Cancel Culture, week 4
Sermon Series by Pastor Bob McCartney, First Baptist Church, Wichita Falls Tx.
When I was a teenager, there were a number of really kind of over-the-top artists in rock and roll music and yes, I did listen to them. There was groups like Kiss and you know they put on all the makeup and all that stuff. And there was this one guy named Alice Cooper.
Alice Cooper was probably single-handedly the most controversial of all of these shock rock artist and he wore a really pasty white makeup with the black eyeliner. He kind of looked like he was dead and his concerts were called theater of death. I mean that’s what he kind of glorified and he sang about you know sex drugs and alcohol abuse and all that kind of stuff that basically rock and roll was all about during the 1970s especially. And he did outlandish kind of gory things on stage that shocked people and got their attention.
But as he began to to live out the songs that he was singing, he got hooked on drugs, he became a drug addict, he became an alcoholic and his life was just spiraling downward. People around him just began to move away from him because they saw that his life was just out of control. But one person didn’t leave his side and that was his wife Cheryl. Cheryl stuck right beside him all the way through that. Cheryl was a Christian and Alice was not a Christian and so um she began to say the answer is the gospel. He didn’t want to hear that at first, but after a while and his health began to take a turn, he began to listen to her. They began to read the Bible together and she finally got him to go to church with her. Eventually he gave his life to Jesus Christ and the shock rocker of the 1970s is now a very outspoken believer in Jesus!
You can find his testimony on Youtube or probably somewhere on the internet. I am sure I’ve seen it there. One of the things that caught my attention about the things that he said was he said you know when I was doing all these outlandish things and my songs, he said, I thought I was a rebel. I kind of gloried being the rebel, he said, but I figured out that I wasn’t a rebel actually. I was going the same way the entire world system was going. I was just out in front of the crowd a lot of times, but I was going the same direction they’re going. I was going along with them. He said I found that the real rebellion against this world is to follow Jesus!
The real rebels are followers of Jesus Christ because there is a world system there is a prevailing philosophy, there is a world view, that controls the thoughts the minds of people in our culture. If you want to move against that and you want to be a rebel, be a rebel and follow Jesus. You want to be counter-cultural in our world, follow Jesus. You want to be a radical kind of individual, turn your life over to Jesus Christ!
That’s what Alice Cooper found and I will tell you that’s what you’ll find in a canceled culture. Because cancel culture demands that everyone agree with the prevailing opinion of the time. Everybody has to walk in lockstep and if you don’t walk in that lockstep, you’re a rebel.
But today, Paul’s going to be really more personal and he’s going to explain to this church, who had never laid eyes on him. Remember, there’s no technology for them to do that. Paul had never traveled to the city and so Paul wants them to know something about him. He wants them to know how he serves them and why he follows Jesus. and he begins to unpack that for them in chapter 1 verse 24. We’re going to read into chapter 2 because the chapter breaks and the verses were not in the original letter. It was just a letter and we added those for the sake of referencing but the unit of thought flows into chapter 2. So look at verse chapter 1 verse 24.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.Colossians 1:24-29, 2:1-3
Now let me let me start to unpack this passage by saying I had a moment this week when I think I sympathized with a lot of you. I read through a passage like that and I have 31 years of experience as a pastor. I read this passage for the first time and this is what I said, “What in the world does that mean?”
What I do when I come across a passage like this, I read through that passage and I start looking for key words, and sometimes I use different translations. One of the things that I noticed is that there’s this word “struggling” and “suffering” and “striving” that is used in this passage. Now in a short block of scripture, a word that’s used over and over and over or a concept that’s repeated, that means something. That’s important. We want to zero in on it, so I wrote that down.
There are also a few words in the new testament as you read through it, you’re going to notice and you’re going to kind of catch on to that. Oh this word’s used other times when you read through your Bible. Let me give you an example of one of them. The word that I read “stewardship”, some of you read the word “commission”. Right there, that means God’s marching orders. Any time that that word’s used in the New Testament, it essentially means that it is God giving us instructions for how we’re supposed to live. It’s His marching orders is probably the best way to define it. and then the word mystery occurs there and anytime that word occurs it always catches my attention.
of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit.Colossians 1:25
Paul says I was made a minister. The word there is diaconos. We get our word deacon from it. it doesn’t mean a ruling authority, it means a servant. A diaconos was a household servant. Basically, it was somebody who waited on tables, somebody who brought the food out, and somebody who cleared the table and washed the dishes.
1. I can find my unique purpose through serving God
A lot of people are frustrated and unfulfilled. They wake up every morning, go to a job just to pays the bills maybe but there’s nothing that fills their life with passion. If you feel that way about your life, I want you to know that you can find god’s unique purpose for your life.
You were created on purpose, with a purpose, for a purpose.
Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that as he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And Saul said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ and the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up enter the city, and it will be told to you what you must do.Acts 9:1
But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.Acts 9:15-16
Every follower of Jesus has a purpose and a part to play in God’s redemptive purpose in the world. Jesus phrased it another way:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him denyMatthew 16:24
himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’
Your cross is your calling.
It isn’t some difficult circumstance. Your cross is your part in what God is doing in the world. Your cross is your calling.
a. My calling is God’s unique purpose for my life
God wants for this rebellion to penetrate every sphere of society. God wants people on mission to carry out their purpose in the petroleum industry, in the medical field, in the military, in the educational field. God wants students to be rebels in their school, who take the gospel of Jesus into that school.
b. God’s purpose for my life will always align with His grander purpose for the world.
2. I will pay a price for serving God.
If you’re going to serve God and you’re going to fulfill your unique purpose, there is a price to be paid.
We are the first generation of people who have ever believed that the gospel of Jesus Christ can be advanced, that the kingdom of God can expand in our world without us ever paying a price. We are ultimately consumers so much of the time.
Paul is using the sufferings of Christ as a comparison.
Christ suffered to usher in the kingdom of God. He died a brutal cruel death on the cross, and by way of comparison Paul is saying that I suffer along with him, that we will have to suffer to advance the kingdom of God.
If we are going to take on the powers of evil in this world and we are going to see the kingdom of God advance, and we are going to see the church continue to grow, someone is going to have to suffer. Here’s the way that Jesus put it again
Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him denyMatthew 16 24
himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’
We are going to have to do some dying to selfishness and to convenience. we are going to have to do some denying of self-absorption and carefree living. Discipleship is costly. There is a cost to following Jesus and if you’ve been sold a gospel in which there was not a cost to you, you misunderstood the gospel.
God put us on this planet for such a time as this! God raised up our church for such a time as this. Jesus Christ is worthy of every effort of my life.