November 17, 2019
There aren’t degrees of sin. There’s just sin. There aren’t categories of people. There’s just people. Jesus loves people and is the only one who has the power to free us from our sin. The good news is that Jesus says, "Come as you are!" The even better news is that Jesus refuses to leave us that way.
Aaron Brockett • modgniK • Matthew 9:9-13
Pastor: Aaron Brockett
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Alright, what’s up Traders Point family? How are we doing? It’s so good to be with you. I want to welcome everyone across all of our campuses, those of you tuning in online, and those of you joining us in our p.m. services. We’re so glad to have you here today. If you’ve been around here for a while, you know we are one church that gathers in multiple locations around our city. There are several different reasons for that. We believe that healthy churches start new things. And we go all the way back to the New Testament and see the church was always reproducing itself. We just believe starting campuses and churches is the most effective way to reach people who are really far from God. Not only that, but to help facilitate our spiritual growth. Your spiritual growth, your walk with Jesus, will just be more effective if you can be connected to a community of faith within a 20-minute drive of where you live so you can serve, invite, and be connected. So, we are one church that gathers around our city. I love our city. I love Indianapolis and I love this idea of linking arms with people all over our city to make the name of Jesus known, to bring some hope to people who need to hear it. We are part of something way bigger than ourselves. And so, earlier this year I announce that Lord willing we were going to start campus number 5 and campus number 6. Campus number 5 is going to be in the mid-town, Broad Ripple area, and then campus number 6 will be in the northeast Fishers area. I’ve got a few updates for you before we jump in. First of all, we are really, really close to being able to tell you where these campuses are going to physically meet on the weekends, as we launch them. I was hoping that by today I would be able to tell you specifically, but we’re probably going to start portable, which is a good thing, before we start moving them into permanent facilities. We’ve got options for both. But we don’t have anything in ink yet, so it’s probably not wise for me to stand up and tell you where they are going to be, in case it changes. But we’re really, really close. Continue to pray. We’ll be able to share the information with you when we have it. Our West campus, as many of you know, has been meeting in a middle school on the west side, doing an amazing job. Building plans for their permanent location are soon to be finalized. It’s looking really, really good and we’re hoping to break ground for the West campus in the very near future. And then, I want you to know Aaron Hoover, our Northeast campus pastor is an incredible leader. He has done an amazing job getting the staff for that campus together, getting the launch team started, and people in groups on the northeast side. But if you’ve been here this fall, you know we just sent out Petie Kinder to be at a church in Colorado Springs. We’ve asked Aaron to step out of his role and to slide over onto the executive team where he will oversee all our campus pastors. He’s just going to do an incredible job. If you know Aaron and his wife Megan, they are just amazing people. So, I want to tell you who the Northeast campus pastor is going to be. If you’re on the launch team at Northeast, you probably already know him. His name is Nick Durm. Nick and his wife, Allison, have three beautiful boys. They are from the northeast side. They love people who are far from God, and are excited about this opportunity. They are gong to do an amazing job. So, what I want to ask you to do as a church family—if you know Aaron and Megan Hoover, or Nick and Allison Durm, would you just reach out and love on them, encourage them, tell them you’re praying for them, because both of them are going to do an amazing job. As a church, can we just show our support to them? Lift them up right now? It’s going to be amazing. Finally, if you live within a 20-minute drive of either midtown or northeast and you want to be part of one of those launch teams… I’ll tell you what. If you want to go on a mission of faith, join a launch team. We would love to have you. The next gathering is going to be on November 24. Both of those launch teams are going to get together separately, but on the same night. You can go to tpcc.org/launchteam and we would love to give you all that information. As always, just to our entire church family regardless of what campus you’re a part of, thanks for believing in the mission and vision and what God is doing here, and for your generosity. Thanks for leaning in and being part of the mission with us. We’re looking forward to an exciting year ahead. Well today, it is really hard to believe, but we’ve got two short weeks left in this series with a funny name called modgniK and, if you’re