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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Unified Diversity

Craig Smith - Unified Diversity


Craig Smith - Unified Diversity
TOPICS: Equipted, Unity

Welcome to all of our locations including those of you who are joining us Church Online, so glad you’re with us. We are three weeks deep into our Equipted Series, taking a look at all the ways that God has equipped and gifted us, equipted us to be on mission with him. Here’s what we know. We know that God created and redeemed us for mission. The Garden of Eden, I don’t know if you know this, the Garden of Eden was not a day spa. Anybody? It wasn’t a retreat center. The Garden of Eden was a mission training facility. And basically, what God did was he planted the garden. He put Adam and Eve in it, and he said, ”Hey, you see what I did here, you’re gonna do this out there. You’re gonna rule and subdue all creation. You’re gonna bring order to it.” And so really, they were made to extend God’s influence in creation.

That’s what our calling was, that’s what our mission was, our purpose was. We rebelled against that. We went AWOL, but God loved us so much that he sent his own Son and he paid the penalty for our rebellion in his blood. But Jesus didn’t just die to forgive us for our sin. He also died sort of to bring us back into our mission. And so Jesus said to all of his followers, go into all the world, preach the Gospel, the Good News to all creation. That’s mission. And so we were created and redeemed for mission. And we also know that where God guides, he provides. God’s too good a Father to call us to do something and not equip us to be able to succeed in that calling. And so God has provided what we need to carry out the mission that he’s guided us to.

Now, we also know that there’s three different ways that God has provided. There are natural gifts, abilities that we have because we were born with them. God wired us from the start with them. We have learned gifts. Those are abilities that we have because we developed them over time and through experience. And then we have spiritual gifts. We talked about these last week. These are gifts and abilities we have because the Holy Spirit comes into us the moment we say yes to Jesus, and he brings with it these new abilities. And as we saw last week, what’s great about spiritual gifts is they’re not just a new ability we have, but it’s actually the way that God shows up to us, is the way the Holy Spirit announces his presence through us, to the body of believers and to the world. So it’s really important that we understand our spiritual gifts as well.

If you missed the teaching last week, I really wanna encourage you to get caught up in that content. You can do it through the Mission Hills App or through the website or through a podcast because every follower of Jesus has one of these main ways that the Holy Spirit shows up through them and we wanna know what they are. And in the last week’s teaching, we talked about some very practical steps to help discover what that spiritual gift is. But today, we’re gonna add a fourth category of gifts. We’ve talked about natural and learned and spiritual gifts. Today, we’re gonna talk about the gift of other people.

I always like to just get a feel for the room because there’s always some people who are like, do we have to bring other people into this? Because other people may think so much harder and they do, right? You know what? When I was single, there was no division or conflict in my apartment. My apartment was a place of perfect unity and peace. I always understood what I was saying. I always saw things with the same set of priorities. We were perfectly unified. And then Coletta and I got married, and suddenly, two things happen. Number one, we got better. We are definitely better together. She brought things to the table, ways of seeing things, gifts and abilities that I didn’t have. All of that made me better. I brought gifts to the table she didn’t have, so I made her better. Together we were better. And honestly, I think together we were better at being on mission with Jesus, together we were better at extending God’s influence in the world, not only than we were as individuals, but really than we were even with just the two of that’s the, you know, the two of our abilities and gifts and stuff coming together. We were better together, but at the same time we got better together, things also got harder, right?

You added another person into the mix and there’s always a new potential for conflict and division. And what I realized was the more people you add to the mix, the division and the conflict or the potential for that grows exponentially. It’s not just a one to one kind of a deal. See, where it’s just Coletta and I, there was only one possible conflict configuration, right? She and I could have conflict and division with each other. It was just one. When we added our oldest daughter into it, I realized we didn’t just go from one to like, you know, two or three, it was an exponential increase because here, check me on the math on this one. Okay. Here’s the potential conflict configurations when there’s three of us, I could have a conflict with Coletta. Okay. I could have a conflict with Rochelle. I could also have a conflict with Coletta and Rochelle together. Right, because they could be together with each other but not with me, right? That’s a new conflict configuration. But, Coletta could also have a conflict with just Rochelle and not me, or she could have a conflict with Rochelle and me. That’s we’re at five.

