The Thread of Life – Part 27 (What is the Church)

December 12, 2021   /   Jesus Church

The Thread of Life (31 Stories that lead to Jesus)

Part 27

Good Morning and Welcome to Jesus Church

Very excited and proud of our community with our angel tree event

  • We are going to show the love of Jesus to…
    • 40 kids who either parents couldn’t afford gifts/parents in jail
    • We want to be known as a blessing to our neighborhood
    • This is a easy/practical way to show them that we care
  • And if they know we care about the practical day to day stuff
    • I believe when it comes to the hard stuff they go through
    • They will think of us and hopefully seek out the church
    • That’s why we are here… to be a light in the darkness (Amen?)

We are coming to the end of our series on the Bible

  • Last week we looked at the resurrection of Jesus
    • Which was what the entire story was leading up
    • We see how Peter describes the resurrection as a LIVING HOPE
      • Our God is a living God
      • Our hope is a living hope
  • We don’t believe in a dead god… or a dead hope
    • Our hope is living/active/growing
    • And although it cannot be changed… it’s like money in the bank
    • You will be changed as you put your hope in the living hope

TAG: So as we continue… Jesus is risen… what comes next

Next comes the beginning of the church

And much like our desire to engage/bless community w/ practical love

  • That was really the essence of what the church began as
    • If you want to know what the church should look like…
    • The place to look is what happens after the resurrection
    • So lets turn to the beginning of the book of Act
  • Jesus has died… resurrection and then Jesus ascends into heaven
    • And all the disciples are thinking: Ok… what do we do now
    • What is the plan for what we do next
  • Jesus had taught them for years now – You will do greater things
    • Go into all the world
    • This is what Jesus trained them for
    • This is what Jesus taught them to carry out

The plan of what came next – It was the church

  • So these verses are what the church is supposed to look like
    • And we read through them… let them paint a picture
    • Of what God intended for the church

Acts 2:42

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

  • First thing is that they put a value on being taught
    • And also fellowship… relationships with one another
    • Breaking of bread – This would be communion and food
    • And then also to prayer… we need to be a praying church
  • And all of this doesn’t happen b/c we start programs… might help
    • But it will only come to life if we make all of these a priority
    • If we want to be what God meant for the church to be
    • We have to value
      • Teaching/Fellowship
      • Eating together
      • Praying together

Acts 2:43-47

Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Compare/contrast to what many think 

the church is today

Image 1 – Church is like a Movie Theater

Stay for a couple of hours… maybe get inspiried… maybe laugh… cry

  • But the ultimate goal is to be entertained… maybe distracted
    • So we sit in comfy seats
    • Walk about and ask at the end “what’d you think”
  • Just think for a minute if that sounds how we approach church
    • Do we see ourselves as an audience
    • Where we spectate but rarely participate
    • Walk out with either a “2 thumbs up” or “2 thumbs down”
  • I think we need to reminder ourselves… as the church
    • We are not the audience
    • There is an audience – but its an audience of one
    • And we are not it

V.42 – They DEVOTED themselves to the apostles’ teaching

Devoted: To commit yourself… it means this was a way of life

  • We don’t just come together to hear stories and ideas
    • No… this isn’t what guides and directs us
    • We stand on the Word of God…. Even if it isn’t popular
  • Because this is our foundation – what guides all our decisions
    • Directs our careers
    • Guidance on relationships/marriage
    • Shows us how to relate to the world
  • And at the beginning of Act 2 – Very 1st sermon is preached
    • Interesting to see the response of those who heard it

Acts 2:37

When the people heard this (sermon), they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

My prayer is when we come together

  • That is the Spirit in which we hear the Word of God taught
    • It’s the Spirit in which we worship
    • Where we’re humble in heart looking to how I can change
  • That when we walk out – First thought isn’t “How was it”
    • But… God what did you show me in the scriptures
    • And… may I not leave here like I came in
  • This is what we see the early church in unity committed to
    • Word of God and aligning their lives to it
    • But that won’t happen if we think we are the audience

A.W. Tozer

Our churches these days are filled with a soft breed of Christian that must be fed on a diet of harmless fun to keep them interested.

