Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. Don't make it hard for our black friends to find God. Don't make it hard for Democrats. Don't make it hard for Republicans. Don't make it hard for white seekers or brown seekers or Asian seekers.
Don't make it hard for public school teachers or policemen. We have a gospel too precious and a mission too urgent to let anything stand in our way. Welcome to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.
Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch, and we are so thankful that you've been with us for another week of trusted Bible-based teaching. Before we get started today, can we just stop a minute and marvel at the love of God for lost people, for us? Jesus wants us to take the good news of the gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation, truly pursuing all people in our communities with the love of Jesus.
That's what today's core value in our study is grounded in. Pastor J.D. challenges us to see lost people the way that God does in a message titled, We Do Whatever It Takes to Reach All People.
And it's part of our new study called Be the Movement. Make sure you stick around until the end to learn more about the Bible study that goes along with this series. But first, let's open God's Word together.
Here's Pastor J.D. The first of our four values was number one, we prioritize the gospel above all, which is what we looked at last time. For Jesus and the apostles, we saw the gospel was a message of first importance, which meant that that all other agendas, right, no matter how good and worthy and important they are, they all take a distant second place to the gospel. The second value, number two, what we're going to look at today is we do whatever it takes to reach all people. So let's talk about what this means for the Summit Church, okay?
Let me give you a few things here. Number one, it means that our mission to the lost trumps the comfort of our members. Our mission to the lost will always trump the comfort of our members. Early on here at the Summit Church, we decided to set aside our preferences in order to reach people. I want you to know, especially those of you that are new or here, that where we are, we are where we are because of a group of people, a group of saints that were willing to make themselves uncomfortable for the sake of reaching others. Sadly, you know this, the countryside of America is dotted with churches who won't do that. Their members don't want to change because change is uncomfortable, and so they sit on furniture that was designed in the 1940s.
They listen to music that was popular in the 1950s. They listen to a pastor who was dressed like he got stuck in the 1960s. Some of you, by the way, you might have grown up in a church like this, and so you know how hard it is to get them to change anything. The sad truth is that many of these churches have prioritized maintaining their traditions over reaching their grandchildren.
And listen, I know it's easy for us to sit here and feel smug because, oh, we're so modern and contemporary, but... And it's true, by the way. This is an amazing church, but you realize how easy it is for that spirit to creep back in. How willing are you and I to put up with things that we don't like in church for the sake of reaching somebody else?
How comfortable are you with being uncomfortable? We believe that we should always be pushing the envelope here. We just want to get comfortable, like I'm saying, with being uncomfortable.
We want to do things innovatively or sometimes when it feels risky. I love how a pastor friend of mine, a guy named Craig Groeschel, says that he said, to reach people that nobody else is reaching, you've got to be willing to do what nobody else is doing. And this is why, by the way, we chose to pursue multi-site all those many years ago.
Just to be clear, multi-site is a big headache for everybody, but we figured that it was easier for us to reach more people in the triangle if lost people had a facility that they could come to within a 15-mile drive of their homes. I always say that I'm flattered that you would drive 45 minutes to come to our church. I really am.
I'm honored by that. But I can promise you that the person that you just met in Starbucks or in your neighborhood who doesn't know Jesus that well is not going to drive 45 minutes to come hear a message that they don't really understand yet, right? So what we said is rather than build one big gargantuan six flags over Jesus kind of building, we said let's build slightly smaller gospel outposts all over the triangle. And so we say to people, stay where you are, serve where you live, let's be the church in that community.
That's why we did that. Even though it wasn't an ideal way to set up a church and there are a lot of challenges to it. I hope that you and I will always feel a little bit uncomfortable at the Summit Church because the mission is not about meeting our needs. The mission is about reaching our neighbors. Number two, being a church that's willing to do whatever it takes to reach all people means. Number two, we pursue width, not just depth. I sometimes hear the criticism that we need to stop focusing on growing and instead focus on taking people deep.
