Female: The kingdom of God is as multifaceted and mysterious as our Creator, a kingdom we only see now through a glass darkly. Though we can’t picture it fully, God’s kingdom is the story told in Scripture, from the garden to the city, and in the middle of the story God chose to reveal his kingdom in a new way.
The gospel is not only Jesus coming and dying to save us from our sins; it’s also the story of God establishing his dwelling, dominion, and dynasty in the world. We live as both citizens and strangers, prisoners of hope in this shadow kingdom, all while knowing it’s not our true home, that something better is coming, that God’s perfect kingdom is coming.
[End of video]
Good morning! If you have your Bibles, go ahead and grab those. We’re going to be in Luke, chapter 24. If you don’t have a Bible, there should be a hardback black one somewhere around you. Like I like to say every week, I want you to see I’m not making any of this up. So if you will grab that, I want to talk this morning (surprise!) about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
You might think in church you don’t really need to do that because we’re folk who understand and know that, but my experience now 20 years pastoring in the Bible Belt is you can’t really take anything for granted. I had a man one time tell me he was a Christian because he was born in San Antonio.
I know other people who think they’re Christians because they’re conservative Republicans. Others believe they’re Christians because their parents were Christians. Others still have this strange, “I’m a Christian simply because internally I diagnose myself as being moral and upright” without any really legitimate evidence to support that other than the person’s own gut feeling.
On the other side of that, I have met plenty of people who believe they can’t be loved by God and wouldn’t be welcome in a place like this because of this in their background, this struggle they’re enduring, or this issue in their lives. What it shows is a real misunderstanding on what Christianity is, what the Bible teaches, and what we should hear and take away from the Word of God.
I want to talk about the resurrection in a way that I hope can help us reorient around the God of the Bible and the good news of the gospel. That video you just watched, if you think that’s weird, let me explain it. This is week five in a 12-week series we’ve been doing on the kingdom of God. We have been talking over the last four weeks leading up to this week about dwelling, dominion, and dynasty.
I want to kind of unpack those three concepts for you when we’re thinking about the kingdom of God, and then we’ll dive into our text. When we talk about dwelling, here’s what we’re talking about. When we talk about the kingdom of God, the grand scope of God’s rule and reign, we’re saying you and I as created beings have been created by a God for that God. Therefore, our hearts are only ultimately at home when we are in the presence of God.
In fact, we’ve argued for weeks now that the whole Bible could be boiled down to three words: God with us. It’s the story of the Bible. If you look in Genesis, you have the garden of Eden and…what? God with his people. Unfettered, unblocked, enjoyed by his people. He created them for him, and he himself is their peace.
Then from there, his people rebelled against him. What is God’s response to that? He comes back after them and establishes the tabernacle in the book of Exodus where now you have God among his people again. Then they rebel again, and then Christ comes (God in the flesh, second person of the Trinity). What do you have? God with us.
Then the Holy Spirit at the ascension of Christ is sent to indwell the hearts of the followers of Jesus. Here we go again: God with us. What we’ll have in the book of Revelation when Christ returns making all things new, you have…what? God with us. This is the story of the Bible. It’s for what you were created. It’s for what I was created. When we talk about the kingdom of God, this is what we’re talking about: dwelling in the presence of God.
But it’s not just dwelling; it’s also dominion. There is a purpose and a plan behind your life that is greater than the thinness of our day. I’ll unpack that a little bit more here in a bit. The things we’re putting hope in, the things we’re pursuing, there’s a thinness to them that we can kind of feel if we’re honest, a hollowness to it all.
What we believe from the Word of God is this dwelling with God leads then into what we would call dominion or that God has a purpose for our life, a plan for our life that is not outside of our life but actually embedded inside of our life. Some of us are going to go to the ends of the earth heralding the good news of the gospel to people who don’t know it, and others of us are going to be good lawyers, teachers, businessmen, welders, and trash men for the glory of Jesus Christ. This is dominion.
Lastly, when we’re talking about the kingdom of God, we’re talking about a dynasty and belonging to a dynasty, that God has saved us to himself. Our future is not playing a harp in a cloud but rather ruling and reigning alongside King Jesus forever in ever-increasing joy. When we’ve been talking about the kingdom, that’s what we’ve been talking about.
When it comes to the resurrection, there are so many different ways to kind of approach the resurrection. We could just talk about what the resurrection has done on a purely, kind of, “You can see it” level, which is 2,000 years, 2.4 billion Christians, a third of the world’s population claims Christ as king. Those are stunning numbers for a homeless man in Galilee.
