Why Do I Have to Go to Church? (Romans 12:1-8)October 24, 2021 | Brandon Cooper
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Good morning, you can go ahead and open up Bibles, Romans chapter 12. Romans chapter 12, will be in the first eight verses this morning. Now, as you’re turning there, perhaps this has happened to you. And it’s okay. We can admit it on the pastor here, and I’m admitting it to you, but you drive to church. And as you’re driving along, you look at what some other people are doing on Sunday morning. I’ve driven by pickup soccer games before, which if you know me at all, you know, this is a temptation, right? Or on a really nice day you see the family out walk in, or for a bike ride or something like that. Or another one that sometimes gets me as you see the people where everything is still turned off at home. Do you think they’re sleeping right now? That sounds good. And so you just start to wonder, Am I making the best choice here? Are there other things I could be doing? That looks good, no pressure, right? No commitment, just sort of me and my happy on a Sunday morning. It sounds okay. And especially now, of course, with the ease of live streaming services, and then the on demand service, which when you think about that, like those words don’t even fit together. That’s an oxymoron, of course. But there’s no reason not to, like we still can do both. You can go play your pickup games, you can have your family bike ride, and then you know, your watch church, whenever you get around to watching church, scare quotes, where it key there, you cannot actually do both. But that’s how we feel. And if you were here for our humming of unseen harp series, you know, this fits within our culture as a whole where this fits within that expressive individualism that is so rampant today. My desire, my sense of fulfillment, really is the chief end for which I exist. And so church is just there as a possible means to that. If it fits, if you’re feeling it, go for it. And if not, hey, the family bike ride is still available, so that you’ll hear increasingly today and are even Christian subculture I love Jesus. I just don’t really do church, nothing against it. I just don’t need it. I’m good on my own. Now you can start to see why we’re going to ask the question this morning. Why do I have to go to church? If you’re paying careful attention last week? Of course, you know, this is a terrible question. Because one does not go to church. One has the great privilege of being the church by gathering with the church. But there is still that question lingering behind it? Can I be a Christian without church? Like, is that okay? The simple answer is no, I’m just gonna spoil it for you. You don’t have to listen to the rest of the sermon. No, of course not. All right. The New Testament understands nothing of an unchurched, Christian. And that’s what we got to ask and answer today. So why is it that the New Testament is going if you’re a Christian, you’re in the church, you’re a part of the church of gather with the church, as Paul is going to explain for us in these eight verses, first is going to give us the aim that you know the goal that we’re aiming at the atmosphere in which this aim happens, and ultimately the activity that we do to accomplish our part in that process. So let’s take it one at a time. First, the AME. Romans chapter 12, verses one and two, I’m guessing easily a third of you have this memorized. So let’s dive in. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God, this is your true and proper worship, do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
famous passage, very famous passage, and rightly so because it’s so neatly sums up the Christian life. Notice that it begins with a word, therefore, that’s really important that shows us that we’re looking back to something that Paul already said, Romans one to 11, by the way, it’s like a big chunk of text of what Paul just said, but really, if you know anything about the book of Romans, you know, that’s the gospel of God. So he’s just laid out for us in extensive detail. This is the gospel, this is what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. Therefore, in light of all that, in fact, even says it in case you missed it in case you’re like, I don’t know what that therefore is. Therefore, he says, in view of God’s mercy, again, last 11 chapters, everything we just are because of all that God has done. You know, Romans one, where we hear that we choose to be our own gods. This great In folly, we exchanged the truth of God for a lie but a lie that at least gives us our autonomy, autonomy. We’re Kyle quoted already we’ve all