What If We…Were Outward Focused? (Part 5)


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we’re going to begin today by being a little bit reflective for many of you you’ll know that so many things going on in the world right now so many tensions so many heartaches what I’d like to do is to invite you into a moment of contemplation and prayer if you’d like to bow your heads with me I’m going to lead us through a moment where I’m going to name some of those things maybe things that this morning are a burden that you carried in a thing that has been on your heart an ache and I’m going to invite you in this moment to respond to each line with these words lord have mercy it’s a way of entering into those things that we’re praying for those things that we read about that we see on 24 7 news those things that for some people are life-changing for some of us are things that we try and avoid

and so we begin

God for those nations in conflict in this moment lord have mercy for the young men and women far from home serving unsure what returning home looks like lord have mercy for the young mother and father raising children in a war zone and certain if they have a future lord have mercy for the leaders who are leading the commanders who are commanding the followers that are following lord have mercy

for the parents grieving the loss of a child lord have mercy

so the family is fleeing natural disaster in this moment lord have mercy

for those whose hearts ache with uncertainty lord have mercy for those experiencing fear lord have mercy

for those of us that don’t know what to do with our grief and our heartache lord have mercy

for this world that you love and you care about lord have mercy

God with so many things going on in our world it is hard to know how to pray and hard to know whether our prayers have made a difference

for every person in afghanistan for every person in louisiana and all over the world

God we ask for your mercy we ask that you would show yourself to be good

when we don’t know how to pray we know that our hearts groan and you hear somehow our prayers

for this world would you show yourself to be good we think of the so many the lyrics that and then more than lyrics the prayers that we just prayed we prayed for those that are poor and powerless we prayed for those in their weak moments that you would be good to them we prayed for this world that it would come to know hope in you and we pray for ourselves for each individual in this room no matter where we are in our faith journey may you speak to our hearts may he lead us closer to you may you be merciful amen thank you for praying with me friends good morning my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re visiting we’re really glad that you joined us I hope you have a great time with us here you’re joining us just at the end of a series called what if we you’ll notice that we’re doing something a little bit different today because there are six chairs seven chairs set up behind me and of course if you are new and visiting that speaks into one of the deepest fears that we might say to you could you come up front and share with us some of the ways that you have failed all of the ways that you are broken uh with the community so if you are new could you make your way to the number we wouldn’t do that I’ve been in churches that have done that it was just as awful as you might imagine but we are going to do something a bit different we’re going to invite some of our community members to just share some of the ways that they are involved one of the joys of a church like south is it’s not really about me on stage it’s not really about the staff it’s not really about the elders it’s really about people in our community who have taken this good news about Jesus to her and are doing something wonderful and compelling with it so to catch you guys up if you haven’t been here for the last few weeks we started to shape this idea as part of our vision we’ve got our wonderful vision statement that we love we’re living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus but that sometimes needs a little bit more unpacking and so we started to play with this sentence what if we became a Jesus people who are relationally connected deeply formed and outward reaching and and let’s start for a second without an idea of relationships this is called this is a place where we are called to know and to be known think about for a second the most significant relationship in your life unless that’s a biological family member that started with this one moment that started with all of this possibility in this first encounter maybe it’s the moment you met a loved one maybe it’s the moment you met a best friend but somewhere there was this moment where you met at all of these possibilities they all came to life in that moment and the deep relationship that you have now is only possible because of that first meeting that first encounter and we think about a Jesus shaped community and think that there’s this core here for us to be in relationship with each other and yet it takes the faith of like that first moment to enter into that relationship and to build those deeper relationships it takes bravery it takes work there’s this idea that we are called to be relationally connected but the idea is that it doesn’t just stop relationally connected somewhere there is this core for a church community to be about deep formation we talked about how that word might be new to you it’s very similar to the word discipleship but last week our formation pastor yvonne she came and she just did a wonderful job sort of shaping that idea and let me just say this as an aside it’s so nice to be able to go on vacation and know that someone will come and do this wonderful job in the teaching and just have that life in a church now it almost made up for the fact that the fishing during the week was terrible and we caught almost nothing worth I say almost made up for that fact we caught a lot of bluegill and nothing else and if you’ve fished and you know what bluegill are like they take some work to cut up and I got landed with some of that cutting up for these tiny little innocent fish that my kids had caught and insisted that we should eat and I remember standing there at one point cutting this poor little thing and thinking man this this little nugget of fish was not really worth it so I went back to my kids and said to them this I said I have a standard of fish that I am willing to cut up and it’s not these fish so if you want to participate and provide for a meal then well you need to help with the cutting up now I knew that considering these kids won’t even put worms on a hook themselves there was very little chance of them cutting up fish they can’t even walk past the fish house without gagging and suddenly surprisingly the standard of fish that was considered worth keeping suddenly dramatically raised suddenly it took sort of a couple of feet to be kept and we didn’t catch anything of that size at all so it worked out well we want to be these people that are deeply formed and this is what yvonne landed on there’s this passage in galatians this writer paul writing to one of the churches he’s planted he sees his relationship with them as something like that of a mother with children my dear children for whom I’m again in the pains of childbirth until christ is formed in you there is this longing that we would be shaped people that something in us would be changed and I think if you’re honest if I’m honest there’s probably things about us that we long to see different I I’ve sat with some people that have been followers of Jesus for a long time and have said quite honestly you know I don’t really like me and I’m surprised anybody else does as well now maybe we’re overstating some of the things but but the truth is for most of us there’s some stuff going on eternity that we’re like oh if I was different there that would be a dream somewhere this idea of this Jesus story is that you and I can be those shaped and different people and that that most often happens not as a solo sort of single thing but it happens in groups of some kinds it happens when we’re connected to other people we looked at this passage a couple of weeks ago it’s in proverbs as iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another in actual fact it’s only when we step into relationship really that that deep formation work has a chance to happen it doesn’t happen just by ourselves there’s some piece missing if it’s just us going through it by ourselves and yet there’s this third piece what if we became a Jesus people who are relationally connected deeply formed and outward reaching what if the thing that God started to change in you the ways that he gives you different passions for different areas of the world for for different people groups maybe for different areas of ministry what if he was shaping you and I for a reason and there was actually something for you to do with that thing what if the very act had been changed by Jesus was preparing you for something in your future something in your life something for you to connect with something for you to do maybe there’s this passage in this book ephesians and I’m always intrigued by this idea now to each one of us grace has been given according to the measure of the gift of christ maybe the language we might be used is what has God given you a grace for what has he given you a heart a passion for maybe you’ve met those people I’ve got a few friends like this they are so passionate about this one particular area of ministry that they really don’t see as much value in everything else as this one area that they are working in it’s I’ve seen it in some people that are very passionate about seeing modern slavery disappear and when you hear them talk it’s so compelling to them they can’t understand why everybody else isn’t as compelled by this one thing maybe it’s recovery from addiction and and I’m saying this as a good thing sometimes God puts something on our heart to such a degree we say I can’t help but get involved in it but we may think about that idea has been for people that stand on stages and people that run organizations and yet let’s look at what paul says in the next part of this passage and it was he Jesus who gave some to be apostles some to be prophets some to be evangelists some to be pastors and teachers but what did he give them for to equip the saints for works of ministry and to build up the body of christ until we reach unity and the faith in the knowledge of the son of God as we mature to the full measure of the stature of christ to equip the saints for works of ministry the whole point of people standing on stages of running ministries organizations is to make sure every single one of us knows we have a part to play there is nobody who is made just to sit and observe we are all made to be connected to something and so I’d like to invite some friends on stage some people that in our church community are involved in some of these wonderful things some people who are inspiring because of the way that it seems God has formed them has worked in their heart and and is compelling them to do something so we’re going to try and figure out the order a little bit better than we did last time and one of our friends that joined us in the first service neil asked why he was the only guy and for asking such a question we removed him from the stage so he’s not with us for this service so he’s gone uh he’s actually serving in kids ministry but I’m going to start with our food food bank team so erin cara would you like to come join me on stage

and let’s give them a round of applause yes

neil’s not here so we’ve got spare chair so maybe we’ll just pull someone up at random no I said I wouldn’t do that so just give us just a brief snippet I kind of gave it away a little bit but but what ministry are you guys involved in we’re involved with the food bank and yeah and um all week long we have a team of volunteers who pick up food from local grocery stores sort it and set out the best that we’re given and then on saturdays we welcome people from the community to shop for their families and then on sunday mornings um we still have one more pickup saturday night so we share with our south family what’s left over and you’re always welcome to come back and shop there’s there we go an offer of free food is one that I’m always willing to jump on so thank you for offering that to me personally and we this this is a historic ministry at south it’s been going on for a long time we had sharon in the the first service who we did invite to come up on stage with us and she very kindly said I have no interest in being on stage with you and so we we said that’s okay you don’t have to be up front not everyone wants to do what these guys are very kindly doing today but this has been going on for a long time I believe sharim a lot at some point was running a food bank as part of south from her garage and it’s at different times been organic it’s just started from somewhere different times been something the church has been involved in and and now we’re in this new iteration where it’s this team-led ministry which just seems to be thriving so thank you guys so much okay jody nevins let’s uh let’s invite jody to the stage give her a round of applause and we said in the first service you guys are welcome to chia and they’re welcome to cry because some of these stories are emotional so any tears are are very welcome and so jody tell us a little bit about your role you’ve been involved in operations at south for a long time and now starting to take on a different role uh working with dan and then taking over some of that ministry yes I like to do a lot of things so I started actually with women’s ministry and then did more of admin and now operations but as steve has come on board and taken on more of that my heart beat has always been for community and I’ve been involved in different things like the christmas shop and things like that in the past and um as just local as alex has talked about I’m just wanting to have a huge heart for our community and building that up some more I’m taking on more of the local outreach stuff here at south so so and that’s a wonderful journey I’m super excited to see how that evolves ruth would you like to come join us on the stage my dear friend ruth nichols and

and so I said to the first service ruth was the person who very gently when I started here at south sat down with me and said just so you know we’ve been here for 20 years so if you mess this up and she left this wonderful comic pause where I was like what’s going to happen to me like am I am going to end up buried in the back parking lot or something like this and and then she said to me she said we’ll still be here because this is our community this is our home and the joy to a new pastor’s heart with someone like ruth was just delightful and we get to hear some of her stories today and so ruth just briefly as we we prep the stories tell us a little bit about the ministry you and dan have been involved with for a long time my husband done and many here at south have been involved with reaching out to immigrants refugees my particular part was with the vietnamese ministry we’ve been at it for 30 years I love it thank you ruth um and then uh finally who have we got hannah and not neil because he’s going and serving yeah imagine leo was walking on stage with you

and hannah just a little bit same same question just tell us a little bit about the area of ministry that you’ve been participating in yeah I’ve been working or neil and I have been working with uh refugees and immigrants mostly refugees um in the denver area this is my mentor-ish person here um really involved with a lot of the afghans in the community but and then we have a specific area where we go to as well as yeah in sheridan there’s an area where there’s a lot um in one concentrated area so we spent a lot of time there as well love it thank you and I’m going to wander over to my chair I’m going to become like a talk show host and sit very casually over here I asked if I could do the stephen colbert thing and have a chair that’s way higher than everybody else’s so I look more significant but it was decided in church that wasn’t a good idea so I’m I’m here with everybody else so we’re going to go back to the other end of the the line and just start with this question of what drew you in uh these are ministries that involve different sacrifices some of them it’s relational it’s it’s hard to break into those communities some of it’s it’s just the time it’s an every week it’s it’s got a lot of that you have to give what pulled you in um I just I love the ethos of the food bank I love what it’s about and we have such a precious message to share with the world of Jesus love Jesus love for everyone and this allows us to really put hands and feet to it and just enter in and do life on life I mean we know that being in need does not in any way affect your worth or your value and that’s often not the way the world reacts and so having a space where people can come and just do life together and bring their needs and we we can meet a food need but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg it’s really coming alongside so much more um and you you kind of made a crack about you know welcoming new people to share your your deepest sorrows and and it’s but that’s what happens week and week out we just we get to really journey deeply in life with a number of our people who just share deeply they know we’re praying we’re part of their journey and they’re part of our journey and it’s it’s really it’s not a top down it’s just we’re doing life together and if they can get a glimpse of kingdom love in that that’s just really exciting to me and they get to share voluntarily as well which is important like instead of being forced up on stage to share everything deeply it’s just something but that isn’t that incredible in itself what we’re saying is that while that sounds terrible actually there’s this deep longing that we all have to share some of these weights and these burdens and you guys just provide this opportunity and it all comes out which is incredible really erin how about you um I got started in the food bank when I was a younger mom homeschooling young kids and I met sharon motzner who was the director and is still on the leadership team she’s been here for over 20 years helping with the food bank and she saw something in me and what she’s really good at is creating space for people to grow and learn and develop and so she kept offering me more responsibility and more responsibility and then I said no a few times but there’s an opportunity to come alongside her on the leadership team and really share the responsibility of running the food bank because it’s a lot of work and we’re all volunteers and so she invited me to do that and I finally said yes I felt like that was something that God had for me in this season and you guys have such a wonderful culture sharon was really at a point where she was starting to say I’m ready to stop doing some of this leadership piece and yet then really certainly actually you know it’s there’s a joy there it’s it’s not just it’s not a job it’s not just about something you have to do it’s something that’s deeply part of her which is incredible and so thankful for that jody how about you what was the what was the call you’ve been involved in things like the food bank shop that we do at christmas time before having a church staff role that was around outreach yeah our family has been at south for 11 years and one of the things that drew us to south was just the community and their their passion to reach people in our community to show love through the food bank through all the different ways that we invite people to our spaces and and and go out into community and love those our neighbors so I’ve been involved with the christmas shop I’ve been involved with the food bank I was shopping with the food bank during covid and just I think a big part of it for me is that it’s part of my own story it’s um my we lost our house when I was 11 years old to a fire so I know what it’s like to not have a home and I know what it’s like to go to those community meals and be seen and known and loved by the community so it means something deeper for me and our community here shows that love and that’s why I was drawn to come here and and do the same things here

and so ruth your story is is quite hilarious really in terms of how you got pulled in it uh it’s yeah tell us about it just share

it started with contentment so just in case you were unsure contentment can be a dangerous place to be regularly my prayer for us on sunday morning is God would you comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable and maybe the contented so what happened when you said I’m really contented I just been to a prayer meeting at a church that had dual services one english speaking one vietnamese this was a long long time ago and during the prayer meeting two different men said they wanted a different job I walked down the hall saying lord I thank you that I am not like those men I’m content I teach young children in my neighborhood thank you for making things neat for me uh

