Good morning! How are we? See, now we’re learning. That’s growth. I’m proud of you. If you’re a guest with us that will make no sense to you, and it’s okay. The rest of the day needs to make sense; that doesn’t.
If you have your Bibles, let’s go to Matthew, chapter 5. Just to catch you up if you weren’t here last week, we kind of just marveled last week at the reality that God saves, and that there’s not a “type” of person God saves. We did a little survey in here. We had little moments of honesty where I asked you all kinds of questions, and here’s what we learned about The Village Church: There are men and women in here who have a GED or an equivalent but not a high school diploma, and then there are PhD’s.
We have people who have come from very nice, well-put-together homes where there were a lot of stories about Jesus and a lot of encouragement, and then there are a lot of us who came from utter train wrecks. There’s a lot of abuse in our backgrounds, and a lot of love in our backgrounds. Some of us were born into lives of privilege, and some of us were born with a difficult mountain to climb right in front of us. Some of us had gated communities; some of us were in trailer parks. That’s where we’re from. That’s our background. Some of us were born in America; a lot of us weren’t born in America.
On and on and on I could go. I wanted to show with our room that the lie that there’s a type of person who becomes a Christian could be debunked right out of the gate in this room. We’re all over the map, all different kinds of backgrounds and all different kinds of dispositions. Some of us are bold and wouldn’t mind coming up on this stage and talking to people. That wouldn’t bother them at all. Then some of us are so mortified of that idea, that if it were to stand up here and say hello to this crowd or be killed, you would choose death. We’re all over the map. Yet God has rescued and saved most of us in this room.
We looked biblically last week that God saves, not just out of one pool but out of multiple pools. We showed out of the Scriptures last week that God saves from among the wayward and the uninterested. We looked at Matthew, chapter 7, and we looked at the conversion of a prostitute; that there were religious men in the room who rejoiced in the shame of this prostitute because in her lowly shameful position they were able to build themselves up. They actually rejoiced in her hardship, because her hardship made them feel better about them. Yet Christ considered the religious and the self-righteous the fools and granted forgiveness and salvation to the prostitute.
And he does it to a woman caught in the act of adultery. Not a former adulterer. She’s caught in the act, dragged to the feet of Jesus, thrown down at the feet of Jesus, and again, Jesus says to the men who busted her, “Let the one of you who’s without sin throw the first stone.” Did anybody cast a rock? What I would have loved to see in the Scripture is if Jesus picked up rocks and started pelting all the guys with them, but that’s not how the story plays out. He tells the woman, “Go and sin no more.”
Over and over and over again you watch Jesus grant salvation to the wayward, those who have chosen other ways to try to fulfill their joy, other ways to try to find purpose in life, other ways to find their fulfillment. Jesus saves among the wayward. That’s good news for multiple reasons. It’s good news because a lot of us were wayward. It’s good news because a lot of us were saved right out of that. When I asked last week how many of you have backgrounds in either abuse and/or drugs and alcohol, most of the room raised their hands. We are just like a recovery ministry in here right now. It’s almost just like, “Hi, my name is Matt.” We have all kind of been pulled out of the muck and mire, and he set our feet on the rock.
Then we said that God not only saves the wayward, but he saves the uninterested. I love that one as a preacher who preaches on Sundays and Saturdays, because I know some of you don’t want to be here. Some of you came because someone invited you. Mom and Dad made you. You’ve been forced to come. You’re not interested, but you have to shut this guy up, so maybe if you’ll just go with him today he’ll leave you alone and you can leave here and go, It’s not for me, and it’ll be over. I’m okay with that because I know from the Scriptures that God saves the uninterested. You might come into this place completely uninterested in the things of God and leave here with an appetite to know more. Or just get radically saved in this joint today. I know God is able. I know he’s able.
That’s not the only place God saves from. He also saves from among the self-righteous and the morally upright, and praise God for that one. He saves church kids. He saves one out of prostitution and heroin, and saves another out of Sunday school. How great is our God, right? He can save out of a life of debauchery but also can show up to self-righteous, self-inflated, externally religious people and rescue them and own their hearts. That’s a spectacular truth in the Scriptures, that God would save the morally upright and self-righteous.
That’s good news too, because we’re in the South and a lot of us have church backgrounds that have left us obeying a moral code with a heart detached from the person and work of Jesus Christ. It’s a different kind of slavery. If you nail the list, if you’ve learned to get the checklist down, more than likely you are a judgmental, self-inflated robber of the glory of God. So the good news is Jesus saves among the self-righteous.
