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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Andy Stanley » Andy Stanley - Broken and Grateful

Andy Stanley - Broken and Grateful

Andy Stanley - Broken and Grateful

So today, we are starting a brand new series next week. I'm so excited about that, but this is just a week in between. So I get to talk about whatever I want to talk about, which is generally what I talk about anyway. So today, this is a message for, really for anybody who's listening, whether it's first time or not. But today I just wanna talk about two things real quick. Number one, something that breaks my heart. And then number two, something that makes me grateful. Spoiler alert, you are what make me grateful. And that'll become clearer in just a minute.

If this is your first time with us, or it's your first time in church, or your first time back in church, you haven't been to church in a long time. Maybe you don't consider yourself a church person, not a Christian person. Maybe from a different faith, tradition, maybe you're still trying to figure it out. Maybe you just have more questions than anybody's been able to answer. I am so glad you are here or are listening or watching this message because here's what we decided years ago as a group of local churches, we know there are things that make the church resistible, that the church itself should be resisting. In fact, much of what you resist perhaps about the local church are things that the church should have been resisting all along. And today, I'm gonna talk about a couple of those things.

Now, to set it up, I wanna go back to where this all began. And by this, I don't mean our local church, I mean thee church. This is Jesus, I want us to look for just a minute at Jesus' final vision cast for ekklesia, that was a Greek word to describe his gathering, his assembly, it became the word church in our English New Testaments, we've talked about that. His ekklesia, Matthew was there for this. Matthew was a former tax collector. He was wealthy, he had scribes. So he gets all this detail because he was a very literate person, and here's what he tells us happens. So Jesus has been crucified, he rose from the dead. He's been around for about a month and a half, and now he's giving his farewell address to his core group of followers.

And here's what happens. You, if you grew up in church, you've heard all of this before. Matthew says that, then the 11 disciples, there's only 11 because who's missing? Yeah, front row knew that, Judas, kidding, everybody knew that, Judas. So we're down to 11. Then the 11 disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. And the reason he told them to go to Galilee, which was way north of Jerusalem, is because it was safer there, because these were men who were being hunted because they were followers of the crucified, wannabe fake Messiah. And now there was this rumor that the Messiah has risen from the dead and there's chaos everywhere in Judea and Galilee, safe distance.

And when they saw him, Matthew says, when all of us got there, when we saw him, he writes, they ask him all those questions they've been dying to ask him. So that's not in the Bible. I'm just seeing who is paying attention. Yeah, this is what we think we're gonna do. I've, as a pastor, I've heard this my whole life, you know, my whole career. It's like when I get to heaven, I'm gonna ask God. I'm like, I don't think you are, but you know, just wait and see. When I get to heaven, I've got all these questions. I don't know how it works exactly, but when you find yourself in the presence of God, I think you're gonna do exactly what this crew did. When they saw him, Matthew says, I was there. We worshiped him.

They worshiped a man. This is something a Jewish person would never do. You don't worship idols, you don't worship images. You're not gonna worship a man. And yet, these Jewish boys, they worship this man because they saw him die. They looked into an empty tomb, they considered him a God. And I love Matthew's honesty, but there were some who were just like, this is so hard to to fathom. And then Jesus begins his farewell address with what I, my opinion, I think this is the most important and the most overlooked statement in the entire New Testament, maybe in the whole Bible. But for sure, this is the most important and the most overlooked, underplayed, doesn't get any airtime statement in the whole New Testament.

And what should get your attention is for those of you who are raised in church, you don't know what the next statement is. And I think it's the, it's preeminent. This is crazy talk, unless it's true. And if it's true, the church should organize around this statement. And if the church had organized around this statement, the church would look better, feel better, and be more forward thinKing and more all inclusive than it currently is. Here's what he said, all authority, little Greek word past, it's not like a fancy word, It just means every, all. All authority in heaven and on earth, heaven and on earth, that's pretty much everything, right?

Heaven to earth, all authority and heaven and earth has been given by my Father to me. This statement has been reduced to simply another statement or another verse in the Bible equated with every other statement or verse in the Bible, and that is tragic, because Jesus said this, 300 plus years before the first Bible was ever assembled. And when I say assembled, the Bible was assembled, they took the Hebrew text and a version of the Hebrew text, they took the gospels, Matthew, Martin, Luke, John, they took the letters of Paul and others and they put 'em all together in one book. And somebody named it the Bible, we don't know when. We don't know who did, who did it, which means the books is all it meant. Like let's just call it the book, not very creative, but it stuck, the Bibly house, the Bible.

