An elderly lady was amazed at how nice the young man was next door. Every day he would help her gather things from her car or help her in her yard. One day the old lady finally asked the young man, “Son, how did you become such a fine young man?&
The young man replied, “Well, when I was a boy, I had a drug problem.” The old lady was shocked, “I can’t believe that.”
The young man replied, “It’s true, my parents drug me to church on Sunday morning, drug me to church on Sunday night, and drug me to church on Wednesday
Does coming to church feel like being dragged. But really what gets you excited about church? Whether church is like a drug or you were dragged to church, the number of people not going to church this morning in Nairobi, is far higher than those in church.
A 2009 statistic showed that in the US- The number of churches that close each year is nearly three times the number that open, and no county in the nation reports a higher percentage of church attendance than ten years ago.
I meet very many parents who painfully are trying to get their teenagers to get to church hopefully to save them from bad company. Why is there is so much ‘drag’ in the church? I’ll be honest, that sometimes I also drag myself to church. Skipping church is an easy option even when there are no options.
This week, I read an article that boldly pointed out how many Christians in Kenya are also falling prey to deceiving, selfish and manipulating ‘men of God’ and almost to say even those passionately following are like they are drugged.
There is so much dragging in the church, people are drugged into the church. Where is the excitement we used to have?
I’ll be honest people, it feels hard to get people excited in the church, and a sermon can almost sometimes feel like a drug. We try and ask somebody to turn to your neighbor, but it is meant with a lot of resistance….
Unfortunately, the world builds excitement around what is fast, loud, spectacular, dynamic, dramatic, new and so the pressure is to build this excitement around the Gospel- which is not as dramatic, dynamic, new, spectacular, loud e.t.c and yes churches have tried….
This year we are going Exponential Reloaded- Taken from Eph 4:13- Our theme is taken from Eph 4: 13 Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God, and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
We believe we have been made for more, but for us to be more, we must get rid of the drug in church? We must build a new excitement about the Church as God is passionate about His church based on God’s truth and not on our emotions.
Today we begin a new series: The Church- Made for More.
We look at the church and see too many things: buildings, facilities, parking space, budgets, staff, offices, programs, rooms, activities, connected people, a religious association, crowds, families, etc. Forty different things come to mind.
Even if you Identified that Church, What do you see when you look closely? A lot of us see changes to be made, programs to improve, buildings to erect, elders to be replaced, certain people to stop singing, improvements in quality, strategies to be changed, plans to be implemented, toilets to be washed, a caretaker to be hired e.t.c.
Just like a human body, when we look into a mirror and often see what we think needs to be fixed. Small blemishes bother us—pimples, scars, wrinkle. Some features disappoint us—a nose, mouth, eyes, eyebrows, ears, wrinkles. We would like to get rid of some changes—hair, age spots, wrinkles. In seeing the blemishes, poor features and unpleasant changes, however, we fail to appreciate that we are looking at a distinct person made in God’s image, a face meant to convey the glorious gift of God’s dream.
Churches are no different and when they look at themselves in the world’s mirrors, they often see blemishes, scars, disappointments and unfortunate changes. They just don’t measure up to the hopes for dreams of their people. Instead of attracting God, it seems churches are built to attract people.
But of Importance is what does God see when he Looks at the church, what does God look for in His church? Again our theme verse this year 4:22-23.
Do we see our significance from before time, our relationship to events right from the beginning of time, present and future.
Do we realize our significance in the entire creation, and us belonging to the entire long history of life on earth for a divine purpose?
Do we also recognize ourselves as part of an epic battle between Satan’s evil and God’s good where we belong to the good and victorious side of the battle.
Our passion is hidden in our identity. Bob George in his book, Classic Christianity, tells the story of a hard-working land-owner in Texas. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, he descended into extreme poverty and could hardly take care of his family. The banks were about to foreclose on his property, he couldn’t pay the taxes, and he stared at bankruptcy and the loss of everything for which he had worked. Then an oil company informed him that there was probably a lot of oil under his land. He gave them permission to drill and in only a few days and at a very shallow depth they struck oil that started producing 80,000 barrels a day. He was immediately wealthy.
The irony of the story, says George, is that the man had been a billionaire from the time he first bought the land. The riches were always there. He just didn’t know it. Many Christians and churches are similarly unaware of the incredible riches and power already theirs in Christ. They live in spiritual poverty instead of spiritual blessings and as a result we lose our efficacy as the church.
My objective today is to help us understand and excite us about the sure origin and plan for the Church of Christ. The church is God’s dream. The church is God’s drug to the world not God’s Drag to the world.
Secondly, to challenge us to realize the potential of the church by adopting God’s perspective and vision for His church.
The letter to the church in Ephesus was written by Paul while in Prison in Rome in about AD 60 and delivered to the church in Ephesus by one of Paul’s helpers called Tychicus. Paul established this church while on his 3rd missionary journey as seen in the book of Acts 28 and had been there with them for about 3 years.
