Years ago I attended a student ministry conference with our very own Pastor Rob Yonan in Colorado. And on an off day we decided to go skiing. Though I had never skied before, Rob assured me that I could do it. And for a while I basked in the warm rays of confidence, until, I saw possibly the steepest slope ever! And pardon the pun, but everything was downhill from there.
Because… I was an unmitigated disaster. I had two main problems. Number one: I didn’t know how to turn. Number two: I didn’t know how to stop. Now if you’ve never skied before… those are two fairly important skills necessary to keep you from breaking your neck. I spent more time on my back side than I did my skis. I had snow packed in my coat pockets. Little kids were laughing at me.
And after about an hour on that one slope, once I finally got to the bottom, I gave up. I put away my skis, found something to eat, and spent the rest of the day watching TV in the ski lodge. There I stayed, sulking, while everyone else was having a blast on the beautiful slopes of the Colorado Mountains. I was safe. I was secure. And I was stuck. And nothing was going to get me back out there!
Safe. Secure. Stuck. And I think that’s true for a number of us today… You love God. And you really want to make a difference for Christ. But to be honest, you’re still stuck. And you lack perspective to get you back out there. You’re sitting in the lodge when you’re supposed to be on the slopes of God’s mission!
Maybe you love the idea of reaching your “one”, but you’re terrified to take that first step. So you play it safe. Maybe you feel drawn to disciple someone in the Way of Discipleship. But you wonder if you know enough. So you sit in your security. Maybe you connect with the whole vision of multiplying Grace and would be open to being part of a church plant, but you have so much going on. So you stay stuck.
Today I believe God wants us to leave the lodge of our safety and get on the slopes of His mission. Because you weren’t meant to play it safe, sit on the sidelines, or stay stuck.
But for that to happen we need a new perspective related to Jesus and mission! Alan Hirsch says it this way, “Surely the challenge of the church today is to be taken captive by the agenda of Jesus… The challenge before us is to let Jesus be Jesus and to allow ourselves to be caught up in his extraordinary mission for the world”.
Today I want us to be taken captive by the agenda of Jesus and be caught up in his extraordinary mission. I want to offer us a couple of COMPELLING PERSPECTIVES that will empower you to leave the lodge to be on mission. Because then and only then will we experience life as it should be!
[We’re going to see this in a very interesting encounter in John 4 where these compelling perspectives jump out.]
First of all, there is a COMPELLING NEED. We must know that Jesus is the only hope for a very broken world.
[Context: As we’ve been seeing, belief in Jesus goes beyond intellect and religion to total surrender to His person. As a matter of fact, Jesus has been engaging people like the messed-up Samaritan woman in chapter 4 seeking belief. Jesus is revealing himself as the Messiah who desires a personal belief and trust. That brings us to our interesting encounter.]
IN THE PASSAGE:
We see a story of COMPELLING NEED. The story starts off, “Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum.When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.” (John 4:46-47)
We see compelling need in two ways.
1) Initially you see it in his broken situation.
* See The Why of Brokenness: He had a sick and dying son. All we know about this son is that he’s in bad shape.
For those of us who have children we understand the idea of desperation related to our kids. This story hits home to me especially since we have 3 boys at home. And I assure you I would do anything to make sure they were alive.
* See The What of Brokenness: This unusual man took desperate measures.
First of all, he goes to Jesus. The distance between Cana and Capernaum is around 16 to 20 miles on difficult terrain, which was a day’s journey. And this was not an easy journey. But remember, this man is desperate to save his son!
And, secondly, he begs Jesus to come back to Capernaum to heal his son. The Greek language here conveys the idea of desperate persistence. It carries the meaning that he just kept asking again and again for Jesus to help… “Jesus will you come? Can you heal my boy? Please!”
[Do you get the picture? This was a man who saw his need.]
2) But, secondly, we see compelling need demonstrated in his belief… as this man believes in Jesus as the only hope. “Unless you people see signs and wonders,”Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” (vv. 48-49)
* At First it looks like Desperate Faith (little shallow): It’s interesting to see how Jesus responded to this desperate man. Because it seems a little harsh. Jesus rebukes people who only believe because of miracles. But Jesus isn’t directing this just at this man. He’s speaking to the SEEING IS BELIEVING CROWD... people in Galilee who aren’t interested in a personal faith. These are people who see Jesus as a spiritual slot machine who will give them what they want. That’s never been what Jesus wants from us!
