Transcendence Week 5: The Checklist
Well, good afternoon to everybody and also to those who watch via our mobile app and internet. We’re in a six-week series called “Transcendence.” And this is week five of that series. Now, I do this at the beginning of every sermon that I do so that everybody feels like they’re brought back up to speed, because I believe that there’s one of three, if not all three, types of people in a church service at any given time.
First would be a first-time visitor. If I were a first time visitor and I heard, “Hey, it’s week five of a six-week series,” I’m not going to know what’s going on. Let me put you at ease. I promise you I’m going to bring you up to speed. And some of you all, the second group, it’s summer time. Some of you have probably been out traveling and you’re like, “Oh, yeah. I was here for some of that, but I forget what we’re doing exactly.”
I want to bring you up to speed. And then there’s the third group of people that are probably like me. You just had a really challenging week and you’re just glad you’re here. And you’re like, “Man, I’ve been here every week. But I still don’t know what we’re talking about.”
So, I need to bring all of us up to speed, myself included. And the reason I say that is because we had a flood. Like, a literal flood in the church this week. Like, seriously. I thought I missed God and was supposed to be going out and getting animals or something. Because it was unbelievable. I’m over in the other office area and the alarm starts going off. The fire alarm. It’s making that noise. I thought they were testing the alarm. That’s honestly what I thought. But I needed to come over here. So the alarm’s been going off for like 20 minutes and so I get up out of my office and come out the back door over here where the new children’s area is going to be, a new children’s room. I walk out the door and, as I turn to come to the door that’s right over here, I look out and there’s like a flume of water this deep just flowing out of the church.
And at first I was thinking, “There’s no way that’s real. There’s just no way that’s real.”
And I’m watching it go out and I’m like, “That’s real.”
So I’m like, “I must go over here and see what’s going on to the church.”
Well, I peek in and Jeremiah’s in a snorkel and Heath’s in his kayak and animals are floating out of the nursery down the hall. I mean, seriously, water was deep in here, in all of the children’s room, down the hall, into the hub, even seeping over into the new area where we’re building. It was unbelievable. It literally was. It was unbelievable. And they were making fun of me because I was out there with a shovel trying to figure out if I could break through the door where the fire stuff is. And they’re thinking, “Is this guy, who’s seriously like 5’6, he thinks he’s Rambo?”
So, I didn’t do that. We found a way to turn it off. But then Servpro came in and it was awesome. Because they came in, they’re taking the water out and putting all these dehumidifiers and fans and all this stuff around the sanctuary. And I asked the guy, I said, “Hey, this is Wednesday. When are we going to have this cleaned up because we have services?”
He’s like, “You ain’t going to have services this weekend.”
I’m like, “Come again? You don’t know Chip Bennett. We’re going to have services this weekend.” I’m like, “I may be small, but I get on Tom’s shoulders and I’ll be really big then.”
We’re going to have church. And he’s like, “No, it’s going to take 5-10 days to dry this place out.”
And I’m like, “Okay.” So I chilled. I was trying to be nice and just do my thing. And I’m like, “We’re having church.”
But anyway, it was interesting. The guy said on Friday, do you know what he said? He said, “Somebody else was in that room drying that place.”
Isn’t that cool? That’s really cool, huh? You can clap. It’s okay. People online were. They were like, “Yeah, alright!”
But it’s really cool. So we’re here. And what I want to say is is Friday night, people were here until 11 o’clock putting stuff together, working, hanging speakers back. We had to take that speaker off the ceiling and put it on the ground because they were building over there. We didn’t want it to fall. So all the speakers were on the ground. They had to all be picked up. All the electrical equipment. I mean, it was a major, major mess. The fact that we’re having church this weekend is really awesome. So, if my microphone makes some crazy noises or the speakers sound a little funny or if you’re wondering what that is over there, that’s our new water flume. You come out there. I’m just kidding. It’s the air conditioner. That’ll be moved this week. We had to keep it in so we could keep the place cool for the weekend.