  • And really all that is… is a simple description of culture we live in…
    • So much of life revolves around being entertained
    • And we may come to church and like to be challenged
    • But not many of us love to be changed
      • Wanna be feed… don’t want to spend time in the kitchen
      • Want unity in the church… if everyone is untied around me
      • We say God I’m here for “you” but always think “me”

Tag: The church cannot be a movie theater

Image 2 – Church is like a grocery store

On any given week we could spend a couple hours walking down isles

  • And what we do in a store… we shop
    • Look for the things we want at the prices we like
    • And if this store doesn’t have it… we’ll look at another
  • We spend lots of time shopping at different stores
    • This language is part of the church in consumer based culture
    • If you ask someone new why they’re here… “Church Shopping”
    • And a lot of this is the churches fault
      • If you treat someone like a consumer… they’ll act that way
  • But church shopping wasn’t really part of the early church
    • People devoted to the fellowship
    • Because they weren’t customers… they were family

V.44 – All the believers were together and had everything in common.

Now lets be honest… did they really have everything in common

  • No – I’m sure they had different likes… different preferences
    • It would be weird if everyone liked the exact same thing
      • What this is saying is as if they had everything in common
      • Because they had Jesus in common
      • And that’s the only thing that mattered all that mattered
      • They were a family
  • Story: Randy and Gary – Furniture delivery guys for a company
    • Customers always said they looked a lot alike…
      • And they did… but they would always laugh it off
      • Furniture delivery guys have to sorta look alike I guess
    • Randy was adopt so he didn’t know much about his family
      • And this law changed in Maine – Could see birth certificate
      • Randy found out his biological parents passed away
      • But also that he had a brother one year younger than him
        • Born June 10th 1954
    • Didn’t think much about it… but one day on delivery
      • Again customer could believe how much they looked alike
      • So Randy thought… what the heck “when’s your Birthday”
      • Gary said June 10th 1954
    • Immediately he knew… they were brothers
      • Everyone said there was resemblance… actually was!
        • Article: There is nothing like family
        • Especially if you didn’t know you had one

And this is actually such a familiar story…

  • Because we can discover brothers/sisters we never knew we had
    • Find out your neighbor follows Jesus
    • Or maybe your coworker is actually a Christian
    • Your kids teacher is a believer
  • This is what we are called to as a church… is a Family mentality…
    • We put each other before ourselves… sacrifice for each other
    • B/C this is how the early church was known
  • And the family isn’t perfect… we’ve got uncle Eddies in here
    • We got Aunt Wilma’s
    • And we aren’t trying to say we’re perfect
    • But we do desire community…

In the upcoming year – You’re gonna see a lot more about this

  • Why… because healthy community means healthy church
    • And the Bible says in describing the church
    • They were committed to community
  • So in 2022 – Before we get into our series on the Holy Spirit
    • We are gonna take a few weeks to really talk more on this
    • To see what the Bible says about our need for community
    • And what it looks like to walk out that in obedience

Image 3 – Church is like a Restaurant

When we enter a restaurant usually expect to be served and waited on

  • Imagine walking in and hostess throws you a rag…
    • Asks you to wipe down a few tables before you eat
    • Of course not… you would turn right around and leave
    • Why… because its not your job
  • And this is how many of us think of church
    • I’m gonna sit down… be fed… and then leave
    • But Spiritual growth comes way more quickly in the kitchen
      • Than it does at the table

Acts 2:45 (spirit of selflessness)

Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need

Paul Curtis (Church in Brooklyn)

Tragedies don’t have to just rock our world, they can give us the chance to rock someone else’s world with kindness and the love of Jesus

That won’t happen if we have the mentality of “Its not my job”

  • When Michelle & I have a day off… sometimes go to Target
    • Sometimes I end up just wondering around aimlessly
    • Michelle is taking care of our family’s survival
      • Fun to find the person in Khaki pants & red polo (1995)
      • Go ask questions like they work there
      • Eventually they realize its because of what they’re wearing
    • Someday I want to go there in Khaki’s & red polo
      • And just start moving things around like I own the place
      • Just see the confusion of the real employees faces

