New years. New beginnings. A time of change. A chance for a clean slate. Some of us will make goals, but not do anything at all. Some of us will actually try for a while. Some will stick to it and make new habits. We do this every new year. Why? Why do we really believe that change can actually happen? Why do so many of us have things we want to change? And why do we always try to do it on our own? People seem to think this is the only season to start building new habits.
So, we make resolutions and we build. And yet, sometimes, it still doesn't go as planned. So, what? Wait until the next New Year's rolls around? Well, what if we had access to a reset for our lives? What if Jesus was offering each and every one of us a chance to be renewed regardless of who you are, where you have been or what you have done? It's time for a restart; a redo. It's time to reset.
Well, good morning to everybody and also good morning to those who watch via the internet and mobile app. I don't do this probably as much as I should, but I just felt like it was an appropriate thing to do today, and I hope you'll appreciate where I'm coming from. I just want to tell each and every single one of you that are here at Grace Community Church that I genuinely love every one of you all. And I feel like I am the most fortunate man in the world to get to be the pastor of Grace Community Church. I love you and I'm excited about what God's doing and I want you to rejoice with me for a second. Last weekend we had 946 people that came to Grace Community Church. Incredible.
And I hope this is meaningful to you, probably not as much as it is to me, but I hope that it touches your heart. My kids remember – like, my little girl, Grace, she's like, "Daddy, I remember when we came home and we slapped five and we said, 'We had thirty this weekend.'"
Isn't that cool? I mean, my family has seen this happen. I just want to say thanks for allowing me to do what I do and I love each and every one of you all. So, I'm going to move out of sentimental Chip and now into teaching Chip. Okay? For everybody. And I also love those who watch via the internet and mobile app as well.
Here's what we do. At the beginning of every year, I try to go back and recalibrate and revisit some of the really important things that we do here at Grace Community Church. And we've called this series that we're in "Reset." The idea here is that we're resetting some of the major things that we do, why we do what we do, how we do what we do and so on and so forth. If you're new here, it's a great time to revisit some of the things and you go, "That's why I'm here. That's what we're doing."
But if you're new, I really can't think of a better time to be here, because you really get a good idea and get to hear what we're about and you can really decide if this is a church that you would like to make home. The first week of Reset, which was two weekends ago, I spoke on a concept that I felt like God has spoke into my heart about the year. And it was about restoration. Many people, because that was New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, there was a lot of people that were out. I would really, highly encourage you – I don't normally do this. But, if you go back and watch that, because I really believe it's something important for our church.
Last week, we talked about our "why." Why is the most important thing in any organization. It's definitely important in a church. Why do we do the things that we do? And we talked about that. We're here to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. And what we're going to do this weekend is we're going to talk about mission. We talked about vision last weekend. This weekend is about mission. And mission is the "what do we do" and the "how do we do it" for the "why." We know why we're here. We're going to reach unchurched people by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. But, the question is how do we do that and what do we do to accomplish that vision?
And that's called "mission." And I'm going to be honest with you. Of all the messages that I've done so far in the Reset series, this is the one that I'm the most excited to speak about because it's so practical and it's just so relevant to where we're at as a church and especially as we enter into 2017 that we get back on vision and mission. Now, to do that what I'm going to do – and I want to give an overview really quick. I'm going to take a passage of Scripture that's obviously written many thousands of years ago. We're going to look at Jesus and how He did His mission. Then what we're going to do is we're going to bring it into the now and we're going to have some real practical take-homes at the end of the message.
And I believe in that. I believe in taking the Bible and going through it. Because, it's so important that you and I know what the Bible says. I also try to do it publicly so that as I read through it, you can get an idea of maybe how you can read through it, the questions you need to ask. And I hope it helps us to read the Bible. I hope it also helps us to know that when we see something up on a screen or when we read something we go, "That's not in the Bible," because we know what the Bible says. I want us to do that. Then there's also people that ask me, they go, "Man, you really stay on the gas with this mission and vision stuff. When are you going to let off the gas? I mean, 950 people is a lot of people, Bennett. When are you going to just be happy with where everything is at?"
I'm going to answer that question honestly. When everybody in Lakewood Ranch and everybody in Sarasota and everybody in Bradenton is firmly in the Kingdom of God, then I'll take my foot off the gas. Okay? And then I'm going to Tampa. So, let's get to work here. We're going to read out of Luke 10 and we're going to start in verse 1. And I want to make sure everybody understands: chapters and verses are not divinely inspired. They came much later. The Bible was just written as one long thing. Each book was just sort of written together. There weren’t divisions. And sometimes when we do divisions, we miss what's coming before.
