of their system down on their heads.”

And thus, the saddest part of this story in Mark 2 is that the Pharisees thought they were so spiritually healthy they did not need a Physician. And their self-inflicted misdiagnosis prevented Jesus from helping them. They were, in fact, dead men walking. And the Resurrection and the Life stood in their midst and they did not recognize Him. Their strict adherence to their religious system did not help them. It actually hindered from seeing who Christ was. In the end, their flawed perception of their spiritual health sent them to hell.

I pray God will help me maintain a regular appointment with Dr. Jesus, Heart Doctor. And may I be more faithful in telling others about the One who alone can transform their hearts.