Dealing with External, Superficial, Self-righteous, Hypocritical Religious People

Examining Religion Versus A Relationship With Jesus.

Ross Sawyers
Feb 14, 2021    52m
Do you truly know Jesus, or do you just know the rules of your religion? By examining a conversation Jesus has with the Pharisees, we see that there is a difference between religion versus a relationship with Jesus. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: 00:08 I love our time just to be able to worship together. And I just think often, and I'm in this coalition of pastors in the area that we connect on the kinds of decisions we make on weekends like this and so forth. And one of the things that was my prayer this weekend, is whether you are in an apartment, a mobile home, in your home, living room, bedroom, live wherever you are, just to think about the fragrant aroma of praise that rises to God just from the metroplex area. And that's my prayer often, that God's name would be honored in the way that we sing, and the way that we pray, and the way that we engage his word.

Ross Sawyers: 00:51 I'd like for us to think about, as we continue our conversations, and that's what we're doing this winter and spring, it's how we think about conversations, that we learn from Jesus how he had different conversations with different kinds of people, and we've explored a number of those so far. And the conversation I'd like to think about today, and I think this is the longest title for a message that I've ever had, it's Dealing with External, Superficial, Self-righteous, Hypocritical Religious People. And I just thought, I didn't want to miss any of the possible adjectives for what this might look like, and Jesus had a number of dealings with people just like this, and I suspect that we do as well.

Ross Sawyers: 01:41 And I'd like for us to think about how to have a conversation with someone that is religious, that has missed Jesus. Martin Luther, one of the reformers in the 1500s, said that religion is our default mode, and if we're not careful, even those of us that know the gospel, we can easily default to religion. We can default to rule following, we can default to legalism, its easy to default to this kind of religion that Jesus actually has really strong words for in his dealings with people. I've often thought, you know, when we hear people tell their stories, a lot of times we think that when a person tells their story that if it's kind of a wild background we think, wow, that's amazing that God would bring them out of that and bring them to salvation. And then a number of people look at that and say, well, that, wasn't my background, and I don't have much of a story. I almost wonder if it's more miraculous when a person who is religious, realizes they're religious and they didn't know Jesus. I almost wonder if it's harder to see for religious people, than it is for someone that's wild and out of control. And that's my prayer, is that people who are religious, that if that's any of us, that we would recognize that. That God would open our eyes, as only he can, and split our hearts wide open so that we can hear the beauty of the gospel that changes the heart, and then that we might be able to learn how to have dialogues with people that are religious people.

Ross Sawyers: 03:34 If you turn your Bibles to Matthew chapter 15, we'll be in verses 1 through 20 as we unpack this particular story, Jesus' encounter. In the first two verses, I want to think about it like this, i's a question defending a legalistic religious system. My points are about as long as the title to the message, the first thing we see in verses 1 and 2 is a question defending a legalistic religious system. And people who are in legalism, people who are in religious systems, rigorously defend those systems. We see that in this encounter, chapter 15 verses 1 and 2, "Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, in verse 2, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”.

Ross Sawyers: 04:30 Let's go back to verse 1, "Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem." The Pharisees, the very name Pharisee, means separatists. These were the pious ones, they were the set apart ones for Judaism, for the Jewish faith. And their goal was to keep Judaism separate from outside influences, and to make sure that there was nothing that would influence negatively their system of religion. The Sanhedrin, we see that in the Bible at different times, that was the ruling powers of the day in the Jewish system. And then the scribes that are described in verse one, those were the professional writers, studiers, and teachers of the law. Oftentimes we see Pharisees and scribes described together. Now they came from Jerusalem, they saw themselves as superior, this is where they mostly congregated. In the fact they would come from the big city, and come to the small town outside of the Sea of Galilee to see Jesus, means that Jesus had become a threat to them. Jesus is a disruptor to their system of religion, and they're coming to take care of it. It's a delegation traveling to this small Galilean village