Well, in Luke 9, there's a thing that we Christians call "The Mount of Transfiguration." And maybe you're here for the first time and you don't know anything about Christianese. So, I want to make that very simple for you. Jesus went up on a mountain with three of His disciples and they were able to see His glory. Like, He just wasn't a human anymore. He was His Godself. And we call that The Mount of Transfiguration, where they saw Him transfigured. He was there when Moses and Elijah showed up; the Law and the Prophets. And they were testifying of who He was and all of that good stuff. They come down off the mountain and immediately since they've seen Him in His glory, He says to them, "I want to make sure you guys understand. I'm going to go to Jerusalem and I'm going to die."
Well, His disciples don't understand that. They think it's code language. Because, in their mind, Jesus is going to be the Messiah and set up a kingdom on the earth. So, they start arguing about who's going to be the greatest. They even do that at the last supper. But, they're arguing about who's going to be the greatest and everything. Then, at the end of Luke, we have three little, quick passages about people. Two of them asked to follow Jesus. One, Jesus asks to follow them. And these little pithy statements that we get lead us into chapter 10. The first one, somebody comes to Jesus and goes, "I'm ready to follow You."
He's like, "Fantastic. Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but I have no place to lay my head."
What He's saying, in effect, is, "Make sure you know what you're signing up for. It's not always as pretty as it may look on the surface."
I don't know if anybody wants to be honest in here. Maybe on the internet or mobile app. But sometimes when we read passages of Scripture like that, they're a little tough. Don't you want to just like get on to the next one? You know what I'm talking about? Am I the only one that wants to be honest? Like, "Oh, man. This is really a commitment here. Can we get on to something cool?"
So then the next one comes along and he says, "I'm going to follow You, Jesus."
And He's like, "Great."
He says, "But, I need to go bury my father."
And Jesus says, "Well, let the dead bury their dead."
We probably don't understand that. But, in the first century, the way they would do burials is they would bury a family member and then they would wait for the body to decompose and then they would bury the bones secondly. So, he's in the interim between the body decomposing and burying the bones. And Jesus says, "Let the dead bury their dead. If you're going to follow me, you need to come follow me."
And that's a cold glass of ice water on a young Jewish person who's burying their father, because it sounds like, "Man, you don't care about my family."
Jesus is like, "Look, if you're going to come follow me, we don't have time for that. We've got to move on."
Then the next one's even tougher because this guy says, "Hey, Jesus. I'm ready to come, man. I'm ready to go. Let's do it. But, I need to go home and tell everybody at my house what I'm getting ready to do."
And He's like, "Young man, if you put your hand on the plow, you don't look back. You keep going."
Because, if you've ever plowed anything before, when you start looking around, the plow starts doing this number here. You've got to keep it straight. Jesus says you can't do that. And it's like, "Man, that's some tough stuff." That's one of those passages we read and we're like, "Gulp."
Then it goes into Luke 10 and that's why I said all that. Because, going into chapter 10 makes sense when you understand those things because we don't know if those people became disciples or not. We don't know what they did. But then Luke uses that to tell us here, as we get into Luke 10:1, he says, "After this..."
In other words, after he's had these three experiences with these people, the transfiguration and all that stuff.
"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others..."
He's expanding the franchise now. There was twelve and now there's seventy-two others.
"...and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go."
We need to unpack some of this here. First of all, the Lord appoints other people to go into towns before He gets there. So, He's coming, but He's sending people out before He gets there. Now, some of your Bibles – and I want to make sure everybody's aware here. Some of your Bibles are going to read "seventy" and some of them are going to read "seventy-two." And you go, "Well, which one is it?"
Scholars debate all day long about that. They wonder if it wasn't seventy and when they saw two by two somehow somebody wrote seventy-two rather than seventy. Because, the manuscripts that we have – and we have a lot of them – we don't know for sure. I personally think it's probably seventy because it makes Jesus like the new Moses where Moses appointed seventy people and so on and so forth. But, it doesn't make a difference. What matters here is that Jesus is using other people to do His thing.
"He sends them out, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go."
So, if you can understand what He's doing, "Guys, you're going to go into these towns and you're going to have a message that I'm going to tell you to say. This is going to be your mission and then I'm going to follow-up after you when you have visited."
