Who do you have to depend on when trouble comes your way? Do you have a faith family to do life with? One that not only supports you, but actually builds you up and helps you to grow?
The truth is we need one another in order to grow up spiritually. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he taught that the Lord had given the church everything needed to grow up together as the body of Christ. We too have been given everything we need to grow up together as the body of Christ.
Below is an automated transcript of this messageAll right, let’s continue our series this morning entitled, “House to House.” Today, we’re talking about growing up together. We will be in the book of Ephesians, chapter four today.
Before we continue, I first want to thank Kathy Bryant for videotaping that very powerful testimony about how her community group helped her through a difficult transition in her life. It’s those kinds of stories of support that we hear all the time from people throughout our church, and it’s those kinds of stories that the church has heard since the first century. It’s, I believe, part of the reason for the explosive growth of the first church; they learned to do life together and to grow up together.
Now, speaking of doing life together, the series that we’re in right now is an emphasis on helping people find a community group. It’s also a spiritual journey; we’ve got a twenty-day daily devotion that we’re offering, and our ushers have some if you didn’t get one. They’re free; we offer it free to you. Would you lift your hand for one? You can start this week; it doesn’t matter if you didn’t start last week. It just says day one, day two… it doesn’t have dates. Keep your hand up until you get a book. Were happy to put that in your hands so you can go on this journey together with us.
We’re thankful for you being here today. Our series theme is found in Acts 5:42 where it says “…in every day in the temple and from house to house. They did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” Notice they had a commitment every day, and they did not cease. They had a commitment to meet together in large groups like this in the temple courts, and they also had a commitment to meet in small groups, house to house, during the week. There was a rhythm to their life, and they grew more and more like Jesus.
I’m glad that Kathy had a community group when the tragedy of divorce came her way and all the difficulties that came with it. She said in her video that they were like the hands and feet of Jesus. This is one of the things that many people in our church will attest to; their community group is closer to them than their own family. In fact, they have become as a family to them. And so the truth is, we need one another. And as we are learning, you can’t do the “one and others” without one another. We need one another. I’m convinced that we need one another to grow up spiritually.
In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he taught them that the Lord had given the church everything it needed in order to help them grow up together into the body of Christ. And I believe that the Lord has given our church, as He gives the local church, all the gifts that it needs to help us grow up together as the body of Christ.
How can we do it? How can we grow up together? As we look at our text today, I think we’ll see three steps for growing up together to become more like Jesus; to become the body of Christ.
You can follow along in your bulletin or on the screen. If you have a Bible, open it up to the book of Ephesians chapter four. Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV) “11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” This is God’s word. Amen.
We’re gonna be looking for three steps on how to grow up together as the body of Christ. Here’s the first step: (1) Grow up together in faith and knowledge. We are to grow up together in faith and knowledge. I want you to think, “Am I growing more like Jesus?” This is the purpose of this lesson today as we read the Scripture and as we apply it to our hearts. I want you to ask, “Am I growing spiritually?”
The first area that the Scripture asks us to grow in is to grow up together in faith and knowledge. Let me point out a few items here first; that helps us understand how we found three steps. Look at verse 13; I want you to notice in verse 13 it says, “until we all.” You see the we statement there? There are three of those in the text from 11 through 16; there are three “we” statements. You can’t do the ways alone. You need one another. It would just be “me” statements if it was just you, right? That seems like a no brainer, right? There are three “we” statements; the 1st one is about growing up in the unity of the faith in the knowledge of the Son of God; we are to grow up together in faith and knowledge.
Now what has Christ given the church that equips it so that it can grow well, He’s given a fivefold gifting. Do you see it at in verse 11? Five gifts that He’s given; five roles that He’s given to the church.
