April 2-3, 2005
[Ed comes on stage wearing a suit. This is the first time in years he has preached in a suit. The audience cheers and claps.]
Wow! Man! Why is everybody clapping? You didn’t get the word did you? Tonight’s suit night! Owen, come out here. Owen has got his suit on, too! Look at Owen Geoff! Whew, Owen you look great, man! Tonight’s suit night. They didn’t get the word, man. It was supposed to be on our website. What happened? I don’t know. You look great, man. Suit night. Suit night, yeah. Tonight’s suit night. Tonight’s the Final Four. Thanks for being here. I’m glad I’m here.
Let me begin with asking you a question. And I’ll tell you why I ask you this question in a second: Where are you? Where are you? My motivation for asking you that question comes from the mouth of God, because that’s the first question God ever asked anybody. In Genesis 3:9, he asked Adam and Eve, “Where are you?”
Adam and Eve had sinned. They dropped the ball. They’d eaten the fruit from the forbidden tree. They tried to camouflage themselves from God; play a little hide and go seek from the Lord himself. They took some fig leaves and thread, sewed them together to hide in the foliage, to camouflage themselves and God said, “Where are you?”
When my oldest, LeeBeth, was two she used to cover her face and close her eyes, and she thought she was hiding from me. And I would say, “Where’s LeeBeth? LeeBeth, where are you?” It was obvious that LeeBeth was right there in the middle of the den. But she couldn’t see me, and she thought I couldn’t see her. I’m the all knowing father. I could see her. She wasn’t hiding from me. Adam and Eve were the same way. “Where are you?” God said. Adam and Eve were hiding, but they weren’t camouflaged. They were so obvious.
Where are you? Did you ever hide from God? So often our response to God is very garden-esque. We try to camouflage our lives and hide from him. God had created this phenomenal environment, a beautiful tropical place. There were streams and all these beautiful trees with fruit and oceans and mountains. When God made man and woman he told them to enjoy his creation, to enjoy pleasure. But I’ve always wondered, why were Adam and Eve hanging around the one tree in the garden that God forbid them to mess around with? What were they doing by that tree? Well, in our depravity we have this sense that if we do what God forbids, then we’ll truly be free, then we’ll truly experience freedom.
But what happens is, when we do what God says not to do, we don’t end up being free. We end of being slaves to the stuff we do away from God. On the other hand, if we enjoy the garden, if we enjoy the pleasure and the stuff that God has for us, then we hit on all cylinders. We understand the thread that’s woven into everything we do, say, touch, and feel by The Master Designer himself. But if we don’t, we end up living a threadbare life.
Adam and Eve hid from God. Moses hid from God. He killed an Egyptian, dug a hole, and thought he’d gotten off scot-free. Jonah, the running man, he hid in a boat from God. When Saul was anointed king by Samuel, he hid in a bunch of Louis Vuitton luggage from God. He hid from God.
People are always hiding from God. Why do we hide from God? Well, we hide from God because we don’t really know God. And when we hide from God we hide from ourselves. Because if we don’t know God, we don’t really know ourselves. And then we hide God from others. And then on top of that, the enemy hides us from the way we’re really living. In other words, a lot of people think they’re wearing God, they’re clothed in Christ. But in reality, we’re not wearing Christ the way God wants us to wear him. Because the guy who made this suit for me, Habib Ocean, from Silhouette Fashions, he has an intent, a design, a plan for the people he makes clothes for. And if I wear them that way, the garment will go great. If I don’t, its going to be… it’s not a pretty sight.
Last time we learned that Jesus did something amazing for us. Jesus lived a sinless life, a 100% righteous life. He died a sacrificial death and rose again. It’s something that no one here deserves. On the cross, the great exchange took place. We can take our sin-stained garment, our garment stitched with sin, ripped with rebellion, and we can put it on the cross. Jesus gives us his garment, his righteousness, his love, his perfection. And we either get dressed, we either cloth ourselves in Christ, or not. We either put on his threads or not. We either make this incredible fashion statement by faith or not. We have a freedom of choice. We either choose Jesus or not.
