Imagine a church that wasn’t built around people’s likes and dislikes. Instead it’s unapologetic, passionate and relentless about pursing the lost. Just imagine the possibility. Is that even possible? How cool would it be if the community knew, if you’re jacked up, addicted, cutting, fornicating, angry, if you think you are a loser, there is a church, there’s this one place where you can be smashed with God’s grace? How cool would it be if you could play a role in that?
I have tell you, I would give up my life for that. That place where people are smashed by God’s grace. They are so forever changed by God’s grace that they would run though a brick wall to share that grace with their friends. That excites me. Trying to keep everyone happy can’t be done, Jesus couldn’t even do it. After three years of telling people about God’s grace, the religious people had Jesus killed.
The first church, built for people who don’t go to church, is recorded for us in scripture. I want to read it for you.
2:1 Seven weeks had gone by since Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the Day of Pentecost had now arrived. As the believers met together that day, 2 suddenly there was a sound like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them and it filled the house where they were meeting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on their heads. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in languages they didn’t know, for the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. 5 Many godly Jews were in Jerusalem that day for the religious celebrations, having arrived from many nations. 6 And when they heard the roaring in the sky above the house, crowds came running to see what it was all about, and were stunned to hear their own languages being spoken by the disciples. 7 “How can this be?” they exclaimed. …They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other. 13 But others in the crowd were mocking. “They’re drunk, that’s all!” they said. TLB Acts 2:1-13
The first thing we see when the Holy Spirit came, absolute confusion.
Read on. 38 And Peter replied, “Each one of you must turn from sin, return to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; then you also shall receive this gift, the Holy Spirit. …40 Then Peter preached a long sermon, telling about Jesus and strongly urging all his listeners to save themselves from the evils of their nation. 41 And those who believed Peter were baptized-about three thousand in all! TLB Acts 2:38-47
What is the second thing that happened when the Holy Spirit came, the community loved it. 3,000 people said they wanted the grace that God died to give them.
Read on. 4:1 While they [the disciples of Jesus] were talking to the people, the chief priests, the captain of the Temple police, and some of the Sadducees came over to them, 2 very disturbed that Peter and John were claiming that Jesus had risen from the dead. 3 They arrested them and since it was already evening, jailed them overnight. 4 But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so that the number of believers now reached a new high of about five thousand men!
…”By what power, or by whose authority have you done this?” the Council demanded.
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ” …12 There is salvation in no one else! Under all heaven there is no other name for men to call upon to save them.”
13 When the Council saw the boldness of Peter and John and could see that they were obviously uneducated non-professionals, they were amazed and realized what being with Jesus had done for them!
…”What shall we do with these men?” they asked each other. …21 The Council then threatened them further and finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. TLB Acts 4:1-22
What happened when the Holy Spirit came? There was confusion, the community loved it and the religious people geeked. The religious people lost their minds. Religious, church going, I was raised in the church, I know more than you do people, they hate the move of God. They will never say that. They say things like, “We have fundamental differences.” Things like, “I’m just concerned.” Why do they hate the move God? Because they can’t control it. They will do anything to stop it. They arrested Peter and John. Today they will criticize everything, no one is worthy of leading, they can’t support the next generation doing ministry. Why? There is no connection with God’s grace.
Read on. 34 Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! 35 It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from – if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. 36 The Message he sent to the children of Israel – that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again – well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone. MSG Acts 10:34-36
There was confusion, the community loved it, the religious people geeded and God’s grace was going viral. The next thing we see is that God’s grace is exploding into outsiders. The Jewish people thought they have the exclusive connection with God and God said through Peter, “God is for everybody!” God is every person in this community. The jacked up, addicted, cutting, fornicating, angry, if you think you are a loser, God is for you.
Read on. 1 With the believers multiplying rapidly, there were rumblings of discontent. Those who spoke only Greek complained that their widows were being discriminated against, that they were not being given as much food in the daily distribution as the widows who spoke Hebrew. 2 So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. “We should spend our time preaching, not administering a feeding program,” they said. 3 “Now look around among yourselves, dear brothers, and select seven men, wise and full of the Holy Spirit, who are well thought of by everyone; and we will put them in charge of this business. 4 Then we can spend our time in prayer, preaching, and teaching.” TLB Acts 6:1-4
What else is happening? It’s messy. There is disorganization. There is a leadership problem. The solution is to delegate leadership to competent people filled with the Holy Spirit. Notice who the delegated authority to? To people who had a mixture of wisdom and the Holy Spirit. You can have people filled with the Holy Spirit but they may not be able to lead. You can have a leader and without the Holy Spirit, it becomes about them.
6 These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them and laid their hands on them in blessing. 7 God’s message was preached in ever-widening circles, and the number of disciples increased vastly in Jerusalem; and many of the Jewish priests were converted too. TLB Acts 6:6-7
Imagine a place, in your hometown, that wasn’t built around people’s likes and dislikes. It’s much more mature. Instead it’s unapologetic, passionate and relentless about pursing the lost.
What if I told you, that place is MRC but if you aren’t fully engaged, we’re just average. If MRC is a place where you come and think, MRC needs to get on my agenda, we are just average. If MRC is a place where you think there is a problem and someone else need to do it, we are just average.
Imagine a place, in your hometown, that wasn’t built around people’s likes and dislikes. It’s much more mature. Instead it’s unapologetic, passionate and relentless about pursing the lost. If you want that to be your church experience, you need three things.
Anointed by God. 31 So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, 33 and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to. 34 “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time. TLB Matthew 6:31-34
It all begins with being smashed by God’s grace. That means God’s grace is so real you don’t worry about trying to fit into a sick, godless culture. You’re free from the anxiety of tomorrow. The relationship we can have with God relieves us from all that stress. Notice, Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t think about tomorrow.” Jesus was simply saying don’t allow your fears of tomorrow steal your joy of today. You can be in a relationship with God and be at peace.
Courage. 10 You can see that I am not trying to please you by sweet talk and flattery; no, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please men I could not be Christ’s servant. TLB Galatians 1:10
When I am alone with God, I feel inspired to go after the lost. When I am with religious people, they wear me out because they talk about everything but going after the lost. It takes courage to be live out who God asked you to be. Be careful because when you are with other people, they will want their agenda to be your agenda. You will be tempted to make them happy so you will be willing to allow them to determine who you are. You need courage.
Sacrifice. 33 No one can become my disciple unless he first sits down and counts his blessings-and then renounces them all for me. 34 “What good is salt that has lost its saltiness? TLB Luke 14:33-34
Advancing God’s kingdom isn’t about your comfort, your stuff, the praise of others or your position. It’s about the mission of Christ.
Imagine a place, in your hometown, that wasn’t built around people’s likes and dislikes. It’s so much more. Instead it’s unapologetic, passionate and relentless about pursing the lost.
What kind of church do you want to attend? Average? A place where everyone demands the leaders to make them happy. That’s impossible. That just leads to criticism, hard feelings, gossip and the leader is shredded. Or do you want to attend a church that is Awesome? That Acts 2 church anointed by God and everyone is unified. A church that is unapologetic, passionate and relentless in the pursuit of the lost?