Summary: The church is eager to get comfortable, and God is just as eager to stir us up to good deeds. Here in Antioch, this difference of opinion comes to a head.
Passage: Acts 13:1-3
Intro: Here is a definition of inertia
“An object in motion will remain in motion, and an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.”
1. we all know examples of inertia
Il) a teenager asleep. A man watching football while the house burns down
2. notice first part of the word… “inert”
3. there is no doubt that much of what we do has the ultimate goal of allowing us to rest from what we do.
4. one powerful theme of Acts is that God keeps poking the church!
-Gentiles getting saved, persecution
5. much of the church eager to get comfortable, God eager to stir them into action.
6. and here in chapter 13:1-3 is another example of that same theme.
7. we have an “entitlement” theology in America.
8. as believers, entitled to happiness, comfort, health, wealth, and then heaven at the end of it all.
9. heaven, yes. The rest? hmmm.
I. The Church in Antioch was Healthy and Effective.
1. we like to think that God only pokes a stick into those churches or people who are disobedient.
Il) this is what Job’s friends mistakenly thought about his suffering.
2. verse 1 is a picture of a healthy church, effective, obedient.
3. no surprise. Look at their pastoral team!
4. Barnabas and Saul had gone there to get it going.
PP Acts 11: 25-26
5. and they had done a great job!
6. God had used them to build up a cadre of prophets and teachers, Jews and Gentiles
7. the church was richly diverse, Cypriot, African, man from Cyrene, Saul of Tarsus
8. this church was rich!
9. and certainly they were having a great time, worshiping God, seeing lives transformed, being used by God.
10. maturity is all over this passage.
11. and while just growing bigger and better and more comfortable in their effectiveness might have satisfied this church, God had other plans.
Il) can I get personal? We came almost 20 years ago to plant a church. But my goal was always to gather a group to pastor, not to plant and plant and plant again.
12. not necessarily wrong, unless goal was to get comfortable and secure.
13. this passage shows that a healthy and effective church may need a kick in the comfort zone.
II. The Church is a Collection of Servants
1. a number of you have served in the military, or raised in military families.
2. one thing certain about the military is that you are going to move often.
3. the individuals don’t decide; the branch they serve decides
4. let’s join the staff meeting of First Church of Antioch.
5. minding their own business when the Holy Spirit interrupts with a message.
6. probably through one of the three prophets, but it is a quote.
7. “set apart for me”, a strong command
8. “I have called them”
9. the Greek perfect tense shows that the decision had already been made and was now just being revealed.
10. God is the Giver of tasks, He ordains who goes where and does what.
11. The Holy Spirit is not seeking approval here.
12. He is breaking up the staff of this effective and healthy and comfortable church on purpose!
13. He is changing location and focus of their ministry.
14. not disciplinary, just normal!
15. we are servants, not clients. We are under orders, not in charge.
16. this is what God has done throughout Acts.
Il) trying to be a Jewish sect, persecution breaks out, Stephen is stoned.
Il) comfortable with Jews only, God visits Peter on the rooftop and rocks his world.
17. plenty of inertia in every church, in every pastor.
18. don’t be surprised or resistant when God calls us to something new. He’s the boss.
III. Servants Must Be Released
1. verse 3 is poignant
2. the leaders fasted and prayed, probably to verify the command.
3. and then the confirmed the call and “sent them off.”
4. word is apelusan, which means to release, let go, send off.
5. many parents here know what that feels like at this time of the year.
Il) college, one young man on his way to Iraq, etc.
6. there is the implication of pain here, the pain of separation, of releasing a person into the plan and purpose of God.
Il) friend of mine, leaving his first church, said, “It is like tearing flesh.”
Il) “Blest be the Tie that Binds” written by a man who could not leave his little country church.
7. can you imagine the bittersweet sorrow of parents sending their children and grandchildren to the foreign mission field, perhaps into danger?
8. no doubt one of the main reasons for inertia is the hold family and friends have on each one of us, and it is a good hold!