Many of you have clothed yourself in Christ. Many of you are saying, “You know what, Ed, I have made that decision. I’m a follower of Christ. I’m clothed in Christ, in his righteousness and his love and his forgiveness and his grace.” But I’ve got to ask you a question. Where are you? Where are you?
Some of us here are wearing Jesus this way. [Ed takes off his coat and puts it over his shoulders without putting his arms through the sleeves.] Yeah, we’re clothed in Christ, but I would argue that we’re not fully clothed. Yet, the enemy makes us think we’re fully clothed when in reality we’re not. Some of us here are pimping Jesus.
We’re using Jesus. We have selfish motives. We use Jesus to get what we want. Maybe a new house or a new spouse or some money or some forgiveness of sin. “Hey, I can have my sins cleansed if I say a little prayer. And, you know, that’s a pretty emotional deal, so I’ll just do that just for that. Or maybe I can have eternal life with the Lord himself, because you know what, I can live forever with my loved ones. And that’s a pretty sweet deal. I’ll just use God. I’ll pimp him. And if I have enough faith, I can make God become this cosmic errand boy. If I believe enough, if I can conceive it, then God will have to act and give me what I want. I pimp God. I use him. I don’t allow God to use me. I just use God.”
The Bible says in 1 Chronicles 28:9, “The Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.”
The Bible says we should want to know God because of God. The Bible says that we should want to get to know him in an intimate way because of God, because we have this God gap in our life that can only be solved by God himself. So, I’ve got to ask you, “Where are you?” Could it be that you’re pimping God? That you’re using him just for your selfish desires and not for the kind of unselfish life that he wants you to discover?
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” It doesn’t start with you and me. It starts with God. We have to understand by faith that God has the best for us when we clothe ourselves in him, in his righteousness and in his love. That is when we’ll make the ultimate fashion statement of faith.
Some people don’t pimp God. Others wear him this way. [Ed takes off the coat, turns it inside out, and puts it back on.] Some don’t fully clothe ourselves in Christ. Some of us reverse Jesus. We reverse Jesus. During the week, we wear him like this [reversed]. No one would ever know we’re a follower of Christ. We’re just all about the lining. We’re all about the pockets and the buttons. And see my name on the pocket? Edwin B. Young. It’s all about me during the week. “B” stands for “bad.” It’s all about me. What makes me look good? What gets me high? What gives me pleasure? What gives me that adrenalin rush? I’m around the guys, I talk smack. I’m around this group, I talk that. I go over here, I run over there. But when Saturday night or Sunday comes—Fellowship Church, whoa, I’m right here on the front row! I may be at Fellowship Uptown or Fellowship Plano or Fellowship Alliance or Fellowship Grapevine, but I’m worshiping God! Reverse Jesus.
I only have two suits and this is a brand new suit. It’s kind of funny the reaction that I’ve had when I’ve worn this suit. Some say, “Hey, Ed, that suit looks good on you.” I’m not sure how to take that. Are you saying the suit looks good? Like “Hey, nice suit.” That suit looks good on you. That’s not that great of a compliment. Here’s the kind of compliment I like. “Ed, you look good in that suit.” That’s what I want to hear. That’s why I bought this suit. Are you feeling me?
Think about this. That is my problem, that is your problem, when it comes to reverse Jesus. We have a hard time truly being clothed in Christ. Because if we truly reverse [the reverse] and wear Jesus like he wants to be worn, people won’t see Edwin B. Young. They’ll see Jesus. Ouch!
Matthew 23:28, “On the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Too many of us are just giving lining and buttons and pockets as opposed to Jesus. We might give flashes of Jesus. But during the week man, its wheels off. We’ve become like what we wear. You are who you wear or what you wear.