And I get that. Like I told you, our third value is that we make disciples, not just converts, all right? But you can see from Jesus' parable that there is literally nothing that we can do with the 99 that brings Jesus as much joy as reaching the one, which means that in all our focus on taking people deep, which we're going to do, we can never lose the priority of going after the one. Because nothing we can teach to the 99. Nothing we can do as the 99 brings Jesus as much joy as restoring that one lost sheep, as reclaiming that one lost prodigal son or prodigal daughter. Charles Spurgeon, who was a 19th century preacher who was not known for his shallow sermons.
He wasn't, you know, light and seeker friendly. Here's what he said, if my hearers are not converted, I feel like I've wasted my time. I've lost the exercise of brain and heart.
I feel as if I've lost my hope and lost my life. Unless I find for my Lord some of his blood-bought ones, I would sooner bring one sinner to Jesus Christ than unpack all the mysteries of the divine word, for conversion is a thing that we're supposed to live for. He was known throughout history as one of the deepest preachers that's ever, ever been around, but he said the thing that drives me is seeing that one lost son or daughter be restored home. So yeah, we want to continue to grow deep, and we're going to talk about that, but believers that grow deep without also growing wide are probably not as deep in the gospel as they think, because growing deep in the gospel always makes you reach wide for the gospel. We're not supposed to be in a stagnant pond where you simply receive, receive, receive. We're supposed to be a river where gospel water flows through us to others. That's number two.
We are, we're going to pursue not just depth, we're going to pursue width also. Number three. Number three, it means that we go after all peoples in our community, not just one kind. Do you notice that our statement specifically says we do whatever it takes to reach all people? All there doesn't just mean as many as possible. It means all kinds of people. I mean, certainly we want to reach as many as possible.
That's the whole point of the story of the 99 and the one. Every lost person matters to God, but all there means all kinds of people. People from every walk of life, from every socioeconomic strata, from every ethnic group. When Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28, he told the apostles to go and make disciples from pantata ethne.
That's a Greek phrase that literally means all the people groups, different tribes and different ethnicities and different language groups. That's why at the Summit Church we send out so many missionaries from the church. By the way, currently we have 276 members who are living overseas right now on a church planting team. We don't do that because everybody in the triangle is reached.
We don't do it because there's nothing left to do here. We do it because Jesus wants people from every tribe and tongue to be a part of his family. That's also why we as a church try to reach all different kinds of people in the triangle itself. And by the way, the vision for doing that is not starting separate churches for each of the different kinds of people. The vision for that is one united church where different kinds of people come together in one united family in Christ. When Paul went to Corinth to plant a church, he didn't start a first Jewish Baptist on one side of town and first Gentile Baptist on the other side of town, even though honestly that probably would have been easier and everybody would have gotten along better. He planted one united church with everybody together and then he wrote letters like Corinthians to help the people get along with all the culture clash they experienced when they came in the church together.
Now, why would Paul do that? Why not just start a Jewish church and a Gentile church? Well, he explains in the book of Ephesians that the mystery and glory of the gospel would be revealed in a special way in a community, a family of people who had little in common in culture but everything in common in Christ.
It would reveal God's glory more than a church where everybody looked the same, liked the same things, and approached social questions all the same way. By the way, did you notice that in 1 Corinthians 9 when Paul goes through all the different ways he's willing to adapt for the sake of the gospel to reach all people, did you know that almost every single one of the examples that he used of how he was willing to adapt was cultural? Verse 20 he says, to the Jew, to the Jew he says, I became like a Jew. I did Jewish things. I ate Jewish food. I resonated with Jewish questions. I entered into Jewish struggles. I wore Jewish clothes. I made Timothy get circumcised.
That's a cultural adaptation, right? To those under the law he said, I became like like one under the law. I respected the law's traditions.
I followed the law protocols. I adapted to the law community as much as possible even though technically I was free in Christ to live outside the Jewish law. Again, that's cultural adaptation. To those who are weak he said, Paul, Paul by the way is most likely referring when he says those that are weak. He's talking about Jewish converts who are weak in their understanding that the gospel has released them from Jewish Old Testament laws like he discusses in Romans 14. And Paul says, I accommodated their weakness. I didn't make a big deal out of it but I did my best not to offend them. Again, that's a cultural adaptation. Quite often you understand the thing that gets in the way of people in the triangle here in the gospel, it's cultural barriers.
