What’s A Church To Do?
Matthew 22: 34-40
- Good morning church! Let me remind you of our study on Wednesday nights at 6:30pm. God’s Amazing Grace through the eyes of Paul in the book of Romans. We will be in high gear as we look at the last two weeks worth of study.
- You guys should not have taken so long in the business meeting last Wednesday but let me tell you what I saw that night was worth missing my bible study. You guys as a church were laughing, loving, and enjoying being together. That is what church should be like. Don’t loose that Joy you have rekindled.
- Before we get into our message let me just say that I have enjoyed our last 6 weeks together. It has been my privilege and honor to stand with you over the last few days. This is a great church and I look forward to hearing some great stories from you. Everyone has been so nice to me and my family – thank you for all the nice cards and comments. I think a few of you have been a little shocked at what God has been doing in my life. I’m just another example of what God can accomplish if you are willing.
- Let’s open with a word of prayer.
- The church is the local body of Christ and it is the earthly representation of Jesus. You and I are literally the hands and feet of Jesus Himself and it is through us that God wants to communicate with the rest of the world.
- As we think about all the things that a church can or could do, sometimes we get a little out of line and we forget about the main things that churches should be doing. There have been several books written about this over the last few years. People like Rick Warren and Thom Rainer have tried to show us that sometimes we can make church a little too difficult. The only thing that we have that the world does not is a relationship with God Himself. Everything else should be based on that foundation.
- This morning I want us to focus on some basics of the church. If you have your bible our main text will be Matthew Chapter 22 and let’s discuss “What’s a Church To Do”.
Point 1 “Love God”
“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (Deut 6.4-5)
- Hear O Israel the Lord our God is One – called the Shema in the Jewish faith and is the main statement in the morning and evening prayer. It is considered one of the main pillars of Judaism – they worship only 1 God.
- Jesus reiterates this very elementary point when He is cornered by the Pharisees as to what is the greatest commandment. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 – Look at Matthew 22: 34-38
- Quote from Tom Rainer’s book “Simple Church”. Jesus stepped into a complicated and polluted religious scene. It was cluttered with Sadducees, Pharisees, Herodians, Zealots, and Essenes. He did not play by their rules. He could not stand their hypocrisy. He preferred spending time with tax collectors and sinners. The religious leaders had developed a religious system with 613 laws. They choose 613 because that was how many separate letters were in the text containing the Ten Commandments. Then they found 613 commandments in the Pentateuch. They divided the list into affirmative commands (do this) and negative commands (don’t do this). There were 248 affirmative commands, one for every part of the human body as they understood it. There were 365 negative commands, one for each day of the year.
- Is it any wonder that our Rabbi / Teacher said “all you that are weary and heavy burdened…. Take up my yoke for it is easy and my burden is light”
When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together in the same place. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 6 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important commandment. (Matt 22. 34-38)
- Jesus looks at all these religious nuts (leaders in the church) and says to be so smart you are asking silly questions the most important thing for you to be worried about is that you love God with mind, body, & soul. It is the Shema – something you have said thousands of times and yet you don’t get its meaning.
- With everything that you are – love God. Give him your emotions, your will, your thoughts, your body, your job, your family, your desires, your failures – give it all to Him.
- Anything less than total surrender is only a half hearted effort. God gives us His all and that is exactly what He expects from us.
- And yet many of our churches have forgotten this most important rule. We are too busy making sure that our bylaws are not broken, that our traditions are kept in order, that we are comfortable, & we are going to make sure that nothing new or challenging should darken the doors of our church. Sounds like a bunch of Pharisees to me!!
Point 2 “Ok Love God But How Can We Best Love God?”
- There are a lot of right answers here like – worship, sacrifice, sing, praise, honor, etc.
- Let’s look at the words of Jesus:
o The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it You’re going to reveal Yourself to us and not to the world?”23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you. (John 14. 21-26)
o What is the key to loving God – its obedience
§ Then Samuel said: Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention ⌊is better⌋ than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15.22)
§ For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6.6)
§ Moses, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Jesus all agree – the best way to love God is with obedience. Show Him your love by your actions.
§ There is not a parent or grandparent in the room that does not just brim over with joy when a child makes good decisions and does the right thing just the way you taught them. It is great when they crawl up in your lap and say “I love you” but how awesome is it when someone tells you – your child is well mannered, or did a good job at something.
§ I know you just love to hear me sing – the hymn says “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey”.
§ Let’s love God the right way by our obedience.
Point 3 “Love Others”
He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important commandment. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt 22. 37-40)
Jesus quotes (Lev 19.18)- Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
- How is it that we love others? – Jesus reminds us to love others as we love ourselves. This can sometime be very difficult to do but once again this verse is tied with Loving God and is an obedience factor.
- If we need a little more clarity or definition on this Paul says “Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; 5 does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; 6 finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth;7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor 13. 4-7)
- Love is a little bit more than just not stealing from, killing, or bearing false witness against your neighbor – it is also forgiving, enduring, being patient with and putting others needs even before your own.
- Are you doing that in your own life and modeling that for the church?
- Are we truly loving others or just tolerating them because we know we are supposed to?
Conclusion “So What’s a Church to Do?”
- Well church what about it? Are you doing a good job of loving God? Do people see that you follow God and not just a bunch of rules? Jesus went on to show the Pharisees that Loving God and Loving Others was the foundation for all the laws and the writing of the prophets.
- Have we gotten away from those key principles? I am afraid that Jesus might just be looking at some of our churches today like He does the church in Ephesus in the second chapter of Revelation when He says “You have forgotten your first love”.
- Don’t forget to love God and we show that by our obedience.
- Secondly, do we love others? Especially each other. Jesus told the disciples that the world (those outside the church) will know that you belong to Me by the love you have for each other.
- So many times the church can be a brutally cold environment. When people hurt us, disappoint us, and let us down we tend to forget to Love like Paul states in 1 Cor 13. Instead we say things like “They know where we are if they want to come back”, “ Yes, I will forgive them but I will never trust them again”, “Well, if there staying here then me and my family are leaving”.
- How sad for the Body of Christ to forget to Love God and to Love Others. Its not always easy to be obedient to God, its not always easy to love me (I can be a real jerk) but we are called to be like Jesus who loved you even while your sins were crucifying Him.
- Church – outside is a lost and dieing world that is just looking for the answers. Are they being drawn here because of your love for God & others or are they having trouble seeing Jesus due to our disobedience and unloving spirit?
- God is calling all of us here to a deeper walk with Him and a deeper love for others. You may have never given your life to Jesus – well today is the day of salvation.
- You may need to update your commitment to God – today is the day.
- You may be ready to be a part of this body – they aint perfect but God is and He is working on these people. Come be a part.
- There may be other decisions that you need to make this morning but whatever that is will you give Mike or myself the privilege of talking with you.