United for Christ
Five or six weeks ago Isaac started his flag football league. As we signed up, we heard there was a shortage of coaches. I didn’t think anything of it because I thought surely they would get someone. Several emails went out and I ignored those. Eventually I realized they needed help and said I would be glad to help just put me with someone who knows what they are doing. I got no response, other than an email saying thanks for coaching and be at this training meeting. I went to the meeting and learned very little. I was thinking the head coach would take care of the details. When we met for practice I realized the other coach had also agreed to coach if they put him with someone who knew what he was doing. Neither of us knew what we were doing and neither of us had ever coached or even played flag football.
We showed up to the first game trying to figure out how the flags got connected. Other coaches were coming out with thick playbooks, whistles, etc. We lost the first game and hoped rumors were true that they would provide another coach to help the next week. That didn’t happen and when we showed up to that game the other team’s coach came out calling plays with his Ipad. We lost that game too.
The reason I share this is because when you are confused about your purpose and role on a team it shows in the results. If we are going to build a church here it is going to take each person playing their part and being involved. We are in a series called elevate. Elevate is to lift something up. We want to elevate Christ in the world, and we do that as individuals, but we also come together as a group to elevate Christ. And what we do together is greater than what we all do by ourselves.
- Exalting Christ: The Mission of Every Believer
God has chosen us and called us to declare his praises.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV)
We are to glorify God, to sing his praises and tell others of the mercy that we have received. We exalt him with our lips, we exalt him with our lives, living in a holy manner distinct from the rest of the world. We exalt him and as we exalt him we believe God will bring others to him. This is what Jesus said,
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." (John 12:32 ESV)
Christ has been lifted up. He died upon the cross for our sins. He has been lifted up from the grave to the right hand of God the Father. We are to exalt him. We are to put him in the place he alone deserves. “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! (Psa 34:3 ESV). Like the winning team lifts up their coach or star player to celebrate a championship win so we lift up and exalt Christ for the victory we have in him.
Each Christian is to engage the Great Commission of bringing others to faith and maturity. The individual goal of every Christian leads to the corporate goal of a group of Christians exalting Christ (Rom 15:6 ESV).
But this first point is so important. Each of us must have a passion for Christ. The early church turned the world upside down not because of their amazing strategy or position in society but because they were sold out for Jesus. In Christ they found something worth living for, something worth dying for. He was greater than getting married, having kids, greater than a promotion, greater than being healed. He was greater than life itself. All your ministry programs rise or fall with this. No program can make up for a lack of love for Jesus. This is what we most want to have!
- Exalting the church: The Mission of the Church
How do you describe the church? The church is a _______. A drag. A mess. A bunch of disgruntled friends. Something I have to do on Sundays. An organization on the verge of dying. Hardly worth my time. Is it just a time to see a few friends and disinterested in anything else.
What is your theological answer and what is your emotional answer? What does your attitude and commitment reveal about your thoughts on the church? Ask your kids, spouse, friends, what does my involvement in the church say.
Scripture calls the church the bride of Christ. Christ gave his life for his bride. The church, the gathering of his people, is where the many sided wisdom and grace of God are put on display.
Ephesians 3:9 “and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
The mission of the church is corporate. Through the church, the gathering, the assembly God’s wisdom and glory is on display to the powers and authorities and everyone else. These diverse group of people coming together in love and unity to proclaim God’s goodness, grace, love, and justice.
Martin Luther highlighting the place of the church said, “If one want to find Christ he must find church.” That’s an amazing statement. It doesn’t mean Christ can do things without the church. He does. But it also highlights how God normally reveals himself. Through people. Through his church. Want people to know Christ and be changed? the body of believers plays a part in that.
1 Tim 3:14.
“the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. (1Ti 3:15 ESV)
God is living and active among his people. When they gather he is at work. They are to come ready to sing his praise, ready to share a word, hymn, revelation, a lesson (1 Cor 14:26). They don’t come to watch but to take action. They come together to encourage one another. When the early church gathered people came in and said “God is really among you!”
The church is the pillar and foundation (buttress of truth). A foundation is what the building sits on. It keeps everything in place. If your foundation goes everything else crumbles. The pillars are what lift up the building. (Slide of Temple of Artemis). Everyone could see the temple of artemis because you had columns lifting it high up for all to see. Those columns worked because of its foundation. The church is the pillar and foundation of truth. If you want truth in the world you need churches.
Helping others know truth is what we want to focus on. What is the proclaimer of truth today? It not the latest sitcom, move, nor the actors who spout their philosophy. It’s not government or science. We flock to these today and think little of the church, but some of the greatest achievements in modern times have been birthed out of a biblical worldview.
Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This is very different than atheistic dictators.