But, a lot of things are going on. We’re probably going to be 4-5 weeks before everything is done. Just bear with us. There’s probably going to be some dust. It might be a little uncomfortable. We’re making out there, as you can see, we’ve got a different way to come in. We’re putting more children’s check-in spots so that we don’t have the line. I mean, people want to wait in line for Disney World. They don’t want to wait in line for church. You know what I’m talking about, right? So, we’re going to have more spots to get everybody in.
There’s going to be a lot of cool things when this gets done. So, just bear with us. I say all that to say that all three of these types of people exist in any given church service. And what I want to do is bring us all back up to speed so we all feel like we know what we’re talking about.
In this series “Transcendence,” what we’re dealing with – the whole big idea here – is how to live a massively fulfilled life through intentionally pouring ourselves into others through the church. We’re looking at this idea of what it means to be transcendent. And that’s a term that I’ve used from Abraham Maslow who, in the latter part of his life, changed his hierarchy of needs to where he said, “The highest form of human fulfillment, where you’re living the best life ever, is when you’re pouring into others and when you’re leaving a legacy into others.”
Before that, he had said it’s when you’ve got all your dreams and all your stuff together and you’re self-actualized. He later on said that’s not right. It’s when we’re pouring into others, which is an incredibly Biblical idea. And what we’ve added is “through the Church.” That you and I are leaving these legacies and we’re doing this pouring into other people through God’s Church. That is the vehicle the He uses to do His plan and His purposes. It’s the local church.
So, we’re looking at that. We’ve been dealing with a lot of this stuff. And so this particular weekend, I’m going to do a little bit more of a teaching. It may not be preachy preachy. It’s teachy. And I just want you to really lean in. If you’ve got your bulletin, you can write on it. If you’ve got an iPad or a notepad or any of that stuff, please take these notes because, what I’m going to try to address this weekend here with everybody is this: What does it look like to effectively pour ourselves into others?
What does it look like to be a transcendent church? What does it look like to be a part of a body of people that are doing the things that God has called us to do? So I’ve entitled today’s message “The Checklist.” Not that God’s checking off a list on you and me, but this is sort of something that we can look at. Six things that I think really make up a transcendent church to when we know we’re really doing what God’s called us to do when we’re really pouring into people and getting this thing right.
And the first one that I’m going to mention may not feel like it needs to be in the checklist, but I can assure you that it does. And let me tell you why, when I get to the first one. I’m going to give you a little background here of why I’m going to tell you what I’m going to tell you when I give you the first point. I meet so many people as a pastor, not only just Christians, but non-Christians, but especially Christians that still believe that they have to do so many things to get God to love them. They just believe that. They believe, “Okay, if I serve at four First Fridays a year, does that mean I’m going to go to Heaven? If I give here or do this.”
And what I want you to understand is that that right there, if you’re still struggling with whether or not God loves you, if you’re carrying around a lot of guilt and whatever, you’re probably never going to get outside of yourself because it’s going to be constantly warring within you. So, the first point, write this down. This is huge that we get.
Transcendent churches realize salvation is not based on the works we do, but also understand that real salvation works.
And what I want to do is I want to try to help you understand your salvation a little bit so that, as we go on to the next points, they’ll make more sense and they’ll give us a platform to actually do the things God has called us to do. If you get two Christians in a room, as a general rule, or if you get a group of Christians in a room, you’re going to find that one Christian’s going to say, “Hey, listen. God saves us based on grace only. It’s all about grace. It’s all about what He’s done. It’s all about His unmerited favor. It’s grace, it’s grace, it’s grace. It’s not what you do, it’s not how you perform, it’s none of that. So don’t worry about getting up and doing anything. Don’t listen to pastors tell you that you need to go out and serve at First Friday. That’s a bunch of works. Don’t do that. Just receive God’s grace and sort of do nothing.”
It’s almost like if God decides to pull you up like Weekend at Bernie’s and move you around, you’ll do it. But otherwise, you don’t want to do it.
Then you’ve got the other group over here going, “No no no. That’s crazy. God didn’t save you so you can sit around and do nothing. You need to get out and go do something. You need to have change in your life. You need to make sure that you’re doing all these things for God.”