just now joining us modgniK is Kingdom spelled backwards. We’ve just been talking about the backwards, upside down Kingdom of God. To get things started today, I want to do a little survey. By a show of applause, at all of our campuses, which decade do you think gave us the greatest music? Alright? This is participatory. You get a chance to express yourself here. By a show of applause, let’s get the irrelevant decade out of the way. How many of you think it’s the decade that we’re in right now that has produced the greatest music? Anybody? They are all in Kids Ministry now. They don’t have a voice in the room. How many of you think it was the early 2000s? Early 2000s, anybody? A couple. Coldplay and Beyoncé fans? How many think it’s the 1990s? There we go. You’ve got your grunge on, a little Nirvana or a little Dr. Dre? How about the 1980s? 1980s, where are you at? There we go. It’s hard not to love the 80’s. You’ve got Run-D.M.C, Bobbie Brown, Chicago, Def Leppard. I could go on, we had it all. What about the 1970s? Anybody? Yeah, some good stuff there. You’ve got a little Leonard Skinner, and I don’t know, some other stuff. For those of you who are maybe having trouble hearing me right now… Does somebody need a hug? 1960s? Anybody? There we go. I’m just curious, was anybody at any of our campuses actually at Woodstock? Anybody? Yeah, you’re still recovering. That was fun. Thanks for playing along. And, the reason I do all that is there was a song in the 1960s by a band called the Five Man Electrical Band, that a better band in the 1980s called Tesla did called Signs. If you don’t know the song, totally okay. Let me just kind of give you the lyric here. Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?Some of you are singing it. A minute ago you were not singing in worship, but you’ll sing this. No judgement. Just an observation. And the whole song was about this idea that everywhere you look there is a sign that says, “Keep Out.” There is a sign that says, “Your hair is too long, you’re not allowed in here.” There is a sign that says, “You’re not dressed right, you can’t come in here.” There is a sign that says, “You believe the wrong things. You talk the wrong way. You made too many mistakes in your past, you need to keep out.” I actually did a little research this past week. I found some examples of some funny keep out signs. Please go away, I don’t care.No soliciting, we found Jesus…we love our vacuum, our pets are under control, and our kids are selling the same junk you are. Seriously, we don’t want any unless it’s Girl Scout cookies. You’ve got to love that. A few years ago, I was sitting on the front row of coach seats on a flight, which is like the worst place to sit because you’re close enough to first class to see and smell what you are missing. And, I’m sitting there and about mid-flight I needed to use the restroom, so the first class bathrooms were way closer to me than the bathrooms in the back of the plane. They were vacant. And I thought, “That’s no big deal.” I was wrong. So, I get up and I walk into the first class bathroom. I come out and the stewardess is standing in the aisle and she has a very not-nice look on her face. She proceeds to tell me I’m not allowed up front, that I can’t use the first class bathrooms, and that I paid for a coach seat. I was like, “Okay, alright,” and I go back to the front row. I didn’t know the toilet paper was lined in 24-caret gold, you know? And, I sit down and she pulls that thinly veiled curtain-of-shame. Do you know what I’m talking about? It was just a symbol that said, “There is a dividing line here. You’re not welcome here.” Those are silly examples, and we’ve been having some fun. But, you and I both know that this can be a very painful issue for so many of us. Whether it’s you, or maybe somebody you know and love, somewhere along the line you got the message. Maybe the message was verbalized, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was just through body language or a condescending look—you aren’t welcome here. You don’t fit in. You don’t have the right look. You’re not wearing the right clothes. You don’t know the right things. You’re not conservative enough. You’re not liberal enough. You’re not masculine enough. You’re not feminine enough. Your skin isn’t light enough. You didn’t say enough of the right things. Your behavior isn’t acceptable enough. You don’t know enough of the right people. You just got the message loud and clear that people would rather not have you there. And maybe the truly tragic thing is, that message you got came from a church, a youth group, or a group of people who claimed to know and follow God. And, what they did was, without getting to know you, they judged you and your actions prematurely. Maybe they observed a portion of your life, and they assessed the whole. They made you feel small, and they made you feel insignificant. They were arrogant and condescending. And can I tell you, they were nothing like Jesus. You see, Jesus did not come 2,000 years ago to start a social club called the church that meets on the weekends only for perfect people