Series:  Foundations of the Faith

 “Christ In Me In The World”

Matt. 28: 16-20


Illustration: He is the loneliness man in the world. Illustration of Brazilian Indian

While this story is unique, there are thousands of people in our area that are desperately lonely. Not so much physically lonely but emotionally and spiritually lonely. They may be surrounded by people but they are lonely – lives are a treadmill of meaninglessness – days are filled with routine – there hearts are empty just waiting to be filled with the goodness of God.  How can we reach them with the good news of Jesus? Should we even try? How can we Christianize our community?

Matt. 28: 16-20

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

Great commission – go make disciples   baptize them  teach them  and guess what I’ll be with all the way

The foundation of our faith comes when we realize that all of us are broken and we can’t fix ourselves. We go to God and enter in to the family of God by accepting Christ as our Savior.  Then we recognize not only that we are in Christ but Christ has said I will send my spirit to live in you.  This great treasure chest of gifts becomes available to us. At this point Christianity is about me. But there is one more step we must take to keep Christianity from becoming a selfish religion.   

Somewhere along the journey of faith, there must be a transition.  I don’t know exactly when it happened for me. You might not be able to point to a date or an event when it happened for you. But somewhere, somehow as Christians we need to find ourselves moving away from “serve-us” to “service”. Where the church is no longer a place we go “to be served” but “to serve”.

James writes in in 2:17, “Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all---it is dead and useless.”

How many of you remember the old full-service gas stations?  Cleaned your windows, checked your oil, pumped gas into your car and after being served you were ready to hit the road.  In many ways, church is like one of those stations.  The church becomes a full service station where we go to learn, worship, fellowship and be recharged so we can go out into our communities and serve the people around us.

Many times evangelical churches like ours who put a heavy emphasis on salvation neglect to take our Christianity out into a needy world.  We stay in our holy huddle with our Christian friends and wonder why people don’t flock our doors. We never impact society with our lifestyles.  Away from the church, we live like closet believers – good people – don’t commit heinous sins but also never change, our workplace, and our communities.

How do we Christianize our environment?  Family, workplace   community  How do we widen the circle and invite people to feast at God’s banquet table?

I.  We must be a people of cultural relevance

Acts 17:17

17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.

What is cultural relevance? Illust:  Korean banquet

The church does not exist in isolation.  We exist in the context of our community. 

You have heard me say many times that while the message never changes, the methods and language we use to convey that message is in constant flux. It is a very difficult line to walk without getting out of balance.

Our context is a large populated environment in a Southern state of the US.  It is quite different than Honduras, Italy, or Lebanon, or Kansas or NYC or rural Indiana, or Silicon valley in California. How do we reach our culture – the one we live in. 

When we look at the Bible, we see Jesus understood his culture . . . went to the synagogue – place of worship – also walked slowly through the crowd in the marketplace – in the countryside – at the watering wells.  He told parables about life in the 1st century; he dressed in the clothes of the day – life changing message – cultural relevance

Paul understood ministering to the culture.  Times he was very Jewish in his approach; other times such as in Athens among mostly gentiles he said this:

Acts 17:17 

 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there

In fact in I Cor. 9:22 he makes a pretty remarkable statement:  "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means, I might save some.”

Doesn’t mean he joined in sinful behavior – but he identified with his audience – his culture

Martin Luther understood this concept.  In changing the music of the church from Gregorian chants to hymns, he went to the local pubs – listened to what they were singing and penned new words to old tunes to be culturally relevant.

Author John Ortberg says:  “if you are doing church the same way you did 10 years ago, you are kidding yourself if you think you are culturally relevant.”

At this point most of you think I am talking about music – certainly that is the lightning rod for churches – that’s not all I a talking about – how we do church - programs – small groups – interest groups – getting out of the church building and into the community with ways that show forth the love of God. Contemporary music is a misnomer – we want to be a contemporary church ministering to our community in culturally relevant ways

We cannot gather ourselves in a holy huddle and tell each other how wonderful we while desperate people are waiting for us.

When we look around we see brokenness every where.  Lives spiraling out of control; we see poverty, addictions, selfishness, greed, dysfunctional famlies, loneliness and sorrow.  How do we minister in a culturally relevant way to those needs?