So, He says to them this: "'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.'"
I want you to understand something folks. The problem is not the people out there that need to come into the Kingdom of God. The problem is we don't have a lot of people that want to go on mission to accomplish that task, which is exactly the opposite of the way it would be in the first century in the Agrarian world. When it was harvest time in Israel, everybody was there for day labor. I mean, there were plenty of people to choose from. In fact, not everybody got picked because some people, they would pick the ones that they thought would be the best and could get them the most for the time that they worked. Jesus says, "It's exactly opposite with my enterprise. In the harvest people are working and they can understand what they're getting in money and stuff and everything, the deal is I've got a harvest that's plentiful. I just don't have a lot of people that will actually go out and do what it is they need to be doing. They will not get on mission."
He says, "'Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'"
He says, "What I want you to do is I want you to pray. And not just pray. I want you to pray earnestly that God will send out people to do what it is that God wants to do, which is to bring people home and let them know of His saving love. So, what I want you to do is I want you to pray earnestly."
Now, Jesus knows what He's doing because there's no way in the world that you and me or they could be praying earnestly for God to send people out into the harvest and then us not feel like we need to go. Follow how that works? Okay. So, He says this. He says, "'Go your way.'"
It's time to go. You're going to go. Then He says this: "'Behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.'"
Now, I'm going to be honest with you. And you may think I'm a pagan for saying this. I probably would've had a little bit of a different speech. I would've probably encouraged it a little bit differently or said it a little bit differently. But, He says that and I'm going with Jesus because that's what we do. But, I think it's important that we don't miss what He's saying here. He's saying, "Listen, what I'm sending you out to do, you're not going to be able to do in your own strength and your own power. You're going to be like lambs in the midst of wolves. If you're not prayed up, if you're not focused, if you're thinking about going back and burying people, if you're thinking about doing other things, it's not going to work. Because, this is a real mission and it's urgent and there's people out there that need to hear the message. You're like lambs going before wolves."
And He says, "'Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals,'" – no iPads, no Surface Books, no smart watches.
I told y'all you'd better watch the Bible. But, I do want to say something. I've got Apple in here, I've got Windows in here, I've got Android in here. I am the full service pastor who offends nobody. See how that works? No. That's not what He said. Here's what He says.
He says, "'Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road.'"
We go, "What in the world does that have to do with anything?"
Well, let me explain to you what He's saying. He says, "Listen, you're going to be going out and you're going to be like lambs in the midst of wolves. You're going out on a task that you cannot accomplish on your own. So, don't take any money with you, because you might be tempted to sort of use that or to figure out a way to make it work for you. Don't take a knapsack with a bunch of stuff. Don't take sandals. That's an extra pair. You keep the ones that are on, but you can't take an extra pair of sandals. And don't greet anybody on the road."
And what He means by that is He's not saying don't be nice. What He's saying is that in the Jewish culture of the day, if you'd been going on a mission and maybe a friend that you had known from years ago saw you on the road, they would want to invite you over and have you over at their house and take care of you. He says you can't do that. "You're on mission. This mission is urgent. You're going to have to trust me. Also, I want you to be in a position where you have nothing else to give anybody other than the message that I'm going to tell you to speak. So, don't take anything with you at all."
"'Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!'"
Now, I want you to lean in here and hear me on this. He doesn't say, "The house that you walk into where the people are good and godly and love Jesus and have all the Jesus paraphernalia around and an old King James Bible. 1611, brother. If it was good enough for Paul and Silas, it's good enough for me. You're hanging around all that good stuff and everything. He says, "Whatever house you enter." It doesn't make a difference if it's a sinner or a saint. It doesn't make a difference if it's a temple worker or a tax collector. It doesn't make a difference if it's a rabbi or a prostitute. Whatever house you enter, whichever one, your message, to be on point and to be on mission, is, "Peace to this house."
Man, if the Church could just get this message right, we would be so much better than we are. Because, we want to walk in, right, and go, "Hey, why do you have this on the wall? How come you're doing this? Hey, you know if you'd do this your life would be better. Let me tell you how to straighten up."
He says, "No, no, no, no. Whatever house you enter, you say, 'Peace be to this house! Shalom.'"
In other words, rest and peace and good news and all of that good stuff. It's a positive message. Peace be to this house.
"'And if a son of peace is there,"
In other words, if it's someone who's going to listen to your peace and listen to what you have to say and listen to that good message, because Jesus is coming and He's the one that does the saving and the cleaning up. We're just the ones who give the message.
