Jesus and We
We are beginning a new four-part message series today, called “Jesus and WE”. So often, when we talk about Christianity, people talk about “Jesus and me.” Jesus and me, is a good thing. People talk about a personal relationship with Jesus – That is a good thing. Our goal is to help everyone develop a personal relationship with Jesus.
That is why we point people to Him.
But let’s be honest. We are not only to have a PERSONAL relationship with Jesus, we are also to have a SHARED relationship with Jesus. That is the basis behind the title of this series, Jesus and WE.
Over the next few weeks, we are going to focus on what God is calling us to do and be as the Body of Christ. These values are what He calls us to stand for, individually, and as a local church. My prayer is that through this series, God will build our personal faith, and as God builds our personal faith, I believe He will build our corporate faith as a church.
There’s something powerful that happens when believers come together. For instance, it is meaningful to pray alone, but it is also meaningful when believers pray together. You can worship on your own, at home, or in your car, or wherever. And that is a good thing. We all need to set aside time to worship on our own as we grow in our relationship with God. But something powerful happens when believers come together in worship.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to focus on some key values that we hold dear as a church. We really believe the local church is the hope of the world, and we believe God has called us to go into the world and make a difference.
We’re going to begin in John 4. Jesus had been resting by a well in Samaria. When the disciples found Him, they were surprised to see He was talking to a Samaritan woman. They were also concerned that Jesus might be getting hungry and need something to eat. When they urged Him to eat something, this was Jesus’ reply….
“‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’ Then his disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought him food?’ ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’” – John 4:32-34 (NIV)
While everyone else is saying fill me, fill me, fill me, Jesus makes it clear that His nourishment comes from another source. The thing that nourished Him was pouring into the lives of others. He was fulfilled by doing the will of His Father and ministering to the needs of others. That is why He told the disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
I want you to notice…
The disciples were concerned about CONSUMPTION
They are about taking care of themselves. They also want to make sure Jesus is OK, but they were looking for something to eat. They were consumed with consumption. Jesus, on the other hand, was not concerned with consuming.
Jesus was concerned about CONTRIBUTION
When He contributed into the lives of others, including the woman at the well, that nourished Him in a way that was beyond the disciple’s ability to understand.
Did you know that human beings are selfish at the core? God wants to cleanse that sinful and selfish nature and He wants to empower us to see beyond our selfish perspectives to the needs of others if we will give Him the opportunity. But apart from Him, our tendency is to think of ourselves first. We look to our own needs and interests before we look to the needs and interests of others. By nature, human beings are self-centered. That is why you never have to train a child to be selfish. Selfishness is built in, standard equipment that comes on every model.
Advertisers know how to appeal to our desire to satisfy ourselves. How many of you remember this advertising slogan? McDonald’s – “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun.” That is a very specific description of a BIG MAC. It only comes just like that. Otherwise, it is not a Big Mac. Take it or leave it.
But in 1974, Burger King flipped the script when they came out with a jingle of their own. Burger King – “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us, all we ask is that you let us serve it your way.” The Big Mac came one way. Burger King ushered in a new day when they said, “Have it your way.” And now, almost 50 years later, THE CUSTOMER IS KING. Have you been to Starbucks lately? People take great pride I the uniqueness of their drinks even down to their name on their cup!
I am not sure anyone realized it when these slogans were developed, but even in 1974, we were well on our way to becoming a consumer-driven culture where everything is always all about me. It’s all about what I want. It is about a personalized experience. Now, we all want to have it our way today.
That philosophy has continued to sink its roots deeper and deeper into American culture as we continue to develop personalized products and experiences so that you really can have it your way on a level today like never before.
Unfortunately, that consumer mindset has also found its way into the local Church. It is evident in our language, especially when we hear people say things like this…I’m just doing a little church shopping. I am looking for a church that will meet my needs.
This kind of language represents an incredibly common consumeristic mindset that prevails in our world today. In a roundabout way we are saying we are looking for a church that will give us what we want. A church where we can have it our way.
I want to issue a word of caution here…
We are not to be spiritual CONSUMERS.
We are called to be spiritual CONTRIBUTORS.
Why? Because we understand that The Church does not exist for US. We are the Church, and the Church exists for the WORLD. That statement changes everything.
We understand that the Church does not exist for us. Our food is something many people don’t understand. It is to do the work and the will of God. That is what brings nourishment to our souls. Because the Church does not exist for us.
