We are in a new sermon series called Rediscover Church – why the body of Christ is essential. We are asking nine key questions about church. And as we consider the answers I hope we all take the next step in deepening our relationship with Christ and our local church. Maybe you have been watching on-line and waiting to take the step of joining us in-person. Come on out and join us!
The questions come from the book Rediscover Church I have been reading by Collin Hansen and Johnathan Leeman. Our Growth Groups are joining the discussion each week through the rest of this series. If you would like to try a growth group, you will receive a FREE copy of the book. Please sign up for a Growth Group at the Welcome Center.
What is Church Membership?
Church membership is a church’s affirmation and oversight of a Christians’ profession of faith and discipleship, combined with the Christian’s submission to the church and its oversight.
– Jonathan Leeman, Rediscover Church
Today’s question is number six: How Do I love Members who are Different?
How many of you are excited about the growth we saw in our church last year? So, if we wanted to grow our church as quickly and as big as possible what would we do? Messages that make you feel good. Music that is the most popular. Small groups for every interest – singles, empty nesters, young professionals, bikers, hunters, etc. Basically, you find a segment of the population and you cater to them in everything you do.
While that might work, sorry to say, that is not the model that Jesus taught. He wants church to be a fellowship of different people – not all the same. He taught us to love all kinds of people – even our enemies. Different nations, different tribes, different skin shades, different cultures, different ages, different financial backgrounds.
When you look around – do you only see people just like you, or do you see some differences?
Church is for Sinners
Before Jesus established the church, He chose twelve men to be His closest disciples. He called them Apostles and He built the church on these men. As we see in the Gospels a number of them were hard working fishermen – pretty rough around the edges, one was a tax collector – hated by his own people for selling out to the Roman government, another was a political zealot who was ready to fight and die for freedom from Rome.
Diversity or Uniformity
It’s so easy to fall into the world’s ideas about perfect community. There are two basic options. Groups or organizations may celebrate diversity by highlighting and prioritizing our differences – ethnic, nationality, gender, skin tone, and sexual orientation. All of these differences are good. They are right. And they should be celebrated. Unfortunately, even when there are moral issues with differences like gender and sexuality that are being taught as self-identity instead of moral choices. People are taught to feel good or right when all of these various identities are included in our community. A room full of faces that all look alike is just wrong, maybe even immoral and certainly unloving.
But then there is also the celebration of uniformity. In much of the world, different ethnicities are not supposed to mix. People might live in a remote area where everyone came from there. Or maybe some are in a country where caste systems separate people into social classes and there is no possibility of changing places. Some countries have political systems that demand obedience to the state in everything – from what job you hold to what religion you follow. Uniformity can feel comfortable and natural when everyone around you looks, talks, and thinks the same.
Ephesians 2:13-14, 19
A Fellowship of Differents
We need to rediscover that our church community is a fellowship of differents united by Christ alone. When Christ is what binds us together no pandemic, no election, no social cause can threaten our unity. We draw closer together in love, empathy and trust. We don’t have to be the same, look the same, or even vote the same. Our standard is biblical obedience. Biblical thinking. Biblical living. Biblical loving.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Have you accepted God’s loving gift of salvation? It’s all about connecting what has been separated. It starts with admitting your sin and trusting in Jesus as your Savior. The Bible tells us our sins separate us from a holy God. But God, who is rich in love and mercy sent His Son Jesus to be the Savior of the world – to die in our place, paying for our sins, and then rise from the dead to show His power of death and the grave. Salvation restores the broken relationship between you and God that was caused by sin. And the church is called to help others see their need to be right with God – not right with their personal views.
Have you trusted in Jesus as your Savior?
Do you honor and respect people whose backgrounds are different from yours? Even the tax collector or zealot sitting next to you?
Do you hope all things in love? Or does your love insist on its own way?
Do you strive to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? Or are you looking for things to stay the same – the comfortable ways you are used to?
Are you excited about our church looking like that gathering in heaven? Are you looking to build up a church that grabs the world’s attention because we are united in our differences?