Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.
Finishing our Stretch series this morning.
I don’t know if you think about this much, but some people are just born to be a certain type of athlete.
We don’t always like to admit that in our “you can do anything” culture.
Or as the back of shirt I saw this summer read, “Reach for the moon, and even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.”
The reality is, most of us aren’t born to play in the NBA or the WNBA.
And sure, there are your Spud Webb’s, your Mugsey Bogue’s, your Earl Boikens (all incredibly short basketball players) who make it.
But they are crazy exceptions.
Some people just have the right bone structure to be a certain athlete
I have a friend who works at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and they (because they work at Mayo) get to go to the Mayo Gym (which is like the YMCA on Steroids) anytime they want for free.
He recently started working out, and his friends said to him last month, “Dude, if you keep up with this, you’ve got the right frame for this. You could be HUGE!”
Others were just born to be things like gymnasts.
Out of the womb, they could wrap their legs around their head.
And often, it’s a certain body type that makes a good gymnast. You don’t see a lot of 6’7” female gymnasts
People are built for different things, and so are we when it comes to even spiritual things.
And because of that, different things are “stretches” for different people.
Some people, for instance, are just wired to sit and study theology (for others that would be dreadfully painful…like being forced to sit and watch your local cable access ch. 24 hours a day)
Other people are wired where they just absolutely love to be in a room by themselves, and just reflect, talk to God for hours at a time, and journal out their prayers.
And for some of you, you would be like, “Seriously, get me out of this little room and let me talk to some people.” Sitting and stopping to pray for you IS a stretch.
And for others, because of who they naturally are…going out and reaching out to other people. Making an impact on other people’s lives. Serving. Reaching out. Is…a stretch.
Yet, it’s a stretch that must be done. And I believe (and we’re going to dive deep into the philosophy and theology of this today) I believe it’s a stretch that WILL naturally come the more you dive into the heart of God.
(Matthew 25:31-32) – NIV
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Just to set the stage a little more. Jesus is talking about the end of days. When he comes back and Judgment occurs.
Scripture seems to point to the fact that we will be indeed judged together at the same time…at the end. He continues.
(Matthew 25:33-46) - NIV
33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Tough words from Jesus this morning.
Which by the way, I feel like I say a lot, and maybe that has something to do with the fact our culture thinks of Jesus as a hippy who only talks about happy things.
Yet, this morning he talks about us reaching out and helping other people as evidence of being a sheep. As evidence of being His.
Which is an important distinction.
Here’s what Jesus is NOT Saying: He’s not saying that if you do these good things, you can earn your way into his Kingdom.
We learn from the rest of the Bible, that the only way we enter his Kingdom is by accepting his offer of forgiveness. That he died for us on the cross.
And when we accept that, His Holy Spirit comes and lives within us and starts changing (renovating) us, and thus, a result of that renovation is we should be empowered to reach out to those around us. We should feel compelled to in some way.
And we can see by the fact that the righteous were surprised by what Jesus was saying proves that they weren’t intentionally trying to be good just to inherit the kingdom.
“What? When were we???” No, it was just simply that their good deeds were just a natural outcome/result of their faith in God.
SERVING PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH
And our focus on serving others isn’t just about going out. It’s actually about serving each other as well.
In fact, look at verse 40 again:
(Matthew 25:40) – NIV
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Which we tend to just say, “Oh, the least of these brothers…the outcasts, and the down and outers in the world.”
However, almost every single time when Jesus uses the word “brothers” in the Bible, he’s referring to his disciples. His followers.
So He’s especially saying in this passage that his true believers will undoubtedly have a natural affinity towards caring for the least of their brothers and sisters in the family of God.
Now, I don’t think this means that we can’t take a general principle from it and say we should still serve the least of these that don’t know God…of course we should. But we also can’t neglect the hurting that our already in our midst. Which is really what this passage is talking about.
The apostle Paul sums it up well in Galatians
(Galatians 6:10) - NIV
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
It’s like with your own family.
You ever a story of some person who’s the head of some Christian non-profit and yet their family is in shambles?
Or some good politician who’s working tirelessly to help their community, yet they’re getting a divorce?
Or, I’m not afraid to call out the Elephant in the room…often we see this happen to pastors in our country.
We simply cannot be so focused on helping others that we end up neglecting taking care of our own family.
We have to be able to serve and take care of the people, first and foremost that God has put around us.