forests are duly quoted already. We’ve all fallen short. Romans chapter three of the glory of God, we’ve fallen short of the glory of God. So we got this big problem. And then you just start to read Romans four and Romans five and Romans six, seven, and eight, especially, we get to the climax in so many ways, the wonder of what God has done for us that he would save rebels like us, those of us who would murder God so that we can be our own gods. And he’s like, it’s cool. I’m willing to be murdered quite literally, in order to rescue and redeem you. What what is Paul urge them in view of that sort of mercy. I love that word urge to it’s good. It’s not a command, a impulse willing to give commands, but here he’s speaking like a preacher, actually. So this is the appeal. Somebody’s not speaking so much from a position of authority, but as a mediator of a greater truth. I urge you offer yourself wholly to this God who saved us. You want your whole self to be a living sacrifice. That’s a wonderful phrase. Goodness is one of those phrases that unfortunately, we’ve heard so many times it’s lost its
you cannot be a living sacrifice. Right? You know what a sacrifice means? That’s where they kill you. So living sacrifices, this blessed oxymoron. Because what is Paul saying, It’s not meant to be a literal sacrifice at this point, because Christ already sacrificed himself once for all time. So nobody else needs to get killed. At this point, the blood has already been spilled, It is finished. So we got this spiritualize sacrifice instead, we offer every part of ourselves as instruments of that his purposes. Your Paul’s really just unpacking what he said in Romans six, right, don’t offer any part of yourself as an instrument of sin, instead of offer every part of yourself as an instrument of righteousness. And these sorts of sacrifices you can read throughout the New Testament that includes things like our praise, our generous giving our service, a very different from a sacred right at a sacred site. This is something else entirely that we’re talking about. Here’s the way the church father Chrysostomos put it way back when he said, How is the body to become a sacrifice, let the eye look on no evil thing, and it has become a sacrifice, with your tongue speak nothing filthy, and it has become an offering. Let your hand do no lawless deed, and it has become a whole burnt offering than this poll says, is our true and proper worship, which is the NIV is attempt to render a really difficult word in the Greek that means something like rational, true and proper is a great summary of it but rational and so in what sense rational well, just because it actually makes sense, in light of reality, in light of the existence of God, in light of the gospel and all of that it’s not foolish way back to Romans one again, right? It was folly what we did, we were depraved, because we rejected God’s purposes for our lives and went our own way. And of course, even the religious have lived with this sort of folly, Paul says, especially in chapter two, because we we think that we can put God in our debt, obligate him to serve us because of what we have done. And so you can see that this whole idea of rational worship really reverses where we started in Romans one. For although they knew God, then either glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile. And their foolish hearts were darkened. So that’s where we were, but now we can have a rational worship back then we really would have as we try and set ourselves above God may not sin in a nutshell. And I like that definition of sin, because it includes the religious and the irreligious like, and we tend to just think of the one group as sinners, but you know, look at Jesus talking to Pharisees, we got a lot of sin, right, a lot of sin. So what we’re trying to set ourselves above God that might be by simply rejecting God and doing whatever we want. But again, that might also be that sense of obligating God to us so that really, if I do this, he has to do this my make this sacrifice by pour out this libation than this is what I’m owed. In either case. I’m in charge. I’m in charge. That’s the folly that we’re talking about. But it’s the folly that is corrected in Christ. We cannot obligate God can’t earn it. Because, well, that’s why Christ had to do what he had to do. Because none of us could do it. So we can’t obligate them to ourselves. But we can be in a relationship with a God like this because of what Christ did for us. So then how do we offer ourselves as living sacrifices? That’s the question and verse two shows us the way, don’t conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed.
