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Summary: A call to the modern church to return to its passion for the one who gave His life, His all for our sins, our future, our hopes, our everything that is right, good and holy exist in Him. Why then is the church pursuing a love relationship with the world!

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Introduction: Jesus said ...“I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The Jesus way wedded to the Jesus truth brings about the Jesus life. We can’t proclaim the Jesus truth but then do it any old way we like. Nor can we follow the Jesus way without speaking the Jesus truth.

But Jesus as the truth gets far more attention than Jesus as the way. Jesus as the way is the most frequently evaded metaphor among the Christians with whom I have worked for fifty years as a North American pastor. In the text that Jesus sets before us so clearly and definitively, way comes first. We cannot skip the way of Jesus in our hurry to get to the truth of Jesus as he is worshiped and proclaimed. The way of Jesus is the way that we practice and come to understand the truth of Jesus ... living Jesus in our homes and workplaces, with our friends and family.

I. Jesus and the local church -

A. A Christian congregation, the church in your neighborhood, has always been the primary location for getting this way and

truth and life of Jesus believed and embodied in the places and among the people with whom we most have to do day in and

day out.

B. There is more to the church than this local congregation.

1. There is the church continuous through the centuries, our fathers and mothers who continue to influence and teach us.

2. There is the church spread throughout the world, communities that we are in touch with through prayer and suffering and

mission.

3. There is the church invisible, dimensions and instances of the Spirit’s work that we know nothing about.

4. There is the church triumphant, that “great cloud of witnesses” who continue to surround us (Heb. 12:1).

C. But the local congregation is the place where we get all of this integrated and practiced in the immediate circumstances and

among the men, women, and children we live with.

1. This is where it becomes meaningful and personal.

2. The local church is the place and community for listening to and obeying Christ’s commands, for inviting people to

consider and respond to Jesus’ invitation, “Follow me,” a place and community for worshipping God.

3. It is the place and community where we are baptized into a Trinitarian identity and go on to mature “to the measure of the

full stature of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), where we can be taught the Scriptures and learn to discern the ways that we follow

Jesus, the Way.

II. How Jesus works through the local church to produce the way, truth and life of Jesus in believers

A. The local congregation is the primary place for dealing with the particulars and people we live with.

1. As created and sustained by the Holy Spirit, it is insistently local and personal.

2. Unfortunately, the more popular American church strategies in respect to congregation are not friendly to the local and

the personal.

B. The commercialized American Church

1. The American way with its penchant for catchy slogans and stirring visions denigrates the local, and its programmatic

ways of dealing with people and erodes the personal, replacing intimacies with functions.

2. The North American church at present is conspicuous for replacing the Jesus way with the American Way.

III. What is the Committed Christian to do when faced with dazzling array of opportunity parading the glitz and glare of the American

church

A. For Christians who are serious about following Jesus by understanding and pursuing the ways that Jesus is the Way, this

deconstruction of the Christian congregation is particularly distressing and a looming distraction from the Way of Jesus.

B. A Christian congregation is a company of praying men and women who gather, usually on Sundays, for worship, who then go

into the world as salt and light. God’s Holy Spirit calls and forms this people.

1. God means to do something with us, and he means to do it in community. We are in on what God is doing, and we are in

on it together.

2. And here is how we are in on it: we become present to what God intends to do with and for us through worship, become

present to the God who is present to us.

C. The operating biblical metaphor regarding worship is sacrifice — we bring ourselves to the altar and let God do with us what

he will.

1. We bring ourselves to the eucharistic table and enter into that grand fourfold shape of the liturgy that shapes us: taking,

blessing, breaking, giving — the life of Jesus taken and blessed, broken and distributed.

2. That eucharistic life now shapes our lives as we give ourselves, Christ in us, to be taken, blessed, broken, and

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