I mean, we could just say that’s a pretty stunning marketing plan from a peasant who was killed via capital punishment by the Roman Empire, but I actually want to go underneath that. I want us to look at the resurrection and show how it kind of completes and establishes confidence in the Christian life in view of dwelling, dominion, and dynasty.
With that said, let me highlight this before we read Luke 24. Christians believe this regardless of the weather. Do you hear me? Christians believe this regardless of the weather. The week here at The Village Church has been a busy one: funerals, memorial services, up to the hospital to visit people who just got the call they hoped never to get.
Here’s what I can tell you. Through it all (through the highs and the lows), regardless of life stage and experience, I have just seen men and women full of the Holy Spirit cling to God with us in a way that’s not rooted in or tied to their circumstances. It’s a really powerful thing. We believe this stuff. We’re, in fact, peculiarly confident in it.
We’re just going to stand on the hopes of God with us, whether we have a lot of money or we have no money, whether we’re healthy or whether we’re sick, whether our relationships are good or whether our relationships are rocky. We cling to God with us, the hope of glory. So from where does that confidence come? Where is it birthed? Let’s look at this. Luke 24, starting in verse 1.
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.
And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ’Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’ And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.
Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.”
Now one of the things as a Christian that kind of comes in view to me every year about the resurrection of Jesus Christ is people who do not want to believe Jesus is Lord of Lords and King of Kings have to develop these really kind of wonky theories about what happens here, not because there are so many Christians in the world but because there is so much historicity around the resurrection, tangible evidences of a literal resurrection that secular people have to come up with counter theories.
I have found the theories to be not compelling. I’ll just throw out a couple of quick ones to you. One (and I’m not making this up) is they just forgot which tomb they put him in. One of my favorites is called the “swoon theory.” He didn’t actually die. I mean, somehow in that tortured, blown-up, brutalized physical state, he figured out how to move the stone, overcome Roman guards, and then crawl his battered, busted body back toward his disciples and somehow embolden them toward martyrdom.
It’s called the “swoon theory,” and there have been papers written on it. It’s a legitimate theory legitimate historians have come up with to go, “We cannot worship this man as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, so something other than a resurrection has to happen here.” It’s desperation.
If that’s the kind of stuff you love, let me just commend to you N.T. Wright’s work, The Resurrection of the Son of God. It’s 850 pages of deliciousness, gets into the historicity of the resurrection, and helps you understand why by AD 351, 51 percent of the Roman Empire claimed Christ as King, and that’s before Constantine. What I want to address, though, is something underneath all of that, which is the spiritual dimension of these things and how it ties into dwelling, dominion, and dynasty. Here’s my first point of three.
Because Jesus was resurrected from the grave, then our dwelling with Christ is secure. Now this out of everything else I’m going to say today is the best news imaginable. Here’s why. You’re going to be able to relate to this regardless of your background. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God has placed eternity into the hearts of man. Now what that means is you and I for our whole lives have had a longing for something not present that will satisfy us. It’s not something that’s 50 years down the road. It’s something that’s right there.
It’s like we have these baby T. rex arms, and we just can’t seem to grab it. It’s just right there. It’s not 30 years into the future. It’s just, “Man, if I could just get this promotion, if I could just get this house, if I could just fix this, if I could just grab this, if I could just have a little bit more of this…” It’s just right there, and we can’t ever seem to get it.
We just can’t grasp it, can’t get it in such a way that it quiets that. Even if we do grab what we thought we wanted, it only gives way to the next thing we think we want. You cannot throw wealth, you cannot throw sex, you cannot throw comfort, you cannot throw people into the chasm of eternity and expect it to fill that void. It’s too big.
Augustine, who is my ancient friend, was the bishop of Hippo. That’s northern Africa. I think so many of us have a Eurocentric view of Christianity, and yet the Ethiopian church, Constantinople, and Northern Africa were a powerful force in the early church. Augustine (one of those) said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
The greatest barrier you and I have to being what we were designed to be and experiencing then the peace, love, and joy that comes from being where we’re supposed to be is sin and rebellion against God. Now we want to chalk it up to other things, right? We want to wish Mom and Dad had done this, wish we had more money. Or our problems are other people; our problems are outside of ourselves.
Yet the Bible is clear and I would argue your experience with yourself if you’re not a self-consumed narcissist has been you lie to you more than anybody else does. You let yourself down more than anybody else lets you down. You are your own worst enemy, and yet in the face of that reality, we will still look outside of ourselves for what’s broken inside of ourselves. The Bible is going to say that brokenness is sin and your rebellion against Christ as King.
