We have been in an important conversation here in 2023 that has centered around one very specific and popular question these days.  That question is “What’s the point of church?”  It’s a question many people wrestle with these days in the world you and I live in today.  This has given us a great opportunity to hit a lot of big and often misunderstood concepts about the church.  We have looked at how we should view church individually and how God views the church.  We have talked about what the church should be centered on and pursuing, and how we often get distracted or derailed from keeping the church in its purest form.  The church should be pursuing God in us (The Holy Spirit) which then inspires us to center on and rally around Jesus Christ, (our Salvation) which is the rallying cry, empowering us to share Jesus with the world.  That is what this is all about, and we have had a lot of opportunities to express how confusing it can be to watch Christians try to push and pull the church away from that primary function and onto anything and everything but what it should be pursuing!  You know, if you have been paying attention, there has been a real theme building over the last month or so of this series, and it really comes down to what we truly need in our lives as a disciple of Christ, and as a Spiritual Family.  Have you picked up on that theme?  Week after week, we have come back to just how much we need the very thing the church has needed since it was launched into existence all the way back in the early chapters of the book of Acts.  We need the presence of God in our lives and in our churches.  Think back over the last few weeks, and that theme is crystal clear…we must lean into God and pour into a relationship with Him so that we experience God in us, who then flows out of us and into this world.  This is so important because many Christians are walking into churches that don’t have as many people as they used to in it, and instead of concluding that they need more of God, they look around and wonder what they should be doing to fix the problem.  This is innocent enough, we care about our churches and want the church to grow and be healthy, but our response tends to go to what we need to do, and we want you to finally start wrapping your heart and mind around the fact that we can’t fix it, only God can do that.  This takes time in a relationship with God, to understand and find peace where stress and tension may have once been.  It takes time in a relationship with God to understand that in the end, we will work hard, and do our best, but it truly is all His, and anything that takes place is because of Him, not us.

So, week after week, we have pointed to Scripture, and shown you the truth, we need God, and His power, not us and our efforts.  We have shown and challenged you to make practical choices to engage God daily to experience His presence and power in our lives, and Ken showed you last week that because of Jesus, we can experience it because the power of God is in us!  It was so interesting, as I sat and thought through Ken’s talk and where this talk heads today, I couldn’t help but think about how many Christians hear that because of Jesus’ great victory over sin and death, removing all barriers between us and God because He took care of the sin issues that caused the divide between us and God which literally allows God to now dwell in us…we, Christians, know that but we don’t live like we believe it to be true.  Ken kept asking us the question last week, do we believe that the Glory of God is inside us, while we may agree that it is, it’s rare to see people who live like they believe this to be true, which made his question so profound.  Now, we will share this stuff with other people, and explain to them that the power of the Holy Spirit, the very Glory of God dwells in us, but the moment life hits, or we have a challenge, or things aren’t going the way we like, we don’t stand in that confidence and strength, we turn to human strength, human solutions, and remedies, never thinking that it’s truly about and up to God.  So, as we get started here today, I want to ask you how you respond to the idea that the true solution to everything in your life is God.  What has changed in your daily life since hearing and probably agreeing with this week after week in this series?  Are you making the choice to spend time with God each day?  Are you inviting God into your day, your decisions, your challenges, even coming to church and asking Him to be here with us today?  I can assume since the start of this series you have had some challenges in your life because we all do, life is hard.  Do you continue to turn to yourself or a human response to fix things, or are you starting to turn to God, and allow Him to lead and be all the way your life?  The reality is because of Jesus, the Glory of God is inside you, and we want you to experience that in your life and you absolutely can.  Jesus was the game-changer!  Everything we do, all we can be it’s all because of what He did, not what we do!  This is an incredible thought and leads us to where this talk will go today because I want to continue this theme and continue to open us up to the truth, and that is that everything changes when Jesus shows up in our lives.  This is going to be a lot of fun today…

The reality of our lives is that we need Jesus.  Nothing happens without Him.  Everything changes when Jesus is part of it, and nothing changes if He is not.  He is the game-changer.  Without Him, there is no victory for us to stand in, no personal closeness with God for us each day, and nothing happens without the presence of Jesus in our lives.  Do you agree?  Would the way you choose to live life say that you agree with this?  Would how you respond to life and all that life throws at you say that you agree that nothing happens without Jesus in our lives?  Well, with our time today, we are going to have some fun in the book of John.  We are going to look at the first teaching in John, which should help us see this truth in a clear way.  We need Jesus in our lives.  So today we are going to dive into a Bible Study, in John with such incredible imagery of just how important Jesus truly is.