I actually did that do we have a class on humility later yeah yeah we can figure that out yeah okay I’ll teach nothing

uh the door to the vietnamese congregation opened up and two little children barreled out and collided with me and more clearly than I’ve ever heard anything God said those are the ones I want you to be teaching wow I tried to reason with him but it didn’t work he was unreasonable he had said it and there was just no debate uh and and so and and then hannah for you guys and and we said in the first service it’s intriguing the symmetry a little bit between what you guys are doing because you have on the back of conflicts in vietnam you have this vietnamese community kind of look down on maybe despised a little bit and now for you working with an afghani community similar sort of narratives and just seeing some of those the needs in that community what what pulled you into to working in an area that maybe you didn’t travel to an awful lot before you started working there it’s it’s maybe we have our areas some of us have never left highlands ranch it’s okay to do that as well just can I say that but um but yeah what was that like yeah uh neil and I have for years just have the nations on our hearts and when we moved from california to here one thing that God was showing us was to the ends of the earth and we didn’t know exactly what that meant I mean we knew but didn’t know for us and so give it another year or so we started taking the perspectives course wanting to see more of how to get involved and during that time neil had a pretty severe hand injury and because of that he really met the lord in the hospital and seeing hope through the loss that he had and in that time um highlighted it was in the midst of the perspectives course and it highlighted that not that we can understand the extent of refugees loss but that we can understand a little of loss and grief and how the lord has brought us through that and so we pursued um seeing if we could be a part of going overseas at least on a short-term trip to go and find out like do we need to do this long term or what does this look like so we ended up in greece at a refugee camp and for me specifically I remember going and they were refugees was a kind of a big word and they were just a bunch of people um and from there like being able to see people from all around the world and hear their stories and see their pain and then them in the midst of that tragedy it opened my eyes to everyone every the lord loves everyone and so coming back we ended up meeting um through a connection here we ended up meeting an afghan family and fell in love with them and it just kept on going I love it and you you used that word stories the word relationship there’s something about I think what I love about every single one of you guys the heart that you bring is that there’s something about the stories that you hear that have shaped you and when you hear stories when you get to know someone through their stories suddenly they’re not just a faceless sort of person anymore you can’t reduce them down to a caricature or something like that there’s something about the stories that are compelling so we’re going to return to the the other end of the line I was going to I’ve got a fantasy football draft later so I was going to do like a snake draft and stuff and go back and forth down the line but we’re just going to start from the other end what what what is it uh what stories would you share with people that just maybe give a little insight into some of the power of these ministries that you’re connecting to it’s hard to pick one story I’m going to share a different one on this service um so one of the first people I saw I’ve been with food bank about a year and a half and um I’ll call him jay I’m just going to use initials to protect confidentiality but jay and his wife em and their kids were actually workers with world venture in south america um and had um left that and were living here and then we reconnected when I started volunteering at food bank because they were coming and it was just amazing to make that reconnection with them see how God is leading their family and it’s it’s been quite the journey but the last several months he’s really been leading them to start a counseling ministry and bringing people to them and it’s just a christ-centered spirit-empowered counseling ministry and they’re just really seeing lives transformed um that’s a bit of the backdrop to the story another person I met really early on is e and e’s youngest daughter z just she’s adopted she had a really traumatic entrance into the world they probably don’t even know the extent of it but she’s just really struggled she’s really struggled with mental health issues and acting out and we got z was 12 I think when I started and we were getting to know her some and just sweet kid who really really struggled and we’ve just been on the journey with e just praying weekly and z ended up being institutionalized and needed to be in a live-in facility um we just have prayed and watched elizabeth e’s faith grow and have just prayed for Jesus to move in zee’s heart um in fact this past christmas zee was in this facility and they were on a complete lockdown over christmas and he actually came to the christmas shop um to get gifts for all the kids on her wing that were in lockdown because she said z’s gonna be loved on but so many other kids don’t even have families parents who are reaching out to them um anyway and we just continued to pray and then early in the summer jay and e were there at the same time at food bank and I watched them sit at a table together and just thought oh lord this could be an amazing connection and just their conversation got more and more intense and their faces lit up and e and z have been receiving counseling from j and m and it is completely changing their life zee is like a different person and she’s just growing in her relationship with Jesus she’s growing in hope and it’s just been an incredible thing to kind of be on the front row and see so that’s one of the many God stories and I love we were talking about this idea of how relational connectivity or being connected relationally leads to formation which which leads to outreach but it’s not really just that they are connected like that it’s almost like this spiral that keeps on going because what you guys are doing this willingness to reach out to the world around you creates opportunities for new relationships which creates opportunities for the life change that you’re you’re starting to see and you need a concrete need and through that God just addresses and identifies so many other needs and and goes beyond what we could even hope I love it thank you I’m not sure I need to tell any other feedback stories um I’ll just speak a little bit from an organizational standpoint um the story of the food bank is that God provides and he provides everything from the 40 to 50 volunteers that make the whole thing work each of them doing their parts each of them on their own journey there for their own reasons to the shoppers that come in on saturdays and it was very eye-opening to me that the people we get to come alongside are everyday people just like you and me and we all have struggles and we all have these hard things and it takes a lot of courage to come to a group of strangers and ask for help and so I just see this over and over again I see people willing to share their stories and willing to step into hard places with courage and vulnerability and we get to come alongside them and in the process of that we are also transformed like the holy spirit is working in and through that and among us and it’s just a beautiful thing I love it thank you so much jody so the food bank shop you’ve talked about that just briefly that’s a place of story as well right oh absolutely the christmas shop as is all of our stories here at south honestly um at the christmas shop we we welcome our food bank guests from that are come all year and then also some families from our real sea that are under resourced and the beautiful part of the christmas shop is that you all fill it up like we we create a toy store and we create a neat like household goods store and a coat shop and things like that and as people come in they are just so grateful for all that you guys have give and then there’s always tears there’s always tears because people are being loved and they’re given dignity and through that process they go from a place where they’re buying kids their toys for their kids that they wouldn’t normally be able to do and they get to go and wrap it and and just the whole experience they’re just grateful that they are given a place where they can feel comfortable to be where they’re at and that we love them right where they’re at and so all of you are part of that and one of the funny story I like to tell at one time we have christmas elves that help people go around and and shop and one of our christmas elves whose spanish-speaking male was helping this lady and he I was across the room and and he looked horrified and I like he needs help so I walk over and I said what do you need and he’s like she wants to know about these under women’s underwear I don’t know what to say so he had to contin he had to translate but I’m here telling her him how to translate how women’s underwear work so we we get into the awkwardness we get into the everyday questions of life and we love on people and we’re all a part of it in the small little things and the big things so none of us know his name but every guy in the room has a deep sympathy for this guy forever and always now poor man ruth how about you a story that stands out maybe a story that just connects and helps people understand just some of what you’ve seen I can identify with these other people that say there’s so many stories and it is about dignity and their story I want to tell you about one I’ll call her lynn

a big chunk of what we did for the vietnamese was establish a preschool year round for the children and a summer school summer camp for school-aged children and I’ll call her lynn she enrolled her little girl in our school and she made special contact with me she said hey teacher ruth do your teachers know how to pray and I assured her that we did know how to pray and she said would you think about praying for my niece she’s in the hospital she may not live and of course the teachers were glad to pray for the niece some of the teachers visited the child at children’s hospital we just tried to fill in the blanks of what they might need and the little girl got better got to go home and lynn came back to me and said thanks teacher ruth for praying for us hey now that you’re in the habit of praying how about you just keep praying how about if you pray for children all over the world and I’m glad that the holy spirit reminded me to say this lynn I prayed for you when you were a child you were a little girl in vietnam when the communists were taking over my own child was sick I was up three days and three nights while the communists were systematically coming through the country and I prayed those three days and three nights especially for the children I wasn’t able to help you lynn when you were a little girl but now God’s given me the opportunity to help your niece and your little girl and you any way I can and lynn grabbed my arm and cried and it was a good moment for both of us I love it thank you

hannah how about you well that family the afghan family that neil and I became really close with now we call each other brother sister who’s family they’re no longer just friends um but we’ve spent a lot of time together and it all started with the love of neil and the husband who loved home depot together um and working with their hands um but have guys connect home depot yes I think this story would will hit more close to home just because of what’s been going on in the world right now um but my the wife I’ll call ruth

she grew up in a in a place where she couldn’t get a lot of education and so it’s been amazing to be able to walk alongside her and teach her english and in the beginning we couldn’t I mean communicating was not completely gone but it was minimal um but we’ve grown in sharing with each other and they’ve asked us to pray for them in several occasions and seen answers to prayer and recognize that which is beautiful and so we just really have this close relationship and so a couple months ago again before all of this stuff in afghanistan it happened this last couple of weeks she was sharing about her some things that had happened to her family and how the taliban had um brought physical pain and and just the horrific things that were going on and she was in the midst of just I mean she still is don’t get me wrong by any means but in the midst of grief and sadness and anger for a lot of reasons and so in that moment the lord brought to mind the story of Jesus being asleep in the boat with the disciples and the disciples freaking out not knowing what to do and coming to find Jesus sleeping and wake him up and Jesus comes up comes and calms the wind and the waves and um and they worship him and so sharing that story maybe 20 seconds worth of a story and she immediately the lord got to her heart right there and said they call Jesus esau and she said esau can do it he can change their hearts and so I’m just just in those little those moments they may not be here here’s the whole gospel or heal I want to share everything my heart is to for them to have the hope of Jesus um now and forever but um just seeing those little pieces being able to share that with them then and right now to be able to walk with them and grieve with them um and love them and hopefully they will see the hope of Jesus that’s that’s just wonderful and your husband neil neil and I play chess together regularly and we’re pretty evenly matched it’s like 50 he’s like yeah I win like 80 of the time he’s not here no one knows

but but we were chatting one day over a game and it was when we were doing our friendship series and and he asked me who my close friends were which is a really great question just why why had I picked them or why had that friendship come about and then he said to me I would say that probably my closest friend in the world right now is a muslim is the afghanistani family that you were talking about that they despite different faiths have this deep connection they see the world similarly in lots of ways and every single one of you you shape these stories and it’s it’s so wonderful to hear you talk about people not as just people you’re serving or people that you’re doing things for there’s these deep relational connections which which seems to be how Jesus operated in the world right there’s something about how you see Jesus uh he never seems to meet a stranger never seems to meet an outsider he always is bringing people closer to the center always treating people with this incredible dignity is a word we’ve used multiple times and so thank you for just the way that you you shine this example of Jesus I for every one of you I sense that God has done a work in your hearts and it has enabled you to be the people that you are in the world and the great thing is about a community with a community like south there were multiple other people we could have invited to do this it just happened to be these five people I’m just so thankful that this is the community that we are um so thank you for participating in that I’m going to invite these guys to take a seat rather than sit there like an old-school pentecostal church like just hey do you wear a call oh I’m sorry yes yes sorry sorry I I just want to take this opportunity I mean as we’ve shared these stories like you this is for everybody this isn’t just for the few like our entire church has the ability to do things in this world that bring people to know Jesus and one of the way one of the things that we would love for you to do just today just show your interest and tell us what you would like to be a part of with outreach so fill out this and we also have a local outreach team that has been creating some values and we’re also meeting with our ministry partners and um just creating some strategy around what we’re going to do as south as some local outreach initiatives so we’d love to hear from you right so fill this out and put it in the offering boxes or at the welcome desk the second thing would be if you are available tonight at 4 p.m to come back to the all church training erin cara and I are doing an outreach breakout to hear more about what our current values and what are we working on at outreach so if you want to hear more come back for that and then the third thing is we’re doing a redemptive compassion class that will and that particular class has been some of the has been influential in some of our values so and we’d love to have you join us for that you can sign up for that in the lobby today and then the fourth thing hannah asked me she said some afghan refugees are coming so we need she’s gonna need some people to come and have relationships with those people so again if you’re interested in that you can also fill this out and just let us know and we can give your name to to hannah so thank you thank you guys to all of you

as we take some of those thoughts try and pull some of those strings together I’m always intrigued by the way Jesus sort of wraps things up with his disciples as he has been on this journey with them he’s now about to return to his father and we’re told these are some of the different endings in a couple of weeks we’re jumping into a new series in the book of acts which we’re super excited about and and this is like the lead into this book act he told them this is what is written the messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day the repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations beginning in jerusalem you are witnesses of these things I’m going to send you what my father has promised but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high this is mark’s ending he said to them go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation whoever believes and is baptized will be saved but whoever does not believe will be condemned and then finally this is matthew therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the father of the son and of the holy spirit teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age if you’re not familiar with the bible if you’re new to faith new to journey with Jesus these are the endings to three of the biographies on Jesus life and and this one here just is is the one that I’d love us just to focus on for just a couple of minutes as we end this how do we read these accounts I always used to read them as this this is Jesus whipping his disciples up into some kind of frenzy and saying you’ve got to go and do this thing I read it as this like imperative no get out I know you won’t want to but you’ve got to go anyway and yet as I got to read it later I started to question is that really what it is I actually don’t think so I actually think this is a moment where Jesus finally says all of that thing that’s been building that experience that life change all of the ways that you’ve become connected to this story that I’m living out in the world this is finally me saying okay now you get to play your part I have a feeling that these followers of Jesus were longing to go this is the finally the moment he says everything that’s changed within you now go share it with the world around you it’s not a whipping up it’s not a pushing out the door it’s it’s a final release that says you get to go a couple of short little stories that maybe help us see the difference for a while when I laura and I had been living here in 2010 in michigan we went back to england and I didn’t have a job so I just got the first job I could find that you could get in one day I agreed to be a charity fundraiser you know those guys that knock on the doors like late at night and say hey can you give us some money it never works very well I had to get around 150 houses a night and a good night was two people agreeing to support the charity now the truth is I would have said this these charities were fairly worthwhile they were pretty good but but really there was nothing in my heart that was particularly attached to them I can remember sitting in my car till the last possible moment where the team leader said right we’ve really got to get to work and I remember whipping through these conversations as quickly as I could just to get around my 150 houses and I remember knowing that without the five or six dollars an hour that they paid me to do this I would never ever have done this job everything about it was was really just that sense of just no you have to you have to make a living but there was no deep change in me that said this is worthwhile compare that story to to this story this is a pot of english tea a friend of mine steve and I used to sit regularly over breakfast for for hours every time we went and and we would have wonderful conversations but steve is what I would describe as well he can sell anything he could sell eskimos their own snow he’s just one of those people he’s very compelling when he tries to let you know about a project product and I took this photo this is the last photo I ever took on a phone that wasn’t made by apple I took this picture on a phone right before I sat down with steve just after the first iphone had come out I’d seen a couple of them in different people’s hands and said it’s just a gimmick it will pass I don’t really want one of these things until I sat with steve steve’s what you might call an apple evangelist there is something about him that he can share compellingly for this company that he seemed at the time like he deeply believed in and what happened after this was even though I was going on vacation in about five hours I drove myself to the apple store and was soon a proud owner of an iphone simply because steve was compelling not because he was paid not because he was coerced not because he had to but simply because he believed in what he was sharing there is something about these earliest followers of Jesus that they have become deeply convinced about what they have experienced and they are longing to go this is the passage that paul writes in romans and how shall they preach except they are sent even it is written how beautiful are the feet of them that bring good news of good things these followers of Jesus are convinced that they have experienced good things that this message of Jesus brings good things into the world around them and they are longing to go I’m gonna leave us with this passage from a guy called francis of assisi or this saying of a guy called francis assisi preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words we just heard from five people who have been involved in taking these good things this these this good news of good things out into the world around them and at times at times they’ve used words I’m going to invite aaron to come up and we’re going to close with some worship I’m going to pray for us what if we became a Jesus people who are relationally connected deeply formed and outward reaching and what if that wasn’t what that one thing just led to another but if it was an ever deepening spiral where every one of those things was connected to another God as we close may you shape us into the community you want us to be as we sing together again may you speak to hearts perhaps there is a story stirring here somewhere amongst us perhaps as we heard from these five ladies that each at some point felt some stirring to be involved perhaps you’re doing that in some of our hearts right now perhaps it’s something new something fresh perhaps it’s something we have to start for ourselves perhaps it’s something that’s already happening but I believe you have a part for each of us to play so for whatever you’re calling to us in this season for those of us that describe ourselves as being contented

may stir something up within us

because those stories that we got to hear those wonderful stories of joy of life change of new relationships and new possibilities they come about because a group of people were willing to say yes when you called thank you Jesus amen

What If We…Were Outward Focused? (Part 5)2024-06-12T14:48:28-06:00

What If We…Were Deeply Formed? | Galatians 4:18-19 (Part 4)


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well hey good morning south good morning I’m yvonne one of the pastors here and you have met us today in the middle of a vision series what if we and we just sang about vision lord be our vision and vision is something that we look forward to something that we imagine and pastor alex shared with us kind of his vision statement and I’d like to just begin today by reading this for you what if we and he we’re talking here about our fellowship of south fellowship believers but this can also apply to the church in this local area what if we we really became a Jesus people who are relationally connected deeply formed and outward reaching and because this is a vision statement and vision happens when we start to rethink and re-imagine what might happen in a community with a new vision I’d like to do something a little bit more unusual for sermons today and actually give you a second to envision what this statement might look like so I want to give you some quiet space to think and imagine what would it be like if we became a Jesus people that were relationally connected deeply formed and outward reaching so let me give you a second to just think about this

maybe you need more time to envision what this looks like but you can spend time this week mulling that over and here we are in the middle of our series and today we are going to look even more at what it looks like to be deeply formed and we’ve said that our mission statement is not changing um that we want to walk in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus and we want to do that being deeply formed and thankfully pastor alex said hey yvonne since you’re our formation pastor and you went through christian formation and soul care at denver seminary maybe you have some things to share about this well he’s right I actually have a lot of things to share about it and what I have had to do with the lord is really sit there and say what does this community need to hear today and today he has brought me just to answer a couple questions that might be floating in your mind when we when we use this phrase deeply formed I think some of you are going to just ask what does it mean what does it mean to be deeply formed right I think you guys might be asking why in the world do we need to be deeply formed I mean maybe we need to be formed but well why deeply formed why do we use that kind of adverb there and how I think this is a big question how do we become deeply formed so today that’s the questions that I want to help you answer and hopefully we can do that with the spirit of God speaking to you and also through his word so today as we lean in the lord directed me to a passage just a five word phrase in the book of galatians and so we’re going to open our bibles today to galatians chapter 4 starting in verse 19.

