Tony Evans has a great statement about the church. He says, I hear people say, I don't have to go to church to be a Christian, and they're absolutely right.
Salvation is through faith alone and Christ alone. But you don't have to go home to be married, but stay away long enough and your relationship will be affected. I like that. That's true, isn't it? I don't have to go home, but if I don't go home, there's going to be a problem with me and Stacey.
It's going to be affected somehow, some way. So is it true you don't have to be in church to be a Christian? Well, of course not, because it's through faith. But when you stay away long enough, it's kind of like in marriage, you become affected and things happen and we need each other. Church, we need each other. And you might not feel like you need anybody.
I'm telling you, you need somebody. Students, you need community. You need community. You need your crew. You need one night. You need your pastors and you're amazing leaders, because right now it is so hard to be a student right now. You can't pay me enough money to be where you're sitting right now. It's hard. And guess what adults?
It's the same thing for us. It is so hard in this world and there's so much pressure, but there's something beautiful that happens when we do this right here this morning. I'm going to give us three things this morning. Turn to Ephesians chapter four and just a quick message today on community.
And again, you got note cards so you can take some notes with us today, which I love. Let me give you my three points and then we're going to unpack them real quickly about community, why community matters. Community matters because community focuses us upward.
That's point one. Community focuses us upward. The second thing is that community focuses us inward. Not just inward in here, but inward inside the church. And the last point is community focuses us outward.
So it's not a new saying. In fact, there's a ton of churches in the 80s and 90s that used upward, inward and outward as their mission statement because it makes sense. But that's also what community does. So the number one point is this first point is community. It focuses me upward.
So today what we did today and here's a couple of sub points. It's challenging me to grow and to be more like Jesus. So today, even though I'm up here and I'm the one with a microphone and I'm speaking today, I am growing today. I am challenged and inspired by the worship around me.
When I can hear all of you singing those songs with us and you can just hear the voices singing, it is challenging me in my personal growth. It's challenging me to be more and more like Jesus. Ephesians chapter four, verse one to six. It says, I therefore prisoner for the Lord. It says, I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all humility, with gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. I love verse four to six. There is one body and one spirit. Just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your all, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
This is community. It focuses me on God. Did you notice, by the way, that as we were singing those songs, that none of our names was in those songs. We weren't singing those songs to me. Listen, and there's only been one known song. There's been one song that has my name in it. Come on, let me see if you guys know which one this is. Ready? There's only one song that has my name in it.
And he walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me. Come on. That's the only song that has my name in it. That's the only one. That is an old school Jesus joke.
Come on. I used to hear that all the time in the eighties and the nineties about my name. Hey, did you know your song, your name is in the song?
Yes, I know that. So Alexander, could you maybe do that song at the end? We'll do that song. It's not me. It's not you. We came here today to worship one person. Amen, somebody. We didn't come here to worship Crossroads. We didn't come here to even worship church. We came here to worship Jesus.
That's his name. His name is Jesus. And here's some beautiful things from Ephesians 4 that what happens when we focus on him.
Did you catch it? I'm going to just lay him out for you real quickly. When we focus upward on Jesus, it leads to a few things. Number one, it leads to humility. We focus on Jesus. We realize, huh, I'm not God.
That's a good reminder sometimes, isn't it? That I am not the Lord of all. I am not the savior of anybody. I am not God.
And he doesn't need my opinion or ask my advice. There's one God. So what happens when we worship in community like this? It's a reminder.
It really is. It's a reminder to me going, hey, Andy, it's not about you. It's not about you.
It's not whether or not people like you or not, whether people think you're funny or not, whether they think you're good looking or they don't, which most people do. So, you know, it's not about those things, even though it matters. It doesn't matter. What matters is Jesus. And sometimes we get in the way of what God's trying to do.
It's humility. And so together when we worship, it's such a subtle reminder. That's why to me, I love to close my eyes and lift my hands in worship. There's nothing, I love that so much because to me it gets rid of all the distractions and it makes me in this surrender posture to God. That's why I do it. I don't do it for show. I don't do it because the song at one time says, lift your hands in faith.
Like I do it because it is a sign of surrendering because it's not about me. And I love that about community. It also brings gentleness.