Be transformed. By the way, I think this is a deep ache that we all feel you might be here today. One of those Enquirer’s that we talked about last week, somebody who’s coming in here going, I’m not a Christian. I’m not sure about where I stand. But I think what we all feel is that sense of Yeah, but there are things in me that I know need to be changed. That’s what Paul’s hitting you. We don’t want to conform, we don’t want to be transformed, can’t conform to culture, because culture directs us in certain ways. And we talked a lot about expressive individualism in the last six weeks. So that’s one very clear way you find who you are by looking deep within yourself. And then you express that it doesn’t work we spent the whole last year he’s talking about but that that’s the way culture is pushing us or all the triumph of the therapeutic would be another way that the culture is squeezing us into its mold, where the most important thing is that I feel happy, which is really difficult, by the way in this world, because circumstances are outside our control. So So those sorts of things we’ve mentioned 100. Others, of course, don’t get squeezed into that mold, unthinkingly, Paul says rather, let God’s truth, the word. And of course, the Word made flesh, Jesus Himself. Let that truth renew your mind, let His Spirit and His grace transform you, so that you’ll know what to do to please God in specific circumstances. He says, then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is His good, pleasing, and perfect will. So how do we offer ourselves as these living sacrifices rationally? Like we know what to do? Well, we got to let the truth inform us. How do you respond when somebody insults you? First, Peter, three, your pay insult with blessing? Or what do you do when you see a brother or sister in Christ trapped in sin? And Galatians chapter six verse one of your spiritual, gently restored Mark, we got to engage, we got to walk into that mess. You see, I mean, pick pick your circumstance, we got to figure out what does the truth tell us about how we should live in that circumstance? Ephesians 517 Kind of gives us the whole of it. It says, Therefore do not be foolish. But understand what the Lord’s will is, understand what you should do at this moment, in this circumstance, this is what will please him. So let’s step back and kind of start to answer some of our questions. What is the aim that that Paul was talking about here that there is a clear aim for our lives and that aim is change, change, be transformed, that we would be transformed that we would be more like Jesus. Already, we’re kind of getting at that secondary purpose that we hinted at last week. Remember, Luke spent a lot of time last week talking about the fact that our primary purpose as individuals, and as a gathering is the glory of God, absolutely. But that secondary purpose is that we would be changed, we would be transformed. And really, that’s just one of the primary means of that primary purpose anyway. Even that whole language of sacrifice, you make sacrifices as an act of worship, that means it’s about the glory of God will now my whole life is being offered as a sacrifice, of course, it’s all to the glory of God. And as God makes us more like Christ, he receives the glory, from our changed lives from our transform that lives. We’re like the moon. We reflect His glory to others. And it may be at first that people are like, men, that moon is pretty look at the light coming off of that thing. And then we’ve got the opportunity to say, Look, I’m just pale rock, okay? You want the light, it’s coming from over there. And we point them to Jesus. Already, though, this is changing our approach to gathering isn’t it? Because we come together to do what to worship. And there’s the glory of God, we come together to hear his word, which we’re doing right now. We do it in other ways, of course here as well. And so then our minds are renewed. We’re being transformed. Really here we’re picking up where we left off last week. We left on the ID Have the sorts of things we talk about as we leave church are often totally irrelevant to church.
Did I like the music? is not really a key question. Especially if you stack it up next to something like, am I being transformed the glory of God? No one feels more important. And even as parents, Kyle said this before and some of our parent use, but the questions we ask our kids, train them to think terribly about church. You pick your kid up from youth group. How was it? Fine. And then you get all frustrated cuz you got a one word answer. You don’t want a one word answer. ask better questions, by the way. Did you like it? Well, is that important? I mean, yeah, I hope they like what we do here at every age. I hope you enjoy the services. That’s just not the most important thing. What did you learn? What was God doing in your heart? Today, whether that was at City stew in kids city or here in big church? If you’re at all familiar with CS Lewis’s Screwtape Letters Screwtape makes this point exactly. And I gotta give you some context of The Screwtape Letters if you’re not familiar with them. This is CS Lewis’s imagination at work. We have an elder demon, who is writing advice letters to his nephew. So Screwtape, the demon writing to his nephew Wormwood, the demon, which means when I talk about the enemy, by the way, they’re talking about God, not our enemy, but their enemy. Alright, so gotta have that context is otherwise Of course not gonna make sense. But, but Screwtape is talking to Wormwood, and we’re more this charge has started going to church being a part of the church. And so Screwtape says, Look, if you can cure this guy of church going turn him into a taster, or a connoisseur of churches. And he goes on to say this, the search for a suitable church makes the man a critic, where the enemy wants him to be a pupil. That’s brilliant. In our consumerist society, the way we walk into church, yeah, I’d say Screwtape is winning, right? All right, so let’s keep the aim before us. Then as we turn the corner to the atmosphere, we keep reading verses three to five. For by the grace given me, I say to every one of you do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us as Kant was one body with many members, these members do not all have the same function. So in Christ, we though many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We got to trace Paul’s argument very carefully here.
