As we jump in, I want you to think about this idea . . . if you understand your why, you’ll have more clarity in your way. Let’s flesh this out a bit so you can see what I’m talking about.
In 2007, a group of us had this idea to start a church in South Tampa but we didn’t want to jump in without any direction, so we created a ministry plan. The opening statement from that plan reads . . .
“Logos Dei Church is committed to being missional . . . stepping beyond the boundaries of tradition and engaging the culture with a message of justice, grace, hope, love, and reconciliation by finding where God was already at work and getting on board.”
It was out this commitment that we began meeting at the YMCA, it’s why we started the first ever MOPS program in a YMCA, worked in the yards and homes of the elderly, sponsored kids in the foster care system. It’s why we built wells in Malawi, provided birthing kits and an ambulance in Ethiopia, provided bicycles to teachers in Africa, fed and clothed the homeless in Tampa, and why we’ve given away thousands of dollars to families who just needed a little help.
Our vision was to find where God was already at work and engage our culture in that place.
That is our why. And when you understand your why, you’ll have more clarity in your way. When you understand your why, there’s more intentionality in your way.
There is a word I want you to think about today; legacy.
It’s a word that has a couple of definitions . . .
The first definition is about money and stuff. But I want to focus on the second meaning of this word.
A legacy is something that outlives you. Something that is passed on from one person to another, from one generation to another.
My Dad, who passed away in 1998, left behind a legacy. It wasn’t his money. It wasn’t his amazing career.
It was the values of compassion, servanthood, humbleness, faithfulness, and a love for Jesus that has been passed on to his children, his grand-children, and his great grand-children. The impact he had on our lives and how we live them, is his legacy.
I think that most all of us want to leave a legacy. You want to invest in something that is bigger than you and that will outlive you. None of us just want to exist. We want to somehow change the world.
But some of us have traded the opportunity to leave a legacy for simply existing. And that is a dangerous place to be—putting life on autopilot, because before you know it, life is lived and the opportunity to make a difference is gone.
What I want to show you today is that 2,000 years ago the church was started by regular people who could have continued their regular lives but intentionally chose to leave a legacy that has made a lasting difference for people all over the world.
Let’s listen to our text: Luke 6:12-16
When Jesus came to this earth, He wanted to create a legacy, something that outlived Him. He wanted to start a movement that would change the world.
His why was to restore the relationship between God and his people; something that only he could do.
His strategy was to recruit 12 ordinary people to carry on His message of justice, grace, hope, love, and reconciliation after he was gone.
But before Jesus made this important decision about leaving a legacy, He prayed.
That’s nothing new, is it? I mean, we all pray, right? We pray before we eat. We pray before we go to bed. We pray at church. We pray before something important; a test, a job interview, or a game. We pray for stuff that we want and for stuff we need.
But Jesus prayed all night because he wanted to be on the same page as his Father. And at daybreak he called together all his disciples and chose 12 people who would eventually change the world and turn it upside down.
Here are their names: Simon (whom he named Peter), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (who was called the zealot), Judas (son of James), and Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).
These guys literally planted hundreds of churches. They carried the news about Jesus to the ends of the earth, where the news is still spreading. If you grew up in churches, you know that we’re in awe of these guys. In some ways, we have made these 12 disciples superhuman.
We think that they were these amazing people who did these amazing things. But they weren’t amazing. They were normal people who met an extraordinary God and they understood that God was already at work in the world and they chose to join him in that work.
Let’s start with Peter. He is the leader of the disciples. He was an angry hothead who was always speaking before thinking. Before meeting Jesus, Peter was a fisherman.
Andrew, Peter’s brother, was a fisherman as well.
James and John were brothers. Their nickname was Sons of Thunder. You didn’t get a nickname like that for being quiet, mama’s boys. These guys were also fishermen, and they were hell raisers.
Philip was probably also a fisherman and came from the same hometown as Peter and Andrew.
