My church is kind of a big deal … because of its purpose
Wednesday October 24, 2018 – Devotional
INTRO and HIGHLIGHT OF PAST WEEKS
Well, welcome back to youth together. What an amazing night of baptisms. It is amazing that 7 youth got baptized tonight! We have been on a journey in the houses and Junior High these last few weeks. You’ve heard from 3 different people at 5 different locations talking about why we say, “My Church is kind of a Big Deal.”
First week we talked about how “My Church is kind of a Big Deal, because of its leader”… that being Jesus. There is absolutely no greater leader of any team or group or people, than Jesus. He is full of grace and truth and His influence on people’s lives has echoed throughout all history.
Second week we talked about how “My Church is kind of a Big Deal, because of its unity”… that this special thing we have as a community, who are very diverse, but still follow and pursue Jesus together as one. We will fight for that unity, we will do the difficult work of welcoming people who are not like us, and resolving conflict with each other when we don’t like each other.
This past week we talked about how “My Church is kind of a Big Deal, because of its encouragement”… when we gather regularly to meet in large group and in small groups, we purposefully centre our times around (holding up Bible) this book and the words of life found within it. We encourage each other to follow hard after God and hopefully we walk away from our weekly gathering resembling more and more our leader, Jesus.
So, the leader, the unity, the encouragement through regular gatherings is the Church. If we stopped there, we would be missing something huge though. “My Church is kind of a Big Deal, because of its purpose.” Our mission, our purpose, comes directly from the purpose of our leader, Jesus, and that’s what we’re going to talk about tonight and finish off this series with.
If we don’t talk about this, and if we don’t talk about this over and over again, if we don’t encourage each other to fulfill the purpose of the Church, then we are just a social club with good morals.
Do you want to be a people of high calling and high purpose, or a social club with good morals?
I hope you are with me, as I would suggest we need to lean in and be this people of purpose.
Where does this purpose come from? What does it look like? How do we fulfill this purpose?
SCRIPTURE LUKE 4:16-20
Let’s start with the our leader, Jesus. We’re looking at two places in the book of Luke tonight. We are looking at Luke 4 and Luke 8. Let’s start at 4:16-20:
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus is reading from the book of Isaiah, a prophet of old, and it was written 600 years prior to Jesus showing up on earth. He’s basically saying, here is my purpose statement, this was written about me. This is who I am and what I do. It’s like a mic drop in that synagogue (before mics even existed) as He points to Himself as the Messiah, the one who sets people free with the Good News. We could dive more into this section of Isaiah and it is fascinating that Jesus actually stops reading mid-sentence from Isaiah, because it actually reads in Isaiah “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God.” But we’re not going to dive into why Jesus leaves the vengeance part out in his reading because I could spend a long time there. What I want us to see is Jesus is declaring his purpose, and by extension our purpose as the Church, his followers. Our purpose is kind of a Big Deal!
Jesus doesn’t just say his purpose statement. He lives it, He is the good news. He does what those verses say. If you’ve read through any of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) you see Jesus live this purpose.
Does he have the Spirit of God on Him? Check.
It actually physically rests on Him at His baptism.
Is he anointed? Powerful teaching and ministry. Check.
Does he proclaim the good news to the poor? To those physically, spiritually and socially bankrupt. Yes. Check.
Does he bring freedom to the prisoners? People in bondage to sin and sickness. Check.
Give sight to the blind? You know this. Check. Physically and Spiritually blind, absolutely.
Set the oppressed free? So many people free of demonic and social bondage freed. Check.
Proclaim God’s favour? Absolutely, he tells people they are wanted, loved and valuable. Check.
SCRIPTURE LUKE 8:26-37
Here is one of many examples where he lives out his purpose, Luke 8:26-37, I’ve asked a few youth to read it out for me:
READ BY YOUTH 1
They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.
READ BY YOUTH 2
Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
READ BY YOUTH 3
When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
SCRIPTURE MEANING FOR US
So why this story? What does it say to us? Let’s think about Jesus’ purpose and what He did for this man. This man is naked, he is possessed by many demons. He is a prisoner both in his own body to the darkness that surrounds him and often chained, living in caves. Can you get the picture? He is a man in need of deep and immediate freedom. Jesus shows up and with a few words and some drowned pigs and brings this man from bondage to freedom.
This transformation was so amazing that it says, “When they came to Jesus (the people from the town that knew this man), they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.” They were afraid because something seemingly impossible just happened, something miraculous and they were afraid of the one who made it happen and His power.
That is Jesus’ purpose. “To proclaim freedom for the prisoners” and “set the oppressed free” and “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” That is Jesus’ purpose, and the crazy part is, as the Church we are invited into that purpose.