Look at Psalm 135:15-18, “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mounts. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”
So do you want to be shiny or significant? Do you want to just have a bunch of pockets in your life or real purpose? Buttons or the true blessings of God?
I had lunch with a guy several years ago. And he told me something very disturbing. He said, “Ed, you know so and so?” And I said, “Yeah!” He said, “You know, I know this guy goes to Fellowship Church.” And I said, “Oh yeah, he does. Uh, huh.” And he said, “Ed this guy, man, he talks a great game. Like he’s a mature believer and he’s clothed in Christ and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But you know, I’ve seen him in the business world and—whoa—Ed, this guy! Man, it’s bad.”
I thought, “Wow! You’re describing someone who is reversing Jesus. You’re describing someone who’s just showing lining and pockets and buttons.” Because we’ve become lining and pockets and buttons. We’ve become just a mere image, a mere shadow, a sliver of the true fabric. We reverse Jesus.
Are you pimping Jesus? Are you reversing him? You closed a big business deal. You bagged the client. And before you do so you’re praying, “God, give me the client. Help me with the land deal, Lord.” And then it closes and you keep your stuff. You don’t return to his church what’s his. You’re pimping God. It’s all about Edwin B. Young during the week. You’re reversing Jesus.
You see, some of you are just realizing, “Wow, I’m wearing Jesus that way,” because the enemy has duped you for so long. Now you’re going, “I get it now. I’m not making the kind of fashion statement that God wants me to make.”
CASUAL WITH CHRIST
Some of us go casual with Jesus, don’t we? We just toss him over our shoulder. “Ha, ha, ha, ha, I’m just casual with you, Lord. You know, I’m pretty active at Fellowship Church. Church is hip. It’s cool, you know. Right on! I probably attend—oh, I don’t know—once a month. Sit in the back. Drop the kids off. Great, great Children’s ministry, you know? Once a month. Once a month.”
What if I talked to Lisa once a month? What if I worked out about once a month? What if I used deodorant about once a month? What if I ate healthy once a month? Isn’t that hilarious? Once a month?! Once a month.
We need to get committed because when we’re committed to wear the garment given to us by the grace of God, then we understand the true depth and the meaning and the purpose and the power of pledging ourselves to a position, no matter what the cost. Because the Bible tells me, if I’m not serving within the context of the Christian community, Jesus is not Lord of my life. If I’m not giving of my time and my talent to the local church, Jesus is not Lord. If I’m not sharing my story with others and praying high risk prayers, then he’s not Lord.
And it’s the old of/at deal. Jesus is not going to be Lord of all if he’s not Lord at all. So he’s got to be Lord of all in your life and mine for us to understand. And if he’s not, then we have to take inventory.
You might be saying, “Well, wait a minute Ed. Are you causing me to doubt my salvation? Are you causing me to doubt whether I’m clothed in Christ?” No, I’m not. Not at all. But I am challenging you to take stock of your closet, to check out your wardrobe. Because I believe once you commit your life to Christ, you’re in. But I also believe that Jesus will know us by our fruits. I also believe that his sheep will know the Shepherd’s voice. And I also believe a lot of people think they are Christ followers, think they’re clothed in Christ; when in reality, maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re not.
TIE JESUS AROUND THE WAIST
There’s another one, though, too. We sometimes tie Jesus around the waist. The fire insurance Jesus. You know. Everything is cool. If the elements hit or if you get into a tight situation or whatever, then—oh, man—we’ll put Jesus on! But we kind of wear him like this. [Ed ties the jacket around his waist.] “Yeah, you know I’ve prayed that little prayer. And God has forgiven me of my sins. And I’m in, man. You know, I’m in heaven!”
Oh, really? Are you into thrift store grace? Cheap grace? The cheap gospel? “It’s about the forgiveness of sin. Man, that’s all it is.”
