(This is the final sermon and post on the 1 Thing series. I hope and pray you've enjoyed it! My next sermon series begins on September 9th but I'm sure I'll have more to say between now and then so check back!)
15 Let the person who has ears listen! 16 “How can I describe the people who are living now? They are like children who sit in the marketplaces and shout to other children, 17 ‘We played music for you, but you didn't dance. We sang a funeral song, but you didn't show any sadness.' 18 “John came neither eating nor drinking, and people say, ‘There's a demon in him!' 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and people say, ‘Look at him! He's a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' “Yet, wisdom is proved right by its actions.” Matt 11:15-19 (GW)
I can’t remember paying money to go to a concert or movie I didn’t want to see. There are some movies I wish I could get my money back on though. But even then, I have to admit, I went willingly to the movie to start with.
QUESTION: What movie or concert have you attended that you regretted?
This passage of scripture really begins back in verse 7 when Jesus asks the people, “When you went to see John the Baptist, what did you go out into the wilderness to see?” Honestly, I half expect that if Jesus came today, Bill Engval would need to be there to say, “Well, here’s your sign!” because that is exactly where Jesus goes: did you expect to see a limp reed? A fine clothed rich man? No, of course not. You’d heard the stories, and you went to see a prophet and you found one and you didn’t like it did you?
So what is next? You came looking for the Messiah and you found him! But then you saw that he moved fences out of the way for people to come to him. You found the Son of Man but OH! He goes to parties and spends time with sinners and drunks.
Here is my real simple observation: Jesus is not where you want him to be and prophets like John, they aren’t going to look like you.
To place Jesus in the central place in your life, for our church to be a 1 Thing type church – where our relationship with Jesus is THE central focus…well, we’re going to have to start saying NO to some things in our life so that we might say “Yes,” to the 1 Thing.
There were a lot of things being a church planter taught me. The experience of that work changed my life in so many different ways. One of the top items on my list was coming to understand that the 1 Thing has everything to do with living with Jesus AND living like Jesus. To that end, placing Jesus in the priority position of our lives shifts everything.
It means making friends wherever you might find yourself with whomever you run into because all through the Gospels and the book of Acts, that is what we see Jesus and his followers doing. One of the best things I read in my time planting a church was a book by Pastor Bill Hybels, called,“Just Walk Across The Room.” In it, he introduces or should I say, RE-introduces the idea of living for Jesus and sharing the good news by the same method Jesus seemed to do…by being friends…by taking a walk across the room. Bill says pointedly, “Risk your life for this, and know that you will never regret your decision (pg 43).”
And that means living like Jesus means going where he did, with the drunks, sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes. One of my best friends has a ministry unlike any I know. He plays guitar and sings in joints all over Atlanta. He goes to places and hangs out with people who aren’t so good. And when he is there - people get to meet Jesus.
What makes him special? Nothing, expect that he does an exceptional job of keeping his relationship with Jesus the 1 Thing and living like Jesus in his way. That means, he makes friends. It really is that simple. Somehow we’ve forgotten how but it seems to me that Jesus did a great job of never forgetting how to make friends.
You see, living out the 1 Thing starts with making friends and making friends starts by introducing yourself. You think that is simple but is far from the case and I see it all the time. My friend Scott Ginsberg who owns the guiness book of world records record for wearing a name tag consecutively, over 4,000 days now, says to “Put your name out there! Again and again!” He wears a nametag to make the world friendlier. But what else do friends do? Maybe it is simple, maybe not but there really are just three things: Friends 1) Hangout, 2) Make conversation, and 3) Do Stuff.
I have watched neighbors, business contacts, Scout leaders, and people in the community I met every day, begin to recognize their need for a 1 Thing relationship with God simply because I walked across the room or they did, though they didn’t know what they were looking for.
The church can be a lot of things as we’ve looked at over this summer. But there is only one thing the church can deliver that nothing else can: that is a place for people to meet Jesus and make him their 1 Thing. It cannot begin to early and that relationship never gets old. It is for now and into eternity and you and I, have been given this place to be that place where we can meet Jesus – and over the 1 Thing to a world that is craving to know Him!