The resurrection has revealed to you and me that barrier is gone. That thing that keeps us out of what we were most designed for and what our heart is most desperate to possess has been removed in the resurrection of Jesus. It’s not in the cross of Jesus; it’s the resurrection of Jesus. The cross of Jesus shows you the price of sin; the resurrection shows you your bill has been paid in full.
If Christ is still in the ground, then sin and death reign. But because he is not in the ground but he is resurrected, then the invitation to commune, abide, dwell with God is available. Now listen to me, because I just so want us to get this in ways I don’t think we get this. As sons and daughters of the Enlightenment, I am not talking about knowing facts about Jesus. That is not what the resurrection has secured. Abiding, communing, knowing Jesus.
Gosh! If there were ever a generation that should know the difference between knowing about and knowing, it’s ours. We have the Internet. The Internet can produce for us… By the way, I’m not anti-tech. My notes are on an iPad. “Oh, this is one of those guys.” I’m not one of those guys, or I would have gotten a Netflix app.
In this, the Internet can make us feel like we’re connected in ways we are not connected. We can know enough facts about people (tell me I’m lying here) to actually begin to feel like we know that person, having never met them, having never spent any time with them. We just feel like we know them.
I mean, gosh! The kind of knowledge you can possess now in a Wikipedia search used to be illegal to acquire. They’re like following a guy around, seeing what his wife likes. “What does he like to eat at dinner? He keeps posting those pictures, so I know how he likes his steak. Is he a whiskey guy or a scotch guy? What is he?” You know, you just learn all these facts about a person, and you absorb those facts. Then you can kind of get this feeling you know the person.
Now listen to me. That is not what the resurrection of Christ has guaranteed you and me. What we have been guaranteed, what’s possible for us, is to commune with God. It’s not connect with him but commune with him. It not a quick phone call and then off to do your work. Wherever you go, there he is.
To abide in his presence is what you’re hungry for. If church hasn’t worked for you, my guess is you have missed out on what you have been born to have, which is his presence. There is an experiential side of our faith that should not be neglected. Look at me. There is an experiential side of our faith that should not be neglected. I’m a man of the Book, and the Book tells us that. You have been created to abide, commune, dwell in the presence of God.
I know you’re looking at me, and you’re like, “Speaking of the Internet, I looked you up. You don’t have any seminary degree,” I’m glad you brought that up. Well, let’s let Jesus teach us then. I’m not sure he went to seminary either, but whatever. Here we go. John 15, starting in verse 4: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide…” That word is remain.
“…in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Now what’s great about this is you look at that little phrase, “…bears much fruit…” You start searching the Scripture. Here’s what he is talking about. The apostle Paul writing to the churches at Galatia said, “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Who in this room would look at that list and go, “Yeah, no thank you. Love? I’d like a little bit more cynicism rather than love. Peace? I’d like to be so anxious out of my mind they have to up my meds again. I don’t want peace, rest of soul. No, thank you. Patience”? Listen, I have three kids. I need patience, or I might go to jail.
These things our heart is so desperate for, the Bible is saying, “You want those things? You need to abide in the presence of Jesus Christ, not know some facts about him, not be able to talk about his life.” To know him, commune with him, dwell with him…this is what the resurrection has guaranteed for us.
Our hearts are restless until we get in this space. God, help us. I think the church by and large does a lousy job at teaching us how to do this, but this is what your heart is most hungry for, not facts. I am not anti-facts, and I think those facts actually help me abide all the more. I’m not trying to pit experience versus theology. I think anyone who does that is making a mockery of both ideas. I think good theology ushers us into a greater abiding in the presence of Jesus that helps us understand more fully who he is, what he has done, and his desire to dwell with us.
Now because it’s Easter, let’s chat for a second. I think when I talk like this, what happens is many of you are quick to turn me off because I don’t know you. Here’s just how insidious rebellion against God is. Here I am saying, “You’ve been invited in. The resurrection has guaranteed the temple veil torn in two, presence of God, abiding with Christ, being transformed, greater love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control. Against these things there is no law.”
You’re like, “You don’t know me, man. You don’t know where I’ve been, what I’ve done. That invitation isn’t extended to me. It’s extended to people who are more like you, have their stuff together.” I would just say back, “You don’t know me.” We’ll play the game for a second. Here’s how insidious pride is. Some people will so exalt their sinfulness as to make it more powerful than the God who has conquered sin and death.
Let’s just do this. Here you are. You’re like, “Oh, I don’t think I can abide in the presence of God. I don’t think I could commune with him. In fact, I’m nervous about even being here. I’m here like Christmas and Easter. I grew up in this stuff. In college, I turned my back. I just think none of this works. In fact, I think you’re doing this for the money.”