First, Christ gave apostles, in a primary sense, that gifting has passed away with the passing of the Apostle John. He passed away towards the end of the first century. The requirement for being an apostle in that sense was that you had witnessed the risen Lord Jesus and had been personally commissioned by Him to be an apostle. Now the word apostle means “one sent;” that you’ve been sent as an ambassador. That’s what the word means. So in a primary sense, there are no apostles today in the sense that no one has that credential of having seen personally the risen Lord Jesus and had been personally commissioned. In a secondary sense as a gifting, all of us are sent. So all of us, in that secondary sense, are sent. It’s part of what the Bible talks about Christ, the cornerstone; the apostles and the prophets are the foundation. So the foundation has already been laid, and we’re up here. We’re living stones up inside the body of Christ. Now, this is the wonderful thing called the church. And so, in the primary sense its past. But in a gifting since, generally speaking, the apostles might be those who have a gifting for building or planting something where nothing existed. So that would include church planters and missionaries who go to a place where the gospel isn’t present and they church emerges out of that. So that would be in a secondary sense; not in a primary sense. So then the second one is prophets; it’s similar to apostles, and they’re both listed first, I think, because they were foundational and in a primary since they passed with the passing of the apostles and so they were prophets. They were able to say ‘thus saith the Lord,’ and they were authorized to write the New Testaments of the apostles who prophesied in the name of the Lord. The Holy Spirit told them what to write down and they wrote. Now the scripture is closed. God has finished writing it there; sixty six books from Genesis to Revelation and the highest level of Revelation came, according to Hebrews, through his son Jesus. It’s the fulfillment of the revelation of Jesus has come; now the book is finished. So, prophets are down there with the apostles. They were the foundation, in the primary sense, how the church was formed.
In a secondary sense, the Lord is still speaking. One might say that, as I’m preaching right now, the word is coming alive in this room. I’m nobody, but Christ lives in me, and He is somebody. And as I preach, the word comes alive. It’s an incarnational moment. Sometimes I tell people, “Don’t call me on Saturday night because I’m pregnant and I got to get this baby out on Sunday morning because it’s been growing all week inside of me.” That’s weird, I know. Ladies, you’re sitting there thinking, ‘that man does not know what he just said.’ It’s a metaphor; just relax, I’m just saying I’m so full. If you came to my house on Saturday, you may think, ‘Who is that guy? He’s acts like a zombie. What’s wrong with him?’ I’m just so ready to tell you what God’s been telling me this week, not in a primary sense, but in a secondary sense. I am not foretelling. I am forthtelling the word of God. This is a prophetic moment; we’re now applying it to this moment in history. The gifts are still present. These two officials are past now.
The next three are listed as evangelists. This is someone who is specifically called to be evangelists; they were all called to share the gospel. This is someone who’s especially gifted and, especially, on fire to share the gospel. You know someone like that, it might be you. Then there are shepherds. Some translations translate it, pastors, and it would be the same thing. It literally is shepherd. That’s what pastors are; they are shepherds. They’re supposed to lead and feed their flock. And then finally, teachers. Teachers are the ones who give practical knowledge, and they pass along the details of the faith. We need all five of these, and all five of them have been freely given by the head, which is Christ. We go to verse 12. What is the purpose of the five fold? Gifting? What’s the purpose? So that we might be equipped, right? Because the pastor, the shepherds are not to do the ministry. You’re the ministers. They’re the equippers.
Whenever a church calls their pastor to be the minister, it’s not a biblical designation. The pastor is not to do the ministry for all. The pastor is not to ministrel while you all sit and watch . No, the pastor, the shepherd, is supposed to lead and feed so that you are equipped.
Look at your scripture now, “… equipped to do the ministry…” Look at each other right now. You’re the ministers, and you are to have a ministry of your own. The reason the church slows down and doesn’t grow is because the church has forgotten this. You’re the ministers. Everyone here should be growing up in order to do the ministry that’s uniquely yours. The five-fold gifting is the gifting ofthe body of Christ so you can grow up and be equipped to do your ministry and also be built up. Did you see that? Did you see building up? That’s an important verb. You know, I like this for I have to say a Greek word here. You know, sometimes I try to not do too many of these. But this one so cool (Greek word). It literally means building a house into a home like the word domicilecomes from domain. It means in Toyko, his house. It’s like building you up into a house into a home where family lives. That’s what the gifting of the church does.