What’s the aim helped me out? Change, I want to be transformed. That’s the aim. Now, I don’t know what your Bible looks like mine has this giant paragraph break. And actually a new heading at this point. We went from a living sacrifice to humble service in the body of Christ. So paragraph break new heading, that must mean we got a new idea here, right? No way. Not a chance. And we know that because how does verse three start? Tiny little connecting particle for for, you gotta look for marks, grammatical marks of logical argument, especially when you read Paul and Peter and the other letters. And so you start a sentence, that word for it means it connects to what went before. And so let’s figure out how that happened. You want to be transformed. You want to do that verses one and two thing? Well, Paul says, By the grace given me, let me tell you how. Don’t think too highly of yourself. Don’t think too highly of yourself. This is important to because verses three to eight, that command right there. Don’t think too highly of yourself. But think of yourself with sober judgment. That’s the main point here. The main point of the paragraph perfect. We know that because verse four starts with another four. And so it’s still looking back and all that gives us a basis for that command. So don’t think too highly of yourself somehow that connects to verses one and two, we want to be transformed. This pride will keep you from that, and it connects to verses four to eight. What we’re going to do in the rest of the sermon here, and so he starts talking about the body and stuff. What is the point? Don’t think too highly of yourself. That is don’t assume that you have sufficient grace to go it alone. Because you don’t, because you don’t Grace has been measured to each one of us, Paul says. So, we all have been given grace for in Christ. If we’re in Christ, we’ve all been given certain grace gifts, call them spiritual gifts. Usually to do this together. We learn from passages, like a Hebrews that very practically speaking, God gives us grace in our time of need. Have you ever looked at somebody going through something really difficult, I don’t know how they’re getting through this. You know why you don’t know how they’re going through that, because God has not given you grace to go through what they’re going through. But he has given them that grace. Now think about what that means, though, that means that there are people in this room who have been given different grace than you, because they’ve gone through different experiences than you have. And already, you starting to think of yourself a little bit more soberly. Again, let’s make it concrete here. You know, I look at young moms sometimes who are just starting off, and they’re kind of frazzled, right? And you put them alongside a veteran mom, you know, kids are in college kind of thing, who’s been given the grace to get all the way through the terrible twos, the three age years, the teenage years, all the rest, right. And he just think part of the grace that God is going to give to those young moms is the fact that they’re veteran moms in the community to say it’s okay to be okay. Isn’t that what’s going to work out? All right? We got to remember, Descartes. Again, we did a lot of him in the last series. So Rene Descartes, the philosopher, mathematician, he was trying to understand all of reality, logically. And by the way, all he needed to do was read Romans 12, one and two, because that’s our logical or rational worship. But he didn’t do that. Instead, he wanted to start here. And so he said, All right, the only thing I can be 100% sure of is that I am currently thinking. And so you all know the statement, I think, therefore, I am. Alright, we got it. Right. But the problem was a cart. The problem with that shift that happened, right there with the enlightenment, is that Decart started this trend, where now we start answers to life’s most important questions with the word AI. I think, I believe, I suspect, and this is the heart of that individuals that we keep talking about. Here. Paul, demolishes that pretension with one fell swoop, you can’t do it, you’re thinking too highly of yourself. If you’re starting with yourself, you need others, because we belong to one another, like different parts of the body belong to one another. I try not to speak to my body parts individually. But if I had an arrogant part of my body, I sometimes think it would be the eyes, right? Because they’re taking it all in. And they just must be really impressed with themselves.