Then we said not only does he save among the wayward and the uninterested, not only does he save among the self-righteous and the religious, the morally upright, but he also saves from among every tribe, tongue, and nation on earth, so that our God is not the God of a certain nation or a certain locale; he is the God, and there will be a day where men and women from every tribe, tongue, and nation worship, love, and make much of Jesus Christ.
He made that promise. It’s in Genesis, chapter 12, when it was just Abraham. He makes it again in Genesis 15. He makes it again throughout the Old Testament. Jesus Christ continues to fulfill that. As we stand now, there are still unreached people groups…people groups where there is not a group of men and women inside of that ethnic group, inside of that language, who worship and love Jesus Christ…but predominately we’ve seen the gospel spread just like God said it would spread in Genesis, chapter 12 to Abraham.
There are men and women who love Jesus Christ very much who are going to gather in Iran today. It’s going to happen. Has anybody else picked up on how many Christian pastors have been arrested and imprisoned in Iran? It just doesn’t sound like that’s a closed country. Is it the predominate culture? No, I don’t believe it is. Will it ever be? Maybe. In Africa, in the Middle East, in Asia, in South America, there is a strong presence of those who love and serve and follow Jesus Christ. So he saves from among every tribe, tongue, and nation on earth.
Now what I wanted to draw your attention to is that that is a recipe for disaster. If you get someone with a background in waywardness who has been disinterested for the most part, and you put them together with someone who is coming out of that self-righteous, morally upright stream, and you sit them down together, that’s flammable. Are you tracking? That’s flammable, right?
So real time at The Village Church. Take one or so of the ladies who have been saved by Jesus Christ out of the strip club, whose hearts God has moved in… I don’t know how you’re wired, but I love rough around the edges. I love that, because that to me is a sign of new life. I love rough around the edges. Now I rejoice when it gets smoothed out, but I love rough around the edges. I like compliments that are inappropriate. I like when people do that, when they use language that maybe they shouldn’t be using. They don’t know yet, so it’s just raw and gritty. I love that.
So you take one of our recently converted women out of the strip club, still having to take smoke breaks in Group, and you sit her next to a woman in the group who is torn apart with guilt over the fact that she saw a rated-R movie that was not about the crucifixion of Christ. She knew she shouldn’t have, but she saw “Lethal Weapon 7,” and the weight of that is just so much for her that she can hardly function. She doesn’t think God really likes her right now, that God is disappointed in her, and you have her saying that in Group next to our women who have come out of the club.
Now that’s flammable, isn’t it? That’s flammable. That can pop. That can blow up. Then you throw someone else in there from some kind of different ethnic background or different cultural frame of reference. Now you have a recipe for conflict and disaster. You absolutely do. So I find it spectacular that God saves. In fact, I posted on The City, which is kind of our Internet way of interacting with one another, this past week. Instead of “Let’s talk about the sermon,” I said, “Tell me how you came to know Jesus Christ.” I think when I checked it last night there were 66 testimonies on there, and it is profoundly beautiful that God saves us as individuals.
But I think the thing that stands out to me and really encourages my heart is not that he just saved us as individuals, but then as individuals he creates this new people. So that was really the bulk of our message last week, was not only that God saves, but that God takes all of these different backgrounds and all of these different frameworks and kind of puts them in a mixer, shakes it up, and pours out a completely different drink. He pours out a completely new people.
So we looked at 1 Peter, and 1 Peter said, “Once you were not a people, but now you are a people.” I tried to explain that in regard to referencing my family. There is an intrinsic, built-in, I’m going to sacrifice, I’m going to give of myself for my family, but there is nothing in me that would have me giving of myself for you. Right? You don’t have to be born again to have “people.” Tracking?
I have “people.” I have my wife Lauren, I have Aud, I have Reid, and I have Norah. I have my people, and I’m going to lay down my life for them and I’m going to encourage them and I’m going to pour into them and I’m going to lose sleep over them. I’m going to get up early for them. I’m going to work hard for them. I’m going to figure out how to encourage them. Those are my people. Blood is thicker than water. Isn’t that what they say?
You and I were not a people, but now we are a people, which means there is a blood that is thicker than the genetic kind of blood that’s running through your veins, and that’s the blood of Jesus Christ, that binds us and makes us family, so that in the adopting work of God Almighty through the gospel of Jesus Christ, you and I are now family and the blood we share is of the eternal kind. Are you tracking with that?
