Morning. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Hey, before we get into the message this morning, we need to honor someone at our church.
I’m sure most of you saw my email this week that our Children’s Pastor, Alissa Speck, will be finishing her time as our Children’s Pastor this month.
I’m going to ask Alissa to come on stage and join me at this point.
For the past three years, Alissa has done an absolutely FANTASTIC job in pastoring our 150+ children and leading our teachers & volunteers.
As Alissa is due with her 2nd child at the end of this month, she has decided to stay home.
Also, due to the expected growth of our church over the next year, the position is moving to full-time.
We completely respect Alissa’s decision, and are grateful we will still see her around.
She plans to still be heavily involved with Renovation Kids and our church.
Alissa, and her husband Ryan are actually original launch team members of our church when we started it 10 years ago.
She has put a ton of her heart and soul into this church.
And so when you see her today, I want you to honor her and thank her.
And we want to pray for her as she begins her next chapter of life, and thank God for her as well.
Let me pray.
How many of you have ever gone backpacking?
I don’t mean like you wore your backpack to school…
Or you went hiking at a state park for 90 minutes and brought a backpack full of goldfish snacks for your kids…
Has anyone here ever gone backpacking?
…where you put everything you need in your backpack and go out hiking, and sleep under the stars for a few nights?
I learned this week that there are two types of backpacking as I was reading some thoughts from Pete Scazzero
Traditional backpackers typically carry packs that weigh about 30-50 pounds.
They might have a sleeping bag, a tent, extra clothes, rain gear, portable stove, water bottles, etc.
However, while it’s great to have so many things with you, there’s a major con to having so many things with you.
It’s incredibly more difficult to hike 10 miles through the mountains when you have 50 pounds of stuff on your back.
Plus, your more susceptible to injuries because of the heavy packs…
AND…and you have way less flexibility hiking around because of your heavy packs.
And so, over the years, another method of backpacking has developed…called Ultra-Light Backpacking.
And in this method you eliminate all the non-essentials items
So much so, that their backpacks, instead of weighing 50 pounds…often weigh 10 pounds or less!
These guys don’t bring lawn chairs, or coffeemakers.
Some even cut the tags off of their clothes, and the handles off of their toothbrushes all to eliminate excess weight.
This morning, as we continue in the book of Luke, we’re going to read how following Jesus will require us to think like an Ultra-Light backpacker.
(Outdoor Services – Weekly Verses)
We are continuing in Chapter 18.
However, we’re going to hop over the passage about the children for a week, as we’ll do that next week in conjunction with our Parent & Child Dedication.
(Luke 18:18-30) – NIV
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
All right, this is a story that is actually found in THREE of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
And from the 3 of them we learn that this man talking with Jesus is a Rich, Young, Ruler.
THE FIRST FEW VERSES
Let’s look at the first 2 verses.
After being called “good teacher,” Jesus says, “Why do you call me good?” “no one is good---except God alone.”
It feels like an odd verse if you read it in isolation.
Why would Jesus say that if He is God?
Jesus is saying, “You’re calling me good…but remember, no one is truly good except God…perhaps you don’t truly recognize who you’re talking to.”
The rich young ruler thought he himself was good, like Jesus…
But Jesus is challenging his definition of what is actually good.
And the man doesn’t get it.
This man is confused, like many in America today, about how he will gain eternal life…go to heaven.
He think that if he just keeps the commandments well enough that he’ll be fine
And so Jesus starts rattling off some of the 10 commandments…5 of them in fact.
And the man says, “Ah yes, these I have kept since I was a boy”
But notice, if you look carefully at verse 19, every single commandment that Jesus asked the man about were commandments about how we treat other people.
Do not steal, do not lie, honor your father & mother
But if you know the 10 commandments, you might know that there are 2 sections to them.
One section is about loving other people, and the other is about loving God.
And while this man may have kept up outward appearances of loving other people, where He’s going to fall short is in His love for God.
There is something else that he truly loves (and worships!) more than God
It’s his money…and all the things that money gives to him.
And because he loves his money so much, He’s going to miss out on following Jesus.
In fact, He’s going to miss out on eternal life…because Jesus told him he was lacking something if he indeed wanted eternal life.
Because to follow Jesus means, not that you’re perfect, but it means that you will make Jesus your Lord…your Master.
It’s a turning over of your life to Him.
And this man won’t turn over His life to God.
TOO MUCH IN YOUR BACKPACK
The rich young ruler had an important fork in his road…much like many of us do today.
And his fork isn’t just about selling his possessions vs. not selling them.
Look at it again…verse 22
Jesus says, “Sell your possessions…THEN, come follow me”
This man isn’t going to be able to whole-heartedly follow Jesus while he’s carrying all of his possessions around in his backpack.
It’s going to cause him to stumble or want to turn back.
Jesus is saying, “You need to get rid of anything that’s holding you back from fully following me”
Empty it out of your backpack that you’ve been carrying,
He’s saying, “I’ve got places to take you, but if you’re carrying that in your backpack, you won’t be able to go”
So what’s in your backpack?
What aren’t you surrendering to Jesus?
What aren’t you letting go of?