But I would guess in that situation, though, my heart is going. You like, see? And do you try it without the blood pumping into you all the time? See how that works. And the feet are going, Oh, that’s a nice view, isn’t it? Who got you there? Like, calm down? All right, humble yourself. And that’s what Paul is saying here as well. And so let’s, let’s, let’s make a paragraph and we’ll take the next step here. So the aim is what? Change be transformed, right? The atmosphere in which that change happens is community. And frankly, it’s humility, and community. We need those two together, and they go together because you won’t really enter into community not truly, if you think too highly of yourself, you may attend to sings with the community. But if you don’t have that humility, you’re never gonna enter in because the key to entering in is to say, I need help. I need I need all of you or this isn’t gonna happen. So Jerry, Jeremy Lindemann wrote a fascinating article, embrace true belonging in the church in a collection of essays called before you lose your faith. The whole book is about reconstructing your faith and especially this one about reconstructing your faith after you’ve experienced hurt. He says there kind of three keys here three things we need to do. If we’re going to embrace true belonging in the church, we’re gonna embrace this sort of community, the first thing is to be willing to be honest and vulnerable. So in that context, he’s talking to people who have experienced hurt in the church even we’ll also talk about the hurt itself. What caused it? What are you going to do with it? It means raising questions. It certainly means admitting failures. That’s what it means to be willing to be honest and vulnerable. And he makes a key point to either way who starts that process? You do. All of you, all of us, myself included. Right? The only person who can take that for Step into humility and vulnerability is you we’re all responsible to do this. In fact, that kind of takes us to the second point where he says, You embrace you belong in a church and be willing to be honest and vulnerable. And you got to focus on building community. He quotes a pastor friend of his, I love this, I wish it were mine, I’m gonna steal it and drive it like it’s mine. In fact, he says, he’ll get up in front of the church and he’ll say, Look, this isn’t a great place to find community. Get the Gasp and everything because people are oh, well, it’s only when I’m here. So I’m going somewhere else. This isn’t a great place to find community. But it is a great place to build community. And that’s a key shift. And by the way, that is not the shift. We walk through the doors with that we got to actually shift that in our minds. Lindemann says it like this. He says, if you’re looking for a community that will welcome you into his club of happy nondramatic non demanding friends, good luck. Maybe you do find a group that says come on in. It’s perfect in here. We’ve been waiting just for you. But that’s either a false promise, or it’s a cult. Or maybe just an overeager group workout class. community must be built, community is not found. And the work of building community is hard. You know why? It’s hard. Because you’re hard. And I’m hard. And everyone else in the community is hard. Because we’re sinners being saved by grace. So the hard work, we got to build community. I gotta say one other thing, too, just speaking as one of the pastor’s here, I can’t do it for you. I cannot build community. Kyle cannot build community, the rest of the staff, the rest of the elders, that’s not on us. It is on all of us, collectively. Community is on every single one of us. And that really takes us to the third thing, he says, You gotta be humble, you got to be vulnerable, you got to be honest, you got to focus on building community, instead of trying to find the perfect community. And then three, we have got to reset our lives for relationships. We have got to reset our lives for relationships, we have to slow down. The pandemic gave us this for like 18 months, and now we’re all going 90 miles an hour again. And it’s killing us. My wife said it and she said it so perfectly. We all want community. We all want the sort of community where you know, people are just popping by for dinner and all that kind of stuff. We all want community but none of us wants it enough to change our lives to have it.