II.  We must be a people of influence not power

Phil 4:9 

9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Power is based on control; influence is based on love

Next Sunday we will have several parents who dedicate their children unto the Lord. At this point they have power over those children – but as they grow, the children will begin to make their own decisions, judgments, and value systems.  No amount of power can make them choose the way you want them to. 

Influence is different.  When they see Mom and Dad loving one another, sacrificing for one another, living a Christian lifestyle before them, honoring God, respecting people – that influence is a powerful change agent. 

Conversely when they see parents who argue all the time, show prejudice, belittle each other, disrespect people, use God only as crutch in tough times, that also is a powerful influence on their lives.

Illust – Landon’s comment about dad

We cannot Christianize our world through our power – forcing people – making them do something – our power is found in influence.  Paul says:  “whatever you have learned, or received, or heard or seen in me, put into practice. And the god of peace will be with you.”

By the way we live our lives we influence people for the gospel or we drive them away from the gospel.

What is the difference between power and influence?

            Power leads to corruption influence leads to change

            Power leads to confrontation; influence leads to understanding.

            Power tempts us to control and coerce; influence tempts us to act in a Godly way

Power puts the pressure on the recipient to respond; influence puts the pressure on you to be godly.

III.  We must be a people of authenticity  Eph. 5:15-16

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

It is my role as pastor to present the concept of a holy lifestyle pleasing unto God that we live day by day.  It is also my role as pastor to help you when you don’t meet that goal.   That’s authenticity.

I will sometimes have individuals come to me and say:  someone in your church did something unchristian – is that the kind of church you are.  I always apologize for that because I know that hurts them.

I wish that everyone who came here was perfect in all the things we thought, said, and did.  We’re not.  People on a spiritual journey that doesn’t end. 

people hate hypocrisy – when we say something and do something else.  They sometimes see the church as a group of perfect people with which they can’t identify.  They don’t have any problems.

Authenticity is not hiding our problems, our troubles and our faults.  Authenticity is not excusing those things with comments like I can’t help it – that’s the way I am. That’s irresponsibility.  When we live in secret sin, God is not pleased, we cannot grow in our faith and the church is not edified.

Story of Jacques Demers  former Lightning coach.  Could not read or write – learned to survive – restaurant he would order what the person in front of him had or just point to the menu not really knowing what he was going to get. Petrified he would be discovered.  Then he wrote a book and admitted he couldn’t read or write.  Now he says:  I have never been happier – people are accepting and helpful – I don’t have to live in a secret world anymore.

We say this is a place of love, acceptance, and forgiveness.  We don’t condone ungodly behavior but we recognize we have to deal with it.  We cannot be blind to our weaknesses – they are still there even when we act they aren’t.   When you fail we don’t stomp on your body, we offer a helping hand.

So how do we Christianize our community?

IV.  We must be a people of service  Eph. 4: 11-13

 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Many years ago, I went to a motivational seminar by a man named Zig Ziglar.  He made a statement I have never forgotten.  People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. 

Non Christians are not impressed with your knowledge of the Bible although that is important; they are looking to see if you care.  We show our concern by ministering to them not by condemning them.

Ministry is not determined by position it is determined by passion.   95% of the people at Bayside who serve were not elected to a position, they were excited about an opportunity. We need to serve both inside and outside the church.

Once we find Christ and realize he lives in us, we naturally begin to look around at others in need.

It’s not about me, its about God?  Really   easy to say

            Receive all the blessings and gifts of God and refuse to share them with others than it is all about me

            Keep all of the money we earn and refuse to give part of it to further God’s kingdom, its all about me

            Unwilling to sacrifice our time for the benefit of others   it is all about me

            Turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the tremendous needs around us,  it is all about me.

Every week we need hundreds of volunteers to do all kinds of tasks.  I am excited about Molli coming on staff because that will be one of her major responsibilities.  To be honest with you, we have been weak there – we have lots of people who want to help and serve but they don’t know what opportunities are available or how to do it.  We’re going to have a ministry fair for two weeks in February providing an opportunity for you to serve.

We also need to serve outside the church. We can never Christianize our community by simply coming to church on Sunday.  Our do something program will give you that chance. 

The progress becomes this:  go to Christ; allow Christ to come to you; go to others.

Culturally relevant, influential, authentic people of service can Christianize a community.