Sunday, November 3, 2019 - UnCommon Church Continued
What do you want to be when you grow up? We ask that question to kids all the time. When we ask it, we usually mean, what career do you want to have when you grow up? At this point, anyone close to retirement age or already there may be checking out. DON'T DO THAT! Because, we're really asking you the same question. What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to do in the time you're given? How do you want to spend your time?
We ask you these questions because you're not done yet. Your life is not over. Just because you're retired does not mean you have checked out of life.
What are you pursuing? What is that thing that God has placed on your heart? What is that passion? Sometimes that passion has faded away. And then we fade away too.
We become average. We as the church are not called to be average. The Greek word for church is ecclesia and it comes from the phrase, "to be called out of." We're called out of this world that is superficial that is dominated by power. We're called to live by different values--that is above average and uncommon. The challenge is whether we're committed to live that lifestyle. We're so part of the story of the world that sometimes it is difficult to do otherwise.
We want to invite you to be part of a bigger story--a world that lives by different values so that we can all say we know what we want to be when we grow up--I know who I want to emulate.
In our world, we are surrounded by churches in decline. We see churches in decline. We see some churches that we can imagine that were once so beautiful. And there they are--shells of their former selves. These churches were once great, but now they're gone.
If faith isn't constantly fed and nourished, it goes away. It is like flame. If it is not given oxygen, it will slowly go out.
The churches we're talking about just become average. Because of fear, they develop a siege mentality--a mentality of hunkering down and protecting ourselves from the ravages of the culture around us.
the difference between a thriving church and a dying church is not a lack of money, but simply a lack of will--a desire to be different--to live differently and live above the line--to do more than what is anticipated. Sometimes we have to live beyond and help people believe that there really is a possibility of being an uncommon church.
As a church, is it time for us to grow up? Do we need to be the church that we claim to be?
We're inviting you to be part of the future of the church by making a commitment to the church.
In the days of Paul, the church in Corinth stopped being the church. It needed deeper roots. The church forgot who it was. If you don't have great faith, you can't put it into action and if you don't put it into action, you can't have great faith. Paul was inviting the church in Corinth to go back to their roots. Read this scripture:
"God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" -1 Cor 9:10-15
If we are storing things up here and not for the Kingdom, have we forgotten our first love? How we love will always impact how we live. Do you know people who are very competitive? Whenever you hear people who are very competitive, it is often because they are trying to fill some void in their lives. What is lacking in your life that you are trying to fulfill?
Have you had an experience with Christ? When you come to church and partake of Holy Communion, it is God saying I love you and let's begin again. Have you had that personal experience?
Being around Jesus and being in His presence and understanding His life and how He showed grace to everyone inherently makes us better people. We need more Jesus.
The second thing that Paul does is invite them into a bigger story. What you do has an impact on everyone else around you. How you share and how you speak has an impact upon others. There's more to life than where you are now. Most of us have settled for lesser gods--our bank accounts, careers, etc. We're part of some bigger story and recognize there's more and that God is using us at this place and in this time to use us for leadership in this community. You have a leadership role in this community to make a difference.
That values of the world do not last and do not give a happy life. Our values are different. Our values are those of compasion and kindness and respect. But also courage to say no to some things and yes to others. It's about living an UnCommon life--the life of a disciple. When Jesus calls His disciples, He always says "Come and follow me." He never says to stay where you are. If we're going to go with Him, we have to go. It's time to stand up, take a stand, and say, "This is who I am." It's about moving from where you are into a bigger story.
What Paul is saying is that it is proof of your faith that you are part of something bigger. Where we seem to be more at war with one another, there can be a place to say, "These are my brothers and sisters." We are called to a bigger life. If we want to go deeper, we have to bear fruit. Love begin when the needs of someone else become more important than our own.
We start living in such a way that we find opportunities to serve and give ourselves to what God is doing. We can learn to be selfless. Are you learning to give away to gain what we never lose?
Money is like manure--it never works until it's spread around and help young things grow. Through our gifts, other people will come to know who God is. Then those people pray that they are like you. Can you imagine someone praying to God that they could be like you?
We celebrated Holy Communion yesterday. This is where God says to us, "This is my body broken for you. This is my blood poured out for you." It is God inviting us into relationship with Himself.
So the question here is do we want to be in relationship with God? Who do we want to be when we grow up? What do we want people to say about us when we have completed our journey and when we rest from our labors?