Summary: As a community of believers, the local congregation is in partnership with God for HIS agenda in saving the world.
1. Efficiency Expert
An efficiency expert concluded a lecture with a note of caution: "You don't want to try these techniques at home."
"Why not?" asked someone from the back of the audience.
"I watched my wife's routine at breakfast for years," the expert explained. "She made lots of trips to the refrigerator, stove, table, and cabinets, often carrying just a single item at a time. 'Honey,' I suggested, 'Why don't you try carrying several things at once?'"
The person in the audience asked, "Did it save time?"
The expert replied, "Actually, yes. It used to take her 20 minutes to get breakfast ready. Now I do it in seven." (Aaron Goerner, Utica, New York, Joke of the Day, www.Preaching Today.com)
Criticism seldom, if ever, works. Even in our sincere efforts to help people, they don't always appreciate it, and it tends to tear people down more than it builds them up.
Even so, it's a terrible tendency especially for those of us who have followed Christ for a while. We've learned so much over the years, and if we're not careful we find ourselves becoming critical of those who are less experienced or who just don't do it the way we have done it for years. Worst of all, we can become crabby, old cranks that nobody can please.
2. Mark 9.38ff
3. Principles of Partnership for our Community of Faith
I. We Practice Cooperation Not Competition (9.38-40)
Among These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):
1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don't hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
7. Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.
11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
A. The Followers of Jesus Have the Same Goal --
1. To Advance the Kingdom of God (Code for Jesus' Movement)
2. Salt and Light -- impact and change the world
B. The Followers of Jesus Have the Same God (not selves)
1. Disciples' Jealousy Issues -- Greatest? Exorcist Issue (an advance of Kingdom)?
2. Competition in Corinth -- Apollos; Peter; Paul; Christ -- 1 Corinthians 3.5-9
5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.
II. We Practice Conviction Not Convenience (9.42-48)
Eric Liddell was the Olympic hero in the 1924 games who refused to run in heats because they were held on Sunday. He lost the chance to win the gold in two events but went on to win the 400. Arms thrashing, head bobbing and tilted, legs dancing, Liddell ran to victory, five meters ahead of the silver medalist. "The Flying Scotsman" had a gold medal and a world record, 47.6 seconds. Most of all, Eric Liddell had kept his commitment to his convictions of faith.
The next year, Liddell returned to China, where he had been born to missionary parents, as a teacher and missionary. In 1932, he was ordained as a minister and married in 1933. He ministered to the Chinese, braving constant fighting between Chinese warlords and Japanese in their conquest of China. His decision to share Christ in isolated communities, forcing him to leave his wife and children behind, was the result of insistent prayer. "Complete surrender" was his description of this attitude.
He died in a Japanese internment camp in 1945. His last words to a camp nurse were, "It's complete surrender."
A. Following Jesus is Personally Challenging (not for faint of heart)
1. It Takes a Disciplined Life -- deny self, cross, follow
2. It Takes a Deliberate Effort -- Eye; Hand; Foot -- not literal, deliberate -- remove whatever blocks us from God
3. It Takes a Decided Focus -- On God, not self
a. Not Just a Feel-Better Faith with warm, fuzziness
b. It is a DO BETTER Faith with God at the center
c. BTW, a serendipity -- when we do better, we feel better
B. Following Jesus is Potentially Comprehensive (influences others)
1. Correct Influence
2. Warning about wrong influences (9.42)
III. We Crave Courage Rather Than Cowardice (9.49)
At a zoo, a man watched as an attendant entered a wildcat cage through a door on the opposite side. He had nothing in his hands but a broom. Carefully closing the door, he proceeded to sweep the floor of the cage. The onlooker observed that the worker had no weapon to ward off an attack by the beast. In fact, when he got to the corner of the cage where the wildcat was lying, he poked the animal with the broom. The wildcat hissed at him and then lay down in another corner of the enclosure.