300 something years after Jesus made this statement, when Jesus made this statement, and Matthew wrote it down, Matthew wasn't writing the Bible. He's documenting an event. And your savior, my savior, if you're a Christian, claimed to be the ultimate authority. Or to put it another way, if you use this language, the Bible says that Jesus is our ultimate authority, not the Bible. That the Bible infers, if you just take the Bible as if the Bible had a voice, the Bible proclaims that Jesus, your Savior and King is your ultimate authority. More importantly, Jesus said that Jesus is our ultimate authority. And in ignoring the implications of this statement is how church leaders have gotten by with so much harmful nonsense century after century after century. Because somebody like me, because I'm so well acquainted and well versed in the verses of the old and New Testament, somebody like me can use and misuse, apply and misapply the Bible in such a way that I can justify pretty much anything you want to do.

Just give me a minute, I'll find you a verse, I'll find you a story, I'll find you an implication, I will find you a loophole. But the life of Jesus, the message of Jesus, the way that Jesus interacted with people, there's virtually no wiggle room. He closed all of the loopholes. This is why he was in a constant running battle with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law and the scribes because they had so many loopholes. And Jesus closes all of them and it drove them crazy. He says, it's just this, it's this simple. You are to love other people the way I've loved you. If it's good for him, it's good. If it's not good for him, it's a sin. If it's not good for them, it's a sin against them. If it's not good for her, you defer. If it's not good for you, no can do. Not because God is the sovereign law giver, but because God loves you, good parents set rules to protect their children, your heavenly Father has done the same for you.

And he brought Jesus into the world to bring clarity. The apostle Paul said, you know everything before Jesus was a shadow. And you can tell a few things about some, about a thing from the shadow. But he said, now the reality has come. And Jesus stands on the hill that day and says, gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, I'm your King. And you know because you've spent time with me that I have your best interest, best interest in mine, and I have come for the salvation and I have come for the sake of the entire world. And then having claimed that kind of authority, he uses it. And here's what he tells 'em, he says, this is what I want you to do with this authority. This is what he wants me to do with this authority. This is what he wants you to do with this authority. In fact, if you're not a Christian or you're sort of anti-Christian church, part of the problem is we haven't done what Jesus asked us to do.

So of course, there's resistance. We act sometimes like we're just another ideology or just another religion. Jesus is like, no, this is for the world. There's nobody outside the invitation to this new kind of relationship with God, your father. He says, now here's what I want you to do. I want you to go and I want you to make more followers of me. Peter, just like you're a follower of me, I want you to go multiply John, just like you're a follower of me, I want you to go multiply. I want you to make more followers of me. Well, where do you want us to do this? He says, I want you to do it everywhere. And this is what bogged him down. He is to go make disciples of all people groups or all nations, our English tech says, or all tribes or all gentiles or all ethnicities, right? And are we supposed to do this by force? Manipulation or threats? No, but you're, Jesus would say you're supposed to do it the way I did it.

Peter, you remember how I did it? I said, Peter, I'd like for you to follow me, learn from me. Watch me. No, this is by example. This is by information, this is by influence, this is through humility. I want you to live your lives in such a way that people are curious. I want you to live your lives in such a way that people lean in. I want you to live your lives in such a way that people are like, I dunno if I can believe all that, but I'd like to try some of the stuff, I'd like to think that way. I would love for my husband to treat me that way. I'd love for my wife to just, you know, just think about our marriage a little bit differently. And you Christians seem to have figured that out.

And then he says this, and again, this passage right over us because of the way we experience baptism and church and all of churches don't baptize the same way, but he says, baptizing them. And the name of the Father and then of the Son, puts himself in this equation, amazing. And the Holy Spirit. And for them, they knew immediately what this was about. John the Baptist invented baptism the way that we do baptism. This was covenant language. This was, you are being included in a covenant covenant community where you all embrace the same world to you and you embrace a way of living and life together. And anyone who decides to be my follower, he says, you are to baptize them immediately. Everybody's invited, no distinction. And then what comes next flows directly from his claim, to have all authority.