But notice this man. He doesn’t debate Jesus. He simply pleads, “Sir, come down before he dies.” These are the words of a man trying to trust Jesus, but desperate.
* But in reality it’s becoming a Deeper Faith: This official came to believe Jesus in deeper ways. Notice what Jesus says next. He simply commands him, “Go; your son will live.” Jesus is trying to get him to put his money where his mouth is. Make no mistake: Jesus is trying to deepen his faith!
And that’s what happens. This man believed that Jesus was the only hope. I love what it says next, “The man took Jesus at his word and departed.” (v. 50) It literally says that he “believed the word” Jesus had spoken.
What does this mean? It says that he’s believing Jesus and he doesn’t need tangible proof. He doesn’t need a visible sign. As Mark Batterson says, “If you want to see God move, make a move.” That’s what this official has done! In other words, His faith has deepened.
[This is a guy who believes that Jesus is the only hope. This is a story that reveals a COMPELLING NEED!]
FOR US TODAY:
In order to leave the lodge we must see a COMPELLING NEED for Jesus!
Recently I turned 40! And I don’t like it. Maybe that explains why I backed my car into a concrete post a month ago. I was backing out of a Panera parking lot and I heard a loud thump. I had looked briefly in my rearview mirror but not carefully. And I missed it. And now’s there’s a bad scratch on my bumper. But friends, we too often don’t see it. We miss it. We are blind to the need for Jesus.
1) We have to remind ourselves that there’s a COMPELLING NEED for Jesus today.
One of my favorite passages is in Matthew 9 where Jesus is wondering through the Jewish cities and villages doing amazing things. And v. 36 says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Then he pointed to his followers. “Hey guys! The harvest is plentiful and it’s ready. But we need more laborers.” In other words, they need Jesus!
2) We must see that NEED for Jesus today! That’s why we’re planting a church in Bloomington!
I’ve heard one thing repeatedly: “Bloomington is a great place. But it’s also a dark place.” Because BLOOMINGTON IS BROKEN!! Bloomington needs Jesus!
· Bloomington is a place of poverty and injustice. Did you know that it’s the poorest city in Indiana? I asked one local pastor what he saw as the biggest need. Without skipping a beat, he said; “Homelessness is the greatest social need facing Bloomington.” Not only are there many homeless in the city but there are numerous struggling people. But we believe that Jesus wants to heal this broken place! Jesus is the only hope.
· Bloomington is also a place of spiritual confusion. The vast majority of people are far from God. Bloomington is full of skeptics. It’s full of people who’ve been burned from the church. And it’s full of college students who are lost. Pastor Dave Rod told me the other day, “Craig, we’re not losing the next generation. It’s already lost. We’re on a rescue operation now!” But we believe that Jesus wants to bring redemption to those who are lost. Jesus is the only hope.
What gets me up in the morning… what compels me to leave the lodge is this: I passionately believe that Jesus is the only hope for Bloomington! I believe that Bloomington needs Jesus!
[Friends, we must see this COMPELLING NEED!]
We also we must have a COMPELLING PURPOSE. Jesus has a purpose to transform people and wants to use me to do it.
We see a story of COMPELLING PURPOSE.
We see purpose expressed twice here:
1) Jesus had a purpose for the miracle he was about to perform.
* Because Jesus performs an incredible miracle! “While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living.” (V. 51)
Don’t miss this! Because Jesus has just done the impossible. He healed the son!! And He wasn’t even in Capernaum to do it! Jesus was 20 miles away. That was unheard of! Before the dad left… bad. Jesus speaks… good. Because now the son is fine. And this was no accident. And he did just like he said he would. As a matter of fact the man asks his servants when this happened. And they told him that it happened at “the seventh hour” in the Greek, which is 1pm in the afternoon.
* And then, this dad sees the purpose of the sign. Because we read in v. 53, “So he and his whole household believed.” I like how the ESV translates this. It says, “And he himself believed.” You see, the emphasis here is that this man finally believes in Jesus!
Remember that’s why John wrote this book. In John 21:31 it says, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” That’s exactly what happens here!
2) But Jesus had a purpose for this official too.
* Because it’s not just this man who believes. It gets even better! His entire household comes to believe in Jesus. In our culture we equate household with the immediate nuclear family. But in Greek usage, a household or oikos would have included family, slaves, and possibly friends. A household was essentially an extended family or social network.
* Jesus clearly had a purpose for this official in transforming the household! It was like a ripple effect! It’s likely that this man boldly shared all that Jesus did for them. His testimony of what had happened would have convinced every one of the position and power of Jesus. This man, originally far from God, is boldly sharing his new-found faith in the person of Christ. He’s now an evangelist! He’s on mission! He sees his purpose!