he says my dear children for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth

until christ is formed in you how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone because I am perplexed by you

hmm we need some context for this passage and then we’re going to dive a little bit further into this phrase until christ is formed in you and I’d like for us to chisel away at what in the world did paul mean when he used this particular phrase in the greek language but here we have the apostle paul this is in a letter that he has written to the galatians so these are people kind of in a dispersed area and if you know much about the apostle paul you’ll know that he was once saul and he became paul he had this incredible transformation because the spirit of the living God showed up to him and says saul you are no longer saul you are paul and I’m giving you the identity that I’ve placed in you and you are going to walk in a new way and you are going to be on mission for me and my kingdom letting those that are outside the jewish faith know that Jesus wants to transform them too and in this letter to the galatians paul is sending it out to these people that were formerly jews and there they have also accepted the way of Jesus they wanted to walk in his way and they’re realizing that paul’s mission is to invite the outsiders and to come into the way of Jesus but it’s tricky because their way that they know to follow Jesus is the jewish way and so they’ve been doing these traditions all along throughout their entire people’s history to to understand who God is to to hear from him to become right with him and so when paul introduces them to a new way it becomes somewhat confusing at what level do the non-jewish people become jewish or take on the the jewish savior and so they’re struggling and I think we would be in the same boat if we were with them if we had had the jewish faith we would be asking some of these same questions and the big question for them was don’t the gentiles the ones who are not jews don’t they need to be circumcised now how many of you want to sign up for that kind of transformation that’s not a compelling story and I think actually we need a compelling story we need this to be deeply formed because we need something to show to the world paul had this compelling story and he calls out he says guys I’m perplexed by you why are you making it about the old way he says dear children in one little moment I think he insults them and he like strengthens them by saying come on guys your children you can you can come with me you can grow up and he’s so like stirred up inside that they’re not growing up into and taking the way of Jesus he even uses this motherly kind of metaphor it’s like these people have been in the the womb of judaism for so long and they they’re safe in there and they know that way and they’re growing and they’re they’re learning and they’re you know getting whatever nutrients they need but he’s like ah the goal of actually becoming pregnant is like not to stay in the womb like the goal is to like come out into the wild world and like develop and grow and be formed and so he’s like uh it feels like I’m in pain birth I’m in labor with you so that you might actually be free and and live in this way and he says until christ is formed in you this phrase in greek is such a jam-packed meaningful phrase that when I asked the lord what he wanted me to share with you today he just said just talk about christ be formed in you okay so here we go we’re gonna start actually in in the greek language the word that comes first in is not how we would say it in english christ is formed in you it would be be formed so we’re going to actually talk about is formed and this greek word that I have a hard time saying because it feels like I’m slurring my speech so all you greek experts you can pronounce it and we’re just going to go with more thoth okay okay so the crazy part about this word it is jam-packed with theological meaning because this word has unique tense and connotations it is a subjective mood which means that paul is saying I wish that this happens for you it’s passive tense meaning on your behalf you’re not doing the verb you’re actually the verb is being done to you so paul wishes this to happen on your behalf so that this happens and we have in english we have past tense formed present tense forming future tense will be formed right and you could play around with some of the language there but in greek they have something called aerist tense which actually has the meaning that something in the past has happened okay you have been formed past tense but it also includes the it will be completed at a future date so that’s the shall so this word in one little word paul says I wish this to happen on your behalf that you shall and have been formed that’s crazy we don’t have this kind of stuff in english language and this is a huge theological word he says that you have been formed and your formation shall be made complete by some means other than you in the future formation is such an incredible word because it’s jam-packed with meaning and you know what formation is a creation word we have been created we are being created we will be created in the new way so I love this because this is the formation story the forming happened in the beginning where we are formed and it says in genesis 2 or 1 that we are formed in the likeness of God we have in us his image that’s imago dei that’s what the hebrew word means we have the image of God in us and back in the garden we had this moment of formation where we were formed in his image and we were in harmony with him we were living in that image and what we chose was we chose to separate we said ah we don’t really want to live in harmony with you we kind of just want to do our own thing we want to separate the best way I can describe this is it feels like we told God that we wanted a divorce we said I don’t really want to be in this relationship anymore and so we’re going to separate and this actually causes disharmony in us we’re not actually living in alignment with who we’ve made been made to be and so we feel this kind of disorder inside that’s what separation does and that’s what the word sin is separation we miss the mark we we’re separating and the goodness of this story is that God says I know you want a divorce I know that you want separation but I don’t and so I’m going to actually come in your likeness I’m going to take the very nature of a servant being found in the appearance as a man and I’m gonna humble myself to commune with you to come close to you even though you don’t really want me and so he become he takes on our form our likeness in order that through his powerful resurrection that we can be offered that again we are offered new creation where we are made in his likeness and we can unify with him this is the amazing part of formation and the whole formation story

formation is this process that God actually wove into the fabric of the world he did it on a macro level and he also does it on these micro levels and it’s for us to live in dependence on him this formation process is a journey it’s not a destination we are formed along the way and one day once we are in glory we have been have received our most powerful resurrection then it will be at its completion completed moment but until that point we are on this journey we are on the journey of formation past tense present tense future tense and the truth is about formation is that we can be formed in any way right you guys all know that it’s written in the fabric of the way that we are designed right an infant comes to live it becomes a child and adolescent an adult like we all form that’s not news to us but what kind of forming are we doing paul says in another letter or in romans he said for all those that he foreknew he predestined to become conformed into the image of his son this is actually even more beautiful because we were given imago day we were given the image of God from the beginning but now we actually get to be more like his son that’s an exciting part and it’s christ that anchors all of this formation journey christos is the word that paul uses and this christos is also packed with meaning christos is is the royal name for Jesus he is the son of God the one who was anointed for God’s purposes he was the messiah of the jewish faith the one who was going to come to redeem and save and heal and and make things back into alignment with the way that they were designed to be

christ is the center of our formation we become like christ and in this way all of those words if we put those together when we form like christ we too are God’s relation paul talks a lot about adoption into his family in the gospel of or I said it again in the the letter to the galatians we’re God’s relations we are also like christ we are set a port apart for God’s purposes and we too get to be a part of reconciling others to God yeah that’s a part of our formation in christ’s likeness that we get to do some of the same things that christ did and the other part is that we actually get a person as a part of this process it’s not just a process it’s a person which means we can actually know christ we can know him as a person second person of the trinity the the only begotten of God the father and paul says that this is maybe one of the most important things to his formation journey he says I consider everything a loss and he’s he’s done a lot he’s had by this time he’s at the end of his life and he has seen a lot of transformation happen and it doesn’t even matter what he’s able to do for God what he loves most is that he gets Jesus christ in relationship with him he says it’s all a loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing christ being in this journey together being in communion and union with him and a part of that communion and union is that he gets to experience the power of resurrection he got to see transformation in his own life and all around him and he had to participate with him when he went through those sufferings he is wit God Jesus christ was with him in that place and that’s a beautiful thing when we go through places of suffering and heartache and hardship we go through it with a person and we get to experience his resurrection because he’s the one in charge this is his royal name he is seated at the right hand of God the father almighty and he’s the one that has authority to to say yes you can be transformed and he wants to do that for us so becoming like Jesus in his death and somehow attaining the resurrection of the dead I love how paul says that I don’t really understand it but somehow it’s working because as I walk this journey of formation in the image of christ somehow he he is helping me resurrect he is changing me from the old to the new you know in in my life I feel like recently God has taken me from places of of self-pitying to gratitude and that’s transformation that’s resurrection places where I was just dreading life to now singing a new song and having it be in my heart that’s transformation in the image of christ it’s way more in alignment gratitude and and love and songs of praise and worship is in alignment with who I made to be and so as we form in the image of christ he sets us free to be who we were made to be and another beautiful thing is that we’re forming into christ’s likeness it happens when we embrace the way of death and resurrection this is beautiful to me because it seems like we don’t like this process but it’s built into the very fabric of the world that we live in and when we trust this process it works when we move from summer into fall and and the leaves and all the things trust the ecological process of dying and going through their burial and renewing and coming back to life it works this past easter I was in a season where I was like Jesus I just want some green around me and I went on a search and I just said I want to see new life I want to be reminded that it works and so I took a long walk on the high line canal and there was one little spring of green and I took a picture and I was like this is it it works in in the way of Jesus new life will come back and I my heart needed to be reminded that it works if it works in his creation it’ll work in me and it’ll work in you

as we embrace this process we love Jesus in the process we embrace his process of maturing this is along the whole journey and it means that that the whole journey we trust we trust that it is in all of life and it is for all of life there is no checking the box of formation on the spiritual journey guys you don’t just fall asleep and see formation happen you gotta lean in and it’s gotta affect all of life that’s the the part here at the end of his phrase he says christ is formed in you this little tiny word in is a preposition that is the closest we can be we’re not this is not christ is formed by or near you or christ is formed over you christ is form under you those aren’t the prepositions that he uses he says christ is formed in you you guys can think of all the in words that you can think of inside integrate interconnected in it’s us in something it’s it’s like the most connected you can get and the the cool part about this is it’s dative okay this is another nerdy little note uh of greek it’s a beneficiary action we get to benefit from being in christ and Jesus told us this when he was on earth he says abide in me and I in you this is how we do this it’s it’s together it’s unified and this word is a plural which means it’s not just in individuals it’s in all of us as a church body it’s in all of those who follow and say I’m a follower of Jesus and and believe in the power of his resurrection forming in christ is most intimate it’s unified it’s communion and it integrates that word in into the deepest places in our character we are to be formed all of us there’s nothing off the table

paul loves this language if you want to do a study in all of his letters and just search for the word in you’re going to be like you probably could spend the whole life doing this he loves this word in that you’ve been included in christ when you heard the message of truth the gospel of your salvation when you believed you were marked in him with the seal and the promised holy spirit the gift of the holy spirit that he gives us allows us to live very close very in God that’s incredible right

I think so then just as you received christ Jesus as lord continue to live in him this is paul’s paul’s like urging saying I just I’m gonna labor with you until you’re until christ is formed in you you know like continue to live in him and that’s why in the world do we need deep formation guys I don’t maybe you’re realizing oh yeah I really need to be deeply formed or maybe you’re sitting next to being like oh this person next to me yeah they really need to be deeply formed especially after that conversation we had last night whatever you know like we all long for other people to be deeply formed and we long for the world to be deeply formed maybe in your imagination during that time at the beginning you were thinking we want to see more peace among our world we want to see more hope more future more graciousness between people we want to see more true love demonstration sacrifice to one another we long for this world to be resolved we hate that in the formation story we hate when things are disharmonized within us we hate the fact that we’re feeling anxious or feeling uncomfortable or just feeling angry like but we have this invitation to be resolved and that is a compelling story

the problem is we all really like the easy way do you like the easy way I like the easy way I mean it’s like way easier to be lazy on this journey and like drift toward disharmony it’s way easier to choose to put on a tv show and just numb out rather than like going to have that difficult conversation right like it’s way easier to procrastinate our formation because it’s just too uncomfortable to like tend to that little bit of bitterness and resentment that’s inside I don’t really want to deal with that so I’ll just we’ll do that tomorrow you know it’s like easier to like drink a glass of wine and just not feel it and and maybe some of it is like we’re scared like is God really going to come through if I choose to to be formed like is that really going to work and maybe so maybe I doubt that it actually could work or I just really like to be in control my kingdom under my reign and control is way more comfortable way more easy we often choose the easy way instead of the harder kind of soul shaping like dealing with your emotions kind of way but you know for these galatians they also chose an easy way and their easy way was religion

do you know if that’s the easy way

choosing religion and religion

I mean he was really upset with him that they would choose a different way of religion he’s astonished that the galatians would so quickly desert the one who called them to live in the grace of christ and turn to a different good news which is really no good news at all

evidently some people are throwing thrown into confusion and they’re trying to pervert the good news of Jesus the judaizers were wanting people to become like them not to become like christ and that’s actually somewhat a way of religion you know as I reflect on the way of religion I think religion is motivated by shame like you’re not doing or being enough of what you should be doing that’s actually the easy way

maybe the way of religion is just faithful efforts or spiritual disciplines to to be in God’s graces they wanted the the gentiles to be circumcised so that they could be in God’s good graces it worked for them in the past

and so they wanted to to be in God’s good graces how often do we just do some some spiritual something just to be in God’s good graces or maybe if I do this he will um do something for me maybe if I do ministry for him maybe if I just say this little kind thing or I pray this certain kind of prayer and and I think that he’s going to to help me but really that’s manipulation

maybe we rely on old patterns to produce new fruit it’s easier to go back to what we knew what was safe what we were trained in once and it’s harder to try a new riskier way

we like to remain in control and refuse to surrender or we fight the wrong battles we make it about the people around us and trying to make sure that they’re doing what they need to be doing when maybe the formation process is actually what we need

and maybe we need to be fighting the enemy and not our brother and sister I think these are ways actually of religion and maybe this week you need to reflect on wow have I chosen the easy way of religion or have I chosen the way of formation because donna winship puts it this way she says Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion he didn’t need a new religion he came to usher in a kingdom of God to facilitate spiritual transformation let me say that again Jesus didn’t come to start a religion but he came to usher in the kingdom of God to facilitate transformation transformation is the compelling story of Jesus and we need this compelling story we’ve got to let go of religion and embrace this integrated lifestyle of formation where we actually live out our God-given purpose and we listen to our father in heaven we actually are seeing new fruit because we choose surrender

you know here at south we we’re a church and some might think that oh we’re just a religion but we’re not everything that we try to do here at south is to provide ways for you to grow and be formed in the way of christ and we’ve chosen some specific programs to really try to assist in your journey along the way so of course we’ve got a bunch of groups available and we would love for you to be a part of of community because we know that formation happens in the circle of other like-minded friends of the kingdom

you know when you’re in this place we we rub off on one another and we learn different things and we gotta resolve conflicts and but we also get support and we get encouragement this this week I was sitting around a campfire and it was my task to to to finish up the campfire because I’m the late owl you know and so I was spreading away the the coals and the lord was just like this like bringing the hot coals together is what we can do at church and what we can do in the kingdom we can we can burn together guys and so when you join a group you’re you’re joining other people that want to be formed and want to just hold themselves to the fire that we can be more and more refined in the way of christ

and then we also have another class that’s going to be starting up in september called emotionally healthy relationships and maybe this is something where in the way of Jesus he’s asking you to to find some new tools to try some new ways to nurture good conflict conversations and and on honoring one another with your words as you just try to advocate for your own values and and who you are so maybe that’s a great place for you to be formed more in the image of christ by giving you some tools to do that another amazing space where we see God transforming people’s lives is in a group that meets right here on tuesday nights at 6 30 p.m and it’s called celebrate recovery and I want you to hear directly from our one of our leaders I did a little interview with her this earlier this week and I want you to hear what it is that actually causes the transformation in that group well here we have nicole pastore who has been serving with our cr program celebrate recovery for the last six years here at south and then a few other years back in minnesota before coming yes yeah so I’m curious as we’re talking about formation what is it that makes cr transformative what do you think one is finding a program where you can be broken in and finding acceptance in that brokenness is a huge part of the transformation that we see at celibate recovery because so many times people come in and they’re afraid to truly be where they are and that’s broken in whether it’s an addiction a hang-up a hurt whatever it might be so what we find at celebrate recovery is that when people are able to connect and we find that me too factor it makes it easier to keep coming back yeah and then we just allow God to get in those parts of our soul um and that’s why I call it a soul recovery yeah because that’s what we do we’re soul-searching as to why we go back to an addiction or we go back to a certain predetermined response is that we’re not soul-searching and so when we find that soul-searching and that me too factor that’s where transformation really starts to begin I love that yeah yeah so tell us how are you seeing God transform people in cr in this season um this with this season coming out of the pandemic um we’re finally starting people to let go of the fear the fear of being around people or the fear of what really happened to them during the pandemic we found that a lot of people were relapsing in their addictions or relapsing in their hurts and their pains and I think people are just ready to be with people again and so that’s been such a beautiful process every week we have a new newcomer and that’s why we have our doors open is for that newcomer to find that place to come in and

find family family in their brokenness so I think people are getting out of that fear factor that’s awesome to see people lay down their fears and actually be ready to step into transformation within a community of people I love that and I’m sure many of us are out there and thinking maybe gosh I’ve got some hurts habits or hang-ups that are needing to be dealt with and formed in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus um man if somebody’s sitting out there and they’re still feeling fear or still feeling barriers to maybe being a part of celebrate or part of another group that we have here at south what what kind of encouragement would you have for them today oh the first thing I would say is get out of your own way that’s part of what stops people from coming into any sort of a program especially a christ-centered program is because we feel so often that we have to be better before we can get better and that is a lie that we believe and so I can just all I can say is just get out of your own way just come yeah just show up um there’s no mandated process for this um yeah it’s just being willing to get out of your own way and walk through the doors and let that fear go and if you’re afraid to link to come in by yourself link arms with someone ask somebody to come with you so then you’re not just by yourself or you’re alone or you don’t know anybody it’s just showing up and getting getting out of your own way yeah and I know that you’ve done that personally in your own life nicole what can God do if they show up if you don’t show up you’ll never know what God can do um to watch what God has done in my life and then to turn around and be able to um really truly be a disciple of him because of the concrete transformation that he has done in my life is now to give back and to see that process happen is just giving God that much more room to help it with help other people through it so I love it yeah I love it well if we can just get it out of our own way and get really honest with what we’re wrestling with in a safe and loving community I think God can show up show up and like nicole said we won’t know you won’t know until you engage the process absolutely so thanks nicole thanks yvonne

