The God story over thousands and thousands of years is about God running to people to redeem them. It’s the story of the universe. In a letter he wrote, Paul said this:
By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. MSG Romans 1:20-21
What happens when the God of the universe enters earth in the form of Jesus? We find Him at a party with what the church people of His day called, ‘notorious sinners.’ It shatters our religious ideas about God. Things like, I sinned so God doesn’t want anything to do with me. If you believe that, you couldn’t be more wrong. God, for thousands of years, has been running to people to redeem them. It’s the God story. The story of the universe.
What God has been up to for thousands of years, is relevant and everything else our culture thinks is relevant, is only a distraction. That’s why, when we do church, it is the most relevant thing we could do because we are joining God in what He is doing. And that explains why our culture can think that church irrelevant.
So how can we as individuals, couples and families join God in what He is doing? We laid out what scripture teaches.
Love God [Matt 22:36].
Love others [Matt 22:39].
Love growing [Eph 4:15].
Love serving [John 12:26].
Love giving [Matt 6:19-21].
These are the very simple, practical ways we surrender our lives to Christ and join God in His mission to redeem people.
Over the next seven weeks, we want to lay out for you the seven things we believe. Here is why. We don’t view church as a generic place. We don’t think church is about trying to keep everyone happy in hopes they will come back. We don’t view church as a place where people climb the latter of importance and validation. We don’t view church as a place of endless religious programs and activities to keep people busy. Church to us is about the mission of Christ to redeem people and we are inviting everyone to join in.
I have three girls. They have played volleyball, field hockey, track and field, and one is in band right now. Why did my girls go to practice? Why did they go to a camp for a week? Why did they lift weights during the off season? Why would my girl in band go to band camp in 95 degree weather? Why would they go through that? Because they wanted to play, they wanted to start, they want to be in marching band. It was their mission.
Why would a high school or college kid study hard? Why would they stay up to midnight or 1 am reading and rewriting their notes? Why would they do all the work and hand it in on time? Why would they go through that? Because they want good grades. They want to learn. It’s their mission.
Why would someone start a business? Why would they take the risk? Why would they start early, stay late and miss years of vacation to build that business? Why would they go through that? Because they want to build something; they want to improve their lives. It’s their mission.
Why does a mother or father love their kids so much? Why would they stay up late holding a sick child? Why would they go to school to meet the teachers? Why would they go to all their games and recitals? Why would they go through all that? Because they want their kids to know they love them. It’s their mission.
I want to read for you the mission of Jesus. As I read scripture, please think about what Jesus went through to fulfill His mission.
23 Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, 24 God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
25 God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public – to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. 26 This is not only clear, but it’s now – this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness. MSG Romans 3:23-26
The mission of Jesus was to die for you. We are utterly incapable of living out the glorious standards of God. What does Jesus do? He dies to put us in the clear.
Before we move on, I want you to hear what it was like for Jesus emotionally to die for you.
39 Jesus left the city and went, as he usually did, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples went with him. …41 Then he went off from them about the distance of a stone’s throw and knelt down and prayed. 42 “Father,” he said, “if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me. Not my will, however, but your will be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 In great anguish he prayed even more fervently; his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. GNT Luke 22:39-44
The mission of Jesus, cost Him dearly. He didn’t want to do it. He knew the pain and suffering would be unbearable. He begged God for another way. It was such an intense battle, Jesus sweated blood.
Why would Jesus surrender? Why did Jesus pay that price? Why would Jesus go through that? Because Jesus knew the damage sin does to us and we would be hopeless without Him. Jesus knew we needed spiritual transformation.
Let’s make this really practical. When we are separated from God, we are physically alive. That means we can go to work and pay the bills. We can think and we can feel emotions. However, when we are separated from God, we are spiritually dead. That means as we live life, we can feel guilt and shame. We can feel hopeless, depressed and defeated. We can feel constant rejection.
Don’t raise your hands. How many people feel guilt and shame or like they aren’t good enough? Being separated from God can lead to those feelings. That’s why people have unhealthy egos. They can care too much about titles, power, validation. They compare, they rank, they think too highly of themselves.
Do you wrestle with this? That’s why Jesus allowed Himself to be crushed for you. He wanted to bring you significance so that would never have to feel guilt or shame or like you aren’t good enough. You can be free from feelings of constant guilt and shame and feelings that you aren’t good enough.
Don’t raise your hands. How many people feel hopeless, depressed and defeated? Being separated from God can lead to those feelings. That’s why people try to take unhealthy control in their lives. They try to control their lives and control others and will manipulate others if they have to. Or, people can look at their lives and feel overwhelmed. They can feel like there is no hope.
Do you wrestle with this? That’s why Jesus allowed Himself to be crushed for you. He wanted to bring you security. He wanted you to know that you can trust God and you can have a hope in God. You can be free from the constant feelings of hopelessness, being depressed and defeated in life.
Don’t raise your hands. How many people feel a constant sense of rejection by God, by others, by life? Being separated from God can lead to those feelings. That’s why people can become high performers in life. They are constantly trying to prove to themselves and others that they are more than enough. That’s why others become people pleasers. They feel that rejection and desperately want others to fill that void in their lives.
Do you wrestle with this? That’s why Jesus allowed Himself to be crushed for you. He wanted you to feel accepted by God. You don’t have to perform for God’s love. You don’t have to live in the prison of having everyone’s approval. Jesus wanted you to know, at your worst moment, God is deeply in love with you. You can live a life in freedom from the feeling of constant rejection from God, others or life.
Please hear me, the mission of Jesus, cost Him dearly. Why did He go through it? Because you might be physically alive but without Jesus, you are spiritually dead. Jesus was crushed to make you spiritually alive. He wanted to bring your soul significance, security and acceptance.
Paul put it like this:
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. NLT Colossians 2:13-15
The mission of Jesus, cost Him dearly. He did it to bring you spiritually alive.
Do you feel spiritually alive? Allow me to explain what that means by asking you a few questions. Regardless if you are new to following Christ or if you have been doing it for years, these questions apply.
Do you live everyday with courage that God loves you and approves of you just the way you are? Or do you think you have to change for God to love you?
Do you live everyday with courage that, because of Jesus, your sins and failures of your past do not define you today? Or do you allow your past to control who you are today?
Do you live everyday knowing that regardless of hardship and challenges, God loves you? Or do you think that any struggle you face is God’s judgement of you?
Do you live everyday breaking away from sin habits, negative thoughts and harmful emotions? Or do you make excuses as to who you are and why you can’t change?
Are you engaging God in a personal relationship? Or do you make excuses as to why that can’t happen?
As you walk through the mess of life, do you walk with joy and hope and courage with God? Or does life overwhelm you leaving you feeling anxiety and fear?
Are you able to walk into relationships and instead of being selfish and take from them, you think, ‘How can I bless them?’ Or do you tend to only focus on you, your needs and how you feel?
Please hear me, the mission of Jesus, cost Him dearly. He did it to bring you spiritually alive.