And there’s still one other potential conflict configuration as Rochelle could have a conflict with Coletta and I together. Six. We went from one to six by adding one person. And the math, by the way, this is factorial math for those of you who are like what kind of…it’s factorial math. It’s a little bonus. A little freebie for those of you who like that kind of thing. Here’s what it means. It means when we added our fourth daughter Lynae, we went from six possible conflict configurations to 24. If you have a family of five people, 120 possible configurations of conflict. Remember that show ”Eight is Enough?” Yeah, it’s way past enough. Eight people in your family, I kid you not, 40,340 possible configurations of conflict and division.

So what happens in the church when we go way beyond eight, when we talk about hundreds or even thousands? Just for fun, I was like, you know, Mission Hills, we estimate conservatively is about 7,000 people who come on a regular basis to Mission Hills. 7,000 people call it home. I just said, ”Hey, let’s work out the potential conflict configurations if we choose the 7,000 people.” So I put it into Excel and Excel was like, nope. I kid you not, it like didn’t give me an answer. It was just like I can’t calculate that. And I was like, wow, that’s bad news, right? Because you see here’s the problem, right? See, when we put more people together, things get better because no one person has all the gifts. And so by bringing different people together, we bring different gifts. And so here’s the central truth and I want you to understand this, God has equipped us for mission through the gift of other believers. We’re better together. But the more people you put into the mix, the more potential conflict and division that happens, right?

And so here’s the big question for today. How do we get the promised benefits of diversity without the potential conflict, without the potential division? How do we do that? And it’s an important question, not just for the Church. I think it’s an important question for marriages because the reality is when you get two people together, they’re better together, but it’s also harder, right? I’m not gonna, please just look straight at me. No, don’t look around. We’re not gonna do any hand raising, but I think a lot of people, they got together and at first, it was like, oh, this is good. We’re better together. Then things got a little bit harder and sometimes people begin to go like this would be a whole lot easier if I were single again. It would be easier, but it wouldn’t be better. We’re better together, but more people we put together the more potential for conflict and division. And so how do we get the promised benefits of all these different gifts and stuff coming together? Because no one person has all the gifts, right? And so we need multiple people to get all the gifts assembled. How do we get the promised benefit of those gets without the potential conflict and division? That’s the question we’re gonna push in today. It would be useful I think not only in the church but in marriages and in working with your friend group and in work, in your neighborhood. Anytime you put a bunch of people together, things get better, but they also get harder. So how do we get the promised benefits without the potential conflict?

Why don’t you go ahead and grab your Bible, start making your way to the book of 1st Corinthians Chapter 12 and pick up where we left off last week. We’re in verse 12 which says this, ”Just as a body though one has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” And we said, so it is with Christ, what he means is, so it is with the body of Christ is kind of a shortened version of that, and the body of Christ is kind of code for the Church. So he says just as it is with the human body, so it is with the Church. And his point’s pretty easy to understand, it’s a very simple analogy. He says, you know, the body has many parts, right? You know, head, shoulders, knees, and toes, right? Nobody got to come back with the knees, okay? Lots of parts, one body, one body, many parts. He says, so it is with the Church. You know the body has many parts but it’s one person. The Church has many people, but it’s one Church.

And he introduces us here to two very important themes that we’re gonna see over and over today. On the one hand, he says the Church depends on diversity. The Church depends upon all these different parts coming together. If the parts don’t all come together and if we don’t have all the different parts represented, then you have a weaker church. In the same way that a body missing parts in some ways is weaker. It struggles a little bit. So the Church depends on diversity, but at the same time, he also says the church depends on unity. The Church depends on unity. It’s many parts, but it’s one body. They’ve gotta be focused on the same goal. They’ve gotta be moving together towards the same purpose. So it says the Church depends upon diversity and the Church depends upon unity. These are the two rails of the train track that the Church is the train that’s moving forward towards the horizon of extending God’s influence in the world of lifting the light of the gospel high for all the world to see, of making an impact around the world for all of eternity. That’s where we’re headed. And the two tracks that we run on are diversity and unity.

Now, I recognize that that word diversity leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths. And the reason for that is because the world has tried to emphasize diversity in a way that it’s often caused harm and frustration and confusion. And the reason for that is very simple. The world doesn’t understand diversity. The world doesn’t get it. God gets it. He invented it. God invented diversity and there’s a reason why he invented it is because it allows us to succeed in the mission that he’s called us to. The world doesn’t get it, but the world has to get us to focus on diversity, but without some very important missing ingredients.