If somebody's in there that's going to ultimately come to faith and come to understand who Jesus is, He says, "'Your peace will rest upon him.'"
It's going to be good. That's what you do. He says, "'But if not,'"
In other words, if you go into that house and they're like, "I don't want to hear anything that you have to say. No. I'm out."
He goes, "'It will return to you.'"
So, you've gone into a house, you've told them, "Hey, listen. Let me tell you about some peace. Let me tell you about some good news."
They're like, "I don't want to hear about it. I'm shut down. Don't care about that noise. Don't want to do anything."
Then what He says is, "If they don't listen to you, then that's when you can finally get them back with some good judgment verses and call them names and secretly hate them but sort of act like you don't and that you spend a lot of time praying for them."
Alright. That's not what He says. Here's what He says. He says, "'Remain in the same house.'"
You go, "Oh, hey. That's getting some of my religion going here. Stay in the same house?"
"'Stay in the same house and eat and drink whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.'"
You go, "I sort of get an idea of what He's saying. What's He really saying? Can you help me out?"
Yes. Here's what He's saying. He's saying this. He says, "When you're in a house and you've gone in and you've told them good news and they've rejected it, you hang out with them. You don't just get to push them away. There's a dignity of people. There's a dignity of value and of worth of the human person."
He says, "And here's the deal. What you're going to learn really quickly is this: you're going to learn that when they reject your message, how nice back you are is how well you're going to eat."
He says, "Because, you're going to be worthy of what you do. And don't go from house to house. Don't go, 'Well, I don't like this house so I'm going to go to another one and get what I want. I don't like the bed here. I don't like the food here. I don't like this here. I'm going to go find me another house.'"
He goes, "No, you don't get to do that. You get to stay in the house that you're in."
Because, here's the deal. Listen to me. Jesus knows something that you and I don't know. He knows that we're in a house that maybe we don't like. Maybe we don't like the food. Maybe we don't like what the person's saying. But what we don't get to do is go do what we want. We get to stay there so God can work in us what we need. See, sometimes, we Christians, man, we go, "I'm getting out of here. I'm doing this. I don't like this."
God's saying, "Listen, why don't you believe I'm God? Why don't you believe that where you're at right now might be where you need to be? Maybe I'm trying to teach you something that you need to understand about people. Because in your next visit, maybe you will have learned something and how to interact with people that might make a difference when you go meet somebody else. You don't get to leave. You stay in the same house and you eat and drink whatever they provide."
"I don't like what they've got, God. They're serving crazy stuff."
"Eat what they've got for you. You're going to get what you deserve. Don't go from house to house."
And we Christians are guilty of that. We're like, "I don't like this. I don't like that. I don't like this."
And we're off doing all of our things. Maybe sometimes where you're at and the difficulty in your life is for God to show you some things that you need and I need to learn. Let's continue on.
He says, "'Whenever you enter a town...'"
Now we've moved from houses to towns.
"'Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you.'"
We're not playing the legalistic thing. We're not playing the table fellowship thing like the Pharisees. Whatever they serve, eat. That's what you do. We're not there to offend people. We're not there to tell people. You're there for a message. Your message is peace. That's the message you speak. Stay on message. Whenever you're in a town, eat what is set before you.
"Heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'"
Can you imagine if the Church could get on message with peace rather than playing prosecutor and lawyer against everybody and telling everybody what they're doing wrong. Can you imagine if we, as the people of God, could get on message and tell people, "Hey, God's not mad at you. He loves you. He loves you with an everlasting love. Peace to you," and we healed the sick.
There's a story. Some of y'all know this and some of you don't if you're new. But, I teach theology. I even teach a class on Thomas Aquinas. But, Thomas Aquinas was a great Catholic theologian. Being a Catholic theologian, one of the things he wanted to do is he wanted to meet the Pope. And there's a story. Nobody knows for sure if it's completely true. We're not exactly sure. We think there's probably some truth to it, but we don't know. But, the story's still great regardless of whether it's true or not. Thomas Aquinas goes to meet the Pope and he walks into the Pope's chambers and there's velvet carpet and velvet on the walls and there's all kinds of brass and gold and ornaments and all kinds of beautiful stuff. And as he walks up to the Pope, he says, "The Church can no longer say, 'Silver and gold have we none.'"