And again, this may be the second most overlooked statement in the New Testament. Again, this is a statement that if the church would just get this right, it literally changes almost everything. Anything that you resist about Christianity in the local church I think goes away if we get this right. And when you go to make disciples, here's what I want you to tell these people, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. I want you to teach them everything I, Matthew, you wrote a lot of this down, didn't you? Yes sir. John, you wrote a lot of it down right? Some of you other guys took some notes. Most of his followers were illiterate. They had to dictate this stuff to other people to get it out.

I want you to tell the world everything I have commanded you. What should the church teach? The church should teach. The church should capitalize on what Jesus taught, forgiveness, regardless. If somebody makes you their enemy, don't return the favor, right? Others first. That your wealth, your possessions, our wealth, our possessions, they're tools in the eyes of God to further his influence and to do for other people to show compassion and generosity to other people. He'd say, look, I want you to teach other people to be the Samaritan in the parable of the good Samaritan. I want you to teach people not to be the older brother. Don't be like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son. He said, and if you guys will do this, here's what I promise.

And surely, here's a promise that, this promise isn't made to every Christian. This promise is made to the Christians who go and do what he's called us to do. He said, and surely I'm gonna be with you always to the very end, this is important, of the age that we are in an era, that will come to an end, which is hard to believe. But nobody believed Jesus would rise from the dead either. And he did, and he said, this era, this age is coming to an end. And I'm gonna be with you in a special way, and who is you? You are believers whose faith has feet, followers who multiply. And then the strangest thing happened. He left and they didn't. He said, go, and they did not go, they stayed. And I understand why they stayed, this is their home. These are their families, this is their friends.

This is comfortable, this is Judean. This is Torah followers, this is trips to the temple even if you lived way up in Galilee, you kind of were with your people. Besides that, thousands of people had declared faith in Jesus. There was plenty to do in Galilee and plenty to do in Judea. And they did not go. And not too long after this conversation, Jesus had with his followers, a persecution broke out against the Jesus followers because they were causing so much trouble at the temple. And so much trouble in that area, persecution broke out. And Luke, who documents the entire story of Jesus and what happened after the story of Jesus, tells us this, that when that persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, look at this.

Everybody, all the Jesus followers, accepted the apostles, the people who knew him best and had been given this commission to take what they'd heard from him directly to the rest of the world. Everybody else was scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. The apostles stayed in Judea and some, in some instances traveled to Galilee. And consequently, the church, the church maintained a distinctly Torah-based Judean or we would say Jewish flavor. And the movement, the Jesus movement stalled, 'cause they didn't go, because they couldn't imagine it was this wide. They felt like it was more like this wide.

And you know what they did? They simply added the teaching of Jesus to everything they were already teaching. They equated it with Torah, which I, which is a big deal. It's like, I mean, Moses is our guy, and you know what? We're gonna get in trouble for this, but we think Jesus is right up there with Moses. I mean, you could get arrested for that. Jesus is like, no, I didn't tie with Moses. I replaced Moses. No knock on Moses, Moses did exactly what God asked him to do. That's how you got to this place. But Moses put the ball on the tee, and I have come up and I've done something for the entire world. And as the law of Moses was so ingrained culturally, the apostles had a hard time not mixing and matching the covenants, God's covenant with Israel, which is so important. We call it the Old Testament or the old covenant.

God's mixing and matching the covenant, his covenant with Israel and his brand new Jesus, brand new covenant that he made with the entire human race on that, during that last Passover. And the problem is, and what I'm getting to is that modern Christians, and mostly people who do what I do, modern pastors and writers and bloggers and authors for generation after generation, after generation, we've done the same thing. We have mixed and matched these covenants. And the reason it's been so easy to do is the way we've received our Bible. Because when you received your Bible, you were told, and understandably, I get this, this is God's word.

Well, as soon as you get a book and are told us God's word, it implies that everything in here is equal. Everything is equally applicable. Everything should be treated the same way. And that's just not true. And none of you even try to do that. We know intuitively educated people that, wait, when I read some of this stuff that God said to Israel, that just is not what God said through Jesus for us to do, it's different. It's not right versus wrong, it's then versus now. And preachers are the culprit. And you know what part of the reason is, if I can just talk about my industry a minute and just get some sympathy. In fact, when after I say this, I would like to hear like a multi-campus, oh. And my son, Andrew, says it the best way.