Have you heard someone say this? ‘I love Jesus. You know, Jesus means a lot to me, but I can’t stand the church.’ Have you heard somebody say something similar to that? It’s probably because may have they met some of us. Let’s be honest, because we’re not perfect. What do we say, “if you find the perfect church, don’t join it. You’ll mess it up.” Here’s what we say, “come as you are and be forever changed by the love of Jesus.” We all come in a mess. We all should be wearing T shirts that say, ‘under construction’ because God’s working on us. And so we get put off when we find out that the church is a mess. But the reason it’s a mess is because we’re here. But we’re growing and we’re growing up together, and so we need one another.
If you put down a man’s wife, he might fight you, and the church is the bride of Christ. Be careful about putting the church down. We are the church, and so we need one another and he’s building us up into a home, a spiritual home where we are edified to grow up. He’s building us up so that we have unity of the faith. In other words, the same faith. And as we meet together regularly, we’re following the same Lord and we’re sitting under the same Word and we’re developing the same confidence in the same faith, one faith.
Ephesians 4:4-6 (ESV) ” 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” He is saying having unity of the faith; he’s saying have the same faith. He wants us to be united in what we believe.
Then, he says that we’re to grow in the knowledge of the Son. In verse 13, this is a particular knowledge, not just any knowledge but the knowledge that comes from the word of God. It’s also experiential knowledge. It’s not just academic knowledge, but It’s experiential. You’re growing in knowing Christ because He’s alive, He’s a person and He is real. He’s in this room right now. Can you see him? No, but He’s here; the spirit of Christ is here. He’s stirring many of your hearts right now if your heart is soft enough. If it’s calloused, you might feel a scratch at the door. But if your heart is open, you’ll hear He’s speaking through his word. But may I say he’s also manifest here in a visible fashion; what you can see as you look around. He’s here in us, for we are the body of Christ. We are his hands and His feet. He’s the head. He has ascended to the Father. He has no hands or feet but ours; He has chosen us. I don’t know why He chose us, but He did. I don’t know why He chose me, but He did. He’s chosen us to be His voice, to be His hands and to be His feet.
We are Christ in this world and we need one another. We can’t grow up by ourselves; we won’t grow. We must grow up together. In 2 Peter, the scripture talks about submitting to this process of growing in the same faith and in the particular knowledge of knowing Jesus better and knowing his word better as we grow in knowledge and faith. 2 Peter 3:18 (ESV) But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. He says to grow up.
Imagine that you had a baby. You went to the hospital. Husband, wife went to the hospital. Beautiful baby boy, bouncing baby boy. Beautiful. You walk out to the car, the mother is in a wheelchair because of hospital liability. And then the nurse checks to make sure that you have a car seat in date probably built by NASA and cost 1/4 of a million dollars. I have eight grandchildren and every year we have to replace the car seat that we have in our car so we can haul them around. I could go sideways on this and just talk about how I used to sit on the armrest in the center of the Buick when I was growing up, just like with my face against the front glass. Anyway, somehow I survived. We’re taking care of our kids today. But imagine that after you’ve got them in the car seat and you drove away from the hospital. Now you’re on your own. You just looked at each other and the wife said, ‘You know what? I feel like I’ve done all I need to do. I had that baby inside me for nine months. He’s your job now.’ The husband says, ‘Well, I don’t have time for it.’ As they are driving, they see a playground and they go, ‘Let’s just drop him off in there and let him fend for himself. He’ll figure it out. Somebody will help him here. You know? He’s been born. We did our part. He’ll grow somehow.’ Now, that is crazy; yet, we do this in the church. We share the gospel. We lead somebody to Christ and we drop him off at the nearest playground and we wonder why they didn’t grow. They can’t grow on their own. They need a family. It’s called the church , not the building, because the church is not the steeple. The church is the people. We are the church. If we will be the church, Christ will build the church. If we will be the church, Christ will grow the church. He’s given the church all the gifts it needs to grow up together. But we have to do it together. You don’t drop the baby off at the playground as you leave the hospital.
