This sermon’s title comes from a man in Monroe, North Carolina named Buster Broome. Buster died about 10 years ago or so, but before that he was a carpenter with an uncommon level of common sense, and I was his pastor for nine years at Mt. Carmel Church in that small town about 25 miles from Charlotte.
And whenever Buster saw or heard someone do or say something outrageous, he would say with a big grin on his face, “That don’t make no sense.”
Which is a perspective you could apply to much of the bible’s wisdom: it don’t make no sense.
Until it does.
Here’s the message itself with the bottom line: Some things only make sense when you make Jesus Lord.
So we are in Week 2 of the series BrainWashing and here’s why: I really & truly believe that SO MANY of your problems today – relationship breaking, church hopping, temper losing, Jesus doubting, sexual dysfunctioning, political paranoia-ing – come first of all from faulty thinking. In the same way that smog dirties up the air, our brains have been dirtied up by cultural forces that we are only vaguely aware are operating, and once our brains are dirtied up in that way, we’re conditioned to look at the world through a certain kind of lens. A particular grid. And even if you love Jesus and are loyal to his church and you don’t know this is happening, believe me, it is. In the age of the Screen and the Net, it’s happening more powerfully than ever before.
It’s conventional wisdom. It’s what smart people think. It’s everybody knows that! It’s seemingly harmless, apparently loving but ultimately lethal and your brain and my brain needs a thorough washing to look at the world in a healthier way, a different way, a more Godly way. We started this series last week by learning together that when you realize the world killed God, you never trust its wisdom again and now it’s time to go all Patti LaBelle & get a new attitude.
But to get there, can we all acknowledge something first? Face facts? A lot of the stuff you read in the bible or hear in the church, as they say in Union County, don’t make no sense. Give 10% of your money – money you can see – to a God you can’t see? That don’t make no sense! Turn the other check instead of fighting back? That don’t make no sense! Reserve sexual intimacy for marriage and keep it there? That don’t make no sense! The first will be last? That don’t make no sense! The greatest among you – and if we were to finish that sentence, we’d say will be the one with the most championships or the most covers on People magazine – but Jesus finishes the sentence with will be servant of all? That don’t make no sense! It’s loco, it’s crazy, and if THAT’S what it means to have your brain washed a lot of you will just pass, thank you very much.
But then Paul. Pastor. Church consultant. Letter writer extraordinaire. Troubler of Corinth. Here he is in I Cor 2, writing to, as they say, the “worldliest” church of them all, the church in the ancient Greek city of Corinth. It was a church characterized by elitism, classism, caste-ism, insider-ism, the cool lunch table and the nerd lunch table, jocks and geeks . . . however you want to divide people up into haves and have-nots, the Corinthians have beaten you there. (Remember how I said relationship breaking and church hopping are both due to faulty thinking first? Corinth is Exhibit A.) Paul takes all their dilemmas and all their fracturing and lays it at the feet of their thinking. Their mindset. Look at I Cor 2:10:
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
Ah, the deep things of God are available to us. We can comprehend and be comprehended by what is deepest and truest about God. Beautiful.
And then he goes on with a point in 2:11 that really is self-evident:
For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
You can’t know what’s going on in my head and I can’t finally tell what is going on in yours. In the same way, then, only God’s spirit knows what God’s thinking. Except. Then comes this enormous leap in both experience and in logic, coming at 2:12:
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
What? You can’t know someone’s thoughts and so you can’t know God’s thoughts . . . until you can. That you can have such a profound encounter with the Savior from God that the Spirit of God comes to inhabit you, enliven you, animate you. And when you surrender to the Savior and God’s Spirit inhabits, enlivens, and animates you, then you can think as God thinks. Process the world through his lens instead of the world’s. Why? Because he is inhabiting you. It’s like that Mel Gibson movie a few years ago when Mel hisself really could know what all the ladies in his life were thinking (check?). Except it’s you and God.
So: without the Spirit, the things of the gospel – those things about money, sex, relationships, faith that I named earlier – don’t make no sense – because only with the Spirit of God can you see them with clarity and understanding. And here’s where I have to be VERY careful for two reasons: 1) I don’t want to say MORE than I Cor 2 is saying; and 2) I don’t want to say LESS than it’s saying, either. AND I realize that some of you here are not sure about Jesus, don’t come to church convinced, you’re actually waiting for some more evidence before you will believe. Maybe you’re even feeling that if you can understand some SIDE issue – money, sex, relationship, church – then you will consider the CENTER issue – whether or not Jesus is Lord of all.
And if that’s you – or if you are a Xn already but have a hard time washing your brain of the that don’t make no sense – please notice the order in I Cor 2:12-13:
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[
You receive first, you understand second. Commitment comes before clarity. Some things you only understand, you only see after you decide to believe. The sides are only sensible when the center is settled. It’s very rare that people intellectually work their way in from the side to the center. Why? We believe (or, better, I Cor teaches) that without the Spirit, without the Savior to animate your spirit, illuminate your mind, and wash your brain, some things will never, never make sense. Here’s where it lands us: Some things only make sense when you make Jesus Lord.
