Counter Culture: Do you want an upgrade?

John 10:10-31

BIG IDEA: Christ confronts our comforts. 

To view a video of the service, please click here.

INTRODUCTION: do you want an upgrade?

On a recent trip to Georgia, I flew from Lexington to Atlanta. Since I was still a couple of hours away from my destination, I had arranged for a rental car. Since I was only going to be on the ground for 36 hours, I rented a sub-compact economy car to save a few bucks. I was promised some little tin can, but since I was only there for a short while it didn’t matter.

I had no idea when I booked the flight and the car that I would be traveling through Atlanta at the start of the NBA’s All-Star weekend. The airport, the busiest in the world, was even busier than normal. And when I arrived at the rental car facility, the lines were massive.

By the time I arrived at the desk, the customer service representative said, “We are out of sub-compact economy cars. Would you like a complimentary upgrade?” Let me be very clear what my choices were. I could receive no car, or I could get a much better car for the same price. Not much of a choice, was it? “Okay,” I said, and the man handed me the keys to a brand new Volvo. It was incredible. The seats were not only heated, they were even cooled. There is nothing quite like cold air blowing on your backside on a hot Atlanta day. The “infotainment” system gave me GPS, access to my phone, and a backup camera. And the sound system was better than any I had ever heard in my life. It was crazy.

As I pulled out of the airport, I called my wife who was driving a carload to the same destination. As fate would have it, we were only a few miles apart even though we had left hours apart. We met up, and made the journey together, she in our base model Corolla, and I in a luxury car. It all sounds so awful as I say it now! But, we both arrived at the same destination at the same time. She listened to the radio. I listened to the radio. We both had seats, wheels, tires, an engine. I had air-conditioning, she had four windows. The quantity of the travel was the same, but I am sure the quality of travel was different. I had the upgrade. She didn’t.

Jesus Christ came to give us an upgrade in life. In fact, our text today says that Jesus Christ not only came to give life, but to give it “more abundantly.” But here’s the problem: there is a disparity between what the world calls “living,” and what Christ calls “living.” There is a divide between what the world calls “life,” and what Christ calls “life.” Culture says one thing; Christ says another. But if you want to experience life at its fullest, you will have to choose to live “counter-culturally.”