Then what I want to do is just go, “Oh, okay. So you have some things in your life. You feel like you’re not welcome in the presence of God. So let’s just look at the Bible honestly.” We have Moses. Can we just all agree the Lord kind of hung out pretty closely with Moses, spoke to him out of a burning bush, let him do all kinds of unbelievable miracles?
Did you know Moses killed a man with his hands? He murdered a man with his hands. I don’t know if you’ve ever killed anyone, but that’s like close-up on it. He murdered a man with his hands. Let’s take you and how awful you are that God couldn’t welcome you, love you, forgive you, and embrace you. Let’s just kind of put it on the scales. You have Moses murdering a guy with his hands. We have you doing whatever dumb thing you’re doing. Oh gosh! Yeah! Maybe! I mean, maybe God has changed since he loved Moses back in the Old Testament.
How about David, a man after God’s own heart? Here you are. Gosh, man! You have a foul mouth. You party a little bit here and there. God knows what you’ve done over here and over there. Then you have David who is an adulterer. I’ll just kind of put that on the scales here because God is still calling David “a man after my own heart.”
Then you have Peter, who is an avid denier of Christ. “I do not know the man. I do not know the man. Blankety-blank blank. I don’t know the man!” He also was a racist. Then here we have you. You guys are on the scale. One has shown unbelievable mercy and grace, and one is saying God doesn’t do such things.
Do you see how you lie to yourself? By the way, those are three of everyone but five guys in the Bible I could use. God’s great delight is pulling from that outer rim of darkness rebellious men and women and bringing them into the light. Your pride is telling you that you have outrun God, and I get to be the herald of good news telling you that you aren’t that fast.
The invitation to dwell, to commune, to be with is for you, wayward son or daughter. It’s for you! “I don’t want anything to do with this.” It’s for you! “I’d rather be my own god.” It’s for you! One of the better ways to think about this dwelling… By the way, I’m just going to quote C.S. Lewis here because I like him. “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
I love Lewis’ way of answering the ache. If nothing can solve this ache, maybe what solves this ache is something that’s not of this world. Now I want us to watch how this flows. If we’re talking about dwelling, dominion, and dynasty, I want you to watch how it flows. The real key to the Christian life is abiding in the presence of Jesus. Look at me. The real key to the Christian…
If you’ve never done that and you’re teetering on that edge… “I don’t know if this works. I don’t know if this is real.” I’m just asking you a question. Have you ever abided in the presence of Jesus? Have you communed with him? Do you know what it’s like to be with Jesus, or are you recycling facts in your head?
If I could give you an image of how dwelling leads to dominion, if you could imagine just a cup. Someone begins to pour water into that cup until the cup is full, and then the water keeps pouring. Then the water starts to pour down the outside of the cup, and now it’s on your favorite table, and now it’s on your best floors. Then the water just keeps… There’s no way to shut off that water. Then the water kind of spreads, and then heads out your front door. It follows you to work.
Wherever you go, your feet squish under the presence of God with us, the hope of glory. That’s dominion. It’s the understanding that wherever we go, Christ goes with us. It’s the belief that we have not just been saved from, but we have been saved for. Are you tracking with me? You have not just been saved from. You’ve been saved for. I’m growing more and more convinced that if our dwelling crisis doesn’t kill us, our understanding that wherever we go, we go with him, not getting that is also killing us. It’s killing the power in which God has asked us to walk.
You have been uniquely wired and uniquely placed by God. This is just the truth of it. I have three kids who have grown up in the same environment. All three of them have unique, intuitive gifts. They’re drawn to things that some things come easy to them that are really difficult for their brother or sister.
Now my guess is you’ve noticed that about yourself. You have some intuitive gifts. Maybe math is really easy for you. Maybe you’re creative. Maybe you can see things that aren’t there. Maybe you’re a high entrepreneur. Everywhere you look, you just see opportunity. Maybe as far back as you can think, you wanted to start a business, you wanted to be a mama, or you wanted to write. We could be all over the map on this.
I’m just telling you, out of Psalm 139, God is doing something spiritual in that longing that has everything to do with the kingdom of God. You’ve been uniquely wired and uniquely placed for the glory of God and your joy in the living out on mission birthed from dwelling and communing with Jesus Christ.
You can’t do this outside of dwelling and communing with Christ. It feels forced and fake. People become projects unless the love of Christ is flowing out of you. Then there’s no such thing as projects. They’re just people to love as image bearers and those who Christ himself loves.
