Revelation 3:20 (NIV) - Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Q: Knock Knock!
A: Who’s There?
A: Jesus, who?
This is where the joking stops and reality begins to set in…
We are beginning a new series today called “Rethink Church”. A book entitled, “Letters To the Church” by Francis Chan, inspires the heart of this series. This book (along with the Bible) opens and entertains a very truthful investigation of what a true biblical church should be.
In this series we are going to look at what purpose God gave the original churches, along with today’s churchs in Kansas City, and how He expects them to operate.
What are the most personal levels God expects his churches to operate?
In the following weeks will be compare “my church”, “our church”, with the divine design of church, and then personally commit to do whatever is necessary to come more in line with God’s original principles.
Does our definition of Village West family churches in Kansas City actually fit God’s definition of church? That should be the very reason – the only reason to be a church!
There are so many things that come to the minds and hearts of people when you discuss church or any Kansas City church group:
Is it friendly?
Is it loud?
Is it cold…is it hot?
Is it long…does it fit my schedule?
Does it have my favorite ministry?
Do they talk about things that make me uncomfortable?
Is it a worship church…a teaching church…an outreach church?
When looking back at our original punch line; some punch lines aren’t funny, they are pungent – Jesus, who?
Is it possible, even among Kansas City online church services, that a knocking Jesus isn’t recognizable anymore; or even worse yet, not completely welcomed?
What I don’t want is for you to look at this series as a visit to the principal’s office, but rather that you are engaging in an exciting adventure! We are going to learn in a few minutes that Jesus is knocking and inviting us to be a part of HIS church. THAT, with Him, is an amazing, inspiring adventure!
The Gauntlet Of Decision
Why wouldn’t anyone answer the door for a knocking Jesus?
Maybe we’re too busy… maybe we don’t recognize him as the Jesus we remembered when we first met Him. Maybe we’re afraid He’s going to ask us to do something, something we don’t want to do. For many Jesus family church services in Kansas City, the congregation is not there to hear Jesus’ sales pitch.
He doesn’t have a sales pitch, but a calling!
When people get ready for church there are thoughts, conscious or subconscious, as to what is going to be the outcome of the day; and it defines their view and validity of church.
I’m going to a building…I’m going to a building where I will be with people that I know and like…I’m going to a building with people that I know where I can serve, give, worship, connect and learn at my comfort level. I’m going to a building with people and comforts so that I can leave feeling good about myself or lifestyle.
The danger of these thoughts is that if one thing goes array, or out of the frame of our skewed, pre-conceived, plan, it can skew both our opinion and outcome.
90% of people on any given Sunday are personally walking through this gauntlet of decision. Is it any wonder that people don’t enjoy church? When so many peripherals make up the formula for success and that success is gauged only on a 15% (1 out of 7) sample size, it is really no surprise. We have expanded God’s definition with way to many variables for success and satisfaction.
In some of the last recorded correspondence that Jesus has with us, He does something that I believe is so crucial and so exciting; He writes letters to his church.
These letters are a compilation of the church’s position and potential. In these letters He describes what needs to be better in order to have the greatest influence and impact, which is Jesus’ true sales pitch.
Acts 1:8 (NIV) - But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
He speaks to his body, and He speaks to his bride, and says, “I need you! I’ve shown you who I am, and now let me tell you who you need to be.” In one such letter He even deals with the churches perceived status (Revelation 3:17).
Revelation 3:17 (NIV) - You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
This isn’t a pointing fingers moment…this isn’t a doom and gloom passage. This isn’t a call to abandon ship, but a paradigm shift.
They saw themselves as wealthy, sufficient, and self-supporting.
“We’re ok…I love my church”, many people think in a family community church in Kansas City, but is that all it takes?
That’s a wonderful thing to feel, and we all should love our church, but we cannot live blinded by “love” to things that we need to change so that others stay blinded to loving Christ.
“Many want to change the church but it is often motivated by personal opinion rather than personal conviction” – Francis Chan
Who Christ Sees
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) - if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Christ saw them as:
Wretched: Going through unnecessary hardships
Miserable: Lack of joy peace and comfort despite the circumstance
Poor: Not knowing or operating in their inheritance
Blind: Without vision not seeing where and how God wanted to take them
Naked: How we were originally created but now becoming a source of…
Shame: Not accountable, not relational, and not transparent – because we allow those things to produce shame and not support
After expressing His heart to this church that was neutral (I can take it, or I can leave it… I can be it, or I can bounce it.); after showing them that they weren’t being refreshing or bringing refinement; they weren’t satisfying or purifying… He lets them in on how to change that.
