I. Your Dream Church
A. What is your dream church? What does it look like?
Parking out front. You can see from the road.
AIR CONDITIONING IN SUMMER
All church members would be involved
Feeding and clothing the poor
Elder led with very little staff. Bible based.
D. Sunday worship would last all day
We would fellowship and break bread
In the evening there would be a fireplace and fireplace readings
Every age group would have their own volunteer teachers staffed from Christians that were professors at the local college.
>>> I can go on and on. The reality is that church can be pretty awkward. Ever endured a bad sermon or singer. What about the needy person that is always waiting at the door for you? Actually, it seems following Jesus often leads us into uncomfortable and awkward situations? What does the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus tell us about embracing the challenge of living in Christian community?
II. Church Is Not about Your Preferences; It's about Knowing God.
1 Peter 2:4–5,9 NLT - 4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. 5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. … 9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
A. The chosen
Peter, while writing to various churches that are experiencing forms of persecution, shares what it means to be the chosen people of God.
When people say, you are the church, it is a very real reality.
Fire and fire
B. Peter is presenting an image of a community that is focused entirely on Jesus.
It’s a community that puts aside preferences, quarrels, and comfort zones for the sake of becoming “living stones.”
The entire purpose of this community, this “holy nation,” is to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (v. 9).
The reality, of course, is that the “dream church” we long for is a myth. It doesn’t exist. The reign of King Jesus, however, is real and eternal, and becoming “living stones” that are “acceptable to God” should be our ultimate aim.
“If I had never joined a church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all, and the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us. All who have first given themselves to the Lord, should, as speedily as possible, give themselves to the Lord’s people. … As I have already said, the church is faulty, but that is no excuse for your not joining it, if you are the Lord’s”
—Charles Spurgeon, “The Best Donation”
>>> It’s easy to have a consumerist approach when it comes to committing to a church. Do I like the worship style? Is the preaching entertaining enough? Is that church down the street a better fit? But when we allow a market mindset to influence our spiritual lives, our faith can become less about knowing and serving God, and more about finding a community that serves us and our desires. Rather than trying to form communities around our own preferences, we must allow ourselves to be formed by God and his people. Let’s just state the reality, We are the stones that fit together as a place for God. God isn’t building a place for you to come and worship Him. He is using us as the stones to build a place for Him to live in!
III. The Christian Life Is Supposed to Be Uncomfortable, so Embrace It.
John 12:25 NLT - 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.
A. Dying to ourselves
While predicting his own death, Jesus tells the crowd that following him requires dying to ourselves.
These are challenging, countercultural, and seemingly not very comforting instructions!
What he’s saying is that if you love the comforts of this life above all else, you’ll miss out on the comforts of eternal life in heaven. This life is not all there is, and we must live with that eternal perspective in mind.
Matthew 16:24–26 NLT - 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
What McCracken and Lewis are both getting at is that it’s easy to find basic happiness and comfort, but living the Christian life and being part of a church community requires making sacrifices that will be uncomfortable.
Ultimately this uncomfortable state will help us to become more like Jesus. It’s a trade-off that’s always worth it.
>>> Rather than attempting to find our dream church, we must embrace the uncomfortable and difficult parts of the Christian life in order to grow and experience gospel community.
B. There is joy in denying yourself
We resent the fact that what is good for us is like broccoli
Jesus tells us what it will cost to follow him: our lives.
We grow by leaving our comfort zones and entering into the challenges and discomforts of our faith. Instead of avoiding this truth, we should embrace it and press into the joy of dying to ourselves and living for God and neighbor.
1 Peter 1:6–7 NLT - 6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
Being the living stone that Jesus builds His home in should be our Goal.
It will be uncomfortable. Embrace it! It comes with true Joy.
What if we gave up the “dream church”? What if we stopped trying to find fault with our Christian community and instead embraced the discomfort? In order to know God and be known by His people, we must reject the consumerist church-hunting mindset, lay our preferences down, enter into the awkwardness, and die to our own desires—just like Jesus did. We need to tell God this morning that we give up the idea that we need a community to worship Him but rather we embrace the idea of living stones. We will be a place, together, that He can come and live!