And so I recognize the word diversity may raise some red flags and I wanna ask you to do something for me. Do me a favor. Just set aside any past conceptions you have with that word diversity. Please set aside any preconceived notions, and I want us to think about diversity from a biblical perspective today. And when I use the word diversity, here’s what I mean. Biblical diversity is different gifts working towards the same goal, so, it’s so, so important. It’s different gifts working towards the same goal. It’s not different for the sake of different. You know what different for the sake of different is? It’s a recipe for division. It’s only when we have a same goal, that diversity actually becomes a meaningful thing that we can truly value. See, the world tries to teach about diversity, but without the common goal, without the common mission, without the common purpose. And so of course, divisions never going to do anything other than divide because we’re not using it in service of our higher calling of a larger purpose.

So when I say diversity this is what I mean, it’s different gifts working towards the same goal. And Paul says, ”Understood that way, diversity in unity are the two tracks that the Church runs on.” And he’s gonna emphasize those over and over again. Verse 14 he says, or 13 ”For we are all baptized by one Spirit, so as to form one body. Whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free, we were all given one Spirit to drink.” That’s unity, right? He says, doesn’t matter what your background is, doesn’t matter if you’re Jew or Gentile, those were the two big racial divisions of the day. We could say today, doesn’t matter if you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian, it doesn’t matter, right? Racially, it doesn’t matter where you come from. We’re all part of the same Spirit. He says, it doesn’t matter if you’re slave or free, those were the two big socioeconomic divisions of the day. Says, it doesn’t matter what your background is, we are all baptized into one Spirit and we all drink one Spirit. And that seems like strange language, right? You might be going like, what does it mean to drink the Spirit? Are we gonna become one of those kinds of churches? He’s like, he’s just making a really, it’s kind of a cool analogy actually because see when we’re baptized physically, we go into water, right? Symbolizes dying with Christ and being buried, and then when we’re brought up, we’re rising from the grave. And he says, we all were baptised, we’re all immersed into one Spirit, but in the same way that you can be immersed into water, you can also put water into you by drinking it. He says, it’s kind of like that with the Spirit. We’re all in one Spirit and one Spirit is in each one of us, but the point is it’s one Spirit which makes us one body. It’s an emphasis on unity. He says, even so, even though it’s one body, he says, even so, the body is not made up of one part, but of many. That’s diversity.

The Church depends on diversity. It says ”Now, if the foot should say because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body, it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say because I’m not an eye, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.” That’s unity. Regardless of how we think about it, regardless of our attempt sometimes to go, well, I don’t really belong and I don’t really fit in, I’m not really part of, he says you can say that all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re baptized into one Spirit. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re baptized into one Spirit, the Spirit is inside you. You are a part of the Church. We’re all one body. That’s unity. He says if the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? That’s diversity. Different gifts. He says the church depends on diversity. Without it, we would be a weaker body. But in fact, God has placed the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? That’s diversity,

But as it is, there are many parts, but there is one body. That’s unity, right? I mean, you just see it. It’s just over and over and over again. It’s the two tracks the Church runs on. We know the horizon and we know where we’re headed. We’re called to extend God’s influence in the world. We’re called the lift the light of the Gospel up high, to shine in the darkness for all to see, and the two tracks that take us there is diversity and unity. Over and over again, the Church depends upon both of them. The problem, of course, is that we struggle to be unified and our diversity often divides us rather than propelling us forward. And so he says this verse 21. He says, ”The eye cannot say to the hand, must not say to the hand, I don’t need you. And the head cannot say to the feet, I don’t need you.” Why not? Because they do need each other. Right, I mean the eye might recognize something that needs to go into the body. The eye might see, you know, a tall glass of cool water, but without the hand, the eye can’t get it into the body. So the eye can’t say to the hand, I don’t need. You know, the head might, you know, kind of look around and go, you know, we’re standing in the hot sun and we’re baking, we should get into the shade. But without the feet, it can’t accomplish it. It can’t get there. So the head can’t say to the feet, I don’t need you. The reality is we do need all of those parts. They all work together.

