Worshiping the SAVIOR, Not a Celebrity

Matthew 28:16-20
The word Twitter has entered our vocabulary recently. With the Iranian protesters using Twitter as a means of telling their story in that troubled nation, millions of people have been exposed to the brutal reactions of the Iranian government. The authorities have been seen beating and, in some instances, killing those who have taken to the streets to protested the fraud laden national elections.I recently joined the world of Twitter and I began doing what is called “tweeting”. The Sunday after the death of Michael Jackson I sent the following “tweet” to my followers: “2day, we have the opportunity to worship THE SAVIOR, not a celebrity”.

All of us viewed the seemingly endless coverage of the pop star Michael Jackson’s death. Numerous memorial services were held in his memory all over the globe. Why? From the time he was 8 years old and debut on national television, Michael Jackson sang his way into the record books. He also became a very wealthy man, only to die deeply in debt.

Americans love celebrities. In fact we worship celebrities. We have The American Idol television program, which is one of the most popular  features on the airways. When an icon dies or he or she has difficulty, it is big news. Just ask Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

In 1977, when Elvis Presley died at age 42, there was an outpouring of sorrow and an intense coverage by television news networks. Of course, this was years before the Internet, Facebook and Twitter. Yet for days and even weeks, Elvis was in the news on a non-stop basis. His funeral was second only to John F. Kennedy, in terms of news coverage.

When Princess Diana died tragically in a car accident in 1998, the world took notice. There was sense in which the world stood still as people lamented the passing of the popular princess. Even the royal family was taken aback by the attention which her death received. The Queen was compelled to speak to the public in an unprecedented way, in an effort to pacify the people of Britain.

Yes, we love and we worship celebrities. They are our heroes and we want to know all about them, in life and death.  We seem to like The National Inquirer’s motto, “inquiring minds want to know”. Sometimes writers resort to fabricating information in order to feed this appetite for more and more knowledge about the rich and famous.

Back to my tweet, “2day, we have the opportunity to worship THE SAVIOR, not a celebrity”. If we believe that to be true, then why do worship the Savior?  What is it about Jesus that compels us to worship Him as Lord and Savior?

In the text, well known to Christians, called The Great Commission we discover something about Jesus often overlooked. In verse seventeen, the disciples are described as “seeing Jesus and worshiping” Him. A reexamination of The Great Commission is very much needed. As we do so, we notice the multiple use of the little word, “all”.

I. We worship Jesus because He claims “all authority”

Consider the authority and power of the president of the United States. He is the commander-in-chief of the most potent military force in the world. He has other venues of power too. Yet, Jesus has infinitely more power and authority than the president of the country. Indeed, you can combine all the power and authority of all the leaders of the world, including the dictators, and Jesus has still has indescribably more authority and power than these temporary human leaders.Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. On a personal basis, He has authority over your life and mine. We may not live like that is the case, but it is true. Every time a celebrity dies, we can be reminded that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. When John F. Kennedy was murdered, I remember as a young child saying to myself, “how can this happen? He is the president of the United States of America?” Tragically, it did happen and since then other leaders have met similar deaths.

Jesus died on the cross but He rose from the dead. He proved for all time that He and He alone had all authority in heaven and earth. Let there be no question about the matter, we worship the One is THE SAVIOR, not just a celebrity.

II. We worship Jesus because He called us to share the gospel with “all people”.

The challenge is immense. It is as big as the world itself. He has called us, or commissioned us, “to make disciples of all nations”. Acts 1:8 offers us the strategy for this calling. We are to begin in our Jerusalem, our community. This is our neighborhood, where e see people in our traffic patterns of life and interact with them. They may be people who have been our communities a long time or they may be immigrants. They still are in our Jerusalem. We have the gospel to share with them. The life changing good news that Jesus Christ came to seek and to save those who are lost.Judea can well represent our state, where we have as many as 50 percent of our fellow Alabamians, who do not know Christ. If Alabama were a foreign country, we might well be sending missionaries to the state. We are those missionaries. It is. Our calling to reach Alabama for Christ.

North America could be viewed as our Samaria. The US and Canada have approximately 335 million people living in the two countries. More than 300 million live in the US and the 33-35 million others reside in Canada. North America is a mission field which is ready for sowing, reaping and harvesting.  As many as 235 million people in these two countries o not profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is a staggering number to consider.

“The ends of the earth” of course represent the entire world of 6.7 billion people. In this huge population, there are people numbering in the billions, who do not know Christ. Acts1:8is the strategy to reach them. It means we do all this simultaneously, not sequentially. While we seek to reach our Jerusalem, our Judea, our Samaria, we are also endeavoring to reach the world with the gospel. This is why we worship THE SAVIOR, not a celebrity. The Savior seeks to save lives, not sell CDs.

III. We worship Jesus because He commands us to teach “all things” we have learned.

When Jesus spoke the words we call The Great Commission, the society was basically oral, in terms of communication. Yes, the Old Testament was written, but few people had access to it. There were no printing presses. There was no idea of an Internet. You couldn’t send or receive email. There was no way to communicate via text messaging or tweeting. Generally, people heard the news, in this case the good news, orally. Someone spoke and shared the story.In many ways, despite technological advances, we are in an oral/visual society. We are visual in the sense we learn by seeing images and pictures. We are also oral and audio, meaning we hear and listen more than we read. To share the good news means we tell the story of what Jesus has done for us and for others. We teach the people what Jesus has taught us. We teach His Word, not our own man-made doctrine or dogma. We worship Jesus, THE SAVIOR, who is not a celebrity.

IV. We worship Jesus because He is continually with us “always”.

The last phrase of the famous Great Commission is a promise from the Lord, perhaps his greatest promise. “I will be with you always, even until the end of the world”. This promise is a living and breathing comfort to us all. Jesus promises to be with us constantly. That is what “always” means. He is constantly with us. Jesus is continually with us. That is meaning behind ” to the end of the world”.In generations past and present, this, the greatest of promises has kept Christians living in their “strength zone”. Notice I did not say, “comfort zone”. Comfort zones are just that, they are places where people live comfortably. That is not what Jesus promised. He did promise us that, in His will, there is a “strength zone”. Paul was speaking of the “strength Zone” in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”  Jesus is the SAVIOR who strengthens us by His continual and constant presence. He is not a celebrity, who seeks to make us comfortable.

During our trip to the United Kingdom, we stopped at the childhood home of John Wesley. The home is now a museum, where you can get some sense of what life was in his time. Near the home is a church which bears his name, The Wesley Memorial Chapel. A banner across the balcony of the church has the reported last words of John Wesley. As he lay dying, he said, “Best of all, God is with us”.

The current pastor met us at the church and gave something of a picture of how the church is doing. David Leese(?) Made a statement, I will never forget. He said something like this, “this church is not a museum, it is a church on mission”. That pastor sums it all up for us. We are to be people on mission with the Great Commission! We worship THE SAVIOR, not a celebrity.

Rick Lance