John 1:1-14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. 6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. NIV

Ok, so let’s stop and talk for a moment here.  Do you see how “Word” is capitalized?  Do you see that “The Word” became flesh and made his dwelling among us here in this world?  This is Jesus.  There from the very beginning of the world and I want you to try to truly wrap your heart and mind around a few things that we see here.  I want to press in on a few highlights and I want you to really think this through for yourself today.  Let’s start with verse 3.

Everything Was Created Through Jesus, Nothing Happened Without Him…Nothing!

John 1:3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. NLT

Ok, what does this mean to us?  That everything was created through Him, that nothing exists without Jesus?  What it means is we need Jesus in our lives…He is everything.  So, we need to ask ourselves, do we truly believe this to be true?  If we do, then we need to ask ourselves if we are willing and actively choosing to let Him into our lives.  This is so interesting because it is so inspiring to see the enormity of Jesus Christ and to hear that everything is created through Him, but when we look at our lives and our choices, we seem to spend our days trying to figure out how to do things or fix what doesn’t seem right to our human eyes in our human strength.  Do you see the enormity of who Jesus is?  Ok, let’s move on to the next thing that I want to highlight today.

The World Couldn’t See Jesus Standing in Their Midst and Rejected Him.

John 1:10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.  11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.  NLT

This is important for us to see, Jesus whom God created all things through, who was there in the very beginning, the game-changer steps into this Creation, and this world and the people of it, didn’t even recognize Him!  Not even the people paid to recognize Him when He came recognized Him!  The ways of God and what matters to God are so opposite to what matters to us humans and this world that God himself living amongst us is unrecognizable, and I want you to really personalize this.  If what God values and is important to Him is so opposite to the ways of this world that we couldn’t even recognize Jesus Christ in our midst, yet every time we have issues around the church or with our faith, we somehow think the solution would be to look more like the world?  Why would we think our solution to God problems should come from the world and its ways…that we see are completely opposite from God’s?  So, ask yourself this question.  Do you think the answer to all issues is found in God or do you tend to try to figure out how we can react to this world and culture to fix things?  John continues…

John 1:12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. NLT

This is so beautiful, that while the world and his own people couldn’t see Him and wanted no part of Him, those who believe in Him, accept Him, and humbly follow Him become part of God’s family.

Everything About Jesus’ Life Was Intentionally Teaching Us How We Should Live and He lived Humbly.

John 1:14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. NLT

I want you to think that thru, the very world that was created through Him, He humbly steps down into, that creation.  He is The Man, He is God, yet steps into this world, and if we are honest for us humans this would be too hard to do because this is a big-time demotion right?  I mean, he is now slumming it and should He be above it?  Well to this world’s standards yes but remember God’s values and what is important to Him are very different from what we see as important here in this world.  This is a major challenge in our churches as well.  So many hurts and wounds come from us not learning the lesson of humility from Jesus’ life.  We come into our churches and bring the world’s value system into it.  What does this look like?  Well, it’s a mess.  We look at positions and titles and compete with others.  We see our spot and want our spot and wouldn’t dare help or support another person who could threaten us in any way.  We get of us get prideful over our positions and titles, and struggle to stoop down to something we view as beneath us, which is so opposite of what it should be, and we can be very thankful that Jesus didn’t have that mentality that we can have, and that He was willing to do what He did for us.  Please remember, everything about Jesus’ life is on purpose, how He lived, how He spoke, and what He did and did not do are showing us how to live our lives.  The more time you spend in God’s word, the more what is important to God becomes important to you, and the less important things of this world tend to be.  So, ask yourself today.  Can you humbly serve others?  Can you celebrate others here in your Spiritual Family or do they threaten you if they are doing something you are not?  Can you imagine a church filled with this humble heart and mindset of Jesus?