The gap between us and many of our neighbors' summit church is often a cultural barrier. Jesus didn't just die for Republicans. He didn't just die for conservatives. He didn't just die for white people or middle-class families with kids.
He died for all peoples at all stages of life and of all economic strata. And to reach them we have to be willing to lay aside parts of our culture sometimes. We have to enter into somebody else's world. And I'll tell you from experience, that's hard. Listen, it's really easy for us all sit here and just kind of nod our heads and say, oh yes, and we affirm that.
But it's hard when the rubber actually hits the road. Let me show you what I mean. One of our members of color who attended a black church for most of his life told me that growing up in times like these, the church was the one place he could go for refuge. He was confident that everybody there would feel his pain, share his anxieties, his perspective.
People just understood, he said. And the church, he said, was the one place where I could just let down my guard and just be. The trauma that had been left by slavery and Jim Crow laws, it created, he said, a solidarity in the black community that served as a refuge and a time of trial or fear. He said, so when something tragic would happen in the black community, he could expect that that week it'd be discussed at church because that shared pain and that shared fear was on everybody's mind. He said, in choosing to come to a multi-ethnic church, he said, especially one where the majority of the membership is white, he said, I've given up that comfort because not everybody in the church understands, right?
Some, in fact, he said, seem primarily concerned to show me that my worry or my pain is not legitimate. He said, I've chosen to be a part of our community here because he believes in the vision of this church, he said, but it's hard. I think we can understand that. Here's the truth, we realize, right?
He shouldn't have to be the only one who has to adapt. For those of us who are in the white community, we too have to enter as much as we can into the culture of others, to take on their burdens, to listen to them. It doesn't mean that their perspective is infallible and ours is wholly flawed, but it does mean that we lay aside cultural preferences and perspectives and try to enter in with each other and to remove as many barriers as possible to lay aside whatever we can for the sake of the Gospel, right? So it's a race.
We're trying to win. It also means, by the way, that all of us are going to be muted on some of our perspectives to keep from causing unnecessary division in the body. But Romans 14, listen, listen, Paul was willing to be quiet or muted on secondary convictions. He was fully convinced we're right and that he thought were important because he thought the unity of the Church and its evangelistic mission were more important than maintaining a uniformity of perspective in these other secondary things, even though he thought, like I said, they were important. Hear me, listen, everything, everything to Paul was secondary behind bringing people to Jesus.
Being willing to do whatever it takes to reach all people means removing any obstacle we can that gets in the way of Gospel proclamation. We see a great example of this, a philosophy at work in the early Church, Acts 15. Jewish and Gentile believers were so divided over a cultural issue in Acts 15 that they couldn't even worship together anymore. Then they come in and the Jews see the Gentiles and they kind of get all bowed up and the Gentiles see the Jews and they get bowed up and so Gentile churches that had Gentile leaders were experiencing a Jewish flight and vice versa, right? The apostles knew that this undermined Jesus's prayer for unity in the Church, a unity that Jesus said would demonstrate the truth of his message.
So the Church leaders come together to try to work something out. Their solution, however, when we read it in Acts 15, their solution actually seems confusing because they basically say, if you read Acts 15, they say the Gentiles should do two things. They should A, they should avoid sexual immorality and B, they should avoid eating things that died by strangulation, both of which were a regular part of Gentile culture.
Now, the reason for the prohibition on sexual immorality, I think that's pretty, that's clear enough, right? But the other reason, like don't eat something that's died by strangulation, that one seems kind of random, right? Like of all the things in the law, right, and because that was part of the Hebrew law, that's the one you want to pick as being something really, really important.
