Sermon April 9, 2006 (afternoon) : Dennis Peacocke - Only disciples change the world (part 2)

Posted in Sermons

The joy is mine to be here with Roberto and with you and his lovely wife and I’m very impressed with the leadership here in your church. You have a great destiny and a great future. And I want to share this morning a little bit, I hope that will help you achieve where you want to go.

Let me share a little bit out of my background to contextualize some of what I’m going to say. How many of you were here for the first service? Some of you, maybe leaders.

In my early life my passion was athletics and I wanted to be a professional football player and to win a gold medal in the Olympics. I went to the University of California in Berkley on an athletic scholarship. In my second year I got injured which brought that part of my life to an end and also took me into an identity crisis, because my whole life had been centered around my athletic gifts.

Berkley, in the 1960s was a wonderful place for an identity crisis. I came there as a backsliding Christian, I backslid right off the roof. I got very much involved in all that was going on there. I was a running back in football, which meant that I was one of the few white guys that could run with the brothers. So when the civil rights movement came along I got very much involved in the civil rights movements, and threw myself into the academic intellectual community with the same kind of energy that I had done with athletics, and my studies were basically political, philosophy and macro economics. I eventually became a Marxist and was very serious about that. I was involved in the formation in the new left and our primary interest was not Russia but Cuba, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Malcolm X. Those were the heroes of mine.

But I eventually became disillusioned for many reasons, and came to the conclusion that you cannot change human nature through social engineering; that the problem of sin is more profound than economic redistribution. And I became disillusioned with western philosophy and there’s a lot we could say about that but it wouldn’t be helpful. So I dropped out of my graduate studies and worked as a research economist for a number of years in San Francisco.

By this time I had gone into Eastern Zen Buddhism. Yeah, I covered the water front. That was after going through Gurdjieff and Spensky but I won’t trouble you with that. I say all that to say that I have had a deep passion for social justice all my life.

Only idealists take the path that I have just described. If I was looking for love in all the wrong places, I was looking for reality in all the wrong places. By the grace of God I had an encounter with Jesus Christ who ruined my trip. I’m being silly.

But when I came to the scripture and when I came to Christianity I went into another crisis. And the crisis was I didn’t fit in Christianity that well either. I was sharing with Roberto earlier today about my journey, and when I encountered the Lord I married one of my students. My wife and I have been together for 40 years and it seems it will last. We have 7 grandchildren so I hope it does. I never imagined I would be sleeping with a grandmother, but that’s ………..

But, when I came to the Lord I brought the intellectual training and the passion to my study of the word of God. The Lord didn’t just change mi heart, he ignited an afterburn and he put even more fire in my quest for justice. And I talk about reading the Bible with magic glasses. I got issued a set of magic glasses by the Holy Spirit. See, some of you just got baptized on the Holy Spirit, I didn’t just speak in tongues, I got a new pair of glasses. I hope that all of you would get a set of magic glasses.

Let me tell you what the magic glasses do. They allow you to study the word of God out of your passion. So when I was reading the Bible I wasn’t just reading about what Jesus had done for me, I read it as somebody familiar with the law. I read it as an economist, I read it in the context of geo politics. I read it in the context of my studies of philosophy, and I was very hungry. I say as sometimes when I’m laughing I say ‘I came to the word of God ……’ like a great white shark.

How many of you have ever been hungry? See, when I came to the word of God I was hungry, and almost 40 years later I’m still hungry.

Is there anybody in here who’s hungry? What does Jesus about the hungry? He says ‘Blessed are the hungry for they shall be filled.’ If you’re not hungry you’re not going to get full. But I came to the Lord with this passion for what I soon discovered to be the Kingdom of God. So I was not fond to witness to when I was a non believer. Christians would witness to me and I would say to them ‘if I become a Christian, will I be like you? And they would say ‘yes’, and I’d say ‘no, thank you.’

Because what I heard in Christians did not bless me. I heard what I called ‘baptized self’. See, wanted to talk about: Jesus did this for me, Jesus did that for me, and it was all of that ‘me’, ‘me’, ‘me’, ‘me’, ‘me’…..

Anybody that fasts as long as you have deserves to take it. I looked at my friend and I said ‘you lost weight’. Amen. Your assignment is to fatten and backup.

You see, when I was in the world I was clear that I was the problem. I wasn’t looking for somebody to fix me, I was looking for somebody to get me out of me. I wonder if you understand what I’m trying to say. You see, I knew the answer was beyond me. I was looking for a truth that would pull me out of me.