who’ve gotten it all figured out and believe all the right things and don’t have any struggles anymore. No, Jesus came to actually usher in the Kingdom of God in which all are invited and all are welcome. And now he has said to us: If you are saved by grace through faith, then you bring that kingdom to earth. You live out the values of that Kingdom for others to see.So, in Matthew 6, a verse we just kept coming back to over and over again through the series, Jesus, is teaching us to pray and says this, “May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In other words, he says that we shouldn’t just wait around to go to heaven one day; we should begin to live out the values of the Kingdom of God for a watching world to see. And the values of this Kingdom, they are backwards and upside down. We’ve just been walking our way through these as a church family. We’ve been taking every letter in the word modgniK that symbolizes an idea that represents values in this Kingdom of God to help us understand and remember them better. M More is lessO Others firstD Descend into greatnessG Generosity flowsN Not to usI InclusiveToday is I, inclusive. The Kingdom of God is inclusive. That word has a lot of baggage to it. And it means different things to different people. I’m just guessing that if you’re with me, and thinking right now, as soon as I said the word a flag went up and you thought, “What do you mean by that?”I’m really glad you asked. Let me start by telling you what it doesn’t mean. And then we’ll finish with what it does. Inclusive doesn’t mean we water down the truth in order to attract bigger crowds. Inclusive doesn’t mean we sweep conflict under the rug because we’re afraid to have hard conversations.Inclusive doesn’t mean we don’t call out right from wrong or talk about sin. It doesn’t mean we never challenge one another or confront one another in love. It doesn’t mean we’ll agree on everything or that we’ll get along perfectly. And it certainly doesn’t mean, “You just do you because anything goes.” It does mean any of that. Here’s what it does mean. It means that in the Kingdom of God everyone is invited and all are welcome. I love the story Jesus tells in Luke 14, and in fact anytime he told a story about the Kingdom of God, he would oftentimes talk about it as if it were a party, a gathering, or a dinner feast. He talks about this gathering around the table in which the guy sends out invitations to be a part of his banquet. People ignore it, they don’t show up. So, he sends his people out again. This time he’s like: Just invite anybody who has a pulse. Just go out on the streets and invite anybody and everybody you see. All are welcome because the dinner table should just be full. And Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of God. He says that everyone is invited. In John 3:16 it says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son so who should believe in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Oftentimes we stop there, but we need to go on. In verse 17 it says this, “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world,” that’s not the primary reason Jesus came, “but to save the world through him.”He came to save who? The ones who believe all the right things and have their act together, and have their lives all cleaned up? No, no, no. He goes, “The world,” which is everybody within it, and it’s through him. It means we are all saved by grace through faith, which should rule out any hint of spiritual pride and change the way we treat, think about, and interact with other people, especially those who have yet to respond to the invitation of Jesus. May we never forget Ephesians 2:8-9, “God saved you by his grace,” not when you passed the theology test, not when you cleaned up your act, not when you overcame the addictions, but “when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”You see, Jesus has done all the heavy lifting for you and me. Salvation is a gift that comes to us by his grace. Therefore, for everyone who has ever felt they don’t know enough, they’re not smart enough, they’re not good enough, too many skeletons in the closet, too many mistakes in their past, too many failed relationships, bogged down by too many addictions, buried in too much debt, mistakes, shame, guilt, and regret, Jesus says: You come on in. You are invited. You are welcome. Now that doesn’t mean everyone will RSVP. It just means you’re not the gate keeper, and neither am I. There might be some of you who hear that and say, “That sounds a little too simple.” I hear that every now and then. Can I just say this to you? “You’re right, salvation is simple.” And you wouldn’t want it to be more complicated, because otherwise none of us would be able to attain it. Jesus did all of that for us. In fact, in Acts 15, you can read about it on your own. It is one of the first church meetings of the church leaders. They all get together. Here is what they were arguing about. How difficult should we make it for the Gentiles to enter into the Kingdom of God? And James stands up and says: We shouldn’t make it difficult at all. We