Grown Up in the church
For us, church was never something that took away from our family, but church was something that kept our family close. And even today, in this room are 4 generations of Eifferts, that wouldn't see each other today, if it weren't for church.
Complicated relationships. I know lots of people have complicated relationships with the church. I talk to them every week, and I'd never want to minimize that.
But I just want to say that I believe in the church. I believe the church is what God is doing in the world.
Bound I personally know a lot of people who are bound by their past. And things that have happened in the past never seem to let them go, so they're in a way chained to who they used to be. That's a mistake when it comes to the past.
Don't know ANYTHING ANOTHER mistake that we make is we don't know ANYTHING about the past, all you know is small strokes of the story that is being painted and you don't know anything about the broad strokes.
Where you know nothing of the big story that's going on in the world, and all you know is the story of YOUR life.
One thing about western culture: We've become extremely transient. As road systems, and cars - you're more likely to move away from your family and friends and do you own thing than we've EVER been.
The average american now moves house 11 times in their lifetime.
With 1/3 of those being to a new city.
("How many of you have lived in at least 3 different cities?")
The result often times is people who are disconnected with the things that came before them.
The result is a sense of being untethered, lonely. A sense that your life doesn't have meaning.
That's what happens when there is no past, it's just you and your life and your relationships.
There's no depth, no richness, no root system. It's just 1 person, or 1 family, or 1 church disconnected from anything bigger that's happening.
And it's a HUGE mistake.
For me : Everything in my christian life changed when I learned about the Christians that came before me, and I began to have a sense of responsibility of carrying their message forward.
Mental exercise. Let's do a little mental exercise. - I want you to for just a moment become totally aware of your surroundings. Notice yourself sitting in that chair. With those clothes on, next to that guy. Look at all these lights, and this microphone, and this crazy LED wall thing.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE? You could of course answer that question lots of different ways - my mom made me come, or I drove here, or God called me to this church' but if we were to dig a little deeper, in order to explain how you got here, we'd have to go back to the beginning.
In order to answer that question, we need to go back to the beginning. To the garden.
God creates everything in peace, shalom, everything is working the way it should work.
Sin comes in a messes everything up. And it begins to spiral out of control.
In this spiraling, God shows up to a man named Abram.
Abram is the father of the worlds 3 great religions : Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The 3 great monotheistic religions. God shows up and says this : Genesis 12:1-3
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. (Genesis 12:1)
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2)
I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse whoever curses you; and all the people of the earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)
God says - I'm going to bring the world back into order - I'm going to heal the world - and I'm going to do it through you.
They got this amazing promise "all the people of the earth will be blessed through you.” This promise is given again and again and again.
God makes it clear that his people are here so that all the nations of the earth will be blessed.
But for the next couple thousand years, they got slightly sidetracked. Fast forward 2000 years.
Jesus has been raised from the dead and the apostles have been filled with the holy spirit.
Peter : v14 "Fellow Jews, listen to me." - Gospel.
So they walk out into the square - Peter speaks out and preaches the gospel to the jews.
What's amazing - When Peter spoke all the jews from every corner of the roman empire heard what he was saying in their own language.
That day, 3000 people became believers in Jesus and the church began.
It was an amazing day, I'd argue that it's the most progress that had ever made on the whole 'All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you' thing.
But one problem : Every single person here is a jew.
The church continues to grow, and grow, and grow. - WITH JEWS.
Well that begins to change in Acts 10
A man named Cornelius. Not a jew, but he believes in God.
Angel - vision…
An angel comes to him in a vision - Acts 10:4-5 “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering! (Acts 10:4)
Now send some men to Joppa, and summon a man named Peter. (Acts 10:5)
He is staying with Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.” (Acts 10:6)
Directions. I love that the angel gives him directions. The last thing you want is to bring back to wrong Peter.
"Go Get him." - Bring him to your house.
Vision - sheet. He has a vision of this sheet that comes down from heaven with all sorts of animals on it that the jews would never in a million years touch.
God says "Take and eat." / "Unclean." / "If I made it, it's not unclean."
Peter was caught in we like to call a moral dilemma.
Meanwhile there's a knock at the door.
Cornelius' solders : Cornelius' house.
Peter : "No. Jew. Better."
In that moment, he remembers the dream.
And agrees to go.