If you’re a new believer here today, you’re sitting there wondering, ‘Did you just call me a baby?’ Yes, I did. I just called you a spiritual baby. If you’re a new believer, you need to grow up in the unity of faith and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. And you can’t do it on your own outside the church. You need one another. This is not a self study. It’s not a Lone Ranger outfit. We grow together. You can’t do the one another’s…. But you’re getting it. You can’t do the one another commands in the Bible without one another. . We need one another in order to grow in faith and knowledge.
Number two. The second step to growing up together is maturity and fullness. Grow up together in maturity and fullness. In verse 13 we will see, he says, “….mature manhood.” He’s not really worried about the gender there. He just means to grow up to fullness. He’s speaking about the body of Christ, but also the individual that’s in the body of Christ. Grow up to maturity and then grow up to the measure of the stature of the fullness. We’ll unpack that in just a second. First, I would direct you to verse 14, which has our second ‘we’ statement. It is stated in the negative instead of the positive here. It’s warned that if you don’t grow to maturity, you’ll keep being a child. The point is, don’t keep being a child.
Paul says in I Corinthians, chapter three that he couldn’t give you meat. He had to keep giving you milk because you’re still a baby. That’s my paraphrase; you are still carnal. You’re still in the flesh. You’re still as mere infants, so I can’t give you me because you still have your still sucking a bottle. Grow up. How do you grow up together? You can’t do it on your own. You need one another and grow up to maturity. You know, if you were in school and I understand schools getting started, right, teachers, for some of you, it’s already started cause you’re in different schools, there are private schools and different kinds of schools. But the public school, I think, starts this week, and in order to get out of first grade, I understand you have to hit a certain goal . Then, second grade, you must hit a certain goal. Every grade has a goal of what you’re supposed to hit.
Christianity is very similar; our goal has to grow up to maturity to the full standard to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. What’s our goal? What’s God up to with you? What’s God doing in you? If you’re a believer today, what’s He doing in your life? What’s His goal for you? He’s making you like Jesus.. That’s His goal. If you’re part of the church, if you’re growing together in the church, that’s what’s going on in here. We are praising Jesus, lifting up Jesus and giving more and more of our lives to Jesus. What’s going on in us is He’s conforming us to the image of Christ. He’s making us like Christ, and He’s not satisfied until every particular thing about us is conforming to the image of Christ.
Mature means in the Greek (Greek word); it’s where we get the word telescope. You can see the end from the beginning. You have a telescope. I can see that over there from way over here. He’s saying,the goal is for you to be like Jesus. I want you to be like Jesus. And then he says, “Measure of the stature.” That’s quite a mouthful, “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Believe me, I camped out on those few words for a long time this week. Lord, come on, you had to pick the Apostle Paul with that big old vocabulary. What is this? Let’s just start thinking about ‘measure of the stature.’ Stature has to do with height measurement. We’re talking about inches and feet.
I thought about my house growing up. I thought about how my dad would back me up against a a certain place in the kitchen where there was a doorway that went to the living room and he’d take a knife and notch in the wood where the top of my head was and he would put a little date right there. He would write, “Gary, first grade, Gary, second grade the coming year.” My mom started doing it when my dad passed away when I was eight years old.My mom’s with the Lord now, so I can’t go to that house. But I guarantee you they carved it in pretty deep. Unless they replaced the wood, you could see the measure of the stature of old Gary Wayne growing up to six feet tall carved into that wood. I bet it’s still there.
