The audio messed up on 10.6.13...so here's the manuscript:Simple Church – John 20:19-23
We are starting a new series today that I’m simply calling “Simple.” Human beings are so good at complicating things. Our family recently helped my grandmother get into an assisted living facility in Mocksville, NC. So for outgoing calls – my uncle got her a cellphone. When I visited my grandmother she showed me his directions for her to make a call on the phone. And it was crazy, I couldn't even follow the directions. The phone itself has a green button and red button and a middle button…and around the middle button if you push it a certain way it takes you to the menu.
Now, I’m sitting here trying to follow my uncles instructions on the phone and I can’t do it. This is supposed to be something really easy and simple for my grandmother to use. Why can’t they just make a phone for people who are not tech savvy that just has a big button that goes directly to the Contacts and lists the contacts and then you just choose the contact and it dials it for you. Her phone, you have to go to menu, then contacts, then you press “enter” on the contact then you choose which phone number you want to dial and press enter or the green button to dial it. You get my point, right, something that’s supposed to be simple, making a phone call, is made difficult for my grandmother. We often make things that should be simple…complicated.
I think about when I mess up in my relationship with Chrys. Instead of just saying "you were right I was wrong, I’m sorry, will you forgive me and lets make this right," I argue and I banter back and I don’t admit that I was wrong. Why? Because I’m a guy and I have pride and I don’t like being wrong…neither does she. So instead of just simply sucking it up and apologizing, I make it into this complicated argument that’s really senseless. I want to see some wives poking their husbands with their elbows…all men do this.
We do the same with spiritual things. We complicate matters. Today we are talking about the Church...specifically Simple Church. We have complicated church. Period. We have committees for this and committees for that and Charge Conference paper work and end of the year paperwork…of which 90 percent of it nobody reads. I don’t know if you’ve noticed…but I’ve really tried to simplify the services and streamline them and keep it simple.
Lets talk about the church…what is it and how do we keep it simple. Church is not about your preference or my preference. Church is not about the music. Church is not about the preaching or the preacher. Church is not about the socializing. Church is not about the offering or the prayers. So what is church about? Church is about being God’s people. Being the body of Christ, Paul describes it well in 1st Corinthians 12. I’ve preached on it before. The church is about being the body of Christ. Being the hands and feet of Christ on this earth. Doing on this earth what Jesus did on this earth when he was alive and doing ministry. That’s what it means to be the church. We complicate it. Church is about doing what Jesus did on this earth when he was a live and doing ministry.
Look at John 20, our scripture, verses 19-23. The disciples are tasked with doing what Jesus did when he was alive. As the father has sent me, I am sending you. In other words…What I did on earth, that’s what you are supposed to do on earth. My ministry should be your ministry. I healed people. I want you to heal people. I offered forgiveness to people, I want you to forgive people and offer them forgiveness in me. Don’t take verse 23 literally, about if you forgive sins their sins are forgiven, he’s saying, offer them forgiveness in me. This is giving them a task. A responsibility. And it doesn’t sound like an option. He says, I am sending you. Jesus intentionally spent time with sinners to offer them a better life. Jesus intentionally spent time with children and widows and orphans to tell them about the truth of who God is. Jesus intentionally engaged in conversations with people to challenge what they thought and to lead them to truth.
You want to know your purpose as the church? Our purpose as the church. Our purposes to collectively do what Jesus did while he was on earth. To eat with sinners. And be in ministry with orphans and prisoners and widows. To offer people the truth.
Let me ask you something. When is the last time you led somebody to Jesus? It’s a hard question for me to ask myself. Because it’s been awhile. Oh, I preach and offer discipleship and counseling and care and all that is part of growing in our faith. But when is the last time you led someone to Christ?
Okay, you might that’s not a fair question. How bout this? When is the last time you shared your faith with someone for the purpose of leading them to the truth? That’s a fairer question. When is the last time you shared your faith with someone for the purpose of leading them to the truth? To Jesus? “Well I don’t have many opportunities to do that because I’ve already shared my faith with everyone in my circle.” The disciples had a circle. Guess what Jesus did…he sent them outside of that circle. You have to be intentional about sharing your faith. And as a confession, I haven’t been intentional either. And I’m going to work on it.
Being the church is ultimately about bringing people to Jesus. It’s about being a blessing yes, it’s about meeting social and physical and emotional needs, yes. But all of that blessing people and meeting needs should lead to us having a conversation with some of those people we are blessing that allows us to share our faith with purpose of bringing someone to Jesus Christ. That’s what the church is ultimately about. Yes we take care of each other and love each other that’s assumed and it’s comfortable for us and we’re good at, we are…but what about all those people that don’t know Jesus and are going to hell.
Do we even care? Do we. I think that’s what it comes down too. If you don’t care then of course you aren’t going to share your faith. If you do care, then you will share your faith even if you are afraid…if you care and love enough, that love will overcome the fear and you will share you faith. And look I’m not talking about being annoying, I’m talking about sharing your faith and if the person says “no”…it’s not your fault…it’s theirs. Even if you just plant a seed, your job is to be obedient and share you faith, in love and with care and with patience. And sometimes it means you listen first. But…share yout faith, just do it. Just be the church.
Simple Church…doing what Christ calls us to do and doing it together. What does Christ call us to do…”As the Father in has sent me, I am sending you.” To do what Jesus did. To lead people to the truth of who he is.
Church is not about what I want or what you want…its not about our worship preferences…it’s not about saying the apostle’s creed every Sunday or the Lord’s prayer every Sunday…it’s about what God wants for this earth. And we pray it every Sunday…God wants his kingdom to come on this earth. And we haven’t been very good at that. We haven’t been good at bringing new people into the Kingdom of God and that’s why Jesus came. His message, his first public teaching, was “Repent for the kingdom of God is near.” He came preaching and teaching repentance and the kingdom. To join the kingdom of God a person has to repent and seek forgiveness in Jesus Christ. It’s that simple. I think it’s time that we at Catawba UMC repent…that I repent…that we confess that we haven’t been who God wants us to be.
I’m going to ask you to do something I’ve never asked you to do…get out a hymnal. We are going to enter a time of Holy Communion. And we are going to start on page 7. Will you say the Apostle’s Creed with me and will you offer repentance and confession to God and seek his will for you life. In forgiving us he calls us to with joyful obedience.
Communion: Let coming to the table of our Lord be your commitment to a renewed purpose of sharing the love of God with someone this week. I want you to be intentional about sharing the love of Christ with one person…just one person…one person that you’ve never shared your faith…share it with them out of love and concern and care. Let coming to the Communion be your commitment to do that this week. Because offering the kingdom is why Jesus came to this earth and we are sent to do what he did. In Communion we are reminded that we are in this together and that it is up to all of us to share the faith. The best advertisement for anything is word of mouth. So share your faith.