APRIL 16, 2023

June 4, 2023


Matthew 28:16-20

Rev. Shannon Jordan


Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

There is a new job out in the world these days: Influencer. These are people who are compensated for posting on social media the products they use and like. If you watch reality TV, scroll social media, even news articles where people are interviewed, these people are introduced as influencer. Their job is to post on social media, gain followers that they can influence in a way they can make money either by selling their own product, or in partnership with another company, or with a sponsored post. This is big money!

Social media has a huge influence on our spending and actions. Influencers can earn a return on investment 11 times higher than traditional print or TV ads. There is huge money in influencing. The top ones can be paid a million dollars or more for a sponsored post. So if Taylor Swift, Christian Renaldo, or a Kardasian posts about shoes, it is money in the bank.

Micro-influencers with fewer followers, 10,000-50,000 can make a few hundred dollars a post and those with 500K+ can make a few thousand.[i] We are easily influenced and marketers know this.

In many ways, the Great Commission is Jesus—telling those he has influenced—the disciples—to influence others the way he influenced them. Jesus told his disciples—his followers—to go and make disciples—or followers—baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything he has commanded them.

The Great Commission, found at the end of Matthew, is a key passage for the church universal—for two thousand years this has been the mission statement of the church. This is our job description. This is what we are supposed to be doing.

And Jesus promises he will be with us while we do it. We are to learn, and then share with others, everything that Jesus commanded.

What was that? The easiest summary of what Matthew was referring would be the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for the will be called children of God.

Be salt.

Be light.

That it’s not just about murder, but anger.

It’s not just about adultery, but lust.

Turning the other cheek.

Love your enemies—and pray for those who persecute you.

Not to worry about our lives—God dresses the lilies of the field and feeds the sparrow.

Do not judge but do ask, seek, and knock.

We are to pray the Lord’s Prayer and live by the Golden Rule.

This is what is often called the upside-down kingdom of God. God’s way, Jesus’s way, is different. What Jesus taught his disciples was as odd or even more odd than we may consider. Being a disciple is about the ongoing process of becoming like Jesus—this is not a one and done—this is not like learning to tie your shoe, or drive a car. It is an inner transformation that will take our entire lives and never be completed…but it is worth learning to do—because one day our peace, joy, and contentment will rest on our being able to fall back on what we have learned through discipleship.

Our world influences us. Our families, our friends, our jobs. What we watch on TV and what we see on social media. What kind of person are you being influenced to be? Are you being influenced to be more like Succession or Ted Lasso? Or for another generation, the Waltons or the Ewings in Dallas, TX?

I want to encourage you to be more intentional in your discipleship. We don’t know when we will need to love our enemies, or not worry, or to ask, seek or knock—but we will at some point.

To be good at this, we need to learn to live like Jesus did because Jesus is really good at life. As a matter of fact, in the things that really matter in the big picture – which includes not only the physical world, but the spiritual, eternal world – Jesus lived the perfect life. He is worth following. Again, it takes a lifetime.

I have three things to influence our ability to do so: Worship, Discipleship, and Companionship.

First, be influenced by Worship—specifically corporate worship.

Corporate worship was of upmost importance for people in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. If we look at the Psalms, songs used in worship for thousands of years, we see prayers and laments, joy and sorrow, comfort and challenge. They were shared in community—not in isolation.

Corporate worship reminds us that we are loved, that we sin, that we forgive and are forgiven, that nothing is a surprise to God, and that God created us for a purpose. Worship is our job. It reminds us that we are part of something bigger—that life is not only what we can see and touch. Worship is the foundation for all that we do as disciples of Jesus. Corporate worship is about reminding ourselves that we belong to God. Our first hymn this morning we sang, “Holy, holy, holy. Lord God almighty.” Worship is about reminding ourselves that God is holy and powerful and almighty—and that worship is God’s due. Corporate worship gives us space and time to give God the respect, gratitude and awe that God alone deserves.

Corporate worship is a time set aside to recognize God’s role in our lives and our world. Culture routinely lifts up other things to worship: beauty, wealth, youth, athleticism. Influencers can be on social media or the popular girl in the high school. We need to pay attention to our influencers.

Danish theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, famously wrote that God is the audience of worship, the congregation are the actors and those of us up here are the prompters. It isn’t about what you get out of worship but what you give in worship. Remember the disciples worshiped Jesus on that mountain—it wasn’t about what they received but about who Jesus was.

After worship, the next influence on how to live the lives God has for us is discipleship. We throw around the word disciples and discipleship—but to make sure we all understand what that is, discipleship means to follow someone so that you can be more like them. Influencers have disciples who want to work out, do a beauty regime, hit a golf ball, or garden like they do. If we want to get good at something, it is best practice for us to find someone who does that well and have them show us how to do it. No matter what we are trying to do or learn, having someone who does it better to help us is how we get better. We need that in our Christian walk as well. We need to find people—in a group or class—a book, podcast, to help us be better Christians. To help us be more like Jesus.

Many of us have loved the TV show Ted Lasso. It is about an American Football coach who has been hired to coach an English football team—aka soccer team. Why? Because the powers that be thought he would fail because he didn’t know anything about soccer and wouldn’t do things the way everyone else in the soccer world expected. As I watched this third season, I saw evidence of the Sermon on the Mount. As we watched the show, we realized that while winning the game is fun, that winning at life is better. Learning to live lives with good relationships, doing what you are created to do—that’s what really matters. We are reminded that we can give our entire lives to be the best at something—and then age out and have to retire and have to wonder again about the real purpose of life. In season three there is a scene where Ted is challenged to fight back in a news conference instead of bashing someone who had betrayed him, he turned the other cheek. I believe that Ted Lasso is so popular in part because we all see something in his life that is winsome and pure and innocent and reflects that upside down kingdom. There is a part of us that wants this other way of being.

After worship and discipleship, companionship helps us live lives in God’s kingdom. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is with us always. We have a companion in life. We can do hard things when we recognize that Jesus is always with us. This companionship with our living Lord gives us hope, strength, and encouragement. Jesus promises his disciples that he will be with them always. That is the mystery and beauty of our Triune God. We don’t have to do it alone. In Matthew 11, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, for I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

We need companions on this spiritual journey, because it is not meant to do alone. Many of you have been in small groups this year and talked about spiritual topics—how you connect with God—spiritual practices. You did life together and prayed for one another. We all need that. Christianity was meant to be done in relationship with Jesus and with others. I encourage you to figure out: a way to incorporate a small group, or regular attendance at Faith Formation on Sunday mornings; how you can incorporate scripture and prayer into your marriage and/or your families; how you can pray together and encourage one another. It is impossible to do on our own.

In his book, Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Those who follow Jesus’s commandment entirely, who let Jesus’s yoke rest on them without resistance, will find the burden they must bear to be light. …Where will the call to discipleship lead those who follow it? What decisions and painful separations will it entail? …Only Jesus who bids us follow him, knows where the path will lead. But we know that it will be a path full of mercy beyond measure. Discipleship is joy.”

Discipleship is joy. When we recognize this companionship—when we are influenced by Jesus as found in scripture and through prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit, when we praise God with others, in worship, we have joy far beyond the latest beauty product being sold by the Kardashian on Instagram.

Jesus is really good at life. Be his disciples, make time to be influenced by worship, by discipleship and companionship. Be influencers. Amen.


[i] https://embedsocial.com/blog/how-much-do-instagram-influencers-make/#:~:text=Instagram%20Account%20of%20a%20Travel%20Blogger&text=Micro%2Dinfluencers%20with%2010%2C000%20to,%2410%2C000%20or%20more%20per%20post.



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