See, I’ve through Freud, I’ve been through Jung, I’ve been through the whole nine yards, and I came to the conclusion after all my inner searching and my meditation and all the rest of it, all I had done was learn the art of discovering my own complexities with greater and greater skill. I was familiar with my neurosis, but being familiar didn’t change me. I understood that.

So when I heard Christians talking about themselves and how much Jesus loved them it was so self centered, it totally turned me off. Now, make no mistake: I know Jesus does all those wonderful things for us as individuals and I thank God eternally for personal transformation, but my dear brothers and sisters, good news and bad news.

Good news: Jesus loves you. Bad news: Christianity is not about you. It’s about Jesus.

I had the tenth gift of the Holy Ghost: that’s the ability to still think like a heathen. Don’t pray for me because then I won’t be able to talk to the unsaved.

Is there anybody else in here besides me that loves the earth people? I love the earth people. You see, I still haven’t had a hold of how this is. I think something is wrong with our Christianity. Here’s what confuses me: I must be feeble minded. Some of you probably think I smoke too much dope. How is it? How is it? How is it that the religious community hated Jesus and the sinners loved him? But today the religious community loves us and the sinners hate us. What’s wrong with this picture?

Are you breathing? Is everybody breathing in here? Look at your neighbor and say wake up. Something is fundamentally wrong. If the one that we follow was loved by the hurting people and they don’t love us,…… see, that’s part of my problem.

I am a Christian who is full of ugly questions. Is there anybody else in here that’s got some ugly questions? So when I came to Christ I started reading the Bible and I said: ‘I don’t get it, Lord. How did the church get from here to here? Has anybody else ever wondered that? I hope I’m not making you nervous. Jesus is not nervous with what I’m saying. Trust me, he’s not nervous.

You know, there’s something else that I’ve come to the conclusion. Trust me, I’m going to clean all this up. You’ll be able to breathe here in a few minutes. I’ve come to the conclusion that human religion is more dangerous than all the heroine we could put on the dump truck.

I wonder if you hear what I’m saying? The human soul loves religion. Satan loves religion. Can I tell you what Satan’s greatest pride is? It’s right here; the pulpit. You see, the heroine addict and the prostitute aren’t even in the game. Where is the center of the game? It’s the pulpits.

Jesus said, I know Jesus…… how many of you think Jesus was not suffering from oxygen deprivation? Jesus said the only thing powerful enough to nullify the word of God was man’s religious tradition. Mathew 15:6. You nullify the commandments of God by traditions of men.

So I want to be free of religion. How many of you know that there’s a difference between spiritual reality and religious tradition? Do you know what the world is waiting for? Truly spiritual Christians.

Now, while we are in this introduction of shock therapy. Ok, grab your chair…. Ok. Here’s another thing I’ve come to know to be true. Christians have never changed the world and never will. You know why I believe that? Because Jesus did not tell us to go out and make Christians. He told us to go out and make disciples.

See, Christians are interested in going to heaven. Oh! With golden slippers….. oh…. See, Christians are interested in going to heaven but disciples are interested in seeing heaven touch the earth.

I was out running one day….. I run. The Lord said to me ‘Dennis, tell my people they’re running in the wrong direction.’ He said ‘they’re trying to get off the earth and I’m trying to get on it.’

How many of you know there’s no problem in heaven? There’s no crisis in heaven and will never be until you get there, no, no… where is the crisis? Where is the war? Where is the fight? Where is the action? Right here on planet earth.

See, my problem is I’ve read the Bible, that’s my basic problem. It’s not that I went through the sixties, it’s that I read the Bible. Bible messed me up, made me like this…… So I read things like ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth’. I got it all messed up when I saw the Kingdom of God. I got it all messed up when I read that the Holy Spirit had been given to empower us to be something now, not just something later.

I wonder if anybody hears what I am trying to say? See, the Bible ruined me. I was messed up before but the Bible finished me up.

The kingdom’s coming down from heaven….. I knew it would happen sooner or later.

You see, the Bible convinced me that there’s really only two kingdoms. There may be 212 nations but there’s only two kingdoms: the kingdom of this world, which is essentially governed by Satan who doesn’t wear a red suit and have horns and tail, but who is a highly intelligent being who is intimately interwoven into every dimension of the human culture; and the Kingdom of God which is designed to be stewarded by the people of Christ.

See, another part of problem….. how many of you can see I’ve got a lot of problems? See, Roberto is an incredible man but I don’t know if he realized all the problems I have. I had another problem in studying Greek culture when I was in the world, I understood what the Greek word ‘ecclesia’ means. The ecclesia literally means congress. It means those elected to govern.