Some of you saw this, he says, I feel sorry for my dad. He has to do a book report every single week on the same book. And I think, yeah, and the author is listening, okay. So I mean, here comes Sunday, here comes Sunday, here comes Sunday. And you gotta have something to say. It's like, Lord already said that, already talked about that. Yeah, they know that, I know Christmas is coming. They already know that too, I gotta have some. So I get the pressure, I understand. But this mixing and matching of covenants, what it does is it takes Jesus claim as King and ultimate authority, and it drops him into a bucket with a whole bunch of other information. And we lose the plot line, we lose the storyline.

This is why so many pastors, and I can, you know, kind of pick on my industry or my people. This is why so many pastors, and this drives me nuts. This is why so many pastors talk way, way, way, way more about being biblical than Christ-Like. Big difference. Big, in fact, if you have been hurt by the church, you were hurt by a church that was all about this. They had whatever they said to you, whatever they told your mama, the reason they told you you couldn't come, whatever it was, they teed off of this. You didn't feel like they were being this. Okay, I don't wanna go off on that. I could be the rest of the day, back to the storyline.

So here's what happened, this is maybe a story from the New Testament you don't know. So when the disciples didn't go and things just became just mix and match, mix and match, mix and match, Jesus had to intervene. And he did two big interventions. One, he recruited Saul of Tarsus, who was a Pharisee and got him involved. That was a great, and that was a great strategy. That was huge, and he, in fact, Saul did such a good job. We know him as Paul, the Apostle Paul. God let him write half the New Testament. So that worked out, okay. The other person that Jesus came back to recruit was Peter. And here's the story, it's Acts chapter 10. You gotta read the whole story for yourself because I don't have time to tell the whole story, but it's fascinating.

Acts chapter, Jim Peter, okay, this is, catch this. For all your Bible nerds, this is like 15 years after the resurrection. 15 years, he's still in Judea, 15 years. In fact, he's at the beach, he's on at the Mediterranean Sea, hanging out with a buddy. And he has a vision. And in the vision God speaks to, and these are my words, not the text words. God essentially says, what are you doing? I told you to go and you didn't go. Now you gotta go. So tomorrow, somebody's coming to this house. He was staying with a friend, somebody's coming to this house, and you're gonna be invited to go about 30 miles north up the coast, and you are gonna visit the end of the, you're gonna go in the home of a gentile named Cornelius, he's a wealthy centurion. He did not make all of his money honestly, we're just letting you know that upfront. But he's curious about the story of Jesus.

And he know those bits and pieces, and he's gonna fill his large house with a bunch of Gentiles. And I want you to go up there, go in this house, and I want you to put the, to connect the dots for them so they understand the whole story and the whole message. And Peter's like, this is Peter. This is 15 years after the resurec... This is walk on water Peter. Peter's like, I just, I'm not comfortable with that because religious tradition, I get it, I grew up in one. It gets your, it's claws in you. And sometimes you can't see straight, you can't think straight. And Peter's like, I mean, he's like, all right. He said, sure enough, the next day, there's a knock on this guy's door. He's like, Hey, Cornelius sent us down here, wants you to come up.

So he makes the trip, he gets to Cornelius's house, big house. Here's all the noise inside. It's a big courtyard on the inside of this Roman home. He's out there outside. I'm making this part up, but I'm sure it happened. He's outside going, oh, we had to go. The threshold's right there, it's like, I'm coming down, I'm being there in just a second. I just, I'm coming, I just gotta pray for a minute, okay? Because in his thinKing, if I go in this house, I'm ceremonially unclean. I am being untorical, I'm being unbiblical. I'm breaKing God's law if I step in this house. Of course, Jesus is going, what? You peered into an empty tomb, I rose from the dead, and you won't leave home.

Finally Peter's like, I can do this. And anyway, he goes in, now he's so nervous. Luke records how this message went. And it's so awkward, okay? This is a reminder, in fact, for some of you, this isn't all that interesting to you. So tune back in 'cause this is for you maybe. There are things you think and there are things you say, but do not say everything you think, okay? Maybe that's the big application from today's message for some of you share that with a friend, and that was good, and I don't know about the whole rest of this, but that was good. There are things you think, things you say don't say. Peter gets in there, he's so nervous. He starts saying the things he's been thinKing. Here's how he opens it up, okay? Surrounded by, you know, middle income, wealthy, pagan, gentile people.