And it becomes all this go do, go do, go do. And then what happens is those two groups are just always fighting. The reality is this: they both have truth. That’s the reality. There’s truth in both of those camps. And I want to show you how Paul address you and I’s salvation so that we can get a better idea of what God has done for you and me.
In Titus 2:11-12 he says, “The grace of God…” – “grace” as a Greek word is “charis.” It’s unmerited favor.
“The grace of God has appeared,” – we didn’t do anything to get it to show up. We didn’t pray to get it to show up. We didn’t give to get it to show up. We didn’t clean up to get it to show up. None of that stuff. It has appeared. And what has it done? It has brought salvation to all people.
In other words, everybody has an opportunity for salvation. Now, I want you to understand this. If you have an Aunt Mabel, this doesn’t work for you. But, you probably don’t have an Aunt Mabel. Here’s what I want to tell you. If you got a knock on the door today and they said, “Your Aunt Mabel has left you an inheritance.”
But, here’s the deal. You didn’t even know Aunt Mabel existed. You didn’t even know you had an Aunt Mabel. You’d never heard of her. You couldn’t pick her out in a lineup. You don’t even know she exists. How in the world did she know to leave you a big inheritance? Here’s the deal: you didn’t do anything to get it. You didn’t even know she was around. All you have to do is walk down to the attorney’s office and sign a sheet of paper and that’s yours.
God says this to you and me. His salvation is for you and me to take. All we’ve got to do is sign up and say, “Jesus, I want you in my life. I want to follow you.”
That’s what God wants out of you and me. There’s nothing we can do to earn it. Nothing. At all. Paul says, “It’s by grace you’ve been saved through faith, and that not of your own. And it’s not of works lest anybody would boast.”
In other words, there’s nothing we can do to earn salvation. He makes it very clear. But the listen to what he says. He says, “The grace of God that’s appeared, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions…” – check this out – “…and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
In other words, the grace that meets you where you are doesn’t keep you where you are. In other words, grace meets us where we are. Anybody have a friend that has a gym membership and you’re like, “Dude, why are you paying for the gym membership? You don’t even go. Why are you paying?”
He’s like, “Well, I’ve got to get in shape first before I show up.”
Have you ever heard about those type of people? “I’m not going to show up looking like I am. I’ve got to get cleaned up.”
People think that way about church. They think, “I’ve got to sort of clean up. I’ve got to do this stuff for God to love me.”
You can’t. You cannot clean up. You can’t. You can’t do it. I like what the old preacher told me one time. He said, “Chip, you go catch the fish. It’s God’s job to clean them.”
So here’s the situation: God’s grace meets us where we are, but it empowers us to live godly lives. There’s two sides to a grace coin and the temptation is to only look at one side and not the other. And why is this so important that we understand that when we actually go out and try to live – I mean, look at this: a self-controlled life. People say, “I can’t live a self-controlled life.”
Then you’re minimizing God’s grace in your life. What about godly lives? “I can’t live a godly live right now. I just can’t do it.”
Well, if you’re a Christian and God lives within you, you have the ability to do that. You’re minimizing grace because it says, “In this present age.” Not in the future. In this present age we are to see change in our life. Why is a good, healthy teaching on grace important to a church? That it meets you where you are, but it doesn’t leave you where you are. Because of what Paul says here in 2 Corinthians 5. He says, “We must all…” – that’s everybody. And if you’re reading in context, he’s talking about the fact that he’s an apostle. He includes himself. Even the apostles.
“We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”
This is one of those verses that most people who are really on the big side of grace, they don’t like these verses. That’s why I’m going to make a bunch of money one day and create the Velcro Bible. You know? I told you about that. You just pull out the passages that you don’t like. I’ll tell you. I’ll make a lot of money if I did that, wouldn’t I? So he says, “We must all appear before the judgment seat…” – I’m joking about the Velcro Bible. I’m not being for real. I’m joking in case you thought and you’re going, “Velcro Bible?”
Anyways. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ….” – Listen. This is important. – “…so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
Listen. When you and I stand before God at the judgment seat of Christ, we are not standing here to deal with past sins. Those have been forgiven. We’re standing there to be evaluated for what we’ve done in this life for the Lord out of our response to Him. We’re in the Olympics, right? Y’all know what I’m talking about, right? Or Zika? Now you know, right? Okay. That’ll get your attention.