Did you catch that? When we worship and when we walk in a manner worthy of the calling, it is about gentleness, the way we talk to one another, how we think of one another, our actions towards each other. See, when we focus in community on Jesus, we are able to be a church that is gentle. Doesn't mean we waver. It doesn't mean that we're soft in our belief. It doesn't mean we're soft in our theology.
It doesn't mean that we back away from hard conversations. But how many know we can have difficult conversations standing on God's word and be gentle. Be gentle. You ever wonder why Jesus was able to speak hard truths to the people and they wanted more? Because he was gentle. In his own words in the Bible it says that he is gentle and he is kind in spirit. To walk in the worthy manner of Jesus means that we also are gentle and kind.
I love that as a community, it is a reminder of that gentleness. And then he talks about patience, being patient with one another. Patience is such a huge piece. It's just a huge indicator, right, of community that as a community of believers, as we focus upward to Jesus, then one of the things that in my life I have to be patient. I can be patient with my family, with myself, with you. I got to be patient with people on the road.
I've got to be patient. Part of it. But then he hones in on one word and that word is unity. I would encourage you to write that word down. You should write all these words down, but unity. And then he unpacks unity. In other words, when we are together in a community of believers and we are focusing our attention upward on who God is today, it translates to gentleness and patience. It translates to bearing one another's burden. It translates to all, but it also makes us one.
Now that should seem obvious, but sometimes churches are the most divided places on a Sunday morning. And I'm just here to tell you that in unity in Jesus, it is about, watch what he says. It's one hope. There's one hope that we have today and it's a person. His name is Jesus.
Can we just all agree on that? That's the hope. Now it translates in a lot of different things, but we have one hope. We have one Lord. I was just talking to somebody recently. We've been having a lot of people come to know Jesus over the last several weeks, especially, which is so wonderful.
I love that. And I've been having conversations with people that are making a decision for Jesus. And recently I had a conversation with somebody who had just accepted Jesus here on a Sunday and they were trying to understand the difference between Savior and Lord.
That's a great question. And listen, Jesus is already the Savior of the world. He came to seek and to save that was all. He is the Savior of the world. He's the Savior of our life. But my question to us is, is he the Lord of your life?
Meaning he wants to be Lord over every part of your life. And that includes your attitude. That includes your lifestyle.
That includes how we walk and how we talk. That includes every single piece of me. Is he the Lord? There is one Lord. Your finances is not your Lord. Your career is not your Lord. Your relationship is not your Lord.
Your hopes is not your Lord. There's one Lord. And when we focus upward in worship, it brings us to that one Lord, which revolves around one faith, one baptism, and one God. And what I love, one of the things I love most about our church is the unity that we have in the middle of diversity. I love that about our church. Diversity from everything from where we grew up, to our backgrounds, to our social economics, to the color of our skin, even down to the political parties and different backgrounds that we have, that there is a oneness, though, when we come under the name of Jesus.
And I'm going to speak this now, and I'm going to keep speaking this, and you know my heart in this. We will not allow politics or race to divide this church. We will not.
We will not allow it. And why did I say those two things? Because those are the two things that are coming down the barrel this fall.
And every time this happens, and every time there's an election season that happens, I see the devastation that happens. As your pastor, it is not coming into the walls of this church. I'm here to preach the gospel and preach His message, and that's what we're going to do.
And we're going to let God and let His Holy Spirit, He's going to lead, He's going to direct. Listen, we all got our ideas. We all have our opinions. I've got some strong opinions and strong ideas, but they do not outweigh the gospel.
They don't. So we're going to speak the truth and we're going to speak the gospel, and we will not be divided over that. If you want to get divisive, I can list a bunch of churches you can go to and have fun.
You can have all the advice in this you want. And here's why, right? Community matters. I want you to come here and feel like you belong.
Like you belong. And that doesn't mean that we don't disagree. And it doesn't even mean that we're not going to speak things that you don't agree with. But what it does mean is that we love you, and we care enough about your soul that it matters.
And so just because we say everybody's welcome, which is true, and we love everybody, which is true, it does not mean, and here's the other thing that I think you know, but I just want to say it to be on record, this church will never water down the gospel out of fear of what anybody's going to say or do. We never will do that. We never will do that. We'll not do it. And I'll tell you why. Because I didn't write the Bible, so I don't got to defend the thing. If you got a problem, you can talk to God. That's it.