And so he says this, ”On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” Those parts of the body for whatever reason and may have to do with, you know, we see other parts through our particular lens and we tend to think that our lens is best, then we look at the other parts and go, well, that’s weaker. Or maybe it’s a cultural thing. We grew up in a culture that emphasizes these things and not those things. As we look at those things and go, well, that’s not as important, there’s all kinds of reasons why we do it, but we have this tendency to look at different parts and go, those are less important. And Jesus says, you’re wrong. You could not be more wrong. They’re indispensable. There’s so important. He says, ”And the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty.” Well, our presentable parts need no special treatment. I don’t know about you. When I was growing up, that verse made me so uncomfortable. I was like, what’s the special modesty? And like, are we talking about the naughty bits here with like why is that in the Bible? Why are we having this conversation? But what I’ve come to understand is what he’s actually talking about is the internal organs. He’s talking about parts that are out of sight.

And he’s saying just because they’re out of sight doesn’t mean they should be out of mind because even though they’re out of sight and the temptation is to think, well, those things are unimportant., the reality is they actually are…they have special honor because there are way more important, right? I mean they don’t get the attention. I mean we put a lot of attention on ears. I mean we decorate them. Nobody decorates the small intestine, right? How gross would that be? Because this is the small intestine, you know what, they are? They’re unpresentable like nobody wants to walk around with their intestines. They’re unpresentable he says, but they’re treated with special modesty, but they’re also given greater honor because the reality is you can lose an ear, but you can’t lose your small intestine. You understand what he’s saying? He’s saying, and this is so important, the amount of attention that something attracts is no measure of the value that it actually has. That’s all he’s saying. The matter of attention something attracts is no measure of the value that it actually has.

No guy has ever looked at a woman and gone get a load of those intestines. But those intestines are indispensable, right? Just because something attracts attention, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any more valuable than anything else. He says all the parts are indispensable. And warning us to get a handle on this, he says this, ”But God has put the body together.” He has put all the parts together giving greater honor, meaning greater importance to the parts that lacked it. Nobody honors the internal organs, but they’re actually far more vital than most of the external ones. So that he did this for a reason. Listen, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. He says, ”God gave greater importance to the ones that are less obvious, ones that attract less attention so that there will be no division.” And we’re seeing a couple of things here.

Number one, we’re seeing something that’s really important about God’s heart, and here’s the way I would say it, God hates division in the Church. Because of course, he’s not just talking about the physical body, he’s talking about that as an analogy for the body of Christ. He says, yeah, there’s upfront parts, there’s roles that attract a lot of attention, but those parts aren’t inherently any more valuable than the ones that are operating behind the scenes. And God has arranged the body in the physical body, but he’s also arranged it in the body of the Church in the same way so that there would be no division because God hates division in the Church.

In fact, if you read the Bible carefully, what you’re gonna find consistently is God’s strongest words, his harshest criticism, his most alarming judgments honestly. They’re against not the people outside the Church, but apparently against the people inside the Church that are causing division in the Church. God calls sin what it is, no matter where it is, but honestly, the reality is we don’t expect redeemed behavior for unredeemed people outside the Church. But when people who put their faith in Christ come into the body of Christ and then begin to cause division, God gets really upset. God hates division in the Church.

The second thing we see here is that he tells us what we’re supposed to do to begin playing our part in keeping that division from happening and says he’s done this so there’ll be no division in the body, but that its part should have equal concern for each other. So you see, he’s given important to even the behind the scenes pieces so that we would have equal concern. And what he’s telling us is this, we do our part by having equal concern for each other. We do our part by having equal concern for each other. The moment we stop doing that, the moment we start valuing some people, some gifts, some perspectives, whatever it is more than do we do others, what happens is we create division. So we do our part by having equal concern for each other.

So he says, ”If one part suffers, every part suffers with it because we have equal concern for each other.” If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it because we have equal concern for each other. And he says, ”You are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it.” You know, English doesn’t have a plural “You” unless we go south, right? What he literally says here, now y’all are the body of Christ. All of you together, you’re all the body of Christ and each one of you individually is a part of it, but only a part of it, but a really important part of it because there are no unimportant parts of it. He says, ”You’re all the body of Christ.”

And what he’s saying very simply is this, he’s saying that the success of our mission, it depends on our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts. If we’re gonna succeed in doing what God’s called us to do as a church, as a family, as a group of friends, anything, our ability to succeed in the mission that God has given us, it depends upon our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts. To say that’s valuable and that’s valuable and that’s valuable and not that’s more valuable and that’s less valuable, none of that, our ability to succeed depends on our ability to give value to all the parts.

