So, my wife encouraged me to post my sermons on the blog. I’ll be honest. I definitely communicate best through written word, so perhaps these will give folks an opportunity to engage with my teachings a bit more and to follow along with what we’ve been learning and experiencing at City Hope. Perhaps, someday I will be technomologically advanced enough to record my teachings, but for now they will be in writing. Of course, this is always done with a bit of trepidation since I occasionally venture into comment sections on other blogs and then quickly have to repent on behalf of myself and those who claim to represent Jesus while they are spewing vitriol. So, let’s play nice friends, and if you have a comment or question, post with charity!
Okay, here’s my first message at City Hope Celebration from September 22nd, 2014
The Good News of Jesus from Mark 3:13-15
He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons.
“I shouldn’t be here!”
It’s the classic story that we all love about a hero or heroine being called to a great mission, and the struggle that he or she goes through to accept the calling and fulfill his or her destiny. It’s a story that we seem to be especially obsessed with as all the super-hero “origin” movies have come out in the past several years (Batman, Wolverine, Superman, Spiderman, etc). There’s always a part in the middle where the hero has an existential crisis about purpose and destiny. They wrestle with the thought: “I shouldn’t be here!” We identify with that sentiment. We find our story in their story. Ultimately, these and other stories accentuate the sense that “with great power comes great responsibility.” In other words, a commissioning includes an obligation.
Personally, I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be leading a new work in the city that’s reaching out with the love of God in Jesus to people of all different colors, experiences, socioeconomic backgrounds, political perspectives, etc.
My life experiences set me on a trajectory for a different kind of success. I was a preppy, prideful, poster child (I know that’s a hard stretch for some of you to make 🙂 ) I was supposed to get a business degree, work in the stock markets, get an MBA and move on to the business world. I was supposed to move further up the success ladder to create distance between me and those toward the bottom of the ladder. But God disrupted those plans – don’t hear what I’m not saying…not saying that it’s bad to do some of these things – and commissioned us for a different destiny.
I think that’s similar to the experience the first followers of Jesus must have had when He called them because He wanted them . They likely would’ve thought, “I’m not supposed to be here…He wants me?” I can picture a lot of the over the shoulder looking like, “He must be talking to somebody else.” Do you ever feel like that? “God, you must be talking to someone else. You couldn’t want ME to be with you.”
But the truth is, Jesus called them to Himself, appointed (“made” – shaped, discipled, apprenticed) them to be with him, sent them out to proclaim the message, and to have authority. As has been noted, these guys were the B team. They didn’t make the initial cut of spiritual superstars and that’s why they were doing something else besides already following another rabbi…working for their dad’s as fishers, collecting taxes, etc.
They weren’t supposed to be there following this rabbi who came proclaiming a new message of God’s Kingdom. But in a few simple gestures and words, Jesus establishes these guys as the new leaders of God’s movement in the world. Not bad!!!
So, I’m not wondering why you’re here today. Instead, I’m wondering “Why shouldn’t you be here today?” What should’ve disqualified you from living God’s mission and purpose for your life? What are you fed up with or running from that the chance at a new start motivated you to show up for? What disruption did God cause in your plans that brings you here today?
These verses show us what happens when we show up to be with Jesus. He takes the initiative to “make”/appoint us as “Sent ones”/apostles. Sometimes God “makes” us even before we know that we’re appointed. We’ve all got a mission! Even if we’re thinking, “I shouldn’t be here.”
Here’s why I want to share this with you today. In God’s Kingdom, we’re all called to play a part. We must move from “I shouldn’t be here” to “Why am I here?” As was read about from 1 Corinthians 12, we are the body of Christ and each of us is a member. And if this is true, we have the power of Holy Spirit residing within us and we have a responsibility to steward that power for God’s glory and the fulfillment of His mission to redeem, reconcile and renew all things.
We have to realize that we too are sent ones! In God’s Kingdom, there’s no B team or benchwarmers.
And what does God want from His sent ones? The same things stated in Mark 3…
1. To be with Him – Community
2. To proclaim His message – Kingdom
3. To break strongholds and oppressive forces – Society
This is what City Hope Church is all about. We shouldn’t be here because of anything we did or didn’t do. We’re here because that’s how good God is. He has guided us each step of the journey.
We shouldn’t be here to start another church. Let’s be honest. We don’t need another church. We didn’t set out to start a church. We became a church – called out ones! And we’ll continue to meet twice a month to celebrate all that God is doing in our shared life together. The point is there should be stuff happening the other 28 or 29 days each month that give us something to truly celebrate when we gather here. We’re going to keep it simple so that these gatherings don’t consume us and we have energy and resources to live God’s mission every day.
What we need is a move of God’s Spirit that catapults God’s people into every nook and cranny of society to be agents of change.
The Vision of CHC is this: Living Life Together. Making Kingdom Disciples. Stewarding Vocation for the blessing of all.
Our Mission is To live as agents of renewal in our local context and serve our brothers and sisters around the world
And our values align with that vision and mission:
Kingdom – Participating in God’s renewal of all things
Discipleship/Apprenticeship – by imitating Jesus
Stewarding Vocation – in the places Holy Spirit calls us to go
Life Together – with the people we are called to live among
Sacrificial Generosity – for the blessing of all
But these are just words on paper unless we actually embody them and live them out.
And here are some of the ways we are living them out:
Women of Hope
Bros, Brews and Bibles
Simplify and Food Pantry
Ministry Partners – Rahab, Resurrection Orphan and Widows
Lastly, we must move from “Why am I here?”, to “There’s a reason I’m here!”
So, what’s the reason you’re here?
To rest and heal in community
To find a way to live this Christian life that fits with God’s Kingdom purposes
To make a difference in the world- creative arts, kids, new Communities of Hope