He's, you know, here's what he says. You are all well aware, because they live in the vicinity of Judea, they know what Jewish people are like, what they eat, what they don't eat, what they, where they go. And they won't go, who they'll do business with, who they won't do business with. You are all well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate or visit with someone basically like you guys. You know, and then it gets worse. He says, but God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. The implication is, up until yesterday, I considered all of you impure and unclean. But lucky you, God has shown me that you're not impure. This is a follower of Jesus. This is how wound up he is with Torah that God inspired through Moses. But then he put on the back burner, you got your old phone and your new phone. This is the old phone, that's the new phone.

Nothing wrong with the old phone, that's just a new phone. This is the new covenant. He, that's what he says. And then he just goes on from there, that this was his version of being biblical. Very biblical, very to Torah-like, but not Christ-like, because Jesus is the authority. And Jesus says, you have my permission to get Gentile cooties on you because this is about the world, not just about Judeans and Galileans, right? And here's the other thing, in spite of this, and then he preaches this amazing message. Everybody in there puts their faith in Jesus because they'd heard the story, they just needed somebody to put it together. And he's the famous fisherman, Jesus' most famous follower. He goes back to Jerusalem and reports what happened. And everybody's mad at him. They're mad at him, like, what? What are you doing going into the home?

These are Jesus followers who just couldn't seem to separate the covenants. They didn't know because they didn't go. It would be years later, you would think this would do it for the church. I mean, Peter, he's like the voice, he's in charge. Years later, it would be years later before the church finally went all in on all in. Acts chapter 15, read the story for yourself. Acts chapter 15, there's a meeting, they finally have a, we gotta figure this out meeting. And there's a group of Pharisees who are now Jesus followers, which is amazing. Why would a Pharisee begin to follow Jesus? Because they crucified him, then they saw him, uh-oh, change sides, right?

So there's a bunch of Pharisees that are now Jesus followers and they're like, no, no, no, these people have to, and the Gentiles have to subscribe to Torah before they can, you know, join us. And Peter, and now the Apostle Paul, 'cause so many years have gone by, are saying, no, no, no, no, we have seen God give his spirit to Gentiles who don't know the first thing about Torah. And they're not about to learn and they're not gonna get subscribed to our dietary laws and all of our crazy laws. And I say crazy laws, because in this meeting, I don't mean crazy like they weren't from God, I mean, when Gentiles thought about those laws, it's like, you gotta be kidding, we can't do that. Even in this meeting, it's so amazing.

One of the speakers says, look guys, 'cause of all men, of course, look guys, isn't it true us Jews, we have a hard time keeping all these commandments. How in the world can we expect non-Jewish adults who weren't raised on this from childhood to suddenly wake up one day and say, okay, there's 613 of these, let's guess, number one, I'm gonna have to divorce my wife, that's not gonna go well. So how do, right? So they decide, so here's what you meant. So James, the brother of Jesus is actually in charge of this meeting. James, the brother of Jesus, was the pastor of the church in Jerusalem. Why would James be a pastor of a Christian Church? Because he saw his resurrected brother, that's why.

And here's what he said at the end of the meeting. And this, this statement is on wall, on painted on walls all over our offices. He says, okay, I've listened to both sides of the argument. I'm making a decision, it is my judgment, therefore, if we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Let's remove every barrier we can, let's remove the big ones, the small ones. And they did, they addressed big cultural barriers. They addressed theological barriers, they addressed traditional barriers. And it was so uncomfortable for them, but they did it anyway. It felt so untorical or unbiblical for them, but they did it anyway.

And do you know what happened? The text tells us the church exploded in the world of the Gentiles. There were so many Christians, people coming to faith in Antioch that the Pagans in Antioch said, what is going on? And they came up for a term, they came up with a term for these crazy followers of the crucified King, they called them Christians. And we've been branded with that ever since. Which brings me finally to what actually breaks my heart and why I'm so grateful for you. The church, the church always gravitates toward insiders. The people who know the deal, know the songs, know the verses, you got all down their lives are all buttoned up and perfect. The focus of the church naturally gravitates toward insiders rather than people who are outside the faith. This is just the natural gravitational pull of the church.

So almost 29 years ago, we were part of a movement to reverse that and to change that. And for years, huge progress was made. Brand new churches popped up all over the place that were organized around being outsider focused, community focused, let's love people well, let's serve the community well. And when they ask why, it's because we follow Jesus. And we're just loving, like Jesus loved us. Let's be an outward facing church. We're no longer gonna be churches that are our for and no more. And come Lord Jesus, come Lord Jesus and rescue us and rapture us out of this horrible cess pit. So you can condemn all, you know, just not even, that's definitely not biblical or Jesus a goal, okay? That's, we can talk about that some other time, you'll see at the end of the message.

