1 Year Anniversary - Sent like Jesus

November 11, 2007 Series: Gospel According to John

Topic: Stand Alone

John 6.16-21:  Jesus...you want me to do what?

November 11, 2007

Sam Ford

 

Jesus...you want me to do what?

Today we're celebrating the 1-Year Anniversary of our public launch.  People often ask me, "How is the church plant going?"  I think they probably want to hear that we're busting out the doors with people, that we've seen 5,000 people come to Christ, that we've broken ground on our new building, OR some other measurable example of success.  I usually tell them that it's the most wonderful terrible amazing discouraging rewarding and frustrating thing I've ever been a part of--- I love it and I never would have imagined it.

 

If you would have told me just a couple of years ago that we'd be a part of a new church plant in Marysville, I would been dumbfounded by your prophetic stupidity and asked, WHY WOULD I EVER DO THAT?  There are so many churches, with really nice buildings, and really nice people, and their organized, and have a ton of programs my kids love, some of them even have big climbing toys like at McDonalds! 

 

IF you would said that you'll be leading this church plant,  I would have laughed at you-I like to teach and all, but if you lead a church plant, WHY would I do that.  Leading means you have to love people, I'd rather just hide and worry about my family.  If you're a leader, you can't hide, they're PAYING YOU to be a CHRISTIAN. 

 

Then you'd tell me, oh know, you're not going to get paid.  WHAT?  WHY WOULD I DO ANYTHING that I'M NOT GETTING SOMETHING out of?  No thanks, it's much easier to go to one of those other churches where I can focus on "getting fed."

 

If you would have told my wife that we'd have a church meeting in our house, Caylin and I would have come up with a hundred reasons why it isn't right, wise, effective, or comfortable for us to do that.  Invite people to our house? 

 

If you would told me that our church would meet in our garage lined with black plastic, I would have thought you were talking about some weird EMO band concert-not a church plant.   If I would have told you that we'd then move into a school cafeteria and use that same black plastic for decoration, I would have felt sorry for the poor fool you're talking about but my garage was full of bikes and cat poop. 

 

For the last year, a small growing group of people have simply said to Jesus, I'll obey.  There really is no other reason and there is no need for further explanation.  Jesus has said, go share the gospel and love people.  So we have, even though it's meant sacrifice of time and money, even though we've doubted and people have doubted us, even though a lot of time we don't feel like we know exactly what we're doing, even though we've made mistakes BIG and SMALL, we will not look back and wonder...what if. 

 

Our goal for the last year has been to be the church to one another.

Acts 2.42 describes what our goal has been over the last year.  42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.If we don't know how to love and serve one another then we will never bring a genuine expression of the kingdom of God to this city.  Learning to minister by ministering to one another is hard, it's uncomfortable, and it's unnatural.  We fight it.  It is very similar to a FIRST YEAR OF MARRIAGE where you are just trying to figure out how things work.  This FIRST YEAR OF MARRIAGE is not always "fun", but it is certainly necessary and probably the year that we will learn the most about one another-good and bad.   In this last year we've done things that you do in a first year. 

 

It doesn't stop at being the church to one another

One of our core values is COMMUNITY.  Building a community for the sake of community, however, is not our larger mission.  In fact, it is probably more accurately stated that the CHURCH DOES NOT HAVE A MISSION, but THE MISSION OF JESUS HAS A CHURCH.  Building a community that loves one another is a tool to accomplish the mission of Jesus.

 

Jesus of Nazareth came on a mission. He was not looking for the well, the found, or the righteous. His mission was not about starting a ministry that would produce programs to be consumed by nice, attractive, middle-class, white, suburban, couples with 2.5 kids. It wasn't a country club with nice, painted, iron gates that Jesus inaugurated. It was a church that Jesus founded with its calling to storm the gates of hell. The church he founded was not a place for people to get fed and fat, but a place to be equipped and sent. Church is not a building or destination, but a people who are on mission: to join the Savior in seeking and saving those who are lost.

 

A mission statement

So, for whatever reason, we felt like we needed a mission statement to describe to people what we were about.  We created very creative statements about engaging culture and redeeming the world, but in the end we decided to simply use what Jesus said.

 

Sent into the world to proclaim the gospel and teach people to live like Jesus:

 Mark 16.15; John 1.14; John 17.14-19; Matthew 28.18-20

 

Mark 16.15

15 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

 

Matthew 28.18-20

18 And Jesus came and said to them,  "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

 

John 17.14-18

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

 

John 20.21

Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."