Don't eat something that died by choking. Was that really like that important? Let James, the leader of the Jewish segment of the Church, let him explain the reasoning. He said, here's why. For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him. Acts 15, 21. In other words, there were a lot of Jews in every major city, lost Jews, Jews who needed to be reached for Jesus, and the apostles knew that if these unsaved Jews came into the Church and people there were eating strangled animals, then the Jews wouldn't be able to stomach being there, no pun intended, right? Because of that, they wouldn't hear the Gospel because they couldn't be there. So he asked the Gentiles to refrain from doing things they had a right to do because it would keep unsaved Jews from hearing the Gospel. James explains their overarching rationale, right, in Acts 15, verse 19.
Here's how he explains it. We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles or the Jews who were turning to God. He asked both Jews and Gentiles to behave in ways to surrender things so that it would not make it difficult for unsaved members of the other group to find their way back to God. Both were going to be a little bit uncomfortable.
Both would have to be willing to have their their fur rubbed the wrong way sometimes. But the Gospel, he said, was worth it. Whatever it takes to reach more people for Jesus.
Summit family, I wish I could plaster James's phrase on every single one of our hearts and make it the headline of every single one of our Facebook pages. Do all you can to not make it hard for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Don't make it hard for our black friends to find God. Don't make it hard for Democrats. Don't make it hard for Republicans. Don't make it hard for white seekers or brown seekers or Asian seekers.
Don't make it hard for public school teachers or policemen. We have a Gospel too precious and a mission too urgent to let anything stand in our way. For some of you, right, you're all into politics and social solutions and we should care about justice and righteousness in our society. But you let the particulars of your perspective create an obstacle for others to be here. Of course, we should be united in speaking out against injustice and united in speaking out for life, but our perspectives on the best solutions for these things or our convictions on which candidate would best get the job done, that should never get in the way of the one essential thing that we have to do, and that is preaching the Gospel. Hear me. I know I sound like a broken record in this, but it's not that these things, it's not that these political, these social things are unimportant.
They are. They are important. It's that the Gospel we preach is that important. And I say that for many of us, that the ones of us that stay constantly offended here on the verge of leaving, perhaps the problem is not that the issues tempting you to leave are so important.
It's that the greater mission of the Gospel is not important enough to you. All right, so that's why we do what we do. Number four.
Number four, last one. Being a church that does whatever it takes to reach all people means, number four, our members take responsibility for the mission. Hey, listen, here's maybe the most important truth that you're going to hear this weekend. Doing whatever it takes to reach all people means that you, you, each of you takes responsibility for reaching people. At the Summit Church, we do something called Who's Your One?
And it's a challenge for every person to have at least one person in their life, one person. You know who yours is? One person that you're praying for and asking God to help you reach out to, to bring somebody to Jesus.
And we want you to tell us who that is so we can pray with you on it. Now, when I talk like this, people always say, well, I don't know. Evangelism is just not my gift. I get nervous talking to people and you look like you could sell vacuum cleaners, you know, door to door. That's probably true.
But, um, but you know, you're like, it's just not my gift. Hey, listen, Jesus said, Matthew 4 19, follow me and I will make you a fisher of men. You know what that means? It means when you accepted the call to follow Jesus, it means you also accepted the commission to reach people, right? That command to reach people, it's called the great commission.
That's not a special gifting for some, it's a mandate for all. And Jesus promised that when he brought you to himself, whatever your personality was, extrovert, introvert, whether you're a one or a nine or a three or a seven or a 48.2 on the Enneagram scale, he was going to use you in reaching people. You say, well, I don't know how though. I don't know how to share Christ.
Okay. Well, a couple of things I'll say to you. Well, first you should learn. You're like, well, I don't think I can. If you can learn to order drinks at Starbucks with all those complex things, you can learn to share the gospel, right?
So first you need to learn. The second, I would also say how hard actually is it if you were trapped on the top of a burning building and just when you were about to give up hope into this burning building, suddenly the door flies open and there's a firefighter who breaks open the door and puts you over his shoulder and carries you 10 flights of stairs down to safety. Puts you down on the sidewalk, goes back in for somebody else. And somebody walks by and says, hey, what just happened? You may not know the guy's name.
