Are You Part of the Church?
How much money do you make a year? How much do you have in your bank account right now? How much credit card debt do you have? Are you having problems in your marriage? When was the last time someone asked you these questions? Do these questions make you feel uncomfortable?
I think for most of us these are awkward questions to talk about because they are so private to us. Most of the time to bring these topics up in conversation seem inappropriate or out of place. But do you know what else seems like inappropriate questions? Questions like How is your spiritual life going?? How are you doing with God?? What is going on with your devotions?? What are you struggling with these days?? When was the last time someone asked you those questions? A lot of times these questions about our relationship with God makes us feel uncomfortable, too. But they should not..
We have five brothers and sisters share today making a declaration of their faith in Christ through baptism, an important ritual for which generations of Christians, including Christ himself, have participated in. Now their declaration, is very, very public. They are giving their testimonies and sharing with us their faith. Now what I fear for these brothers and sisters and for a lot of us who have already been baptized is that this, our baptisms, is the few times in which we share with others about our spiritual lives. We share a short testimony, we get dunked, and then we never really talk about our spiritual lives with anyone else. We continue to come to church every Sunday and listen to the messages and eat with people, but that it. We never get asked or ask anyone those private? questions--How are you doing with God? What are you struggling with? What has God shown you this week?
I want everyone in the room right now to take a second and think back to the last time someone has approached you and asked you about how you have been doing spiritually? I donít mean the guy who comes up to you at church and says How it going?? and expects a fine kind of answer. I mean when was the last time someone was serious and genuine about asking you: How ARE you doing with God?? Take a second to think about that.
Now if this question was hard for you I want you to take an honest and sober look at yourself. Are you really apart of the church? Now I am speaking to entire congregation, but especially to our five brothers and sisters here. The church is not the physical building. Being a part of the church is not physically being in this building every Sunday or even every Friday night and Sunday. You can come to this church every week for 10 or 20 years, but if you are not talking about your spiritual life and sharing about your life with others here, you are not part of the church. You are a lone ranger and that is dangerous.
In author of the book of Ecclesaistes says this:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!?-Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
And this is my fear for us What we have people calling? left and right, people who are struggling, people who are not doing well with God whatsoever, but there is no one there to help them up because no one ever asks the hard questions: What going on between you and God?? Hey, what is really going on in your marriage?? Hey, what is really going on at work??/span>
Brothers and sisters, listen to me. If we want our five brothers and sisters to grow in Christ, to make it as Christians, WE need to be asking them those private questions. Vincent, what is going on between you and God?? Do you know why we donít ask these questions with one another? We are afraid that if we do, someone will ask us the same question back. Gerald, how ARE you doing with God?? ; Uh oh... what? Did he just ask me how I doing with God? How dare he?! It so private, why would he ask that? These questions make us uncomfortable, afraid, and vulnerable. Brothers and sisters, we need to be vulnerable for our sakes but also for the sakes of these spiritually younger Christian brothers and sisters. I don want them growing in such a way that they believe that their own faith is taboo topic, a private topic in which no one should know the specifics of.
I want to show you a picture of me and two brothers in this church that you know very well. That Jonas and that Mike. These two brothers have been such a blessing to me. And it is through them that I feel like part of the church--the body of Christ. The three of us meet up every Monday night and share about our problems, issues, joys, achievements, everything. We prayed for things that brought us tears, shame, and regret. We ask one another, those private questions and the three of us get this amazing opportunity to watch God grow in our lives. or where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them?(Matthew 18:20). Have you done that brothers and sisters? Have you lived lives with one another in such a way that you share in the experience of watching God grow you guys?
Now we can do this with everyone and God doesnít expect us to do this with everyone. Even Jesus had his twelve, and his close three--Peter, James and John--and his best friend whom many believe is John, the disciple Jesus loved. Everyone in this church needs a Peter, James and John in your life. Everyone needs a Mike or Jonas? Who are your Peter, James and John?
Now I want to talk about Vincent here. I believe the reason why Vincent is here is because he has people asking him those private questions. I look back at how much Vincent has grown in the past few years and I can help but think about all the people who have helped Vincent through this process. In fact, I see them all today here in this room supporting Vincent on this very special occasion. I see the youth group kids at EBCC and some of Vincent Asian Young Life friends, who are here today. I think about Uncle Joe and Aunt Helen who have asked Vincent the hard questions about faith and about baptism, who are like Paul in Vincent life. And I think of Mike, and how he, possibly more so than anyone else, have been like a big brother to Vincent: driving Vincent everywhere, talking to him about God and life. And of course, although I didnít talk too much about it today, we can never discount the power of parents. When I think of Vincent growth as a Christian, I can help be grateful to God that he has given Vincent a mom who loves Jesus and who tries so hard to draw Vincent closer to God. But brothers and sisters, you see, Vincent is growing because there are people here in this room willing to get into the messiness of his life. They are willing to grow close to Vincent and get involved in Vincent life. Are you willing to get into messiness of Vincent life? Are you willing to get into the messiness of anyoneís life?
For these young brothers and sister in Christ, I could have talked about the importance of reading the Bible, the importance of prayer, the importance of keeping yourself pure from the world, and so forth. But these younger brothers and sisters can do it on their own. They won make it as Christians if there no one that asks them the private questions. In fact, YOU can make it on YOUR own. Now some of you might be thinking, come to church every week for the past 10 or 20 years and I. That only means you haven been making it for a long, long time. It just means you are been coming to church but you have not made any significant relationships and that should you scare you. That should scare you a lot. Brothers and sisters, let change that. Let help these brothers and sister who are getting baptized today to grow. Let help ourselves to grow. Let get into the messiness of one anotherís lives. l help get you started. Today, as you get lunch and celebrate our brothers and sisters public declarations of faith, ask each other: What is going on between you and God ; How are you doing with Jesus??