 

 

 

SO WHAT DOES THAT ALL MEAN?

1.      SENT INTO THE WORLD:  We are missionaries not magnets   

Too often we forget our "sentness".  Incarnation ministry means that an unchurched, non-believing person can come into your community, interact with your people, and not be completely offended or confused.  Obviously, the world hated Jesus, so by offense we cannot possibly mean offended by the claims of Jesus and His Word.  I don't mind if people are getting angry or offended by what Jesus says...but, quite frankly, those are not the complaints that I hear from non-believers AND believers.  It's always THOSE CHRISTIANS or THAT CHURCH or THAT RIGHT WING RELIGIOUS GROUP...where is Jesus? 

 

The word "Sent" reminds us that building a community of believers has a purpose-it is a means to an end, not the end in itself.   Sometimes, however, we confuse church for the mission.  The church in fact becomes an idol to worship and the mission is lost-and THE PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH don't see it, but everyone else NOT IN THE CHURCH DOES.  The mission becomes morality machine whereby we take our ‘good living' or our ‘nice people' to the world versus taking the good news of Jesus Christ. 

 

Instead, of the mission, we follow the church

 

Leslie Newbigin in his Open Secret writes, "If God is indeed a true missionary, it was said, our business is not to promote the mission of the church, but to get out into the world, find out ‘What God is doing in the world,' and join forces with him. 

 

IN THE WORLD:  Sent to be "in the world but not of it." 

Many people are "scared" to live in the world because, I think, they confuse it with WORLDLY LIVING.   That fear means we develop our culture outside of the culture we already live in.  Then, Christians spend most of their time with other Christians, separated ourselves from the world, and insulated our churches from OUTSIDERS.  So, to make them feel like their making an effort to reach those who need the gospel, they have OUTREACH events.  Of course, most of these outreach events will be very clean and you'd be hard pressed to have a non-Christian really want to come to them unless there are large inflatables for the kids and free hot dogs.   It's not that these are inherently bad, but again, we're so outside of the world that we don't really understand what culture is so even the attempts to reach the sinful world fail to step outside of their own.  We are called to separate ourselves spiritually but not culturally.

 

2.     TO PROCLAIM:  Faith comes by hearing and that in their own language. 

We are in the world with a purpose.   Jesus did not just come to be "one of the guys".  He dwelt among men with a purpose, with a goal, on a specific mission of redeeming all of creation-of setting it right again.  Once we understand the culture, our engagement of culture has a purpose greater than making sure we're "cool", hip or, dare I say, attractional. 

 

We GO INTO THE WORLD to proclaim Jesus Christ.  Our postcards, our music, our preaching, our website, the language we use, the stories we tell, the images we use, the clothes we wear, all of this becomes A TRANSLATOR, A CULTURAL WALKIE TALKIE through which we can communicate God's truth-the stuff we don't change. 

 

  • We proclaim the truth through tradition. We do not abandon tradition and we do not allow it to dominate all that we do, we constantly reform tradition that we might not confuse people with elements characteristic of a "Christian culture" the average person is not familiar with. does not mean that we abandon all tradition, we reform to being glory to God.

 

  • We proclaim the truth through culture. We do not abandon culture, label it worldly, and flee from it. We also do not comprise God's truth in order to be culturally "relevant". What we do is discern what in culture we can REDEEM and transform it by pointing it back to Jesus.

 

  • We proclaim the truth in love without compromise. It's not enough to just "be nice" to people. ONLY being nice to people, ONLY giving them food and clothing, ONLY being their friend ensures they feel good, well fed, and are warm as they go to hell. Our goal will always be to PROCLAIM the truth of God, not just be liked.

 

Romans 10.14-17

14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,  "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says,  "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

 

3.     THE GOSPEL:  What is the truth we're proclaiming? 

The gospel is the news of what God has done to accomplish salvation through Jesus Christ in history. 

 

1)     Our relationship with our creator is and was broken through disobedience as we sought to answer questions of identity, purpose, and truth apart from HIS WORD. Because of our sin we are guilty before the PERFECT GOD, sentenced to die, unwilling and unable to pay the wages required to save ourselves.

 

2)     Now we are enslaved to sin-no just bruised--brutalized.  We are broken, falling well short of the perfection God requires, and rebelliously seeking our own glory. 

 

3)     By His grace, God reaches out to those who refused to listen and loves them.