Ross Sawyers: 05:58 In verse 2, this is the question they ask when they encounter Jesus, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?" And notice, they're not concerned if the law of Moses is being broken, they're not concerned if God's Word is being transgressed, their concern is that their tradition Is being transgressed. That's the question, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders." We're talking about tradition, and they were guarding the law, and they had what they called fences around the law. There were hundreds of more laws that were written to interpret the law of Moses, and they were called fences, some would call them walls, around the law. It was incredibly rule heavy, and it was a burden on all of the people. The tradition, and they give an example, is this, for, they do not wash their hands when they eat bread. Now, when we read that, we might initially think, he's talking about making sure your hands are clean before you eat. That wasn't the point, it was a ceremonial cleansing, it was for purity sake, that they would wash their hands. There was a certain way that they even had to wash their hands, and if the water that was cleaning their hands fell below their wrists and hit anything else on their body, they would be ceremonially impure and unclean. So the challenge, and the tradition, here of the elders is to make sure that you wash your hands so that you'll be ceremonially pure. One rabbi was said to have said it this way, it would be better to walk four miles out of the way to get water than to eat with unwashed hands. Whatever it took to follow all the laws of the Pharisees, all of their tradition. Now, at first glance at this, when we think about our day, we have mastered hand sanitizer and cleaning our hands. Even that, it's not for ceremonial purposes, it's for cleanliness purposes.

Ross Sawyers: 08:17 Most of you've probably noticed it when you've come into our building, and if you're newer and you've primarily been online, then you haven't been in our building, we have four beams that have our four core values as a church. And on each of those beams are those values that we've lived by over the last 21 years, underneath our mission of leading people to live for Jesus Christ, these values have helped settle us. Now, imagine if this is what you saw when you came in, and this was the first core value that you saw, the authority of tradition. That is our core value, that whatever the 121 traditions are that we've written, those are our authority, those are primary. And that's exactly what the Pharisees were saying, our traditions are superior and elevated above the other authority of God's Word, the authority of tradition. Imagine if that was one of our core values.

Ross Sawyers: 09:27 Jesus is a master at returning a question for a question. So when we think about how to have conversations with religious, external, superficial, hypocritical people, one way we have the conversation is we listen to their questions and respond with questions, a return question. And then an example of the invalidating of God's Word is what we see in verses 3 through 6. "And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?" Why do you transgress? That word, transgress, means to cross a border, to go across a boundary. So why are you transgressing that boundary? And he is challenging them at the core of their thinking. He's challenging them at the breaking of God's Word. And here is a conversational learn for us. Jesus asked the question, then he says, God said this, but you say this. To make it abundantly clear to someone, this is what God said, this is what you say, so there's no mistake in what the difference is between God and you. Oftentimes I'll try to do that, I'll try to say, this is what God said, this is what our culture is saying today, so we can see the clear contrast.

Ross Sawyers: 10:58 And that's what Jesus is doing here in verse 4, "God said, honor, your father and mother." The fifth commandment in Exodus 20 of the 10 commands, "Honor your father and mother. And he used speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death." That was the law of Moses, the law of the day, this is what God says. What Jesus is doing is giving them an example of how they're breaking the commandment of God for the sake of their tradition. In verse 5, "But you say..." Verse 4, God said, but you say. “But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” verse 6, he is not to honor his father or his mother."

Ross Sawyers: 11:56 Let's go back in to verse 5, if we just read past this, it may not make any sense. Here's what he's saying this is what you say, "You say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God.” That phrase given to God, is the word corban, it's a dedication to God, it is a vow to God. And what a person could do, according to the tradition of the Pharisees, they could declare corban over all of their possessions, all of their resources. And once they declared corban over their resources, it was a vow to God that it was God's possessions. And once they made that vow that these were God's possessions, they could no longer use those possessions to help anyone else. Now, there was not systems set up like we have today to care for the aging, they were dependent on their children to care for them, totally. So a child could declare corban, and then none of their resources could be used to help their aging parents. It's like, well, sorry, I declared this as a gift to God, so I can't help you. And they primarily did that, not because of a vow to God, but out of selfishness and not wanting to help and honor their parents. Jesus is saying, you're declaring corban, you're invalidating the Word of God in verse 6, "By this, you invalidated the Word of God for the sake of your tradition." You're saying that if these who put corban over their resources over and say this is a gift to God, if they turn around and use that to help their parents, they're actually breaking your law, when in fact that would actually be honoring their father and mother.