That means whether we like it or not, you and I are going to be spending a lot of time together. Do you remember, if you have a church background, verse 4 of “Amazing Grace”? “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun; we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.” So 10,000 years, no time off the clock. We’ll be spending a lot of time together. The Bible is going to say there’s ever-increasing joy in that. It’s not like, Man, when is this dinner over? It’s ever-increasing joy in that relationship.
Then we talked about now that we are a people, how that people interacts with one another. We’ve been uniquely wired, uniquely gifted, and uniquely placed in this place for the building up of this body unto Christ. Which means if you are here, and in particular, if you are a member here, you have biblically been brought here with your gifts, with your skills, with your abilities, because we need you to become all that God would have us be at The Village. We don’t need you to be someone else; we need you to be you.
I think one of the ways believers in Christ become paralyzed in their service unto the Lord for their own joy and the glory of God is that they look at someone else and think their gift set should look like that gift set. I think that is enslaving. That’s where we went to 1 Corinthians 12 last week. Not everybody is going to be the eye, not everyone is going to be the foot, and if you’re the foot you can’t say, “I want to be the eye.” You play your part.
God has gifted us and wired us differently, and he has placed us here for the building up of the body into the fullness of Christ, which means we need you but we need you to be you. We don’t need you to be something you’re not. The only time you should emulate someone else’s faith is in their zeal and pursuit of Jesus Christ. You should never emulate gifts, especially if you don’t have those gifts. Talk about exhausting.
I’ve been around guys who have a type of bandwidth that’s freaky. They just have a way of producing things where you’re just like, “Do you sleep? Seriously. Do you sleep? How do you churn out this level of work?” What I’ve done historically… If I see that, if I’m around this, I’ll be like, I can do that, and then I’ll kill myself. I am not a four-hour, five-hour-a-night brother. I am a body pillow, eight, eight-and-a-halfer. I’m a “Leave me alone, go to your mother, get away from my face, I need some rest.” So if you try to emulate what you’re not you grow weary, but if you exercise what you are you just grow strong and the body grows up, and good things happen.
Then we ended out of Romans 12 where we simply talked about what our interaction with one another looks like. We are to love genuinely. Doesn’t that sound good? Love genuinely? I don’t think anybody goes, I don’t want genuine love; I’d like the fake stuff. We want genuine love, but genuine love is kind of painful. Because genuine love is, yes, edification and encouragement. “I see you growing. I see you flourishing. I feel like you’re doing well, man. I can see you are getting the Scriptures. I see you’re using them in day-to-day life. You’re feeding yourself. I love to see your growth.”
Nobody ever complains about that kind of love. No one ever goes, “Quit talking about my strengths!” No one does that. But genuine love loves more deeply than that. Genuine love is willing to show up and go, “I’m worried about you, bro. I don’t want to have this conversation, I wish we didn’t have to have this conversation, but I’m worried, and here’s what I’m worried about. This seems a bit off, bro. Like the way you talk about your wife? That’s not godly. Your wife isn’t a ball and chain; she’s a gift to you, bro. That’s what the Bible says. ’He who finds a wife finds what is good.’”
“Well you don’t know her. She’s this, she’s this…”
“Well yeah, she was that when you married her, bro. Marriage is the fast lane of sanctification. Now speak life about your wife.” Right? That’s genuine love. Genuine love is not afraid to risk the relationship for the health of the person. That’s scary, because people don’t take that kind of love well. They almost immediately default into, “I feel like you’re judging me. I don’t appreciate the way you went about this.”
Forget what was said. You have to take what was said and just throw it out the door because we can’t think about what was actually said because it might be true. So instead, “I feel like you’re judging me. I feel like you have no space for this. I know your junk. I know where you’ve fallen short. I know where you don’t measure up. So who are you to question me when you fall short?” Right? Isn’t that a game we play?
Then another one… “I don’t like the way you went about that. I don’t feel like you should have done that in a public place. I feel like you should have emailed me.” But straight, if they would have emailed you, you’d have gone like, “We couldn’t have done that face to face?” If they would have done that face to face, you’d have gone, “Well doesn’t the Bible say two or three witnesses should come?” Right? There’s no way to win when you love genuinely if people don’t understand this is a part of genuine love. We are to love genuinely.