I’m a rock climber. And it’s interesting to me that, you know, when it comes to equipment for rock climbing, the rope is what typically attracts the attention. Like a lot of times people will find out that I rock climb and they go, ”Oh do you climb ropes.” And I’m like, ”Well no. Like, that’s like middle school gym stuff, right?” No, I climb rocks. But they’re like, oh, but you know, but you use ropes. Yeah. And then that’s… it’s just all the attention’s on the rope. But you know what’s interesting is like the rope all by itself is really kind of useless. Like, if I just start at the bottom with the rope tied to me and I climb up and that rope, doesn’t get clipped in anywhere. If I fall, all that rope’s gonna do is make a pretty design around my body. Okay. For the rope to do its work, there’s a whole bunch of other pieces of equipment that are involved. And as you climb up, what you’re looking for is opportunities to put pieces of, they’re called pro or protection to find places in the rock where you can add these things in so you can clip the rope to. And there’s a bunch of different kinds of pro I usually carry with me. These are some of the…my favorite ones, they’re called cams. They’re mechanical. And so what happens is you find a crack and you pull this and it kind of gets narrow, your stick it in the crack and you let it go and it starts to expand. And honestly the harder you pull in the other direction, the more it tries to expand. So it locks into place.

So I find a crack and I stick that in there. And then I clip the rope onto it and now suddenly the rope has some use. Till that point, it was just decoration. Now it’s actually got some use though. But you know, sometimes the cracks aren’t that big and so I have to have a variety of these kinds of things. You know, I’ve got slightly smaller ones and then really small. How many of you feel really comfortable like putting your life on that little guy, right? I’ve fallen on this one. I’m still here. It works. Sometimes you can’t do that though. Sometimes you have to use some other kinds. Like this is a passive caming device. The idea here is you put it in like this and as you pull down on it, it does that. It kind of rocks and locks into place. Sometimes that’s the only thing you can work on. Sometimes, honestly, you just get these tiny little cracks and no piece of gear works except these things called nuts. Yeah. How about that one? How about this? This is my favorite one. And the reason I like this one, this one saved my life actually. It’s bent that way because I fell on it. I just had this tiny little crack. I got this thing in there. I climbed three or four feet above it and I fell and this thing caught me. It helped me.

Now let me ask you a question, which is most important? The rope, this guy, this little guy? I mean you understand it. It’s a meaningless question, right? There’s no such thing as more important, most important. They’re all indispensable. And I have to value all of these equal to when, you know, when I start off, I don’t necessarily know what I’m gonna need to accomplish the mission. I mean there’s a very clear mission when it comes to rock climbing, right? It’s to get from the bottom of the cliff to the top and then back down in one piece.

And when I start off, I have to rack up going, I’m not sure exactly what I’m gonna encounter. And so I need a variety of things and I have equal value on these and these and these. See, I value meekly and that’s what allows me to succeed in the mission because when I get there and I need one piece, I’ve got it. That’s what Paul’s saying. He says, ”The success of our mission depends upon our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts.” As a church, we have a much bigger vision, a much bigger mission than just getting to the top of something. Extending God’s influence in the world, bringing the lost to know the love of Christ, shining the light of the Gospel for all to see, that’s so much bigger a mission, but our ability to succeed in it depends on our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts. And unfortunately, what often happens is rather than valuing diversity, diversity actually divides us. Instead of driving us towards our purpose, diversity often drives us away from each other, right? It’s such a sad reality, but it is a reality. Instead of going, oh, we’ve got all these different gifts. They can get us so much further than we’d ever get without all those gifts, what we find that the diversity actually drives us away from each other. And it happens politically, it happens generationally, it happens with the way we value some spiritual gifts over others. It happens with racial, I mean all those things. Rather than going, hey, wait, there’s a lot of here and when we put it all together, we’re so much better together. What will happen is that division often drives us apart, so what do we have to do? How do we get the promised blessing of diversity without the potential division?

Let me give you a couple of thoughts. The first one is this, is that we keep the mission front and center. You may wanna jot this one down. Because it’s true not just in the Church, it’s also true in your family. It’s true in your marriage, it’s true in your friend group. We keep the mission front and center. See the reason that the world can’t teach us about diversity in a way that really makes any difference is because the world doesn’t have the mission. And the mission is the lens that allows us to see the value in all the different pieces coming together, all the perspectives coming together, all the gifts coming together, all the people coming together. But without that mission, there’s no way to see the value of all those things. The world doesn’t have that mission, so it’s left going, well just appreciate the fact that you’re different from each other. Difference is hard, difference is complicated. Without the mission being front and center, difference is just gonna lead to division. We have to keep that mission front and center.

