In order to be like Jesus, we need to know what Jesus came to earth to do.
Today is the last Sunday of 2017, and tomorrow begins a new year. This is often a time of reflection for people. We often look back so that we can look ahead. Some will do the same thing they did the previous year, just with an 8 at the end of it.
For me, 2018 will be a year of adjustments and changes. Why? Because God has been changing the way that I view church and my faith. I was blessed to be able to share a little glimpse of that with you during the “Signs of an active faith” series.
When God paints a picture in your mind you not only feel like you need to do it, but you cannot help but want to see it happen.
It is somewhat embarrassing and yet also very encouraging to be able to say that after 27 years as a pastor I think I am starting to understand why God made me the way He did and called me to be a pastor. In 2018 I am hoping that God will continue to show me what is means be the church and to do ministry the way God wired me, not the way that corporate America does church.
In 2018, Pastor Len and I will be praying for you, the church, and for wisdom for our leadership, as we begin to rethink what the church is and what it does. We covet your prayers! We also ask that you pray for God to show you what it means to be His church in this community.
As we start the new year, I don’t want to give you a big list of more things that you need to do. Instead, I want to share with you a glimpse of what God wants us to be as His church.
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:11–16, NLT)
As we read these verses, we are reminded of what Pastor Len and I are called to do certain things: equip the church for the work of the ministry. But what we do is intended to help each of us become something. But what? What should the net result look like?
The GOAL of this equipping is to help each and every one of US grow up to be like Jesus. We are to measure our lives by the standard of the life Jesus lived.
We just wrapped up our series on the coming of Jesus. Pastor Len walked us through the faith, hope and love that we can have because of the messiah, Jesus, coming to earth as a baby.
Since we just spent time looking at a series about the incarnation of Christ, let’s take some time this morning to see what Jesus said about WHY & HOW HE CAME. In order to be like Jesus, we need to know what Jesus came to earth to do. And there are three passages where Jesus specifically tells us why he came.
Jesus came serving lost people
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”” (Mark 10:45, ESV)
Jesus gave up everything to become a servant. For you and me to grow up to be like Jesus, we must break out of the prison of entitlement and embrace the freedom of servanthood.
We need to strip from our minds the idea that we go to church to get something from God’s word to help us through the week. We need to replace that with the mindset that we ARE the church and we get the privilege of living our lives for the benefit of those around us.
This is what Jesus did:
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5–8, NLT)
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”” (Luke 19:10, ESV)
Jesus came seeking the lost. That is you and me. The priority of Jesus was NOT the religious elite, priests, etc. It was sinners that He came to seek:
“Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”” (Matthew 9:13, NLT)
Jesus’ calendar was filled with time for people. He spent his days connecting with and sharing with those that did not yet believe.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells 3 parables:
Why? To demonstrate what Jesus values and what his mission was – to seek out lost people.
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”” (Matthew 11:19, ESV)
Jesus did not spend much of his time in the temple. He spent most of the time in different communities and in the homes of people. Many of those people were NOT top citizens.
“Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!” (Luke 15:1–2, NLT)
So why eating and drinking? Because the model of discipleship that Jesus gives us is that we are to use everyday life, all of it, as opportunity to build relationships with lost people to share Jesus with them.
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved. And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:31–11:1, NLT)
Our lives are meant to be lived with intention. The intention of serving each other and the lost people around us by sharing our lives with them. You and I get the be salt and light to the world around us.
I am excited for 2018 because I am starting to see a different vision of what the church can be and what we get to be. God is changing in my life and I am thrilled about what he is showing me.
You and I have the high calling of showing Jesus to the world around us. I know I cannot do that unless I am willing make some radical life changes. I am sure I will not get it all right as I try to yield to God’s spirit and make the changes necessary for my life.
Some of you will be part of our Leadership Labs where we will explore together what it means to be on mission with God. A few of you will be Elder Candidates that will be looking at what it means to live like this, to model it and reproduce it in the lives of others. Some of you will choose to be a part of a Missional Community that will help us learn how to help each other grow and how we can reach our community with the good news about Jesus. Hopefully all of you can be a part of our Sunday School starting next Sunday where the adults will begin a study of the book of Acts and discover God’s initial design for the church.
Whatever commitment you make, it is my prayer that in 2018 you and I will take a few steps closer to being the church that impacts our community with the gospel.