…and it’s keeping you from following Jesus for the first time or from fully following after Him?
What is it that you love more than God?
This rich young ruler, if you think about it, wanted salvation…but he wanted it on his terms.
He’s saying, “Yes, I want to go to heaven…I want to follow God…BUT…here are the terms.”
“I’ll obey this …but I get to keep that. I get to say what is right and wrong for some of the things that are very personal to me”
That’s not how it works.
Surrendering your life to Jesus, TRULY following Jesus is an abandonment.
You abandon your desires and fully submit yourself to new leadership.
You say, “Your will be done Lord, not mine”
By the way, if you want to know how dangerous the desire to be rich is, realize that this is the only person in the entire Bible who directly refuses a 1 on 1 invitation from Jesus to follow Him.
In verse 25, Jesus tells his followers that it’s easier for a camel to fit through the tiny eye of needle than for someone who is rich to be saved.
You can’t fit a camel through the eye of a needle because it’s too big.
And those who are always craving more money often can’t fit into the kingdom because there’s too much in their backpack.
There’s a positive to travelling light and a danger to holding on to so many things.
Because when Jesus asks you to give them up because He’s calling you to some new endeavor, all too many won’t.
They can’t imagine hiking through life without that “thing” in their backpack.
Now, let me clarify here, in this passage, Jesus is speaking a specific word to a specific individual.
People often make two different interpretive errors when they apply this passage
Firstly, it would be an error to say that we ALL have to sell our possessions now.
Because God actually wants some people to gain lots of money because they can do so much good with their money.
But secondly, it would also be error to say that NO ONE has to sell ALL their possessions
The bigger truth is this: If there is something in your backpack that has gotten in between you and God…
If there is something in your life that is holding you back from fully following Jesus…
You need to throw it away, give it away, burn it, delete it, or pour it down the drain.
If it’s a friendship, or a dating relationship that’s keeping you from fully following Jesus…end it.
If your personal careers goals are holding you back from truly following Jesus…let go of your goals
If Jesus came to you and said, “I want you to give up social media, or this shows…or your smartphone that you’re so devoted to…so you can FULLY follow me…”
I’m not saying He’s telling you to do that (I’m not the Holy Spirit), but what if He did?
Would you? Or would you go away sad like the rich young ruler?”
The truth is, there should be nothing in your backpack that you hold SO dearly that you would literally turn Jesus down if He asks you to surrender it…and then follow Him.
JESUS IS BETTER
So let me ask you: What’s in your backpack that’s holding you back from passionately, with full abandon, following after Christ?
What is it?
So many of us, we won’t take it out of our backpack…precisely because we trust that it can give us more than Jesus can.
The Rich Young Ruler couldn’t let go of his money because he was convinced that his money would give him more than Jesus could.
There’s an old fable that tells about a crane that was wading in a stream looking for snails when a beautiful swan landed nearby.
The crane had never seen a swan before, so he asked, “What are you?”
“I’m a swan,” came the reply.
“And where did you come from?” the crane inquired.
“Heaven,” the swan answered.
“What is that?” asked the crane.
The swan eagerly began to explain heaven’s beauty and glory.
She spoke of the new Jerusalem, the city of pure gold with a jasper wall and pearly gates.
She described its “pure river, clear as crystal.”
At that point the crane interrupted, “Tell me, are there any snails in heaven?”
“No, I’m afraid not,” the swan said.
“Then I don’t care to go there,” the crane stated decisively. “I like snails!”
People are going to literally miss out on heaven because they’re convinced that the snails in their backpack will be better.
The challenge with that example, especially for people in a crowd like this, is that you think, “Yes, but see, I’ve figured it out, I’m actually NOT going to give up heaven!”
You think, “I’ve got the best of both worlds! I’m a Christian (so I’m going to heaven), but I’m also holding on to the things of this world that make me happy”
First, be sure that you are really a Christian.
Have you really trusted Jesus with your heart and given your LIFE to Him?
And perhaps you have.
And if you have, but you’re still convinced that you’ll be happier holding on to these extra sins, desires, and idols in your backpack…rather than surrendering them to Jesus…
You must realize this morning that you are calling Jesus a liar.
Jesus has told you to trust Him.
And that if you follow Him, He will give you abundant life…
He will give you what your heart truly desires.
You’ll be able to hike, and climb, and run… free from the heavy burden of all of these things you maybe didn’t even realize were weighing you down.
Do you trust Jesus?
Then take some things out of your backpack this week so you can follow Him more closely.
And don’t just stop at some sort of mental exercise.
You know, like when Christians say, “If God called me to be a missionary in China, would I go?”
“Uh, sure, yep, ‘I would go.’”
No, here’s what I want you to do:
Before you go to sleep tonight, I want you to get in a room by yourself, and pray, “God, what is it that I need to take out of my backpack…so I can follow you better?”
“God, what is weighing me down? Causing me to not follow you closely?”
I dare you to ask Him that.
And as he lays what it is on your heart…tonight…or over the next few days.
I want you to tell a friend what it is.
And then let it go.
But as you let it go, believe…trust Jesus.
What He has for you is better.
Denying yourself is not easy, but God’s way IS better. Let me pray
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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