Somewhere in heaven, perhaps God, who loves you more than anyone’s ever loved you, is keeping a record of how you’re growing. He’s marking the measure of your stature. There’s Little Johnny. He growing more like Jesus. I’m helping. There’s Old Susie…the measure of the stature of the fullness, so that to the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes, to the top of your head, you’re becoming more like Jesus in every way. Grow up to maturity. That’s his goal for you, that you grow up to maturity and stop being babies.
You had to go to church to hear somebody tell you, ‘quit being a baby.’ Paul said it first; so that we may no longer be children. Literally,infants stop being a baby, Paul says, because if you’re a baby, then he switches metaphors. You gotta watch Paul for that, but it’s okay because the Holy Spirit told him to do it. All of a sudden, he’s in a ship being tossed to and throw by the winds and the waves. Pau had his fair share; he’d been shipwrecked, he’d been on many of a journey on the Mediterranean Sea on a ship, and he knew what it was like to get seasick, tossed around and out of control without an anchor.
If you’re not growing in Christ, if you’re not growing together in faith and knowledge and maturity, towards the fullness of Christ, you’ll be like a child. And then, he says, you’ll be like a ship being tossed to and throw by the winds and the waves, every wind of doctrine, every false teaching that comes your way will grab you because it will have something in it that will keep you from growing. One of the doctrines might be, ‘You really don’t need the church. You can sit at home and watch church on TV between your two sock feet. And besides those people at church are just aggravating to be around. It’s so much easier right here. I don’t need the church. I can do a private Bible stuff. I don’t see any evidence of this in the Bible.’
In the Scripture, I see us growing up together. We need one another because we are the church and the church has been gifted to help us be equipped and to build us up. We need one another. You can’t do Christianity on your own. It’s not an individual sport. It’s a team sport. It’s to be done together.
What’s God doing? He’s making us like Jesus. Look at 1John 3:2 (CEV) “My dear friends, we are already God’s children, though what we will be hasn’t yet been seen. But we do know that when Christ returns, we will be like him, because we will see him as he truly is.” Oh my goodness, one of these days, we will see Jesus and we’ll look back on our life; even suffering that we went through will be as sweetness, because we will see that He used everything to cause it to come together for good for us, making us like Jesus. We could make it easier on ourselves if we would yield to this and surrender to Him in every arena. But He’s making us like Jesus .
If we continue to be children, we will be whipped around by every wind of doctrine. We will be open to human cunning, which is an interesting phrase there that has to do with throwing dice, that someone will try to trick you out of what you have and what you believe. Then it says finally, that you’ll be open to deceitful schemes by human cunning by craftiness in to steep and deceitful schemes, which points to something almost satanic that someone’s trying to steal your faith. The thing is, when you become a Christian, you are a child of God and your your life is secure in Christ. Satan cannot take away your relationship with God now, because you are saved, you are born again. You are in Christ and that is secure. But Satan can keep you from being effective; he can keep you from growing. Satan can get you to isolate over here and get mad at somebody in the church. He will stunt your growth with deceitful schemes.
Grow up, grow up to maturity; we do this together. Christ is the prototype. Look at Roman’s chapter eight says that we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them, For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like His Son so that His Son would be the first born. (Greek word) it means firstborn. But here it has the sense that He’s the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Do you want to know what God’s doing in your life. He’s making you like Jesus. He’s even going to give you a resurrected body like Christ someday, so wear this one out for Christ, for His glory. You will get a new one someday that lives forever. Death is not the end for us. It’s just the closing of the eyes and going to sleep for a moment and opening our eyes to the loving face of Jesus. He’s making us like Christ in every way and so we can live for him.
You know, sometimes people look at one of my kids or one of my grandkids, and they say, ‘Pastor Gary, that one looks like you or that one looks like your wife, Robin.’ And you know there’s a reason for that. They came from us, biologically speaking, they’re ours. You know, there’s a reason that people look at you sometimes at work, in school and in different places and they go, there’s something different about you. You’re not like everybody else here. They will be attracted to you like a moth to the flame, because you have something that they know they need. You know what it is? You’re starting to look like Jesus and that’s not of this world .