Ross Sawyers: 14:05 Now, one thing you need to know about corban is once you make that vow, you could, if at some point you needed to use those possessions more for something that you wanted to do, you could revise your vow. This was a really flexible vow, wasn't it? Jesus is calling them out, tis is what God said, Honor, your father and mother, let me give you an example in your tradition of how you are violating the command of God, and you're elevating your system above God's Word. It's external, it's self-righteous, it's superficial, and it's hypocritical, religion, and Jesus calling them out, he's saying that God's Word is what authority should be. What the beam in our lobby actually says is this, Authority of Scripture. God is our authority, scripture is the way he makes himself known, therefore that is our authority. Tradition is not our authority. Experience is not our primary authority. Our feelings, that is not our primary authority. Our feelings are valid, traditions are good, our experiences are valid, they are all subservient to scripture. We look at our feelings, traditions, and experiences, in light of scripture, that's our authority. Jesus is calling them out, you've made tradition the authority, not scripture the authority, and we can all easily slip and do the same.

Ross Sawyers: 16:12 The third piece in this conversation is in verses 7 through 9, and it's a clear callout of hypocrisy, a clear callout of hypocrisy. Verse 7, it's not much clearer than this, “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you." He's just looking at him, he's having a conversation with them, he has listened to their question. Which by the way, listening is helpful, so we understand where someone's coming from, then we can respond with a question to the things that they're saying. And Jesus responded with another question, and he gives them an example to ponder, and now he just calls it what it is. He said, you hypocrites, he calls them out. I kind of wrestled with this, I thought, okay, if we're learning from Jesus how to do this, do we look somebody square in the eye and say, you hypocrite? I'll let you figure out if that's a good idea or not. We would want to make sure that our hearts are in the right spot. We'd want to make sure that we fully understood what the person is saying. And keep in mind what this category of conversation is, it's with religious people who are clearly elevating tradition above the Word of God. And Jesus calls them out, face to face, eye to eye. My hunch is he's hopeful it will expose their hearts, because that's what he's dealing with here, is their hearts.

Ross Sawyers: 18:01 I want to say something about hypocrisy. Years ago, and I've said this in the past, I would hear people make the comment that I would be with them, that all Christians are, they are just a bunch of hypocrites. That's not an unusual charge against us. Years ago, I would agree. And I would say, you're right, I'm sorry. I mean, I would start apologizing for all of us. And then one day I actually stopped and really thought about it for a minute, I thought, you know, most people I know that are in the church that God has given me the privilege to do life with, most, at least that I know, are not hypocrites. Are we flawed? Do we sin? Are we imperfect? Absolutely. Are we walking out of here pretending to be something we're not? I don't know a lot of people that that's what they're doing. Now, I'm not with everybody Monday through Saturday, and I'm not with you long on a Sunday. So I might not know, but I started answering the question differently. I just said, I don't know, but I tell you what, I'm walking with a number of people that love Jesus, and we're trying to figure this thing out as we go. And we fall, and we're imperfect, and it doesn't always work right, but we're not faking it, and we're owning it, we're owning our flaws, we're owning where the mess ups are, that's different than someone that has a mask pretending to be something that they're not. Now unfortunately in our culture, there still are a number of people that are hypocritical. And for secular people, when they see that, they're not much interested in the gospel.

Ross Sawyers: 20:05 This is a challenge to the heart, he calls them out. It's Isaiah 29:13, that now he quotes in verses 8 and 9. Which by the way, somebody said about hypocrisy, and I can't recall who said it. I just wrote it down and quoted it, "Hypocrisy, tradition is a great ally of hypocrisy, follow it mechanically, and thoughtlessly, and it feels self-righteous, but it's really selfish. It's being thoughtless, and mechanical, repetition, no heart. Verse 8, "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me." Their lips, so with their lips they're speaking, with their lips they're singing, with their lips they're speaking about the things of God, with their lips they're honoring God, but it's all external, it's all superficial. It's meaningless, they don't really mean it. It could be that here, we're seeing the real crux of the issue, and it's the heart. This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. With their lips they honor me, their heart is far away.

Ross Sawyers: 21:22 God is after the heart, he's not after some kind of meaningless repetition of words. He's not after us, can we quote the Lord's Prayer every week mindlessly? Depending on what our traditions were growing up, can we quote the Apostle's Creed, or whatever a tradition might be that we quote? Or are we singing thoughtlessly week after week? Are we engaged with our minds when someone's praying? God is not interested in just our lips, he's interested in our hearts and being engaged. The heart, by definition, is the way we think, the way we feel, what we do, and it includes our motivations, it's the core of who we are. He said, I want the way you think to be engaged with me, I want the way you feel to be engaged with me, I want the way you act to be engaged with me, I want your motives to flow from my heart. He's telling you, your heart, it is far from me.

