If the Gospel is true: The church should be a hospital not a club

January 26, 2014

Nothing distracts us from the truth more that an obsession with our own importance and well being. In fact it is when I is more important that others that our life falls into many traps. Something William said to me the other day about Pastors and great leaders who fall into sin; he said the common thing that they all say is that they had gotten to this place of importance and they felt that they deserved to have this one indulgence. It is when we are obsessed with our own importance and improvement that we miss what is truly important; in saying that we live in a world that is obsessed with self –improvement. And sadly we have brought that into our culture of church. And in fact so pervasive is this ideal of self-improvement that it infiltrates without even being noticed. At first it seems good, because all of us want to be better, and in a sense it is good to strive for being a better “whatever”. But when that is the ultimate goal we have missed the point of life completely! You see you are not here for yourself. You have been made by another and were created for His good pleasure. You were created to be a blessing to others. In fact you were saved to be a blessing to others. So a life of self-obsessed improvement is a life that is destined to miss what God has planned for you. We are here for others, the Bible says build one another up in the Lord. Serve one another, give to one another. You are here for others and likewise the church is not here for itself. We as a church are not here only for making ourselves great and secure. We are called here to be a blessing to the world around us. So we are continuing our series called if the Gospel is true and today we are looking at: If the Gospel is true: the church should be a hospital and not a club! If the Gospel is the good news, it cannot be held up behind inaccessible doors; if it is true the ministers of the Gospel are here for the sake of the world they find themselves. So it is not a bad thing to grow ourselves and to learn more about God and even to have a good exercise routine. However, if that is the point of our life if that is the sole reason we exist as a church we have completely missed the message of the Gospel. Jesus was accused of being too focused on the world and was judged by the religious people of his day.  Our passage for this morning is Matthew 9:10-13, please won’t you turn there with me. As you are turning there I want to play another video for you, which illustrates what happens when we start making the gospel all about us rather than what it is really about Jesus and his message of love for the world [PLAY VIDEO ‘Why I hate religion but love Jesus’] God has put this church here in Wirlo Park to be a His work of grace in this area. We are here for the sake of our own people yes; but we are also here for all the broken people that surround us. You are called to salvation not simply for your own sake but for the sake of everyone that is around you so that they too can hear the message of grace and be healed. Our church should be a hospital not a club. Clubs are exclusive and there to meet the comforts of their members, hospitals are there for those who are sick and hurting. We are here for those who are sick and hurting. Jesus shared this with us in Matthew 9:9-13 [READ] The church is here for the benefit of others and ourselves. I believe we enhance ourselves most when we are reaching out. It is the contradictory economy of Grace: give and you will receive! As a church living out the gospel this should be: 1.    A place for the Sick Jesus says clearly that it is the sick that need to be healed not the healthy. The irony of His statement is that those who were truly sick were those that thought themselves to be healthy. It was the Pharisees and the religious people of the day that were the ones that needed God’s healing and restoration. Yet it is these same people that could not see their own sickness. The whole world is sick with the sickness of sin; the only cure: grace through Jesus Christ! The reality is Jesus spend time with sinners because they were all too aware of their sickness. Matthew for example (the Disciple and the person who’s house Jesus was visiting) was a tax collector tax collectors were despised as traitors and extortioners. They were the most visible Jewish collaborators with Rome. ii. The Jewish people rightly considered them extortioners because they could keep whatever they over-collected. “When a Jew entered the customs service he was regarded as an outcast from society: he was disqualified as a judge or a witness in a court session, was excommunicated from the synagogue, and in the eyes of the community his disgrace extended to his family.” Jesus wasn’t spending time with people with money issues or who were culturally okay but knew their sin. He was with the despised of society. Those who society as a whole had rejected; prostitutes, criminals, druglords, the corrupt(these are the modern equivalent). This is difficult, we don’t want these people to be helped. But It is the sick that need a place for healing. The important thing is that we are a place for healing for those who are spiritually sick! Not a place that enables people to remain in their sickness, but a place that offers healing for the sickness of their souls. This is only possible through the power of the Gospel! And through people speaking the truth into people’s lives. Jesus never once allowed people to stay in their sickness, and we as a church should not either but He did not turn away those who desired healing. And sometimes as churches we are guilty of that! We do not want to be a place for the sick to find healing we want to be a place where the healthy can live together comfortably. God calls us to be a place of hope to those who are burdened those who need rest for their souls, those who need our help. But to bring this into balance those who are sick need to want to get better, you do get people who know that they are sick but enjoy their sickness and are not willing to make the changes to find the healing that God wants to offer them; Jesus in the gospels turns these people over to their own sickness. I believe that is why he offered no help to the Pharisees for they enjoyed their sickness and did not want to be healed of it. The next thing the church should be is: 2.    