My job is deliberate. So listen, let's just get out of the way. We're going to have a great family. You're part of a great family. And we love that you're here, and we love you, and it means that we're going to speak our truths to each other, but it means that we're going to be family together, and we're not going to be divided over it. Amen? Part of the thing of being a shepherd, part of my job of being your shepherd is to get the wolves out of the sheep pen. So listen, no wolves allowed. Imperfect people, absolutely allowed.
Flawed people, absolutely allowed. Redheaded people, preferred. Because I'm looking around, I'm like, I think there's two of us in here. We got to work on that. We got to work on that. It's just me and you.
That's it. I think there's only one. And we got three. Do I see a fourth? Come on.
Do I see a fourth? There we go. Alright, let's try Ohio State fans. How many Ohio State fans we got here? Tell you what, we're growing.
I love that we can be so different and be so together. Isn't that something special? It's only in church, by the way. You're not going to find this anywhere else.
Everywhere else. It's just divided. This is who you are.
This is who you're not. It's just divided. It's only on a Sunday morning at a place like Crossroads that we can all come together of all of our differences and yet at the same time be united. Isn't that amazing? That's why this is important. I love it.
Love it. Number two, second point is community. It focuses me inward. Now, not just inward in my own heart, but inward into the care of one another.
That's what I mean by this, by the way. So focusing us upward means that we're all here together. We all worship together and worship one God together. Focusing inward means that we're here to care for one another. Again, one of the things I love about the church is how we care for each other. Hebrews chapter 10 verse 24, it says, let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
Not neglecting to meet together or determine the habit, but encouraging one another. One of the greatest things about the church is that we are encouraged towards love and towards good works and we are encouraged to encourage one another. Isn't that a beautiful thing about what we do here? So hopefully what will happen, I hope and pray that what happens on Sundays when you come is you don't just come and walk away going, well, that was a nice service.
I hope that you come and that you're encouraged to leave here to go do good works and go love people. That's what we're called to do. And what Hebrews is saying is that when you gather together what's happening is that there's a stirring that should happen. And there's a Holy Spirit stirring in our hearts that should happen where we feel like we should go love people more. We should go and be an encouragement to people.
Like that's the kind of stuff that happens in here. Ephesians 5 it says, therefore be imitators of God. Walk in love as Christ loved us. In 1 Thessalonians 5 and 11 it says, therefore encourage one another. Build one another up.
I love that about what we get to do. You know what, honestly for me, and again this is maybe just for me but I see it happen often, one of the things I love about coming to church here is I leave here always encouraged. I always leave here encouraged. Stu, I leave here encouraged because of you.
Believe it or not. Because of the church family. Shaking hands, hugging with one another, praying for each other. There's so much encouragement in that. One of the things that I love the most, quite honestly, I love speaking, I love preaching, I love doing God's word, I love just being out in the hallway. You'll find me out there every Sunday. I just love being out there because I just love the encouragement towards each other.
You know what, and this is true. I pray for a lot of people in here. Most of the people that I pray with are out in the hallway because people just come up and they're like, hey, could you just pray for me? Absolutely, let's pray right now.
And we just find encouragement with one another. Something about that that's so tangible to the encouragement to pray. James 5 verse 13 it says that if anyone among you is suffering let them pray. Let them pray. If somebody's sick calling the elders of the church to pray over them and it talks about the prayer of faith and speaks about confessing our sins to one another that we're healed and the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it's working. I love, I love, I'm using that word a lot today because I mean it, I love when we get to pray for each other. To me, being able to pray over our elementary kids this morning, that was a spiritual thing.
I took that so serious. We were able to look into some of the eyes of some of these kids that are up here. Just knowing the journey that they're going to take, what this world's going to be like in the next 20 years. Man, that doesn't drive you to your knees to pray for our kids. I don't know what will.
I don't know what will. And here's why I love that we pray together. And we're not going to do it today because we're going to be praying for our high schoolers and college students and middle school students at the end of the service. But one of the things that I really enjoy is at the end of most of our services, we'll just pray for people up front. And here's why, real simply, come on, I believe in the power of prayer, plain and simple.
