I AM A CHURCH MEMBER
Serving Church Members
Notice the restaurants shown on the screen (Burger King, Chili’s, Cracker Barrel, Chick-fil-A, Hoss’s, McDonalds, Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse, Panda Express, and Buffalo Wild Wings). We’re going to find out which one of these is your favorite this morning.
[Go through each logo and ask for a show of hands when the logo is large]
Did you see that not everyone has the same favorite restaurant? Some of you would never set foot in one of those restaurants, because the food style is repulsive to you. Your gag reflex is working right now as you think about that kind of food. It just turns your stomach. It’s fine for you to feel that way. Other people love that kind of food and are repulsed by other kinds of foods.
I love food
I’ve always been willing to try just about any kind of food
As long as it won’t hurt me or kill me
I’ve eaten grasshoppers from Mexico
Cubes of fat in Romania
I’ve tried menudo from a can (a spicy Mexican soup made with tripe, onions, tomatoes, chilies, and hominy)
I’m sure that none of you have ever had to deal with this in your family
When our family eats out it’s difficult to decide where to go, because everyone has their favorite kind of food
The boys would be content to go to McDonalds every time
Judy and Seth would be fine with pizza every time
Wade, Levi, and I would willingly eat at a Chinese restaurant
There are no arguments about dessert, because everyone likes Rita’s and Sweet Frog
While we don’t eat at McDonalds every time, Judy and I will sacrifice our preferences and eat there
There are times when Judy and Seth sacrifice their preferences and we eat at a Chinese restaurant
There are times when the boys sacrifice their preferences and eat at a restaurant that Judy and I enjoy
Why do we sacrifice our preferences?
It’s because we love each other and we want to encourage and express our love through allowing the other members of our family to enjoy the kind of food they like
Leader always chose same place to eat
I heard a story about a leader who when he met with his team once a month would always choose the same restaurant to eat lunch at
The reason he did this was because he liked the restaurant and only came to the area once a month
The other team members didn’t mind, because they didn’t want to be the leader
Within the church
You and I are guilty of acting this way in the church
Thom Rainer’s team of researchers conducted a survey of churches who were inwardly focused – that means they were not serving past their own walls and their own members – the churches were largely self-serving
They found ten dominant behavior patterns of members in these churches:
Worship wars – one or more factions in the church want the music just the way they like it. Any deviation is met with anger and demands for change.
Prolonged minutia meetings – The church spends an inordinate amount of time in different meetings. Most of the meetings deal with the most inconsequential items, while the Great Commission and Great Commandment are rarely the topics of discussion.
Facility focus – The church facilities develop iconic status. One of the highest priorities in the church is the protection and preservation of rooms, furniture, and other visible parts of the church’s buildings and grounds.
Program driven – this isn’t bad unless the program becomes an end instead of a means to greater ministry.
Inwardly focused budget – a disproportionate share of the budget is used to meet the needs and comforts of the members instead of reaching beyond the walls of the church.
Inordinate demands for pastoral care – care and concern is important in times of need and crisis. Problems occur when church members have unreasonable expectations for even minor matters.
Attitudes of entitlement – the overarching attitude is one of demanding and having a sense of deserving special treatment.
Greater concern about change than the gospel – Almost any noticeable changes in the church evoke the ire of many; but those same passions are not evident about participating in the work of the gospel to change lives.
Anger and hostility – members are consistently angry. They regularly express hostility toward the church staff and other members.
Evangelistic apathy – very few members share their faith on a regular basis. More are concerned about their own needs rather than the greatest eternal needs of the world and community in which they live.
I can tell you today that I’ve been, and am guilty of some of these behavior patterns
I’m also confident that most of you have been or are guilty of some of these behavior patterns too
I don’t want you to be discouraged today
These things need to be discussed and the biblical solution needs to be shared
In good company
Jesus spent three years developing twelve disciples and they struggled and had a tendency to fight with one another
Mark 9:33-37, They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Read Mark 10:35-45 [Bible marker #1]
Jesus mentioned it twice to His disciples
The way to become great is to humble yourself
The way to become great is to be a servant to all
To become a servant meant to sacrifice your preferences and desires in order to allow someone else to be honored
Jesus modeled this for His disciples right before His death, when he wrapped a towel around His waist and washed their feet at the Last Supper
But the greatest way Jesus modeled this for His disciples and for you and me is what we find in Philippians 2:1-11
BIG IDEA – Serving others means sacrificing self.