A place for Mercy Jesus says to the religious experts of His day [READ vs 13] Jesus starts with those interesting words “Now go and learn what this mean.” A term often used by the religious of the day and means don’t you understand the scriptures? Lane says; “Nothing tends more to humble hypocrites than to show them that they understand neither Scripture nor religion, when, relying on external performances, they neglect love to God and man, which is the very soul and substance of true religion.” True holiness has always consisted of faith working itself out by love. I will have mercy, and not sacrifice is quoted from 1 Samuel 15:22. And from this verse we may understand: a.)    That God prefers an act of mercy to any act of religious worship to which the person might be called at that time. Both are good; but mercy is better, and should be done in preference to the other. b.)     That the whole sacrificial system was intended only to point out the infinite mercy of God to fallen man, in his redemption by the blood of the new covenant. To apply it to us, God is more concerned how we treat the each other and the world, that he is about our style of worship. He desires us to treat our fellow men with mercy more than he desires for us to come to church in the right kind of clothes etc. Although sacrifice is good, God desires for our hearts to change, for love to be poured out to our fellow men. The church should be a place where real love is pour out among men and people have mercy upon one another, in a way that pushes them to greater acts of righteousness. It cannot be a place of toleration for then it ceases to be a place of love, but it is a place of mercy, where people identify with others, and show great mercy upon one another because our God has shown great mercy upon us. This leads me to the next point the church should be 3.    A Place for Repentance Jesus finishes off this verse by saying that he did not come to call the righteous but sinners. But he concludes with an interesting word met-an'-oy-ah (Repentance) a turning away; the word means you were going in one direction; you stop and go completely in the other direction The church is not a place of indiscriminate acceptance; it is a place of repentance. If we just accept everyone as they are we have missed the entire core of what Jesus stood for and we have misunderstood grace. Jesus came into the world to save it from its sins and the consequences of those sins; eternal separation from God. If we don’t call people to repentance we are not the hospital that God calls us to be. We accept people as they are but call them to repentance; and walk the road with them (in discipleship) to grow them in repentance. A church that does not grow people into the people that God has called them to be is a church that has missed the calling of God. I believe the love of God has the power to help people overcome their sinful ways, and we as a church have the ability to help people along in that journey to being like Him. This is one of the great joys of being a part of a church is walking a road with people helping them become the people that God has called them to be. This too is also the pains of being church because people stumble and fall. But this is what God has called us to and this is our task as a church. So if the Gospel is true it stands that we are a station of grace in the world we find ourselves; we are a hospital to a broken world. It amazes me that when people find themselves in trouble the come through our doors; this is how it should always be. The people of the world should sit in our presence and marvel at the grace that is here and the encouragement that is here and the healing that is here. So the call essentially is for us to be healers for each other. To help each other become the person that God desires for us to be and to walk a road in grace with people to show them the way that God calls them to go. Greg and I were chatting just the other day, and we were sharing how powerful it is to have someone in your life that just in real love says; I love you (even when you have slipped up) and I love you so much that I will walk with you in your journey with God. It is only then that we find healing and power to overcome our sins. This is the place that God has called us to be and the only way we can be this is if we are like this with each other. We are carrying each other and truly caring for each other. When we do this successfully the world will look at us and be amazed at our love and grace and will find us a place of healing. I love what the Bible says of the early church; “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” This is the picture of what the church is and should be!

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