Then he goes on to say that we are to outdo one another in honor. I just like that because it sounds like a sport. It sounds like a church-sanctioned sport. It’s like a league. “Outdo one another in honor.” So I am to seek to make much of you, to encourage you, to defer to you. There should be deference in our relationship. I should be willing to go, “I’ll park a little farther out so you can park a little closer in. I’ll make sure you get the seat you want. Oh, you want me to scoot in? I’ll scoot in without rolling my eyes.” It’s deference. It’s, “I’ll outdo you in honor.”
Then he says, “Seek to show hospitality.” Hospitality is not the ability to decorate and show a good party. Are you tracking? Hospitality is not, “Now that it’s fall, thank God it’s here.” It’s not putting fake leaves on the table with pumpkins. That’s not hospitality, although it is nice. Hospitality is living in such a way that I reveal with my life that you matter to me. That’s hospitality. You matter. Where you are matters. Your relationship with Christ, where you are with him, that matters. So let’s go grab a cup of coffee, give me a call, let me know how you’re doing, because you matter to me. Get into my house. Bring your family to my house. That’s hospitality, and we are to seek it.
That is active not passive, which means sometimes you’re going, “Hey, I’m coming to your house for dinner Tuesday. I like my steak medium rare. If I have to put sauce on it you cooked it wrong.” That’s hospitality. I care about you. I want to know what’s going on in your life. I need to know how you’re doing. That’s hospitality. The Bible says the gospel creates this people. This people is called the church. This is what the church is. So already you should be going, Well wait a minute. I’ve been to church. That’s not church. We’ll get there, all right? It’s a long series. Eight weeks.
Now that we’ve shown this is what God has done (he has created a new people and that new people is called the church) this week I want to get into why he created that people. So let’s go to Matthew, chapter 5, starting in verse 13. “You are the salt of the earth…” Now let’s just stop, and don’t panic. I promise it’ll go much faster than it appears it’s going to go. “You are the salt of the earth…” Now what happens to us because we live in 2012 is we read that and we’re not quite sure what to do with it. Are we the flavor of the earth? Because you and I use salt primarily as a flavor additive. Correct?
Again, I like to just see what we’re dealing with here. How many of you have more than one refrigerator? Don’t be embarrassed. You have that one in the garage. That’s legit. Or you have that deep freeze out there. Okay. What we have that they did not have are refrigerators, the ability to preserve our food via refrigeration. They don’t have that in the first century, so salt is not primarily a flavor additive; it is primarily a preservative.
When they hear, “You are the salt of the earth,” they’re not hearing you are the flavor of the earth, but rather you are a preservative on earth; that your function as a people is to serve the purposes of God as a preservative to culture at large. You are agents of change and agents of redemption. That’s who you are. You are salt to the world. You preserve.
Now look at this next line and we can do some talk here, because scientifically this is impossible. “…but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” This is why it’s important for you to understand this talking about being a preservative and not a flavor additive, because salt cannot scientifically lose its saltiness. There’s no process you can do to salt to make salt not be salty. So what he’s talking about here is if salt is a preservative, it’s talking about the dilution of salt.
One of the ancient processes of thievery that still exists today is to take a pure substance and to cut it with impure substances. So you take marijuana and you take out half the bag and you fill the other half with oregano. Now you have two bags. Some of you know what I’m talking about and some of you don’t. It’s okay either way. What you do is you dilute the purity of the substance with another substance that kind of looks like it.
So what would happen is someone would grab a large bag of salt where you were able to take that salt, rub down the meat you were trying to preserve with that salt, and it would keep and it would preserve the meat. But if the salt had been cut, if the salt had been diluted, if the salt was a weaker form of salt but still looked to be salt, and you took it and you rubbed it on what you were trying to preserve, the meat would rot because what you didn’t have was pure salt.
So what Jesus just said is, “You are a preservative. You are an agent of change and redemption. But if salt has been diluted, if salt has been cut, if it has lost its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” Then look at what he says, because I think this is really important: “It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
I know there is a desire and I don’t think the desire is bad… I’ll just use me. I want people to like me. Anybody else? I don’t want to be disliked. If you want to be disliked, something is wrong with you. If you’re like, I just want people to hate me, that’s revealing you have a sick heart. Some people do this because they want to control rejection. You’re just mean and short and curt and cruel because it’s a defense mechanism of your heart. You’re afraid of being rejected so you’ll just control the rejection, and you become a self-fulfilling prophet. But by and large we want to be liked. I want to be liked.