should give everybody access to this Jesus, because none of us is worthy of it. Now we might say, “What about truth? What about holiness? What about discipleship? What about doctrinal purity?” I said, “Salvation is simple.” Spiritual growth, that’s hard. And you know what? I think, regardless of who you are or what you believe about God, or where you are spiritually, you already know that. I mean, if I were to sit down with you and if I had earned your trust enough to be able to speak into your life, and you just sort of lay down the weapons, the defenses, and the explanations, I think you would very easily, and I would with you as well, say, “I don’t have it all figured out. I’ve got some stuff I’ve got to work through. I’ve got some dark secrets in my life I need to confess. I’ve got some things I’m doing or not doing that are actually really tearing my marriage apart.“I’ve actually got some work to do when it comes to relationships or my anger issues,” or, “I have this anxiety that I really need to give over to God.” And spiritual growth, personal growth, whatever you want to call this, it works like this—three steps forward, two and a half steps back. And I think all of us know we’ve got some stuff to work on. Here’s what Jesus says: You come to me just as you are. You receive this gift of grace I died for you to have. And now, with my help and my Spirit living in you, let’s get to work on some stuff. Let’s begin to grow. Let’s grow in the fruit of the Spirit.Church, may we never forget this statement here: We earn the right to speak any sort of truth into someone’s life by leading with love.I love the heart of Matthew. We hear this story in Matthew 9. “As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me and be my disciple,’ Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.”That is the same message Jesus gives all of us today: Would you just begin to follow me? And disciple is a word for somebody who is going to grow in their faith as they follow Jesus. And Matthew gets up and follows him. He is a brand new follower of Jesus. What do you think he is going to do with his time? He can start a Bible study, he can go on a mission trip, he can help little, old ladies across the street. All those things would be great things to do. Here is the very first thing Matthew does in verse 10. “Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.”The words along with are key. He didn’t just invite Jesus and his disciples over to his house, so he could just grow as a follower of Jesus. He did it along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. Matthew’s heart is this: I’ve just met this Jesus who has changed my life. Now I want my former colleagues and drinking buddies to meet the same Jesus I met, because he is the only one who can change anyone. Here is the question. Does throwing a party sound very spiritual to you? Well, there is a group of people who didn’t seem to think so. Look at verse 11. “But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with such scum?’”I think this is one of the most tragic questions found in the gospels. This is tragic. They just completely missed it. And you know what? There are times when I’ve missed it too. Due to our brokenness and sin the human heart, by default, wants to put people in categories. So, these people are in, those people are out. These people are okay, and those people are not okay. These people are acceptable, and those people are not acceptable. But listen, if everyone can’t find hope at the foot of the cross, then nobody can. There aren’t degrees of sin, there is just sin. There aren’t categories of people, there are just people. Jesus loves people, and he is the only one who has the power to free us from our sin. Therefore, as residents of this backward Kingdom of God, we do everything we can to get people to the Jesus we know. So, Matthew gets this right away. The question we have to ask of ourselves is, “Do we?” Check out verse 12. Notice Jesus never gives the disciples a chance to respond to the Pharisee’s smug question. Jesus just jumps right in. My guess is his blood pressure is skyrocketing when he says this. “When Jesus heard this, he said, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.’ Then he added, ‘Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.””’What does that mean? Its actually a reference to the Old Testament prophet Hosea. And he is saying: I don’t want you just to go through the religious motions. I don’t want you to just attend church on Sunday, sing the songs, and go through the motions if you’re not going to love people. He said: I would much rather you love people than go through the religious motions.Then Matthew finishes with this in verse 13, “For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”And the message of the church is hope. In a world that is shrouded in darkness and constantly knocking you and me down, the church should stand as a beacon of light pointing people to the hope that can only be found in Jesus. And it says, “Let me help you back on your feet, and let’s continue to grow together.” There are two primary things that happened