Summary: Since individuals are the church at its most basic level; how are we supposed to live?
The Molecular Church
In 1665, the English physicist Robert Hooke looked at a sliver of cork through a microscope lens and noticed it was made up of individual parts. He realized that cork was made up of smaller sections he called cells because they looked like the cells that monks lived in. That finding started a flurry of scientific study that led to some of the most important discoveries about life ever made. This month we’re celebrating Wesley’s 35th anniversary. We’re going to look to the past and see where we’ve been and celebrate what’s happened. But more importantly we’re going to look to the future to try and see where we are going. Pastor John is going to help us envision where God is taking us as a church…how is it that God wants us to live out His values in the world? How can we become the kind of church that we read about in Acts chapter 2? That’s Pastor John’s assignment for this month…to help us move toward that vision.
As a former science teacher, I always want to know what makes things work, so as I began thinking about this month of looking at the church, and God’s vision for this local body, I wanted to take a more “molecular” look at the church. Like Robert Hooke with his cork and microscope, I wanted to get down to the nitty-gritty and examine the church at its most basic level. So I want to pose this question to you today…What is the church made of? That’s right; the church is made of people. All of us different, unique individuals with different, unique gifts and talents, and I must say, different and unique quirks and idiosyncrasies. Together we are called to become one body, with each part fulfilling its purpose. But how do we do that?
How do we, as individuals, join together to become a church with a compelling vision?...a church that is reaching our community with the love of Jesus?...a church that looks like the Acts 2 church?
I believe it starts with each of us developing a passion for the vision of the church, and developing a personal vision for our lives that drives us to become who we ought to be for the sake of Jesus and his church. There are some great passages in the Bible that talk about who we are to become and what we are to do.
Paul says in Romans 8:29 (NLT)
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters.
We’re supposed to become like Jesus. It’s easy enough to say become like Jesus, but what does that really mean? What was Jesus like?
In Hebrews 4:15 (NIV) we read
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.
Jesus was without sin, so our challenge is also to be without sin. We’re supposed to be without sin.
In the words of Jesus himself from Matthew 5:48 (NLT)
But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
That’s a pretty tall order. Be perfect. I don’t much care for the way that sounds. That scares me because I know I fall short all of the time. Jesus challenges us to be perfect, but Paul writes in
Galatians 3:3 (NLT)
Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?
Jesus tells us to be perfect and we see here that we can’t become perfect by our own effort, it’s only through the Spirit we can become perfect. I bring this up because I got a little hung up on the word “perfect” during my preparations. I almost took the reference to Matthew 5:48 out because it was so intimidating to me. I need to be perfect? But then I found an explanation of “perfection” that I think hits the nail on the head. In this example perfection consists of three different elements.
The first part of being perfect is that we have a “Perfect Relationship.” We are perfect because of our eternal union with the infinitely perfect Christ. When we become his children we are declared “not guilty” and therefore righteous because of what Christ, God’s beloved Son has done for us.
The second element in being perfect is making “Perfect Progress.” We can grow and mature spiritually as we continue to trust Christ, learn more about him, draw closer to him, and obey him. We are growing toward perfection if we “keep working” as Paul says he is doing in Philip. 3:12 (NLT)