so let’s go back to our big questions

um I’m all over the place now here we are let’s go back to our big questions okay when you are asked what is formation for straight from galatians is christ being formed in us why do we need formation our hearts long for resolve we long to be living in that imago day that we have been designed to live in we don’t want to live in disharmony we want to live in harmony and we want the fruit of what what it means to live in that place and how the how we do formation I’m sure you’re wondering about this the way of Jesus is the way of death and resurrection he said it was going to cost us something to follow him it was going to cost it was us actually saying I don’t want to to live in that separated place any longer I want to die to that separation whatever separates me so that I can live in the way that he’s designed me to live but this process this is the big story of formation death and resurrection and it’s also the many stories of resurrection throughout our whole life dallas willard says the ruined soul must be willing to hear of and recognize its own ruin before it can find how to enter a different path a path of eternal life that naturally leads to spiritual formation in christ’s likeness we’ve got to admit it we’ve got to get honest about really where we’re at and that’s the beauty of celebrate because she said they’re willing to be broken they’re willing to come in and when and we all have those places in our own lives I bet the lord is pointing out where you have room to grow and be formed today and so the process more practically I think it’s get honest change your mind and walk anew get honest change your mind and walk anew I’m gonna say it again get honest change your mind and walk and I should have you all say it ready get honest change your mind walk anew this is how formation happens guys it’s nothing new but we confess confession true confession is getting honest true confession is not saying I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry true confession is saying wow I am really afraid right now or wow I really don’t trust you God wow this is what’s happening inside of me and I feel this kind of heat rising up and I don’t know what to do about it that’s getting honest and and you take it before the lord and maybe you take it before a safe friend do you know I think this is why like counseling has become one of the most transformative process for people is because they get honest and they bring it to a safe space where they’re received with love and compassion and they’re able to process that and the the counselor or even spiritual director can speak in truth and you can change your mind you can go to the lord and say what is it that you have to say about this and what do you want me to do you can ask him what do you have to say about this you can read that in his word you can ask him directly this is a relationship that we have with a person not a program not a process it’s a person and he will tell you what do you want me to do or what do you have to say about this and then I say okay I’m going to agree with you because you ultimately are you are seated at the right hand of God the father and you ultimately know what’s best for me and so I would like to choose to walk more in my true self by listening to you and you walk anew this is confession it’s the biblical world to repent to actually change your mind that’s the death of something old changing it to something new and abiding in him get honest

change your mind walk anew that’s a basic process of formation and what Jesus can do in all of us if we do this imagine if we woke up every morning and we got honest with God and we said what do you have to say about it what do you want me to do about it and we just chose to walk in his way with his heart what could that do in all of our hearts and what would that do as a community as we live that out together we go to our groups and we say okay we’re going to get honest and we’re going to see what God has to say about that and we’re going to walk anew I think that this actually we would see evidence of form formation and transformation within our community and this is the story that the world needs to hear from us they don’t need a new religion they don’t need people judging them or telling them what to do they need transformed lives and hearts living out this way of Jesus so that they can be invited to the journey as well so I’m going to invite the band back up and I’m going to close us in prayer and my encouragement for you guys at south don’t give up don’t give up this does take effort to lean into the way and formation of Jesus in this season I think that one day we’re going to open our history books and it’s going to say you know great you know pandemic global pandemic coveted 19 and a subheading under that is going to say great resignation

because over 50 percent of people are considering leaving their jobs or have left their jobs they are they are disconnecting from what was was once a part of their life and you know people are doing that in the church too and I just want to say this is not a time to disengage it’s not a time to separate it’s a time to lean in and it’s a time to lean in to be informed in the way of Jesus and so I will echo with paul that we as south fellowship church we’re going to we’re going to labor with you until christ is formed in you and in all of us for the sake of the world amen

What If We…Were Deeply Formed? | Galatians 4:18-19 (Part 4)2024-06-12T14:48:34-06:00

What If We…Became the Community God’s Called us to be? | Romans 12:9-16 (Part 3)

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hey south friends uh I’m here with my friend dana um dana welcome thank you for being willing to do this thank you we’re gonna sit down and just talk about this idea of how church christian community is centered around relationship and dana your story is just so fascinating in terms of how you came to be a part of south so when we start there it’s 2020 we’re in the middle of a pandemic or right before one I think it was um and you ended up at south how did that happen what did that look like well so I had been praying and searching for community before the pandemic hit and I like you I’m a seven I’m extroverted I really love and need community and I’m not extroverted

and so I I crave being around people and I think I think we all do we all create connection on some level and so I visited several churches and I I ironically the coffee shop we’ve been coming to the coffee shop the boys and I for years just to come and sit and have coffee and meet friends um and so I had never come to south and so I was like I had googled it and looked online and there was this thing called sisterhood and so I was like well what’s that that sounds really interesting and so um I decided just to show up so one wednesday I showed up and um ruth nichols was speaking that night ruth nichols what a great person to know ruth is someone everyone should know yes so she knocked my socks off with her talk about her story right and so coming to sisterhood um as I left you know here I’m in a and I don’t mind being in a room full of people I don’t know but it’s still a slightly uncomfortable yeah you’re new to a place where other people know each other and so as I was leaving I had my mug which had my texas tech sticker on it and so ruth was like oh texas tech how do you know texas tech and so turns out that we had a connection there and so she just started talking to me and I just felt so loved and it was very warm and so then I decided I would come to church on sunday and dan was speaking that sunday dad another great person to know another great person to know so so then I came and then the next week everything shut down so you make this great step of getting involved in a new community yes and everything’s shut down right and it’s it’s sometimes when you’ve had something like that happen it’s hard to try again I think isn’t it it’s when people lose relationships it’s hard to try again we’ve been through this pandemic there’s people at south that are probably asking questions like do I even know who comes here anymore anytime you’re asked to do something a second time it can be harder to believe it can work out well and yet that wasn’t the end of the journey for you it was not no what happened next yes so then I then everyone went online with sisterhood so I continued to attend wednesday nights and then I met grace and sarah bulaski and just amazing women that basically I think it’s that that idea of kindness and and what I’ve learned about friendship is reaching out so it’s sending a text or it’s saying hey can you go for coffee hey can you go for a walk and during the pandemic it was much harder right so just having that connection that face to face even if it was on video was amazing and there’s a little bit of a risk there isn’t there in doing those things and reaching out and yet so often when you do you find that the other person on the other end was longing to be reached out too yes and that there’s a joy there and I think um the pandemic brought a certain level of vulnerability too and I think that that there’s some beauty in that I think we all it’s kind of like renee brown talking about that level of the more vulnerable you are then you you create a deeper level of connection with wow yeah that’s that’s powerful that’s yeah man we could just stop there but you you you got involved with the food pantry from that right and ready you still do regularly yeah so that was the next step was that I I uh you know in the the newsletter I think I signed up you know it was new new to south and so I signed up and then I got an email saying there was I signed up for south cares I think and I got an email and it might have been from dan saying that we need extra volunteers in the food bank I was like that’s perfect I can go and be in person with people and you know I I love hugs and and being around people so uh so I showed up to the food bank and then I met sharon who is just a doll a love and michelle and aaron and all of the people in the food bank that has just just filled my soul it’s been an amazing place to serve so and so you’ve got to serve alongside them you’ve got to get to know them yeah how have you seen yourself grow during that season right well I think I’ve I’ve learned I was telling sharon this the other day actually that you know I think we learn how to be a friend from other people who are good friends from people who show up and who exhibit kindness and it’s kind of like this place of of you know really connection it’s that you know relatedness and connection of of reaching out and just really accepting somebody for who they are and regardless of their age or their generation or their work or their color of their skin or whatever it may be that you know that you just and I think that’s what Jesus would do you know it is it’s kind of that reflecting back to um just showing love right it’s just being kind and showing showing love to other people and so I felt that here knowing that you’re loved enough that you can take off the mask you don’t have to pretend you can be yeah yourself so we’re going to talk in the next few weeks about uh how relationships enable us to step into this season of growing and then we actually get to go out into the world to love those in the world around us and and just thank you for doing that dana and thank you for being part of of who we are here at south of course thank you

well hey good morning south hopefully the lights will turn on thank you all right I’m yvonne one of the pastors here and I have lauren with me who knows that today is rally day

that’s right who likes free stuff so if you’re online I am so sorry you should be here in person to get that free stuff but you can still sign up online to serve with us because rally day is all about rallying together as a family of believers to serve this community and to serve those beyond so lauren’s got some free paraphernalia who wants free stuff

all right you better shout for it she’s throwing awesome okay all right anybody over here wow good job jonas all right we’ve got a few more water bottles

yeah good catch excellent

okay one more hat who wants the hat I had some requests for hats after last service

I love it all right well rally day is a day that we just wanted to throw some amazing fun things at you but ultimately this is a time for us before the fall season to really rally together to to serve this community and many of you are coming back to church in person and we’re so excited for that and that also means that we would like to open up our kids ministry to both services which requires quite a few hands to disciple those little ones and minister to them as our next generation so we need people to sign up for place positions like kids ministry and also over this pandemic we’ve lost a lot of our welcome team volunteers and so if you are willing to just stand out and get to know our community through loving smiles and and getting to know people’s names and looking out for the people that are showing up for the very first time these are simple ways that you can help us create in a great experience on sunday mornings and of course there’s plenty of other opportunities for you to serve even more so in your gifting and who God has called you to be for this time so you should have received a menu when you came in and on that menu up in the left hand corner is a qr code and that qr code will send you right to our online form and you’ll notice this year that we’ve added a few questions that have to do with your strengths and ways that God has uniquely made you and we want to have a little conversation with you when you sign up so you’ll be getting a phone call from one of us and connecting and really trying to find what are ways that you can use your gifts and skills and talents and your unique identity to be to serve this church and to make us stronger because we are so much stronger when everyone is living within that gift and and serving the lord in that way and of course if you are new for the first time we are so excited and you that you can serve with us but if you’re not ready to do that we also would just love to give you a welcome meet us at the back um welcome desk in the back we’ve got a little gif first time gift for you and um would love to just get your name and information so that we can connect further now laura’s going to tell us about how you can connect with community yes so we’re rallying to serve is all about being able to give life to people group link which is next sunday make a note in your calendar next sunday group link is where you get to be given life from other people because you’re doing life together in a small group a small community where you tell stories about what you’ve been through and you get to relate with the story that someone else is going through maybe right then so next week and through september 18th 12th through september 12th you can find out about groups that are starting this fall at south and sign up to be able to start meeting with people and that will start next sunday put a link in your calendar another way you can rally with us and we know that so many of you do is through giving and you can find out more about giving on our online website as well as downloading that app and that’s going to be a really great place for you to know what’s happening continually theresa will send notifications and that will be a great place to find out more as the weeks come unfold in this fall but obviously those of you who give regularly you allow us to do all the things that God has placed on our heart to do to help people live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus so we just want to again thank you for those of you who sacrificially give week after week to help God continue to move in his kingdom in this area in littleton all right let’s pray

together lord Jesus thank you for the friendships that are in this room because of you and thank you that we can experience family relationships because of you Jesus thank you that we get to be a part of south a part of littleton as a body because of you I pray that you would create a heart of worship in us for those whose hearts are hardened and that you would bring encouragement to our hearts for those who need it this morning and in your name amen

good morning friends how you doing today great to see you my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re visiting we’re really glad you’re here really hoping to get you connected you’re joining us in the third week of this series called what if we if you’re joining us online later at some point but it’s really great to see you as well before we jump into this we’re going to read a passage from a book called romans written by a guy called paul um but just uh just before we get into that my wife and I with our kids are going on vacation uh this week just uh after minnesota for a few days and we were going to drive nice road trip I love road trips with the family and now we are not because the car broke and my wife is delightedly happy about this fact uh so much so that I’m beginning to get a little suspicious I’m like checking the fuel tank for sugar and stuff like did you have to break it so well you did a really good job but now we’re flying so we’re off to minnesota where we will hopefully catch some fish but because it’s minnesota even if we don’t catch fish mosquitoes will definitely catch us and because it’s because it’s minnesota they’re big enough to carry you away as well so hopefully we come back romans chapter 12 verse 1 if you’re following along in a text in front of you therefore I urge you brothers and sisters in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God this is your true and proper worship do not conform to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good pleasing and perfect will for by the grace given to me I say to every one of you do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought but rather think of yourselves with sober judgment in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you for just as each of us has one body with many parts these parts do not all have the same function so in christ we though many form one body and each part belongs to all the others we have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us if your gift is prophesying then prophesy in accordance with your faith if it is serving then serve if it is teaching then teach if it is encouragement then give encouragement if it is giving then give generously if it is to lead do it diligently if it is to show mercy do it cheerfully and then these are the two verses we’re going to land on today love must be sincere hate what is evil cling to what is good be devoted to one another in love honor one another above yourselves man there’s a lot in that so let’s pray and we’ll get into this passage uh Jesus as we take this text we believe that you breathed on this book and it became alive would you breathe on us and bring life to us in new ways each of us are on different stages of a journey and we come to you just as we are we love the fact that you accept us in this place and yet you love us too much to leave us there for whatever you have for us we open up our hearts amen so for the last three weeks we’ve been jumping into this series we’ve been talking about this this is wrestling with this question what does a church of Jesus look like and now on one hand how it looks across all of time and then on the other hand that’s how it looks specifically in this context in this area in this place for this specific community at this time so for the last two weeks we’ve wrestled on this big sort of macro level as you walked in you may have seen we have a big thing and a wall that says living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus that is something that could be true of any church anywhere hopefully that’s just how we choose to express it but then we wrestled with this question well how do you take the teachings of Jesus and boil them down to something in particular wherever you are in terms of your faith journey you may believe that Jesus is who he said he was or you may just think you know I’m not really sure right now but even if you’re not sure he’s still one of the greatest moral teachers ever to live and he taught for three years and so there’s all of this stuff to sort of examine to to come to grips with what what is the centerpiece of what Jesus taught and when he was asked the question what’s the centerpiece of all the law all of the rules he said love God with all your heart with all your soul with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself love God and love your neighbor but as we’ve wrestled with these things for the last couple of weeks they’re maybe not quite as simple as they seem on the surface love God with all your heart with all your soul and your mind it began as like almost like an ethical imperative this is something that you should do you should work at doing and yet as we wrestled with it what we said is really loving God begins with knowing God loves you you can never really love God in the way that he would long for you to love him without knowing you are loved exactly as you are with all of your brokenness all of your failures all of your struggle all of the things you don’t like about yourself the God of the universe right now says you are loved and accepted like that and then love your neighbor well that sounds easy on the surface but as we wrestled with what Jesus really meant by love your neighbor what we said is this it’s it’s not just love the neighbors that you like it’s not just love the neighbors that help you redo your fencing it’s not just the neighbors that help you by mowing your grass it’s love the neighbors that do the opposite of those we have this one neighbor that we have a tension relationship with he has these huge dogs that bark at our kids all the time and and every now and again when you’re working on that part of the yard suddenly you’ll just have this moment where the fence will quake as this 130 pound dog hammers himself into this fence and scares the life out of me and my kids and yet these are the neighbors that were called to love the ones with the tension not the ones without the tension love guard and love your neighbor on the surface sounds easy and yet it has its challenges and now we get to move on to to to well a more and not more interesting part but an equally interesting part we’ve looked at what the general church looks like but now we get to wrestle with what does God have for us at south over the next few months how do we figure out living in this particular community at this particular time yes we are a Jesus people we don’t believe Jesus just came into the world to teach we believe he came into the world to do something very specific nothing short of redeeming us and this whole world around us but what kind of community in amongst that are we called to be what what are our needs and and how do we shape that and so in conversations with elders with different stuff people over the last few months this is something that came out what if we became a Jesus people who are relationally connected deeply formed and outward reaching it starts with the fact that we need relationships it’s supposed to happen in that crucible and yet there’s this other step from there that those relationships make it possible that you and I could actually become different people the deep soul work that needs to happen the deep issues that we wrestle with those may actually start to be shaped and if that word formed seems unusual to you may be formed or formation is language you’re unfamiliar with this isn’t new language this is bible language paul talks about in one of his letters he says my heart aches it is he’s restless until christ is formed in you there’s this longing in the pages of the new testament to see us become different people and yet where we see that happens is in the language or the the process of relationships and there’s maybe a possibility as we are changed people then that leads us to be people that actually are compelling in the world around us Jesus was compelling to those around him even those that hated organized religion and when we become like him the implication is maybe we become compelling people as well people that ran from church or its equivalent of the time ran towards Jesus and what if we became those types of people other language that you might use around this is that this is supposed to be a place where you are known and know so you can grow and you can go and that is something that can be true for all of us and then here’s the tension as much as that is true aren’t relationships just difficult at times sometimes all of us would say starting new relationships working on old relationships fixing broken relationships is something that we struggle with doing as I think about places I’ve lived around the country I have some wonderful relationships back in michigan where I did ministry for five six years in new york where we also spent some time doing ministry back in england where I have some deep early relationships and some of those people have moved all over the world now and I miss the relationships they they are painful to lose now I’m glad that I have them I’m glad that I made those trips and and if I had never moved from england to michigan I would never have built those deep friendships there had I never moved again I would never have built the next one but but it can be hard at times to think about starting again and maybe this is particularly relevant to us in this season as we come out of a pandemic where we may say I’m missing some of my old relationships now I have this thesis about church relationships it’s it’s this I think we find that group within a church now south say south is about 400 or so people we have a couple of services you cannot really know everybody well in that size of group so what generally happens is this and I think it’s fairly healthy you find your niche you find your group of people your tribe and you get to sit with them and you get to enjoy them and have relationships with them and you never really look up and notice that you don’t know most of the people in the room well and that’s fine that’s good but sometimes there’s this moment where suddenly you realize your little tribe has it’s disappeared for whatever reason maybe it’s just we’re a transient society maybe it’s one thing or another and then suddenly that absence makes you look up and there’s this feeling of I feel like I’m in a room of strangers it can be hard when you go through that to say I want to do relationships again especially as most of us have some hesitancy at different points in our life it tends to vary from person to person but the truth is all of us have been through times where relationships are hard I have this recollection of being about 16 17 years old which is about the time in my life I found relationships the hardest I just didn’t know where I fit and I struggled to make those connections that I wanted to make and so I made some strange decisions at this time one of those decisions will sound irrelevant when I first say it but it is relevant to the story I decided to stop washing my hair just stopped now apparently there’s this theory that if you don’t wash your hair for six weeks it will start washing itself but before that you have to go through what’s called the sheep phase where you literally smell like a sheep and I I tested this to the utmost and so I have this recollection of this moment I’m walking back from college towards the bus and it pours with rain and so I make a dash and soaking wet climb onto the bus and sit there for a couple of minutes and then start to think wow this bus smells worse than usual