Now, if you're new here and you go, "I don't know what that means," in Acts 3, Peter and John, on their way to the temple, there is a beggar who can't walk who's asking them for money. Peter and John are not rich. They say to him, "Silver and gold have we none. We don't have any silver and gold. But, what we do have we give unto you. In the name of Jesus, rise and walk."
And that guy gets healed on the spot and goes into the temple jumping around and praising God and being excited and all of that good stuff. So, when Thomas Aquinas says to the Pope, "Silver and gold have we none," he would have understood that because they had that biblical understanding. But the Pope said, "The real tragedy is that the Church can no longer say, 'Rise and walk.'"
See, we're supposed to be a place that has a message of peace and we're supposed to be a place where the sick are restored and the sick are healed. He says, "And say to them the kingdom of God has come near to you."
"But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you," – and that's going to happen probably more than not – "go into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you.'"
Some of you are going, "Hah. Now we get to get them. Hah. Yeah, baby."
No. You don't understand a Jewish idiom. That'd be like when I say I'm so hungry I could eat a horse you go, "Wow, man. He must really have an appetite."
No. You know what I mean by that. That's not what I mean. Don't take it literally. Here's what he's saying. This is a Jewish custom of the day that if I came and told you something that I thought you needed to know and you chose not to accept it, the way to do it politely was to wipe the dust off of your feet. Which means you're not holding anything against them and they're not holding anything against you. It's all good. You all can go your ways. Nobody's mad at one another. That's what He's telling them to do. "Take the dust off your feet, do that. Don't let it cling to you."
And some of you all, when you get rejected, you let it cling to you and you let it hold on. Don't do that. You've done your deal. You've done exactly what you need to do. You created a good relationship. Everything's fine. You can walk away. They can walk away. Nobody feels bad.
And He says, "Nevertheless, tell them this when you do that, but the kingdom of God has come near you."
Then Jesus says something here. He says, "I tell you. The people that are going. Not the people that they're going to."
He says, "It will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town."
What He's saying is, "I'm the one, when I come, I get to bring the salvation or I get to bring the judgment. You are simply the messenger that goes and says, 'Peace,' and heals the sick."
And unfortunately, we want to be Jesus and go around and bring judgment on everybody and tell everybody what they're doing wrong and correct everybody when the Church's mission is to be a place that speaks peace to those outside and heals the sick. Can you imagine if we got that right? Man, people would be climbing all over the place. You ever wonder why there was people climbing all over the place when Jesus showed up? And it wasn't the religious people. It was the average person. It was the prostitute and the tax collector that wanted to be around Jesus. Why? Because He made them feel like they had dignity and value like they had never felt in their entire life.
Can you imagine if we could make people feel the dignity and value that God has shown us, what we could do in our town? That is the mission Jesus sent His people on. So you say, "Well, you know, the iPad thing was sort of cool because that sort of is what I play on. I didn't know about that knapsack thing and the sandals things. Can you make it clear today? Can you make it like it's 2017?"
Glad you asked. This is called the take-homes. This is where we get real and raw and we write this stuff down and we go, "Okay. This is what I can take home. This is what I can leave here with. I've got a good, biblical teaching. But I need to leave with some practical stuff."
Well, here we go. Let's write down these things. First of all, mission isn't optional. In other words, there's not like two classes of Christians. There's not the ones like, "Well, we just come because we just like to hear what you have to say and every once in a while you have a funny joke, and Jennifer's really nice. I mean, she meets everybody out front. "Hey, baby!" And it's awesome and all good and everything. It's perfect. But, I'm not really trying to sign up for the Jesus thing or whatever."
Mission is not optional. Every single one of us is supposed to be doing what Jesus has asked us to do. It's not optional. And you go, "Okay. Okay. Uncle. I get it. I'm supposed to be doing this. Not really what I want to do, but I probably should be doing it. That's great. But, I don't have sandals and all that. How can I, in 2017, help God in a mission here? How can I accomplish the mission to help God here at Grace Community Church?"
This is what you can do. This is the way we can do our mission around here for 2017. First of all, you can invest and invite. Here's the way you do this: Each one of you all has people in your life that only you are going to be able to reach. It's people that you work with, it's neighbors, it's friends, it's family, it's all of that stuff. Invest in their life. Like, you know, on trash day take their garbage can up and put it next to their garage door. Take somebody out for coffee at work. Say, "Hey, let's go catch a movie."