So, the Olympics. When the little girl does the cartwheel thing or the gym routine or the guy does the gym routine or whatever and then all those judges are there, they’re not like judges like critical judges. They’re evaluating the performance and they put up an eight or a six or, if I was tumbling, it’d be a ten. Or a three or whatever. I’m just joking. They’d be like, “We’ve never seen anything this bad.”
Anyway. “Throw him out there with the Zika.”
So anyway, they’ve got all this stuff going on and whatever. Nobody is setting in there on the gym team going, “They don’t love me. They don’t care about me.” They’re not doing that. They realize what’s going on. Not all judgment’s bad. What God’s going to do for you and me, when we stand before God one day as Christians, it won’t be to deal with sin, it will be to deal with what did we do while we were in the body? Did we do anything? And if you minimize the grace teaching to only make it “He loves you, He loves you, He loves you, He loves you,” but He doesn’t give you the power to do something, then you’re going to stand before God one day and be short changed. And I don’t want anybody in here to be short changed.
Now listen to me. This is huge that you get. This will totally reshape the way you view the Bible. We view the Bible, unfortunately, though a certain lens here in America. And that lens is the Protestant reformation. And I’m happy that the Protestant reformation happened. It’s great. It’s part of history. But I want to tell you that we view the Bible through that lens. And I’m going back in history. I’m not making any statement whatsoever about anybody. I’m just tell you how history was.
Martin Luther decided that he didn’t think you had to work your way into Heaven with works; doing something for God. And so he protested against the Catholic church. That’s where the word “Protestant” comes from. Nothing against Catholics. I love Catholics. My wife grew up Catholic. Don’t read anything into here. I’m just giving you Church history.
He decided that there’s no way we can work it in because at that time, it was all about works. But when we read the New Testament and we come to works and we come to reading law and we come to reading that, we read through that lens. We go, “The Pharisees, man. They were doing the works and they were trying to work their way into Heaven. And ‘By no works of the law will any flesh be justified.’”
We think through that lens and we go, “That means you can’t work your way into Heaven.” Which is all true. But, that’s not what the Bible’s talking about. If you could go back into the first century, they didn’t have any Catholic-Protestant debate at all. This is the way people who lived in the first century saw the world. If you were a Jewish person in the first century, your present salvation was by grace. They weren’t working their way into Heaven. They knew that it was of grace. They would’ve told you their story.
They would’ve said, “Remember this is our story: our story is the story that’s called ‘The Exodus.’ We were in Egypt and God saved us. He delivered us and we hadn’t done anything. He brought us through the Red Sea. He brought us out. We hadn’t done anything. It was only later that He gave us the law. He didn’t give us the law and say, ‘Keep it and then I’ll deliver you.’ He saved us by grace and He delivered us. Then He gave us the law.”
What they would tell you is this: “Your salvation is by grace but in the future you get in through grace, but you stay in, you will be justified by your works which are very clearly delineated.”
There were three big time things when we talk about works of the law in the New Testament. Circumcision, Sabbath keeping and table fellowship. If you read the New Testament, what did the religious authorities have the big bones to pick about Jesus? You can see it all through the New Testament. He didn’t keep the Sabbath the way they wanted Him to keep the Sabbath and He ate with all the wrong people. That’s all they were concerned about. They were like, “If you’re in, then you’ve got to stay in. You’ve got to do certain things to stay in.”
You got in by grace, but the only way you can stay in is by doing the works of the law. You’ve got to make sure you don’t eat with the wrong people. You’ve got to have table fellowship. You can’t eat with some of the marginalized; the sinners, the prostitutes or any of those people. Don’t eat with them. Make sure that you keep the Sabbath and it has to be kept just a certain way. And if you’ll do those things, that shows that you’re God’s people and, in the future, you will be justified by those works that you’ve done.