GOD (Philippians 2:1-11)
Paul is writing to the Philippian church because of a dispute that is happening there
It’s a dispute between Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2)
He is helping them to understand how to deal correctly with it
Blessings (v. 1)
Paul reminds the Philippian believers of the blessings of being in a Christian community
The Greek word translated in English as “If” also has the meaning in Greek of “since”
Paul is not questioning whether the believers have experienced these blessings or not
He is saying to them, “Since you have experienced these blessings from Christ, then this is what I want you to do.”
As followers of Jesus Christ we have been united with him
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus offers for us to be yoked together with Him, so we can learn from Him
This promise from Jesus should bring encouragement to you today, especially if you feeling weary and have a heavy burden you’re carrying (financial, work, relational, health)
Jesus is there to help carry that burden, just yoke yourself to Him
Don’t keep trying to carry the burden alone
This is referring to Christ’s love for His people
We know how He demonstrated that – it involved a rugged cross and mistreatment by those who were blind to the truth
Jesus willingly died on the cross for you and me – taking our punishment and paying our sin debt
It literally means “participation”
It is referring to participation with the Holy Spirit
Tenderness and compassion
The Greek word for tenderness literally means bowels, intestines
The bowels were considered as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the more tender affections, especially kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections)
“The meaning of the verse seems clear: If there is any divine strength or support available ‘to those who are in Christ Jesus as you are (and there is); if there is any consolation or incentive which springs from your love (and Paul is confident there is); if participation in the Holy Spirit means anything (and it does); if there be in you any affectionate tenderness (and Paul is sure there is),’ then,” make my joy complete by being like-minded. [BBC, 316]
Unity (vv. 2-4)
Paul lists three characteristics that express the unity of the church
First, the same outlook
To be like-minded does not mean that you and I agree on everything or like all the same things
From a spiritual perspective it does mean that you and I have the same love as Christ did; having the same mind; cherishing the same views, valuing the same thing
Every evangelical denomination will agree on the tenets of the Gospel (who Jesus is and what He did)
“. . . internal unity is necessary for holding back the destructive forces that would hinder the progress of the gospel.” [Thielman, 96]
Every believer in Jesus Christ should be like-minded when it comes to the Gospel
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit
“In literature prior to the New Testament, the term appears only in Aristotle’s Politica, where, in the course of discussing the various causes of political revolutions, the philosopher identifies one cause as the greedy grasp for public office through unjust means.” [Thielman, 97]
Vain conceit means empty pride – don’t do something just to build yourself up, which will lead to emptiness
In humility consider others better than yourselves
“Before the New Testament era, the word “humility” had a negative connotation. The adjective related to it “was frequently employed, and especially so, to describe the mentality of a slave. It conveyed the ideas of being base, unfit, shabby, mean, of no account.” [Melick, 94]
Notice that it was used of the mentality of a slave
Jesus had told His disciples that they needed to become slaves of all
Paul is urging you and me to have the mentality of a slave when it comes to fellow believers; “count others as excelling over us.”
Paul is not saying that you neglect yourself or your own interests
None of us has a problem taking care of ourselves
It’s a part of our American culture and psyche
One of our unalienable Rights is the pursuit of happiness – making ourselves happy
We pursue our own happiness more vigorously than perhaps anything else – it’s our right!
“Much modern social and psychological theory is indebted to the notion that members of the human species, like all other animals, are involved in a relentless quest to dominate others in order to survive. So we not only enter the church with the belief that we deserve to be made happy but often with the notion that our pursuit of happiness at the expense of others is inevitable.” [Thielman, 106]
“[Paul] sees [the church] as a group of individuals who, despite their differences, are willing to show love for one another through putting the well-being of others first.” [Thielman, 103]
Serving others means sacrificing self.
Jesus example (vv. 5-8)
Being Christ-like (v. 5)
How many of you would say that you want to be Christ-like
Isn’t it what every follower of Jesus Christ should desire?