Oh, my goodness, less of me and more of Him. Oh, come on, Lord, hurry up. I’ve been under construction for a long time. I look in the mirror and there’s still a whole bunch of Gary left; I want less of me, more of him. That’s what God’s doing to his glory.
Paul said it like this, when he was discipling those in the city of Corinth. He said, ‘You didn’t get to meet Jesus; I got to see him in person. You should imitate me. I am taking Christ down through the ages.’ The body of Christ has done that for one another. As we’re growing together, we’re all deciding we want to be like Jesus.
Here’s number three. Here’s the third step. We’ve said we could grow up in faith and knowledge. We grow up in maturity and fullness. (3) We grow up together in truth and love. We are in verse 15 and 16; grow up together in truth and love. Rather, rather’s a contrary word. It means other than what you just heard. Rather than being a baby and being tossed about by everyone, rather than that, grow up and start speaking the truth and love to one another. Now what does he mean by that? This is one of the most beautiful verses. Tell each other the truth, hold each other accountable. He’s talking about within the body; he is not talking about you getting out there talking to lost people and judging them. Worldly people are worldly. No, he’s talking about within the church. Tell each other the truth in love.
Now listen, it’s hard to hear the truth. If it comes raw without love and it just comes like a lightning bolt boom, it just makes you want to defend. If one of you comes to me to correct me with a smile on your face, it’s hard for me to hear it. That’s hard for me. But if you come at least with one little tear, just get one little tear , or maybe a little tremble in your lips, you’ll soften my heart. I’ll hear anything you got to say, because I can tell you’ve thought about it. You’ve prayed about it and it probably hurt you as bad as it does me to hear it, because I’m not perfect and sometimes I have to be held accountable. I make mistakes, and so do you. That’s what it means to live together in community. We speak the truth in love to each other. This is a one another commitment. Speak the truth in love.
Now, love means relationship. It means trust. There’s a saying we have in our church; build a bridge of trust that will bear the weight of truth. Build a bridge of trust that will bear the weight of truth. If they know that you that you love them, they can hear the truth. But if they know you’re trying to hurt them or if they even suspect that you’re trying to hurt them, their ears will close, They won’t hear you. That’s all of us; all of us have been hurt. If we feel like we’re getting ready to be corrected, our defenses go up. But within the body of Christ, we’re growing together as a family and we love each other. So we speak the truth in love.
John Stott said, this truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love. Love becomes soft if not strengthened by truth. I don’t think we can really love someone if we don’t give them the truth. And I don’t think we can really show our love if we give them the truth wrong, speak the truth in love. Who should be doing this? All of us, as we’re growing up together as the family of God.
Notice earlier in the passage that the gifting of the church was there to equip and build up so that the saints could do the work of the ministry. Remember those four words equipped, build up, work? Then we get to verse 16. It’s not in the past tense; these gifts were given to equipped, like you’ve been given these things so that you could be equipped and so that you could be built up so you could do the work. That was earlier in 11 and 12. Now it’s happening. Now, the church is being the church. This is the third we statement, “…rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up.’ Speaking the truth in love. We need one another . That’s what I’m trying to say. That’s our third we statement. We need each other to speak the truth in love. So that we are to grow up in how many ways? In every way. The head is Christ, from whom the whole body joined and held together every joint with which it is equipped. Now it’s past tense. Now the church has been equipped. And what’s happening? It’s speaking the truth. It’s running on all cylinders now. It’s speaking the truth in love. Each part is working properly; the work is happening and the people are doing. The ministry makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Now the body is growing; all three of those words are in active mode, not in potential mode. They’re happening. And we are growing up to be like Jesus. We are the body of Christ in this world.