What the New Testament does is it does this: it says that future justification that people were thinking was going to happen, God has now, by faith, not only given us salvation through grace, but He’s also justified us by that faith. He’s taking that justification, that future justification, and bringing it into the now. So now, we stand grace-filled, saved and justified by faith and this future justification that looks at our works is not whether or not we’re in, we’re in. It has to do with whether or not we did that things God has called us to do, and then He’s going to reward us based on the things that we did. But, it has nothing to do with whether or not we’re in.
Does that make sense? Do you follow me on this? This is huge at understanding. So, when you’re reading Paul, you’re reading this. And when you’re reading James, you’re reading this. You’re not reading confusion. It all makes sense. We’re just reading it through the wrong lens. You can’t work your way into Heaven, but the beauty of what God has done for you and me, He’s not only saved us, but He has justified us. We don’t have to do something to stay in. If you can’t get in by the works that you do, you can’t get out by the works you don’t do. Do you follow me on that?
There is a real security here to us – really, if you want to know what it all comes down to, it comes down to do you have a relationship with God or not? That’s the bottom line. Is there a relationship or is there not a relationship? It has nothing to do with performance. Do I love God or do I not love God? But, what’s happened is everything has been brought into the now and we are justified and saved by grace. But then, what that does, is we also need to be aware that one day we are going to stand before God and we’re going to have to give an account for the things that we’ve done while we lived. And, at that point, it’s going to be tens or sevens. You know, people always think with pastors it would be like, “Pastor Chip: Four.”
And you’d be like, “Four? I thought it was going to be a ten!”
And the lady out at First Friday is going to be, “Nine!”
And everybody’s going to go, “Whoa!” because that’s just the way God works. His Kingdom is so different than our kingdom. But none of us are going to be going, “Oh, man. God doesn’t love us.”
We’re going to, “Oh, man. I should have done that better. I should have seen that one. Yep. You’re right. Oh, man.”
And that’s why it’s important to understand. It’s not going to be like a bad deal. It’s just going to be that we need to understand that what we do matters. It really matters. It’s not just sitting around going, “Okay, God. Give me grace, give me grace, give me grace.”
It’s a matter of doing stuff. So now, let’s look at the checklist here going forward here. What do transcendent churches look like? Transcendent churches – this is a big one here – show compassion towards the least and the vulnerable.
Oftentimes the Church, historically, has ostracized the weak and the vulnerable. If you find the fringe of society, if you found the outcasts of society, you find the marginalized in society, I can tell you those are people that God loves and people that we should be reaching out to. Jesus tells the story in Matthew 25. He says, “Hey, when it’s all said and done, there’s going to be these sheep and the goat. And they’re all going to be together. And then I’m going to separate them out and I’m going to look at the sheep and I’m going to say, ‘Hey, man. You guys, when I was naked, you clothed me. When I was hungry, you fed me. And when I was in prison, you came and visited me. You did all these things. Man, you are awesome.’”
And here’s what Jesus says is going to happen. He says, “Then the righteous…” – the people that were doing those things – “… are going to say, ‘Lord, when? When did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you a drink? I mean, Jesus, we’re looking at you now. I don’t remember seeing you ever in my life. I mean, you’re pretty awesome. I mean, you’re shining with some radiant glory. I think I would’ve known if I was giving you some Burger King that I was feeding JC, you know what I’m talking about? I mean, I think I would’ve seen that. So, when did I do this? And Lord, when did we see you a stranger and welcome you or naked and clothe you? I mean, Lord, I don’t want to be sacrilegious or you get mad at me or whatever. But, I know if I would have seen you walk in naked, I would’ve remembered that. And Lord, I don’t remember that. When did I do this? When did that happen? And Lord, when did we see you sick? You were sick? The guy on TV told me we shouldn’t be sick. Lord, when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? When did this happen? When did all this happen?’”
The King will answer, “Truly, I say, as you did it to one of these, the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me. When you were serving people, you were serving me. When you were reaching into people that maybe people wouldn’t have gone to; the prisoners, the weak, the ostracized, the marginalized, you were serving me.”
You know, it’s interesting when Jesus arrests Paul on the Damascus road. He says, “Saul,” – because he was Saul of Tarsus before he was changed to Paul. “Saul. Saul. Why do you persecute me?”