But anyway, so churches organized around reaching, not keeping. And the good news became good again. And for all people began to mean all again. But when churches like ours began to grow quickly, in fact, that was one of the criticisms for five or six years in those early years when we were just getting started. I heard it over and over and over from pastors and from Christians. Well, it's so big, they must be doing something wrong. This was the argument. It's so successful, there's so many people they can't possibly be preaching the true gospel of repentance. I bet they never talk about sin, right? They, it's too big. I'm like, have you read the book of Acts? 3,000 people came to faith in one day in Acts. Anyway, so this is a criticism. So then what happened, what do you think happened?

Well, when a bunch of churches like ours began to grow quickly, everybody's like, hmm, we wanna grow quickly. So all the hens ran to the other side of the hen house. It's like, we wanna do this too. And suddenly casual was cool and bands are in and choirs are out and hand bells are like way out, you know, except for traditional, then do you remember this? You don't see this much anymore. For years and years and years, you'd drive by a church, contemporary service. You know, nine o'clock, 'cause you know you gotta give the older people their 11 o'clock service, traditional service, everybody's gonna do both of these. What were they doing? Well, they were this, they saw this as a church growth strategy. And so all the late comers, and there were thousands and thousands and thousands of churches.

Now everywhere you go, every church kinda looks the same. There's no more steeples, the buildings are different. Everybody dresses casuals, right? And they, the modern church vibe they got, the feel, look and feel, cool and casual. But I'm telling you, 'cause I'm, this is what I do. They miss the heart and the passion of this movement because our goal and the goal of these, the people who came before me even and before us, their goal wasn't growth. It was reach. We set out, the reason we made the changes we did wasn't to be cool. We got accused of that all the time. You're just trying to be cool. Look at them and go, well, it doesn't take much anyway, sorry. We set out, you know why we did this? We set out to remove obstacles, we set out to invite people to follow Jesus. And that's what happened, and it began so pure. And it began so amazing.

And many of you were here from, from I, Bob Bryant's sitting right back here. Bob Bryant, we used to have our, we had our first meetings in his home in Dunwoody. He just opened up his home, then he opened up his office, 'cause we had nothing but an idea. But we grew up in church and we don't wanna be church for church people, we done that. We saw where that led. It makes people cynical and critical, and they turn their backs to community. And everybody doesn't agree with them, they're just wrong and they're going to hell anyway. And if you get saved, come on in, but we can't have anything to do with you. Like Peter going, I know I need to go in there, I know I need to go in there, but I just can't go in there. There it is all over again. So unfortunately, this is why I'm talKing about this.

Unfortunately, much of that progress that you were a part of creating in other churches, not just us, much of that progress is being undermined and reversed like crazy right now. With all the political nonsense in the last few years, it has picked up speed like crazy, and here's what happened. The people fueling it are conservative. And I'm so theologically conservative, I'm even politically conservative. But this whole thing has been fueled by conservative fearful fundamentalists, don't have time to define that, academics and pastors. And churches, church leaders are resurrecting old barriers that we spent years tearing down and they're adding new barriers.

Now, I'll give you a quick example. I texted him this morning, told him I was gonna talk about him in church. One of the two people who really launched this movement way back in the late 70s is Rick Warren. Purpose-Driven Life, before he wrote the Purpose-Driven Life, he wrote the Purpose-Driven Church. That book sold millions of copies to pastors. And it was a book about how to create a church that's for outsiders, for unchurched people. I mean, he inspired so many of us, right? To get, help get the church back on mission. He is a modern church reformer, there's no way about, around it. Last year, some of you know about this, last year, his denomination kicked him out of the denomination for something immoral? No, something illegal? No. Something that had to do with money? No, because he's had some addiction? No, none of that.

You know, glamorous stuff, right? They kicked him out because he had the nerve to ordain three female staff members who were functioning as pastors. He ordained them as pastors, which is actually a legal status. It gave them a tax benefit. They're doing the work of all the other male pastors. He's like, well why in the world would we not make them pastors? They're pastoring, and they weren't gonna go out and lead a church, they were worKing on his staff. He ordained three women and they kicked him out of the church. You don't get any more insider focused than that. And there's example after example, after example, after example, after example.

