“Followers Do” February 02, 2014

Micah 6:1-8 Matthew 5:1-12

In government, we hear politicians make campaign speeches about how well they work with those of the opposing party and then, after the election, we find that these candidates are just as partisan as the folks we threw out. Politicians of all kinds have a reputation for not doing what they promise they will do, and many of us complain that most of them seem incapable of doing the things that we elected them to do. But imagine with me what other careers would look like if they behaved this way… What if you met a thief who never stole anything !r a salesman who never sold anything What if you met a scientist who never studied anything or a builder who never built What would you call a dentist who wouldn"t work on teeth, or a veterinarian who was afraid of animals Would you trust a lawyer who broke the law or a police officer that refused to enforce the law #an you be a reader if you never read, or runner who never runs In almost everything that human beings do, there is an action that defines it. $rivers drive, golfers golf, runners run. In most cases, with the possible e%ception of politicians, we would argue that someone who does not do that thing, cannot be described as that kind of person. & florist without flowers isn"t a florist any more than someone who never planted anything can call themselves a gardener. In our scripture today, 'od declares what it is that makes a follower a follower. It isn"t a label, or a title, or an award that you hang on the wall, simply put, followers follow. In Micah 6:1-8, 'od brings a lawsuit against his people because, while they are making a good show in order to look like followers, they aren"t really following… Listen to what the Lord says: “Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say.
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“Hear, you mountains, the Lord’s accusation; listen, you everlastin foundations of the earth. !or the Lord has a case a ainst his people; he is lod in a char e a ainst "srael.
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“$y people, what have " done to you% How have " burdened you% &nswer me. ' " brou ht you up out of ( ypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. " sent $oses to lead you, also &aron and $iriam. ) $y people, remember what *ala+ +in of $oab plotted and what *alaam son of *eor answered. ,emember your -ourney from Shittim to .il al, that you may +now the ri hteous acts of the Lord./

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1ith what shall " come before the Lord and bow down before the e2alted .od% Shall " come before him with burnt offerin s, with calves a year old% 1ill the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil% Shall " offer my firstborn for my trans ression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul% 3 He has shown you, 4 mortal, what is ood. &nd what does the Lord re5uire of you% 6o act -ustly and to love mercy and to wal+ humbly with your .od. 'od tells the people that he is lodging a charge against them and asks what he has done to them because they have turned their backs on him. )e admits that they are bringing him offerings and performing sacrifices just as the law re*uired of them, but beyond the ritual, they were not acting like they were supposed to act. 'od"s followers were performing a show to look good but not following. 'od says that what he re*uires is not sacrifices and offerings and not putting on a show of their faithfulness, but instead +6o act -ustly and to love mercy and to wal+ humbly with your .od./ 'od"s desire is not for followers who put on a good show, but for followers who walk the walk and li e like they believe. 'od wants followers who !o, and not followers who only act like they do. We see a similar theme throughout ,esus" -ermon on the .ount in Matthew 5:1-12" 7ow when 8esus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he be an to teach them. He said:
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“*lessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the +in dom of heaven. *lessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. ) *lessed are the mee+, for they will inherit the earth. 0 *lessed are those who hun er and thirst for ri hteousness, for they will be filled. 9 *lessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 3 *lessed are the pure in heart, for they will see .od. : *lessed are the peacema+ers, for they will be called children of .od. ;< *lessed are those who are persecuted because of ri hteousness, for theirs is the +in dom of heaven.
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“*lessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all +inds of evil a ainst you because of me. ;2 ,e-oice and be lad, because reat is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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In ,esus" message, the people who are called blessed are blessed because of what they !o, because of their actio#s and because of how they li e their lives. 0he -ermon on the .ount speaks about the actions and the character of people who love 'od and who want what 'od wants. 1one of the things that ,esus talks about are done for show but reflect the real character and the heart of faithful people. Blessed are the poor, and those who think like the poor. Blessed are those who do not rely on their faith in money and labor but who wholly and completely rest on their reliance upon 'od and his daily faithfulness. Blessed are those who mourn because although their patience is tested, they still look to 'od for their rescue. Blessed are those who are meek, which in this case means humble, who do not think as much of themselves and their own abilities as they do 'od and 'od"s abilities. It is the meek who look to 'od for their care and fulfillment. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right, who show mercy to others, and whose hearts are pure before 'od. Blessed are those who place themselves between opposing parties and take on the task of making peace. &nd finally, blessed are those who are being attacked because they chose to do what is right. It is often difficult to do what is right, when the right thing is unpopular but 'od sees, knows, and pours out blessing on those who have the courage to do what is right even when doing so comes at a price. While our politicians often seem to have a hard time doing the things we elected them to do we otherwise like to define people by what they do. $rivers drive, sailors sail, salesman sell, builders build and 'od"s message to his people is that followers follow. We are called followers of 'od and followers of ,esus #hrist not because we go to church, not because we dress nice, not because we put money in the offering plate, and not because we choose to call ourselves #hristians, but because we !o the things that 'od calls us to do. 'od does not want empty words or empty rituals. It was never sacrifices that pleased 'od. 0he thing that has always pleased 'od is when our hearts were so in tune with his that we began to act like he e%pected us to act, when we began to do the things that 'od would do. What 'od has always wanted, was for his people to “act -ustly and to love mercy and to wal+ humbly with your .od./ 2ollowers follow. 2ollowers… !o.

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4ou have been reading a message presented at 0rinity 5nited .ethodist #hurch on the date noted at the top of the first page. 6ev. ,ohn Partridge is the pastor at 0rinity of Perry heights in .assillon, !hio. $uplication of this message is a part of our .edia ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you. 7etters and donations in support of the .edia ministry or any of our other projects may be sent to 0rinity 5nited .ethodist #hurch, 3898 7incoln Way :., .assillon, !hio ;;<;<. 0hese messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership. 4ou may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at subscribe=trinityperryheights.org. If you have *uestions, you can ask them in our discussion forum on 2acebook >search for Pastor ,ohn !nline?. 0hese messages can also be found online at http@AAwww.scribd.comAPastor ,ohn Partridge. &ll -cripture references are from the 1ew International Bersion unless otherwise noted.

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