Faithlife Corporation

Real Church 2

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Intro: G.K. Chesterton Quote.  “We are all in the same boat, and we’re all seasick together.  We throw up different stuff because we’ve eaten different junk, but the stuff in us is bad junk.  And we’re all throwing up in the way we relate.”

v  I want to be part of a church that understands two things:

Ø  1) I’m a mess.

Ø  2) God is love. 

Ø  Both of these things we fail to truly understand in our lives.

{Let’s look at them closely.  First, I’m a mess…by the way, so are you.}

v  The problem we all face is that we are fools, we have been lied too and lie to ourselves.  We think that our deepest desires; what we need in life, are secondary things not primary things.  Jeremiah 17:9-11  “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 10“I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds. 11“As a partridge that hatches eggs which it has not laid, So is he who makes a fortune, but unjustly; In the midst of his days it will forsake him, And in the end he will be a fool.” NASB95

Ø  There are things that are primary in this life, things like God’s love, God’s presence, God’s acceptance, Faith and trust in God and the assurance that fills our minds when we depend on Him.  Then there is everything else.

Ø  So when we have difficult problems and serious sins in these “secondary areas” we think they are our worst, most serious problems in life and react accordingly.  And these reactions shape our lives, our relationships and our ways of thinking.  Soon we are creating a “truth for ourselves” that is anything but truth.

§  [The wife who is abused thinking of no greater situation than a loving marriage; the parent with a wild child thinking of no greater situation than a responsible child; the single thinking of marriage.  Or the sex addict seeing his sin as the foulest, the short tempered person thinking that patience would bring an end to all of their problems. Etc.]

Ø  Then these lesser desires and dreams start ruling our choices.  We strive to fix the lesser problems that block the fulfillment of the lesser desires.  All the while, we come to believe that God is also all about these lesser desires and dreams and we don’t understand why He isn’t more aggressive in satisfying them.

§  James 4:1-4 1What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.NASB95

Ø  We are all fighting a war between desire for God vs. an addiction to anything else.  And we are our own worst enemy because we have convinced ourselves that our addiction to self is really a desire for God.  We learn quickly to cloth our relational sin in spiritual talk.  [Examples: backbite and call it a prayer request; behave rudely or selfishly and think others should understand the stress I’m under.]

Ø  The gratification that comes from these lesser desires quickly and effectively numbs the pain in our lives.  It is more exciting and easy to get hooked on.  It is certainly more exciting than church and often more exciting than Jesus.

Ø  There is a huge disconnect in the church today between what we do and what we are longing for, so we feel the need to change church to better meet those lesser desires.

Ø  So we look for churches that feed our addictions; we shop around for that which helps us maintain our fix.  [James Twitchell (Shopping for God: How Christianity Went from in Your Heart to in Your Face) “Successful churches have one thing in common: they are entertaining.”] 

Ø  Here is the rub…we will never see and feel our deepest (primary) desires and see our worst problems until the Spirit of God exposes both of them in our lives.  James 4:7-10  Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.  NASB95

§  [My story]

{ But Jesus has shown us another truth…which is in fact the only truth.  John 8:31-32  So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”NASB95This is when the second understanding comes into play…God’s love.}

v  Grace has no felt power in our lives until it surprises the hell out of us.

Ø  Romans 5:20-21  The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.NASB95

Ø  I want to go to a church that surprises me, that sees me for what I really am and still wants me.

Ø  We won’t feel the power of God’s grace until we come clean with God.  Until we stop hiding behind the false veneer of “I’m really a good guy.  I don’t smoke and I don’t chew and I don’t go with girls that do.”  We need to drop the pretense and manufactured spirituality and see our brokenness, then we will see God’s loveliness and grace and love.  It will blow us away…that’s what I want…that’s what I need.

Ø  Here is what I’m looking for:

§  A church that speaks active and living truth into my struggle with lesser things.

§  A church that truthfully and accurately exposes the wrong ways I relate that I can’t see on my own.

§  A church that is a truth hungry spiritual community where I can look bad in the presence of love and painful truth would be spoken to me in gentle love.

§  A church that calls me to live out that truth by creatively following Christ into this addictive world with the good news of Christ’s resurrection and it power to bring people to a new way to live.

{Does such a church exist?  Of course not.  But I think that it is possible to come close if we are willing and committed.  In fact, I think we can get closer if we will strive to implement four key characteristics into what we do.  I will share those in the next two weeks…}

Conclusion:  A good start is here at the Lord’s Table…let us come as we are, no pretense, no masks and expose our messy lives to the love of God…

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