And here's the problem, evangelical leaders, and I consider myself evangelical, not evangelistic, that's different and evangelistic, but evangelical, evangelical leaders are prioritizing politics over mission. And the people in their churches are buying it, hook, line, and sinker and globbing on all their political views. And my political views are as strong as your political views and mine are, right? Okay, just wanna let you know right up front, okay. You think yours are, ain't I right? Because we all feel that way. You wouldn't have a view if you didn't think it was the right thing to do, right? But they have elevated politics and here's what they've done, they've taken Old Testament or old covenant terminology, old covenant stories, blended it with their politics and glob it onto the message and the person of Jesus, and it's just sick.

And they're prioritizing politics over mission. Political affiliation, I don't know who you follow on social media. I try to follow everybody so I, you know, what the conversation is and follow the famous people you know, in religious world. Political affiliation has become the litmus test for orthodoxy. I hope you haven't seen this, but lemme just tell you what I'm about to tell you is not kind of often a corner. This is mainline speaKing and posting and books are written and chapters and books are written about this. Right now, the current thing for the last three or four years is that you can't, I was gonna put this on the screen, but there are things I should never put on a screen to have a picture taken because, anyway, so.

You know what the messaging is now? This isn't in the corner, these are, if I named the people who are saying these things, you've heard of most of 'em, you've read some of their books, that you can't be a Christian and be a Democrat. You can't be, you can't possibly be a true Christian if you're a Democrat, which is absolutely absurd. But what's even more absurd is as conservative Christians, Republicans, demonize Democrats, all Democrats, and you can't possibly be a Christian, as they demonize Democrats. They basically go against one of Jesus' primary teachings instead of loving their enemies, all these lost Democrats, they demonize 'em. They make, they make Democrats the enemy. And what did Jesus tell us to do with our enemies? Anybody remember? Yeah.

So lemme just say to those of you who are conservative politically like me, if you do that, stop it. You can disagree, but you don't write somebody off as bad and evil, here's why. You think it's just kind of funny. You study history. All that has to happen in any country is for a majority to decide a minority is evil. And once they're evil, they're cockroaches and they're rats. And once they're evil, the only thing to do with evil, you don't redeem evil, you don't, you know, you don't share your faith with evil. You get rid of evil. That language is so extraordinarily harmful. And this is one of many reasons why Jesus said, when somebody considers you an enemy, don't you dare return the favor.

Do you demonize people that you've been called to reach? And this group of people, like these are, some of 'em are my friends. They have turned the mission field into a battlefield and they're warriors, but they're not warriors for the Kingdom of Christ. And here's how you know, this is the litmus test. If you haven't been paying attention, don't miss this. If you need an enemy, if you need an enemy in order to further your agenda, rest assured, it is not the agenda of our King, period. These leaders, leaders, I don't think they're leaders, I think they just have a big following, 'cause people loved the extremes. But these leaders, do you know what they rally around? They don't rally around so much what they believe in common. And they would totally disagree with what I'm about to say. They've rallied around who they hate in common.

They say, oh no, no, we don't hate 'em. I'm like, whoa, whoa, whoa. You treat them like they're less than people. You have demonized them, you have written them off. That's what hate is. They rally around who they hate in common, but more importantly, they rally around what they fear in common. And Jesus' most off repeated command, it's fear not. This group, again, some of my friends. I still consider 'em friends, they say terrible things about me on social media. I just text 'em and call 'em and say, I saw your post, you wanna talk? It's what I do, I mean, people close to me, they know, I get cell phone numbers, I just text 'em and call 'em, say, Hey, it's Andy, I know you think I'm just a little picture on something, I'm a real person, talk. You know, I really well Andy, I loved your daddy, I loved him.

Come on, let's talk. I mean, you felt fine getting up and just, you know, demonizing me, so let' just talk. And the reason I'm calling you, this is what I say, the reason I'm calling you is 'cause I'm a Christian. This is what, we're supposed to teach what Jesus taught. This is what he, this is what he taught. You know what's happened? They become like the priest in the Levite, in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Remember the good Samaritan? The priest comes by and sees the guy laying there, walks by. Samaritan sees the guy laying there, and walks by. The text says that when they saw him, the priest who saw the man, he passed by on the other side, you know why the guy passed by the priest and Levite passed by on this other side? Very religious people, because their scripture, their text, their Bible forbade them from touching anything dead, or mostly dead.

