This summer we have asked a lot of questions for you to wrestle with. What is God up to? When God enters earth, what do we see Him doing? How can we join God in what He is doing? Why do we do church? What is church all about? What is our role in church?
We said the God of the universe, for thousands of years, has been running to people to redeem them. We see this when He enters earth in the form of Jesus. We find Him hanging out with what church people of His day called, notorious sinners.
For us today, how do we join God in what He is doing? The answer is really simple and really practical. It’s called church. As a part of the local church we do five things right out of scripture to join God. Love God. Love others. Love growing. Love serving. Love giving.
Now we are talking about the seven things we believe at MRC. Why? Because we don’t view church like a country club where the leaders run around desperately trying to keep everyone comfortable and happy in hopes they come back. We don’t view church as a place where people climb a ladder for some weird sense of success or public validation. We don’t view church as a place of endless activity and business to keep people engaged.
Church to us is the uncompromising mission of God. It’s where God’s presence meets us and redeems us. It’s about us joining together and being relentless, passionate and unapologetic about reaching people who have been shattered in life. Church is the mission of God that we invite people into.
What we believe #1. We believe the mission of Christ, His passion, cost Him dearly.
What we believe #2. We believe Jesus empowered His church to fulfill His mission as He ascended into heaven.
What we believe #3. We believe the mission is so important, that God is literally pushing back the end of time.
What we believe #4. We believe that the local church is at its best when, like Jesus, it focuses on outsiders.
What we believe #5. We believe finding the one lost sheep is our unique identity.
1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such despicable people – even eating with them! NLT
What do we see? Again, the religious people are disappointed in Jesus. Why? They simply cannot wrap their mind around the mission of God. Jesus isn’t who they want Him to be. Jesus doesn’t do what they want Him to do. Real quickly, to prove my point, let’s walk through the book of Luke before this story in Chapter 15 to see how the religious people are disappointed and/or furious at Jesus.
Luke 4:28 Jesus is in His hometown and tells them He is the Messiah; they try to kill Him.
Luke 5:22 They were angry because Jesus was forgiving people’s sins.
Luke 5:29 They were offended because Jesus was eating with notorious sinners.
Luke 6:8 They were angry because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath.
Luke 7:39 They were angry because Jesus allowed a woman to pour very expensive perfume on His feet.
Luke 11 They were furious because Jesus flat out called them hopeless frauds.
Luke 13:14 They were furious with Jesus because He healed a woman on the Sabbath.
Why do I bring this out? I want you to see that the mission of Jesus offended the religious people. They couldn’t understand that Jesus came to find and restore people who have been shattered in life. They were so disappointed and sometimes angry with Him. As we talk about the mission of Jesus, we must keep that in mind. The religious did not get it.
I say this to be very transparent with you. It’s not much different today. For eighteen years, we have invited people into the mission of Jesus to find and restore people. To experience God at home in a personal relationship and to build churches that are relentless, passionate and unapologetic about reaching the lost. You would think that invitation would bring Christians to life. It doesn’t. You would think we would have planted ten churches by now. We haven’t.
Most people want programs, activities, bigger crowds, deep teaching on theology and bus trips to New York. If I were to be honest, it has broken my heart. It has left me very confused and tired. I can’t wrap my mind around how someone can experience God redeem them and transform them and then go back to focusing on themselves and their comfort.
I was talking about this to another pastor in Dillsburg last month. He told me, “Ken, if we truly understood what God has done for us, we would think it would be a privilege to crawl on our knees as far away as Harrisburg to tell people about God.”
Please hear me, the mission of God offends the religious. It wasn’t popular in Jesus’ day and it’s not much more popular today.
Because the religious people didn’t get Jesus or why he was hanging out with sinners, Jesus tells them a story, a simple story. It’s so simple, everyone hearing had to step back and say, “Well that’s true.”
3 So Jesus used this illustration: 4 “If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? 5 And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. 6 When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found. 7 In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” NLT
What is Jesus saying? The priority of heaven isn’t the good people in church, it’s finding and restoring people shattered in life. It’s the mission of Jesus. It’s the mission Jesus died for. It’s the mission Jesus gave the church. It’s the mission that God is pushing back the end of time for.
Let’s stop right here. That is the unique identity of Mountain Ridge Church. We want to be that place that goes after the one lost sheep. Does that inspire you? That’s why we are figuring out how to love God, love others, love growing, love serving and love giving.
If what God has done for us is true, it would be a privilege to craw on our knees as far as Gettysburg to tell people about God.