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Summary: Commitment, Purpose, Unity, Giving

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The 3 C’s of a Healthy Church - Celebrate a Shared Vision

Acts 4:31-37 (p. 761) February 19, 2017

Introduction:

Every Sunday afternoon while I was growing up you’d find me and my brother Sammy glued to the TV watching Ohio Valley Wrestling.

And let me tell you…We got into it…cheering for our hero and booing the ones we loved to hate.

SHOW PICS AS NAMES ARE MENTIONED BELOW

When Randy “The Macho Man” Savage took the ring against ToJo Yamamoto or Jerry “the King” Lawler went against Rick Flair it was easy to tell who the good guy was and who the bad guy was. It was part of the fun.

Having your favorite come off the top rope with an atomic elbow to put the enemy down for the 3 count was awesome!

But sometimes, over time, the bad guy would become the good guy and vice versa…Sammy and I hated that…it’s hard to cheer for ToJo Yamamoto as a good guy after he’s clocked your hero with that wooden shoe.

Once you have a certain perception about someone…it’s hard to change that perception.

When I was growing up here in Lexington KY…in the Bible belt church was the norm…

On Sunday and Wednesday nights we went to church…Most of my neighbors and friends went to church or Mass. We grew up learning the common Bible Stories. Church was part of our everyday life…We knew what it was to be saved…to be “washed in the blood,” to go to a revival…Church was the good guy.

But now we live in a culture where most people don’t attend church anymore. The North American Mission Board did an assessment of churches in the South and said, “Most churches are not growing here. Statistics show that like most regions, most people don’t attend church regularly here.”

As they talked to a multitude of people and asked, “Why don’t you attend church?” They were told church was “boring,” “hypocritical,” “stuffy,” “irrelevant,” “out of touch,” “all about the money,” “a big show” and many other unflattering things. (Be Mean About the Vision by Shawn Lovejoy p. 13-14)

So why has the perception of the church changed? Why do most unbelievers and those who didn’t grow up in it, and many who did, want nothing to do with it? As our nation becomes more and more unchurched is there anything we can do? Why do they believe the church is now the “bad guy?”

I. IT’S TIME FOR THE CHURCH TO WRESTLE WITH GOD

If you’re familiar with the Old Testament at all you know God’s chosen nation, Israel, was named after a man.

He was a twin…the 2nd out of the womb. His brother was named “Esau,” which means Red and Hairy. (Lousy name huh?) He was given the name Jacob which means “deceiver.” (Even lousier right?)

And for the 1st part of his life Jacob wised up to his name…He spent the first half of his life deceiving, manipulating and using people to succeed…He even stole his brother’s birthright in Genesis 25.

But one night, that all changed. In Genesis 32 God came off the top rope…Jacob found himself in a wrestling match with God (some say it was a messenger from God…you decide). He wrestled all night and scripture records that Jacob wouldn’t let go of God until He blessed him.

Please understand this blessing isn’t “Gesundheit” (German for “Good Health”). Blessings in Hebrew culture are “a plan for the rest of your life.” Jacob is asking God to provide a vision for his future. And God did bless him. “Everything great that happened in Jacob’s life started with a holy wrestling match with God over the vision for his life.”

As Shawn Lovejoy says,

When the wrestling match was over, Jacob’s life was forever marked by this event. From that point onward he walked with a limp as a reminder of that night. God also renamed Jacob, which means “deceiver,” to Israel, which means “he has striven with God.” Because of his willingness to wrestle with God over the vision for his life and family, Israel became God’s chosen people! Jacob simply would not let go of God until God blessed him with a clear vision, purpose, and the power to carry it out.

From “the deceiver” to “the one who has wrestled with God,” it changed the direction and purpose of Jacob’s life. Wrestling with God will leave you walking with a limp…but you’ll be headed in the right direction.

The Church needs leaders that have wrestled with God, who walk with a limp in the right direction.

The limp is a reminder…it keeps us humble…and it lets us go slow enough that people can follow.

The Early Church was led by people who had a limp…each one knew it was the power of the Holy Spirit that enabled them…each one knew it was Jesus’ resurrection and God’s grace that was powerfully at work in them all.

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