When God saved me though, he put me at odds with the world I live in. He has made me an alien and a stranger on the planet in which I live. So the temptation is for me to try to make peace with the world I live in. I don’t want to be an agitator, but to try to make peace. What he says here is when you step away from the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that he has made a way unto salvation to all who would believe, repent, and put their trust in him… When you shy away from that and you try to remove the offense of the gospel, then your purpose as an agent of change and redemption ceases to exist and there will be no respect for you whatsoever. You’ll be trampled under the boots of men.
I don’t want to name denominations or things like that because it’s an over-generalization. There are pockets of life almost everywhere. But historically speaking, when mainline denominations have said, “We know the Bible says this but we’re not going to walk in this anymore; we’re going to walk like this, because we think this is a stumbling block to people coming to know Jesus Christ. We’re going to give Jesus a makeover. We’re going to kind of change what he thinks about some things, because we think it’s more palatable for this time”… When you do that, we’ve lost our ability to be agents of change and agents of redemption because there’s nothing to be redeemed from.
So where does this being salt take place? I think it can take place all over the place, but let me tell you primarily where it takes place. Ready? This is easy. It takes place where you are. How many of you are in education? Medical? Law? Business? Housewives? Househusbands? This is where salt takes place. You are a faithful witness where you are. You walk in integrity where you are. You refuse to enter in to what is sinful where you are. By doing that, you are a preserving agent of change whom God will use for the redemption of other men and women.
I’ll tell you where hostility will begin. Some of the most awkward rooms I have been in are not because my mouth got me there (although that has happened), but rather simply because I said, “No, thank you.” I have been in places where… Not so much anymore. People know who I am and know what I do now, so they don’t tend to offer the pastor things that are blatantly sinful. But early on, I’d be in rooms and, “Hey man, we’re going to go do this. Do you want to come?”
“No, thank you.”
“Are you judging me?”
“No, I just said, ’No, thank you.’”
“You think you’re better than me?”
“What? No. I’m just not going to do that. I mean, go free, I’ll bail you guys out, but I’m not going.” Now all of a sudden I’m judgmental and I think I’m better than them because I said, “No, thank you.” Now let me tell you what that is. It’s conviction, and I’m going to have to stand up under the weight of that rejection, trusting that my identity is found in Christ and I don’t need you to like me. I have one who eternally is going to matter, and I want to be faithful to that one. This is one of the ways we’re salt. We walk in integrity. We walk in uprightness.
Here’s something to consider. We’re kind of all over the map in scale of saltiness, aren’t we? I’ll say it like this: No one in here is batting a thousand this week in regard to holiness, correct? No one is batting a thousand. I’m not even going to argue with you. Put your hands down. You’re not batting a thousand. You have sinned. You’re not so externally morally pure and upright that people are like, I don’t think this dude has ever made a mistake. You’re not that guy. That guy doesn’t exist.
So what marks us then as salt? It’s a seriousness about holiness that marks our lives with continual, habitual, and nearly constant confession and repentance. It is not that I am perfect; it’s that I know I am not. As the weight of the Scriptures and as God reveals via the Christian community and the Word of God that I am falling short of what he would have for me, I am habitually repenting of that, leaning harder into grace, and being transformed by God’s acceptance of me despite my shortcomings, and that starts to transform me. We must be people who are serious about holiness. We pursue it.
Now how do you know if you’re serious about holiness? Again, confession and repentance mark the life that’s serious about holiness. External moral perfection will not be yours in this life. It’s not coming. You’re going to grow. Some of you are just kind of crawling. Some of you are walking but wobbly. Others of you are jogging. Some of you are full-on running, but even the full-on runner is going to trip every now and then.
So we lean hard into the grace of God, and that continually transforms us more and more and more into the image of his Son, but we must be serious about our holiness. Grace does not make the man or woman of God complacent about being conformed into the image of his Son. Are you with me? If you’re using grace as an excuse to not be serious about holiness, you don’t understand grace.
We are the salt of the earth, but that’s not all he says we are. Look at where he goes next. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
So not only are we an agent of change, an agent of redemption where we are…at work, in our neighborhood, at our kids’ games, in our apartment complex, with our roommates, among our college friends… Not only are we agents of change and redemption, but we are, according to this passage, the light of the world. Now we have to do some biblical work here. The Light of the World we know from the Gospels is Jesus Christ.