They had a verse, they had an excuse. They did not have the heart of their King, and it's why Jesus told the parable and made the Samaritan the hero because they hated Samaritans in Jesus is saying, look, in my kingdom, in my new world, in the age that is to come, that's not how it works anymore. They, they were like the, they were like, in the parable, they passed right by the person who was in need. Even though, eventually they would discover that their savior did not walk past them when they were in need. He didn't walk past me when I was dead in my transgressions, in my sin to use Bible terms. He didn't walk by you when you were dead and separated from God and your transgressions and your sin.

How dare we walk by anyone and demonize them? And so demean them to that makes, gives me an excuse not to have to have anything to do with them. This group desperately wants to win, but they've already lost because they've lost the kingdom plot line, and that breaks my heart. And once again, the church, especially evangelical church, conservative churches in America, once again, the church is known more for what and who we're against than what and who we're for, but not you and not here. And that's why I absolutely love our churches. And it's why I love our leadership. And it's why I love our volunteers. And it's why I'm so grateful for our elders. And I'm so grateful for our staff. And it's why I love serving with you, because together we have resisted that trend.

And we're gonna continue to resist that trend because we believe and operate under this banner that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. He didn't call himself a King for nothing, and he's not been declared a King for nothing, he's the King. He's the ultimate authority. And consequently, we are committed, we're committed to teaching people to obey everything he's commanded us and we are committed to obeying everything he's commanded us. And we won't always get it right, and I won't always get it right, but when we get it wrong, you know what we're gonna do? We're gonna do what he commanded us. We're gonna own our sin. And we're gonna own our faults and our failures because that's what he told us to do. And when we mess up with people, we're gonna make things right with people regardless of what percentage of the problem was our problem. Because he took all of our problem on himself.

And when he did that, he took all our excuses away. Which means practically speaKing, we are empowered. We can disagree culturally and politically, and love unconditionally. And we can do that because that's exactly what Jesus did. Listen, when Jesus showed up on planet earth, nobody lined up with him on anything. They didn't see God the same way, sin the same way, they didn't see women the same way, children the same way, they didn't see religion the same way. Nobody lined up with him on any of his views or convictions. And you know what he did? He loved them, he served them, he carried their burden. So here's what I think.

I think from Decatur to Browns Bridge Church to, you know, East Cobb Church, all of our campuses all over the state now and all over the country and more and more all over the world, our increasing political and racial diversity is a strength. It's our message, we are an imperfect picture. We are an imperfect picture of a perfect age to come. We are a commercial announcement for a coming attraction. We are a commercial announcement for the Kingdom of God that will eventually come to earth. John who gave us the book of Revelation, which has confused people ever since he wrote it, 'cause there's so much imagery.

There are a few points of light in the Book of Revelations where the truth just punches through. And I'll close with this. He says, I saw a holy city, a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, and I heard a loud voice from the throne, which is Jesus. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, look, look, God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he's gonna dwell with them and they will be his people. All the people will be his people and God himself will be with them and he's gonna be their God, and get this promise. This is why we are the hope of the world as the church. And he says, and when God comes, and when Jesus establishes his Kingdom, he's gonna wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. And for the old order of things has passed away.

He... this is amazing. He who is seated on the throne said, I am making everything new. We don't make it new, we make it better in the meantime, through our lives and our love and our generosity and our sacrifice and our service and through our refusal to despise or demonize those God loves. And who does God love? He loves the Republicans and the Democrats. He loves brown, black and white. We are all precious in his sight, and we must be precious in each other's sight as well. And shame on a person who names the name of Jesus that does anything less than that. I'll admit, the current trend toward fundamentalism, nationalism, what's in for me'ism? You know, when at all cost'ism. All those trends, they're discouraging. But at the end of the day, I'm not discouraged.

I'm grateful and I'm hopeful. I'm grateful because of you, and I'm hopeful because regardless of what we experience in our generation, here's the promise. Here's the promise by the resurrected savior and king. He said, I will, regardless of what happens, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. The church wins, and when the church wins, everybody wins. There are no losers. It is the nature of the Kingdom of God. And he says, and if you'll participate with me, surely I'm with you always to the very end of the age. So thank you, let's keep going. And to those of you who participate with us online from all over the world, and support us with your prayers and even your financial gifts, thank you as well. We could not do all of this without all of you.
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