Like that's it. I believe that when we pray, God can answer. And my part is to pray, it's God's part to answer. So any opportunity we have to pray for one another, to encourage one another is an opportunity that you and I should absolutely take and take serious. Students, I can't wait to pray for you at the end of the service. And I'm just going to let you know whether you're in college or high school or middle school, whether you're a teacher, I want you to know that you have a church that is going to be praying for you.
Not just praying for you today, but absolutely praying for you moving forward. And we believe in that power. I believe in a God that does miracles, I do. I believe in a God that heals. I don't know why anybody would want to serve a God that they believe doesn't do miracles anymore. I have no understanding of that theology. I just cannot get my mind around why somebody would even believe that all the miracles are done and all the signs are done and God doesn't heal anymore. Why would you want to serve a God that doesn't even heal anymore? And I'm just here to tell you, we've had not one or two, but multiple people just over the last two months in this house get physically healed by things in their life.
Come on, that's not made up. That's real God doing miracle stuff. And I love that we can just give the opportunity for that. That we can encourage one another, not just with a handshake or the hug or a kind word, but we can encourage each other with our prayers. We can bear one another's burdens.
That's the other part of this together, right? So it's not just the encouragement, it's not just love and good works, but we have to bear each other's burdens. And again, I want to encourage you before I go to the last and final point real quickly, don't ever feel ashamed or guilt driven when you come into this house. Because what happens is the enemy would love you to feel guilty and you don't share your burdens with us. Isn't it amazing how the enemy works like that? It's almost ironic, like go to church, but the enemy says, well, don't say anything because people are going to judge you. Don't share your brokenheartedness because people are going to think different of you. Don't open your mouth and come for prayer and say that you need prayer because you're struggling in error because what are people going to think about you?
Isn't it amazing how the enemy does that? Yet this is the very place where it says to come, to confess your sins, to bear one another's burdens. This is the community that that's supposed to happen. And so I want to give you hopefully that freedom sense that this is not a place. I am not your judge. There's only one judge and his name is God the Father.
He is the judge. I am not here to convict you of your sins. There's one person that does that is the Holy Spirit. Our job is to love you well, to encourage you well, to teach you sound doctrine and theology and to get you into the word and to pray and encourage one another. That is the simplicity of what we get to do. Do not let the enemy cause you to come into this building with your head down and your shoulders down. Let's pray with one another. Let's bear each other's burdens. The third and final point is this.
I'm going to close here. Community focuses us outward. It has to because if not, then all we are is a social club on Sunday mornings and I don't want that. If we don't focus outward, then all we are is a church in Raleigh that all they care about is numbers and butts in the seats and finances and the stuff we get to do and no, no, no, no, no. When we focus on God upward and we care well for one another, come on, it has to translate outside of this building. It has to translate into our community. I love that we are a church that loves to see our community transformed.
The transform of the triangle in the world is not just a catch phrase, not just something that we hope. It is something that we are. To go love your zip code, to hopefully give you the encouragement, to stir in you the works and the good works and the heart to go and actually love our community well, to love your zip code, which is your school.
It's your workplace. It's your neighborhood. Our community is well. It's that missional focus of our schools. I told you in the beginning 18 years ago, I went down to the school and I love again that we are a church that loves our community, that we love our partnerships, that we love partnering with people, we love partnering with organizations, we love partnering with schools. Why do we love to do that? It's not so that Crossroads gets famous.
No. It's because we generally love the community. Well, how do we do that? Because we love God and we love one another well. I love the commission that he called us, Matthew 28, 19, go therefore make disciples of all nations.
That's our job. It's about going. Acts 1, 8, he says you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And here's why we have the power of the Holy Spirit. It's not just so we have gifts. It's not just so we can use the gifts inside of the church. It is to be the witness of Jesus to the rest of the world. In Acts 1, 8, he said you will receive power and then you're going to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth and you're going to go be witnesses. That's why we have power. James 1, 27, it speaks about pure religion, a pure religion that is undefiled as one that focuses on widows and orphans. He only uses those two as an example. That's not where it stops.
The list keeps going. If we have a right relationship with God, church, then we will care well about our community. We will be focused on our community.
In Matthew 16, 15, one final verse, he said to them, go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. This is what we are supposed to do. And we do that well, we will love our community well, our external community, our cities, our towns, our schools, we will love them well when we are focused upward. When we focus in caring well in here because inevitably that will spill out into our community. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 08:59:38 / 2023-02-26 09:09:37 / 10