We are not meant to do this life alone. The world is WAY to tough and unforgiving as it is – and to go through it alone would be absurd. This is the reason why we were left with the CHURCH and a helper in the Holy Spirit.
We have been talking with our Junior High & High School Students about this FIGHT that EVERYONE is currently in – the cosmic/spiritual battle between Light & Darkness, God & the devil, flesh & Spirit, Good & Evil. We are all in it. There is a battle for our time, attention, dedication, and ultimately our eternity and where we will spend it.
So we need to FIGHT Together. To lift one another up, encourage one another, support one another, be there when someone falls or fails, give a high five and a hug when things are going awesome, and to cry, celebrate, mourn, sweat, etc. with one another when the time calls for it.
So how do we do that? How do we FIGHT Together?
1) Be INTENTIONAL
FIGHTING Together doesn’t just happen on accident. It takes strategy, training, vulnerability, planning, and a coming together. Knowing that everyone is in a FIGHT and that people are struggling should be our only trigger needed as believers – because ultimately God called us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, & strength; and to love your neighbor as you love yourself” – There are not only a few of us called to this, but ALL of us are called to this.
“Without a sense of caring,
there can be no sense of community”
Do we care? Does it hurt us when we see a brother, sister, neighbor, or STRANGER hurting, going through a death in the family, in a FIGHT, or being addicted to a self-destructive sin? It should – and until we start CARING – we will never have true community.
Luke 10:25-37 tells a story, being narrated by Jesus because a religious leader asked Him “Who is my neighbor?” – Jesus throws down this scenario where a man is on a road and gets attacked by robbers and they basically beat him and leave him to die. Bloody, beaten, bruised (something that Jesus can relate to) – this man lies in street. It is a street going from Jericho to Jerusalem with many travelers so surely someone will see him. A priest walks by and sees the man – he not only passes by, but because he is holy and clean – he passes by on the other side of the road. He probably had a sermon to prepare for so he could knock it out of the park in the synagogue. A levite passes by and what levite would be crazy enough to touch an unclean man? Not this one – so HE passes by. Finally – a samaritan man comes in & has COMPASSION on him. Goes to him and not only helps him, bandages his wounds, pours fine, expensive oil on his wounds to heal them – but he also puts him on his own donkey (he probably had to clean the blood off the blankets later), takes him to an Inn, stays with him all night and in the morning gives the Inn Keeper money and says he will come back and pay the difference of the balance if there are any more expenses incurred.
WOW. That is intentionality. That is going above and beyond and not just looking for a way to feel good about ourselves by saying “i’ll pray for you” but with intent and purpose saying God has called me to love my neighbor and loving him means getting my hands dirty & doing EVERYTHING I can to help them. To have COMPASSION on him, which really is just LOVE with ACTION.
to FIGHT Together means to do so intentionally.
2) Be INFLUENTIAL
The Church has became WAY to passive. And who can blame us? It seems like every few days you hear SOMETHING in the news about how either a Christian has done something really stupid, or a celebrity pastor has been caught in a scandal, or a mega-church Prosperity Gospel Preacher’s Wife is up there talking some nonsense on stage to thousands of people, or some religious fanatic is preaching hell, fire, & brimstone using signs. All of these things UNFORTUNATELY get lumped all together as one big stereotype and we all lose a witness, because of this. So our response has been to just put our tail between our legs and not say or do anything that might sound “preachy”. But the Word has given the opposite.
The Word of God reminds us that the Church is supposed to INFLUENCE Culture, not be influenced by culture.
Jesus speaks about the Church twice, yes only two times in all of His ministry. We can either take that as He doesn’t really care about the Church or we can LEAN IN and pay attention to what He says. Those verses are Matthew 16:13-20 & Matthew 18:15-30. Go read those on your own. Here are my observations from LEANING IN & Paying attention:
1) Our Identity is the CHURCH (not a Building) – we are the Church just like Peters Name was changed
2) The Church is a solid rock to stand on
3) The Church is powerful (the gates of Hell can’t come against it)
4) The Church is a place for healing, reconciliation, and love
5) What we say & do MATTERS (eternally) – we are the Church and God is using the Church to change the world
6) God’s presence is in the Church
All of those tell me that we, the church, are called to FIGHT Together and be influential in our culture!
3) Be INCARNATIONAL
Here is the biggie. First of all I’m pretty sure I made up that word – but the root word is still correct. INCARNATION – what does that mean? It is the act of manifesting into bodily form. Or a bodily for assumed by God. It is a HUGE Deal in the Christian religion. It is what Jesus did when “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). God sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to earth to be born of a virgin and grow up, take on ministry, and eventually die on the cross for the sins of the world (past, present, and future). This same God Incarnate was the Jesus who defeated death and resurrected from the tomb in 3 days. This is the Gospel and the fact that Jesus put on flesh (INCARNATION) is a huge factor in that.
This is what separates Christianity from any other religion. We have a God who saw our sin, mess, filth, brokenness, selfishness, corruption, and sickness and decided to PUT ON FLESH AND COME TO US, IN FLESH! We don’t have to try to attain purity or godhood or enter in this relentless to pursuit to be better. Because the Perfect God died for us and offered up His blood to save us.
Now – what does Jesus call us to do? The same exact thing. To DIE TO OURSELVES and BE LIKE HIM….
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
“This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did”
1 John 2:6
We have to be in flesh to FIGHT TOGETHER with people – like Jesus did. To see peoples mess, sin, filth, brokenness, etc. and go dwell with them in their dirtiness or pain. To be IN FLESH with them. To be INCARNATIONAL.
Sounds easy enough – you are already in flesh – all you have to do is go to people when their hurting.
But it is harder than it looks – because we live in a world where most of our lives are spent looking at a cell phone or a computer/tablet screen. Where our prayers and our bible verses are shared from an app. Where we don’t fully know how to intentionally pursue someone or be an influence in their lives, like really IN FLESH in their lives, because we have a Fear of Missing Out of what is going on in the digital world – this social network that we have to keep status in.
Our world is broken – we need to learn how to FIGHT Together, face to face, in flesh, in person with one another.
Watch this video and think about how we need to win back this world so we can FIGHT Together.