We want everybody else to take their kids out of piano and soccer and ballet and rollerskating and art class and everything else that my kids need that to be well rounded. And so everybody’s got piano and ballet and soccer and on down the line. And guess how much that time how much time that leaves us. For the work of building community. We have to reset our lives for relationships. That includes by way thinking about how your life decisions will affect the community. Just not how we think in an individualistic age, we got to do it. Like like you can’t have community if you move every two or three years. You can gather with a group of people Sure, but you’re not going to have real community if you move every two or three years. I put an article in the polls I think it was two weeks ago about living close to your Christian friends like that’s a life decision we can make you want to live by your community. The the article started with a sentence that’s like seared in my brain forever. Don’t quote it exactly. But it says, as Americans, like our aim or whatever we may say we want to be transformed. Our actual aim is that we grow up to be wealthier, busier and friendless. And that’s the truth. Like look at it. Adults don’t have friends anymore. We have the people we stand next to at our kids activities. And those are friends and that’s not community. We got to do something different. Part of this may include by the way, this isn’t for everyone. This is for some of us the wisdom of Proverbs 27 Verse 10 Proverbs says Do not forsake your friend or friend of your family and here’s the key part. Do not go to your relatives house when disaster strikes you better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away. Why do I mention that? Because some of you are still trying to be closer to your family that’s four states away than you already are brothers and sisters in Christ right next door you better a friend better neighbor, a community member who’s here in your community. Mom and dad in Texas aren’t helping out when disaster strikes. The people will be there in five minutes they might be able to that’s the wisdom of this proverb. Dig in here and I gotta make one last point before we go on to the activity, then an Hermo, quote some of the most profound words that I’ve ever heard a Christian speak. This is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And he’s pointing out that some of us who desire community most might actually be the community’s biggest enemies. And here’s how he says it. He says those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love, the Christian community itself, become destroyers of That Christian community, even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial. God hates this wishful dreaming, because it makes the dreamer proud, and pretentious, which is against the course. Chapter 12 Verse three here, you’re thinking of yourself to highly thinking of your vision of community to highly those who dream of this idolized community demand that it be fulfilled by God by others, and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands, set up by their own law and judge one another, and God accordingly. Those are hard words, they’re not for everybody, but they are for some of us. And I speak as somebody who hungers for community like I have seen that sin in myself, you can claim to want community, when really you just want to be served, and served on your terms. And that’s not going to work. And that will take us by the way to our last point. So the activity let me read verses six to eight. Here, we have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith, that is serving and serves teaching, and teachers encourage and give encouragement, if it is giving and give generously if it is a lead, do it diligently, but as to show mercy do it cheerfully. Now let’s take stock of where we are. So we have an aim. What’s the aim? Change, you guys are so weak.
We’ll try this again. Thank you, all right, change that we would be transformed. What is the atmosphere in which that happens? Community. Lastly, there’s an activity, which is what we do, to do our part, recognize that a huge chunk of this is God’s part, of course, doesn’t happen without him, but to do our part to see that accomplished, and what is our part it is service, we serve as part of this grand salvation project. And if you’re in Christ, that is what God has gifted you to do. So that we have different gifts according to the grace given us. We have different gifts. Think this through for a moment with me that means that in his wisdom, God does not give us all that we need as individuals. You don’t have everything you need to become like Christ in yourself, because you only got a couple of the gifts, and you need the rest of them if you’re going to grow up. Somebody unquote. Second Peter wanted me me, He’s given us everything we need for life and godliness. He’s given us everything we need for life and godliness, because he gave us each other as part of all of that. So we got this simple, really simple set of commands, like I don’t feel like I need to teach through verses six to eight, they’re, they’re pretty straightforward. If you have this gift, use it. Good. We understand it now. All right, you got gift, a teaching, teach, you got to get some encouragement, and courage got the gift of giving them give. This, by the way is where the analogy of the body becomes so