Summary: A great commission sermon casting a vision of discipleship: go, baptize, and teach.
Becoming A Greenhouse pt. 1: Go and Do What?
Jan. 11/12, 2003
Frog and Toad: “The Garden” by Arnold Lobel.
I want to spend the rest of January talking about what it means for our church to become a greenhouse.
Our church vision is encapsulated by three pictures:
1. Becoming a hospital – which is a vision of evangelism. The idea of a hospital is of a place of healing, and the central idea of evangelism is that of healing the relationship between God and people – winning people to Jesus Christ so that they can become whole, restored, and full of the love of God and confident of an eternity where we will all know complete healing. This first part of the vision is that of our church being a hospital for a hurting world – a place where people who do not know Jesus can find wholeness. It’s a vision of evangelism.
2. The third part, which we’ll talk about in February, is the picture of the church as a festival – which is a vision of worship. Of being focused on God – on who He is and all that He has done, and responding accordingly by worshiping Him fully – celebrating together.
3. The second part is what I want to talk about today, and for the next couple of weeks. It is the picture of the church as a greenhouse.
Back to Frog and Toad:
The church as a greenhouse is a vision of discipleship. It is a vision of growing together as Christians, of nurturing one another towards maturity, of caring for one another and loving one another in the same way that God has loved us. It is a vision of us becoming like Christ.
And that is why I wanted to share “Frog and Toad” with you. I think we are a lot like Toad:
o We are impatient, expecting growth to come quickly, instantly even. After all, we live in an instant society, where we get impatient if our “fast food” takes more than 30 seconds, where we expect to visit the doctor and get a pill to fix whatever is wrong with us (ask the physiotherapists how much people like having to work to see improvement in their condition), where we can now even buy pre-cooked bacon that only needs a few seconds in the microwave. Apparently, when comedian Yakov Smirnoff first came to the United States from Russia, he wasn’t prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, "On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk--you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice--you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to my self, what a country!" Now, I’m not complaining about those things or wishing we didn’t have them, but they do create in me (and I’m guessing you also) an expectation for instant results. “I prayed about it, I expect an answer. Now, please!”
Spiritual growth, even growth in the natural world, is not instant. It takes time, it takes discipline, it takes effort, and it takes patience. As we build a greenhouse together, we have to commit for the long-haul. We have to measure success in growing to spiritual maturity over a long period of time – most likely in years. We must be diligent, patient, and we must tenderly care for each individual person – each of us – in a way that nurtures us to maturity.
o Like Frog and Toad, we sometimes come to wrong conclusions about why growth isn’t happening. And the result is that the things we try don’t end up having direct impact on the end result. They may be a lot of work, they may tire us out, but are they meeting the needs for growth and nurture? We must regularly ask that question, and seek answers together.
o What I really like about Frog and Toad is that they illustrate 1 Cor 3:4-9 (NLT):
When one of you says, "I am a follower of Paul," and another says, "I prefer Apollos," aren’t you acting like those who are not Christians?
Who is Apollos, and who is Paul, that we should be the cause of such quarrels? Why, we’re only servants. Through us God caused you to believe. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God, not we, who made it grow. The ones who do the planting or watering aren’t important, but God is important because he is the one who makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work as a team with the same purpose. Yet they will be rewarded individually, according to their own hard work. We work together as partners who belong to God. You are God’s field, God’s building--not ours.