Summary: Confusion about the church exists in large measure today and is seen in the projected assignement of the church
Don’t be Confused – about the task
* Some years ago, I read a speedboat driver who had recently survived a racing accident. He said that he had been at near-top speeds when his boat veered slightly and hit a wave at a dangerous angle. The combined force of his speed and the size and angle of the wave sent the boat spinning crazily into the air. He was thrown from his seat and propelled deeply into the water – so deep, in fact, that he had no idea which direction the surface was. He had to remain calm and wait for the buoyancy of his life vest to begin pulling him up. Once he discovered which way was up, he could swim for the surface. Sometimes we find ourselves surrounded by confusing options, too deeply immersed in our problems to know “which way is up. When this happens, we lose our direction. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the workings of the church.
* In our last message we began our series entitled “Don’t be confused about the church” and dealt with the confusion the term, church. Our outline was;
1. Confusion about the ’term’ –
a. What it is not
b. What it is
c. What it will be
* The call is to be clear about what the church of the Lord Jesus Christ really is, be a part of it, and look forward to the return of Christ. We cannot look forward to that day if we have been less than faithful in this life. Some may wonder why I have sensed the need to give such a series of messages on this subject, so allow me to give you the reason. It is my conviction that without a complete rethinking, refocus, and redirection of the 21st century Americanized church, one by one – local congregations will close until the light of the gospel is all but gone in America. A sad truism about mankind is this; rarely do we make a change until we are convinced there is no other way! For the alcoholic, the drug addict, or the gambling addict, nothing changes until they hit bottom & realize they are hopeless. It is just like the person who is outside of Christ. As sinners, none of us admit we need Jesus until we see ourselves in light of Christ holiness, then we respond.
* So let’s not be confused about the term church & the task.
2. Confusion about the ’task’ – What exactly IS a task? It is a ‘job assignment.’ Truth among us; when it comes to the ‘church’, we don’t care to think in terms of ‘a task to or an assignment’. Rather we prefer to think in terms that are not so focused or required. Rather, we tend to think of or like to think of church as being easy going, hanging out, and little drive or something on that order. Modern day misunderstanding about what the church is breeds the same about what the church does. Watch how this works;
a) The skeptic’s concept – When I use the term ‘skeptic’, I am talking about those who have no knowledge of God, walk in darkness, and are only interested in believers and the church to the extent that they can manipulate the church.
* The people outside the church tend to think that the church is responsible to take care of those who REFUSE (not can’t) take care of themselves, make the world better, & provide safe environment for their kids. Here’s the insanity (this is not Bible, this is 35 years of observation and dealing with the skeptics); while we are supposed to do all of these things, we are NOT supposed to share our faith at all. This concept goes on and on and would be really funny, if it weren’t so sad. All of this being said, sometimes we have been our own worst enemy by refusing to do the ministry to those God puts in our path to assist. Many churches seem to have been so busy taking care of ‘self’ to the exclusion of those who are in real need. Because of these truths, large numbers of young people are leaving the church.
* Remember the skeptic is the one who is outside the church and yet, attempting to define what the church should be about.
b) The selfish concept – While the skeptic is outside the church & attempting to control the task of the church on the inside of the church we discover a selfish person who tries to do the same. Thinking about selfish people on the inside of the church forces us to consider if the Bible speaks about this. I suggest it does. My mind immediately goes to Acts 5 to a married couple named Ananias & Sapphire who wanted to direct & control the affection, attention, & accolades of the church toward themselves. What did they do? They lied thinking they were getting away with it. Selfishness will lead to lying and deception which ultimately leads to an attempt to control. How about the entire church in Corinth? They seem to be the first century edition of the 21st century church. They were selfish about many things. First, they were selfish about ‘who’ their leader would be or better stated, “WHO their ‘favorite’ leader would be?!?” Would it be Paul or Apollos or someone else? In Chapter 3 we hear the sarcasm & the stinging rebuke from Paul when, in essence, he says, “You acting like juveniles, what are we but MERE MEN who are given a specific role.” Get over yourselves. The selfish approach to the task of the church is also found in Chapter 5 with a 21st century approach of ‘live & let live’, or Chapter 6 of ‘You don’t like how someone treats you? Then take them to court.” Honestly, there may be occasions where legal action is necessary, but those are few and far between. Chapter 8, 10, 13, and 14 paint pictures of people ‘inside the fellowship’ causing problems because of their selfishness. Selfishness in the fellowship works like ‘yeast in the loaf.’ A little leaven affects the entire loaf.