on the cross of Jesus that I think reveals the very heart of God and the inclusive nature of his Kingdom. When Jesus is on the cross, there is a conversation and a curtain. The conversation and curtain reveal God’s heart for us as people. And those of you who might know that crucifixion narrative, some of this is going to be review for you. But Jesus is there hanging on a cross, and he is not by himself. There are two other people hanging on his right and left. These are thieves. They’ve been caught in the act. There are guilty as charged and are on the cross next to Jesus. One of them begins to taunt Jesus, ridicule him, and the other one comes to Jesus’ defense. And then he just simply says to him, “Would you remember me in your Kingdom today?” That’s all that he says. Now, notice all the things he doesn’t say. He doesn’t say, “Jesus, I confess today that I’m a sinner and in need of your grace.” He didn’t say that. He never said, “Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God and I accept you as my Lord and Savior.” He didn’t say that. He didn’t say, “Jesus, I would love to be baptized today.” He did say that. All he said was, “Would you remember me when you come into your Kingdom today?” And Jesus looked right at him and said: You’ll be with me. Does that sound simple to you? Jesus is revealing his heart here in this moment. You can’t say Jesus was lowering the bar or watering it down, because he didn’t say that to the other thief. He didn’t say, “Well, there are no standards at all. Just come on in.” He didn’t do that. No, Jesus was assessing this guy’s heart, and he knew that behind the words, “Would you remember me in your Kingdom today?” came confession, came the recognition that Jesus was Lord, came the fact that he knew Jesus had come to reconcile us back to God. And notice, Jesus didn’t make it super complicated, and neither should we. The second thing is a curtain. There was this temple of God that was built in the Old Testament. This was actually the place God lived. Within the temple was this place called the holy of holies. Nobody was allowed there except for one person, the high priest. What separated the rest of it from the holy of holies was a really large curtain. It was 30 feet tall and four inches thick. Only the high priest could go in. When the high priest would go in, they would tie a rope around his torso or ankle in the event he might die of a stroke or whatever. No one else could go in to get the body, or they would die too. So they would pull him out by the rope. That’s a comforting thought.And as soon as Jesus breathes his last on the cross, that curtain was ripped in two. Not bottom to top, but top to bottom. Not bottom to top, meaning it was a little frayed on the bottom and someone came along and tore it. No, this was God making a statement. From 30 feet in the air, it ripped in two. It was four inches thick. What do you think God was saying? God was saying: My Son just paid it all, now everybody has access to me. And then years later, I think this was on Paul’s mind when he reminds Galatians of this. He writes this in Galatians 3:26, “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Listen, morals are important but moralism will not change hearts. Judgementalism will not change hearts. Doctrinal purity, as important as it is, will not change hearts. That’s why Jesus didn’t give the woman at the well or Zacchaeus a theology quiz before he let them go. No, you get to Jesus first. And Jesus flings the doors wide open and says: The invitation is there for any and all. You don’t get all your stuff figured out, and then come to me. You don’t get all your questions answered, and then come to me. You don’t get yourself all cleaned up, and then come to me. He goes: No, no, no. You just come to me as you are and receive me by faith, and I give you my Holy Spirit to seal your salvation and guide you in your spiritual growth. So, instead of hanging some keep out signs or only perfect people are allowed in here, what if we replace those with a few other signs. Here are a couple of examples. You’re invitedThose are powerful words. I know it’s kind of intimidating to invite people to church, especially in the day and age in which we live, but statistics still show that 50 percent of people say if there are in relationship with somebody, they will say yes to an invitation to church. We have a perfect opportunity next month with Christmas. This is the time of the year when more people will show up for church than any other time, and we have like seven billion services for you to invite them to come to. I love that, because you’re like, “Do you want to come with me on this date at this time?” “No, I’m busy.” “Well, we have another service at this day and this time.” Just invite them to come. And don’t just invite them, here is the next sign. Come sit with meThere is something that can be intimidating about walking into a big room when you don’t know anybody. But when you know somebody, and you are sitting next to somebody, its way better. How about this? Can I help you take your next step?I think, for a lot of people, they