Sermon for Sunday July 11th, 2010
Don't GO to Church - BE
the Church by Patrick Nix
That’s right – a Pastor is encouraging you to stop going to church; I really mean it! STOP! We’ve all become accustomed to simply going to church – as if church is a place. It’s not! Many of us have special uniforms (church clothes) that we don only on Sunday (church day), so we can go and attend worship (church service), giving God our tithes (church money).
It’s as if we have a neatly organized series of Rubbermaid Totes: one with tools for work, one with books for school, one with money for bills, one with your hobbies for you, and one with time for family. We keep God compartmentalized with his own day, his own money, his own clothes, his own house. When, in reality, we should empty the contents of our ‘God-tote’ out into all the other totes. God doesn’t want a piece of me or my week or my wallet. He doesn’t work that way. He wants it all – after all, it’s all His anyway, right? If I’m His child, then I am all His; so why do I have such a hard time letting go? That’s why I’m asking you to stop going to church… to get you thinking about being the church.
IT’S GOD’S IDEA
Some have their doubts, but church was NOT the invention of some twisted, power-hungry theologian from the Dark Ages. No, church has a Heavenly origin… Jesus was the founder of the church: “Upon this rock, I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:18).
The Bible tells us very clearly that church is God’s idea: “Christ loved the church & gave Himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:25). The purpose of the church is simple: “Let us consider one another to provoke one another to love & good works. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together… exhorting one another” (Hebrews 19:24-25). The problem is that, over time, man’s ideas have crept in and overcome God’s original intent. This is called “Tradition.” Christ didn’t like tradition coming in and overruling His Words. In fact, He said more than once that tradition (man’s ideas of what God didn’t say) was so powerful it would void God’s commands (what God did say about what He wanted). See Mark 7:6-13
Never is this more tragically evident than in the church… a place where God’s Word ought to be the only authority. Sadly, many deacons and church ‘pillars’ will not allow their young, visionary pastor to lead because “It’s never been done that way before.” “You know I love you, Pastor, and it’s nothing personal, but…” How about we try this on for size: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” (Keep in mind this is not directly out of the Scriptures, but then again, that just might bode better for some of our ‘religious’ readers, being it’s a really old tradition!)
When it comes to the essentials: that Jesus is God; that He was virgin-born, died an atoning death for sinners, and resurrected in the flesh; that salvation is by grace, not of works – these are not up for debate. Our church must have unity in these. But in differences of beliefs about gifts of the Spirit, the Rapture, angels, music, Bible versions, etc. – there is liberty to be right, to be wrong, and to change your mind. How can I be dogmatic where God is silent? And in all things, we should practice real agape (God-style) love toward each other. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)
BE THE CHURCH
Here at Lighthouse, we are just finishing up an 8-week “Be the Church” Sermon Series. I’d like to share five of those truths with you. Perhaps you can take one a day, like a vitamin, for the next few days – letting the truths sink in and transform you into being the church.
DETOUR. The Good Samaritan wasn’t honored because of his good intentions to help others – he is famous because he actually took time to be interrupted. He cared about his neighbor. John the Baptist preached a similar message: Share! “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none;” (Luke 3:11)
PART. If you are a born-again Christian, then you are part of the body of Christ. You were hand-picked & placed in the church God wants you in (1 Corinthians 12:18). Does membership mean anything to you? It should. It means that you have a gift and a function that no one else in that body can fill – that’s why you should be faithful and be involved at your local church!
LENS. Seeing people like Jesus sees them isn’t usually our first instinct. Developing a heavenly perspective takes time – and work. Solomon prophesied: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) Does your church still have the ‘W’ in “Where” or is it just “Here…” ?
PROOF. You were left on this earth to be salt and light – proof that Jesus Christ walked this earth, proof that He still saves, proof that He is coming again. What kind of a witness are you? “Ye are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:28)
DROP. You might not feel like much – but you can make a difference. One drop makes ripples on a pond. One match can start a wildfire. One gram of yeast will leaven an entire cake. Only one. If God can use one little boy’s lunch to feed 5,000+ – He can certainly use you!
In conclusion, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5b)