Summary: This message was developed after reading Steve Meeks book "Relational Christianity." Christianity is not informational it’s relational.
A Needed Change
* Tonight I have not come to “preach” but just to share my heart with you. Yes, I am the Senior Pastor. Yes, I am called that because I am so old. Yes, we will end up being here for several minutes, taking a look at what I think might be THE issue for believers today, and maybe we’ll connect in the Spirit, but then again, we might not.
* Allow me to simply layout my thoughts and see if I can make some sense of this to you.
* All of my life I have seen church and “Christianity” basically done one way. Generally, the idea is to “go” to church, learn about God, learn Bible truths, observe the ordinances, and sing praises to God. In fact, some today would ask, “What else is there?” (hang on to that question)
* Additionally, we emphasize going visiting with the promoted idea of “winning” the lost person to Christ. However the truth is that most of those whom are visited already know the Lord or say they do. In actuality few are seen who are not of the faith. The reason for this is that church people have such little connection with those outside of the church and Christ. I’ll go so far as to suggest that, many times, the object of these visits is to enlarge the congregation more than make disciples.
* Furthermore, we tell people who are experiencing trouble to “come to church” and things will get better. However, if they come, what do they find? Do they really discover an environment which is conducive to finding answers to their difficulties, do they find a people who are seeking to up lift, uphold and encourage each other or something else?
* Committing seems to be thrown out as many, if not most, will not to say yes to anything which they feel they cannot get out of at a moment’s notice.
* Tonight I’m offering this because deep in my heart I have a spiritual unrest that I cannot get past. The more I seek God for an answer the more the answer seems to come that today, as believers, we are missing boat.
* It seems to me that the main emphasis of the day is placed on “church.” As I’ve already stated the mantra of the day seems to be “go to church”, “come to church”, “you need church” or even “you need to be in church”.
* Please hear my heart; “if this is my approach to Christianity I have sorely missed the boat.” The need of the person today is not church although attending the assembly is a part of the “believer’s life”. Honestly, most people have enough meetings and the like to “go” to. To reduce the need of the human soul to “church” is kind of like trying to heal cancer with an aspirin. There is not wrong with taking an aspirin, it is simply not sufficient.
* The need of the day is a return to the Biblical truth that it is not about church, heritage, or membership; it is about an ongoing, alive, daily relationship with “Jesus Christ”.
* John 8:32 says this, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
* A few weeks ago I mentioned that on Easter night Deb and I went with the girls to a church on the other side of town. As a part of that uplifting service, they showed a video in which several of their members gave testimonies. In essence every testimony carried the same message; “I once was in bondage, but now, I have been set free.”
* Set Free. Think about that for a moment. Picture the inmate who has been incarcerated for years being let out!!
* Set Free. Within this body of believers we have those who were shackled to the prison of cancer, with the prospects of death on the horizon, and now it appears they have been set free.
* Set Free. In 1980 just a few hours after President Reagan was inaugurated, the hostages held for the past year in Iran were SET FREE.
* Set Free. The authentic believer in Jesus has been set free! He has been set free from the power of sin, set free from the penalty from sin, and set free from the promise of suffering. How are we set free? What does this mean?
1) A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP – Jesus says, “You shall KNOW the truth.” Herein lies our perplexing truth that is not clear in the mind of most. I’ll submit to you tonight that there exists a deep seated misconception about what it means to “know the truth.”
a) The Truth is not a Principle. Candidly this verse may lead some to believe that all we must do is fill our heads with religious information and we’ll be free. You see, the thinking of the day is “the more you know, the more spiritually mature you are.” The truth is, we can recite the names of the 66 books of the Bible or memorize every word of the Bible. We can learn Greek and Hebrew. We can be well read among the entire Father’s of Christendom. We can literally become the scholars of our day. We can do all these thing still not know “the truth” because “the truth” is not a principle. Make no mistake, we do need information, we do need to study, we do need to read, but all the reading, studying, and participating that a person can do will NOT set them free. Only knowing Jesus, the truth, can accomplish that. He is the only way.