Ross Sawyers: 22:31 In Isaiah chapter 1 verses 13 and 14, the prophet is calling out the people of Israel. He says, "“Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them." God is telling his own people, you're wearing me out. You're doing the right external things, you're showing up, you're doing the festival, you're doing everything you're supposed to do externally, but it is a burden because I know your heart is not engaged.

Ross Sawyers: 23:33 In verse 9, it says, But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." But in vain do they worship me. If I were to you just outside of this passage, and just said, hey, what do you think of when you think of taking the Lord's name in vain? My hunch is that most of you would think there's a curse word associated with it, that's what it means to take God's name in vain, that's what most of us think, that is true, but it's more than that. The word vain would be to make something common, and anytime we make God's name common, we're taking it in vain. Which means if we gather in worship, and this is a challenge, I know when your worshipping online, it's a challenge, we've heard this again and again the last several months. At the same time, if we are treating God's name as common from our living rooms, Jesus is saying, "But in vain do they worship me." That we take God's name and we honor it, and celebrate it, from wherever it is that we worship him. And if we just sing mindlessly, or pray mindlessly, we're taking his name in vain. If we serve mindlessly, mechanically, thoughtlessly, we're taking his name in vain. "But in vain do they worship me." They just make my name common, it's just like anybody else's name. "Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." Instead, this is what Isaiah says, "Their reverence of me consists of tradition learned by rout." They're just elevating tradition.

Ross Sawyers: 25:38 A few summers ago we hung out in Amos, another one of the prophets, he considered a minor prophet, they're only considered minor because the books are smaller. In an Amos chapter 5 verse 21, this is what the prophet says, “I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. “Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. “Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.' He's saying, I'm weary of your prayers, take your songs away from me, if your heart is not engaging, then you're wearing me out. He's talking to the external, superficial, religious, hypocritical, person God is after the heart.

Ross Sawyers: 26:45 A question we at least have to ponder when we gather for worship, let me just bring this to now, do we ever just show up mindlessly and thoughtlessly? I get my time in, I wish it might be a little less, but I'll get it in. And I'll walk out the door, and I get on with my life. Or we continue to do things in life and it reflects absolutely no change of heart? Now it's different if you're coming and gathering, and you're exploring, you're trying to figure this out, that's different than hypocrisy. I may not be totally engaged because I may not understand this yet. Or I may be just trying to figure something out, and it's growing, there's growth that happens all the time. It's distinct, it's a difference.

Ross Sawyers: 27:45 Sometimes this looks not so harsh, as it sounds right here. If you watch the Super Bowl last week, somebody sent me this I'm so glad they did later in the week, the story behind a particular commercial. And the commercials about Jessica Long, it was a commercial about a swimmer, and the bottom part of her legs had been amputated as a little girl. And it's a swimming commercial, she's a prestigious and well accomplished Paralympic swimmer. And I suspect, we'll see her in the Olympics, the Paralympics, this summer. She grew up in a home, she was adopted from a Russian orphanage, grew up in a home, strong Christian home. And in the home in which she grew up, she said it was hard for her to put her faith in a God who gave her a life without legs, and it made her angry at God. And she said something that's crucial for every child, every teenager, every adult, it wasn't till later in her teenage years or somewhere later, that her faith became her own. When she saw Jesus and saw who he was and started to understand God's deep love for her, and his purposes for her, it was then that she yielded her life to him. Prior to that, she would have been going through what we sometimes called just going through the motions, and it was simply a part of her parents' faith. Faith has to transfer, we don't get in on our parents' faith, we don't get in on our grandparents faith, we get in on the faith that God graciously gives each of us individually. And Jessica Long came to a place of understanding, it wasn't just about showing up with her parents, it wasn't just about having strong Christian parents, now her whole heart has been given to Jesus. This is what Jesus does, he changes corrupt hearts. And our hearts can be corrupt even when we're good legalistic, system following, rule following, religious people, that is it can be a really corrupt heart.