Revelation 3:20 (NIV) - Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
This is what we need to apply to our Village West church family in Kansas City.
This verse is not about someone giving their life to Christ for the first time; this is not an evangelistic plea, but Jesus’ passionate plea to the church. This is Jesus giving the most basic appeal to be ultimately real.
Take The Word of God Seriously
There used to be an old children’s church song that said,
“The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me.”
It’s quite an elementary thought that is found to be retreating from the realms of the church.
We believe (at least we say and record that we believe) the scriptures are verbally inspired by God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct.
Jesus tells a neutral church that they need to hear (i.e. listen to, be searching for, be engaged with, be active with the word of God).
Are you actively reading, personally studying, or having conversations concerning what God’s Word says?
We need to be more excited to be more active with the Bible, even the verses that contradict our logic and desires. We need to be willing to look into the word first before we look on the self-help counters.
If you want to be better, you have to be biblical. Even the best we can be isn’t close to the best that God designs.
Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) - For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
This requires us to be acquainted with the Word, but also activate the Word.
James 1:22 (NIV) - Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
What does the Bible say?
How many of us really believe that the Bible outlines the best way to live our lives on a daily basis?
Zechariah 7:9-10a - This is what the Lord Almighty said: "Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor.
Some in the church need to check their posts and also check their bigotry at the door.
Malachi 3:10 (NIV) - Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) - And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.
Matthew 16:24-25 (NIV) - Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
We cannot pick and choose what to obey. We don’t get to draw the line between what is gospel and what we believe is good for someone else.
Francis Chan – “The irony of the western church is that week after week people pack into places to hear from a book that demands they be doers of the word but they never seem to do anything. – it doesn’t make sense to teach scripture without expecting change.”
But note the process… Jesus isn’t saying, “here’s the list…Do or Die”.
Jesus is asking us to be in fellowship with Him and join HIM in what HE is doing.
Love The Bride of Christ Seriously
In every wedding that I have ever done I see the same phenomena. The doors are opened for the bride, the bride is recognized, and the bride is honored. No matter what brought people in that room to this connection with the bride, they respond. They respond with joy, with tears, with excitement, with energy, and with love. It’s the bride, is there any other way to respond?
If we are going to rethink church, then we are going to have to love the bride seriously. Any and every interaction with the bride of Christ should produce joy, tears, excitement, energy, and love.
Does the church have issues? Yes, it is a divinely principled organism in human operation and organization, but Jesus still loves his bride, and so should we. We should not gripe about her and definitely not leave her.
Leaving the bride of Christ is like divorcing your wife because she doesn’t cook like your grandma.
If Jesus said that one of the greatest things you can do with your life is to love people, then it only makes since that in the context of the church, loving everyone should be as natural as breathing.
John 13:34-35 (NIV) - "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
When we go anywhere besides the church building people should know who we are, and who we belong to. If they don’t, it probably has less to do with our activities and more to do with how we portray love.
When people come into our church, or view our Kansas City church online worship team, are they able to notice anything supernatural about the way we love one another?
What’s the reason? God has given us EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness, AND we get to participate in His divine nature; a nature where according to Ephesians 4, the Spirit renews our thoughts and attitudes.
We need to give people an unclouded, unconfused expression of Christ.
Could it really be that simple? Could we change culture through listening and loving? Yes, if both are abundant and active. Do what God says and love how God loves. It will change your life IF you buy in with all of your heart and sell out with all of your strength.
Some would say, “no way…there are too many moving parts”. For example, people can use the excuses of finances, volunteers, preferences, cliques, or even sin. You have to deal with ALL of that regardless.
Machines have many parts, and each part plays an important part. But in order for the parts to work correctly, each part has to be in complete cooperation with two things: the design of the machine, and the overall power in the machine.
When we choose to live as the church, the bride; when we choose to live as designed and not “decisioned” (personal), we will see a changing church. We WILL see changed lives.
We will deal with finances, volunteers, ministry, the lost, sin and any other issue that comes up IF, and only if, we rethink church. Meaning that our top priority is to follow God’s word with active involvement, seeing the true beauty of the church in people and treat them accordingly.
As Jesus is knocking on all of our lives, what is our response?
Do we avoid the opportunity, or do we recognize Him and welcome Him in completely?