State of the Church
State of the Church
State of the Church
• Next week, we start the Journey series. I’m excited about it!
• I went on sabbatical. Real Life pastors go on sabbatical every 7 years to prevent burnout.
I have been a patriotic guy. History and political science are my thing.
• There is no perfect nation (because there’s people in them), but I have been proud of what our founders aspired to.
• There were times when we did not live up to what we aspired to—how we treated the Native Americans, slavery, and other things. But I was proud that we were founded on biblical truths, and when we got it wrong, people sought to change things.
Over time, though, our country has changed. This has been hard for me.
• Abortion, Hollywood, sex, porn, gay rights and the promotion of homosexuality as a viable option, legalization of drugs, and on and on.
• I have become increasingly discouraged. I am not giving up; however, I am also realistic. I am not leaving my country. It’s leaving me. I am having to use spiritual muscles in new ways.
• The world is so divided and polarized, even with liberal and conservative Christians and the spectrum in between.
o The devil is a divider, distracter, deceiver, and ultimately a destroyer—a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
THE AMERICAN CHRISTIAN has had a problem for a while.
WHAT DO I DO? WHAT DO WE DO?
Paul’s writing to the church in Corinth has really been my focus while I have been away.
1 Corinthians 1:10–13 (NLT) 10I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony* with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. 12Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.” 13Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!
*Harmony is a musical term.
• Singing together: same song, same verse, same timing, same goal—the group is the point; the song is the point.
• It’s hard to harmonize when, rather than the song being beautiful and the group sounding good, I want to be the point, the focus, and I want the praise.
- Paul is writing to Christians. Notice what he didn’t mention. (See also John 17:15-19)
• Context: Corinth is a church with many races, in the Roman empire.
o Black, white, Asian, Jewish, Gentile—multiple races and cultures. A great “becoming of one.”
o His focus was on the church—the spiritual nation within nations.
- Satan divides, deceives, and distracts. And God’s people have fallen for it. (See 1 Corinthians 6:7 & John 13:34-35)
• The problem: people have adopted the world’s way of behaving.
• People have forgotten who this is all about—dividing with/siding with personalities, comparisons based on preferences, racial tension created by appearances, economic statuses, possessions, envy…
- Notice our oneness is based on Christ, on His personality. He is our song. (See also Psalm 40:3)
• I am not that important—I can’t save, and I can’t do other peoples’ parts.
• People need Jesus, and they need pointed back to Him. The more we spend time with the person of Jesus, the more we form the body of Jesus physically—an accurate representation.
• Paul says, “Who am I—who is He?” I am not that important. Paul is not that important. You are not that important.
• Recognize the differences. We’re playing our part—together. Using the musical metaphor, we are conductors. Servants, planters, waterers, and builders.
1 Corinthians 3:1–11
- God gives leadership (conductors) who work to lead us toward the right song.
• Same song, same verse, same timing, same purpose—together. The result: John 17:20–23
Ephesians 4:11–12 (NIV) 11So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
For me and our team, God is saying DISCIPLINE—to speak and Jesus and Jesus only. (See also 1 Corinthians 2:1-4)
• Donald Trump and/or Joe Biden are not the answer to the world’s problem.
• Our role is to proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into the wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
• If we focus on Jesus, we will be the best citizens, spouses, parents, children, employees, employers, neighbors, etc.
Live together as His nation within nations, and live wisely amongst believers.
James 3:13–17 (NIV) 13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Wisdom: from above, submissive, and peace loving:
• Follow the law whether you like it or not, unless they ask you to sin (disobey and explicit command of God).
• Do not argue. Speak to those who are open to the message (the gospel). (We earn the right to be heard.)
• Look for people of peace who are open to a discussion and curious.
• Live faithfully with whatever happens next. This world is not our home.
What do we do during this season?
• Abide. It creates wisdom and a sense of right priorities and attitudes.
• Have discipline in what and how we will speak, with accountability and grace. This is hard for me.
• In our groups, we don’t want to turn our times together into fights about things that are secondary. We don’t want to all agree politically but not be focused spiritually.
• Remain curious and self-controlled in dealing with those you disagree with.
• Use opportunities to go deeper than the surface issues.
QUESTIONS TO REFLECT AND DISCUSS:
Passages to consider: See the sermon notes!
Icebreaker: If you could make a holiday what holiday would you create?
- From the sermon, what was challenging to you personally?
- Choose a passage from the sermon notes. Pause and pray. Ask God to use His word to correct and train you. Read it twice. What do you learn about God and His perspective from the passage?
- What do you learn about mankind, human nature, and the culture you live in from this passage?
- What is it showing you about yourself?
- What is something you need to obey, let go of, or adjust based on what God is showing you?
- Who is someone you can share what you are learning? A) Who do you need/want to share truth about Jesus with?