Summary: The church was designed to be an irresistible community. Yet people are not always drawn to it. How can we change that?
3. An Irresistible Community: 1 Corinthians
March 21, 2010
There was a mother with two young children. She wanted to raise her kids well by teaching them to serve and to help others so one night she called them both into the kitchen after diner. She said to them: I need one of you to help me by taking out the trash. She held out a trash bag as the two boys argued over which of them would have to take out the trash. Hoping her oldest son would take initiative you looked at him and said: “Now Johnny what would Jesus do.” Johnny stopped arguing and began to think for a moment. Then he nodded and took the bag from his mother. Turning to his younger brother Johnny stuffed the bag in his hands and said: “Here, you can be Jesus today.” Selflessness doesn’t come easy. Have you ever noticed you don’t have to teach your kids the word “Mine.” Neither do you have teach your kids how to lie you have to teach them how to tell the truth but not how to lie. We don’t have to be taught how to do the wrong thing, sometimes we do have to be taught how to do the right thing. So how do we learn to be selfless?
The church is a community designed by God to be radically inclusive. When the church is alive it is magnetic and should be irresistible. The community that we have is one that people naturally long for. The church is a community built with support, encouragement, friendship, dedication, service, and love. The world offers substitutes but when the church is alive; when the church does what was designed to do, nothing in the world can compare to the quality of community that we offer. I have seen us become that community from time to time. I have gone to see someone from the church who was the hospital only to find four or five other church families were already there with them. I have seen families in need get prayer, and encouragement, and support. I have seen people taking food to other families to help them through hardship times. I’ll say at least some of the time, we get this right. There is something about that kind of community that makes it irresistible. To know there are people who care for you, who love you, and who will be there if you ever need for anything is very appealing. What confuses me then is why so many people are not drawn to the church. If we have what they need both spiritually and personally why don’t more people come? It reminds me of a little poem: to dwell above with the saints we love oh it will be the glory, but to dwell below with the saints we know now that is a different story. Why is it we long for the community of heaven and yet sometimes we neglect the community of the church. Could it be that the church we have is not as irresistible as it should be?
Look at 1 Corinthians 8:1. An irresistible community is unified, mature, alive, loving, and perhaps one of the most important: selfless. I love Ozark Christian College’s mission statement: not to be served but to serve. This is the true heart of selflessness. There are many people who come to church excepting the church, its leaders, and the congregation there to serve their needs. The worship should be the way they want it. The people should all lay out the red carpet for their arrival. While hospitality and relevance are important it is the attitude that is the problem. When we come to church because with expectations of what will be done for us we come with a selfish attitude. Without selflessness you do not have a true intimate community. What you have a group of people who are using each other for their own personal gain. It is not a community it is a manipulative self seeking social club. A church full of people who come to see what they can get out of it is not irresistible at all. Church like Christianity is not only about what you get but also what you give up. In order for the church to become the irresistible community God created her to be we must learn what it means to be a selfless community. So how do we learn to be selfless?
1Co 8:1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 1Co 8:2 The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 1Co 8:3 But the man who loves God is known by God. 1Co 8:4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 1Co 8:5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 1Co 8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 1Co 8:7 But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 1Co 8:8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. 1Co 8:9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 1Co 8:10 For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 1Co 8:11 So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 1Co 8:12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 1Co 8:13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.