And listen, I’m a practical guy. We want to help you in this. And give you some practical avenues.
I think one of the best ways you can reach out and impact others is to help serve in this church.
This is a growing church that’s making an impact on people’s live. On family’s lives.
And I want to encourage you to be a part of this team. Join with us to impact lives.
A little later in announcements, Jared’s going to talk to you about different ways you can help us make an impact.
Because we have to be making an impact.
We should be making an impact! On the people around us. The people in our family, the people in our house group, the people in our church, and even our neighbors around us.
GENERAL PRINCIPLE OF SERVING OTHERS
If the Holy Spirit is living in you as a Christian, something should be happening where you want to reach out to other people.
Sometimes though, it’s just having the right avenue to do it.
That’s why we want to give you concrete opportunities today at church.
But I think we can also do more.
If God is with us, and moving in us, surely we can do more!
Our church turns one year old this weekend. Pretty crazy.
And while we are way ahead of the game on a lot of things…
(80% of church plants never even make it, and yet we are a growing church that is already even financially self-sufficient)
We’ve got growth areas. Things we need to be doing better.
And one of them is finding MORE avenues for our people to serve (not only each other) but our community.
I’m excited to let you know that November 14th-20th will be Renovation Church Serve Week where we will be going out to “renovate the community” if you will.
All 3 of our House Groups will be cancelled that week, and each house group will be out in our community serving and showing the love of Christ to those in need.
That means we’re hoping to have around 90 people in just one week out serving.
And I realize that even though that sounds like a lot, it’s just a start. But it is that…it’s a start.
God has moved in us, and we have to reach out with that love.
We can’t keep in buried inside anymore.
WHY AREN’T WE DOING IT MORE?
And some of you are like, “YES!!” Avenues! Opportunities! Let’s let the love of God out and REACH OUT!
While others, if honest, are more like, “Meh.”
I can feel like that sometimes when it comes to reaching out. Serving others.
Yet, I think when we think of reaching out to others, we need to think of Jesus reaching down to us.
God’s son, the holiest person to ever walk the earth, came down and walked with messed up people like us.
And if you think it’s a stretch to reach out to someone who’s maybe a little bit awkward in your house group or here on a Sunday morning OR if you think it’s a stretch to reach out to the downtrodden in our community….think about how much the stretch was between the holiest person who ever touched the dirt of this earth interacting with sinners and tax collectors.
It’s not even comparable to our situation
And furthermore, the gap between us and another person is never as big as we like to think it is.
We ought to think of ourselves more like the language of Paul the Apostle who in 1 Timothy calls himself the “Chief of Sinners”
I actually think we would be more able to go out and impact others if we didn’t see such a gap to begin with
In fact, I’ve been asking myself this question: Is perhaps our unwillingness to help those “lower” than us only because we’ve spent too long tricking ourselves to think we are “higher” than them?
And why would we even think that??
Is it because we’re Christians???
It can’t be that. That has nothing to do w/ how good you are. It’s about how not good we are. So messed up that we needed someone to save us.
Is it because we have more money…more stuff?
As if money makes you a better person? Read the news. We know that’s not true.
Is it because we have better social skills or something? Is that why we’re higher?
Some of the poorest people in our world are often some of the nicest people you could meet. They don’t happen to be so caught up in the worthless things of this world. So they tend to care about people a little bit more.
So why have we somehow tricked ourselves into thinking we’re so much higher???
But I can tell you this. If you think you really need some help to make the “stretch” of reaching out and impacting more people, one of the best places to start is practicing humility.
And when we can humble ourselves, we have to reach out.
To each other and the world.
God has gifted every single person in this room with gifts and talents SO THAT you can impact OTHER PEOPLE
Yes, I said other people.
We kind of live in a world where our talents benefit who? US!
We have talent shows growing up. Why? So our talents can bless others? No, that’s just what we tell ourselves. It’s for us. So we can feel the applause after we play the piano, sing a song, or in my 5th grade talent show, when I formed a dance crew to dance to Color Me Badd
People use their talents for sports or in drama…why? Let’s be real here…for applause. For recognition.
We take assessments and tests that tell us our talents and what career paths we should thus follow. Why? So we can use those talents to better ourselves!
But that’s not why God gave you gifts and talents. If your talents are indeed advancing your life, that should only be a means to an end.
A means to getting you someplace that you can better impact other people.