Ross Sawyers: 30:16 In the story of the prodigal, there's a wild one and then an older self-righteous brother. They're the same at the core, all they wanted is what they could get out of the father. One of them wanted everything so he could go wild, the other one was keeping all the rules so this father would give him the best, both of them, at the heart, were corrupted. So the religious person, and the wild person, the indifferent person, all need the gospel that Jesus Christ himself died on a cross, on that cross he took our sin, he took the father's wrath so that we wouldn't have to, he spared us, God raised him from the dead. And in the same way, when we believe is Jessica Long did, then our hearts are radically changed, then our lives are radically changed. And these Pharisees, these religious leaders, they missed that.

Ross Sawyers: 31:14 I like how Timothy Keller says it, he says, "Religion is obey, therefore I'm accepted." That's external, self-righteous religion. I obey, therefore I'm accepted. I keep the rules, therefore I'm accepted. I keep the tradition, so I'm accepted by God. "No, the gospel is I am accepted, therefore I obey." God accepts me, he moves towards me in the worst of the worst of my sins. I was reading the other day and somebody said, Jesus on the cross was looking down and he knew the exact sins of every person, and looking at the worst of the worst in every one of us, he died and took them on himself. He moves towards us, I'm accepted in him. And because I am, I can't help, but obey, i's not a burden, it's out of gratitude because of what he's done for me.

Ross Sawyers: 32:19 In Isaiah 1:18, and I can't think of a more appropriate verse on this weekend with the projected snow that we have coming, “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool." If we get snow, I hope when you see it, one that you enjoy the beauty of what God has created and made, but that you would link up Isaiah 1:18 and now in the same purity of that white snow, he's covered our sin. Our religious, legalistic, self-righteous sin, and our wild, out of control, can't believe I would ever do this sin, he's covered it.

Ross Sawyers: 33:17 Now, when we think about this external religion, it's a bit of a challenge. I've been watching some videos on history of the Christian Church, and in 312 AD, 313, right in there, Constantine legalized Christianity. You know what happened when he legalized Christianity over time, and then an emperor that followed him, he made atheism illegal. And what do you think happened to the people in the Roman empire under legalized Christianity, and it was illegal to be an atheist? That produces a lot of legalistic, self-righteous, externally driven, hypocritical, not really Christians, because there's no heart change.

Ross Sawyers: 34:11 And yet this week, I also heard from a lady who helps me do research each week. I have a team of people that does research, and they help from just different perspectives in life. And last week she said, before she gave me her information for this, for the passage. She said, I have to tell you this, last weeks the first time that I was able to be in on leading somebody to Christ. About 11 years ago, her life started to change. She grew up in a more mechanized, legalistic, religion. She really was encountered by Jesus about 11 years ago on her farm moved here in 2015, was baptized here, and her faith has grown. And she just met this new friend recently, and started, she just shared her story of what God had done in her life. And as she shared that story with her friend, they were at church together. And the pastor said anybody that would like to receive Christ, then I'd like to invite you to come. And the lady looked at my friend and she said, I'm going to go see the pastor now. And she came back, and she said, I just received Christ. And my friend said it is the difference in night and day, it's a heart change. It's not about church attendance. It's not about did you get baptized or not get baptized? It's not about did you serve on teams or committees? It's about, did you make it Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night or whatever a particular tradition is. It's about heart change that drives wanting to be about the things that God wants us to do.

Ross Sawyers: 35:48 Traditions cannot take care of a broken heart, they can't do it, traditions can't take care of it. In Matthew 11:28-30, it's a beautiful piece of scripture, Jesus describes himself as having a gentle and humble heart. And then he says, "Take my yoke upon you." What he's saying is, I'm going to remove from you the heavy yoke of legalism that the Pharisees have put on you with all their rules, and I'm going to lay on you a yoke of grace, and kindness, and mercy, and my commandments will not be burdensome to you. Matthew 11:28-30, grateful to follow Jesus, not a burden.

Ross Sawyers: 36:40 Well, I want to sum up this last part, in verses 10 through 20, it's a further explanation to other groups of people. Notice in this conversation, what did Jesus do? He's talking directly to the Pharisees, directly to them. And in speaking directly to them, now they're crowds that are listening, and with the crowds he's turning around and he's going to explain to them what just happened, "After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” He said, it's not about washing your hands and being ceremonially clean, it's about what is inside you. It's the human heart that corrupts, and it's the human heart that needs to be changed.