You know, I’ll say it again. If Jesus is not Lord of all, he’s not Lord at all. It’s not just about forgiveness of sin. Yes, technically, we get into heaven because of the unconditional grace and mercy of God. But there’s going to be transformation—psychologically, emotionally, financially, relationally, and all the other “-allys” you can think of. There’s going to be change.
Remember Zacchaeus, the guy who worked for the IRS? He had a poor vertical jump. The Bible says he tried to see who Jesus was and couldn’t see him because, you know, he was short in stature. He scaled the tree. Jesus stopped and said, “Today I’m coming to your house for lunch.” It’s the first power lunch ever recorded. Obviously, Jesus forgave Zacchaeus’ sin, although Scripture does not tell us he did. But we know he did because he’s the Savior. But what it points out is this: it points out the transformation that occurred in Zacchaeus’ life, the economic transformation. He’s giving back all the money he’s stolen. He is saying, “Yeah, God!”
So once we clothe ourselves in Christ, in his righteousness and his love, things will happen. Change will take place.
Matthew 20:28, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”
Where are you? Are you hiding from God? If you’re hiding from God, you’re hiding from yourself. You hide from yourself, you’re hiding God from others. And also, the enemy could be hiding the way you’re really dressing before others. Are you hiding from God? Deep stuff.
But on the cross, that exchange can take place. We can take our ripped up garment, our garment stained with sin and rebellion, and exchange it for this perfect garment. We can be clothed in Christ. We can be clothed in the love of Jesus. We sometimes have a hard time with the love of God, with understanding the love of God. God throughout scripture talks about the fact that he loves us so we can glorify him. Now, is God an egomaniac? Because I’m talking to you right now about the God-centeredness of God. In our humanistic world, we think someone loves us if they make much over us. “Oh, you love me because you make much over me.” That’s love to us. And that is a small definition of love. But we cannot take that small limited definition of love and put it on the shoulders of God, because God’s love is deeper and broader and richer than that.
God makes much over me so I can make much over him. I’ll say that again. God makes much over you so you can make much over God. It’s the God-centeredness of God. Because God knows if we chase anything else other than him, we’re going to be gravely disappointed. And that’s how much you matter to God. And that’s how much I matter to God. I have this capacity to love God. I have this capacity (Matthew 6:33) to seek first the kingdom of God. Because when I seek him first and not Edwin B. Young first, I hit on all cylinders. I make this phenomenal fashion statement of faith. And things happen in your life and in mine.
So it’s not about me. When you say, “Well God loves me,” God is not loving you or me so we can put “me” at the center of our universe. He loves you and me so we in turn can put God at the center. That is when we’ll be at the sweet spot of God’s success. That is when we’ll be wearing the kind of outfit that God has for our lives.
That’s why so many of us are frustrated, man. We’re changing clothes, we’re doing reverse Jesus. We’re tying Jesus here and then we’ll put him over there. Hey, put him on. Get dressed. Understand the depth and the breadth of love that we live to give glory to God. That’s why we’re here to give glory to God. Don’t settle for pimping God. Don’t settle for just reversing God. Don’t settle for just slinging God over your shoulder. Don’t settle for tying him around your waist. Settle for the best.
Seek God first. Love him first. Because when we do that, we’re not going to use God. He’ll use us. When we do that, we’re not going to reverse God, he’ll reverse us. We do that, we’re not going to sling God over our shoulder. He’ll sling us over his shoulder and carry us. When we do that, we’re going to hit on all cylinders. When we do that, we can’t tie him up. God will untie us. It’s all for the glory of God.
Next time—I can’t get into this now because I’ll go for about 40 more minutes—next time, I’m going to answer three questions about the glory of God, about being clothed in Christ. Here’s the first one: How can you eat a steak for the glory of God? I’m going to answer that question next week. Number two: How can you shop for the glory of God? Ladies are going, “Ah, girl, I’ll be here for that.” Here’s the third one: How can you make love to your spouse for the glory of God? We’ll have standing room only next week!