It doesn’t say, “Why do you persecute my people? Why do you persecute the Christians?”
He says, “Why do you persecute me?”
When you’re messing with people, you’re messing with Jesus. And I’ll tell you what, it would really revolutionize the way we view people if we looked at everybody that we were looking at and we said, “That might be the Lord.” Huh? Come on, now. How big would that change the way we address people? Because God takes that stuff personally. Okay?
Third thing here. Transcendent churches love enemies, they do good, and are generous. Listen to what Jesus says here. He goes, “Love your enemies, do good, lend expecting nothing in return,” – look here. This is important here. – “…and your reward will be great.”
You’re going to keep seeing this word come up again. Reward. Reward. Reward. There really is a reward here. Can I tell you something? There’s two things about Christianity that are different from Christianity than any other religion. It really is. There’s two things. There’s two things that stand out.
One: Christianity, in it’s essence, teaches that there’s nothing that you and I can do to get right with God. Nothing. Every other religion tells you how to do something to get right with God. Christianity doesn’t. Now, we make it that way. And a lot of churches, we try to make it that you’ve got to do all these things to get right with God. But, in the New Testament, in the Bible, there’s nothing you and I can do to get right with God.
And secondly, this is the big one. This is the thing that Christianity has that no other religion has. Christianity teaches you and me to love our enemies.
That’s another Velcro Bible one, isn’t it? Yeah, I don’t know about loving enemies. I like my neighbor, but not my enemy. Right? But that’s what the Bible says this is what we’re to do. We’re to love enemies, do good, lend, we’re to be good people. This is what we’re supposed to be. And what we want to do is we want to go, “No no no. But not here. But not there. But not here.”
There’s no nuance here. We are to be people that love enemies. And you know why? Because God can change that enemy and make them a brother and sister in Christ if we will trust Him. If we love people, if we turn the other cheek, if we go the extra mile, it’s amazing what God will not only do in your life, but in the lives of the other people that you’re doing it for. And I can tell you this: when you truly learn to love an enemy, someone who’s done you wrong and somebody you know as an enemy, the more you learn to love them, the more you realize the one you’re setting free is yourself. From all that anger and hate and frustration and all that stuff. Jesus wants us to be a church that loves enemies, does good, and really, genuinely is generous.
Fourth: Transcendent churches – this is one we don’t like either – they will be insulted, spurned, and excluded for Christ. If you’re doing the work of God, this is going to happen. I’m always sort of amazed when I talk to people who are in America, when anything happens that’s not pro the Church or something happens that doesn’t seem to be fair, how upset we get. It’s like, “Dude, it’s in the Bible. It’s just right there in the Bible. It’s going to happen.”
It’s like we don’t even know that it’s there. Listen to what Jesus says. A lot of y’all say sometimes I can give you some passages that you didn’t know were in the Bible. Check this one out. This is great.
He says, “Blessed are you when people hate you…” – when’s the last time somebody hated you and you though you were blessed?
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and when they revile you and spurn your name as evil…” – this is really important though, right here, that we get this. All this hinges on the next little line.
“…on account of the Son of Man.”
On account of Jesus. That ain’t on account of our stupidity when we do something dumb and then go, “I’m getting persecuted for the Lord. They hate me for the Lord.”
No, that was just something you did dumb. What I’m talking about is when you’re doing something that’s really Jesus-filled and you’re really doing Jesus stuff. That is when you’re blessed. Okay? And then listen to this. None of us are going to understand this one. This is awesome. He says, “Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward…” – there’s “reward” again – “…is great in Heaven.”
I’m going to ask you something now. The time that something goes wrong for you and you go, “I can’t believe this is going on, I can’t believe this is happening to Christians, I can’t believe this is going on,” when’s the last time you started rejoiced and leaping rather than going on Facebook and being negative? Come on. Yeah? I got one little clap. Velcro Bible, baby.
Rejoice and leap. You go, “Well, man. Hold on. That’s not…”
See, I’m telling you. We read the Bible, but we don’t read the Bible. We look at it and we select. We’ve got the scalpel. The Biblical Scalpel. You know? We’re going through. “I like this part. Yeah. I like this part and I like this. Oh, I don’t know about this one here. Let’s get out of that book.”