Ross Sawyers: 37:37 He speaks to the crowds, and then he drops it down and he speaks to the disciples, so he's shrinking the group he's talking to. Now he's explaining to them, and they say, verse 12, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” I think this is a really interesting statement, do you know that they were offended? Is our concern offending people, or is our concern offending God? Jesus wasn't concerned that he was offending them. And as we think about these conversations, we want to handle the conversations with truth and love, so that if there's offense, it's because of God's Word, not because of the way that we go about it. And Jesus says, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” The Pharisees, considered them leaders of the blind, and Jesus, calls them out and says, you're actually the blind ones, and you're continuing to lead people down a legalistic path, and you're both going to fall into the pit.

Ross Sawyers: 39:06 He finishes his conversation with Peter, he went from the crowd, to the disciples, to Peter. And with Peter, it's a little longer explanation, but he drives the thought that the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart and those defile the man, for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, et cetera. It's the human heart, it's the heart God is after, it's the heart that has to change. And not all religious people are this way, I've described multiple kinds of religious people.

Ross Sawyers: 39:42 Nicodemus, if you've seen The Chosen, I would encourage you just to watch those episodes. But in episode 7 of season 1 in The Chosen, we see the story of Nicodemus, we find it in John 3. He is also a Pharisee, he's a leader of the Pharisees, and he has a whole different approach to Jesus. He comes by night, he's curious, he seeking. There are religious people that realize there's still something amiss, and they're seeking, and we find that with Nicodemus. And in John chapter 3, we find the response that Jesus gives, and in that response, he says, "You have to be born again." It is a supernatural, radical, transformation that comes from the Spirit of God. It's in John 3 in that conversational Nicodemus that he says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

Ross Sawyers: 40:50 There's the curious who recognize it, there's those who are hypocritical, legalistic, they don't see it, and there's everything in between. What we want to be careful of is that we don't look and say, I've got it all together with my family, everything seems to be going well, we've got it kind of going at church. We've got a few things we do, or we give, or we serve, we're kind of good. We just want to make sure that our hearts have been radically changed by Jesus, and we're not leaning on anything else but him.

Ross Sawyers: 41:34 We love to share the stories of 121ers. And I'd just like for you to see the story of one lady in our church that is not, when we talk about the hypocritical, self-righteous part of religion, this is not what I see in her story. But it's a story of someone that this would have been more external, more superficial, in the rules kind of environment in which she was raised. So let's take a look at Jackie's story.

Jackie Drew: 42:06 My name is Jackie Drew, and my husband Rick and I have been at 121 for about four years now, and we have three kids David's in seventh grade, Charlie's in fourth grade, and Riley is in first grade. Rick and I, even though we have these structures where they do go to a Christian school and we do go to church, I think a lot of our, the way that we parent, has to do with lots of conversations, bringing our Christianity into everything, it's part of everything that we do. So you're taking a walk and wow, I love how God made this sunset, or you know, just trying to make it as concrete and as part of our everyday conversations that we can.

Jackie Drew: 42:06 From the time that I was little, I remember my parents making religion the priority in our home. We went to church every Sunday, we prayed, we also had a lot of memorized prayers. I don't remember much growing up praying from my heart and just praying what God had laid on our heart, it was more saying prayers that were memorized. As a child I internalized a lot, that I was to do the right thing because it was the right thing. I also had a big people pleaser part of me, where I wanted to do the right thing because I wanted to make my mom and dad proud of me, I wanted to make my teachers proud of me, and my friends proud of me. And what I found through growing up like that, and putting that pressure on myself, is that I didn't have a lot of freedom. I grew up where we had to go to a priest in order to say our sins to somebody else, and when I did that, I remember I was terrified to go do that. Not because I was convicted, but because I was worried what the other person would think about me.

Jackie Drew: 42:06 I met my husband, Rick, we actually met our freshman year in college. And church had been a big part of both of our lives, and so we decided that we were going to try to find a church to go to together. He had a lot of questions that he didn't understand why we did things a certain way, and just kind of shared some of his feelings. And it really got me starting to think, why do I do things the way that I do? Why do I believe these things? And so I remember this particular church sermon, and he was comparing going to church with basically a man dating a woman. And he said, I want you to picture this man shows up at your house and he has a rose for you, and he gives you this rose and he says, I'd like to get this to you because that is what I've done with every other girl, and so I want to do that with you. Well, that's not going make you feel loved, what if he says, I'd like to give you this rose because my parents told me I should do that, again, that's not going to help. And so he gave lots of those examples and said, the only way that you're really going to feel loved and pursued is if he says, I'm giving this to you because I like you, and I want to be with you, and I want to spend time with you. And it just, I remember at that moment, the Holy Spirit just really imprinting that on me. And that, Lord, I don't want to come to church, I don't want to have this, you know, I don't want to follow you just because it's what I've always done, and it's because it's what I've done every Sunday. I want to do it because I want to do it, because I want to relationship with you. .