You may not be able to explain how it happened, but you could say I was going to die if that guy saved me. In the meantime, while you're learning all your Bible verses and you're learning the right questions and all the right terms to use, you can still point people to Jesus. You can invite them to join you on the weekend for a service.
Or how about this? Tell them your story. We're a church that does whatever it takes to reach all people. It leaves me with two questions I want to ask all of you. Number one, have you met Jesus? See, this is Jesus' heart for you.
Jesus left the 99 for you. He couldn't be happy without you. He stands at the gate of heaven every day looking out after you. He can't be happy until you are restored to Him. Are you ready to come home?
Right? If so, then right now, could you just bow your head? If you need to trust Christ, you could right now say to Him, Lord Jesus, I'm ready to come home. I surrender to you. I receive your offer to save me. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me.
Amen. This is Jesus' heart for you. He left the 99 for you. He stands at the gate of heaven every day looking out for you. He is desperate for you to be restored to Him.
Are you ready to come home? We'd love to answer any questions you have or pray with you. Just give us a call at 866-335-5220. Or you can send us an email. Write to requests at jdgreer.com. That's requests at jdgreer.com. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of Pastor J.D.
Greer. Today's message is part of our teaching series called Be the Movement. J.D., our latest resource this month aligns exactly with the teaching series that we're currently sharing on the program. So what exactly do you mean by movement? That seems like a big idea for us to achieve on our own. Yeah, Molly, from the very beginning, God intended for His church to move. We often say this, it's not supposed to be a large audience basking in the anointing of one or two great teachers or leaders or worship leaders. It's supposed to be a movement where all people see the same thing.
And one of the reasons people burn out in Christianity is they're doing listening and activity and they're not sensing and seeing it on their own. I remember a guy told me a story one time about a grandfather sitting on a porch with his grandson out in the country. There's like 10 dogs under the porch. And all of a sudden, one of the dogs kind of perks up and he lets out a single bark and he tears off across the field. Well, that rouses all the other nine dogs up. They all start barking and yapping and tear off across this dog.
And the grandson is kind of watching what's happening. And the grandfather said, he said, son, let me tell you what's about to happen. He said, in just a moment, every single one of those dogs is going to come back one by one. Their tongues are going to be, you know, out there.
Their heads will be down and they'll take their place back here under the porch. He said, that'll take no more than five, 10 minutes. He said, in about 30 minutes, that first dog is going to come back and he's going to have the rabbit in his mouth that he saw that started this whole thing. He said, the reason that he got the rabbit is not because he's the best rabbit dog.
The reason is because he's the only one that actually saw the rabbit, you know, and everybody else, you know, all the other dogs were just yapping and barking because the other dogs were excited. I kind of feel like that's a metaphor for the church is you got somebody, a handful of people that are up there because they've seen the mission and they see Jesus and they're pursuing him and everybody else starts, you know, pardon the analogy, barking and yapping because that's fun to be in a group that's barking and yapping. Well, what we want to do with a study like this is to help you see the rabbit, because one of the reasons that you fatigue and you fall off in the Christian life is you're trying to live off somebody else's vision of Jesus.
The best thing to do is to see it for yourself. We want you to not just be an audience member. We want you to be a mover in the movement, somebody who owns it and somebody who propels it. As much as we do here at Summit Life, I think this is definitely a resource and a topic that's bigger than any one of us.
I think it's one of the best things that we've offered. So it'll help you do your part. The Be the Movement study guide comes with our thanks when you donate today to support this ministry so that more people can dive into the message of the gospel with us on a daily basis. Give and request it when you call 866-335-5220. One more time, that's 866-335-5220. Or you can request this resource when you donate online at jdgreer.com. That's jdgreer.com. If you prefer to mail your gifts, be sure to include a note asking for the study guide and send it to J.D. Greer Ministries, P.O.
Box 122-93, Durham, North Carolina, 277-09. I'm Molly Venovich. Thank you so much for joining us this week, and we'll see you again on Monday when Pastor JD teaches on the central mission of the church. Enjoy your weekend worshiping at your local church and join us again Monday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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