Second thing we do is this. We have to decide that we’re gonna refuse to confuse. We’re gonna refuse to confuse, and the world’s taught us some very confusing things about diversity and about differences and those kinds of things. And so honestly, sin has taught us different things and we’ve gotta set aside all that then we go, I’m gonna refuse to make those mistakes. I’m gonna refuse to confuse and let me give you a couple of examples.

Number one is we refuse to confuse visibility with value. We’re just gonna say no more. I’m not doing that anymore. Just because something’s more visible, just because something attracts more attention, I am not gonna say that it’s more valuable and I am not gonna seek after it if that’s my gift and I’m not gonna only elevate people and lift people up and value them if they have these particular gifts or perspectives with it. No, we’re gonna refuse to confuse visibility with value because they’re not the same thing. I mean, I have to check this out, so I mean it’s really easy. You come into a church and you think, well, you know the most important things that happen are the teaching and the worship leading, that’s just the most visible stuff that happens. It’s not the most important stuff.

Did you know many studies have confirmed that most people who visit a church decide whether or not they’re coming back in the first 10 minutes? Do you know that? If you’re new, you walk into Mission Hills, you know whether or not you’re gonna come back for week number two within the first 10 minutes of setting foot on this campus. And you need to understand that is before they’ve heard the message. It’s before they’ve even heard a worship song, but it’s not before somebody there smiled at them or ignored them. It’s not before somebody made them feel welcomed or made them feel like they didn’t belong. It’s not before somebody saw that they had kids and didn’t know where to go and walk them down to the kids’ ministry so they didn’t have to wander around confused. It’s not before any of that happens.

So let me ask you this, which is more important, the preaching, the worship leading or the guest services team? It’s a trick question. They’re all indispensable. We’ve gotta stop confusing visibility with value. Or how about this? We refuse to confuse comfortable with compelling. See, we have a tendency to value some things because we’re comfortable with them because and then comfort becomes like, you know, well, that’s the best way, right? You know, my way is always the best way, right? My level of comfort determines the level of value or something in there. No, not really. We got to stop doing that. We have refused to confuse comfortable with compelling.

I still can’t believe this is true, but it is true. There are thousands of churches across the United States of America, that are continuing to fight the worship wars. By which I mean, are we gonna just do hymns or are we gonna do modern worship? Like we’re past that as Mission Hills. I honestly, when I came here three years ago, I was blown away that as a church that was over 70 years old, successfully navigated that transition. The leadership and so many of the people went, you know what? If we’re gonna reach the next generation, we probably need to embrace some music that a lot of us actually don’t really like. It’s not comfortable, but we understand that it’s compelling and it’s part of reaching the next generation. I love the fact that Mission Hills made that transition. There are churches all over the country that are still fighting, they’re dividing over which songs to play and what style of worship and that is so sad. Because they’ve lost their mission. That’s the first thing that’s lost. They failed to keep the mission front and center. And they failed to understand that what I’m comfortable with isn’t necessarily what’s compelling.

I don’t get any complaints that I wear jeans when I preach. I should say I don’t get any complaints anymore. When I got here, I did. I got notes. In fact, my youngest daughter was given a note second week we were here. Somebody said, ”Give this to your dad.” She read it. Of course, she did. It wasn’t closed up and she was hopping mad. And I understood why when I saw because they basically said, hey, you’re the pastor of Mission Hills now, you can afford a nice pair of pants. I was like, actually, I paid way more from my jeans than any pair of dress pants that I’ve ever owned. They weren’t comfortable with it. But you understand that there’s a compelling reason why I typically wear jeans. I understand that we don’t live in a culture that understands church. They’re typically not churched anymore. That’s not the background that came up. In our particular part of the country, that’s not people’s common background experience. And so one of the big struggles is the people tend to go well, church and spirituality. That’s like an off to the side kind of thing and part of the reason I dress the way I do is to try to communicate from upfront. Christianity is an every moment of every day for everybody kind of a thing. There is no separation

The people who aren’t comfortable with that aren’t here anymore. I wouldn’t have shared that if this individual was still here. But they couldn’t get past thinking that comfortable was the same thing as compelling. They’re just not. You know, what kinds of things are we comfortable with and we tend to get grumpy when they don’t happen or we get grumpy when something else is happening and we’re not asking the question, you know, is my problem that that’s not comfortable is my problem that that’s not compelling to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We gotta refuse to confuse comfortable with compelling. We have to, we have to. Or we have to refuse to confuse opportunity with obstacle because sometimes we have opportunities to learn from each other in a way and we see them as actually obstacles instead of opportunities.

