Living Invitations Part 13

July 23, 2017

This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “Living Invitations”.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

In our discussions on being Living Invitations we have said that the church is ultimately about relationships. Relationship with God, relationship with the people of God, and relationship with those who do not yet know Jesus. These relationships are developed in the context of worship, discipleship, fellowship, and mission. We are talking about mission.

Scripture Reading

2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (NIV)
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

One More is our mission statement. It defines what we do as a church. I believe it is the soul of our church. One more lost child to dad. One more in the Kingdom of God. One more to Jesus. Knowing our mission helps to keep us on track. We can’t do and be everything. We can bless what God is calling others to do. We are not in competition with other believers. Our only competition is with the evil one.

Over the next few weeks we are going to look at the verses in our scripture reading today as the foundation for our mission. We will start with verses 11 and 12 today.

1.) We know what it is to fear the Lord

2 Corinthians 5:11a (NIV)
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord,

What does it mean to fear the Lord?

The word that is used for this concept in the Greek has as a possible meaning, terror, but that is not what Paul is talking about. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used for this fear is yirah, which denotes piety and reverence rather than abject terror.

The best definitions for Bible thoughts and ideas come from the Bible. In proverbs “to fear the Lord” is defined this way:

Proverbs 8:13a (NIV)
13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil;

I think this works with our daily idea of living by trying to do the next right thing. It is also a reminder that the best way to deal with the darkness of evil, is to introduce light. Light overcomes darkness, and we are to let the world know that the true light has entered the world in Christ.

2.) We try to persuade

2 Corinthians 5:11b (NIV)
11 … we try to persuade men

We are trying to persuade people to turn from the darkness to the light. Our message today is still the Good News or gospel preached by Paul:

1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (NIV)
1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

The heart of the good news is found in verses three and four:

Christ died for our sins
He was buried
He was raised on the third day

That is the message. That is the good news. The trick is taking this message, which is a counter culture message, and still being culturally relevant.

The idea of this ministry of persuasion, as Paul calls it, is more than just the words of the message. It is a lifestyle. The way that we can be culturally relevant with our counter culture message is by living it out in front of people.

Wherever we find people we are going to have the opportunity for ministry; a radical intervention in life expressed in relationships.

We always want to point people to Jesus. Whether the circumstances are physical or material or recreational or emotional or financial or relational, Jesus is always at the center of our interaction with others.

3.) It is not all about us

2 Corinthians 5:12a (NIV)
12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again,

To live this way in the world will require us to be constantly aware of the fact that the world does not revolve around us. Our perspective must come from the throne room of God, not from our own narrow perspective of life. There is a much bigger picture than what we can normally see.

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

It is very normal for the church to get in a circle the wagons mentality. This feels like the safest way to interact and survive in a fallen world on a broken planet. And yet, we are called to hang out with the culture, not run from it. Look at the life of Jesus in the Gospels who time after time hung out with people that the religious folks wouldn’t have anything to do with. Jesus didn’t join in their sin, but He hung out with them and loved them in a non-judgmental way that drew them to Him. He was able to love this way because He looked at people’s hearts and saw the beauty of their potential.

4.) God sees what is in the heart

2 Corinthians 5:12c (NIV)
12 ….so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV)
7 …The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Can you look at people and see the beauty of their potential? Or is their sin all you see? Do you treat people differently when you have labeled them as some type of sinner? The big question is, “Is your heart for One More”? We will be talking about what that looks like in the next couple of weeks.


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