this bus smells kind of like sheep and it took me a couple of minutes to realize that the bus didn’t smell it was me that smell I was the thing that stank and so I had to sit there for 20 30 minutes for just this experience being I’m the thing I’m the problem I don’t fit I am the outcast now that that story that 20 minutes that 30 minutes is really a it’s a microcosm for what that period in my life looked like I don’t feel like I fit I don’t feel like I’m wanted I feel like I’m the problem for me it was a brief period for some of you you might say it’s the whole of your life but there’s just this this experience of I don’t know how to make relationships in this time I feel like an outcast we even have created places which the philosopher mark orger would call non-spaces places where there are lots of people and yet it’s a place where I am neither known nor no airport concourses supermarkets are these places there is lots of activity lots of people and yet you go get to go about your life with this vague anonymity now some of you would be honest and say I love that truth you’re the guys that celebrated when they put those self-checkout things in the supermarket you’re like no I don’t have to talk to anybody and this is wonderful you’re the people that if the checkout guy or girl knows your name you’re like I’m finding a different supermarket this is intolerable I didn’t come here for a relationship I came here for anonymity and yet there’s this tension because we sometimes chase after this thing of not being known or known and yet most of the bible writers across the spectrum would say relationships are necessary and important whether that is right back in the beginning where God says of man it is not good for man to be alone or a passage like this in proverbs 27 17 as iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another across the spectrum there are these different writers that say relationships are inherent to being human there is a tension between how much we want to do them and yet they are necessary they are important and the same is true of the passage that we’re going to jump back into now this romans 12 passage but before we get that let me just check the time because I feel like I overran in the first service I got about two thirds of the way through I’ve got I’ve got a third left to go and it was closing time now the good news is you guys are the second service so I’ve I’ve recalibrated and I’ve shortened everything no I haven’t I’m just like you guys can’t go anywhere there’s no service to follow you’re stuck we’re pushing through people panera bread will be here at one um there’s this truth as we look at different passages of the bible that as westerners one of the things we’re very good at at times is knowing specific verses within the bible we can pull out pick out some of our favorites especially because around the 10th century some kind person went through and put addresses across the bible they gave us chapters and verses that weren’t there initially so we might say something like I love jeremiah 29 verse 11. it says God knows the plans he has for me plans to give me a hope and a future now that’s fine and true and yet that verse has context historical context that is important and we often miss it because we zone in on those very detailed passages so before we read romans 12 again what I’d love to do is give you a challenge as you go home if you like reading the bible try reading romans chapter 7 and romans chapter 8 before you read romans chapter 12. in romans chapter 7 this this pastoral letter that paul writes to this church in rome there’s this moment in chapter seven where he starts to talk about how broken he feels he says the things that I want to do the good things I want to do I just I don’t get around to doing them and the the bad things that I’m determined not to do those are the things that they end up doing he starts lamenting his human condition wretched man that I am who will free me from this body of death and then in chapter eight he starts to celebrate this idea that well who will free me Jesus will life in the spirit that is what has created this new way of living and he starts to celebrate there is now no condemnation for those that are in christ Jesus for the law of the spirit of life has freed me from the law of sin and death this passage is transcendent in romans chapter eight it hits these incredible heights and then in chapter nine he starts this debate about the relationship between the church and the nation of israel it feels like a tangent and I say that as a guy who loves tangents listening to me preaches like being on a golf cart with someone who just changes his mind about which direction they’re going I love to just swing the wheel and go off in another direction and it feels like paul does that at times as well and so he jumps into 9 10 and 11 this big discussion and we can feel kind of lost kind of out of touch this feels maybe like it belongs to a different age but then in chapter 12 I would suggest he comes back to this idea of life in the spirit but not just the big spatial language but he starts to talk about well what’s life in the spirit look like practically what does it look like for a church a Jesus people community to live that kind of life try reading seven eight and then jumping to twelve and just see how it illuminates some of this passage but here we go back to the start verse 1 therefore I urge you brothers and sisters in view of God’s mercy to offer your buddies as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God this is your true and proper worship do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is he’s good and pleasing and perfect will as some of your versions if you have a version in front of you it might say this is your spiritual act of worship this is your reasonable act of worship it’s talking about how life in the spirit enables to to live this relationship with God to know him to to worship him fully how it leads to this change this renewing of your mind and then he goes on to talk about the community in general for by grace given by the grace given to me I say to every one of you do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought but rather think of yourselves with sober judgment in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you for just as each of us has one body with many says here members it may say parts and those members do not have all the same functions so in christ we though many form one body and each member belongs to all the others he starts to sketch out we’re in this together and you are needed you have gifts you have skills that other people don’t have you and I each have a part to play we have a different gifts according to the grace given to each of us if your gift is prophesying then prophesy in accordance with your faith if it is serving that serve if it is teaching then teach if it is to encourage then give encouragement if it is giving then give generously if it is to lead do it diligently if it is to show mercy do it cheerfully and all the time he’s building this picture of what a Jesus community looks like it involves this worship and knowing of the God of the universe but living together recognizing our different gifts and parts to play and then he’s going to move from talking about what we do to how we do it love must be sincere and this passage it’s like this staccato be especially when you read it in the original language even great commentators on the book of romans say I don’t know where he got all these ideas from there’s so many things that he’s going to ask us to do and it feels like he pulls them from all different sources love must be sincere hate what is evil cling to what is good be devoted to one another in love honor one another above yourselves never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual further serving the lord be joyful in hope patient in affliction faithful in prayer share with the lord’s people or in need practice hospitality it’s boom boom boom boom boom and I cut it off half way there’s another whole list that just keeps on going and it can leave you with this feeling of paul how can I do all of this stuff there is so much stuff that you’re throwing at me what am I supposed to do to apply this whole list to my life and so today we’re just gonna land on verse nine and verse ten love must be sincere love must be sincere when he chooses to say this he picks up on a word that Jesus uses all the time as Jesus is talking to the religious leaders of his day he has a lot of tension with them and and this is one of the phrases he uses you hypocrites woe to you teachers of the law and pharisees you hypocrites you are like whitewashed tombs which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of bones of the dead and everything unclean in the same way on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness Jesus uses this phrase hypocrites which in greek is is hippocrite it means quite literally one who wears a mask an actor a performer a stage player somebody who isn’t real somebody who’s fake somebody who is covered up around four miles from the town that Jesus grew up in was a big town nazareth this town that you may have heard of is maybe 200 400 people in the first century and just down the road there is a big town on a hill it’s maybe where Jesus got his image of a city on the hill cannot be hidden and 25 000 people lived in this town for the first century this is a large community it makes nazareth look insignificant and within this community is a theater now when we read in the bible that Jesus was a carpenter well that could have been true and yet the word techtan doesn’t really just mean carpenter if you look at pictures of the middle east there aren’t a lot of trees to do woodwork with but there’s an awful lot of stone so the probability is that Jesus was an engineer a stone maker a carpenter many of these things rolled into one as he trained with his father it’s quite possible that Jesus father or Jesus himself may have helped build this theater just a few miles away in his early years although it’s a little bit dangerous to go on the track of saying Jesus may have done this when he was little there’s this whole group of people no word of a lie in england who believed Jesus sailed to england when he was a young man and it’s very important to them and they even wrote songs about it and it’s almost certainly not true and yet it’s dangerous to go down these tracks but it seems a little bit more likely that Jesus traveled to a town four miles from his house than 4 000 miles across the mediterranean ocean so we’ll go with it but this theater whether he went there or not whether he helped build it or not this is the place that he pulls this language from of hippocrite these are people that wore masks greek acting centered around masks when you were seated so far back from the stage it was the only way you knew which character was which and what emotions they were showing in a particular time so I bought you some masks uh now it’s harder to buy masks online than it used to be because if you search for masks you just come up with medical masks and stuff these are harder to get but these are like you can see the different emotions that they show and I’ll put one on for you just because it’ll look weird um there we go look at that my kids wore these and it was terrifying um and so these were the type of masks that we they would wear and it would allow the people at the back to say oh I kind of know what is going on on the stage it was necessary for them to wear masks for what they did when Jesus pulls this word what he says is you wear masks in everyday life you cover up who you really are and you pretend so when paul picks up this language of hippocrite he adds a no to it and and hippocrates he says when you love it must be done without a mask it must be done without a mask you cannot pretend and love well in dan eliot’s favorite translation of the bible the new living translation it says simply this don’t just talk about it really love each other it seems a Jesus community at its heart in paul’s minds accepts people as they are wherever they are whatever they look like and relationships start with that kind of acceptance and yet I wonder whether there’s a different emphasis on wearing masks that’s relevant for us today one that poor may not have recognized there’s this movie that came out in 2010 it’s a documentary called catfish some of you may have seen it the the guy that directed it nev falls in love with someone online as they begin to chat as they begin this relationship she starts to send him pictures of herself and he starts to look at a social media profile and it’s incredible she’s beautiful she’s a model she’s also a photographer and a director she paints and she writes poetry and she writes music that’s beautiful and she starts to send him these different things and he’s falling massively wildly in love with her and his brother and his friend said you know what we need to film this because when they get married one day we can show this whole process and the relationship working out and then he starts to get suspicious starts to wonder about some of the things he’s been sent he notices that most of her friends on social media have only existed for just a few weeks starts to google some of the lyrics of her poetry of a music and finds that most of the stuff is already online done by somebody else somewhere some of the songs she’s sent him are sung by apparently her but with a different name and so his friends say to him we’ve got to drive and we’ve got to go and see her and so they drive from new york all the way to michigan to to meet this woman and she opens the door and she doesn’t look like a picture and she hasn’t painted anything and she doesn’t write poetry and she lives at home in a relationship that’s full of struggles she looks after her two kids that are disabled and she she isn’t what she put on social media and he doesn’t say anything she invites him in and they chat and they interact and it’s not till the last day that he says well look we’ve got to talk about this you’re not you’re not who you said you are and of course she breaks down and she starts to talk about just her struggle with life and and really what seems to be at the heartbeat of it is this she doesn’t believe she will be loved for who she is when we ask the question if Jesus and paul both suggest that life is needs to be lived without the mask and while paul suggests that we must offer love in this sincere way without mask I would suggest that love is this two-way relationship and it must be received without a mask as well and if we ask this question why do we wear masks I would say that we live in suspicion that there is a me behind the mask that others would despise or even reject when I mentioned that earlier story that garden story that really grounds all of our stories when we think back to this adam and eve characters that were told about this is what we are told about their relationship after the fall the man and his wife heard the sound of the lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day and they heard from the lord God among the trees of the garden but the lord God called to the man where are you he answered I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and so I hid I don’t know what you believe as individuals about the bible in general and this particular passage you may believe it’s a hundred percent true and that God made the world in six days you may have tensions with it but but what I would say about this is that we see that regardless of how each of us think of it as individuals it is always true of us humanly we by nature hide from God and from others because we live in suspicion that there is a me behind the mask that others will despise or even reject our struggle with masks is not just that we cover up and we don’t offer sincere love to others but but it’s that we don’t believe that we are worthy of the love of others

shakespeare apparently said this all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players when we take that word that idea of an actor is one who wears a mask that is true of so many of us so much of the time we wear masks and yet we live in this tension of needing relationships if we are honest this is river dave river dave lived as a hermit in I think it was connecticut for 30 years build himself a little house on the side of the road with logs he cut down for himself started to grow his own crops and saw as few people as possible until his house burnt down could no longer live the life he used to live and news cameras got hold of it all these people tried to come and help him and he started having to interact with different people and this is what he said about this process maybe the things I’ve been trying to avoid are the things that I really need in life I grew up never being hugged or kissed or any close contact I had someone ask me once about my wife did you really love her and the question kind of shocked me for a second I I’ve never loved anybody in my life and I shocked myself because I hadn’t realized that and that’s why I was a hermit now I can see love being expressed that I never had before maybe the things I’ve been trying to avoid are the things that I really need in life for a man who did solitary for 30 years we live in a suspicion that there is a me behind the mask that others would despise or even reject and yet we long to be seen and valued for our authentic self we long to be seen and valued for our authentic self it seems like in paul’s language of of love must be sincere he would say to us whether you are the person giving love or receiving love wherever you are in that two-way relationship it seems like he would say it’s okay to take off the mask now teresa iraq communications director would love me to emphasize that this is not medical advice just so you know this is the metaphorical mask and I am not qualified medically to tell you whether or not you should wear a mask in public just to be clear love must be sincere it is done without a mask hate what is evil cling to what is good be devoted to one another in love paul in this passage somehow manages to use almost every greek word for love possible and there are a few of them he talks about the divine love of God he talks about brotherly affection he talks about the commitment to family all in just a few sentences and it seems that he wants us to know that love is inherent to this Jesus type community it is the center piece of all of it and it must be done without a mask it is done without a mask but isn’t there a tension in that passage heat what is evil cling to what is good so often we see the brokenness in us and in others and yet we’re told to keep clinging to each other in spite of it when we remove the masks when we allow people into that kind of relationship it is possible that some of the stuff that they will see and that we will see will not be the most beautiful and yet this is the life that we are told to live a Jesus community accepts people as they are while also believing that God has a new story for each of us to move into there is this beauty in this Jesus who accepts people exactly as they are and yet has new things for them has the possibility of transformation and it seems like a Jesus community well that requires the same sort of faith and so as the worship team come back as we sort of start to close out the service service I guess my question for us is what brave steps might you need to take this season it may be that it is just simply believing that there are new relationships to experience it may be just believing there are new friendships to step into it may be serving in a way that you haven’t served before to do what dana did and make this journey from connecting to serving to building these friendships around her that she needed and seeing this transformational formation that goes along with it in this place I know and am known I would suggest that does this risk that post-pandemic churches become those non-spaces that we talked about where we would say here I neither know nor am known and yet a Jesus community requires us being a place where I can say I know and I am known and yet that takes some awful risks at times maybe the things I’ve been trying to avoid are the things that I really need in life let’s pray together God as we wrestle with whose south is in this season as you shape us as a community as a and as individuals it may require some brave choices it’s okay to lament the relationships that were and yet there is a new season for new relationships that require stepping into them bravely not easy not comfortably not with no cost