See, I’m not making this up. I’m telling you the truth. The Greek cities’ states were ruled by the ecclesia. And the word we get evangelism ……. was the town crier who, when congress was to be in session, would call up for the legislators to come and convene.

Are there any other historians in here that will verify what I’m saying? Does anybody else besides me study the ecclesia? I’m telling you the truth, check it out brilliants. Don’t believe me, check it out.

How many of you remember Jesus’ Dracula speech? You don’t remember his Dracula speech? John 6: “except you eat my flesh and drink my blood”. This is his Dracula speech.

Let me tell you what they did when Jesus said that. Here’s Peter and John walking along with Jesus and they come to his Dracula speech. He says, ‘you know, he said some crazy things, then he spits on mud and sticks in people’s eyes. He does some funky things. But this Dracula speech is going too far.’

See the Bible says ‘most of his disciples said: Jesus, I’m with you till the end and this is the end.’

How many of you have ever walked with somebody who was with you till the end and then they declared when it was? This too I have seen in the church. But seriously, do you have any idea how offensive that was to the Jews when he said drink blood and be a carnivore of human flesh? It was like he took a dirty rag and rubbed it in their face. It was more offensive than cursing in church, believe me. They were offended beyond imagination because what was the one thing they were told never to do: drink blood. And now here’s this guy who’s saying he’s the son of God and he’s telling them to break the law of Moses.

Oh Holy Spirit give us the ability to really see what is in the scripture. Now I tell you something else that he said that was equally offensive. It’s when he told his disciples that he was going to build an ecclesia. Here’s Peter and John again. Peter, I mean he’s just complimented you –we’re in Mathew 16 now- he’s just said blessed are thou Simon Bar-Jonah for flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’ Peter, I was with him when he said that and I was saying amen, amen, amen. And then he says he’s going to build and ecclesia.

Do you have any idea how offensive that was? Jesus shouldn’t have been building an ecclesia, that’s a heathen Greek word. He should have built a synagogue. The Jews wouldn’t even eat with non Jewish people.

See, the Dracula speech was bad enough but now he’s reaching into heathen culture, he isn’t going to build a synagogue, he’s going to build an ecclesia which is a gentile political organization. You can see how messed up I am!

See, the problem is when I came to the scripture in Greek and saw that Jesus was going to build an ecclesia of those elected by God to rule. Oh!..them golden slippers……

Say, Jesus I love you, I love you. Lord I want you to know I’m totally in to go into heaven. I’ll get my wings…… I’ll get those golden streets….. I’ll get to float around and eternally bore my brothers and sisters with my testimony.

What do you mean you called me to rule? Jesus don’t you get how tired I already am of making moral ethical choices, I thought when I died I got delivered from that?

I wonder if you understand what I’m saying. I am attacking religion command. May I do it more perfectly and more effectively, Lord Jesus. He didn’t call you to get wings, you don’t need wings. See, the Bible’s ruined me.

I read Revelations 2:26 and it said those who overcome I will put them in charge of nations. Now this is after the great white throne judgment. I don’t care what you think about dieing and Christ. That would be a whole other discussion. When the game is over Jesus is turning the nations over to the ecclesia.

I came on that verse about 30 years ago and I started to cry. I said ‘oh, Jesus I don’t know any Christians that could rule a neighborhood, let alone a nation’.

See, we have turned the world over to the devil and the world’s system thinking we were doing God a favor. So I am an athlete, I love sports, I said ‘Jesus, help me Jesus.’ See, this is the only team I’ve ever played on that routed for the opposition to win so that we could get off the playing field. I never played with people like that before. See, the guys I played with, would die to stay on the fields’.

Now, we weren’t given nothing to the opposition except pain and a hard time. Here’s the prize, the hookers, the drug addicts, they’re not in the game. I wonder if you hear what I’ve said. So let me spin this to some kind of conclusion.

You’re in trouble. You’re in trouble. I’ll tell you why you’re in trouble? Because you are following a very godly leader who actually wants to stay on the field and make a difference. He’s crazy and crazy like me. I won’t make him as bad as me, but he’s crazy like me. He actually believes that there’s got to be alternatives to the left, right political game, to the liberal conservative game, to the world’s system game, which by the way, Einstein nailed very clearly, when he said the level of thinking that created the problem is insufficient to resolve it.

The left takes me, because I betrayed it, and the right wants to buy me. But I am not for sale because the left and the right are part of what created the problem that is insufficient to resolve it. What the world needs now is the Kingdom of God.

Now, as an economist we got a school of economics and when this debt driven ….. money spit and bubble thing comes down, something else is going to emerge that is righteous. The problem is not in heaven. None of us need to be a witness in heaven, the witness needs to happen right here.

