Summary: There are no limits to what God wants to do with the church

1 Corinthians 3.1-6 “Family Photos”

1. This morning, I want to invite you to close your eyes. Not long enough to go to sleep, but just long enough to get a mental picture. Just long enough to allow your imagination to run wild for a minute or two. So close your eyes, and I want you to mentally look around this room. You know pretty well already who is here and where they sit. It’s the same place that they usually sit. Do you have that image in your mind? Is it locked in? Now, I want you to begin to place in among the people you see in that picture, some other people. These are the people you are praying for right now, to come to a personal decision about Jesus Christ. These are the people you believe are unsaved and you have been praying for an opportunity to share Christ with them. And for a minute this morning, I want you to imagine that you have been successful and that in among the people you have already visualized as being here, you also see these who have come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Looks pretty good doesn’t it? Better than the first picture? Now, take a picture of that. Mentally click the button. Now, I want you to imagine a third group of people. These are the people I mentioned not too long ago, that don’t yet come here. They will, some day, but they aren’t here now, and they aren’t even the people you’ve been praying for at this point. It may be that someday you will be praying for them, but you aren’t now, because you’ve not met them yet. This third group is the friend of the child you are praying for. This third group has the parents of your in-law. This group has your child’s soccer coach. This group has your newly saved neighbor’s yoga teacher in it. This group has people whom you’ve not met yet and even though you don’t know them, God does, and He is talking to their hearts and He is inviting them to a relationship and those you have seen come to know Jesus Christ have shared Him with others and now these you have never met are also here. Now look around at this church, with your eyes closed, and get this final snapshot. The church is full, practically overflowing. People here feel loved and love in return. People are ministering and being ministered to. People are finding new ways of connecting with other people and lost people and sharing the love of Christ with them. The church is outgrowing it’s current facility even with three Sunday morning worship services and multiple times for Sunday School. There are people using this building for various reasons, nearly every day of the week. Maybe we would be talking about a new addition or building a whole new facility to meet our needs. Now, take a mental picture of that. Take that snapshot. Can you see it? Now open your eyes.

2. Pretty awesome isn’t it. What you have just done, is taken a family photo of a functional family. To grab a mental image of what our church can be like when God gets a hold of our hearts and our passions and begins to ask us to move outside of zones of comfort and familiarity. When God helps us find authentic ways to connect with unsaved people so that we have an opportunity to show that we genuinely care about them and desire them to have the hope we as Christians have.

3. You see, a functional family, is regularly involved not only in worship like we spoke about last week, but is also involved in outreach. That is, to move beyond our walls and our comfort zones and to make it a practice to share Christ with those around us. With our neighbor, our co-worker, our children’s teachers, our friends, or whoever the Lord leads us to.

4. Now, we do need to understand something. We don’t build the church. God builds the church. That’s what Christ said to Peter when He said to him, “upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” (Mt. 16.18) Notice, He didn’t say to Peter, “now you build my church”, but instead He said, “I will build my church.” And we see this idea again, over in 1 Corinthians 3. If any church in scripture seems to take on the characteristics of dysfunction, it was the church in Corinth. Paul had preached there several times in his missionary journeys. Acts tells us that Apollos had also preached in Corinth and yet, even reading through this letter, we find that the Corinthian church had some real moral problems, and dissensions, and backbiting. There were some tremendous issues there. And one of the issues that Paul deals with in this letter is that of choosing who we’ll follow. That is to say, some said, I follow only Apollos, others said, for me, it’s Paul. And there were others mentioned as well.

5. And Paul addresses this in chapter 3. 1 Corinthians 3 beginning in verse 1 reads like this, [read text].

6. And Paul reiterates in a different way and under different circumstances what Christ told His followers. Paul tells the church in Corinth, it’s not me. I only played a little part in what happened. And it’s not Apollos, either. He may have had a part in what happened to you. He may have built on what I already started. He may have begun what I was able to build on. But all the while, it was really God at work in you. Only God makes things grow.

7. Now, understanding this, that God causes things to grow. In other words, God does the work of salvation. I might share Christ with someone, you might follow up and share some more. Someone else might tell the gospel again and it might come through an evangelist or through a message heard on the television or through radio before it all sinks in. However, Paul tells us what our role is, “we are God’s fellow workers.” We are a part of what God wishes to do in the lives of people. We get to help prepare the soil, plant the seed, and water the ground. And see how God uses us to reach out to those around us. It’s an exciting venture that we get to be a part of.

8. Or we can choose to stand in the way. We can choose to be stingy with our faith. Not share it for fear that if God has one more person to help, He won’t be available to help us. If one more person starts to pray, they will drown out our prayers. Or we can be judgmental and decide who really deserves to hear the gospel. To decide who ought to be saved and who isn’t really worth God’s time.

9. You say, we would never be that way. We would never say those sorts of things. But, when we say nothing. When we have opportunity and fail to share our faith, it is then that we say exactly that.

10. Do you want that family photo you took at the beginning of the sermon to become a reality here? Do you want to see those you are praying for come to know Christ and to see others you don’t know come to know Christ? We need to ask ourselves if we are serious about reaching out to those whom Christ loves, in this way we will be a functional family.