Because each one of you ARE gifted in your own way to impact other people.
Don’t bury your talent. Don’t waste it on yourself. Use it for its intended purpose.
SERVICE CANNOT BE DIVORCED FROM GOD
And when you use it, don’t forget about God.
I believe the Evangelical church has ever-so-slightly started to take a wrong turn when it comes to area of reaching out and serving others
Both when it comes to serving people in the church (like our passage today talks about) and when it comes to serving those outside the church
Somehow or another, we’ve started to divorce/separate service from God
In fact, I would say that almost the majority of youth missions trips (even from evangelical churches) are completely just about service and not about Godly ministry.
Kids paint walls, rebuild houses, and clean up neighborhoods.
And the only spiritual part is when they do their devotions in the morning.
But what’s the point of reaching out and serving if we’re not going to eventually give people the thing they need most?
And I think what happened was too many Christians felt we were doing service only as a gimmick to evangelism.
“Sure…we’ll serve you, but only because we want you to come to church!”
So the pendulum swung, and now we just do service…no strings attached.
And yes, we shouldn’t do it with false motives, but when we serve each other and when we serve the community, we have to do it in Jesus’ name. We have to do it with a hope that people will somehow find God though it.
Otherwise we’re just putting a band-aid on cancer
We have to have somehow hope that our hope and our SINCERE love is awakening people to the Love of God
A LEADS TO B, BUT B DOESN’T ALWAYS LEAD TO A
And we have to at the same time remember the other potential wrong turn, that doing good things doesn’t always lead to Godliness.
I call it A leads to B, but B doesn’t always lead to A
Son of a math teacher…did “proofs” (dad’s proudest moment)
(PUT up A LEADS TO B SLIDE)
If you KNOW Jesus Christ (accepted his love), he will be compelling you to serve.
If a person is serving, doing good, it doesn’t always lead people to God.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO DO GOOD BUT DON’T KNOW GOD
Which begs the question… What ABOUT those people who do a lot of good for the world but don’t follow God.
It should be noted that the people in the Bible passage we read aren’t being separated because they did some heinous crime such as murdering.
Which is what people always say…. “Well I haven’t murdered anyone…soo”
But the separation is because of something that they DIDN’T Do
Or, a better way to say it would be “because of something they couldn’t do.”
Without a heart that was changed by God, they just simply don’t have the same ability nor the motivation to impact those around them.
But you might say, well David, some of the people who have done incredible work in this world and start non-profits that impact thousands don’t believe in God. Yet, they do good.
And that’s totally true. This is just one metaphor used by Jesus. And I would say it’s pretty accurate.
People who start non-profits are certainly the exception to the rule on this earth. Most people don’t.
But ultimately it comes down to will you bow to the one who gave his life to forgive you, or will you defiantly say, “No, I think I’ll do my own thing.”
Listen, for 18 years, I said, “No, I think I’ll do my own thing.” And I did plenty of bad things, but a lot of good things for other people even. But my good things were for the wrong reason. Almost all of them.
And even if some were noble, the core drive of my life was ignoble and that I was too proud to bow down even to someone who let his own son be killed because he loved me so much that he wanted him to die in my place.
A DOES LEAD TO B. GROW IN HIM!
But if you do bow to Him. You do accept his forgiveness. Give Him control of your life…….He WILL empower you to serve others.
And allow you to start changing the world with the world-changers.
And I mean have an impact.
When the God of the Universe comes inside of you, he changes your heart to bleed with passion for the people around you
He doesn’t just change your heart to make you want to do more religious things.
Notice that Jesus says things like, “When I was hungry, you fed me, and not, “When I was in church, you said hi to me.”
The Bible says (in James) that faith without works is dead, because if you’re not being moved to do anything for God, you probably don’t have faith at all.
So are you reaching out?
Is God moving you to serve other people. To use what you have to impact other people? How are you doing it? Where can you start doing it?
And let me ask you the most important question: What have you done with Jesus’ offer of forgiveness? Have you accepted it?
Don’t falsely comfort yourself by the fact you are “religious.” Ask yourself the right question: Have you accepted that Jesus Christ gave his life for you on the cross and offered to forgive all of your sins? Everything you’ve ever done?
And have you then given your life to Him?
And if you haven’t. Give Him control. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make.
And when we give Him control, that’s what allows us to REALLY stretch out…really reach out…and actually make an impact on our world.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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