You don't need to come with a Bible and open up and say, "Let me read you the book of Revelation, because they're going to go, "You're weird."
And honestly, you are weird when you do that. That's weird. Don't do that stuff. It scares people away. You're like, "Man, I'm suffering for Jesus."
No. You're just weird. That's all there is to it. Invest in their lives. Buy them coffee. Ask them about their marriage. Ask them if there's something you can do. And then, invite them to come to church. Look, I want to get you to the place where you invest and share the Gospel. But, I also understand that not everybody's there. But, Jesus is here in His Church. Jesus shows up when we show up. If we can get them here. This is not a weird church. You know that as well as I do. I mean, we have coffee, people are nice. It's not like we do snakes on Wednesdays and all this other stuff. I mean, it's an easy place to come in here. Nobody's doing anything crazy.
So, you invest in people's lives and invite. Just do that as a Christian. Say, "God, I'm going to invest in some people's lives and I'm going to ask them."
And if they don't listen and if they don't come, that's fine. That's not on you. Just invest and invite. Secondly, if you want to stay on mission, connect. Get involved in some small groups around here. I mean, listen. We have senior's groups that we're launching this time. We have care groups that we're launching this time. We've got men's groups, women's groups, we've got father and son's group, we've even got a daughter and mother event that's coming up. We've got kayaks and we've got all kinds of stuff. We've got it all. There's going to be plenty of small groups. I mean, I think there's 25-30 small groups that we're going to have. So, we've got plenty of stuff going on here.
Connect. Here's the deal: I don't need you in this church to have 85 people that you know. I need you to have one or two that have your back at every moment at any time at any place. If we've got that, then we win. The reason we want you to connect in small groups is because we want you to form relationships. We want you to grow and all that stuff, but we need to form some relationships. Serve. Get involved in the things around Grace. We have so many things that you can serve in. I mean, we have Women on the Go, we have youth, we have greeters, we have Christmas on Main that we do, we have First Friday that we do, we have runs that we do where we pass out waters. Get involved in serving.
Because, here's the deal: we don't just have these things so that we can just do them to do them. We have these opportunities for you to get involved in serving, because that's where God really starts to do some work in your heart is when you actually get out of the boat and start serving for God.
And then, help us as a church to unleash compassion on the Lakewood Ranch area. Listen to this. You're going, "Man, you're passionate about this stuff."
I'm passionate about this stuff. People come to me – it's always religious people, too – and they're like, "Why do you spend so much money out there at First Friday? I mean, these people got a lot of money around here and you're giving them free stuff and there's beer and alcohol and all this other stuff going on. Why would you be doing that? You could be spending it for other stuff."
Let me make this very clear so nobody has any questions. When you're in a community where the people are well to do and when you're in a community where people have nice houses and when you're in a community where people have nice cars and you want to reach them for Jesus, the best way to reach them is through their kids. And that's why we do stuff out there for kids and families, because we want to reach people. We would do it differently if we were somewhere else, but this is where we are and we want to unleash compassion. Because, the people out there at Lakewood Ranch, they don't walk up to me – you know, when a person walks up with a beer in their hand going, "You know what? Y'all shouldn't be doing this because Jesus wouldn't approve of it."
No. They don't do that. What they do is they walk up and they go, "Man, I've never seen a church do this in my life. This is unbelievable. I can't believe you guys are doing this. Are you the pastor? I'm sorry I'm drinking a beer."
I'm like, "I don't care."
They're like, "What do you mean?"
I'm like, "Just don't go lay in a ditch. I don't care that you're having a Budweiser."
They're like, "Man. I need to show up."
I'm like, "You do. We want you here. You're valuable. You matter."
That's what we're all about here. So, these are some ways you can get involved in mission. Secondly, and this is huge, God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary. He uses Joes and Sams and Allisons and Chips – not potato or chocolate. Like, Chips. Okay? He uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary. And here's the deal. You know I teach. I've got a lot of professor friends. They sit around all day long. Is it 72? Is it 70? That's what they do. They sit around and argue. And I just want to go, "Guys, time out, man. Time out. You're missing the whole point. You're sitting around arguing about the passage. Dude, what's awesome here is Jesus expanded the franchise to include ordinary people to go do what He wanted them to do. That's the big win."