Listen, the point is, it’s all about Jesus, we need Jesus in our lives.  Everything changed with Jesus’ arrival and continues to change when He shows up in our lives.  He is the answer to all our questions and concerns.  This takes us right back to our practical choices.  If we believe all of this to be true, are we then living as we believe it?  Are we making the choice to pour into that relationship with Him?  Do we prioritize Jesus first and foremost in our lives?  When life hits what do we do?  Do we continue to try to find answers to all our issues in our own strength or through ways the world would?  When it comes to church life, do we do this?  We see that attendance is down and we need to fix it, maybe make God’s body look more like culture to be relevant or to try and please unhappy people.  We grade ourselves on the world’s value system (even knowing that what the world views as important are opposite to what God sees as important) but we do it and grade the church off popularity, and wealth, you know fame and fortune and if we aren’t looking good by the world’s value system what do we conclude?  That we need to work harder, that something is wrong?  Well, the Pastor said to serve, so I work and work and work maybe on things until I am completely exhausted and nothing changes, so I’m discouraged, and feel like I’m failing.  Well, why would that be?  The answer is never about anything you can do…it’s always about what He does.  You and I and the things we do are not the attraction or the solution.  It’s all about Jesus and God’s presence in our lives, that is what attracts and changes lives.  Jesus is the game-changer, not you and not me.   So, our solution to all things is inviting Jesus to do what only He can do in our lives.  Nothing happens without Him.  He is the focus, pouring into Him is the answer.   If you think it’s about how hard you work, or how much you do, I must ask you how that is working out for you.  Now can I ask you to think and imagine a church that grasps this truth we are sitting in today?  How fun could this be?  What would happen if we truly sat back and trusted God…relaxed, rested, dependent on God instead of our own strength?  Wouldn’t that be a fun, free, relaxed church to be part of?  Rather than trying to compete and busy our lives to reflect the world, knowing full well that the world lives and values things that are so opposite to God that they couldn’t even see Him when He stood in their midst!

I hope you are tracking with this so far today.  You know, last week at MRG we had a chance to talk about true success according to God.  This is important because if we understand what true success is, we will find peace and contentment, and we will stay the course regardless of what life throws at us next.  Success isn’t about popularity or fame, which is how the world would measure success.  Here’s what true success is.

True success is standing in your calling and doing what God asked you to do to the best of your ability…no matter what. 

It’s saying YES to God, then staying the course, no matter what.

This is important because it won’t always go the way you would like.  It won’t always make sense to you, it will get hard, there will be challenges and painful moments along the way, it will take longer than you think, and may never make you look as important or popular or famous or as wealthy as you would like…but we say Yes to God, no matter what.  That is true success, and we can find real peace in that.  We need to understand that everything Jesus did, said, taught, and chose to do is in Scripture for us to learn from and do our best to live out in our own lives.  We also need to understand that Jesus is the solution to all things, it isn’t you, and it isn’t me.  So, as always let’s close with some personal questions.

Do you grasp the enormity of who Jesus is in our lives?  Do you depend on His arrival to make things happen in your life, your faith, your relationships, and your family? 

What would your life look like if you trusted God?  Could you relax even when it doesn’t look the way you want?  Would you feel the stress and tension and exhaustion if you truly lived in Jesus, and allowed Him to do the heavy lifting for you?

Have you ever said yes, to God, been doing exactly what He asks of you, and felt like a failure?  Do you see that if you do say yes to God, you are succeeding even if it doesn’t look right to the world?

Do you see that the solution to all things is Jesus?  Do you believe nothing happens without Him and that all things were created through Him?  Would your life, your choices, and how you react to adversity reflect that belief?

Do you see the humble life Jesus lived and modeled for you and do you live in that same humility?  If you aren’t sure, do compare and compete with others.  Are you just above others in your own mind in some way?  Unwilling to serve in ways that you feel are beneath you?  Aren’t you glad Jesus wasn’t?

Can you find peace and strength in understanding who Jesus is and what He does for us? 

Jesus is the game-changer.  It isn’t you, and it isn’t me, the sooner we grasp this and stand in it the better off we will be.  Listen we love you, and today we continued this theme that we keep finding throughout this series so far and all through Scripture.  It’s just not about you, it’s all about Him.  And I want you to understand the fact that we need Jesus.  He is the solution to all things, and all things happen through Him.  Nothing happens without Him.  Nothing.  The turning point of our lives comes when we focus on this and live in that truth.