Jackie Drew: 42:06 And so that was like this, that was when I really started noticing a change in my own heart. Why was I doing the things that I did? Why was I going to church? Why was I, you know, all of those things that I wanted to do it because I wanted, and because it was something that I chose, it wasn't just this is what we've always done, this is what we do as Christians, but it's because I want a relationship with Jesus. And so I believe as I grew up and my relationship with the Lord changed, I realized I didn't need to go to anybody, I just needed to go straight to the Lord. .

Jackie Drew: 42:06 Naturally, I am a very OCD type of person, I am a planner, I like to plan everything out. And that is one of the ways that I really feel like I've grown over the years, is living independently from God, to then depending on him for each and every step. By nature I am someone who likes to checklist, and dot my i's, and do everything by the book. And so I think the enemy has twisted that in my life a lot, where some of those character traits are good things, being faithful, waking up every morning reading my Bible, going to church, praying, those are great things, and the more faithfully we can do that, obviously the better. But I think that the devil has twisted that, and created a lot of shame and guilt in my mind and heart, when I didn't perform or do those things correctly.

Jackie Drew: 42:06 I feel like in the past, I used to make a lot of decisions independent from God. I knew God was there, I knew a lot of things about him, but I didn't have the relationship with him, and so a lot of my decisions were made independent of what he wanted me to do. And I feel like over the years, there's a lot that I've just learned about surrendering to him. Maybe I want to do something, but he doesn't want that for me, and so just taking again, each step of that to him. If there is a day that I'm struggling with anxiety and I can't get up off the couch, he is just as proud of me as he is the day that I'm doing things for him. .

Ross Sawyers: 42:06 I so appreciate now when people share their stories, and I appreciate Jackie's. And I think that's a really good picture of what we've talked about from the legalistic, the rule following, finding the grace and freedom that is in Christ, and then following him from there. And the tendency for us can be, I started by saying with Martin Luther, religion can be our default mode. And it's a challenge even once we've received God's grace, is to default into legalism and the religion that we've talked about, I think we're might oftentimes be in a bit of a dance with that between grace and the legalism. My prayer is that we'll know how to have conversations well with people who this is a challenge for them, and that first that God would search our own hearts.

Ross Sawyers: 49:30 And so I'd like for us, just to take a brief pause, and then I'll come back and wrap us up here in a moment. And we have one question just to throw up for you for reflecting on what we've spoken of, if you'd like to consider that question. It might be that God's working something else in your heart in the moment, and then we hope you'll reach out to us with any of those things he's working. So let's just be quiet before the Lord for a moment.

Ross Sawyers: 50:44 Thank you so much for coming and being a part of our worship, gathering where it is that you've gathered from, and we appreciate that. I hope it's been meaningful to be inside of God's Word, and to be able to worship together. Again any questions, anything we can be of help, please let us know, we can walk in this journey together. If you're newer and you're interested in membership at 121, next week at 12:30 we'll be having one of our membership seminars, so we'd love for you to be a part of that, you can register online.

Ross Sawyers: 51:16 And then we're starting an 8:00 AM service beginning the 21st, and we'd love to invite you to be a part of that if you're an early morning riser, it'll be upstairs in the student center, it'll be a more contemplative service, there'll be less music. It'll be more of preaching, praying, routinely doing the Lord's Supper, we'll do a variety of things. It'll be more contemplative time from 8 to 9, and if that's something that you'd like to be a part of, we'd love to invite you to that. And then also considering the 9:15 and 11 to maybe make the flex room, your primary place of worship, so that it's less than an overflow, and it's more of an intentional place that you gather with some people that you know to be able to worship. And we've had some great crowds the last few weeks, and want to make sure that we can remain COVID safe, and also accommodate those who are wanting to gather online. So thank you for being a part of that. I hope you have a fantastic rest of the day and night. And the giving, as always, you can do that online or certainly here as well. Thank you.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051