You know? We can’t do that. We don’t interpret the Bible. We let the Bible interpret us. If Jesus says to rejoice when you’re getting persecuted, rejoice. You know what? If the Church started rejoicing when that happened, the world would be like, “What is wrong with you people?”
But what we do is we fight back the same way they fight back and we don’t look any different. Man, this is way better preaching than you all are letting on. I’m telling you. I’m telling you.
Fifth: transcendent churches truly seek Him. Now, I’m going to step on some toes here and I don’t mean to. I love you all so much. This is an awesome church. But, I’m going to tell you something. Listen to me. This is so true. We’ve got to learn how to pray again. We’ve got to learn how to seek God again. I mean, we do a lot of good stuff. But man, we’ve got to get ahold of God. We’ve got to really start loving God again. I mean, Jesus, in the book of Revelation, tells the Church, “You’re doing a lot of good stuff, but you lost your first love.”
You’re doing some stuff that’s right, but you’re not doing it because you really – Listen. This is what the writer in Hebrews says. He says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him…” – Here’s the big one. Look. – “…for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”
Do you believe that? Do you believe when you get down on your knees, do you believe when you go to God and say, “God, I need you in my life? God, I need you to save my husband. I need you to save my wife. I need help at my job.”
Do you believe when you seek God that He rewards you? I’m telling you, He rewards you. We need to be a church that learns to seek God again. If we could get people praying all the time, I’ll leave the church open. You want to come in here and start praying in the church, we’ll leave the church open. The more we pray, the more we seek Him, the more He will show up when we meet together. That’s just the way it is. That’s just the way it is.
And you know what? If you want to get real Biblical on this, it’s not so much that when we seek Him that He shows up. He’s already here and when we seek Him, we start to realize that He’s here. Do you follow that one? I had to correct myself. It’s like theological correction mid-sermon. I like it. Okay, here we go.
Sixth thing: transcendent churches reach the lost. I want you to listen to what Jesus says. Just soak this in for a minute. “The master said to the servant, Go out to the highways and the hedges and compel people to come in,” – Don’t just talk to them. Drag them. I want my house filled.
People would say all the time, “Chip, what do you think? Do you think God wants churches to grow?”
I think He wants His house filled. That’s what He said. I’m going to take Him at His word. He wants His house filled. I’m going to share something with you because I think this is important that you hear from me. Crazy week. I mean, Noah’s flood. It’s crazy, man. I was in here walking and I’m like, “Look at me. I’m walking on water.”
It was Friday. Busy day. I had people in and I had meetings all day. This construction worker came in to the new offices. He had a ladder. He’s like, “Hey, y’all mind if I go in your offices and start looking under the tiles?”
I’m not a construction guy. I’m like, “What are you looking for under the tiles?”
I’m like, “Surely this is not a Pokémon Go moment, right?”
You know? And he’s pushing up tiles. I’m like, “What are you looking for?”
He goes, “Well, I’ve been working in here and I lost my tape measurer.”
And I’m not a construction guy. So, you can queue me in. I didn’t go online and look. I’m thinking, “A measuring tape? Dude, there’s a lot of tiles in this church to be looking for a measuring tape. There’s a place called Wal-Mart. You can just go down and buy another one, right?”
Oh, no no. This guy was in every tile. And I didn’t pay that much attention to it. And the day was going on and I come through a hallway. And there he is on his ladder up with a flashlight looking around. And as I’m walking up to him I’m thinking, “This guy’s ridiculous.”
And as I walk by, it was like all of a sudden I just felt this total impression. He’s like, “Chip, do you see the way he’s looking for that tape measurer? That’s the way I look for people.”
Man, God loves people. He wants to reach people. He wants to do something. He wants to use you and me to reach people. And when we do that, it is the most massively fulfilling life we could ever live. We try so hard to get everything in our lives together. We try so hard to get our lives organized and yet we live around in fear and concern and all of this stuff. Man, I’m going to tell you what. Everything stops, everything in the world stops when you’re sitting there and you’re talking to someone about Jesus and they’re coming to the Lord and God’s using you.
