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Synopsis of Authentic or Franchise Christian Faith
Good and joyful morning to all Christian brothers and sisters on this the day the lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite…. We’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the word of god: WHOEVER IS NOT AGAINST US IF FOR US
Mark 9:38-41 38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, For whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”
How many people are Christian in about the same way that Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant? How many churches are Christian in about the same way that Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant, or Taco Bell is a Mexican restaurant.
When you are driving down the road, late at night, alone, isolated — where do you stop for a cup of coffee or a late night snack? Do you risk stopping at a no-name, scruffy-looking establishment? Or do you wait until you can find a McDonalds, Burger King, Denny’s, or Dunkin Donuts? Do you look for franchise familiarity, a place with a known face? Let’s tell the truth: we love franchises. So if we are far from home we look for a familiar name. We hone in on it for a quick comfort stop. And, for those who loves to stop at places where the paint is peeling and have only pick-up trucks out front, the concept of a “franchise” meal is obscene.
A little lady in a restaurant hears the small talk of an advertising executive desperately trying to talk a bunch of white, southern businessmen into not naming a new Chinese food franchise “Charlie Chopsticks The creation of a nationwide chain of Chinese restaurants by a bunch of clueless white guys seems like just the way to shine an amusing light on a troubling phenomenon:
The voracious march of American business, it’s insatiable need to devour everything in its path — people’s history, their cuisine, their ethnic identities and cultural traditions — and then spit it back out as bland products for sale to middle America.
In our slice of the word this morning, John and the other disciples first bickered over who was the greatest among themselves. Then they tried to shut down the healing work of someone who stood outside their closed ranks. They were being outside-in disciples. The disciples wanted to look good on the outside, play the part of one of Jesus’ chosen twelve, look and act like they were true followers. But they were not really authentic. The disciples wanted to be franchise followers — playing a role for their own benefit and missing the genuine heart of discipleship. Genuine discipleship is an inside-out transformation that calls us to live kingdom lives every day. That is authentic discipleship.
So what is the difference between a franchise faith and an authentic faith? What is the difference between being a franchise Christian and an authentic Christian? Or…..what is the difference between franchise fellowship and authentic fellowship? Here are five things for us to think about.
(1) **franchise fellowship “churchin,” is built on convenience. **authentic fellowship “churchin,” is built on conviction.
The franchise fellowship fits a culture of convenience, built on easy-in, easy-out, fast spiritual food, free-parking convenience. Everything is predictable; No surprises. You’re headed back home in less than an hour and fifteen minutes.
Authentic fellowship means you never know what to expect next. Jesus will take you in directions you may not wish to go, and will put on your spiritual plate… spiritual food that you never knew existed.
2) **franchise fellowship is built from the outside-in. **authentic fellowship is built from the inside-out. Kinda like.. Olive Garden and Fazolis do not have Italian heart. Real Italian restaurants are Italian from the inside-out.
But, Olive Garden is designed from the outside in. It is made to look, and taste, and feel like “Italian”… Yet, no true Italian would be fooled. It is what North Americans have come to expect, and it is designed to prop up the illusion already in the minds of the customer.
My friends, following Jesus is more than feel and illusions and appearances. We have become an appearance culture almost as much as it is a convenience culture. We like to “appear” the part. But authentic fellowship is more than “appearing” to follow Christ. It is the transformation of the heart, mind and soul and spirit that the Gospel promises. The promise of the Gospel is not imitation, but implantation. It is not that you can imitate Christ. It is that the spirit of Christ can be so implanted in your life that you and he begin to share a life together.
It’s not that franchise food is bad food. It is just not authentic ethnic food. We think that Olive Garden is Italian and Taco Bell is Mexican — because we are told that’s what they are. It is an outside-in definition. Oh…their food is good, familiar, comfortable, affordable; but not really Italian. Not really Mexican. Not authentic.
And…. franchise faith does not have a Jesus heart. Authentic Italian restaurants are Italian from the soul out. Authentic Christians are Christian from the soul out.
3) Another way to see the difference is: franchise faith is a funnel, but authentic faith is a fountain. Think about this…. fountains open up and encourage in multiple directions. Funnels constrict and narrow and channel …. and control.
In our text this morning, Jesus stunned John by dismissing his “Our way or the highway” attitude. Instead Jesus proclaimed “Whoever is not against us is for us” … and… at the same time he proclaimed “Whoever is not for me is against me.”
Discipleship can have many faces. But it is authentic and real as long as “the Name of Christ” stands at its heart.
Instead of seeking self-importance Jesus challenged his disciples to a life of selflessness. Instead of defining discipleship by the ability to do miraculous acts of healing, Jesus pointed to gestures as simple as giving a cup of cold water. Instead of closing ranks, Jesus opened the door to others. Instead of being a funnel, Jesus told his disciples to be a fountain.
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