But how awesome would that be for us as a church

  • Where people could come… no clue who works here and doesn’t
    • Because everyone is engaged wanting to join in
      • Someone new – everyone is making them feel welcome
      • Someone question – everyone is excited to help
      • Someone prayer – I’m the closest one so I’m up
  • And that’s what we are called to… a Priesthood of believers
    • We are all called to be the hands & feet of Jesus
    • And as much as we already do this…
    • It’s a great reminder… of what we’re called to as the church

Image 4 – Church is like a gas station

Pull in once a week for fillup… quick trip b/c you know you need it

  • We know that we will run out of gas – so its necessary
    • But then lets not think about it again til next week

Acts 2:46

Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…

I love these two words: Glad and Sincere (spirit of the early church)

  • They were joyful and authentic… which is interesting because
    • Today many outside the church would think of the church as
    • Judgmental and Hypocritical
      • I pray that we would be known as joyful and authentic
  • And “Met everyday” is a general term… means always being a part
    • That’s not always necessarily in a building or organized event
    • Problem: See church as a place… all these metaphors are places
      • But church isn’t just a place
  • When my kids learn on nouns – say if its a person/place/thing/idea
    • If I were to say “church”… Most would say its a place
      • But we have to remember… the church is not a place
    • We are the church… and if we understand that
      • Totally changes the approach to this community
      • We don’t go to a place… show our card & get the benefits
      • Wherever we are together – that’s church
        • It was never supposed to be a place… it’s a people

Image 5 – We see the church as a fitness center

And maybe we think… what’s wrong with that

  • Gym is where you go to get in shape… but not really
    • Statistically… majority who go to gym are already in shape
      • Many might have gym memberships – Just don’t use them
      • You pay monthly for it because you don’t want to give up
      • Worse to know you can’t go than pay but not go
    • But most people who are in they gym are primarily already fit
  • Many won’t to go to church because its for those already in shape
    • So if your marriage is in shape
    • So if your doing the right thing on your Friday nights
    • So if your reading your Bible… praying… live in integrity
      • Then this gym is for those people… already in shape

There was this one gym in Chicago

  • Only people who could join is if you wanted to lose 50lbs
    • If you didn’t want to lose 50lbs… you couldn’t join
    • Idea was gyms hurt themselves b/c those who need it the most
      • None of them feel comfortable coming
  • Please… Lets not be that here
    • Lets not just be a place that poses like we have it all together
    • And everyone needs to think we are in perfect shape
    • B/C its not reality and damages others perception of reality
  • It’s the same reason Social Media is so devastating
    • It gives a false sense of reality that for some reason we believe
    • Even if we know it can’t be true

People come in and think I don’t fit in… but we all need work

  • And this needs to be a community where anyone can come in
    • And know that they are wanted and welcome

Acts 2:47 (Love what the end of this chapter says)

The Lord added to their number daily the people who were being saved.

    • Early church was a place outsiders constantly became insiders

Church in Vegas… trying to figure out how to be church to community

  • They had always had a Homeless ministry with food
    • But a lot of the people who came always talked about showers
    • And the church had showers… huge need
    • So they figured out how to get the showers open for them
  • One day this guy name Cody showed up at the church
    • He was homeless… use to be a Famous bass fisher
    • Lost everything to drugs – on the street
    • Really didn’t want to go to church out of conviction
      • But got to a place where he couldn’t stand his own smell
      • So he knew this was a place you could get a shower
  • Finally he got to such a low point that he finally headed to church

I walked into the church and a lady named Michelle from the homeless ministry said “Good morning Cody how are you?” then Michelle said “Cody you need a hug”. I said lady you don’t want to hug me because I haven’t had a shower in 3 months. Michelle didn’t seem to care. She walked up, gave me a hug and said “Jesus loves you”. And for some reason I believed her. For that split second I believed I was someone again. She ever remembered my name. It was at that point I knew that God was alive in this world and has a plan for me.

  • After he told that story…
    • He had gotten married
    • He found a job… has a house
    • Now he serves in the homeless ministry

The church is not

  • A Movie theater… to be entertained
  • Not a shopping center… Where we make sure we get what we like
  • Not a restaurant… To get served and waited on
  • Not a gas station… To fill up once a week to not think about it again
  • Not a fitness center… Only for those who are in good shape

It’s not a place at all

  • It’s a family
    • A place where we reach out to the world & say Jesus loves you
    • And such a way that for some reason people will believe it

 

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