How about Science. From Vern Poythress’s book Redeeming Science. Only a Christian worldview allows science to florish. If you beleive in animism where everything is God then when you dissect and study nature you are dissecting God. If you in polytheism then every time one god is enthroned and another dethroned you would expect a change in the laws of the universe. If you do not believe in God then why study science at all, what do we gain by it, and if everything is random adaptations then why seek pattern and purpose in anything in the world. Only the Christian worldview presents a world with order that we should understand, a world that people are responsible to understand and are commissioned to understand it, but when they do they are not dissecting God but his creation, and they can do this because God’s rule is unchanging and eternal so that we can expect regular and enduring laws to the world.
The pillar and foundation of truth for any society is the church. It is the place people encounter it, are changed by it.
Do you think about your church as a place people can come and be changed by God. Do you think about it as a place that people will hear truth. Do you think about it as a place people can come and be loved on? This is what the church can be and should be. This is how you should view the church.
Have you grown cold in your love for the church and your view of it. God’s call for you to be devoted to the church forces you to work through unforgiveness. It forces you to push aside the past.
How do you view it? You have heard me talk about how much we love our last house. You’ll hear it again. This big old house with tons of character and big beautiful backyard. I loved that house. Until something broke on it. Then I m kicking it, saying I regretted buying it. Then it would get fixed and I would love it again. My heart is so fickle. We do that with many things. Perhaps you have done it with the church. Maybe rightfully so. But to move forward we have to see it for what it can be.
What does our church taking off look like? It’s not going to be because the masses start flooding in. It is going to start with a work within us. Of people buying in and saying I want to make a difference here, with these people. Something good is happening to me here and I want others to know about it!
We need to be united in our mission has a church.
- Uniting as members. Why Join the Church
In a culture that puts a premium on independence and isolation it is hard enough to get people to see a need for church and even harder to see the need to officially join a church. But participation and commitment to a local church is a biblical and much needed doctrine.
- The early church was devoted to the word of God and also to being together.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)
- Membership communicates that you are entrusting yourself to the care of the elders and church.
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. . . . Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Heb. 13:7, 17)
- Instances in which the discipline of Christians is addressed speak to a clear delineation between those in the church and those in the world. The formal removing implies there was a formal belonging.
- “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you.” (1Co 5:12-13).
- “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Mat 18:17).
- The analogies used in the New Testament between members and the whole demonstrate a connection that is vital both for the member and for the whole (1 Cor 12 of body and parts; Eph 2:19-21 household, citizens, building).
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” (1Co 12:12 ESV)
Joining a church is a way to indicate your devotion, support, connectedness. When you join any organization you do something to indicate your participation in that organization. When employed you sign papers. Church membership is not about where you were born, where you want to die, where you want to get married. It is about the people you want around you, the people you want to support, and the people you are connected to for advancing the kingdom of God.
If you are checking things out at Bridgeway feel no pressure to join. But do know God’s intent is that you be a connected member of the body of Christ. Others
We want to be a church, a group of people that are passionate about exalting Christ. Commitment. A sacrifice of our time, talent, treasure for the sake of Christ. Where we are all coming together to lift up the name of Christ.
Churches don’t go from dying to thriving by making a couple new hires; it takes each member owning the mission to reach and disciple the nations. Each member willing to make sacrifices; of their time, their money, their reputation. Some of you are making amazing sacrifices to build the church. We are grateful. If we are going to move the church forward we need a big push.
I have been reading Chronicles in my devotions. One of the things that stood out to me was how David was exalted as king because of men banding together to push him up. It mentions his mighty men. Men who went out to battle, took on unfavorable odds and won, guys who went across enemy lines to get david a drink of water, men who led others to victory, who battled men seven and a half feet tall. David was the anointed one and people came together to exalt him. As the church was want to come together to exalt Christ.
Are you committed to the church?
I want to go back to my coaching football. I didn’t really want to do that. I didn’t really feel competent to do it and neither did the other coach. But we said “game on” and hunkered down into and determined to figure it out. We all had fun. We felt like the kids rallied around us. We have been talking about replanting for a year now, and longer before that. We are in a time now that we want to push the church forward. We want to propel it forward. I think we have stabilized. And the only way to move forward is for each person to take a step forward in the mission. Each person owning it.
Are you owning your walk with God, are you owning being in the word, owning making a difference in the lives of others, are you owning your giving to the church to empower its ministry and reach. We have to own it individually, and then come together as a people who are united together.
- How would you describe the church? What are ways the Bible describes the church? If there are differences why does your perspective differ from the Bible?
- What most excites you about the church?
- How important do you view being a member of a church? What is lost when you are not a member?
- How are you currently demonstrating a commitment and sacrifice to the body of Christ? What ways could you step up?