Good to be together. Thank you for being here on this day.
Fellow and wife, bitter relationship, fellow sick, in hospital, barely speak, bedside, What is it? I want you to marry Henry. You can marry. Oh no, wouldn't want. Cheated me, I owe him.
Relationships difficult. Masters at masking. Not to be hypocritical, just don't know what to do. Know what cross calls us to do, but hard to do. Hard to follow through.
Croatian theology, Miroslav Voltz, was invited to be part of mending in Serbian-Croatian conflict. He saw the devastation. Saw damage/death caused by Serbian soldiers. Memorial for 26-yr old man, killed among family, in plain view. Saw makeshift memorial. Few days later, he gave speech. Love your enemy = text. Finished message, professor from his seminary training, mentor, asked question. Dr. Voltz, address reflected distanced relationship, you spoke of love for enemy, does that include the Serbian, soldier. Voltz knew answer in mind, but struggled in heart. One hand, sense of blood of innocent slaughtered cried out from ground for justice, but another sense in blood of cross cried out for grace, reconciliation.
We have to determine that blood of cross is what guides your response to life, to the blood from ground.
Luke 19--people want to spill Z blood. Divorce = financial pain, even then. Strains on society, and Z is arm of govt making things worse. Curse under breath. 19, read. Wealthy, wanted to see Jesus, come down, welcomed, people muttered, strange promises. 19:10.
Two vs.--v. 3, someone who wants to get to Jesus but cannot because of crowd. Already has crowd, crowd instead of open/welcoming, is isolating crowd. Keeps people out and limits who gets in. Not reading in. vv. 6-7, muttered. Z was embarrassment. Not want him, keep him out of their circles. Jesus is living out parable of 99. Leave crowd to go to Z. Here; we struggle today with how we live out the characters of this story. Three characters: J, Z, crowd. Which do you identify with? We are supposed to see self in this story. ID with one char. Help you narrow it down, don't see self as J. Which is it? Crowd or Z? Trying to get to Jesus or making it hard for people to get to Jesus. No third option. Which are you?
Look at how God got us to this story. Eph. 2: Conclusion: Bible, primarily community- bldg handbook/manual. Respectful. Read through letters, incl. Philm, is community-bldg handbook. Read NT and figure out how to become community of Christ. This is its purpose. FSHS. FSHS will make us one. Basis of community is God. Relationships of FSHS Jn 17 is bedrock of our salvation. Self-giving, other receiving love.
God's purpose is accomplished. Consider. In this text, purpose, already accomplished in CJ. Was accomplished in Jesus. What is your job? I did my job! Jesus could look at church thus. Eternal purpose, JC carried it out. Only way know who Jesus is is to know him before he was Jesus.
Purpose is to take the world's sin, reconcile to God, reconcile us to one another. Purpose of God is our reconciliation. #1--is our reconciliation to God. No PDL unless we are within the purpose of God.
OT--nature of God, Ps 33:10-11. Isa. 14:24,27; Isa. 46:10. God's Purpose will stand, his purpose is accomplished. Gamaliel, Ac 5, if this is of God, vv. 38-39, our purpose must come from God. Eph. 1:11.
Ask self, hard question, ask, imagine, swim along with me, is the church God's Achilles heel? Are we his weakness? Weak link, weak point, takes the great warrior and makes him vulnerable. Thwarts plans, purposes, defeats. Eternal purpose, God accomplished, did his job, at cross, in CJ, reconciliation. His Purpose will stand. But as look at church, Xns, living out purpose, is the ch God's weakness, point at which his purpose fails. Hope not, don't believe so.
But experts re: growing churches: for sake of souls.
You may disagree, disagree theologically but not prove it in US among c/c practically. Less than 8 of 35 large churches in Atlanta are significantly integrated. World proves experts right. Super fast-growing churches grow homogeneously, without cultural mix, without mixing color, life stages, economic strata. Not happening. Our churches are indicted in that truth.
Love church, history in church. Respect, we are not where God wants us to be in his purpose. So we must study. Can do whatever, make excuses, we want to mix but they won't. Kidding? Excuses! To bring church to weakness. Must not be. Uncomfortable=selfish. Greek word for...
What do? How respond? Not have to be that way if understand PDL. Jesus can come to town, get our crowd, and show us how to get Z in. JC has capacity of what he did at cross to heal the church, PDL.
Croatian theologian: whole way of living can be wrongly centered, we must decenter self. If X is new center, instrument of decentralization is the cross of Christ. Inconceivable that God emptied self in events of Friday-Saturday 2000 yrs ago, no arbitrary express of nature of God, translates to incarnation, self giving, other receiving love of God clearly demonstrated in cross, room within himself for estranged humanity.
How build community of faith/inclusion.
Up to us to do our job. Must understand the power of the PDL. Where are the poor, the downtrodden, among us. What is our nature? Why are people uncomfortable around us? Are we selfish? We are trying--Randy, Paula McGee, but it is interesting. Can't smoke in building, good rule, but probably eliminates any AA group.
Parenting classes, visitors, will you teach, when we left, we counted over 3000 people in Lansing who called us their minister, and the truth is, we were burned out. The church must be inclined to include or it will overwhelm. Are we open? Is that our nature? Formed by the presence of the HS?
Experts say won't work. Admit, some don't want that kind of church. But can cross the econ lines, the culture lines, Jesus is the expert, prove the experts wrong. Cross works then and now. Can break thru the crowd and can bring in the Z. It can be done. The church can grow-- 175 to 380 with Spanish worship, back to 360, but we doubled in 10+ years. And we really didn't do much.
You deserve to know my heart as I try to lead us through PD Living, Living not life. This is the way we are day after day. Soul conscious. Inclination to include. This is your prayer list. Quit being the point of weakness.
We are saying this must be our corporate purpose as church, but how about you as an individual? Are you individually the weak link in the church? If everyone in the church was as you what would we look like? If everyone in the church had brought in as many folks as you have, what would be our size? What is your purpose in life?
This is ultimately about your mind, your mindset. This is about church yes, emphasis, body life, accepting, place of belonging, and that we must see. But the study is also about you.
A young man, Darrell Henderson, ex-convict, student, Bible major, recently listed in Who's Who Among American Students. Learn to accept--Orientals. Learn to get comfortable around other colors, other cultures, other people, others. Visitors, those needing help. Maybe not entirely comfortable, but yes when they are brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is God's purpose for peace in our world, beginning with us.
I invite you to our study of PD Living. When we conclude in a moment, after the shepherd's prayer, we're going to show you the plan which has had to be adjusted. This adjustment will give you more time to get on board.
But as we close, I want you to close your eyes, bow your head, and ask God to include you in his purpose. Tell him you are willing to be involved in his purpose. Commit your heart, commit your mind, commit your time, commit your life. God, I am yours.
Yes you can be, and you as a Christian can find strength and power in your relationship with him. If you are not a Christian you can be today. You can walk with him, fulfill his purpose in your life. You can be baptized into Christ this very hour.
If you've wandered, and your thinking is wrong, you can come home.
Return to Sermon Index