think they have to go from here all the way over to here. No, you would actually just say, “Spiritual growth is like a walk. Can I just help you take your next step, whatever that may be?” How about this one? This is a safe placeYou’re not going to be singled out. We want this to be a safe place where you can ask questions. This can be a safe place physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Not a perfect place, not a perfect place, but we’re striving to be a safe place. How about this one? It’s OK to not be OKWe’ve all got stuff we are dealing with. You cannot out-sin God’s grace. Don’t give yourself that much credit. You’re not that good of a sinner. It is OK to not be OK. Now it’s not OK to stay not OK. OK? Let’s lean in and strive to be more like Jesus together, but you don’t have to have your stuff all together before you come. How about this one? Find help and hopeListen, as a church we need to be hope dealers. We have the best news available in and through Jesus Christ. We continue to give that hope. I’ve got a good friend who started a church in Michigan 13 or 14 years ago. And, they’ve reached so many people who were far from God. He was telling me this last week that when he first moved to that town he went to the Great Clips and that’s where he started getting his hair cut. He met the girl who cut his hair, her name is Amy, and he said he just started going to Amy every month. She would cut his hair, and they began to get to know each other a little bit. She said, “What are you doing in town?” He said, “I’m here to start a church.” Amy did not know God. She did not grow up in church. So, she was a little nervous about that at first. But then they just began to get to know each other to the point where they were comfortable enough with each other that there was this friendly banter that would go back and forth. He came in to get his hair cut. As the church began to grow, and they’ve actually grown quite large, they’ve reached so many people for Christ, and she would see this and hear about it. And she was like, “What kind of Kool-Aid are you guys serving over there? What are you, a televangelist?” She would give this friendly banter and he would just take it in stride. “Amy, we’d love to have you sometime.” She was like, “Ah, you don’t want me in your church. The roof would cave in, if I walked in the door. God would strike me down with lighting.” Dave would be like, “I don’t think so. We would love to have you.” She never accepted an invitation from him, for like a decade. He just went in to get his hair cut, invited her to church, and she would make a joke and brush it off. Dave said about a year ago he went in to get his hair cut. Something had changed. He walked in, and Amy wasn’t her usual self. She was a bit sober. And he said, “How is everything going?” She said, “Honestly, not great. I just found out a few months ago that my mom has cancer. She is getting ready to go through chemotherapy, and she is going to lose all of her hair. I’m not doing great with this.”Dave said, “I am so sorry.” As he was sitting there he was trying to figure out what he should say to her. At some point he said, “Amy, if there was one thing you could do for your mom or give to your mom, what would it be?” She said, “I would get her a wig. I’m in the hair industry. I would love to be able to give her that gift. But they are expensive, I don’t really have access to one, and I just don’t know if I’ll be able to swing it.” Dave was like, “Okay.” So, she finishes, he goes out to his car and he is sitting there and he is praying for Amy before he leaves the parking lot. It hits him. “Maybe I can help.” He opened up his phone. He said, “I opened it to the Facebook,” that’s how he said it. He gets on the Facebook and posts on his wall for his church family to read, “Does anybody have access to a wig. I’d like to hear from you.” He said literally within five minutes, he had 10 wigs. People reached out to him, “I’ve got one,” or “I’ve got access to one,” or “I know somebody,” or “I’ll help pay for one.” So he goes, “I need to go back in,” and anytime you walk back into the place where you just got your haircut everybody gets nervous. “What did we do wrong? Did we nick you?” He was like, “No, everything is great. I’d like to talk to Amy.” Amy comes out, a little surprised to see him, and he says, “Hey Amy, I want you to know I just reached out to our church family, and I got you a wig.” She began to cry right there in the shop. And a few months later he went back in to get his haircut. She said, “Hey Dave, I checked out your church last week. It wasn’t as weird as I thought, and the roof didn’t cave in.” She went back with friends the next week, and the next week, and he told us this last week that about six months ago Amy came forward and gave her life to Christ and was baptized.And it all started, not because Dave shamed Amy into anything. Not because Dave made sure Amy believed all the right things first. It just came through a simple act of the church being the church and saying, “Regardless of where you land on this, we’re going to love you right where