Summary: What is the difference between a living church and a dead church? This message examines a person’s commitment to church.
SOWING AND REAPING
INTRO: C. S. Lewis’, “The Great Divorce,” is a fantasy on heaven and hell. In this fantasy, a chilling discovery is made. A thriving congregation exists in hell. The church is busy. It makes the same sounds and goes through the same motions as if it were spiritually healthy. The church has all the right programs and organizations, but it is not of God. It is spiritually dead.
What is the difference between a living church and a dead church? The living church is empowered by the Holy Spirit, has a vision of hope based on Christ, and is willing to share that hope with a needy world. The concept of our text in Galatians 6:7 can be applied to the church in a positive way.
I. GOD SEES WHAT YOU SOW.
God sees every opportunity before you. He is aware of the way you have responded to His call to go into the world. He has heard your excuses and seen your vision of the opportunities in your midst. Is it possible you have limited your harvest by sowing the gospel among the converted and their families? God has seen generic baptisms in all of our churches. He has seen us re-baptize those of our fellowship who have struggled with unbearable doubt. He sees our comfort within the confines of our normal church walls. But could God be expecting us to sow more for the harvest of His kingdom from where we are now?
Maybe we have been deceiving ourselves and mocking God with our weak vision. We quickly stereotype people and consider them unreachable because we are unwilling to invest the time to find God’s way to bring these people into His kingdom. God sees our fears which give birth to our rationalizations. He observes our resistance to change. He examines the purposes of our hearts. God sees what we sow.
II. YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU SOW.
The Scripture gives each person credit for doing his own sowing. You choose what you will sow and where you will sow it. You can take the Sunday School time and sow common sense in your cultural conversation or you can sow spiritual nourishment for hungry hearts. Every church has hurting people. Sometimes it is easier to hide behind the facade of gossip than to share burdens and apply the gospel to needs. However, God gives each person the choice of choosing what he or she will sow.
Perhaps the greatest challenge is to choose where to sow. Is it possible that a great place to reach people with the gospel may be a Bible class at the service station where the men gather to gossip? Could the bar at the country club give you a place for an Outreach Bible Study? How about a Bible class in the park on Sunday afternoon? Could you teach a class in a nursing home? Is it possible that you have chosen to sow the gospel in places where you feel comfortable, with people you know, rather than in places where the unsaved person feels comfortable with those he knows?
You can make a choice of what you will sow and where you will sow it. That choice need not be a choice based on how you have always done things. The choice must be born of prayer and nourished in Bible study. The choice should be a choice that requires the power of God working through you for success.
Are you willing to allow God to give you a vision for reaching the unreachable of your community, winning the unacceptable of your city, and starting the unbelievable that you may share hope in your corner of God’s world? You choose what you sow. What are you really willing to sow?
III. YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.
Paul reminded the Corinthians, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6, NIV). If you sow a commitment to a closed church you will reap a closed church. If you sow a commitment to pushing yourself to new challenges, you will reap the reward of new growth. You are the product of what was sown in your life earlier. You may like that product or you may not. However, as you sow the seeds of commitment today, you will determine what you will be tomorrow.
Now is the time to make a commitment to sowing seeds of hope in Christ in your church community. Ask God to open your eyes to the needs of people around you. Ask God to give you courage to override your comfort and the heart to invest your life in reaching new people for Christ. Ask God to help you discover other people who will share your vision to start a new Bible study class with a challenging group.