Don’t you want this in your life? Could you say with me, “I want to be more like Jesus. I can’t do it by myself.” My friend. I heard what you said. I heard it from baritone to soprano. I heard it with big voices and little voices, and we need every voice’ we need the deep voices and the treble voices. We need the whole chorus speaking the truth in love, shepherding one another, loving on one another. You can’t grow up by yourself. You won’t grow. It would be like dropping a baby off at the playground on the way back from the hospital. You won’t grow by yourself. You need one another. Would you submit to that?
In Proverbs it says, “a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Speak the truth in love; that gives the word a soft answer, something people can hear. Learn to talk to one another in relationship, and you can’t have relationship just on Sunday. What’s this about on Sunday? It’s about worshipping and hearing the word of God, and then we go from house to house in small groups. It’s about sitting face to face and knee to knee, working out the one anothers. We just kind of get a jump start on the weekend. We’re tithing the week. Every week we give him the first part of the first day. Every week we get in that rhythm that we start meeting house to house and we practice speaking the truth in love with one another. We begin to grow by speaking the truth in love. We’re not quarrelsome but kind, patient and gentle.
2 Timothy 2:24-25 (NLT) “24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.” Must not quarrel, but must be kind. Everyone be able to teach and be patient with difficult people. That’s why some of us don’t want to be in a community group. It’s because of those difficult people. You tell me, “I tried a community group, Gary. I went to one of those, and they were difficult people there.” What I heard was, it wasn’t that bad till you got there. That’s what I heard. And besides, if there are no difficult people in your group, guess what, it’s you. If you’re unaware, it’s you. What? What are we supposed to be? You know what I’ve learned? It’s the difficult people that helped me grow the most. My human nature wants to avoid them. It tends to be because they’re less mature. They are children in Chris but they’re immature. And so instead of eating their food, they spit it out on everyone around him. They doubt things. They make messes everywhere they go. They’re difficult. Children are difficult. This church is a hospital church. It’s a 911 church. It’s a nursery church. I want it to be messy because you are to come as you are. We are not a judgmental church. We’re not a perfect church. We were placed here for broken people to come and get healing, a place where addicts come and they find freedom, a place where hurting marriages are healed. We’re a mess. If you’re looking for a perfect church, you’re not gonna find it. If you do, don’t join it, you’ll mess it up. We’re a mess and we know it and there’s a lot of difficult people. Paul told Timothy that perhaps God will change those people’s hearts and they will learn the truth. I’ve learned that the difficult people are often there for me because I’m impatient, because I want my way. But the difficult people make me slow down.
Have you noticed, parents, that when you have children, you pray more? You grow more yourself? Have you noticed it shows how selfish you are? How impatient you are being? Would you be the church? Will you be the kind of church that speaks the truth in love, growing in truth and love, growing to maturity and fullness in Christ, growing in the oneness of the faith and of knowledge of Christ Jesus. We are to grow not just in book knowledge, but in relationship knowledge, knowing Jesus personally. Let’s pray.
Lord, I pray first of all for the person that’s here that would say right now, I want to know Jesus. I’ve never surrendered my life to Jesus. Right now, Lord, I surrender my life to you. I confess that I’m a sinner. I repent of my life. I surrender my life to you, Lord, I believe you died on the cross for me. I believe you were raised from the grave and that you live today. Come and live in me. Forgive me of my sin and make me the person you want me to be. I want to be a child of God. I want you to be my Lord and Savior. There people in the room praying that prayer right now and Jesus is saving you. He’s making you a child of God. The journey begins, but you need the body. Now You need to make a decision to follow Jesus and then we we grow up together. I’m praying for that person that has only come that far; you’ve received Christ, but because of some wound, because of some fear, whatever you’ve been telling yourself, would you repent of it right now and say, I recognize it now. I recognize the reason that my faith has become stale. The reason I’m not growing it’s because I’m not obeying. I confess it now, Lord, help me. Help me to make a new commitment today to grow together with the body of Jesus, to grow up together to be more like You. We pray that now in Jesus name, Amen.