My Church is kind of a big deal, because of its purpose. Our purpose is the same as Jesus’. How do I know this? I could go to another set of verses, we always go to, in Matthew 28 called the Great Commission, but we don’t even have to go there. We can just read the next few verses of this story in Luke. Here is what it says… ready, just a few verses, this is the purpose of the church:
“The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying,‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”
Two things here. First, we see earlier in this story, the demons begging to go away into the pigs. They couldn’t be in the presence of Jesus and Jesus was freeing this man from them. Now that they are gone, the man is begging Jesus to stay. He has never experienced this kind of freedom. Jesus didn’t want the man to just stay in that though. He wanted the man to go from there and grow from there. He wanted him to fulfil the purpose of the church and that is exactly what the man did. He went and told others that they could find freedom.
You see, when we have a great experience of knowing Jesus, maybe he has spoken to you, or you have had a great worship experience, or a couple weekends ago you met with Jesus at retreat or He has brought you freedom in your life from challenges or sin or whatever it may be. He doesn’t want us as the Church to just live there. He wants us to go out from there, with His Spirit inside us and tell others about that freedom, to tell them about Jesus. It’s kind of like this video.
VIDEO: Viral TRND – Heartwarming Moment Orphan Finds Out Family In The U.S. Want To Adopt (3:01 minutes long)
ADOPTION STORY LEADING TO POINT:
I have a sister who is 13 years older than me, who I love very much. She was adopted 2 years before I was born at 11 years old. When my parents adopted her, they didn’t know her full story, but she, like the man in Luke 8, she had lots of demons. For her, the demons came from the abuse she had experienced in the foster care system. My parents, Christian people, were the best parents they could be to her and my Dad was the first one to believe her story. My parents and my sister, are not perfect, but you can see the life change that happened in my sister. That for me is a little glimpse into what happens in a spiritual sense when we invite people to Jesus.
Our purpose, like this video we just watched, is to invite spiritual orphans to become our hermanos and our hermanas, brothers and sisters in Jesus. Our friends at school, the people in our neighbourhood, need to see, interact with and experience the love of Jesus through you, through me. They need to see and experience the life change that Jesus has done and continues to do in you, and in me.
How do we do this? I think it’s pretty simple, but let’s think about this family we just watched and about the man formerly known as crazy naked guy of Luke 8. How do they live out the purpose of the church? It’s quite simple for them, and for us. 3 things, because all good Spiritual talks come with 3 things right? Here they are:
Repeat it with me, “Be with, be love, be open.”
What do I mean, quickly let me break it down. Be with spiritual orphans. I realize we have youth group friends and some of us go to Christian school, but if you are surrounded by people who know Jesus all the time, you are missing out on God’s purpose for you. Let me say that again: “If you are surrounded by people who know Jesus all the time, you are missing out on God’s purpose for you.” There is this mindset out there that we should always surround ourselves by good influences and not be with “bad people.” I get that, and I would suggest, yes, you need people to encourage your faith to surround you. We even talked about that last week. But to fulfill God’s purpose for the church, which is kind of a big deal, we have to get to know spiritual orphans that need to be adopted by Jesus. Maybe at your school, maybe in your neighbourhood.
A great opportunity we have for this is happening in exactly a week’s time. It’s called Halloween. No, I’m not asking you to celebrate ghosts and demons and evil things. I’m asking you to use this opportunity, even as a family, where people who don’t know Jesus are knocking at your door. Don’t shut your lights off and hide. Make hot chocolate for the cold parents, give out the biggest candies and chocolate bars. Introduce yourselves and get to know people. Be with spiritual orphans. We aren’t doing youth next week, so you can love your neighbours.
That’s the second one, Be love to spiritual orphans. Jesus is actively at work in all of us when we choose to be adopted by Him and to follow Him. We are being made to be more and more like Jesus every day. Jesus is God and God is what? What characteristic is God known for in the church? God is? LOVE, that’s right. So those outside of the Church need to see the LOVE of our leader that makes this church such a big deal. In our small groups were going to talk more about what that love could look like.
Finally, we need to Be open and ready to share Jesus. What has he done in you? What have you experienced in Jesus? Don’t make it weird, but share that with people who don’t know Jesus. They might actually be interested in Him. The guy formerly known as the crazy demonized guy did it. He said, look what Jesus did in me. He used words. As we often promote and talk about too, a very practical way you can share Jesus, is to help run and invite friends at school to Youth Alpha. If you are interested in being involve in a youth alpha in any way, please talk to Chris tonight. He would love to help you with next steps. We are doing training for how to run a Youth Alpha and how to invite people to it in the next couple months. Talk to Chris.
So what is your next step?
Is it to BE WITH SPIRITUAL ORPHANS?
Is it to BE LOVE TO SPIRITUAL ORPHANS?
Is it to BE OPEN AND READY TO SHARE JESUS?
Let me pray for you.