I mean we talk about even thinking about spiritual gifts, the section of 1 Corinthians, we’re gonna get into this really detailed next week. It’s a lot about spiritual gifts. And, you know, there are divisions in the Church over that. You’ve got what we already call the charismatic side of Christianity that tends to value certain things. Then you got the little bit more non-charismatic side than values other things. And rather than learning from each other, rather than seeing certain value in what other people are bringing to the table, their strengths, we tend to go, no, that’s an obstacle and we separate. You know, the charismatic side of things, honestly I would argue doesn’t value theology enough. And I say that as a seminary professor. I work with students from all different backgrounds and I think often the more charismatic side of Christianity doesn’t value theology as much and it sets them up to fall into heresy and doctrinal error that’s bad for the Church.

But you know what, the non-charismatic side doesn’t value worship even close to as enough as we should. I mean in worship, we are allowed to come in to the very presence of God Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, the flinger of the stars, and we’re told that he inhabits the praises of his people. And we often just kind of go through the motions when it comes to worship. That’s not true in the charismatic side, we can learn a lot in terms of worship in the charismatic side. And they can learn something from us in terms of theology so we could be better together. But instead, we see opportunity as obstacle. We got political divisions, we’ve got racial division.

You don’t understand. Sunday morning is still the most racially segregated hour of the week. You know, different races, different cultures, different ethnic backgrounds. Look, we have stuff to learn from each other, but instead of seeing it as an opportunity, we see as an obstacle and we have to refuse to make that confusion anymore. We took generational separation. Can I just be honest? I am so sick. I am so sick of being at pastors’ conferences and hearing this, millennials are driving me crazy. I’m so sick of that. People like, they love to say like, you know, millennials, they’re just, they think they have it all figured out. They’re so entitled. And I’m like, do you know where millennials learned that? Gen X. You wanna talk about a group of people that thinks they have it all figured out and is entitled, that is Gen X. And you know where we got it? Baby Boomers. I don’t think that’s a generation. I think it’s an age and stage thing honestly, but you know there’s genuine difference in some of the ways that millennials approach things and we need to learn from that, the Church will be weaker if we don’t. But instead, we see an opportunity as an obstacle and so if we’re gonna really get the promised blessings and benefits and not the potential divisions we have to go, I refused to confuse.

The third thing is this, we celebrate. We celebrate what moves us towards our mission. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it doesn’t matter who it is. If it’s moving us forward and extending God’s influence in the world, we celebrate it. We don’t grumble about it, we don’t ignore it, we celebrate it. Let me ask you a couple of things. Number one, how can you put your mission front and center this week? Ask yourself that. How can I put my mission front and center this week? Because that lens is so important. Without it, difference will lead to division. With it, difference will propel us forward. Diversity will propel is forward. How can I put my mission front and center? And by the way, you might think, you know, in terms of not just of the Church, but in your marriage even, and you go, wait, my marriage doesn’t have a purpose. Yeah, that’s the problem. That’s the problem. Your marriage absolutely has a purpose.

When God made Adam, he said it is not good for the man to be alone. And that’s not just because he was gonna eat TV dinners. And he said he can’t succeed in his mission without the woman. And so he made literally an alongside one and together they move forward in mission. Your marriage is the bringing together of two different people so that together you can be better than you’d ever be individually. But most people don’t have any concept that their marriage is missional.

And so, of course, the differences create head budding and division and conflict. How do you put your mission? If you don’t know what your mission is, maybe that’s the conversation you have with your spouse. How are we looking to advance the cause of Christ together? How are we moving forward in mission together? We gotta keep our mission front and center. How are you gonna do that this week? You might also reflect on this question. I think this is important. Where am I most likely to be confused? Where am I most prone to getting confused? Is it visibility with value, is that something you struggle with? Maybe it’s comfortable with compelling tending to look at what we’re comfortable with and go, well, that’s the best thing. Or maybe it’s the confusing opportunity with an obstacle. That can create a lot of resistance. And so where are you most likely to be confusing? Just pray that God would move in your life in that area, teach you to refuse to confuse there.

