Almost 16 years ago when Amber and I (Scott) and a small team were planting Corner Church, there were some things that were important then and are still extraordinarily important today:
First, a church where you are known.
Community. The body of Christ. It needs to be more than a place to blend in, attend, or just go. This actually would (and does) make us a terrible place to hide out.
Discipleship is a process of growing in relationship with Christ with others.It is not a program and it can’t be forced. It takes time and trust and life together.
And it can not happen without first being known.
Second, a church where you are an important part of community.
You have something to say, to contribute. You don’t have to be something or fake something in order to be valued.
My faith says that every step a person takes towards spiritual reality is a step towards Christ.
If this is true, and my faith says it is, then no matter where you are at, walk with people in taking steps.
If this is true, and my faith says it is, celebrate every step, not just the finish line.
If this is true, and my faith says it is, we are all in process and we can all walk together in this process together no matter our starting points.
So as we walk with Scripture as our guide, we seek to avoid isolation, and we walk in process together. We are all important.
Lastly--and there were many, but these stood out to me for today--
A church that is valued in community.
It is nice to love your community. It is nice to stencil that on the wall. But a church that is valued by the community is something that is so much more. If we stop or change or leave, would we be missed?
We serve community--not to build a brand or to draw a crowd or to advance a mission. We serve community because that is what Jesus did. This is foundational to being redefiners of what church is and what a Christian is. This is foundational to being followers of Jesus in community.
This gave us the focus of being within walking distance of people in community, as opposed to being a place that pulls all communities together.
This gives focus to being known. This gives focus to everyone having value. This keeps focus on being Christlike.
And this leads us to our conversation today as we are standing on the shore of a lake talking without much of a sound system. How much more Christlike can you get?
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
Being “more like Jesus” - each of us can feel some deficits and see ways where we want to be more like Jesus.
I want to be more like Jesus. I want to be more Christlike. I want to see people like Jesus saw people: I want to see value; I want to see beauty; I want to see potential; I want to see hope.
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere. (Mark 1:40-45)
A person with leprosy was seen as being dangerous, subhuman, cursed, dead to community. He was ostracized, excommunicated, feared, shamed, forced to live at a distance, avoided at all cost.
Verse 41 says that Jesus was indignant. Jesus was moved to compassion: He saw the pain. He saw the hurt. He saw the need. He saw what was happening outside of this man, and inside. And He responded.
HE WAS WILLING.
He responded by seeing, touching, healing, connecting.
I want to be more Christlike. I want to be willing to see need. I want to see people in need. I want to respond. I want to touch those that are hurting and alone. I want to be a part of the solution. I want to connect and care by seeing value.
And I see that this Christlikeness is not just going to be about “will-powering” love, but it is out of being indignant, or compassionate about how the least person is being seen and or treated in this world.
I want to be more Christlike.
I want to trust God like Jesus trusts God--learning to trust God, look to God, in every moment.
Instead of taking everything into His own hands, Jesus trusted that God would make all things right.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:21-23)
Instead of only looking to His current situation, Jesus trusted what God had been saying all along.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:1-13)
Instead of holding tightly to His own life or running away from pain, Jesus trusted that God was taking care of Him.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matthew 26:36-46)
I want to keep growing in my trust of God. And my own track record shows that God actually is trustworthy, and I don’t think there’s a cap to God’s trustworthiness. Anything I’m willing to grow in my trust in God in, He is already trustworthy in it.
I want to have faith in others like Jesus did.
In today’s world it’s easy for us to assume the worst in everyone, to think people are inherently selfish and are only out for their own good. Watching the news lately has done nothing but destroy my faith in humanity. Arguments, hatred, and stupidity seem to have no end. Yet it’s these broken, frustrating, fallen, imperfect people that Jesus chooses to ask to follow Him.
My moments of biggest failing do not disqualify me from God-given purpose.
God looked at a group of people wandering in the wilderness. God looked at the smallest and least qualified to take on the giant. Abraham was too old. Noah was an alcoholic. Moses couldn't speak well. Gideon was a coward. David was a murderer.
The disciples let Jesus down on multiple occasions. Peter was a denier. Paul was a persecutor of the early church.
Yes, there’s definitely a danger in believing ourselves as unqualified, not good enough, or too far gone to have healthy relationships with God and others.
What might be more damaging is believing those things about others.
God looked at all our biblical heroes and had hope and faith in them. Sure, faith in Jesus is paramount, but what really blows me away is Jesus’ faith in humanity.
What character trait do you admire in Jesus?
What does it look like for you (us) to be Christlike in that way?