Summary: We are not to be distinctive by our man made rules and traditions. We as the church are to be distinctive by the way we love.
Title: Community-Distinctive Church
CT: The church is to be distinct in how it loves.
FAS: In Hot Springs, Arkansas, you'll find the Morris Antique Mall. Nothing on the inside distinguishes this antique store from dozens like it in town. There's a musty smell and dusty relics from the past. A kind of place you might find Mike and Frank from “Pickers” in.
But if you look closely at the outside of the Morris Antique Mall, you'll see something that makes it distinct: before it was an antique store, it was a church building.
The problem was this church had lost its distinctiveness. It may have looked like a church on the outside, but on the inside it had lost its distinctiveness that made it a house that held the church. There are many reasons a church can die, but when we become so much like the world around us, we lose our distinctiveness and we will die.
LS: How can we as the church maintain our distinctiveness and remain a vibrant distinctive church?
I am in the third week of the sermon series “Community”. The purpose I have for this series is to look at what God would think of the church today and what it is doing? What would Jesus want us to do as a church?
What would Jesus think of our service? What would he notice? Would he see a church that is self-absorbed with their music and performance and preferences? Would he see a church that is inwardly focused and concerned only about itself? I pray He would not.
I pray He would see a church that is doing its best to follow his lead and reach out to others and encourage and build up each other in unity in Him and Him alone. I pray he would see a church that serves its community as it serves its Lord. This week we look at the Distinctive Church.
God has called His people to be distinctive since the beginning. Some churches attempt to do this by always trying to fight against what they are against. One such church that has appeared in the news over the last few years has done this by picketing military funerals by saying the deaths represent God’s punishment on our country for its acceptance of immorality. They carry signs that say things like God hates gays and you’re going to hell and worse.
Churches like this attack and force themselves on people in aggressive and forceful ways. While this certainly makes them distinctive, it goes against what the apostle Paul says we should be like in [screen 2] Colossians 4.5-6. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. [Screen 3] Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
There are things as a church we should oppose and speak out against. But the manner in which we take a stand and our choices in what to take a stand against should be decided with great wisdom and guidance from God and the Holy Spirit.
God does call us to be distinct from the culture of the world but when we seek distinctiveness we often do so with a triumphal sneer that turns people away who are the very ones God has called us to reach. Maybe our distinctiveness should be found not so much in what we oppose, but more about what we promote. What we are for. What could be better than promoting the gospel, the good news to those who are lost to the slavery of their sin?
God has called His people from the start. [Screen 4] Exodus 19. 6, Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
Out of all the nations God set apart His people as a holy community. They were not set apart by race, ethnicity or territory. They were set apart due to their allegiance to the one and only God. God sought believers who were devoted only to Him.
God still desires for the church today to be set apart by their identity in Jesus Christ. Our distinctiveness is to be based only on our allegiance with God’s Son Jesus Christ.
Does this mean we should be separate and never be near those who are not of the church?
Absolutely not. We serve God’s mission not by being distinct as far as location but by our ethics and morality. Jesus made it clear in Matthew 9.11-12 how he felt about this. [Screen 5]
11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” [Screen 6]