As followers of Jesus, we recognize we are the Church, and we exist to bring the light, the life, and the love of Jesus to our world.
Let’s do a little personal evaluation. I want to invite you to rate yourself, somewhere on a scale from 1-10.
< Spiritual Consumer Spiritual Contributor >
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10
I want to help you find your place on the scale. Don’t give yourself a 10 unless you are Jesus. Don’t give yourself a 1 unless you are the devil himself. That will help narrow things down a little bit. Now you know you are someplace between 2-9. Don’t anybody look around and make eye contact with anyone else, because it might get awkward, but let’s take another step toward finding our place on the scale.
We’ll do the easy part first. You are further to the right on the scale if you’re here consistently, and you are involved in serving in ministries like Point Kids, or Point Students, or you are committed to the worship ministry, tech team, or some other ministry. Any of these things move you further to the right on the contributor scale. The folks who are involved in our guest services understand the importance of making a positive contribution to the life and ministry of the church.
Anita Reecer leads our First Impressions Ministry where she recruits, schedules, and trains not only the hospitality specialists who staff our Guest Central but also more than 60 people who serve in the vital first impressions role of greeter for our 9:30 & 11 services. Anita is here early and faithfully each week to lead this team and fulfill this important ministry in the church.
Some volunteers serve a service and then attend a service on Sunday, others are involved in some other way during the week. These folks would be on the right side of the scale, as would those who pray for the needs of the church, those who support the church faithfully with tithes and offerings, and those who are involved in a small group.
If you’ve been involved in local missions like the food bank, serving at Provisions or Anchor House, volunteering through other partnerships like with Redding Elementary School and other projects, or if you have been active with Team World Vision, raising money for clean water, or serving at the O’fest water booth, these are the kinds of things that move you to the contributor side of the scale.
These are the kinds of things that reveal that you believe you are the Church, and you are committed to serving and contributing to the needs of others in our world. If this description fits you, just go ahead and tell the truth. Give yourself a 6, 7, or 8, and go ahead and bump it up one more point if you have an unfaded Point sticker on your car or truck. 😊
Now, this is where it gets a little more difficult. Some of us need to take an honest look in the mirror and admit that we are more inclined toward the consumer side of things. To be honest, we all start out as consumers. But after you have been around for a while, at some point (for some that will be today) it is time to make the transition from consumer to contributor.
Here are some indicators that you might be a consumer. You might be a consumer if…You only show up at church when the kid’s sports leagues don’t interfere, or when the weather is too bad to go camping, or to the lake.
You might be a consumer if you walk in and drop your kids off to people who are serving, with no thought of ever getting involved yourself. If you attend a service here and there, whenever it is convenient, but never get involved in serving, volunteering, or giving back in any way, then you are a little further to the left on the scale.
Please understand, my goal is not to shame, manipulate, or embarrass a soul. I am not asking anyone to raise their hand and I wouldn’t call anyone out publicly, but I do believe there is value in doing a little personal evaluation. And if this little exercise will be your excuse for never coming back, or tuning in online, because you are thinking – Who needs this? I came to feel better about myself. I didn’t come to be challenged to step out and do anything different in my spiritual life. I am happy right where I am, doing nothing, then go ahead and give yourself a 2 or 3.
Please understand, there are exceptions. For instance, there are no expectations if you just showed up. As I said, we all start out as consumers. But if you have been around for a few months, and in some cases, a few years with no real interest or consideration in getting involved, you are not using your gifts, or serving, or finding a way to make a difference, then you just need to be honest and mark yourself someplace on the left side of the scale, because you are a consumer.
But my hope is that this message can inspire you to take your next step toward becoming a contributor, whatever that looks like for you. That will happen as you make a commitment to become a contributor in the family of God and ultimately in the world
Here are two easy-to-remember points about using your gifts for God’s Church. If you are a follower of Jesus…
God calls me to SERVE IN His Church
If you’re a follower of Jesus, you are gifted, called, and set apart to use your gifts to make a difference in His Church. Unfortunately, many people don’t seem to understand what the Church is.
God never intended for the Church to be a building. The Church is God’s people. That is why we say “we don’t go to church. We are the Church.” We may innocently say, “I’m going to church.” I get it. I have said it. But don’t fail to understand that the Church is not the building. We don’t go to church. We are the Church, and we’re here for the world.
