Sermon Script: John 3:16, 1John 4:9
Sermon Purpose: What’s the point?
Sermon Title: “So That, So What?”
This morning I need your help. I need your help to figure something out, and since it is homecoming this thing we have to figure out is terribly – extremely important to our church. To begin with I have asked for a little help from some people in our prayer group. We have prayer group and Bible study Tuesday evenings and Wednesday mornings. Please listen to the Scriptures they are going to read out loud this morning. It would be a big help to me if you would please try to find the common word or phrase which connects all of these Scriptures.
“Have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:28)
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: god sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)
Did any of you catch a phrase or group of words each of these verses shares? (pause for answers) The connecting words were “so that.” Now some of you may be thinking so what? What does it matter that those two little words are in all of these Scriptures? There are a lot of places in Scripture where those words do not appear. That’s true. But these verses are about purpose – specifically God’s purpose for us. Christ did not come into this world for giggles. Christ did not come into this world so He could sit on a beach sipping fruity umbrella drinks and watch the sun set. Christ came into this world for a purpose. Christ came into the world, “so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus Christ; the King of Kings was born, lived, was crucified dead and buried, and rose from the grave so we could have life. Jesus died, “so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). I love that. I love that God loves us, and wants us to have life.
The next question I have is for what purpose? Let’s think about it for a minute. God is the creator of everything, right? Right. God is all powerful. God is all knowing. God is everywhere, right? Right. Why would God care about us? Each and every person here is a sinner. Amen? Amen! Each and every person here has made mistakes. Amen? Amen! Each and every person here has willfully disobeyed God. Amen? Amen! We have acted like strong willed children running out to the swing set when God told us to play on the drive way so God could keep an eye on us. We continually see the steep hills of life and think wouldn’t it be fun to ride down that hill on our bicycle? God is all knowing and God is everywhere. God knows what we are going to think when we see that hill. God is with us as we push our bicycle up the hill. God is already there with us when we wreck because the hill was too steep. God is there with us when we have scraped knees and sprained wrists and ankles, and God still helps to pick us back up again. Why does God still pick us up when we have been stubborn strong willed children for all of these years? God still picks us up with love and grace so that we will have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). But abundant life does not come from the momentary thrills of life found in extreme sports, candy, booze, drugs, or countless sins. That form of happiness is the lie of this world.
Christ did not die so we could be content with what fleeting happiness this world has to offer. Christ died, “so that [we] could be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that [we] may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:12). We were not given life so we could give into the taunts, dares and double dares to ride down the steep hills of life on our bicycles. When Christ came into the world, hope was born into the world so that we would not have to continue to live in darkness. “In the same way, [we should] let our light shine before others, so that they may see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We have been created, and Christ died to save us so that we might be God’s stewards of creation and of each other.
Hear me now when I say this. Jesus was not crucified so we could have our names on a membership list. Christ was not beaten with canes and scourged with whips so we could still be buried in a particular cemetery. Christ came to earth, died and was raised from death so the chains which keep us from the joys of service to God and service to others would no longer keep us from the joy of Christ. Jesus came to free us from the chains of sin and doubt. Amen? Amen! Amen?! Amen!!
Alright. So what? So what now? For those of us who have given our hearts to Jesus Christ so what? What are we expected to do now? Let’s have a show of hands. How many of y’all have ever taken your car for an oil change? How many of y’all have ever been to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned? How many of y’all have ever gone to a gym to work out? Okay. Why do you have your oil changed? (pause for answers) Why do you go to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned? (pause for answers) Why did you join this church? (pause) No. I’m serious. Why did you join this church? When someone joins a United Methodist church they promise to support the church through their prayers, their presence, their gifts, their service and their witness. My question is to what purpose? It’s all well and good to support your church through your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service and your witness; but for what goal? If the goal is just to be a loving caring group of people who like to get together on Sunday morning then yeah. It’s not such a big deal to miss a Sunday here or a month of Sunday’s there. However, when the church has a mission we all get behind then everyone has a place in the work, and if one person is not there, the mission suffers.
It starts with the mission or goal we are trying to achieve. The Administrative council is going to be taking some time here at the end of the year to try and figure out what the mission of our church is going to be for 2016. The mission could be anything because God can call us and equip us to do anything. The question we have to answer is what is the mission God is calling us to in our community? What is the mission God will hold us accountable for in our community? Where are we called to be fruitful and multiply, and to whom?
Now, I’ve done it again. There is another insert in your bulletin. It goes along with some of the questions I’ve just asked you. The insert also has a few questions I have not asked you. These questions are an important part of the conversation about what our mission for 2016 looks like? What kind of church do we need to become in order to be our community’s church instead of just another church in the community? Whom do we need to be serving? What do I need to be teaching? What do we need to be singing? Where is the greatest need in our community and how can our church meet that need? What needs to change in order to meet that need? These are some of the questions the Admin council will begin looking for answers to shortly.
The next question is once the Admin Council has determined this church’s future mission will you the congregation get on board? Will you the members and maybe even the visitors this morning support this church through your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service and your witness so that the mission of our church can be achieved through Christ? If you the body of believers will support the mission of the church then we will have to start taking a look at the work this church does and ask this important question. How does the work of this ministry support the mission or goal of our church? We’ll ask how do poorman’s suppers support the goal of the church? I would personally love for all of the money made on poorman’s suppers and chicken pie sales to go right back into missions. We aint there – yet. We aint there yet. However, with a couple more of y’all pitching in on a regular basis we could get there, and from there the realm of possibilities opens up. There is no reason why 2016 couldn’t be there year that Cotton Grove transitions from being this little church that was almost dead a year ago into being the church the community looks to for missions and a place to call home. 2016 could be the year we become this community’s church. But to get there we have to be clear about why we are here today.
Sisters and brothers Christ did not die so we could sit comfortably in a pew, or so we could have our name on a membership roster, or so we could be buried in a specific cemetery. Christ came that we would have life so that we would let our light shine out in the world for God’s glory. The great commission is to go forth and make disciples of all nations. How are we going to make disciples of all nations if we aint making disciples here at home? Sisters and brothers we’ve got work to do right here and right now. Now is the time. Let’s get to it – together.
In the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.