Friday, September 5, 2014

September 6, 2014

In 1976, Finland’s Lasse Viren made Olympic history when he became the first man to win both the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races in successive Olympiads. After his victory, his coach decided to take on the record of the legendary Emil Zatopek. Earlier in the century at the Helsinki games, Zatopek had won the 5,000 the 10,000 and the marathon. There was only one problem. Viren had never run a marathon before. 

The Olympics are not exactly the place to take on a new event. But on the last day of the Montreal Olympics, Viren lined up to run the 26 mile race--and stood directly behind Frank Shorter, the American who had won the marathon gold medal four years earlier in Munich. As they took off, Shorter found out that he had a shadow. Lasse Viren’s coach’s strategy was to stay with Shorter through the whole race. Viren tried, but couldn’t maintain the pace and finished fifth in his first marathon. But the lesson was simple--do whatever the champion had done, fast slow, hills, curves...whatever he saw Frank Shorter do, Lasse Viren imitated him. 

Lasse Viren had a great strategy for someone who wanted to be a champion - imitate a champion! And he did! And as a result he finished 5th in an Olympic event he had never before entered!

He could imitate Frank Shorter but he could beat Frank Shorter because he couldn't measure up to Frank Shorter.

You and I are called to follow Christ and imitate Christ and when we do, we end up in a much better place than we would have without Him. But we can never BE Christ, and He knows that, so throughout Scripture Jesus points to men and women who followed well and Jesus says, "Imitate them!"

This morning we are going to do just that! We are going to look at some guys we need to imitate. In fact, they did SO well we will be looking at them for TWO weeks. Here's the story:

One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven. “ The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?  But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” Luke 5:17-26

Wow! That's amazing what they did!
They did it because they had a friend in need and they were able to meet his need! He needed Jesus and they knew how to get him to Jesus.

Like Lasse Viren's coach I say, "Imitate them!"

These guys were not willing to be unconcerned - “Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat”

There is so much to be concerned about in our world today it is hard to stay concerned over the important things.

I find myself getting concerned over a scratch on my car and being completely unconcerned over the guy who can't afford a car.

Imitate these guys who were unwilling to be unconcerned. They had a concern for the need of their friend.

These guys were not willing to be uncommitted – “and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus”

It is one thing to be concerned and another thing to be committed.

Commitment involves action. Commitment is the proof of your concern.

Imitate these guys who were concerned over their needy friend and proved it by carrying him to Jesus.

These guys were willing to be uncomfortable – “they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd”

One of the biggest enemies of concern and commitment is comfort.

These four guys climbed out of the La -Z - Boys and helped their buddy onto a stretcher and carried him across town to see Jesus.

When they arrived they found the place so crowded that they couldn't get their friend into the house. But they were so concerned and so committed that they did an uncomfortable thing, the climbed up and tore the roof off the place so they could lower him down to Jesus. It made for an awkward moment but it also did the job!

Imitate these guys who were willing to do some hard work and heavy lifting in order to get their friend to Jesus.

These guys were willing to be unconventional – “they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus”

The famous last words of the church are, "We've never done it like this before." But these four guys didn't settle for that. Instead, they did whatever it took to get their friend to Jesus.

Imitate these guys! Be creative in order to get friends to Jesus!