John 10:1-6

EXPLANATION: To be counter-cultural, we must…

  1. Be Led Differently.
    • In Chapter 9 of John, Jesus heals a man born blind after His disciples asked Him if it was the man or his parents that had sinned. This was born out of the tradition that if something bad happens, it is because someone had sinned. 
    • Think about this man’s life. He could not see. He was stigmatized. He was called a sinner. Not exactly a great life.
    • Jesus said it was neither, but rather that the works of God may be displayed in the man’s healing. After the man was healed, his neighbors were amazed but the Pharisees (the religious types) were enraged.
    • Because Jesus had made mud on the Sabbath, the Pharisees believed that Jesus broke the Sabbath laws of not working by making the mud to place over the man’s eyes.
    • They demanded that the man’s parents give an explanation. They said, “He’s of age. Ask him.” And then verse 22 of Chapter 9 adds, “They said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.”
    • This is “cancel culture.” We see this everywhere today! If you do not believe as I believe, then you are canceled. Your opinion is not valid unless it is like my opinion!
    • So the Pharisees questioned the man, telling him to praise God and to denounce Jesus. But the man said, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They persecuted him, calling him a sinner, and in verse 34 they excommunicated, literally put him out of the synagogue.
    • He was canceled. His rights to worship were canceled. His membership in the synagogue was canceled. 
    • Jesus found the man later, but the man did not recognize Jesus. After revealing Himself to the man, the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped Jesus. The man surrendered to the leadership of Jesus Christ and at that moment, he was led out of the system of the world and into the flock of Jesus!
    • What a shift. What a change in this man’s life. He followed a new leader. “Lord, I believe. Lord, I’m putting you first.” But he was canceled by a culture that did not like his convictions.
    • America may have perfected the cancel culture, but Jesus Christ instituted the counterculture. 
    • All of this sets the stage for our text today. It is a critical link because it is a lesson in leadership. And if we are going to live counterculturally, we have to be led differently. We have to have a different priority than the prevailing culture of the world. 
    • In Chapter 10, Jesus teaches His disciples, and us, about discipleship. He used a picture that would be so familiar to them. It is the picture of a sheepfold. 
    • In the sheepfold, the shepherd would lay down at night in the door. He actually became the door. Nothing came in and nothing went out without his knowledge. Thieves and predators were kept out. The sheep were allowed in.
    • Now listen. It is unfortunate that many have made the sheepfold a picture of heaven. It is not. Instead, the sheepfold is a picture of the Nation of Israel. God chose Israel to be His flock. He protected them in the sheepfold as His Chosen People. Look down at John 10:16. “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold…” That is a reference to you and me. It is a reference to Gentiles.
    • Jesus is saying, “for a long time, the Jews were my chosen race (sheep) but now there are others.”
    • And this is why it is not a picture of heaven. Look at John 10:3. “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep  by name and leads them out.” Out of what?
    • Jesus leads His sheep out of the ways of the world into His Kingdom. He gives us a new set of priorities. That’s the message in these two chapters. Salvation is not found in religion, or tradition, or the ways of man. It is only found in Christ.
    • There are Jews that are sheep, and there are Jews that are goats. There are Gentiles that are sheep, and there are Gentiles that are goats. The difference is found in what the individual is following.
    • Look at John 10:4. “When he has brought out all his own (from the ways of the world) he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”
    • There are so many leaders looking for our loyalty. Experts, scholars, teachers, professors, the media, influencers, and more. But only the leadership of Jesus is worth following.
    • The most countercultural thing that you can do is be led by Jesus and leave behind the so-called leaders in this world. But friends, the leadership of our Lord is an upgrade from anything else you can listen to in this world.
  2. Listen Differently.
    • Jesus said in verse 4, “they know (their Leader’s) voice. A stranger they will not follow but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” But His disciples didn’t get it. They did not understand.
    • So Jesus continued in verse 8, “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.” Jesus is talking about false prophets, blasphemers, and godless men. The true sheep did not listen to their voices. Many were deceived, but not all.
    • Sheep know how to listen differently. There are so many voices vying for our attention. We live in a world of hot-takes, where everyone with a YouTube channel is an expert. Everyone with “Dr.” before their name is an expert.
    • But Jesus is saying that many of these so-called experts are merely deceivers. Culture demands that you listen to their communication, but Christ is calling you to listen to His. Who is winning the battle for your mind? Who is winning the war for influence in your life?
      1. The world says, “grab power.” Jesus says, “Go serve.”
      2. The world says, “gain wealth.” Jesus says, “give your wealth.”
      3. The world says, “get the glory.” Jesus says, “seek my kingdom.”
      4. The world says, “look out for number one.” Jesus says, “let me be your Number One.”
      5. The world says “you are a product of your past.” Jesus says, “I have purchased your past with my blood.”
      6. The world says, “you must earn forgiveness.” Jesus says, “you are forgiven.”
      7. The world says “death is the end.” Jesus says, “death is just the beginning.”
    • Do you know the sound of Jesus’ voice? Do you know what He is saying? Are you following His leadership? Do you prioritize the things of God or the things of the world?
    • Don’t listen to the voices of the world. Jesus said, in verse 10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” That’s what the world’s system does. It steals your joy, kills your happiness, and destroys your worth. Listening to Jesus is an upgrade from anything this world has to offer.
  3. Live differently
    • If we are truly going to be countercultural, then we must live differently. While the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, look what Jesus does.
    • Verse 10 says, “I have come that they (his sheep) may have life and have it abundantly.
    • Your life is more than just the moments between when you were born and when you die. Your life is more than counting the days of your existence.
    • But so many of us are caught up in the
      1. Boredom of being
      2. The monotony of the moment
      3. Long days of just living
    • There is more than just a quantity to living (how many days); there is a quality of living (how do you spend your days).
    • Jesus came so that you can have a super-abundant life. He came so that you can have a full and overflowing life. This quality of life is not found in…
      1. Pleasure
      2. Power
      3. Position
      4. Possessions
      5. Performance
    • It’s not. These are all hollow. They will all fade away one day. They are temporary. So what does it mean to live a super-abundant life? It means that all your priorities are in the proper place.
      1. First Priority: Your personal relationship with God. Nothing is more important than your relationship with God. Nothing. Not your spouse, your kids, your job, your recreation. Nothing is more important!
      2. Second Priority: Your family. Make time for your family! Make time for your spouse. Make time for your children. Invest is your family, for it is the only thing you have a chance to take with you when you go to heaven.
      3. Third Priority: Your church. You have been commissioned to change the world for the glory of God. The church should be your home away from home. We are on the verge of opening up to a full-fledged ministry again, and we need you to prioritize participation and service through the local church.
      4. Fourth Priority: Your job. When your job becomes your priority “priority,” you have a priority problem. Yes, you need to work hard but don’t let your hard work harm your other priorities.
      5. Fifth Priority: Fun. Yes, God wants you to have fun. I love golf, but I want to be a better dad than I am a golfer. I love to work out, but I want to be a better husband than I am an athlete. I love to watch movies, but I want to be a better worshipper than a watcher. 


  1. Be led differently. Follow a new leader.
  2. Listen differently. Listen to your leader.
  3. Live differently. Live like your leader.


How do you upgrade your life? Just live the way Jesus intended. He came to lead you out of the culture of chaos and dead religion and to cultivate in you a superabundant life. When your priorities are set properly, you can not just live, but live super-abundantly.


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