So, five out of the twelve disciples were blue collar manual workers and probably cussed like sailors.
We know nothing about Bartholomew before he met Jesus.
Matthew was a traitor to his people and was a tax collector and a swindler and was hated by everyone.
We know almost nothing about Thomas except his nickname—Thomas the doubter. He had a problem believing Jesus and struggled with faith.
There is another guy names James who we know if the son of Alphaeus. That’s all we know.
Simon was a Zealot, which was a nice way to say he was a wanted terrorist. Zealots would carry these small daggers around and, if they had an opportunity, would kill Roman soldiers.
The last two guys in the list are both named Judas. We have Judas, son of James. His nickname was Judas Thaddaeus, and history says that he was a farmer. And then we have Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Jesus.
This is not an all-star cast. It’s not a dream team. You and I wouldn’t pick these guys to change the world and leave a legacy. But Jesus did. Jesus loves picking ordinary people and doing extraordinary things with them. And that is exactly what happened.
These men that Jesus picked left a lasting-legacy that to this day is still changing our world. Sure, they had humble beginnings and they were confused about what Jesus’ was doing and saying half the time.
But when they understood the why they got clarity in their way. These guys went all in. They took ownership of Jesus’ mission, and they changed the world. They left a legacy.
Bartholomew preached the Gospel in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and India where many of the people became followers of Jesus.
James the son of Alphaeus preached in Syria and was telling people about how Jesus changed his life.
Andrew preached in Russia, Scotland, Turkey, and Greece.
Peter preached in Jerusalem, Palestine, Syria, and Rome.
Thomas’ doubts were erased by touching Jesus’ wounds, he became fearless telling people about Jesus and starting churches. He established the first church in Iraq. He then went to Iran and travelled as far as China and India.
James, one of the sons of thunder planted churches in Spain were there was rapid growth of the Church.
Phillip planted churches in Greece, Syria and in Turkey.
Matthew started churches in Ethiopia.
Judas Thaddaeus started churches in Jordan, Libya, and Lebanon.
Simon the Zealot started churches in North Africa, and eventually travelled up to Britain.
Mark—wrote the book of Mark and shared the message of Jesus in Egypt.
Luke—who wrote the book of Luke and shared the message Jesus throughout the Roman Empire.
Barnabas started churches throughout Italy and Cyprus.
Each of these disciples . . . when they understood the why, had complete clarity in their way and were able to change the world with Jesus’ message of justice, grace, hope, love and reconciliation by finding where God was already at work and getting on board.
And all of them lost their lives because of what compelled them.
The only disciple who wasn’t killed for his faith was John, but he was thrown into a vat of boiling oil but survived and suffered hideous scars and pain for the rest of his life. He was then banished to the island of Patmos outside of Greece, where he wrote the book of John, the letters of John, and Revelation.
Do you see how God used everyday people to leave a legacy of faith that is still going? It is like Jesus dropped a huge rock in a pond and the ripples just kept going and going and going.
These every day, average people did extraordinary things because they met an extraordinary God and they understood that He was already at work in the world and they chose to join him in that work.
And because they did, they left a legacy—a message that outlived them and was passed on from one person to another, from one generation to another.
This past week, at Passport Camp, we were introduced to a 4-year-old boy named Austin Perin who embraced this idea that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Did you hear his message? Don’t forget to show love. As he was sharing love, he was creating a ripple effect, he was creating a legacy of love that could change the world if we all don’t forget to show the love.
Logos Dei Church was started 12 years ago by a few normal people who wanted to leave a legacy. They had the opportunity to do something bigger than themselves—to make a lasting difference in people’s lives. And together, we’ve done some amazing things because we intentionally joined God in His work.
Today, we honor their commitment by once again being intentional about looking for where God is already at work and joining him in that work. My challenge to all of us is to leave a legacy . . . because you are the hands and you are the feet of Christ in this world.
Everyone is going to leave a legacy . . . let’s leave one on purpose.