important, because the body only functions well. If every part is doing its part, I could prove this, we’re not going to take the time because I’ve preached too long every week, that’s fine. See how many times you can write your name in 30 seconds. Then do it again. And this time, you can’t use your hands, put the pen in your mouth under your armpit. I don’t know. See how it goes. You take one body part away, things stop working. And some of you have done this to where like you hurt your knee or something you’re walking funny. And after like three days, everything hurts. Because your knee isn’t working right anymore. And now nothing works, right? Any more. If no one is teaching, the transformation of the community will slow. If no one is giving the transformation, the community will self no one’s leading the transformation of the community will slow no one’s serving and on and on and on. That’s the point. So let me say it. I’m gonna say it very strongly, but I promise you it’s biblical. Just as you cannot come to Christ, without coming to his people. Right, we get that that’s the analogy the body right there. You cannot be made a part of Christ’s body, he’s the head and not be part of the rest of the body. Or if you like Paul’s image in Romans nine to 11 It’s like a branch being grafted into a tree. You can’t be connected to the roots and not connected to the rest of the tree. Right? So you cannot come to Christ without coming to his people. But just as you cannot come to Christ up Amen to his people. So you cannot serve Christ without serving his people. If you are not serving his people, you are not serving Christ. Jesus says as much Matthew 25 Verse 40, Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Brothers and sisters, right? He’s talking about the church specifically, are we supposed to serve people outside the church? Yes, we know that when we quote 100 verses that say that shirt easy, like a, quote, 100 verses that talk about the fact we have a specific focus in the church as well. So that to neglect the church is to neglect Jesus. It’s harsh, and it is true. Are there exceptions? Absolutely. There are four seasons. And that’s a really important qualifier for a season, you’re physically incapacitated. Not a good time to serve. And by the way, that may include the last season of your life may reach a point where four Jesus calls you home, the outward has wasted away even as the inward is being renewed day by day, but the outward has wasted away enough. You just you really can’t serve. I think it happens later than we sometimes think it does. But okay, fine, physically incapacitated. I do think of moms of little ones are dimensioned them once today, I talked about the moms, I’m just totally smitten with one. So full confession here. And I look at my wife and robustus little heathens that surround her. And I think it makes sense to me that she cannot serve as much as she would like to in this church in this season. She does still teach explore our for the for the little ones, but uh, yeah. So is that to see that trauma recovery? very real. So yeah, absolutely. Okay. But barring that clear, obvious exception,
this is the expectation. You’re serving Christ by serving his church. So there’s the question, where are you serving the church? Have you identified your gifts? Are you using them for the express purpose of helping others be transformed? Because that’s our aim, change. And by the way, if you’re looking at me right now going, No, I haven’t identified my gifts. I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. We offer our class some spiritual gifts that I just kind of teach whenever we need it. So if you’re interested in that, because you’re going I’m not sure I understand all this, let me know and we’ll get a class running. ASAP. I’ll teach you tomorrow, if you want. Sam Albury says it like this. So I think he’s ready. He says outside of the local church, we will lack the encouragement God has for us. And we will be failing to help others grow in their face to, to think we will carry on our Christian lives is therefore a little arrogant. I’m saying I can manage without the encouragement God wants to provide me through the local church. And quite selfish. I’m saying that I won’t encourage those in my local church, arrogant and selfish. That seems to contradict the rest of the passage, doesn’t it? By the way, you can see the tight logic of the passage as a whole than as well. So this takes many forms. That’s verse six different parts of the body, we got different grace, many forms, but a singular aim that the body is built up so that we might all be transformed. This happens with formal service to the church. This happens with informal service to the church, we got members of our connection team, who are there on Sunday mornings to greet you warmly and connect you into the life of the church. But that might happen more strongly, even by the guy in the pew who smiles you sit down near him just warms your heart like Psalm on a winter day. Formal and informal. We’ve got musicians and poets and musicians who are up here helping lead us in songs of praise. And then you got the person that you can just see out a corner of your eye, who is worshiping a whole heartedly and a whole bodily, who just kicks our soul into gear that ever happened to you. By the way. You’re just like, I’m just here, I’m just singing. I don’t really like this song pastor