Summary: A sermon on the need to reach the community outside the church (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, Rediscovering Community, chapter 8 Mission Focused)
The Blues Brothers were on "a mission from God" to save from foreclosure the Catholic orphanage in which they grew up. Like the Blues Brothers, we need to believe and know that we are on a mission from God. In recent years there has been a renewed emphasis on the missional nature and calling of the church in the world.
Distractions to our mission
1. The busyness of life and ministry threaten to divert our attention from our main mission. Much of our business should be focused on the mission.
2. An inward focus threatens to sidetrack Christ’s mission. Talked about this morning
3. Our fears of the outside world threaten to derail our mission. Because of a discomfort for dealing with non-Christians, and a fear of falling into temptation, some Christians view the church as a safe harbor from the world more so than as a mission to the world.
It is well established that when a person becomes a Christian, especially when they are adults, they have many opportunities for reaching their friends and family for Christ. They have many contacts with non Christians and therefore many opportunities to share the gospel. They have changed and their close friends and family want to know the reason for the changes. In Vinton, Virginia had several who were baptized and out of those many were adults. I encouraged these new Christians to reach their close friends and family for Christ. However, ran into a problem, some of them went back to their old sins and ways. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” Galatians 6:1, NIV.
This is something to be on the lookout against, but as we grow in the faith and become more grounded in the faith, we are better equipped to deal with these temptations. Here is the sad part, the more equipped Christians, the more grounded Christians, generally are not involved in reaching their community for Christ even though they have the tools and the knowledge to be effective with the lost. It is well established that within a couple of years after an adult becomes a Christian, the contacts they have with non Christians are little or no more. The new Christians who are the least equipped are on the front lines of evangelism while the more experienced Christians who are the most equipped to reach their culture are in the holy huddle and do not want any contacts with non Christians.
Preacher, we don’t want to be around those non Christians because they curse and carouse and are corrupt. If we don’t notice this something is wrong. “They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.” 1 Peter 4:4, NIV. We don’t want to be around them because they are no longer our kind of people.
But with this mindset we are not building bridges, we are building walls. While the church does provide mutual encouragement and support, we must use the church as a harbor from the world only temporarily to regain strength to continue the mission of Christ. A church in which Christians focus exclusively on one another will rarely reach a dying world for Christ.
For some Christians they are scared of messing up or they are just scared of non Christians. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7, NIV.
Confident of ourselves through the HS, we can break the holy huddle and pursue the adventurous mission of Christ, the mission of advancing His kingdom.
Thesis: Let’s go back to Jesus to deal with these issues
How Jesus dealt with different people
When Jesus met people who claimed to follow God but lived hypocritically, He confronted them ruthlessly. At the temple..., Jesus toppled their tables and ran them off with a whip. He spared no words with the Pharisees, calling them blind guides and fools, and comparing them with whitewashed tombs and a brood of vipers in Matthew 23.
When Jesus met with sinful people who did not claim to follow God, he was quite different. He treated them compassionately. The Pharisees and teachers brought a woman before Jesus who had committed adultery. Though the law called for her stoning, Jesus showed her tenderness and grace in John 11. When Jesus saw Zacchaeus- a notorious tax collector- He share a meal with Zacchaeus, a sign of acceptance and fellowship.
Jesus bluntly confronted those who claimed to follow God but lived hypocritically; He showed compassion to sinful people who did not yet claim to follow God. We often do the opposite. With fellow Christians we shy from accountability, and in essence condone hypocrisy. With people outside of the church, we snub our noses and furrow our brows. With an air of self righteousness we give them cold stares, cold shoulders, and hateful internet postings. Too often, we treat harshly those whom Jesus treated compassionately, and treat passively those whom Jesus confronted harshly.