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
One of the ways to be Christ-like is with your attitude
Paul says that our attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus
What was Christ’s attitude? (vv. 6-8)
First, we have to understand that He was fully God and fully man
He didn’t give up His deity to become a man
He set aside the right to His glory and power
In submission to God’s will, Christ limited His power and knowledge – He didn’t try to hold on to it
What made His humanity unique was His freedom from sin
Jesus willingly sacrificed heaven in order to come to earth to redeem the world
Second, He took the form of a servant
When Jesus came to earth, He didn’t come into earthly royalty
He wasn’t born in a palace
He didn’t grow up to reign over the Roman Empire or even a portion of the Roman Empire
As a human being, He was born into a family where His earthly father was a carpenter – not a particularly high social position
“By taking the form of a servant He revealed the true meaning of service.” [BBC, 320]
His death on a cross was reserved for individuals who were from the lower classes
The only reason a Roman citizen would have ever been considered to be crucified would have been for high treason
Death by crucifixion was below the social status of the rich and privileged
Even though Jesus was God the Son and had more power and authority than all the Roman rulers, He sacrificed all of that in order to die a servants death
He obediently followed the will of His Father
His attitude was one of humility and love
In His humility, He sacrificed everything so you could enjoy life
It’s through His death, burial, and resurrection that you can truly enjoy your life here on earth
It’s through His death, burial, and resurrection that you can enjoy eternal life when He returns
John 3:14-15, Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
Perhaps you’ve hesitated to believe in Jesus Christ, because you’re unwilling to sacrifice something in your life
Maybe you’re afraid that believing in Jesus will mean that you can no longer have any fun
When you believe in Jesus and repent and turn from your sin, Jesus transforms you
You now have the power of the Holy Spirit living in you to give you the strength to sacrifice old habits, old friends, and old attitudes
You will find joy in serving Jesus!
My Next Step Today Is To: Believe in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life.
As followers of Jesus Christ, you and I should be striving each day to have the same attitude of humility and servant hood that Jesus did
As biblical church members, you and I should be giving, serving, putting others first
We should be doing whatever it takes to keep the unity in our church
You should always ask first what you can do for your church
Maybe you’ve been doing this, but you’re frustrated by those whose attitude is not Christ-like
These individuals are the ones that God has asked you to serve
When you’re tired of sacrificing for others in the church, remember the cross
You can’t do it in your own strength – it’s you and God together
My Next Step Today Is To: Pray for God’s strength and wisdom as I strive to have the attitude of Christ while serving those within Idaville Church
Perhaps you’ve been struggling with having a Christ-like attitude and you’re more characterized by what the leader did in insisting on eating at the same restaurant every time
You’ve been struggling with sacrificing your own personal preferences within the church
God’s desire is that everyone be brought to salvation and that none are lost
Being obedient to the Great Commission and Great Commandment sometimes requires changes in order to reach the next generation for Christ
It requires that you and I sacrifice our preferences in music, programs, our buildings and grounds, and many other areas
“. . . no sacrifice of our own comparatively paltry rights as human beings seems too great to make in order that the gospel might be advanced.” [Thielman, 128]
Allow yourself to be “overwhelmed by Jesus’ undeserved love for you that caused Him to sacrifice everything – including His preferences . . .” [Rainer, 40]
Keeping that in mind will enable you to do that for others
You can’t do this on your own – it has to be you and God
My Next Step Today Is To: Ask God to help me see where I need to sacrifice my preferences so the Great Commission can be accomplished through Idaville Church
As you and I obediently follow the will of God by having the same attitude as Christ by serving those within our church and sacrificing our preferences, then several incredible things will happen
We will experience joy and unity here at church
On the final day, God will respond to the lives of his obedient servants with commendation, just as he responded to Christ’s obedient life (Phil. 2:9-11) [Thielman, 128]
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis provides a helpful description of how the fallible believer can be more like Christ amid the give and take of everyday life.
“It helps . . . to pretend to be Jesus, just as a child might pretend to be a soldier or a shopkeeper. Just as the child’s imaginary games help the child to develop skills that will later be useful as a real soldier or shopkeeper, so the ‘game’ of pretending to be Christ inevitably reveals to the believer places for improvement and guides the believer toward spiritual maturity. . . .The minute we realize we are dressing up like Christ, we will discover ways in which our pretense could become reality. We will be embarrassed to discover thoughts that Christ would not have had and unfulfilled duties that Christ would not have neglected. Those realizations . . . should in turn prompt us to more complete obedience.” [Thielman, 130].
The Third Pledge
I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires. That is self-serving. I am a member in this church to serve others and to serve Christ. My Savior went to a cross for me. I can deal with any inconveniences and matters that just aren’t my preference or style.