The holy spirit falls on Cornelius and his whole household and they begin to speak in tongues.
Peter baptizes them all.
Acts 15 - Council meets, church rules "Gentiles are a part of what God is doing."
This moment is one of the biggest in the history of the world.
The Gospel is no longer just a message to the jews, no it's for the whole world.
"All the people of the earth will be blessed through you.”
This is around 39AD. The rest is history.
WHY? God - God told us in Genesis 12 - So that all people of the world would be blessed by us.
And Jesus is still at work bringing reconciliation and healing to the world, and he's using his church to do it.
So if you're here this morning and you feel insignificant, that is a lie. You are a part of blessed heritage, and your life is a continuation of the story that began in Genesis 12 and goes through Jesus and the apostles and leads us to tomorrow.
This IS history
This is what's going on on this planet.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
EVERYTHING is about what God is doing.
No other story Footnote.
If trends continue (not from a Christian source BTW) by 2025
In 1900 - 558 Million Christians on planet earth. - By 2002 : 2 billion.
This is the story of planet earth and the universe it finds itself in.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
And it's a story that's not over. We're in it. Right at this very moment.
Then the small details and setbacks of life won't toss you. Who wins the election doesn't toss you.
That just a footnote in the real story.
If you can see yourself for what you are : A player in God's story.
Then you're anchored. Then you're tethered.
And I think you're much more likely to play your part well.
Instead of being consumed with 'preference' you'll become consumed with 'purpose'.
You won't spend your time here asking 'What do I like?' you'll ask 'What is my responsibility?'
How tragic for you spend your one "turn" complaining about stuff that doesn't matter.
Taking yourself out b/c of volume, or style, or speaker, is such a betrayal to people who are counting on you to keep the message going.
Oh my gosh! They're doing a special offering! It's all about money!
People were brutally killed.
And they counted it an honor to run this race.
And we're angry about an offering.
Or service being too long or too short.
If that's how we feel, we have no concept of the bigger thing that's happening.
THIS all see? When you look at church is THIS all you see? Just your moment, just your generation?
Or do you see the privilege and responsibility that we have to keep this thing moving.
Linking arms. Thousands of years of people linking arms with the people who came behind them, and with the people ahead of them to build something bigger than themselves.
You might be some kind of Christian apart from the church, but your children probably won't be, and your grandchildren definitely won't be. (A pastor Zahnd)
Christianity doesn't long survive outside of the church.
Says who? Both God and history.
"Repent and be baptized."
Cool - B/C 2 things: 1 you can do by yourself (repent) and another you need Christian community to do (be baptized).
So we have these 2 sides of our Christian faith - We have our personal relationship with Jesus and we have us coming together to form the body of Christ.
The church is the hands and feet of Jesus and through it 'All the people of the earth will be blessed.'
God didn't forget what he told us to do in Genesis 12, no the church still exists today to be a blessing to the world.
Church's mission didn't start with Outlet.
The church's mission started with God's love for humanity and his commitment to save it from the very beginning and we are still at work partnering with Him to save the lost.
Includes going out and making disciples
Because we are heirs of the church, WE have been entrusted with the responsibility of moving the church forward.
And by WE, I mean all the believers who can hear my voice. WE
We rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us into what's next.
What is the mission of God in the world today? How will he accomplish it?
Then, with our mission in hand, we sacrifice ourselves for the cause of Christ.
This is our time.
Christianity is always 1 generation away from extinction. So we link arms with those who came before us, and we link arms with those who come after us. And we do our part to build the church.
As I close, I'd encourage you to come for the rest of the Sunday's this month.
We're goings to be hearing from our pastors on where they believe the church is going.
One of the great things about Church: It FORCES you to hang out with people you wouldn't normally hang out with.
Learn to love people who are not exactly like you.
Can : Communion - Self
As family : Turn our attention : Cross
There is no problem that we face that is not fixed by the cross.
No wound that's not mended by the cross
Jesus “Come all the same" - There’s room for you at my table.
The tendency with communion is to think that it's you coming and reconnecting with Jesus, but we didn't invite Jesus, He invites us.
So our returning is simply us saying 'Yes'.
Let the mysterious healing that flows from the wounds of Christ, come and help you.
Jesus comes and take all the pain.
Whatever it is that you’re going through. - Envision yourself - putting it onto Jesus. - He carries it for you.