Now, this man has come up with an incredible vision. When I got it I cried. I said ‘Lord, I hope that all the scars that I have accumulated in the church have not shaded me so much that I can’t salute that kind of optimism.

I work with an international church network. I send Roberto’s vision to all the leaders. I said ‘brothers and sisters I found a man who still believes’.

Now, this is not the green parades and I’m not talking spiritual elitism. I’m not as stupid as I look. I understand something about what elitism does, but here’s what I’m saying to you upfront, in your face, with the love of Jesus: Christians don’t change the world. Christians will not be able to live up his vision. You know what’s going to take? Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, whole-hearted followers, disciplined learners, people who speak in tongues as much at work as they do at church and probably more. Sunday religion is not going to do what we’re talking about. It’s not going to happen. We will have to clean up our act.

Jesus plays everybody who is in shape and he plays you at the level of your preparation. I get nervous when I see some Christians trying to cast down principalities and powers over Boston, so I want to say ‘Alice, with all due respect, you can’t even control your fork, how are you going to cast down……...’

Can I get real? You know I will. We got sexual sin, we can’t say anything to the homosexuals or anybody else. Give me a break!

See, while we’re in adultery and fornication, we have nothing to say to the homosexual community. I look forward to seeing the church get its exercise about adultery as we are of homosexuality. See, while we’re living steeped in debt, we don’t have much to say to anybody about exploitation financially.

See, there’s no more segregated institution on the planet than church in America on Sundays. Now, it’s wonderful to see mixed ethnicity here, but it’s not enough just to be here. See, we have nothing to say about racism till we get delivered.

You know who’s largely responsible for the feminist movement? Machismo in the church. Ahhhhhh…… he didn’t really say that, did he?

How many of you understand that when the church catches a cold, the world gets lung cancer? Whatever is wrong with us is magnified out into the culture. See, here’s the problem: we want to be the leader but we don’t understand that we already are. But the leader is sick, salt and light is sick, the ecclesia is not governing in the spirit. Just going to change our worship, our worship is going to become a little less me-centered, a lot more Christ-centered and you got a good worship, I’m not criticizing you, I’m saying that when you see the Kingdom of God the game changes.

So we’re not going to have the altar filled with people saying ‘oh, God forgive me, I messed up, I messed up’, we’re going to have the altar filled with people crying out ‘Jesus deliver me because while I’m in my sin I can’t help anybody else’. We got to become liberators, but we got to get free ourselves first.

So I close. The Lord isn’t measuring how many people are here, he’s measuring who is here. To do what Roberto is called for he needs what we call critical mass, not critical mass of numbers but critical mass of disciples, people who get it that what you and I got saved to do was to follow the Father the same way Jesus follows the Father to be become liberators in the way that Jesus was a liberator. What would happen to Boston, what will happen to Boston when we get a few hundred disciples who are totally given to the Lord Jesus Christ, who are ministering in power because they’ve let God fix them?

Now, I haven’t entertained you and I haven’t made some of you feel good. Somebody is saying ‘oh, this is like drinking from a fire hydrant, what is this? But my job is not to make you feel good, my job is to provoke you with the truth so that you will go into your spiritual training so that your prayer life will change, your reading of the Bible will change, your marriages will change, the way you show up for work will change, everything about you will begin to change, because you’re in training to bring transformation to Boston and to most part of the world.

God never works alone. He always works in partnership with his people, so that God as Dennis was saying will need an army, He will need his prophets, his apostles, teachers, evangelists, disciples, worshipers, to lead that struggle, to lead that charge.

Does your life reflect the fact that you are a property of the Kingdom of God that Christ is your Lord? Does your life reflect that? If I ask you right now, if I said ‘my time belongs to God’, could you say yes in the depth of your heart? If I said ‘’my money belongs to the Kingdom of God’, would you be able to affirm that whole-heartedly, convincingly, knowing that your life reflects that statement?

I want you to receive this word. You are a property of the Kingdom of God, that you live at that level of commitment. That’s what the gospel is all about. It’s not, as Dennis was saying, it’s not about what can I get out of the gospel, what does God have for me, how much peace can he give me, how much joy, how much money. He can give you all that but he’ll give it to you after you have given him your all. And when you desire it any more, you don’t need it, you don’t require it, God then blesses you. Yes, he does, but you first have to give your all.

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Sermon by Dennis Peacocke (translated by Dr. Roberto Miranda) taped April 9, 2006 (afternoon session) in congregation Lion of Judah Listen | View (100K) | View (400K)

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