God you would you speak to us would you comfort those who are afflicted who are scared who are uncertain who feel that taking off the mask might reveal just too much may you provide them the safe spaces that they need to do that it doesn’t need to be with everyone but it needs to be with someone

for those of us that are comfortable comfortable in our current relationships in our safety may you afflict us may you push us into new things to welcoming in those that are outside

may this be a space where we know and are known

that begins with us knowing you and walking with you for those of us outside that Jesus story though we know we are welcomed in exactly as we are no strings attached thank you Jesus for the way that you loved us and gave your life for us


What If We…Became the Community God’s Called us to be? | Romans 12:9-16 (Part 3)2024-06-12T14:48:47-06:00

What If We…Loved Others Well? | Matthew 22:36-40, Luke 10:25-37 (Part 2)

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good morning friends how you doing today my name’s alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re visiting it’s great to have you with us if you’re visiting us on volunteer sunday well I guess I kind of apologize I don’t even know what to say this is just this wonderful day of not just giving volunteers a day off it’s not that we think you need a day off it’s it’s just that we want to highlight just how much south functions around a group of people coming to serve together it takes about 80 people to make this church function every week and today we did it on about six or seven and you just came here and it felt less we got here this morning I was like I just miss a people our community and so as we move towards rally day it’s a great impetus maybe to say I’d love to get involved in a new way my own wonderful daughter elena who sat on the front row here today I told her today there is no kids ministry and she said what and then she said

but I can still get my hot apple cider drink and I said no there’s no one to do it and she said why volunteers why not knowing it wasn’t your fault but she’s now signed up next week she’s she’s on one of the teams and and you can be on a team too so if you’re sat here if your kids are in the service with us do not worry about them making a noise I would just keep going anyway this is supposed to be just a little bit chaotic so we can just feel what it is like when we don’t have all of us pulling together so thank you for participating with us we’re in a series called what if we it’s a vision series where we’re shaping the idea of what kind of community is south fellowship church made to be who are we we have this big thing on the wall when you walk in living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus some of you even wear it on your wrists as well one day someone will come and say I got it tattooed on me somewhere I’m like that’s great

that’s a great step to take if you’re thinking about it absolutely but how how do you take the teachings of someone like Jesus over three years and break them down to just this is living in the way of Jesus and the heart of Jesus there is just so much this is the most compelling teacher in history and so we landed for this particular series in this particular time on this passage in a book called matthew one of the biographers of Jesus life one of the writers of the gospel if you have a paper bible in front of you if you want to grab your phone your ipad whatever you have if you don’t have anything that’s fine I’m going to read matthew 22 34 to 40 and we’re going to keep unpacking this hearing that Jesus had silenced the sadducees the pharisees got together one of them an expert in the law tested him with this question teacher which is the greatest commandment in the law he’s asking Jesus Jesus would you break down these 613 laws these

39 books and give us the the most significant thing and Jesus says love the lord your God with all your heart with all your soul with all your mind this is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it love your neighbor as yourself all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments let’s pray together Jesus as we look at this book that you’ve given us this book that we believe as followers of yours that you breathed in it’s alive in a different way would you use it to speak to us would you use it to mess with us to transform us whether we’re young whether we’re old wherever we are in that journey of faith would you be transformative in our lives would you ask us to do hard things and give us the strength to do those hard things amen okay so we just read this passage let’s go over it again hearing that Jesus had silenced the sadducees and the pharisees got together two religious groups that would argue back and forth with each other one of them’s asked a question Jesus has answered the next group now ask a question one of them an expert in the law tested him with this question teacher which is the greatest commandment in the law and that’s what we unpacked last week this first idea love God with all your heart and what we wrestled with for this first week was this the commandment isn’t just try hard to love God that isn’t the purpose of it really where we spent most of the service unpacking was this idea it asks us to know that we are loved by God and then to reflect that love back to him it starts with the incredible amount that God is passionate deeply about you wherever you are in your journey whatever your history looks like the God of the universe loves you and we’re invited to to to know that and to reflect it back and then the second one love your neighbor as yourself Jesus picks two of the most basic commandments in jewish life maybe the first two that somebody would know and then definitely the first two that

have this idea that love is an imperative it’s something that you’re supposed to do love God with all your heart love your neighbor as yourself but the question we might ask is this what does it mean to love your neighbor when Jesus says this what does he mean by that yes definitely it’s back from an older book it’s from a book called leviticus chapter 19 verse 18 and it’s in the middle of all these different laws about the types of clothing that you should wear about sexual ethics all those different things it’s in the midst of this passage that has all these complicated things in and in the middle of it there’s like this nuclear bomb love your neighbor as you love yourself now to a person three and a half years ago reading that the first implication would probably be this love the person around you love the person who is like you love the person that you live in community with though there were some other passages that would maybe say

people might join your community they might be foreigners there was a provision for those people but for the most part for a jewish person three and a half thousand years ago when they heard love your neighbor it meant love your fellow jew love the person close by love the one who is like you so does that what Jesus means when Jesus unpacks that 1500 years later does he just mean love the person like you now if we were just left with this passage we might say absolutely that’s maybe the reasonable context but fortunately for us this isn’t the only time that this conversation comes up so we’re going to jump from matthew to another biographer of Jesus life a guy called luke as a community we just spent 10 weeks with luke so we’re pretty familiar with who he is and his language but if you’re not that’s fine again luke is a biographer of Jesus life very smart probably a doctor has done all of his research and he records this

conversation just a little bit differently perhaps it’s a different conversation but the theme at least is the same luke chapter 10 verse 25 on one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus teacher he asked what must I do to inherit eternal life that wouldn’t be a particularly unique question in the first century what it doesn’t mean is what do I need to do to go to heaven when I die that’s probably not the context at all for a jewish person it was probably something like this we have a problem our land is not our own people have overtaken it we have these overlords these romans we see them on the streets what is God going to do about that he’s got to fix that at some point and how do I get to be a part of it that that’s probably the sense of his question and so Jesus responds what is written in the law he replied how do you read it in this version it’s not the teacher asking what’s central to the law in this version it’s

Jesus asking that question how do you understand the law and incredibly this young man he gives Jesus the same answer Jesus has given to other people love the lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind love your neighbor as yourself you have answered correctly unsurprising that Jesus says you’ve answered correctly it’s the same answer that Jesus has given to this question in the past do this and you will live but here the conversation it just keeps going the teacher has a follow-up question but he wanted to justify himself so we asked Jesus and who is my neighbor I suspect that under this question is this idea Jesus how narrow can I make this I don’t want this to be broad I don’t want this to include lots of people how narrow can I make it and I would suggest you and I we’ve done the same thing at different points because it’s easy to love the neighbor that cuts your grass for you

when it needs cutting it’s harder to love the neighbor who dumps his grass clippings and your corner of the yard there’s always that tension between different neighbors it’s easy to love this guy because we all want neighbors like him it’s harder to love this guy I’m a huge simpsons fan I know that’s not normal in the evangelical community I love the simpsons it’s been on for 35 years and I think homer is just the most intriguing character but would I want him as a neighbor no he’s terrible as a neighbor he torments his neighbors it’s easy to love the neighbors that are like us the neighbors that are good it’s not so easy to love the neighbors that are not like us that are different from us that complicate the relationship I would suggest that the heart of this question is Jesus how narrow can I make this don’t make me love people I don’t want to love tell me just to love the people that are like me the people that I have things in common with

and Jesus as he so often does in difficult questions decides to tell a story and to start with what I’d like to give you is I’d like to give you that story from the focal point of a person who we don’t usually focus on a man wakes up one morning it’s still dark outside he has to get up early and so he edges past his wife and his kids trying desperately not to wake them he stumbles around for the few items of clothing that he has and he begins to load his pack animal because he has an 18-hour journey ahead of him he has to travel from jerusalem to jericho and it’s not the miles that bother him it’s the journey itself because this road is not a good road he’ll be descending from about 2500 feet above sea level from jerusalem with its plentiful war to its fertile land and he’ll be making his way down to jericho which is 800 feet below sea level and as he makes this journey the road will slowly become harder and harder and harder and this road again just has

a bad reputation so as he makes this journey all of his senses are tingling all of his awareness is aroused and and during this journey he has this moment where as the ground starts to get harder he hears like a shuffling like rocks moving around and that’s the last thing he remembers before he wakes up in a bed he has this moment of relief a moment of checking for injuries and find himself finds himself bandaged all over himself he has this moment of panic where he’s a poor man and realizes he doesn’t have any money to pay for an innkeeper to look after him and so he begins to try and get out of bed to gather his few possessions that he can see around the room and the innkeeper walks in and says you don’t need to worry somebody brought you to us they’ve paid your bill they told us they would pay whatever costs there were just relax just rest go back to sleep and the man rests back on the pillows with his word of breathe thanks to

the God of the universe and the person the unknown person that left him there to be cared for this is the context that might be around the man in the story who we know nothing about we don’t know whether he’s a good man we don’t know whether he’s a jewish man we’re left in this mystery but this man is attacked on the road in Jesus story a man was going down from jerusalem to jericho when he was attacked by robbers this road that he would have taken is about 18 miles long it’s a 10 hour journey and it was known as the way of blood or the way of the red this is a little part of it and so many people were attacked in this road it had this fearsome reputation so for Jesus first listeners when he says the man was on a road from jerusalem to jericho for them there was this moment of wait what’s gonna happen then because there’s always a story about this road we’re left with this tension like what’s gonna

happen in this story about this terrible road and sure enough he was attacked by robbers when they stripped him of his clothes beat him and went away leaving him half dead in reality it doesn’t matter at this moment whether he is still breathing not even if he comes to he’s in the middle of nowhere there is no water it’s a desert he has no chance of surviving if he comes around and yet he lies there and we’re introduced to several characters that come his way a priest happened to be going down the same road and when he saw the man he passed by on the other side now we have probably a tendency 21st century westerners a tendency is probably this to assume that priest and pastor are somewhat sort of synonymous and I don’t want my reputation tarnished by this guy there is maybe a truth that most people go into pastoral ministry of some kind because they care about people they want to help that wasn’t

necessarily true of a priest in the first century it was a family lineage it was a privilege it was something you inherited there is nothing necessarily to say this priest is more ethical than anybody else and the same is true of the levite that would follow first a priest comes along passes by and then we’re told so too a levite when he came to the place and saw him passed by on the other side of the road two religious figures two people that we assume are jewish probably like the man on the road they walk past him and leave him where he is now for them there was probably an ethical sort of tension there there’s this passage back in the old testament again if you’re not familiar don’t worry but it’s a book called numbers and it says this whoever touches a human corpse will be unclean for seven days so what do these men do supposing they’re on their way to jerusalem they’re supposed to participate in temple activity if

they touch him they can’t do that they can’t do their jobs it’s maybe some of the tensions some of you guys have felt recently with all of the contact rules around coronavirus am I supposed to quarantine now am I supposed to not go anywhere now all those different things that come up this is a similar tension to what these guys are processing now what do we do what if he’s dead what does that mean what if he’s not does that mean we have to stop what we’re doing and and help him there is a load of tension for them around this and Jesus masterfully creates this story and for every jewish person the story can only have one conclusion because this is not a new story perhaps you’ve heard the idea that that sort of fairy tales comic patterns all those different things jokes they tend to revolve around the number three so think three little pigs there’s the three pigs and think about ever other fairy tales you can probably track with these

different ideas of different sort of stories jokes often work around three so to help us understand this I’d like to introduce you to this english concept of joke called the englishman the scottish man and the irishman some of you may be familiar with it but this is a repeated pattern and every nation tells it differently depending on their nation so the englishman is usually figured as being somewhat uptight sort of repressed all of these different things that’s broken about our sort of tendencies the scottish man is usually presented as as cheap he doesn’t like to part with his money and the irishman is usually presented as daft and there’s no truth in the stereotypes yet they exist historically so this joke is a good example would look something like this during the second world war an englishman a scottish man and an irishman they walk into a barn and hiding from the nazi soldiers they decide to climb into some sacks

lying on the ground so the englishmen scottishment irishmen each find a sack and the nazi soldiers walk in looking for some opposing soldiers and they walk up to the first sack and they kick it and the englishman says woof woof woof and the nazis say oh there’s dogs in the sack and they leave it be the next one walks up to another sack kicks it and the scottish man inside goes and the soldiers say well there’s kittens in that sack and they let it go now as much as we know nazis are awful I don’t know if they would leave puppies and kittens sitting in sacks this seems like a flaw in the joke but finally the man walks up to the last sack and he kicks it and the irishman inside says potato potato potato potato potato this joke is part of like a pattern of jokes that everybody knows where it’s going they always know what the kind of result will be this story follows one of those patterns for every jewish person they would have heard a story

like this at some point and it always goes like this there’s always a priest then there’s always a levite and then finally there’s a hero and that hero almost without exception is an ordinary jewish person the hero is joe the plumber the hero is the everyday guy the hero is the crowd so as Jesus listeners are listening in on this conversation there’s this moment where they’ve been for a priest and they’ve been through a levite and the thing is coming the story is coming to his conclusion and the hero is around the corner and it’s got to be an everyday jewish person surely except for Jesus it isn’t Jesus is being intentionally provocative for this crowd he’s trying to teach them something but a samaritan as he traveled came where the man was and when he saw him he took kitty on him to understand some of the the what’s going on under the surface here it’s important to know who these samaritans were and you may not be familiar with that a

samaritan was essentially a brother of a jewish person the the israeli nation had been split into two there was israel there was judah israel had gone into captivity about 700 bc judah about 587 but with very different journeys the nation of israel had been taken off into captivity and other nations had been moved into their land and the people that were left had intermarried with all of the people were there and so to the jewish people in jerusalem who went away and miraculously came back pretty much as they were this group of samaritans they were the failures they were the ones that didn’t stay pure they’re the ones that didn’t follow the laws that God had said about marrying other nations when Jesus says samaritan it’s like those guys are never the heroes they’re the bad guys of all our stories Jesus has been provocative when he says samaritan when a samaritan is the hero every jewish person listening says wait that can’t

be right and yet in Jesus story he is the hero and the whole passage seems to turn on this one freeze he took pity on him the greek word there is splag on it’s very hard to say but it’s this idea of inner most part some compassion was moved within him there was some kind of inspiration that said you need to care for this person it’s like he allowed his humanness to come to the surface the priest the levite they had too many things to do there was all these compelling reasons they shouldn’t act for this person he tapped into what made him human and chooses to act and then Jesus as he often does takes a story and then gives it meaning then starts to unpack it for the crowd that are listening so what what is his meaning which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers taking aside whether neighbors the person who’s like you or whatever who acts like a neighbor who does the

neighborly thing is his question and look at the man’s answer he can’t even bring himself to say the word samaritan it’s that man over there that the other guy the outcast the the nobody the guy we don’t want to be the hero won’t even use the term and Jesus tells him you go and do likewise for a jewish person to hear the samaritan is the hero go and act like him would have been mind blowing Jesus told him go and do likewise so a question for us as we unpack this today as we seek to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus as we seek to take this and apply in our lives might be what did the samaritan do I just think there’s loads of things that he does that are just compelling look at this list he allowed himself to be moved by pity he chose to act in mercy he loved without the aid of government or organization he loved when it was somebody else’s responsibility but there’s more than just that he loved at the risk of his own

life imagine for a samaritan to see a jewish person lying on the side of the road you go over to help them and then a traveling party of jewish people comes around the corner who’s the likely suspect who do you blame who does the mob come after this samaritan he risks his own life to make this decision he loved at a cost to himself he loved when he was busy with a task he had so many other things perhaps to be doing just like the other two characters and yet he loves anyway you might say that the parable of the good samaritan challenges the length through lens through which we see those around us it forces us to acknowledge that we instinctively love those who look act talk and think like us Jesus suggests that following him involves being a neighbor to the one who is unlike us who might even appear as our enemy if the jewish concept of neighbor was the one who is like us Jesus concept of neighbor is the one who is

unlike us as well and maybe you’ve got to experience this type of thinking a few years ago I ran out of gas now the debate in our house as to whose fault this was still rages and you guys can speak in as you feel free is it the responsibility of the person who ran the gas so low that you couldn’t get to a gas station or is it the responsibility of the person who happened to be driving when the car stopped and I’m sure we all have a whole bunch of thoughts as to who that was but I was the person driving and so I got to be the person that went wandering off to try and find a gas tank and then some gas to put in it and then make my way back to the car and as I did walking down the side of the street I discovered something this is no longer the universal sign for hitchhiking because I just got ignored by every single person on the road finally made my way to the gas station got myself some gas and began the long hike backwards again the thumb