Now Romans 12:6-8 explains how God wants us to use our gifts in the Church. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” – Romans 12:6-8 (NIV)
You may not know it, but you are gifted. Every single believer has been given special gifts from God. And God expects us to use those gifts, for His glory, in the church, and in the world.
Ashley Murphy is someone who uses her gifts to serve with Point Kids. She has been doing this for as long as anyone can remember! Ashley is here every Sunday, year in and year out, sharing her gifts as an educator, parent, and leader. Family Ministries Director, Tim Ferret told me that “Ashley has pretty much become a volunteer staff person, as she helps prepare curriculum for Point Kids, leads large groups and small groups, and has helped ground so many of our Point Kids in their faith.”
This is Ashley’s son, Gavin Murphy. He is continuing the family tradition Ashley and Joey have set. Gavin is in the 8th grade, and he recently started serving on the tech team. He is now one of our camera operators for our Sunday morning services, not only providing recordings of our services, but also supporting our online presence as well.
Jason Sanders has served as Church Treasurer, Stewardship Team Chairman, Church Board Member, and on the Tech Team, running sound, and more recently mixing sound for our online services, among other things.
This is Janet Barlow. Janet has served as a head offering counter for over 20 years. At 87 years of age, she is among our oldest serving volunteers. These are just a few of the people, at The Point, who understand that we don’t go to church. We are the Church. And we are here to make a difference in our world. They are not spiritual consumers. They are spiritual contributors.
There really is a place for everyone to get involved. If you are a follower of Jesus, God has given you gifts, and He wants you to use them to make a difference, in the Church, and in our world. There is something for every person to do.
So, what that mean is, if you are not doing anything in the Church, then there is something that God wants to be done that’s not being done. God wants His Church to be full of people using their gifts to make a difference in the lives of others. Thought 1. God calls me to serve in His Church.
God calls me to SERVE AS His Church
Not only do we serve in His Church – to build one another up – but we serve as His Church in the world. This is what Jesus said to His followers, in Matthew 5:14-16.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
Let your light shine into all the world…WHY? So that the people of the world will see your good deeds…So they may see that you’re committed to Christ…So that they may see how you care about people…So that they may see that you love them.
Make not mistake – We are not saved by good works. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that We are saved by grace, through faith, and that alone. However, we are saved for good works. In other words, we are saved to make a difference in this world. We are saved to help light up our world. That is why we let others see our good deeds.
We don’t do it to point people to ourselves. We let them see our good deeds so that we can point people to Jesus. That is why serve. That is why we love. That is why we give. And that is why we go.
How many people have seen Jesus in your life in the past month? Do people know, by the way you live, that there is something different about you? Would they be able to tell, by the way that you live, that it’s not all about you?
People like David McCrary are among those I would consider as the unsung heroes of the faith. David is one of the first people to arrive at The Point each week. He has served for many years in a variety of roles on our tech team and our safety team. He is willing and able to adjust and serve wherever he is needed, and he is engaged in some form of service almost ever Sunday of the year.
Sam Nolan has been serving with Point Students for several years now. He has been a small group leader and he is also very reliable for behind the scenes projects like helping set up and tear down for youth events. Tim Ferret told me that “the guys who get to spend time with Sam on Sunday evenings can easily tell how much he cares about them and their spiritual growth!” Sam is just one more of the unsung heroes of the faith who are not only lighting up the church, but they are lighting up their world as they invest in the lives of others.
I thank God for people like Sam, David, Anita, Ashely, Gavin, Janet and Jason and dozens and dozens of others, who just like them, understand the vital role they have in the ministry here at The Point.
When we understand God’s calling to be spiritual contributors in this world, people will notice. They may not understand what we believe, but they will know that we believe, and they will know we care about them. That is what happens when we choose to become spiritual contributors, using our gifts in the Church, and using our gifts TOGETHER as the church in our world.
We all have gifts and a calling. And we cannot, after all God has done for us, settle for being consumers. There is something so much better. We’ve been called to so much. We can make such a difference…TOGETHER. Even if people don’t believe in Jesus, when they look at us, let’s live in such a way that they cannot deny the fact that we believe in Him.
Let’s let them see how much He has impacted our lives in so many tangible ways. God has called us to something more than a consumeristic, self-centered mindset. We are not spiritual consumers. We are spiritual contributors. Because The Church does not exist for US. We are the Church, and we exist for the WORLD!