Your good deeds are not the light of the world. You’re not the light of the world. You’re not the one who’s going to save anyone. You need to get that weight off of you. The world has a Savior; it happens to not be you. But as adopted sons and daughters, we are a reflector of that perfect Light. You and I reflect the light of Jesus Christ. According to this text, as we are actively seeking holiness, as we are in the places he has put us, acting as a preservative to culture at large, you and I are reflecting the goodness and grace of God by living in such a way that reveals and shows there is something greater than us in the universe.
So with our free time, with our money, with our gifts and abilities, with our lives, we live in such a way that says, “There’s something greater than me. There’s something more important than me.” That alone is like one of those 10,000-watt light cannons in this dark world, because the message of this world is it is all about you. You’ve earned it. You deserve it. Why shouldn’t you have it? Isn’t that the message we get? You’re being force-fed it with every billboard and every commercial.
But the man or woman of God reflects the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ by living in such a way that says, “There’s something better than this world. There’s something better than this life. There’s something more important than me that I’m living for.” What the Bible says is that when the world sees these good works coming from the preserving agent of the church, then they will glorify God who is in heaven.
There are a lot of different ways I think you can be light in the Metroplex. In fact, I know of hundreds and hundreds of different ways individuals are doing it here at the church. But in our time together today I wanted to give you just one example. Carly Pickens is one of our covenant members. She started this deal called Champions of Hope down in Dallas. They do phenomenal work among the young men and women, the young children down there in Dallas, so I want to highlight Champions of Hope, and then I’ll be back out to wrap up our time together today. So this is Carly Pickens and Champions of Hope.
Carly Pickens: Champions of Hope is an organization that matches Christian men and women with children in the South Dallas neighborhood. The goal of Champions of Hope is that through the course of several years of a relationship with that mentor and child, that the gospel would go forth in that relationship and the gospel would transform both the mentor, the adult, and the child, and hopefully the family of the child as well.
We’ve gone into South Dallas and matched over 100 children with men and women who feel a call to go and serve in an area of their own city and to make disciples. We are there for the gospel of Jesus Christ, that there would be an overflow of academic success in the children we mentor, that there would be an overflow that they would become great leaders of their community one day as they grow up, an overflow that they would be better siblings, better friends, better children to the parents they have, and that they would just be transformed by the gospel that is presented to them through this mentoring relationship.
The way you can become involved with Champions of Hope is by mentoring a child. The commitment is at least two years, seeing that child at least twice a month. So we would take you into the home of the child to match you up and meet the family and get to know them on the first day, and just start that relationship of building trust with that child and with that family. What comes after that is just whatever the Lord stirs you to do, spending time with that child, whether it be at a park, or working on their homework, or bringing them to church, or you visiting their church, just anything the Lord puts on your heart to spend time with that child.
Those relationships formed when a child meets a mentor are mutually transforming, and we see it’s not just the child who’s impacted, but the mentor is transformed as well. So if you want to become involved in Champions of Hope, just go to our website, www.championsofhopedallas.org, and look up the upcoming orientations we hold monthly throughout the school year, and come out to hear more about Champions of Hope and discipleship and relationships that will transform your heart as well as the heart of a child.
[End of video]
Matt Chandler: One of the reasons I really love that ministry and several others here at The Village is this is one of those places where we’ve seen young boys and girls who have come out of backgrounds that would be hard for many of us to fathom, not only feel loved and safe and protected but actually come to know Jesus Christ and are growing in their love and knowledge for him. For such a young woman to be so selfless in how she’s living her life always just moved my soul and made me feel a bit lazy. Sometimes I look at 22- or 23-year-olds leading us and I’m like, What in the world, man? Let’s go.
I’m so proud of Carly. We are the salt of the earth, but the Scriptures already gave us a bit of warning. If that salt loses its saltiness, if it is diluted, if it is not what it appears, if it’s half salt and half something else, if it’s a quarter salt and three-quarters something else, then it has lost its ability to be what God has called it to be. So I wanted to ask you some questions as we move towards worshiping the Lord in song once again.
How are things with you and Jesus right now? You know this isn’t about your behavior, right? It’s about your relationship with Jesus Christ. Do you have one? Maybe these will help. How’s the life of your mind? Who are you when no one else is around? That’s a scary question. Not who you are right now, not who you are sitting next to your wife, sitting next to your husband, not sitting next to your friends, sitting next to your buddy. That’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking who are you when there’s no one else around? It’s just you and your thoughts. No accountability; just you. Who are you? Are you a lover of God, pursuer of truth, walking in purity? Any defilement there?