Yes! Yes! Sometimes you’ve got to DO in order to KNOW. You follow the instructions / the commands / the teachings without complete clarity and along the way you discover: “Oh, I get it! That’s why he says to live this way!” It’s the pattern of the entire bible! Abraham: Go. Leave your family, your property, your business, your 401K, and go to a land you don’t know. Lord, can I have the agenda for the trip? No, just go. Along the way you’ll understand. And so he did. Moses, take your people and get out of slavery on the other side of the Red Sea. Do what I say and leave now. And Moses answers, what’s the plan? what shall I tell them? Tell them my name and who I am and that’s enough. Along the way, you’ll understand.
And Jesus to Peter, the fisherman son of a fisherman. Peter, come follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men. Peter: whose keeping the books? (Judas!) Whose your right hand man? What’s the plan? When you coming back? Jesus answers: Not for you to know the times and seasons, Peter, just come with me and you’ll discover along the way. People: they all followed FIRST and comprehended SECOND! As if it is “Oh, once I did THIS, I got THAT!” And it hasn’t stopped being true!
Or it’s like what has happened to a whole lot of you because you’ve told me. Here’s what the bible looked like BEFORE you became a Xn: AV Gibberish. And then once you got saved, here’s what it looked like: AV Clarity & Beauty. Ah!! Ta-da! What was the difference? Those first attempts you were trying to understand the mind of God without the Spirit of God and it doesn’t work! But then you surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus and the Spirit inhabited you and while it’s not like you knew everything in the bible suddenly, what you did know was coupled with a new hunger to obey. You settled the CENTER, and the sides made sense. Some things only make sense when you make Jesus Lord.
It’s even like the guy I know who only has some vague memories of his early 20s. You know why? He was “fried” most of that time – drugged out. But now that he has experienced salvation, there is a hunger for God and a desire for God’s groups and it’s something glorious to see. From fried to sanctified! Some things only make sense when you make Jesus Lord.
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN.
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON THE HOLY SPIRIT
Because look look look. When Jesus has your SOUL, what is it of his that you get? The mind of Christ. (2:16) I trust his way of looking at the world so much more than my own! Because he made it in the first place! It’s like I think Bill Gates knows more about how Microsoft software works than I do cuz he invented it! So if I could have his mind, I’d get it. Except with Jesus, we have his mind when we surrender to his Lordship. This allows you to see as he sees and know as he knows. And this is what Corinthians and Americans have such a hard time getting: at the center of the universe is a God who dies. A Savior who wins by losing. Whose victory is in his defeat. Whose strength is most visible in his weakness. It’s upside down, backwards, paradoxical . . . and that’s the heartbeat at the center of all creation!
Like: do you know when the Civil Rights battle turned? When the protesters got sprayed with hose and bitten by dogs and didn’t fight back. AV. That don’t make no sense . . . but when you see it with the mind of Christ, of course it does. They were aligned with the power beating in the center of the universe. It looks crazy to the world but it is beautiful to God.
It’s why you don’t have to win every fight at home. Why you don’t have to get your own way. Why you don’t have to have the last word. You think you do, but you don’t. If you think you do, you’re just living the foolishness of 2:14:
The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
No no no. Some things only make sense when you make Jesus Lord.
Even that word “received” in 2:12. Because you know what else don’t make no sense? Grace. Karma makes sense. You get what’s coming to you. Life, death, and life after death is all about merit. In fact, karma or some version of it makes so much sense that every religion in the world EXCEPT CHRSTIANITY! believes in it! All religions and philosophies are DO THIS, DO THAT, DO MORE; Xnty alone is DONE. Xnty alone knows that your eternity is secured not by your merits but by Christ’s love. Not by your performance for Christ but by your position in Christ. Santa – your level of gifts depends on how good or bad you’ve been – that makes sense. Xnty as behavior modification? That makes sense. Jesus has the inhabiter of your body and soul, enabling you to see as he sees and think as he thinks? No sense. Some things only make sense when you make Jesus Lord.
I do love how all this applies to church. One of my favorite Twitter handles is Celebrity Pastor. Check a few out: AV. Oh, our culture so buys into that; at GS, we try our best not to. It’s why I don’t have a parking place here! One of my most rewarding moments was when a long timer of this church said to me, “You know, this is the first church I’ve ever been to where you didn’t know who gave the money and who didn’t.” IOW, the anti-Corinth! A church living its convictions into a living rel w/ J.C.
Some of you have avoided Jesus. A few might have rejected him. A lot of you have played with him. Today, for the sake of your relationships, your politics, your sexual dysfunction, even your church hopping . . . today is the day to surrender to him. Not as Savior. Not as Get Out Of Hell Free card. As Lord. As inhabitor of your soul. You give him that, and he gives you his mind. And that is the best brainwashing of them all . . .