I love America! I've been coming -- I came at least 15 times a year for 12 years before we moved here three years ago. My children now sing the Star Spangled Banner as their national anthem; my children now pledge allegiance to the American flag.
So there's no doubt that for a couple in their mid 40s with an 11 year old and a 7 year old to move across the world and to plant themselves in this nation is a reason for it. So we very much love America.
America shaped so much of our Christianity, the Christian church in America. In the ‘90s when I came first into the faith movement and learned so much about the Word of faith and the power of the Word of God to transform and renew your mind, and with my messed up background I so desperately needed that.
It was the American church that brought the truth, the absolute truth of God's Word in a way that I could comprehend it and it transformed us, our nation, our church, and by the grace of God, God has raised up Hillsong Church to be so influential in much of the world, not just when it comes to praise and worship but when it comes to leadership and just doing church, not just being the church but doing church.
And then as I watched it through the ‘90s, it was interesting as a foreigner watching what was happening to the church in America, and then in the first decade of this millennium. And then it became very evident that something dramatic had to happen because God loves America, God loves the whole world, there's no doubt about that but there is a very significant, in these last days that we live in, there's a very significant place for the American church.
It is not an accident that so many of us from other parts of the world have come alongside to run with you and to say, "Come on! Let's keep going" because we have such a job to do.
But if I look at everything, and I think, what happened? What happened from so much faith and let's go change the world and let's go charge hell with a water pistol -- what happened essentially to bring us to this place of comfort, complacency, the existence of a Christian subculture, totally disconnected from a lost and a dying world? Essentially, what happens when our heart stops beating for what God's heart beats for?
Then we become an institutionalized, creedalized, dead bureaucratic institution that lacks life, that lacks power, that lacks spirit and we go about our lives just simply fulfilling a bunch of boring religious obligations and not actually being the church that God has called us to be.
When we create this religious system where we just go about the business of doing church; hiho, hi-ho, it's off to church I go! And here's my little three songs and now I'm going to listen to my sermonette and I'm going to do my pirouette. And we've all done church for this week and we've heard about that extensively from the last couple of preachers, you don't need me to go there.
But how did that happen? Because essentially what has happened and happening in Europe several hundred years ago, it happens when a passion deficiency syndrome hits the church; when we're no longer passionate about what God is passionate about.
When the only thing we've become consumed with is maintaining our own religious rituals and we forget the very purpose for which we were left here on the earth which is to go into all the world and to make disciples, we just heard a wonderful sermon about all of that.
There is ultimately only one reason why God's left us here. We will be searching the unsearchable riches of Christ for all of eternity. So what if you're going to Heaven knowing more scripture than me. Did you take every one there with you that you were supposed to take with you is the issue? That's the issue!
We will be worshipping, holy, holy, holy with ten thousand times ten thousand for all of eternity! And I come from the worship bunny church. We will be fellowshipping with one another forever! And the one that bugs you the most from the denomination you dislike the most will be your next door neighbor in Heaven forever; just stick that in your pipe and smoke it. That's what will happen.
So if the church is built on four pillars, worship and obviously, teaching and discipleship and fellowship and mission, there is only one of those four things we can do on this side of eternity that we can't do on the other side of eternity.
I would wonder if God being God and being allknowing possibly might think maybe the priority of the church needs to be what my priority has always been from Genesis all the way through: For God so loved what?
The most over-quoted verse in the Bible that we are inoculated against that anymore. For God so loved -- didn't just love -- so loved -- so loved.
God is passionate about the lost, so passionate that he gave his beloved Son for a lost and a broken world. And then his son said, "Would you please go and do the same? Would you go into that world until the new Heaven comes and until the new earth comes?"
In case some of you still believe this stuff, it's not all going to be okay this side of eternity. Jesus is coming back. If it was all going to be okay we wouldn't need a new Heaven and we wouldn't need a new earth. So what we ought to be urgent about is making sure that we are taking as many home with us as we can possibly take that everyone that's meant to come home ought to come home!
And why is Jesus obsessed with church? He's obsessed with the lost world. In Luke chapter 15, one chapter, three parables, one subject, tell me where else you'll find that in Genesis to Revelation. God is obsessed with the lost. And Christians ought to be lostologists. But see, when it comes to the lost, we are the most dysfunctional people on earth. We are the most dysfunctional and we ought to be lostologists -- nobody ought to understand the lost like the church.
Jesus goes, "Let me tell you. Three parables, I'll make it so simple for you. I don't want you to judge the lost, I don't want you to condemn the lost, I don't want you to point a finger at the lost, I don't want you to hate the lost. Let me explain to you how people get lost. We'll make it really simple. There's a man, there's some sheep." You all know the parable as much as me.
So you could be driving down the street and there's a little sheep and there's a whole paddock and it's got a lot of sheep, and then you go to this other paddock and there's only one little sheep. And you go, "What happened?" Well, that little sheep, all day had its head down and it was eating a whole lot of grass, stuck its head up at end of the day and went bah-aaah.
That being interpreted means I'm lost. That's what that meant, I'm lost. Was there a big demonic evil sheep? No! It was just a sheep that was preoccupied with eating and it got distracted and it was so preoccupied at the end of day it ended up lost.
We have a whole generation that is so preoccupied with just trying to pay the bills, just trying to somehow keep their marriages together, just somehow trying to keep their kids off drugs, just somehow trying to get through this thing called life. They are preoccupied and have ended up lost.
And then he goes on and talks about a woman with a coin that is lost. Now did the coin get lost on its own? Of course not! The woman was careless with the coin. And the coin ended up lost. We have a generation, whether it is the media, whether it is the government, whether it is the education system, whether it’s the parents, we have been given stewardship over a generation. We have been careless with that stewardship and that generation has ended up lost.
I ended up lost not just because I was being some big demonic person, but people that should have been stewards over my life weren't. And I was left abandoned and unnamed and unwanted in a hospital. I was sexually abused by many different men several times a week consistently for 12 years. People were careless with my life. And I ended up lost.
We have a generation in the ditches of life because people have been careless and they've ended up lost and they don't need you me and pointing a finger of judgment or animosity or hatred or condemnation: For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him.