And here, I want to sort of give a quick summary. This is what a transcendent church looks like.
First: people that are lost are becoming saved. I know this is not popular in the world today. But, I’m going to just tell you straight up. And, if you’re new here, I want to say this with all the love in my heart, but you’re not here by accident. And maybe you’ve been trying to live your life the way you want to live it and you’ve been doing it without Jesus. And maybe you’re starting to think, “Maybe I should do it with Jesus.”
Can I tell you something from the bottom of my heart? You’ll never have a fulfilled life without a relationship with Jesus. It starts there. Transcendent churches are seeing people move from lost to saved.
Secondly, they’re seeing people get past their yesterdays. They’ve gotten saved now, but they still have baggage. They have stuff that they’re carrying around and the church has to help them get past those yesterdays so that they can move on so that they can start to understand the life of purpose that God has for them. The gifts and the talents and all the things that God has for them. But, they’ve got to get saved first. They’ve got to get past their yesterdays because you can’t start doing great things for God and really make great things for God when you’ve got all the baggage that you’re struggling with. You can do things and God can use you, but you’ve got to get from of that stuff. You’ve got to let God get that out of your life and move you to a life of purpose. And then when you get that, you start reproducing yourself in others.
And I’ll tell you what, when you’re a part of a church and you’re involved in it and you’re a part of it and it’s happening in your life and it’s happening around you where lost people are getting saved and people are getting past their yesterdays and people are finding out the life of purpose that God has for them, and then they start to go out and reproduce them into other people’s lives, man, that is the most exciting thing you could ever be around. Because it’s just flat out awesome. And that’s when you’re living a massively fulfilled life because you’re truly living a life of transcendence at that point.
And that’s why we exist. That’s why the Church exists. To reach people. That’s why when you come in here it says, “We exist to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.”
We want to compel people into God’s house. We want to see people really get their lives changed to where they become all that God has called them to be and then they’re able to go out a reproduce that into other people’s lives. Next week is the best message in this series. Hands down. I want you to be here. I want you to drag your neighbor, your friends, your frenemies, your enemies, your in-laws, your outlaws. All of that. You need to get here because this is going to go out with a bang. But what I want you to do this week is I want you to commit to praying, “God, help me to be what I need to be at Grace Community Church so that we can do all these things that you’ve called us to do.”
And I’m going to tell you what, you pray that prayer and you watch what God will do. He’ll start answering it. And you’ll find, when you start doing some things for God, it’ll change your life in such a major way. And you know what? That’s what I want. I just want to make sure that all my people, when we walk past that finish line and we hang up cleats or we lay down the racket or the golf club, that the people that were at Grace, when we stand before God, He goes, “Hey, man. That was a 9. That was an 8. That was a nine 9.5. That was an 8. That was good. That First Friday thing? The backpack thing? That was an 8.”
And we’ll all go, “Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!” because we realized that God really wants to do something great through us. Let’s pray.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank You so much for Your love and Your mercy. And Lord, I think You for this church. This is a great church. There are so many people in this church that do so many great things for You, week in and week out. But God, I don’t want to settle for that. I want to see more, Lord. I want to see more people come in. I want to see more people find the plan that You have for them. Lord, I want us to just really be a church that reaches this area for Your glory. And Lord, when we slide into Heaven on that final day we go, “Woo! What a ride that was.”
Lord, that’s what I see here. I believe that with all of my heart. So Lord, I pray this week as we chew on this and think through this, I pray, God, that You just open our hearts to continually think about and just sort of let it marinate in our lives about what You would want us to do and how You would want us to live out these things of transcendence, not only in the life of Grace Community Church, but in our own personal lives.
So Lord, we thank You for everything that You’re doing. We pray, God, that You would watch over us and keep us as we live. We pray, God, that You would continue to help this church become the light that You’ve called us to be to Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and Bradenton for Your glory and for Your honor. I pray that You would bring us back safely to when we meet again. We thank You for all that You’re doing in Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.” Give the Lord a hand clap.