FOR US TODAY:
In order to leave the lodge we must understand that Jesus has a COMPELLING PURPOSE!
1) The reality is that Jesus has a purpose to reach people through you!
Friends, our God loves sinners! As Jesus says in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus is a missionary God who came to reach those far from God. As Brennan Manning wrote, “Jesus came not only for those who skip morning meditations, but also for real sinners, thieves, adulterers, and terrorists, for those caught up in squalid choices and failed dreams.”
And He wants to use you to reach them! He is sending us! To say it another way: we were made for mission!!!
[That leads to a very important purpose…]
2) Because God has a purpose for this new church called Grace Church Bloomington!
Dan Hendricks said, “Bloomington doesn’t need another church. It needs a different kind of church. It needs a church that reaches the lost.” That’s what we dream of becoming:
· We dream of becoming a reaching church! We’re going to bring good news to the unchurched and dechurched. We’re going to be a safe place for the marginalized and broken. We’re going to love the skeptic, the member of the GLBT community, and the addict. We’re going to reach 1000’s of lost people!
· We dream of becoming a transforming church! We want to have kingdom impact in every aspect of society including education, family life, government, and social justice. We believe in the power of Jeremiah 29:7 calling us to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” In other words, we will bleed for Bloomington!
· We dream of becoming a healing church! We realize that there is great poverty and injustice in Bloomington and throughout Monroe County. That’s why we want to create a Care Center early on. Can you imagine the impact of a Care Center in the poorest city of Indiana! God wants to heal the broken places!
But to see this we need your help! We need people to join us to make these dreams a reality!
We need at least 12 Grace HOUSEHOLDS to join our Build Team. The Build Team is a short-term mission team geared to help get the church off the ground.
And we’re asking for a 6 month commitment for the Build Team. For some that might mean moving. For others that might mean commuting for a season.
And we will have all sorts of ministry needs to do this well. We need help with things like worship, kids’ ministry, and outreach. Our goal is to launch public worship services sometime in 2017.
And I promise you this: GIVE US 6 MONTHS AND YOU WILL SEE GOD DO AMAZING THINGS! GIVE US 6 MONTHS AND YOU WILL CHANGE THE WORLD!! Because when you start a new church you’re not just impacting today… you’re impacting multiple generations to come! THERE IS NOTHING LIKE PLANTING A CHURCH!!!
Maybe… New to Grace and not connected… IU grad and love Bloomington… Heart to start a Care Center… In a season of transition and looking for a new ministry… Someone who God is convicting right now.
Whoever you are God has a purpose for you today! And He can use you to make a difference, especially in Bloomington! If that’s you, or if you’re interested, or if you want to learn more. I have two specific next steps (see on Grace App):
-One: Text us! If you’re interested at all or would like more info we’d love for you to text us right now… (317) 73-BTOWN … simply text us your first and last name. And the 1st five people who text right now will receive a free Grace Bloomington t-shirt!
-Two: Talk w/ Us! We’re hosting a Grace Bloomington Vision Event on Sunday, March 13 at Grace 146th Street at 12:30. There you’ll have the opportunity to not only hear the vision but to get to know us better. You can sign up for this event online or at our kiosk in the lobby. You’ll have a chance to win a bigger prize!
Ø Friends, we were never created to stay safe, secure, and stuck! We weren’t meant to stay in the lodge! We were made for mission!!! But we need a new perspective… We have to be moved by the COMPELLING NEED & COMPELLING PURPOSE.
I want to close with this final illustration. This is a Baptismal… It’s a symbol of life-change! It’s a symbol of what God can do! [Eph. 3:20]
Will you dream with me for a second? Dream with me about how Jesus can radically transform countless thousands of people here in Hamilton County, in North Indy, in London, and especially in Bloomington.
Imagine what He could do!
- Imagine a married couple hanging by a thread; in this baptismal tank
- Imagine a college student confused about life; declaring her new belief
- Imagine a homeless person forgotten by the world; identifying with church
- Imagine a prodigal burned by religion; lifting his arms in victory as he comes up out of the water
Imagine these and thousands of others being baptized as a way of saying, “Jesus is my Lord and He has changed my life.” Can you imagine what that will be like?! Because that’s exactly why we can’t stay stuck in the lodge! Let that dream drive you to a life of mission and may it drive all of us to our knees in prayer! [Prayer]