 

4)     By His grace, He sacrifices His perfect sinless Son Jesus Christ,

 

5)     Through His death Jesus pays the penalty we should have and through His blood our sins are atoned for and God's wrath is appeased

 

6)     Through His resurrection, he overcomes death, and sin, and frees us from darkness

 

7)     By Faith in Jesus Christ alone, we are declared innocent before God, and furthermore, declared righteous, as the perfect life that Jesus lived is credited to us.

 

In the truest sense he DIED THE DEATH we should have and LIVED the LIFE we SHOULD HAVE.  No longer under the wrath of God, all our sins covered, evil is defeated death is conquered, as we who were once dead in our sins are made alive through the resurrection Christ. 

 

 

 

4.     TO TEACH PEOPLE to LIVE LIKE JESUS:  Converted to Jesus then converted to mission.

If we ONLY focus on evangelism and proclaiming the truth to others, we forget that the gospel is not just a set of facts we believe, or a prayer we pray, or fire insurance.  

 

Tim Keller writes:

"The gospel is not just the A-B-C's, but the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we the kingdom real in our lives here on earth. We are not saved by the gospel and then changed by obedience, but the gospel itself transforms us (II Cor. 5.17 A NEW CREATION), is the way we grow (Gal. 3:1-3 PERFECTED by THE SPIRIT) and are renewed (Col. 1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom. 1:16-17 THE POWER OF GOD)."

 

So as we proclaim the gospel as a church, we also teach people to live the gospel...specifically to live like Jesus. 

  • No more than Jesus no less than Jesus
  • Converted to Jesus then converted to Mission

 

I'm here to convert you to mission...get out of the boat.

John 6.16-21

6 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

 

The Disciples get in the boat w/o Jesus:  In both Matthew and Mark, Jesus is recorded telling the disciples to get in the boat without him.  It reminds me a bit of this adventure.  We certainly didn't start this thing without Jesus, but there were a lot of people who got in the boat HOPING Jesus would show up. 

 

The Seas get rough, especially in a small boat (8meters long):  We're a small boat.  Things get bumpy in a small boat.  The sleeping quarters are tight.  (STORY OF SISTER PUKING)   When things get rough, smaller boats take a bigger beating.  Calm seas are more comfortable, but rough seas are more adventurous.  It's quite easy to stay in the boat and stay in the calm waters, take few risks, and even stay in the harbor.  But if we never leave the harbor, are we really living out the purpose of the boat?

 

Jesus shows up in the most unexpected ways and times. And we're scared. Part of this, I believe, is that we just don't get Jesus.  Although we might say differently, we live like he's just this good teacher, or wise counselor, or buddy that likes me...versus a Savior who says JOIN MY MISSION.  We don't look for him in those places and we're amazed when he answers prayer or redeems a person or a city-Jesus on mission ALL THE TIME.  If we're like Jesus, we're on mission, ALL THE TIME.  There is never a time or place where we're not on mission.

 

 

We're glad you're in the boat...now pick up an OAR.  The last thing this boat needed was dead weight, honestly, that's the last thing this church needs.  There are plenty of churches where you can sneak in, consume, hide, and slip out the back-we can give you a list of churches who want nothing more than your butt in their chair.  We're not one.

 

But just sitting in the boat, or watching from the shore, is not enough

Not everyone is a Peter who steps out and walks on water with Jesus.  But what is "getting out of the boat" and on mission look like for you...where is Jesus telling you to take a risk.

.   

  • Church is not a building
  • Church is not a place
  • Church is a people on mission

 

Church is not THE ONE HOLY place to encounter God BUT OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES MUST NOT BE CODEPENDENT ON THE CHURCH GATHERING!  Yes, we encounter God here, but there are a million roads out there where people have and  need to have unexpected counters with Jesus.  We gather together to fellowship, to be equipped, to sing praises, to hear God's truth, to be encouraged, to be sharpened, ALL TO GO INTO THE WORLD AND PREACH THE GOSPEL. 

 

As we take communion we ask Jesus to help us live like him, to help us deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him wherever he's leading.   I'm not asking you.  I'm just telling you what Jesus said.  We're asking you to deny your personal preferences and live for something bigger than yourself.  We're asking you to join the mission that Jesus is already on. 

 

More in Gospel According to John

April 27, 2008

John 17.13-26 Sent, Like Jesus

April 20, 2008

John 17.1-12 Prayer of Jesus

April 13, 2008

John 16.4-33 Jesus Overcomes the World