Summary: The church is looking more like a country club with every year, this is a call back to service instead of being served. We are not on a religious vacation, but a spiritual journey.
COUNTRY CLUB TO CHURCH: THE MEMBERSHIP
THEME: OVERCOMING A ME ATTITUDE FOR A CHRIST ATTITUDE
TEXT: PHIL. 3:1-11
Feeling the hot sun upon me is heavenly. Walking to the pier to eat an ice-cream cone is one of the simple pleasures. Reading a great book as I hear the consistent waves in the background is relaxing. No timetable, no appointments, no duties, no work, and having someone ask me what I want, what I need, and how can they please me, this is what vacations are all about. I love the family vacation to kure beach every year. It is a small little area, no buildings over three stories high, no driving in a car, just bike riding, with no place to be. Someone cleans the room, someone fixes the supper, and someone else has to work. This is why we take vacations. Vacations are all about me, me, and me.
Vacations are part of the country club mindset in the church. The vacation is a wonderful parallel into the mindset of some Christian people. The mindset of me, me, me, and a little more me is overwhelming in the church today. The church moved from being a first century movement, to a powerful organization in the middle ages, to a consumer mindset in this present world. The church moved from being concerned with the lost to being concerned with the insiders of the church. The church moved from concern for the lost to concern for those who were inside the church. It dealt with the needs of the clergy, the members, and the leaders more than those who needed to hear the gospel. Now the church seems to be on permanent vacation. The church moved from being evangelistic to meeting all the needs in the pew. It seems that everyone changed from evangelism to vacation with the me, me, mindset.
Paul certainly felt like he deserved a vacation. He earned one. He was a important man in the Pharisees, he was a Jew with great talents. He would rule the Jews one day, if he did not stop his vacation for the service to Christ. These are Paul’s words in Philippians 3:1-6 “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.”
The problem in the first century was that there were some Jewish teachers. These were some false teachers that were trying to enslave the new Christians into maintaining the Jewish cultural practices. These individual was exulting themselves, were bragging on their accomplishments. These false teachers were demanding a voice because of their past. It was the classic country club problem. Look at all we have done, look at how important we are, everyone needs to do what we say. We are the most important, the most powerful, and most accomplished people around here. The people were demanding everyone follow their preferences, follow their wishes, their ideas. It was like they were on a religious vacation, where everyone is commissioned to serve them. It was all about what they wanted, not what was best for the Gospel, not what was right in God’s eyes. It was all about them, just like a vacation. So Paul gives them a little dose of reality. He says if you want to list accomplishes, if you want to compare pedigree, find, here we go. He lists his background in the Jewish religion. He lists all his accomplishes. He brags on himself to shame the false teachers who were exalting themselves. Paul does not want to hear about all their accomplishments and how great they are. Paul has a different mindset.
But this mindset of listing your accomplishments in the church still happens today. A congregation that I am familiar with is going through some conflict and difficult times. The congregation recently built a new building, but there are some changes taking place in the congregation. Nothing serious, but whatever there is change there is conflict. It is the nature result of change. But instead of these member trying to do what is best for the church, instead of believing that the church is of Christ and it is not of themselves, they went to the eldership to protest the changes. This was find, but the members came to exert their power over the eldership. The members begun to list all the work they do in the church, they list all the work they did in the past. And for the final nail, they indicted all the money they give to the church. And they made the treat of withholding their contribution until the elders stopped this changing. The members were trying to control the church through money. We are givers, we are important, this church is here to serve us, do what we say or you will not get our money. This is the classic country club mindset. We pay the bills, we have the membership, we have the power, do what we say. It was the way to try to control the church through manipulation and money. These people did not have the attitude of Christ, for they tried to be great among them. Jesus said in Matthew 20:20-28 “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Him with her sons, bowing down, and making a request of Him. And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said^ to Him, "Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left." But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able." He said^ to them, "My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father." And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself, and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. "It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." In the church we are not fighting for power, or control. We are striving to be the biggest servants in the church. We are working on being the biggest servers that we can. It is not about what I want, what I need, it is what is best for the congregation, how can I serve this congregation. It is the mindset to be used by Christ for his church. It is Christ’s church; my job is to serve it.