And what's awesome is when it says the 70, it's "neuter" in the original language. It's not masculine nor feminine, which means it probably included both men and women in this missional work. Y'all women, you like me. See? Yeah. That's why Martha was mad at Mary. Do you know that? Because she was acting like a man sitting at Jesus' feet. That's where disciples sat. She's mad at that because women should be in the kitchen in that culture. She's acting like she's a disciple. And she was. He appointed 72 others. God can use you and me.
Third: We're simply the mailman or the mailwoman. What we do is we bring the message. That's what we do. Jesus says, "Here's what I want you to do. You go ahead of me into every town and then I'm going to come. What I want you to do is I want you to deliver my message."
The Bible's very clear that you and I are message deliverers. That's what we're doing. We don't save anybody. We don't clean up anybody. Jesus does all that stuff. We surely don't judge everybody. Jesus is the one that does that. We have a message. And here's the deal: Our effectiveness – you want to know if you're effective? You want to know if I'm effective? – is the authenticity of the message, not the results.
See, I grew up in a tradition where when you would preach and teach it was all about how many people you could get to come down to an alter, how many people you could get to put hands in the air and all that. And I get people all the time that go, "How come we don't have hands in the air and do all of that stuff?"
Because I don't preach for results, folks. God is the one who does His work in your life. My role is to make sure that I preach the unadulterated message of the Gospel that means there's a God in heaven who loves you with an everlasting love and He wants you in His Kingdom so bad that He sent His Son to die for you. It's not bad news; it's good news. God's not mad at you. Come home.
And I believe when I dispel of that, that's my responsibility. What God does in the hearts of His people is His deal, and I don't get those two things confused. Paul told Timothy, "Preach the Word." He didn't say, "Go make a bunch of converts."
Make sure you preach God's message. God will bring His people home. We need to be a church that understands it's the authenticity of the message. When you tell people God's not mad at them and He loves them and all of this good stuff and they reject that, they're rejecting the good message. But, when you start doing, "Oh, you didn't do this and you didn't vote that way and you didn't do this and you didn't do that. The car you're driving is a bad car."
Or whatever else. That and the other stuff and all this. People are like, "Well, I don't even know what to believe. I mean, how do I know which one to check off?"
The authenticity of the message is very simple. Jesus Christ came to die for you and me so that we could be brought back and have a relationship with the Father. He wants to forgive you of everything that you've ever done; past, present and future. He wants you to be His son and daughter. He wants you to walk in all of the fullness that He has for you. And one day, He's going to come back and you're going to be with Him for eternity. That is the simple message and God does His work when that message is preached and presented.
Fourth: The Church is the proclaimer of peace. That is our message. That is the mission. We tell people peace. Whatever house you enter, first say peace to this house. Please, everyone, let's get on message. Let's make sure that the people know that God loves them; that God cares about them.
And lastly – and this is huge – let us never forget that we carry with us the Kingdom of God wherever we go. Jesus says, "Pray the heaven will be here on earth."
We carry around the Kingdom in our lives. He says this: "Heal the sick in it and say the Kingdom of God has come near to you."
Listen, what keeps me up at night? What do I pray about? What do I come in here and pray for you about? I say, "God, I just pray that everybody here at Grace would understand that You can use them for Your ministry. God, help us to get on point to be a place that proclaims the peace of Jesus Christ to the world that's out there. And help us, Lord, to be a place that Your power is a part of where people's lives can be restored, where people's marriages can be restored."
Get them to the Lord and watch Him do His work. I believe with all of my heart that if you and me walk in the simple message of peace and we allow God's power to be in our lives, when we start seeing God use us to heal the sick and to bring people back to Him, not only will this community change, but you and I will change. This church will change. And God will be more real to you and me than He's ever been in any time in our life.
Reset 2017. We know our "why." We know our vision. We're going to reach unchurched people by being intentional neighbors who reflect Christ. What's our mission? To make sure we tell people God's not mad at them. He wants them to come home and to say, "God, use me to be a carrier of Your Kingdom to bring healing to those who are sick."
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for Your love and Your mercy and Your kindness and Your goodness. I thank You for everybody here at Grace Community Church. I thank You for what You're doing here in our body. I pray, God, that as we hear this, we would leave here saying, "God, we pray earnestly that You would send forth laborers into Your harvest. Start with me."
Lord, I pray that as we walk out of here today, You would lead, guide and direct us, that You would watch over us and that You would protect us. Bring us back safely to when we meet again. And Lord, help us to stay on mission for Your glory. We thank You for it in Jesus' name, and everybody said, "Amen."
Give the Lord a big hang clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.