Christ just said that if salt loses its saltiness, it’ll be trampled by men. Some of you, I think, have come in here today trampled, just a bit banged up, a bit run over. Here’s the good news, because I’m not trying to put weight on you; I’m trying to take weight off of you. Here’s why the cross should always lead to an explosion of worship towards our God: Because nothing you would confess and repent of today would surprise God at all. He already knows. For the believer in Christ to confess unto Christ is no risk. Are you with me? It’s no risk.
Now the reason that’s important to know is because there is risk when we confess to other humans, isn’t there? Like if we come clean to our friend, our neighbor, our spouse… We go, “This is where my heart has been. This is where my life has been. This is what I’ve been thinking. This is what I’m doing when nobody else is around. This is an addiction I have. This is a struggle I have.” There is a possibility that man, that woman, does not see that confession through the lenses of the gospel, and the relationship could be broken and rejection could occur. That’s possible, and I think a lot of us have probably tasted some of that.
Now that doesn’t happen with God. You do not send God, with your confession, into a vortex of doubt about whether or not he should love you. The cross stands as this beautiful screaming reality that God knows. He knows, and he has made a way. So if there are impurities, if there are these areas, you are a fool for holding on to them when God already knows and has given you an out. You’re allowing weight to sit on your soul that God goes, “Hey, I can curl more than you. Why don’t you let me handle that? I can carry more than you. I’ve paid for that. Do you want to give it to me?”
So if you’ve come in and you have some impurities, there will be an opportunity near the end today for you to pray with people and talk with people. Don’t leave here without having confessed and repented of that. Don’t leave here without doing that. I don’t know why you would. He already knows. You’re not going to surprise him. You already know he knows, which is why you feel a bit of shame and guilt. So let’s confess and let’s repent and let’s take seriously the call of God to holiness.
But we’re also the light of the world. We are reflectors of the glory of God, and the way we reflect is to live lives that shine out that there’s something more important than us. There are a thousand different ways to do that. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Champions of Hope, but I’m familiar with how we’re wired as humans, so I just wanted to tee one up for you. I wanted you to not have to go, I just don’t know how to go about that.
I know at least in Flower Mound and down in Dallas there’s a table out in the foyer. Carly was here last night. She might even be out there again today. All you have to do is go out and go, “I’m in.” Now I’m not trying to guilt you into that. In fact, if guilt is your motive, you’ll make an awful volunteer. You’ll show up the first two times and then vanish, and the last thing we’re doing to one of those little boys and little girls is that. So if your motive is guilt, no, thank you.
But if the Holy Spirit of God stirred up in your heart and you’re going, “You know what? This is where I’m going to spend some of my time. I have so many hours in the day, so many hours in the month, and here’s where I’m going to spend some of that, to be light to the world and to pour myself out into someone who is less fortunate than I am, who has not been given what I have been given, in the hopes that they will be given what I have been given.” You’re the light of the world.
Now in the next eight weeks we’re going to perpetually look at who the bride is supposed to be, who the church is supposed to be as salt and light. Some of it’s going to be unpleasant, man. We’re going to talk about what happens when you walk in bitterness and unforgiveness. I’m not telling you which weekend that is. We’re going to talk about marriage and how marriage was designed by God to function, how we’re to serve one another, what to do with divorce. We’re going to talk about that.
We’re going to talk about lust. We’re going to talk about where our treasure is. We’re going to talk about these things, and this entire series of messages is going to push us more and more and more into the grace and mercy of God as we have the Scriptures lay us bare that we’re falling short, and marvel at God’s love for us despite our falling short, and might we take holiness all the more seriously and the commands of God all that more seriously so we might be much more salty than we are, and that we might reflect much more brightly than we do. Let’s pray.
Jesus, I thank you for these men and women. I thank you, Father, that you’ve called us into this place. Holy Spirit, I ask you to do what only you can do, that you would open up our hearts and open up our eyes. We’ve come into this place and we’ve been diluted. There are parts of our lives, God, that aren’t salt. There’s a lack of seriousness about holiness. There are areas of unconfessed sin. There are secrets in our lives. I pray you would do such a work that we wouldn’t leave with those secrets; that we would confess to you and to someone else so that this might lose some of its power. Help us, Jesus. It’s through your beautiful name we pray, amen.
I love you guys.