told me I’m not supposed to talk about. And then you look over and you see somebody who is with Jesus at that moment. You’re like, that’s why I’m here. That’s right. And it just informal service to the church. We don’t need warm bodies filling volunteer slots, we need people equipped to use their gifts to build the body of Christ up. It means by the way that we got to move from a consumer mindset to a creator mindset. It’s the difference between coming into an art museum where you’re looking at people who’ve got finished project. Ooh, you know, burnin sermon that was really well painted today, Julie, lead and worship that was outstanding. That’s an art museum. I’m here to look at what other people are doing versus an art studio. The church is an art studio. Oh, this is where we create using our guests to build the body up. I gotta say it looking straight ahead here, you can’t do that from home. You cannot do that from home watching on the screen. That is the reality, perhaps you still see the pandemic is the exception. It’s coming to an end, it’s coming to an end, we got to get to that point where we got to re enter not just society, but community specifically okay, but because you cannot do this from home. Remember, Ephesians, 411 and 12. We talked about this last week, God gave leaders to the church to equip his people for works of service. So if all you’re doing is listening to me talk, you’re being equipped to do what? Not something you can do, sitting on your couch at home. That’s what to serve. And for everyone. Now, you can’t do this on Sunday morning only. Is it not a Sunday morning only kind of thing. Community and service both require more than that, which is why we have these other things as well. Like we got to be in community groups that we can speak to, and we’re gonna be in Journey there’s got to come to explore. And we got a whole host of ministry teams that allow us to do the service we’ve been called to do, frankly, even discovering what gifts you have requires community input. So of course, we got to be together for this. And you can’t be known deeply in the chit chat that happens after this service. And I love the chitchat that happens after the service. Again, I said it last week, it is a holy and sacred moment. Like let’s not discount it. It just isn’t sufficient. We put all the pieces together then we can close here. What is the aim?
What’s the atmosphere? Community, and the activity? Is service. Right? As part of this grand salvation project, put them all together the main takeaway, why do I have to go to church? Why do I have to go to church? Why? Because change is a community project. Change is a community project. We cannot do what Paul urges us to do to be transformed without serving fully in humble community. And so we got two questions, of course. Are you really in community? Or do you just attend the community? And then second, are you really serving your brothers and sisters? By the way, those two go together, I will say this, I don’t know anyone who is deeply connected in community who was an actively serving in the church. That’s been true every location I have ever been. So two questions you really community? Are you really serving your brothers and sisters? And if not, why not? One answer may be well, Brandon, because I don’t know how to get plugged in. I’ve got such great news for you. Stick around after the service today for a ministry Fair which is conveniently called plugged in. And you can get plugged in find out how because this is what we’re here to do. Look, our Cityview tagline is made to magnify center serve, made to magnify, be transformed, right be made more like Christ to His glory made to magnify and then sent to serve, including here in the church. And we want to equip you to do both well, but now we know they happen together. At the same time, as you engage change is a community project. So why don’t you come and be a part of it? Let’s pray. Father, we want to be transformed. That’s so much of why we’re here again, even those who are here still questioning Christianity are here at least in part because there’s a recognition. We’re not perfect. We can grow, we can be changed. We need to. We’ve made mistakes, we can acknowledge them. So Lord, we’re here to be saved from our failures. But we’re here to be transformed as well. We don’t just want the debt wiped out the penalty paid. We want to become what you saved us to become the image of Christ formed in us. Now we seem Your word is clear. That happens together. So help us not leave here today. Without turning towards one another. How can I dive deeper into community? Humbly vulnerably honestly, willingly willing to cut things out of my life even in order to dig deep into community? And then how can I serve so that I’m not just being built up, but I’m building others up as well as you created and called me to do. These are individual answers, Lord, because you’ve made us different. We know that grace is given to us as individuals measured out to us as individuals to bring to a communal table. And so help us to answer these questions for ourselves, in the quiet of our own hearts, even now, but in community as well as others help us discover what you created us to be. We pray this Lord not just for our own sake that we would be changed but for your sake that you would be glorified in our changed lives.
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