Really appreciated this clip from a recent sermon in Mark Driscoll’s ongoing series on the gospel of Luke:
Now let me say this: the way you become religious is when you’re about your small-k kingdom instead of God’s capital-K Kingdom. That’s why Jesus brings it back to a theology of the kingdom. He looks and says, “Here’s how you get in trouble and become religious. Your kingdom, not mine. Your name, not mine. Your fame, not mine. Your glory, not mine.” It’s not about us, it’s all about Jesus. And what happens for those who are into their own kingdom, they replace Christ with cause. Okay, for the religious people here, they were into their kingdom, not Jesus’ kingdom. They were into their cause, not Christ. That’s the problem.
What’s your cause? What’s your thing? Some of you are single-issue voters. You really only care deeply about one thing. Some of you have causes that are more “Christian” in orientation. Children, midwives, homeschooling, Christian schooling, public schooling, school choice, conservative politics, pro-life. Certain kind of student ministry, youth ministry, family ministry. Certain kind of musical style. Certain theological system. Certain author. What’s your cause…?
Others of you, your cause is not necessarily Christian. And you could be religious and an atheist, but you can have a religious devotion and zeal for a cause. Recycling, small carbon footprint, biking to work, feeding hungry people, giving clean water to those who are poor and sick and needy and diseased. Healthcare for those who are in need, affordable housing for those who are poor, liberation for those who are in the sex trade.
See, everyone’s religious. Martin Luther’s right, religion is the default mode of the human heart. Some of you have more Christian causes. Others of you have just moral causes, but we all have causes. And some of you would say, “Don’t attack my cause. I have a good cause.” And I would say, “You probably do. But what about Christ?”
For this religious pastor and religious people in general, their cause is tradition. Their cause is rules. Their cause is law. Their cause is morality. Their cause is our culture. Their cause is our way of life. Their cause is we’re honoring the past. And Christ comes along and says, “I don’t think that’s the most important thing.” And they say then, “You must die because our cause is more important than our Christ, because our kingdom is more important than his kingdom.” And what happens in churches is that they become cause oriented, not Christ oriented.
Many of you are young, zealous, all right? Seattle, Albuquerque, we’re moving into Portland and Orange County, by God’s grace. Filled with self-righteous, religiously devoted, even if not religiously committed, cause-oriented, activistic, motivated young people. But what about Jesus? And churches will prey on this and say, “Well, now we’re into this cause and it’s a good cause!” And everybody gets fired up. And then the cause wanes. Then they get another cause. And then that cause kind of wanes. And then they get another cause and that cause kind of wanes.
We’re about Christ. We need to remain continually about Christ. And some of you would walk in and look at Mars Hill and say, “There’s a lot of people. This is a good opportunity for my cause.” Put your cause down. We have one cause: Christ. Christ is our cause. And if Christ is continually our cause we’ll get lots of other causes. You’ll go out and feed hungry people. You know why? Jesus was poor and Jesus cares about the poor. But you’ll do it for Christ, not your cause. You’ll do it for his kingdom, not your own. You’ll take care of those who are abused and oppressed, those who have been violated and raped and destroyed. Why? Because that’s your cause and it’s your kingdom? No, because your Christ cares. Your Christ suffered, your Christ comes to set captives free and to really help them takes more than a cause. It takes the cause of Christ. Churches and Christians who remain Christ centered, they’re the most active, fruitful, cause-oriented people and when everyone asks, “Why are you doing this?” the answer is always the same. “You need to get to know my king. You need to get to see his kingdom. His name is Christ. He loves you and he sent me here to embrace you on his behalf.”