you are and let the Holy Spirit do what only he can.” That’s the kind of church we’re striving to be. We want to be a modgniK kind of church, to live out the values of this backward Kingdom of God. So, today what I want to do at all of our campuses, if you’ve never become a resident of the Kingdom of God, I want you to know that you’re invited right now just as you are today. And maybe some of you came here today, and on the way to church you got into a bad argument with your spouse. It got nasty. And there is even a part of you that thought, “We should just turn around, because how can we show our faces in church today after what we just said?” The invitation is for you. For some of you here today, maybe you walked in here today and you’re hung over from last night or the night before. Maybe you are wrapped up in some sort of addiction. Maybe you just looked at something last night you told your spouse you would never look at again, never do again. Maybe you’re here today and you’re like, “I don’t really know if I believe the right things, or know the right things. If I could just open up my life and people knew the deepest, darkest secrets of my life, they would probably throw me out on the curb. The invitation is for you. And Jesus just simply says: Come to me, just as you are. You don’t have to have this thing figured out. The only thing you need to know right now is there is a God, and you’re not him. And Jesus is his Son, and he wants to be your Savior. He wants to save you from whatever it is that’s actually bogging you down, holding you back. And here is the beautiful thing. Not only does Jesus want to be your Savior, he also wants to be your Lord. And lordship means, “Jesus, I just invite you into every area of my life. I’m going to trust you more than my feelings on a certain area in my life, because I believe you have my best interest in mind. So, while it may feel counter-intuitive to me, I trust you.” And the biblical word for this is repent. It just simply means this. I’ve been traveling in this direction, I’ve been seeing something a certain way, and I’m just going to stop. In humility, I’m going to turn around and go this way. And I’m going to begin to chase after Jesus. Jesus is Savior and he is Lord. When you respond to that, the physical thing you do, the outward thing you do to demonstrate that decision is baptism. It’s this idea that I’m being buried as an old creation, raised as a new creation in Christ, being washed of my sins. It’s symbolic of that. I’m all in for Jesus. And now you begin to trust him as Lord. I guarantee you that you will fall and mess up, most likely by the end of the day. And that’s why you lean on his grace like the air you breathe, and you join the rest of us as we continue to walk toward Jesus in faith. And if you would like to receive Jesus today, at all of our campuses we want to give you an opportunity to do that. Every time, in the New Testament, when there would be a presentation of the gospel like that, they would give people a chance right then and there to make that decision. I think there is something powerful about that. If the Holy Spirit is weighing in on you, if you’re feeling that discomfort in your seat, the best thing to do from my experience is just to respond to it, because if you don’t, your heart grows harder to that call in the future. So, today we want to give you an opportunity to go, talk to some people, talk to them about what you are feeling. They will pray with you, and if you’re ready to be baptized today, we’d love to do that with you. Maybe you came today not prepared at all to be baptized, but we’ve got you covered with tee-shirts, changing rooms, towels, and all that kind of stuff. What better way to draw a line in the sand and say, “I want to become part of the Kingdom of God? Not by anything I’ve done, but by the grace God gives to me.” So, I’m going to pray, and I’m going to hand it over to our campus pastors to give specific instructions. Would you just join me in prayer? Father, we come to you today. We are so thankful for the grace you give to us, and for the fact that your Kingdom is a place where all are invited and all are welcome. We don’t get into it by believing the right things, or by doing the right things, but we get into it by placing our faith in the finished work of Jesus on a cross, and that’s just the beginning of our spiritual growth. So, Father, today I pray that we would never lost sight of that as a church family, that we would be a church primarily for people who are far from you. But if there are some here who are far from you and they want to come near, I pray they would respond to that invitation today. Just to make you Lord and Savior over their life. God, if there are some here right now who are just feeling, “I’m not worthy. I don’t know that I’m ready. I don’t know if I can actually do this today,” God I pray your Spirit would comfort them and pick up their feet and move them down that aisle. Do something powerful in this room right now. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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