Summary: A sermon calling the church to focus on building God’s kingdom rather than focus on our comfort. This was given after a short message from a Gideon speaker.
Back in the first part of the last century, Cumberland College of Kentucky was playing football with a rival, and they were totally out of their league. They were losing miserably because the opposing team was bigger, stronger, and more intimidating than they were. One of their players fumbled the ball, and yelled out to one of his teammates to get it, but the reply was, “You get it, you dropped it!” The young man who said that was afraid of being hurt, so he didn’t want to get involved.
God is looking for Christians and churches who are willing to pick up the ball others have dropped. And, He wants them to start running with it. Nobody ever won a football game by worrying about being tackled by the opposition, and nobody ever won anyone to Jesus by worrying about what problems they might encounter. God wants to see if we are willing to pick up the ball and do something with it.
Jesus gave us a command most people refuse to follow in MATTHEW 28:19, 20 –
‘Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
Jesus said go and do. To “go” necessitates our moving. “Moving,” means to change places. And to change places, means we do something different. That is pretty basic, but we find church after church that is afraid to pick up the ball. Being afraid to look forward, they will spend their time looking back. They are afraid to take a risk, even for the Lord.
The past is a safe memory. It requires no work and demands no risks. But the past will also hinder the future. God put our feet and our eyes pointing in the same direction; in front of us, not in back of us. That tells us that we are to move forward, not fall backwards.
There are several major areas I feel that are hindering the church today.
1. UNHEALTHY TRADITIONS
Most of America’s churches are failing. The numbers of their congregations are going down quite rapidly. And when new people come in, what do they do? They see a church that is steeped in tradition and most people today don’t want anything in their lives to revolve around tradition.
Do you remember the Oldsmobile commercial from just a few years ago? It said, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” People today want relevance, not history. Most of these visitors will leave after the service and never come back. And, if that isn’t bad enough, today’s churches are now seeing their own people starting to drift away.
In these churches, tradition usually means more to the church people than vision. It would seem to me that in many churches, memories seem to mean more than someone else’s salvation. They get busy doing things for the church, but do not have time to worship in church. They spend more time being comfortable where they are than they do praying that someone else will come to Christ.
It is vital that we understand that no football game has ever been won by an armchair quarterback, and nobody has won anyone to Christ by demanding things stay the same.
Jesus warned about it, taught about it, and modeled it, but so many people still don’t get it. Throughout the Bible we see Jesus breaking the traditions for a more important cause. One of the obvious traditions He broke was the healing of people on the Sabbath Day. Jesus shows over and over again that people’s souls are always more important than their traditions.
To some degree or other, we are all creatures of comfort. When we find a place we like, we like to stay there. I am going to show you how that might be okay for some, but not okay for others. Churches need two types of people. The first type of person is the one who deals with the here and now, or the present. And these people must make sure that the way we do church today does encourage others to enjoy the house of the Lord.
The second type of person is the one who deals with the future; what could be, what should be. However, most churches are filled with the first type of people; the type who finds a comfort zone and wants everyone to stay there with them. We cannot do that, however, if we are going to serve the Lord. The first church in ACTS grew by thousands. Yet we find people today who say any church growth destroys the church! They say if the church grows too much, people won’t feel connected to everyone else. Let me say it isn’t as necessary to connect with others as it is to connect with the Lord, and we cannot connect with the Lord unless we are doing what He has told us to do!