did not work until this guy turned up after I’ve been passed by many people I had someone stop and help me and offer me a lift what was beautiful in this moment was this was a person who did not look like me did not seem like me and yet this was the person that chose to stop and help me and what I loved is this as we drove along we started to unpack like just I said thank you for stopping like I just I really appreciate it I’d been waiting for a while and nobody else had stopped and we started to unpack why he stopped and he just said this in very simple words well you needed help and if you see someone who needs help the right thing to do is to help them right I was like this guy he gets it yes that’s exactly what we would say and as we unpack further this samaritan he loves the one who was different to him he did what he was able to do and then startlingly as we unpack it from the small the micro to the big picture and the macro

he moves towards reconciliation rather than towards revenge a samaritan person might just say this is a great chance to take out some anger on a jewish person that’s that’s in a place of struggle and yet he choose to move towards this big picture of reconciliation think about how poor this jewish writer unpacks this as he starts to figure out what exactly Jesus death and resurrection have done he says this for christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all died and he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again so from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view that we once regarded christ in this way we do so no longer therefore if anyone is in christ the new creation has come the old is gone the new is here all this is from God who reconciled us to himself through christ and gave us the ministry of

reconciliation that God was reconciling the world to himself in christ not counting people’s sins against them and has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation it seems like as paul unpacks this Jesus story he says God is putting back together all the brokenness in this world that starts with the small thing people like you and I but it gets bigger and bigger and bigger this story is a microcosm but it’s this beginning of a healing of a fractured relationship that that is about nations and not about individuals this is what martin luther king jr said about this passage on the one hand we’re called to play the good samaritan on life’s roadside but that will only be an initial act one day we must come to see that the whole jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway true compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar it is not

haphazard and superficial it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring in Jesus mind and paul’s mind it seems like this whole story is about healing about something new happening in the world but it begins with acts like this samaritan’s act Jesus is interested in both a reconciled world and in individual acts of mercy that cross boundary lines and challenge our perception of neighbor the one is not possible without the other acts of mercy and kindness that cross boundaries are a small start on that long road towards reconciliation in the jewish mind it might be that the neighbor that was the one that was like you in Jesus mind it includes the one who is not like you and I and so there’s a question that I have a question that I’ve wrestled with myself why so often do I not act like this if Jesus simply says this is the samaritan this is what he did go

and copy him what are all the tensions about why why do I struggle so much to find space for that why don’t we do what he did in those moments that we don’t and to help us unpack that I’d like to tell you another story this is a picture of rob hall it’s a bad picture because it was taken on the top of everest rob hall took more people to the summit of everest than any western person in history he went five times himself and during one of his expeditions in 1996 as he was making his way to the service he had set a parameter for how long this expedition could go on at one o’clock everyone was supposed to turn back it was just a way of keeping everyone safe and yet at four o’clock rob is still trying to get his group of climbers to the summit something’s happened in his mind the oxygen deprivation of being at 28 000 feet has got to him and he’s making decisions that on the ground he would never ever make and climbing everest is

notoriously dangerous because at 28 000 feet in what’s called the death zone you can’t survive for longer that oxygen level the oxygen is maybe a third of what it is at sea level these are some pictures this is the everest balcony as people are making their way up and look at that line it’s like looking in a supermarket it’s like costco on saturday afternoon this is what climbing everest looks like now this is the hillary step the last bit right before the summit and there’s people juggling to get past each other there’s all these different things going on and in 1996 as this storm came in multiple groups get caught near the summit and multiple people die and there’s a story of one group a reporter asks them they had climbed the north side which is the more dangerous room and as they climbed they’d walked past a group that had come short of oxygen that were disoriented and didn’t know what to do next and they walked past them on the way

to the summit and then on reaching the summit they walked back down found them unconscious and walked past them again as the reporter tried to unpack just what had gone wrong on this day when so many groups had become stuck and so many groups had died he asked the question of this group why why didn’t you stop and help them on the way up and certainly why didn’t you stop and help them on the way down and the group leader’s answer was this there is no morality at 28 000 feet there’s no morality at 28 000 feet if you stop and help you risk your own life you risk your team’s life if you stop you can no longer breathe it’s all measured in one breath and one foot and all of those different things and there’s no morality at 28 000 feet this was the group leader’s answer to why he didn’t stop and help this group and I just wonder for you and I in these moments where we feel like we’re too busy or there’s too

many things going on or we can’t stop and help is it perhaps that we feel like we are living at 28 000 feet and maybe if we’re honest our summit whatever we’re trying to achieve in that moment or with our lives in general is it just too important to us do we have these opportunities to stop and we’re like I’m just gasping for breath I’m just trying to survive I’m just trying to get through and the idea of carrying anyone else’s burden of stopping for anyone else it just seems too much are we just so focused on achieving that goal that we say I can’t stop I’ve got other things to do I just wonder if that is some of our attention if we’re honest and if that’s true I guess the final question I have for us this week is this what do we do now what would Jesus have us do if he’s his message is act like this samaritan this is what he did go and copy him what do you and I do as we go away this sunday now on one hand an easy answer would just

be to say we should try harder now there is truth to the idea this is a bob goff quote we don’t always get to pick the parable we’re living but we get to pick who we are in the parable there is this idea that we make a choice we decide do we want to be the samaritan do we want to be the other two characters and yet I don’t think for many of us we would say the problem is we don’t try it’s those other things it’s that I’m just trying to breathe I’m just trying to get through life just trying to survive and I wonder if there’s something more profound that we could stand by this and as I wrestled with this myself this week as I ask myself questions about my own life about this text about what God has for us as a community about how we unpack what it is to live in the way of Jesus and the heart of Jesus I was reminded of last week where we said loving God is not about trying harder to love him it’s about realizing deeply that he loves us and that

being a transformative thing and I wonder if something similar is true as we unpack this idea this is psalm 23 verse 3 it will be familiar to many of you he restores my soul he guides me along right paths for his name’s sake there is this beautiful gentleness to this psalm but that phrase he restores my soul is fascinating the hebrew word for soul there is this word nephesh it’s the same word that’s used in the garden story where it says God breathed into man and he became a living being nephesh could simply mean the one who breathes it could simply mean humanness it’s used distinctly of human beings over anyone else and so there’s this idea that restores my soul simply means he re he returns me to my human state he brings out of me that thing that I’m made to be the word nephesh can also be translated breath he returns me to my breathing think about that in the context of 28 000 feet living and have that experience of I’m

just trying to breathe this God offers us a return to our breathing a return to our humanness take a breath it’s going to be okay maybe some of our struggle is this that we’re just trying so hard that it’s always easier to walk past the person on the side of the road and this gut offers us something empowering something that we can rely on some kind of transformation that begins again with him and who he is that humanness seems key to this story this samaritan sees this man as a fellow human being this is a um a quote from the dave matthews band from a song called samurai cup it’s about childbirth oh joy begin weak little thing more precious there’ll be nothing no oh joy begin let’s not forget these early days remember we begin the same we lose our fear away in fear and pain oh joy begin Jesus character of the samaritan sees a man on the side of the road who on the surface is not like him but he sees him and says he is like me he is a

human just like me the the priest the levite they see someone lying on the side of the road and it doesn’t matter that they are the same both jewish all similar everything in common they see someone as less valuable they see the summit or their achievements as more important they maybe say I just don’t have enough breath they’re just enough capacity I would suggest that being a neighbor starts with this Jesus invites us into a renewed humanness as part of a renewed humanity this may require surrendering ass summit in order to care for travelers on the road we do this well when we have space to breathe so I’m going to invite aaron to come back on stage he’s going to lead us through a practice and lead us through a worship song before I come and close the surface surf service I did say I did ask the whole band to come back up on stage in the first service but aaron is doing an ed sheeran type thing for us today he’s just

making it all happen by himself Jesus thank you that you give us these incredible stories and you unpack them in these most incredible ways and they’re always challenging maybe you’ve messed with some of our understanding today maybe you’ve pushed us to new action God would you take our lives and would you be transformative we love you because you first loved us perhaps we love those on the road because you first loved us as we sing continue to work in us

What If We…Loved Others Well? | Matthew 22:36-40, Luke 10:25-37 (Part 2)2024-06-12T14:48:57-06:00

What If We…Learned to Love God Well? | Matthew 22:36-40 (Part 1)

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good morning friends how you doing my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re visiting it’s great to have you apparently we’re now giving rounds of applause to the announcements but maybe that’s just because aaron is back and we’re all delighted and yes you did run a little over the allotted time but that’s okay on your first week back I guess in the first service aaron rambled on stage for a while and I fixed the tv I was like well through the looking glass here we’re just switching roles all over the place usually it’s me rambling and it’s aaron fixing stuff and so maybe one week I’ll lead worship and and he’ll preach those of you that sit over in this section know that would not be a good thing many of you would leave if I led worship on any week but here we go we’re jumping into the new series I’m going to start by reading you a passage from a book called matthew if you’re unfamiliar with the bible that’s fine

matthew is one of the four biographies gospels of Jesus life and so this is chapter 22 verse 34 hearing that Jesus had silenced the sadducees the pharisees got together one of them an expert in the law tested him with this question teacher which is the greatest commandment in the law Jesus replied love the lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind this is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it love your neighbor as yourself all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments let’s pray together God as we open this book that you have given us we believe as your followers that you breathed on this it is alive in a particular way it is life-changing in a particular way as we study together would you comfort those that are afflicted would you afflict those that are comfortable would you bring new stories out of old stories would you do what you so faithfully

do would you turn up in our lives and bring transformation and we ask this because of Jesus your son amen so today we get to begin a new series we’ve walked through this journey called build a bigger table for the last few weeks and now we move on to a series throughout the month of august that we’re calling what if we it’s this opportunity to come together and say what kind of community do we want to see here at south what what purpose do we have for existing what kind of community does littleton and the surrounding area need us to be if we believe that the local church is the hope of the world then a great question for us to be asking is what kind of local church is needed in this particular season this particular age now here’s where it gets a little bit interesting I get to play this role in helping lead south but really south has been around for a long long time it’s an old community so how I see my role is this is not

just creating new things but it’s this role of listening and saying well God who did you make us how can we be the best south that we can possibly be in this particular time in this particular place maybe a visual image if you get on board with visual images is it’s kind of like seeing a block of marble and and the thing is already somewhat shaped but there’s some little odds and ends that we’re still knocking around with and still moving about and we as a group of people get to say God well who are we what are you using us for in this particular time and to do that we’re going to begin with the thing that’s on the wall as soon as you walk through the door you walk through the doors here at 6560 and you see emblazoned all over that wooden wall we are a group of people we are living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus but think about that phrase for a second even if you’re new to church new to faith and your sort of stance at the

moment will be well Jesus was a great moral teacher but I’m not sure he was much more than that well he was a great moral teacher whose teachings have lasted a few thousand years and and to encapsulate that teacher’s thoughts down to one or two things that’s a difficult thing to do and if he was really who he said he was nothing less than God living as a human on earth and well wow that’s even more difficult how do we take the teachings of this master teacher and how do we boil them down to a couple of things and so we’re going to begin this process this journey with that passage that we just read Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment how do you sort of sum up everything in the old testament and he landed on the past passage that we just read but before we get too far into that before we jump into this idea of of loving the lord our God with all our hearts let me just say this so often I feel sermons

are like love letters what do I mean by them being love letters for those of you that have ever written a love letter there’s a good chance that you’ve written a love letter and never sent it the reason for that is this you were the person that needed to read it you were the person that needed to write it it’s you getting out your emotions your feelings your processing onto paper it may not need to go to the person to whom it’s directed but you you needed to say it and sometimes sermons are like that sometimes you find yourself creating sermons specifically for a community and then sometimes in the process of doing it you’re like wow this I I am the person that needs to hear this because when you think about pastoring a church what I would say I have discovered in my life limited years of doing it admittedly is this the whole of the world now tells you that to do that you have to lead and there’s truth in that there is an importance of

leadership and yet what does Jesus say to me personally he says you alex your primary role is as a follower you follow me on a journey and you invite people along and if my leading of south along with the elders and the staff if that effort gets in the way of my following us then the whole thing falls apart I first and foremost you first and foremost no matter what your position you are a follower of Jesus and nothing nothing gets to come before or get in the way of that so I’m going to throw you out a thesis to start this whole thing I’m going to let you just hover with it hold intention this is my thesis as we approach this topic what has your attention will ultimately will gain your affection what has your attention will gain your affection I’ll just leave it hovering there write it down if you want to ponder it and we’re going to jump into this passage let’s give it some more context a very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road while

others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road the crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted hosanna to the son of david blessed is he who comes in the name of the lord hosanna in the highest heaven when Jesus entered jerusalem the whole city was stirred and asked who is this the crowds answered this is Jesus the prophet from nazareth in galilee up until this point Jesus in his ministry has spent most of his time on the edges the periphery of jerusalem maybe we’d talk about it as the commuter belt maybe we’d talk about it as the suburbs he has been distant now depending on which of the four biographies or gospels of Jesus life you read you get a different impression just how long he’s been teaching for when you read matthew mark and luke you might get the impression this has been maybe a few months when you read john you definitely get the impression we’re talking

about a few years Jesus has come and gone from jerusalem for different festivals but still regardless most of his time has been spent outside of the city on the peripheries he’s gained this incredible reputation and now he makes his entry into jerusalem for this final season before the crucifixion and imagine yourself a few thousand years ago when there is no entertainment there is no television cinemas imagine what it feels like when a celebrity comes to town because Jesus at this point is nothing less than a celebrity he has done things that nobody else has done he has said things that nobody else can say and so when he arrives in town the crowds that gather must be immense some of them have just heard rumors they may not know particularly who he is but others know specifically oh this is the guy that everybody has been talking about Jesus names has been on everybody’s lips and so when he arrives in

town there’s a whole bunch of different emotions for some people there’s joy celebration excitement for some people there’s danger this threat for the religious leaders Jesus is dangerous what does him coming to town mean and so they for the next chapter or so we’ll throw him as many questions as possible you know how especially in today’s world the some questions they’re really unwinnable right someone asks you a question you could ask me a bunch of questions now on stage and there’s some things that no matter what I said I would irritate some of you you’d be like that’s just not what I wanted to hear maybe now more than ever it was still true then to a certain extent there were questions that just would put you at odds with somebody and so for these religious leaders like if we can trap him if we can trick him he’s going to lose support with a bunch of people and maybe even better he’ll really annoy the

romans who are ruling and then maybe they’ll deal with him for us so these questions have this ulterior motive to them and as we jump into our passage today what we hear is this hearing that Jesus had silenced the sadducees a religious group the pharisees got together another religious group one of them an expert in the lord tested him with this question teacher which is the greatest commandment in the law now this wouldn’t have been a particularly unusual question to wrestle with in the first century in actual fact we can go back in history and we can find multiple rabbinic debates about what what what tells us what the law is how does it how do we understand it what’s fascinating is this for so many of the people that gave answer to this question they went to the most complex some of them said well if you read psalm 15 then it breaks the law down into 11 different sections if you read isaiah 33 it breaks it down into six

different sections now if you don’t know what any of those books or names mean that’s absolutely fine you may be familiar with this one because it’s been popular again more recently some of the rabbis would say if you read micah chapter 6 verse 8 well that gives you a good breakdown of what the law is he has shown you oh more to what is good and what the lord what does the lord require of you to act justly to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God for some people they would say well that is basically a good summary of all of the old testament rules 613 of them if you can love justice if you can be merciful to others and if you can keep walking with the God of israel that’s that’s a good summary Jesus is asked this question and while everybody else seems to go for the complex and Jesus goes for the simple he takes these two passages that every single jewish person listening would be familiar with

may not be familiar with micah 6 verse 8 may not be familiar with isaiah 33 but every single person listening to him would know that deuteronomy chapter 6 verse 4 said that you shall love the lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind this was a prayer that a good jewish person would pray twice a day it was written on their doorposts this is how central this was to jewish way of life and love your neighbor this is finds itself in leviticus chapter 19 and in leviticus this first book a jewish boy would be taught to memorize in the middle of this chapter that’s all about what types of clothing you can wear in the middle of this chapter that’s about sexual ethics suddenly there’s this bomb this nuclear bomb of love your neighbor as you love yourself Jesus picks the two most familiar commandments and he picks the first two commandments where love becomes an imperative what do I mean by that for for

the rest of the old testament love has been used as a verb this the talk of a relationship it might say jacob loved rachel or something like that but this for the first time in leviticus and then deuteronomy is this moment where it says no you shall love this is your responsibility you shall love Jesus picks the most simple and the most familiar and he picks the two that talk about love hear o israel the lord our God the lord is one love the lord your God with all of your heart with all of your soul and with all your strength you shall love but the question I have for us there is what does it mean by love because you and I know that the word love is is maybe the broadest word that we use think about the number of contexts that we use that in I love my wife I love my kids I love my God I love my boots I love my boots I have had these boots for years and I will not throw them away even though the bottoms looked like that they have so many holes in

