Summary: This is the second of a 4 part series comparing the early church of Acts 1-5 to today. This message looks at the idea of making Christ the center of our lives and the things that keep us from it.
Pt 2 ¡V The Centrality of Christ
Tell me this morning ¡V do these passages describe the church of the 21st Century?
Is it ok that we don¡¦t look like the early church? Is that alright with you?
I confess as I did last week that I grow frustrated with Christianity that is less than what God has called us to be. I have come to the conclusion that it¡¦s not alright with me. Now understand that I can¡¦t control what you do ¡V or how you respond ¡V I¡¦m talking about me now ¡V I was at this alter for me last week ¡V I am not satisfied to remain where I am and I am determined to press on to be all that God has created me to be.
Last week we began be talking about falling in Love with Christ ¡V not being in love with the idea of Christ. If you want a copy of the message last week to catch up just let us know in the office and we will get you one.
This morning I want to talk about another aspect of the early church that was essential to their being who they were.
For these early Christians ¡V Christ was the center of their world.
There was a powerful time in Christianity in this community ¡V a time when Christ and Faith were at the center of the lives of His people. During this time ¡V churches overflowed, camp meeting started in the spring and they met every night until it was too cold to keep meeting outside. That is the founding of this church ¡V a group of people so centered on Christ that they couldn¡¦t stop meeting together so they moved indoors and the room wasn¡¦t big enough, so they built a church and the church wasn¡¦t big enough but soon the fire died and the church had plenty of room.
Understand something clearly with me today ¡V I am not laying this at the feet of this church or us alone. Look at this early church ¡V it happened to them too. The church at Corinth ¡V got worldly, the church at Ephesus love grew cold, the church at Galatia got religion, the church at Pergamum accepted false teachers, the church at Sardis died spiritually, the church at Laodicea was lukewarm and tepid. That¡¦s the problem what starts as a fire becomes the smoldering embers of religion. But why ¡V partly because our love grows cold from lack of relationship building, and partly because we become distracted and divided in our hearts. Three ideas that divide our heart.
ƒß Competition ¡V There are too many things competing for the center of our hearts. A W Tozer talks about the world of today. ¡§Practically everyone has too much, knows too much, see too much, hears too much, goes too many places and comes back from too many places.¡¨ His point is that life has a center and a perimeter ¡V the center of the soul is Christ ¡V but that¡¦s not where we live. We live on the outer edges with life spinning wildly out of control. Have you ever played crack the whip as a child. The person in the center simply needs to turn around but the further out you go you are out of control. Folks that¡¦s what the church looks like today ¡V families, husbands, wives, children ¡V out of control because Christ is not the center. He is competing with your TV, your leisure time, your ¡§family time¡¨, your books, your laziness ¡V on and on and on. Christ is not only not the center of our lives he is not even close.
ƒß Compromise ¡V Paul said to young Timothy ¡§For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,¡¨ Too the church at Laodicea God sends a message in Revelation 3 ¡§¡¥I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ¡¥So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.¡¨ Compromise with sin, compromise with holiness, compromise with commitment and the heart grows cold, the witness non-existent, and like Laodicea we will be described by Christ as wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Compromise with Christ ¡V and He says He will spew us out of His mouth.
ƒß Conceit ¡V Conceit is the heart of self. It is the heart of the nature that we are born with. Conceit teaches us that we are the be all end all of the world. The church and life revolve around me and what I want. Conceit is the ¡§I¡¨ of the church. Churches today are crippled by ¡§I¡¨ thinking. I think, I want, I like, I don¡¦t like, I deserve, I have a right, I , I , I. Church division, Church splits, Church apathy, and Church ineffectiveness can be laid at the feet of ¡§I¡¨ thinking. You see it¡¦s really not important what I think, what I like or what I want ¡V what is important is what God thinks, what God likes, and what God wants. We have too often turned the church into our private playground instead of using it as a gathering place to discern the will of God.