The church in Ephesus had risen in the mixed Greeks and Jews back ground in the minor province of Asia under the Roman empire. Ephesus was a cosmopolitan city known for its numerous trades but also the temple goddess of ‘artemis’ who shaped the religion and indeed the trade of idols in that time. His purpose in writing was to strengthen the believers in their faith amidst this background by explaining the nature and purpose of the church, the body of Christ. So we read from Ephesians 1, where Paul provides us a wonderful opportunity to see the Church in God’s perspective. And how we ought to be excited about the Church.
It is easy to read this passage and miss out on the weight and carefully laid descriptions found here. Verse 1-14 is actually one sentence that reveals the core of who the church is and then a powerful prayer in verse 15-23.A proper arrangement of these sentences will help us see this. In Verse 3, He praises God for what He has done in regards to the believers. This then is the major preposition that He has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. This is our core excitement- Blessed in Christ.
The rest of verse 4-14 explains how. In fact you could summarize the passage this way that in Christ we have all the benefits of knowing God- we are the objects and delight of his LOVE and Grace- Being chosen for salvation, being adopted as his children, being forgiven of our sins, being redeemed by his blood, we are given insight, we have been empowered and sealed by the Holy spirit, we have the power to do all that God intends us to do, and we have the hope of living together with Christ forever – all this to the praise and glory of God.
Until we are excited about whose we are, we will not be excited about what we do.
A shallow understanding of who and whose the church is, robs us of the real joy of Salvation. Robs us the excitement of being at the center of God’s passion.
Chosen before the Creation of the world to be Holy and Blameless in His sight. God chose us. In all humanity and creation and in all time, God chose us- why- (motivation- His sovereignty- to be Holy and Blameless in other words to be like Him.
Turn to your neighbor and tell them you are chosen. In all God’s creation, time and billions of people- God chose Abraham, David, Mary, Joseph, Paul, God chose you. Something about choice- When ladies you chose a dress or men a pair of shoes….it is like it just stands out and calls to you.
We are special and peculiar. We are set apart. We are gloriously different from the rest.
The problem is to give in to the world’s corrupted view; The church is not a bored, religious, self-help, association or an idea of someone, or the product of a charismatic leader or an invitation by a neighbor. We are a divine choice.
In Love, He predestined us to be adopted us as His sons /children through Christ Jesus- Again it was not an after -thought but predestined in other words determined before time that you will be adopted. The Greeks may have thought themselves an after –thought or second class Christians but Paul affirms that they too just like the Jews have been adopted and in-grafted into Christ. They were not “bastards” but legitimate sons. The adopted child possesses all family rights including access to the father, sharing in the divine inheritance, and receiving the guaranteeing seal of the Holy Spirit. You are not illegitimate, you are adopted. Tell your neighbor- You don’t come to church, you belong to church. Children don’t visit home, they belong to the home.
Redeemed through his blood, forgiven of our sins (Motivation- His glorious grace). This concept is well understood by a slave and prisoner, commonly in the slave-prisoner trade language of the Romans. A slave was redeemed by being bought by a new owner, Forgiveness for a criminal meant that all guilt, punishment and wrath due to you, was expiated and pardoned. We are not just delivered from death, but delivered for LIFE. We have a LIFE to live.
Revealed His –will to us- Revealed Jesus to us (who is the purpose of his will). We are not in the dark about who God is, but He has revealed himself to us in Christ Jesus. We can know him and relate with him through Jesus. We are not in the dark, We can see Him. While the world is searching for answers in technology, money and MOU’s, constitutions – We are not in the dark about how to go about victorious living.
We are Excited about what we do
We are Commissioned– Chosen to conform with him everything to his will (Purpose and His ultimate Lordship). God taps us on the shoulder and says that he needs us to finish with him that which He has begun. What can be of greater fulfillment and privilege than to be invited by the creator of the world to enjoin him in His mission is to bring everything under him as Lord. We are not idle, we have work to do
Hope for Eternity– Because we are his children, our inheritance is eternal life that begins when we believe in him and continues into eternity. We are not temporary we are eternal. All of man’s work will perish, but the work God invites us to will count to eternity. So we must work with Zeal.
A key word to note is In HIM or in HIS. All this Blessings are only found in Him, In Christ. We are therefore called to experience and reproduce or Bear God’s LIFE which He has revealed in His son. We are therefore not only messengers of Christ but products of Christ.
Please note also that it is not the material blessing but spiritual blessing, which automatically tells you that it is a divine call. So when God looks at us he does not see and define the church by the material blessing – the cars, the buildings, the programs, the seat color, the speakers, the offices but the spiritual blessings
In conclusion, God is excited about the Church, you and I are a sovereign choice, for an eternal cause. We are made for more- we must get rid of drugs that rob us our potential for more.
You are a chosen generation