And then the third one is this, who can I celebrate this week for being on mission with Jesus? Who can I celebrate? And honestly, the greatest power is when you can celebrate somebody who’s different than you, who has a different set of gifts but is using them to God’s glory. Who can you celebrate? Who can you encourage and go, I saw that and I was really encouraged by it myself. Good job, way to be on mission with Jesus. One of my favorite things to say to people, “Way to be on mission with Jesus.” And I love to say it to people who are doing things like I would never have thought to do that. I would be so bad at that, way to be on mission with Jesus. When we celebrate that we celebrate what we’ve become. Have we become what we celebrate? When we celebrate people on mission with Jesus, especially when they’re on mission in different ways than we were with different gifts, we’re moving towards thinking about diversity in a way that God does. Our success as a church depends on our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts. Would you pray with me?

Jesus, thank you so much for your diverse gifts. Lord, in our heads we recognize that if everybody was exactly like us, if everybody had all the same gifts, whether natural or learned or spiritual, we wouldn’t get very far as a church in doing what we’re called to do. We wouldn’t be able to lift the Gospel very high. We wouldn’t be able to advance your cause very far. So, Lord, we thank you for these two tracks that you’ve given us unity and diversity and we ask that you would allow us to come to value the diversity of gifts that you’ve given in such a way that allows us to reap the benefits as a church, as families, as individuals, as friends, as coworkers, as neighbors.

And Lord, we ask for your forgiveness because we’ve all fallen short in this area, we’ve all come up short. We’ve seen obstacles where you called us to see opportunity. We put value in things that were valuable, but they were no more valuable than the other things that didn’t draw our attention. And we ask for your forgiveness of that. And for all the ways that we have mistaken being comfortable with what actually advances the cause of Christ, we ask for your forgiveness and we thank you that we have it in the blood of Christ. Teach us, lead us.


If you’re a part of the body of Christ, if you are one of those parts, if you’re a follower of Jesus, I’m gonna ask you to do something, would you just keep praying? Would you begin praying to the people around you, of other people watching online at all of our locations because I believe that all of our locations, there are people who are not part of the body of Christ and you know it, and I’d like to speak to you for just a moment. If you’re listening to this and you’re not a follower of Jesus, you have not put your faith, your trust in him, my guess is that you’re listening to this because God is doing something in your life. He’s drawing you to himself. And it may be that you’re resisting that and maybe one of the reasons you’ve resisted, maybe one of the reasons you haven’t said yes yet is that you have this honestly this false idea that saying yes to Jesus means you have to become one part of a cookie cutter operation and maybe you’ve looked at the Church and you’ve gone, I’m not like them.

Maybe the color of your skin is different than the color of the skin a lot of the people that sit on the chairs in that church. Maybe the things that drive your heart don’t feel like they’re on display in the Church. Maybe your politics don’t seem to match up with what you think is true in the Church. I want you to understand something. There’s greater true diversity in the Church than there is outside of it because in the Church, real diversity can be honored and valued because it moves us forward in an incredible mission that God’s called us to.

And if you’ve never said yes to Jesus because you feel like I don’t belong, I want you to understand that you do. That God’s custom designed you for a place in his body and a part in his mission. And he loves you so much, he sent his own Son to die for you, to pay for your rebellion, to pay for every wrong thing you’ve ever done. Three days later, he rose from the dead. He is right now, he’s offering you new life, he’s offering you forgiveness and he’s offering you a proper place in which everything that he’s made about you to be unique can actually be used for the purpose it was intended. And if you’re ready to join that mission, to join that family, if you’re ready to say yes to Jesus, to trust in what he’s done for you, would you just slip your hand up right now? That’s great. Awesome. If you’re watching online, just click the button right below me. And wherever you are, you just had this conversation with God in your heart, you say this:

God, I’ve done wrong, I’ve sinned. I’m sorry. I’m gonna call it what it is. I need your forgiveness. Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross in my place. I believe you rose from the dead and I understand you’re offering me forgiveness, new life, a place in the family of God and a part in your mission. And you’ve customed designed me to play a special part. I wanna put my gifts and my abilities and everything that you’ve made me have, I wanna put them in your hands. So Jesus, right here, right now, I’m saying yes to you. Jesus, come into my life, be my Lord and my Savior. I trust you. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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