them I wore them on ash wednesday this is the extent of my love for this community let me just say this I wore them accidentally on ash wednesday and we did ashes outside in the snow dan and I stood for an hour and a half in the snow for anyone that drove past and these do not as you might guess from looking at them hold water I mean they just leak like crazy and I stood there in the soaking wet in the freezing cold with these boots that leak and yet did the boots go no they didn’t I will fix the boots I will continue to wear the boots and I may wear them because it’s denver and it hardly ever rains even when they’re not fixed you may see me up on stage in them and say I wonder if you fix those or not I love the boots and the boots will stay I love I love I love we use that language we use that word in so many different contexts love can be used as as a way of getting people to do things that they do not want to do it can be used in a

manipulative sense it’s so broad so varied what does it mean what does love mean and what does it mean for a group of people that were writing this 50 3500 years ago what did they mean when they said love the lord your God with all of your heart hear o israel the lord our God the lord is one love the lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your strength most commentators on deuteronomy would say this this is not an emotional statement it is not asking you to feel anything it’s not saying you have to feel some fluffy feeling inside this for the most part you might say is a transactional statement there is a transactional element to this relationship to give you some ways of understanding this that might be familiar some of you may have grown up saying the pledge of allegiance in school I pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america you may have seen like an old drama like a medieval

period film where a knight will declare his fealty to his liege lord and what would happen historically is this they would kneel in front of them they would place their hands in between the knees of this lord they were declaring allegiance to and they would promise to love them they would promise to protect them they would promise to do everything they were told to do by them this language here when we read love has far more in common with that than it does with the language of emotion for this group of people it was essentially saying this God has done all of these things for you now you owe him your allegiance now you owe him your obedience the language in deuteronomy is so much about what you do rather than what you feel it is transactional and and as the language of judah and deuteronomy unpacks what we start to get a sense of is this God has done all of these things for this group of people and and if

they don’t hold up their end of the bargain well something bad may follow maybe judgment in terms of they may get conquered by another nation there may be famines there may be sicknesses again all of the language is transactional it’s not about emotion yet but what’s incredible is this as we start to unpack this old testament as we read some of the different authors that God calls to write we start to see that while the relationship here may be transactional there is deep deep emotion and God’s part towards his people and to track with that to learn from that we’re going to jump into a book that you may not have read some of you may this book called josiah it’s a book that you can maybe read in 15 20 minutes if you want to go away and read it it’s a fascinating journey a fascinating narrative that starts with this passage when the lord began to speak through hosea the lord said to him go marry a

promiscuous woman and have children with her for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the lord go and marry a promiscuous woman now when we hear the word prophet there’s a good chance that what we hear in the 21st century is we hear someone who predicts the future now now is that a part that profits played yes but but a better way I would suggest to understand this word profit is to understand activists so think of someone in the world that you see as an activist who protests against a certain element of society it works better for the illustration always if you hate that person because it ruffles your feathers a little bit but think about someone who you see standing up saying this is wrong in the world that is the best way to understand how a prophet worked in this time period they were people that saw society as broken and they spoke up against it but there’s these incredible moments where

God asks these prophets to do some of the most outrageous things a prophet called isaiah he tells to walk around naked for three years it’s only after the period of three years that he says something like oh by the way you’ll have noticed my prophet isaiah has been naked for a certain period of time and you think about all of the the struggle must have been there in isaiah as he’s obedient even in the midst of this sort of crazy request another prophet ezekiel is told to lie on his side for 90 days and then to roll over and lie on his other side they were often asked to do these things to demonstrate something about God’s message but but none of them quite compares to hosea whose whole life is taken apart with this one sentence go and marry a promiscuous woman and have children something about this relationship that hosea has is reflective of God’s relationship with his chosen people God says are like a promiscuous person

they have broken the relationship we were supposed to be in fealty together we were supposed to be in relationship and they’ve broken it they’ve they’ve messed it up and then he goes on in verse chapter 11 to to start to talk about the relationship now not as a marriage but he starts to talk about it in the context of having children it was I who taught ephraim that is israel to walk taking them by the arms but they they did not realize it was I who healed them I led them with cords of human kindness with ties of love to them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek and I bent down to feed them this relationship that we’re told to start with were given in transactional terms now in hosea has this deep deep emotion in it God loves this people he sees himself like a father of these children now for those of you that are parents I’m guessing if you think back you maybe have some favorite photos of you with particular kids and

I have a couple to share that helps us understand this a little bit more so I picked elena this week because I get to pick whichever one of them I want they’re not here to complain so this is one of my favorite photos with elena this is one we took underwater with my phone because my phone said it was waterproof this is what apple told me turns out if you have an iphone that is not true they are not waterproof after they leave the store so we took this photo because she said it would be really fun to take an underwater photo I love this photo because the story behind it is this it cost me a thousand dollars this is how much this photo is worth now what made it more irritating was this right after I took it and the phone essentially disintegrated uh I remembered someone had bought me a waterproof camera the year before so I could have had the photo for free but the question is would it have meant as much if it had been free I love

this photo but I also love this photo I love this photo because I know where I was in this photo now you may say very intuitively I’m I’m not in the photo no I’m not but I was stood somewhere about where this table is as this photo was taken it was my sister-in-law that took it she’s a professional photographer and she said what I want you to do is I want you to be the one that gets her attention and we were trying to get the leaves falling around us she said at the right moment I want you to throw the leaves and get her to throw the leaves as well and I want you to get her focus looking that way I remember being stood right here and the fact that that joy that face that smile is created by our relationship by the joy that we have that the way that hosea unpacks this relationship he has with his people israel is really similar to the way we may say the relationship of a father or a parent and a child it seems like so many in so many other

narratives God is stood off to the side just trying to get his children’s attention he picks these two big images these two big relationships one of a marriage one of a parent and he says this is what it’s like and then look as the passage unfolds and he starts to talk about the ways that his people have they’ve not lived up to their side of the transaction a sword will flash in their cities it will devour their false prophets and put an end to their plans my people are determined to turn from me even though they call me mo God most high I will by no means exalt them we sense that the judgment that he said would come if they didn’t live up to the transaction is coming and we’re waiting to see what it looks like and then the next verse how can I give you up a frame how can I hand you over israel how can I treat you like admira how can I make you like zoboyim my heart is changed within me all my compassion is aroused it’s like in this

moment of judgment God’s heart catches and he’s like no I can’t do it you are you are loved judgment is suspended it seems like God in his humility is willing to be characterized like this he’s like the father of a teenager out way beyond curfew that father stands there angry upset hurt rejected and yet stands in front of the screen door waiting for the headlights to come into the driveway longing to forgive longing to start over again longing to be gracious that is how this book characterizes that relationship and this book is really building to that Jesus story where ultimately God will go the the complete distance to win our hearts to win the hearts of his people as we get to Jesus taking deuteronomy chapter six verse four yes it began as transactional but now as Jesus speaks it it can be read with all of the emotion and all of the heart that God has for people just like you and I Jesus replied love the lord your God with all

your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind as his followers are left to unpack exactly what this means and how it happens every time they seem to land on this idea we love him because of the love he first sent our way because of what we receive this is his follower john this is love not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins we love him because he first loved us this is what the those new testament writers land on our love is inspired by his love for us and as they wrestled with that word love they had options that we didn’t many of you may know the greek language has multiple words for love whereas we have only one so they landed so often on this word agapasis in this particular particular verse but you may know it as agape or agapeo to love as God loves to love sacrificially to love with all of your being with everything this is the word that they picked so

unique was this word see did this word seem to be that there was a time when they believed these new testament writers created it out of nothing but as we’ve learned more about this period there are other examples of this word being used but this is the word they landed on we love and reflect God’s love we might say this we are called to love with all our hearts soul and mind the one who consistently loves with all of his heart soul and mind when we we see this language of heart soul and mind it’s not asking us to spend a ton of time thinking about how the different parts of a human being is split up it’s it’s really just trying to capture everything this God loves with every part of him and we are called to love him in return with every part of us and so here’s this question for you and I what stops this happening it brings us back to the thesis I gave you to start with what has your attention will gain your affection what has your

attention will gain your affection what has our attention and how is it so easily brought to other things or how much how does it so easily focus on other things there is this famous meme that’s been around for a while it’s called the uh the distracted boyfriend and then there was the distracted girlfriend that followed it’s the hosea image it’s unfaithfulness captured in a picture it’s a guy that looks behind him to notice another girl when he has a beautiful girlfriend with him and she has this look of shock and horror in his face as he stares at another woman walking in the other direction and because we see it in both genders there is this other picture that same thing and and it’s now used as a meme to capture how we get focused on the wrong things so often but it’s the hosea picture it’s this picture of unfaithfulness what has your attention what is it that captures and captivates you and I if what has our attention will gain our

affection and we know that this passage pushes us to be people whose attention and focus is on the God of the universe who loves us what what are the other things now I think so many of those other things can be good it can be your job it can be promotion it can be the career of the business it can be the family which is a wonderful gift that can be the attention it can be the cryptocurrency market it can be the stock exchange it can be so many things it can be the hobby the interest it can be things that are good but if they take our attention ultimately from this God that calls us to know and love him then they become negative things right but as I sort of wrestled with this myself as I asked myself all of these questions about myself it wasn’t all of those things particularly when I have to sort of narrow it down to the thing that gains the most of my attention this is what I landed on this is a greek myth it’s not a biblical story can you hear

me um or another microphone would work as well or I could just speak really loud we had to do this in seminary just as a topic of interest we had to stand at the bottom of the ground and preach from the bottom of the ground just so we could feel like uh what it would be like to be john wesley or something like that it’s batteries yeah you know how to change them I don’t you’re the technology guy my first day back come on this is like a challenge sure there you go can someone climb this for us how many worship leaders does it take to change imagine if you’d still been on sabbatical two rounds of applause in one uh one one week that’s a new record for south congratulations we’re going to put you on a plaque somewhere on this day august 1st 2021 aaron bjorkland received two rounds of applause from the south community so back to this this isn’t a biblical story it’s a human story narcissus is a hunter that is incredibly

beautiful no woman can gain his affection or his attention and yet one day while out hunting we’re told he stares into a pool of water and catches sight of his own reflection and as he does as he looks at this over a period of time he becomes deeply infatuated with himself now in the greek version of the story he uh commits suicide in the roman story he turns into a flower which is a very different ending one is much more grim than the other but this story doesn’t end well and yet we see this story reflected so often in the prayer life of people attempting like you and I to walk in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus this is a prayer from flannery o’connor the catholic writer dear God I cannot love you the way I want to you are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and myself is the earth shadow that keeps me from seeing all of the moon she writes about it like this I’m just seeing the very edges I’m just seeing the fringes

and I could see more if it wasn’t for me I am the thing that gets in the way it is me it’s not the good stuff it is me and myself my self-importance my involvement with every aspect of who I am that’s the thing for most of us I would suggest it’s not the good stuff it’s the me so as a question to try and clear the pathway to help us to become those people living in the way of Jesus to move into what Jesus asks us to do which is to be people that love this God with all of our heart what might you and I do to make that happen I would suggest that the rhythm of life that you have might be something that helps you what rhythm of life might help you if we believe that prayer is fundamental to knowing this God what what rhythm of prayer might help you and I wanted to give you some ideas now depending on where you are in your spiritual journey something as simple as this might be something that you want to begin praying

regularly God if you are real please make yourself known to me it’s a dangerous pr brave prayer from for someone who finds themselves lost in that uncertainty maybe you look at a world and he’s like I’m just not sure what I see about God in this world this is a prayer that maybe helps you articulate that need or longing that the God of the universe may make himself real maybe a prayer for people like you and I if we find ourselves with our attention constantly wandering to other things a short prayer that gives us this reminder and pulls our gaze back might be this Jesus son of God have mercy on me a sinner it’s a prayer that comes from luke 18 verse 13 or is inspired by it it’s the story about a a very unreligious person who watches the long prayers of those that call themselves religious and says I don’t have that in me all I have is the ability to keep my eyes downwards and say Jesus God have mercy on me a sinner the great baptist

preacher charles spurgeon suggested this one he said I think that in the same way jewish people would pray the shema every day I would suggest every follower of Jesus could benefit from praying this it’s from psalm 63 verse 1. you got gather my God earnestly I seek you I thirst for you my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water it’s this expression of our attention and the affection that follows God I have this deep longing that only you can fill and then maybe there’s this thought or this idea from brennan manning the contemplative priest he was asked about prayer in the contemplative tradition and he said this in our tradition the hour you spend in the prayer room is when you refocus re-center on Jesus becoming fully aware of his presence once again when this happens you can carry God’s presence with you into the other 23 hours of the day knowing all the time that he is with you he

is for you he likes you and he hears your thoughts you’ll see people and situations the way he sees them when problems arise you’ll pray in real time right then and there instead of compiling prayer lists for a later holier moment in fact your life will become that moment a continual conversation with God a continual conversation with God you and I are invited into these types of relationship and yet our attention we would probably only so often distracted prayer then becomes this decision to direct our attention towards the one who loves us completely are there other aspects to prayer definitely is prayer a list of requests is prayer an intercession for the world around us it is all of those things and yet at its heartbeat it seems that prayer is centered around relationship it is this decision to say God you in this moment have my attention you have my attention what has your attention will gain your affection when

Jesus says to this group of people love the lord your God with all of your heart all of your mind and all of your soul really what he’s saying is this this God loves you completely longs for your attention you don’t manufacture this feeling this emotion this response it is a response of us seeing the incredible love of this God as individuals living in the way of Jesus and the heart of Jesus to me begins by that fundamental relationship that that decision to love this God with all of our heart this decision to give him her attention to see the wonderful ways that we are loved and to respond in kind but it’s not just individual either is it because this series is designed to ask us what sort of community we want and I would suggest that a community full of people that do that thing is what we want I would suggest that whatever we can shape out for south in ways of vision of mission of purpose of however we want to operate in the world what I would

suggest is if it doesn’t begin by that process of prayer and that process of engagement with God then ultimately the system is flawed and broken it begins by saying God who have you made us to be it’s why we have groups like the watchmen it’s why we have prayer in staff it’s why we do those things regularly and with rhythm and seek to do them more because we long to hear from him what has our attention as a community will also have our affection as a community this is who we are made to be we are made to live in relationship with this God and it brings me back to something I said to the first service ultimately we see a world right now where so many young people are leaving the church why are they leaving the church not because of Jesus Jesus and his message are just as compelling today as they have ever been believing is because the church is seen as flawed broken and out of date and yet a community of people that love the

God who loved them and then loved the world around them because of that is just as compelling today as it has ever been our core first of all is to be that type of community what has your attention will get your affection we’re going to move to a time of the communion table I’m going to invite the worship team to come back depending on your religious upbringing your tradition you may know this thing as the eucharist you may know it as mass you may know it as the lord’s supper or multiple other names but we do it because it’s the one thing that Jesus a couple of things that Jesus gave us to do repeatedly when he left he said continue to baptize and continue to remember me through this table so what we’ll do over the next few minutes is this these guys will come and they will lead us in this time of worship this first song is maybe a song of repentance it’s a song of crying out saying God would you would you revive us would

you revive this world around us would you work in our hearts would you bring out of us all of the things that you need to bring out of us so we’re going to sing that as a community together and then I’m going to invite you in the space to come and take from this table to take the elements back to your chair and we’re going to sing a very familiar hymn to many of you it’s called my Jesus I love thee it has some old-fashioned language but the sentiment the the affection that we’re expressing is unchanging so as we prepare ourselves I’m going to invite you to close your eyes and I’m going to remind us of a passage of scripture written by a guy called paul some thousand years ago I pass on to you what I also received as a first importance that on the night he was betrayed Jesus gathered with his followers and during the meal he took bread and handed it to each of them he said this is my body broken for you in the same way he took

the wine handed it to each of them said this is my blood shed for the sins of the world as long as you gather together do this in remembrance of me this sacrament is about attention with all of the distractions in this moment we place our attention firmly on Jesus who came and gave his life for us and for the world we come and we place our attention on this story that works through deuteronomy through hosea but is ultimately moving in the direction of the God who would come to fix this well it would bring it new life who would create a better story from the old story it’s a story that you and I need and it’s a story that the world around us needs Jesus in this moment we give you our attention as individuals as a community as we sing together would you prepare our hearts amen if you would like prayer during this time ivana formations pastor dana care pastor are at the front it’s not a judgment thing it doesn’t need to be anything

wrong but maybe you need wisdom maybe you need guidance healing if you would like prayer you’re welcome to come and receive it as this song finishes feel free to come and take the elements when you’re ready take them back to your seats and we’ll take communion together if you’re watching online feel free to grab those elements

What If We…Learned to Love God Well? | Matthew 22:36-40 (Part 1)2024-06-12T14:49:04-06:00
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