Hey Freshwater, Great seeing you this morning. I think many of you know I took a quick trip down to Charlotte, North Carolina this past week with JD Dueck. He and his family are heading back to the field here in June so we took all their possessions down to the shipping company. I took some pictures along the way (show pics).
We’re in a sermon series talking about our name Freshwater and the vision of the church. The first week we talked about the vision from Ezekiel 47 and the picture of transformation God has in mind when His people live for Him. It’s a picture of water, which is a metaphor of his presence, filling the temple (us) and once we’re filled and transformed His presence flows out of us like a river. Wherever the freshwater, His presence, flows it brings life – transformation – healing.
Last week we talked about what this practically looks like and how it is rooted in the two greatest commandments. The first is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. How we get to this place where that transforming presence of God flows in us and through us is first LIVING UP – us connecting with God. Up. It’s rooted in relating to our transcendent eternal unlimited God and all the other things that are essentially Him along with connecting to Him as God the Father, The Son, and the Spirit.
This week we’re going to talk about what it means to LIVE “In” – Us connecting to God’s family. Now when Jesus talked about the second greatest commandment it was about loving others. But if we read on, Jesus had two distinct groups of people in mind. One group is those who are in the family of God and we’re going to go to one of the seminal moments when Jesus makes this distinction and what this love between Christians should look like. Let’s read John 13:1-16; 34-35. In
In Jesus’ day, people’s feet were nasty. They walked on the dirt roads where camels, sheep, donkeys, and horses walked. Their feet were just plain nasty. The person who was the lowest on the social ladder was expected to wash everyone else’s feet. But, here they were lounging at the table with their feet away from the table and no one was willing to lower themselves to wash off all the animal poop and dirt. And Jesus lowers himself, even more, to wash all of the disciples feet. And he says, “People will know you are part of the family of God by how you love each other. Love like me.”
How famous is our love? You ever wonder that? Like is Freshwater’s love known in our communities, “Those people really love each other.”? God goes on even further to describe what our love should look like in I Corinthians 13.
When you think about it to be living “In”, you have to be in relationship with other Christians. There are two relational contexts for being IN God’s family. The first is the capital “C” Church which is the entire church family across the globe. We are in this global family. While we personally may not know any of these believers, God the Spirit creates this bond of love that defies explanation and reason. It’s just there. A love and acceptance that is supernatural. Do you have a love for them? Do you even know any of your Christian brothers and sisters around the world? Do you love them that you’ve shed tears over their persecution? Do you love them that you continually pray for them? Do you love them and maybe even support them? Do you love them to the point that it’s inconvenient or sacrificial? When many of us heard about the school Guatemala the youth group and several families started supporting these young Christian kids so they could gain an education. Anyone pray for the Christians in Iraq? In Syria? In Iran? In Afghanistan? We’re supposed to be known for our love for those in God’s family! Or do we just sit around loving ourselves? Some of you need to get out of Wadsworth and Ohio and go meet some Christian brothers and sisters in a different continent. It’ll ruin you. Sit in an African or Russian or Peruvian worship service and you’ll never be the same again.
The second context of being in relationship with God’s family is the local church. Us here. You all, if you call this church home, are in relationship with each other. This is the place where your “In” is lived out. This large group gathering is a place to be in relationship with each other. There’s something that happens here in this room when we gather to express our love to God. It builds our love for each other. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” This gathering together is a huge piece of what it means to be “IN”. Now we know it’s impossible to know everyone in this room or in the next service but you can know the “Hood” you are in. What does love look like? It could simply mean sticking out your hand and saying hi to the person in the row behind you or in front of you. Write down their name so you can remember because I’ll bet money on it that they will be back in that same area next week. You saying hi could literally change the course of someone’s life. You would be staggered by the number of people who said someone sticking out their hand to say, “hello” was what kicked off their relationship with God. I’m not kidding. Being known and remembered is huge. Reaching out to some of us feels like washing feet…I’ll leave it up to someone else. It’s scary but it can mean the world of difference.
One other practical thought I just want to throw out there: Does attending a worship service register as something important to you? How many times a month do you come? Is your attendance a matter of convenience or is it a matter of commitment? There is a big difference. Some of you are newer to this whole thing as a Christian, you might be hearing God challenge you this morning to move from convenience to commitment. Because this Living In comes out of Living Up – our connection to God. But your presence is important – so important that God is going to use you today, this morning to encourage someone. To greet someone. To show someone love. That’s the mindset of Living IN. God is going to use me to love someone.
Living In as Christ describes this is also something that compels us to move towards smaller groups. It’s in the smaller group contexts that several things happen depending on the context. It’s in the smaller group context that Fellowship, Discipleship, and Serving are lived out with love and where the fame of our love is forged.
Part of Living in includes Fellowship where authenticity and accountability happen. James talks about confessing your sins to each other in chapter 5. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 says, “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,c encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” The only way this is lived out is the context of relationships. To love the way this verse is calling us to means coming here on a Sunday morning isn’t enough. We have to get into contexts where we get to know people and people get to know us. Does anyone know you that well? Do you know anyone that well. We have to get to know each other’s stories and mess. Is there anyone in your life that confesses their sin to you? If not, why not? This especially goes for those who have been Christians a while, if there isn’t at least one person who comes to you to confess their sin something is off. If there isn’t someone in your life you are confessing your sin and your weakness and the times when you want to quit something is off. Someone who more mature than you. Being authentic and transparent is the last thing some of you would ever want to do. Or stopping to listen to someone else is painful. The longer I live the more convinced I am that very few people know how to listen. Everyone wants to be heard but no one wants to listen. How is your “IN”? For many of you this would feel like washing someone’s feet. If some of you hold back do you ever think that it’s not just about you but that God wants you to be that for someone else?
Part of Living In also includes this word discipleship. Discipleship is about training and mentoring to be like Christ or being trained and mentored. In our lives there are seasons where we are the disciple and there are seasons where we are discipling. Jesus’ commission in Matthew 28 says, “Therefore go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Are you discipling someone? Now that’s a daunting thought. Seriously, think about it. Are you discipling someone? Is someone discipling you? Now that can be a daunting thought because immediately some of you are thinking, “I’m not a pastor.” The great thing is that it doesn’t say you have to be a pastor, or have a degree, or have any experience at it. It just says make disciples. What can that look like? Teaching kids is making disciples. It counts. Holding an infant counts. Praying over them, pouring into them – that is all part of the process. In fact some would argue the critical formation happens in children before they are 6. It may mean leading a small group. And you’re thinking, “I have no clue how to do that.” Join the club, “I have no clue how to lead a church this size.” I’ve never done it. You’ve never done it. The crazy thing is God is constantly putting us into places where we’ve never, and “we can’t” and “that’s impossible.” But it’s those impossible situations that God begins to move. And some of us need to be discipled. You need to get into a class, get into a small group, approach someone you look up to and even say, “I need help. I need someone to teach me what this Christian life is about.” You need to be discipled.
Living In finally is also about serving. Listen to 1 Corinthians 12:1-14, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
Before the verses and after them Paul goes into great detail about how each of us are gifted by the Holy Spirit to serve IN the body. Every person here who calls this church home is gifted by God to specifically serve and meet needs. God has arranged each of us to be here. To serve. Some of are not serving. Paul says that’s like a body part that refuses to work. It happened back then and even happens now. Honestly, serving is a mix. Sometimes it’s awesome. Sometimes you’re right in the middle of God-stuff and heaven and hell colliding and it’s amazing. But sometimes it’s like washing feet. It stinks. It’s hard. It’s menial and hidden.