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Summary: What if Jesus showed up where we live?

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Making Church More Interesting

Mark 1:21-28

(LA Times Article: "Religion abounds at YMCA)

Many people today are not dinging church interesting or relevant. That’s strange, because when Jesus lived on earth, the most common reaction was amazement. Sometimes people were upset or angry, and sometimes thrilled or left in awe. But Jesus was never dull!

(Read Mark 1:21-28) What if Jesus came to Wendell? What if he came to our church? What kind of reaction would he get?

WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE CHURCH MORE INTERESTING?

1. Recognize the reality of evil

There was a man in that synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit! Presumably, no one had ever recognized how much evil was in him.

Go down the rows of a typical church--Are there people who are possessed by an evil spirit? (I believe people can be possessed by evil to such a degree.) But evil takes many forms:

In a typical church, there are marriages that are in trouble. There are addictions of many sorts. There are people who lie, who are dishonest, who are struggling with lust, who manipulate or use others. There is bitterness, greed, insecurity, materialistic values, covetousness, and pride. There are people who are experiencing spiritual emptiness, and trying to fill the void by things that cannot satisfy.

If Jesus came to our church, would we all stand up and publicly spill our guts? That would be interesting! (but maybe not helpful!) On thing is sure: We would have plenty in our lives to talk to Jesus about! (Good part of Jesus not being here in the flesh, in in Spirit, is that we don’t have to line up to talk with him. We can have a personal conversation in prayer.)

What did Jesus talk about that day? (verse 22) What made him different from other teachers? He confronted the reality of people’s lives: the spiritual struggle between good and evil. So much so that an evil spirit felt threatened--but the people were "amazed."

Churches that are relevant to people recognize the reality of personal spiritual struggles. Their messages talk about how the Bible applies to their personal lives. And people in those churches truly want to hear that kind of message and apply it. the atmosphere is honest and real, accepting of weakness, but hating evil. The focus in on spiritual battles: personally, in the body of Christ, and in the world.

A church like that is not boring or irrelevant. It may be challenging and sometimes uncomfortable. It may be a place where even the most troubled find healing and hope.

What can we do to make church more interesting?

2. Submit to the authority of Jesus (verse 22)

When you read your Bible or come to church, what do you have riding on the outcome? Sometimes people say, "Let’s make the game more interesting--let’s bet something on the outcome." (I’m not advocating gambling!) What if your life was on the line every Sunday? Or every morning when you open your Bible? If your study of the Bible convinces you that something needs to change in your life, are you committed to making that change? Make an advance decision: "If Jesus (not just the pastor--the Word and the Spirit!) tells me to make a change in my life, I will obey and do. That would make Bible study interesting, wouldn’t it?

(read verse 22) Why submit to the authority of Jesus?

He is the Son of God (See 1:1, 11)

He brings the kingdom of God (right, health,

freedom, love, hope)

He offers eternal life (for now and eternity)

He has real answers (Read John 6:66-69)

If Jesus came to our church, many of us would immediately recognize his authority and obey. It’s not different when we open our Bibles, and God speaks through his Word and his Spirit. We should immediately say, "OK, Lord." When we know that our lives are on the line like that when we come to church, church is never boring!

What can we do to make church more interesting?

3. Expect something to happen (verses 25-28)

How long were they talking about that?!!!

When Jesus came, things happened all the time: evil spirits were cast out, people were healed, lives were changed.

Waht can we expect to happen in church? (not just on Sunday morning) Some churches try to make quite a show: healing, testimonies, emotion. Some of us may be skeptical (maybe with reason). But in pretty short time, you can tell whether anything is happening in a church fellowship: whether people are finding answers to their problems, responding to the Word and the Spirit, experiencing real change. You can sense whether the atmosphere is healthy, positive, conducive to growth. When Jesus came, those kinds of things happened--and they can still happen today. Some churches expect those things to happen, and some don’t.

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