Summary: Are we open or closed as a congregation? Is the work and worship about us only or do we include others?
1. St Catherine's Monastery
One of the oldest monasteries in the world is Saint Catherine's. Built by Emperor Justinian to protect the monks in the region, St. Catherine's sits at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt. The walls are made of granite and are between 8 and 35 meters tall.
Up until last century, there was only one way into the monastery: a tiny door more than thirty feet above the ground. People entered the monastery through a system of pulleys and ropes. The monastery itself contains ancient icons and many treasures. But up until recently, it was largely inaccessible to the outside world.
Our churches naturally drift toward becoming like St. Catherine's monastery: a fortified, doorless organization that focuses upon its own preservation rather than its specific mission.
Our hearts drift toward tribalism, the tendency to gather with people just like us and to reflect ourselves rather than the missionary heart of God. We're always putting up mirrors around the light of the gospel when we should be putting up windows.
2. Missional or Tribal
Tullian Tchividjian explains the difference between Outwardly Focused, missional and Inwardly Focused, tribal people:
"The highest value of a community with a tribal mindset is self-preservation. A tribal community exists solely for itself, and those within it keep asking, "How can we protect ourselves from those who are different from us?
"A tribal mindset is marked by an unbalanced patriotism. It typically elevates personal and cultural preferences to absolute principles: If everybody were more like us, this world would be a better place.
"But in a missional minded community, the highest value isn't self-preservation but self-sacrifice. A missional community exists not primarily for itself but for others. It's a community that's willing to be inconvenienced and discomforted, willing to expend itself for others on God's behalf." From, "Is Your Church a Kingdom Colony or a Country Club?" by Trevin Wax
3. There is a tendency toward SELF and Tribalism [Indian Wars; Gangs; People Groups; Political Parties; Sports Teams (Sooner Nation);
4. The Contrast -- Benefitting others -- US Aid in disasters and Liberty; Israel assisting Haiti, etc.
The reason? Biblical principle of OTHERS
Be Available to Outsiders -- 1 Peter 3.15-17
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
A. Answer When Requested
* "Why are you happy?"
* "Why Don't You Lie, cheat, steal. . . .?"
* "How do you have hope in a miserable world?
[Robin Williams' suicide -- he was without hope
2. The place of Words and Deed
a. Words without deeds = empty hypocrisy
b. Deeds without words = no explanation for what Jesus offers people
B. Answer with Reason (Remember -- Love God with heart/mind)
1. Rational arguments based on objective evidence
2. Consistent with the purpose of God's word -- Romans 1.16-17
C. Answer with Respect
1. With Humility
a. Temptation to arrogance:
* I am right -- you are wrong; join my holy club -- or else
* Leads to "So you think you are the only ones going to heaven. . ."
* [I read that several years ago a Christian group went to San Francisco for a mission outreach. While there, one member of the group decided to call the Church of Satan. He asked, "Tell me, do you and your little group think you are the only ones going to hell?" The Satanist hung up on him.
* Who is going to be saved? Those who do God's will -- Matthew 7.21
b. We are not better than others who are without Jesus.
* Followers have experienced salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2.8-10)
* Jesus is the GREAT ONE, not any of us
* Even the most godly falls short
2. With Fear
a. Not of the negative reactions of others
* Our job -- speak truth in love (Ephesians 4.15) -- word and deed
* Hearers are accountable to God (Ezekiel 33.7-9)
b. Not of persecutions -- some here have a tough road in your employment because your faith views are not appreciated today -- at times you will have to make a choice
Respect; Awe; reverence
3. With Clear Conscience
* Proper conduct
* Power of our actions
1. We can play "Tribal Games" or be "Missional"
Oklahoma Indian Tribes
2. A Comparison
[Jordan River -- Sea of Galilee -- Dead (Salt) Sea
3. An Irony -- Matthew 16.25
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.