Summary: The church is most relevant when God's people live relevant lives.
- Well, all of you have probably been closely watching the presidential campaign over the past several months. And probably most of you have already made up your minds as to who you are going to vote for whether that be Bush, or Gore, or Nader, or Buchanan. And some of you may have even watched the debates that have taken place over the last three weeks. Now I am not going to get political on you, I assure you of that. But, what I do find interesting is that in all of those debates, and in all of their campaigning what the candidates are doing is trying to tell us what America and the World needs.
- Better education, better Social Security, better tax plans, better social reform, a better environment and on and on the list goes. But in all the things they talk about. They have not, and will not talk about what the world really needs. What America really needs, what people really need. And what the world needs more than anything else is the Church. People need the church as it is described, and pictured and seen in the Bible. What the world needs is the Church!!
- That's what our focus is gonna be on over the next several weeks. We are going to take a look at the Church, and what the church should be. And remember, the church is not a set of walls that decay. The church is not a building, the church is you. The people are the church. We are the church, not this building. This is just a convenient place we gather together to have worship, and study, and fellowship time. What the world needs is not another church building. What the world needs is the church, that is... you and me, as God's people living like God's people.
- And this morning, our focus is this... the world needs a relevant church. A relevant church. So let's start by asking, what does it mean to be a relevant church? Well in my Webster's New World Dictionary, the word relevant is defined as:
"relating to the matter under consideration" or "pertinant"
- In other words being relevant means you have something to say, something to offer that matters, that makes a difference. And that is what the church should be more than anything else in this world. We should matter, we should have something, be able to offer something that makes a difference in people's lives. Unfortunately for many churches, they have become irrelevant. In other words, they have nothing to offer to today's world. They don't matter.
- I have heard it said, "Christians are a whole lot like maneur, you spread us around we do some good, pile us up and we just stink."
- And so instead of making a difference, instead of being relevant, and offering that which matters to people. Many times the church just sits around talking their own language, going through their own motions, pleasing themselves, doing what they are comfortable with. But, the church is not intended by God to just sit around in our nice little comfort zones. The church is intended by God to go into all the world, to make followers of Jesus Christ, to reach a dying world with a relevant message of hope and forgiveness.
- What the world needs is a relevant Church! What Ipava needs is a relevant church!
- That's why our purpose statement is what it is... "BCC exists to create a loving community, with the purpose of equipping and encouraging Christians to share God's RELEVANT message of hope and forgiveness to lost people."
- After all, the message we have for the world is relevant. The message has not changed for 2000 years. The message is perfect just the way it is. Our message of hope and forgiveness that is found only in Jesus Christ... that message can and does make a difference. God's message is relevant for all people. But, sometimes the way we deliver that message is not always relevant. And that is what we, as a church, must avoid.
- Listen to the way Charles Swindoll explains it in "The Bride"...
- That's our challenge, we must be willing to leave the familiar without disturbing the essentials. In fact, that's the very challenge that Paul lays out for us in I Corinthians 9:19-27.
- Well, let's back our way into this text. Paul finishes our passage by using a sports image, which is something I can resonate with, certainly. He says that all runners who run in a race, run with the intention of winning the prize. Now in Paul's day, a time when the Olympics were just beginning in Greece, they didn't have Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. In fact, there was no 2nd or 3rd place. You either won the prize or you didn't win the prize. And the prize for the winner of the race was a wreath that he wore on his head. And the boxing matches of Paul's day were much different than ours. They would ruthlessly beat each other with their knuckles which were bound with leather thongs. But, the beating, the pain, the strict training, was worth the prize received at the end.