I wonder if we can have an honest conversation. Okay, it won’t be much of a conversation. I think these two are so important for you, because I think if you don’t get them, you’re going to build your life on things that ultimately don’t matter. I’ll use this one. I’m looking around. We’re in varying life stages right now, but I want to be really honest with you. At 43 and pastoring a church this size, I’ve got to see it quite a bit.
You’re going to retire one day (look right at me), and not a lot of people are going to care. Oh, did you want me to follow that up with something? Okay. They’re going to hire someone younger than you for less than they pay you, and they’re going to let him make the same mistakes you made at this age now. Then he will retire, and no one will even remember who you are or that you were ever there.
If you’re like, “My name is on the building,” well, Amazon will have bought it by then, and no one will know who you are. This is the reality. This is what the writer of Ecclesiastes means when he says there’s no remembrance of former things. In fact, unless you’re an ancestry.com nerd, you probably have no idea who your great-great-grandparents were and how their lives have impacted who you are now.
You might even know their name, but a concept of their life and how their life has produced your life… I mean, your bents, your longings, what you’re about, what your family values are, you know that didn’t just combust with you at 32, right? That came from somewhere. From where did it come? You don’t know! Why? Because the kingdom we’ve been called to, the dominion we’ve been given, the dwelling we’ve been called to, they’re really the only thing (and this is what leads us to that third D) that ensures our future hope is secured.
Dwelling leads to dominion, and in that dominion while we dwell… By the way, this is the story of the Bible (this dominion concept, taking light with us, bringing order to chaos). If you look at Adam and Eve in the garden, what does God give them? The cultural mandate. He says to them, “Fill the earth, and subdue it. Bring order to chaos. Bring light into darkness.”
Then he establishes the tabernacle. Remember we went through this once. He establishes the tabernacle. What does he give them right after the tabernacle? The law. We hate the law in 2018. Any kind of, “Do this. Don’t do that” feels foreign to us. “Get off me! I need to decide for me what’s right for me.” Tell me that isn’t the mantra of our age. I’d just like to kind of ask how that’s working for us.
David in the Bible talks about the law in different ways. In fact, in Psalm 16, one of my favorite sentences around the law of God is, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” For David, God is saying, “Thou shalt,” and, “Thou shalt not.” He looked at it as, “These boundaries are beautiful.” In another text, he said they were like honey on his lips, and he couldn’t help but think about them when he laid in bed at night.
When was the last time you did that (just laid in bed and were like, “Those Ten Commandments are like legit! I can’t even sleep those Ten Commandments are so good! I see what the Lord is doing with that. I get what he is trying to do in that Leviticus, chapter 18”)? The picture of David and the saints of God were, “Oh, thank God he has made known to us the path of life.”
For what was the law given? Now if you remember Exodus, if you were here when we did this study, the Promised Land was situated right between all the ancient Near East superpowers. Here’s God being God, established a Promised Land for them, gives them the law to live as a counterculture among the wildness of the world’s cultures. For what reason? For the sake of the world.
Not to shame the world but to invite the world into the order God has established from the beginning. Then Jesus comes, and he preaches the Sermon on the Mount. By the way, we start that next week for six weeks. That’s how citizens of the kingdom live and all the more makes us peculiar and strangers in the times in which we live.
Then when Christ sends the Holy Spirit… Before he sends the Holy Spirit and he is ascending, what does he say? “Go into all the nations and…” Do what? “Preach the good news of the gospel. Make disciples, followers of mine.” Then the last sentence, which everybody likes to leave off. “…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” More on that next week.
Here is the message of the Bible. Dwelling is breathing in; dominion is breathing out. “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Even in breathing out that breath we took in goes with, which then leads to that last piece, that dynasty of which you and I are a part.
Maybe this will help. When I first became a Christian, I lacked some concepts that after living for quite a while studying and preaching, you begin to learn Jesus is this inexhaustible wealth. He is completely different than anything else in the universe. Everything else can get exhausted or exhausting.
Even the best comforts of this world, someone somewhere is bored with them. It is no big deal anymore, but Jesus is other than. He is holy. He is infinite in his capacity to increase our joy. I say all that because when I first became a Christian, we would sing the fourth verse in “Amazing Grace.” The stanza was…
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.
As a 20-year-old, I had this internal panic attack. I was like, “Ten thousand years, and there’s no time off the clock? What am I going to do if 10,000 years in, there are no less days? What do I do with that?” That was before I understood that what eternal life is is ever-increasing joy that can only be experienced as greater-increasing joy forever and there never be any deficit in the Godhead.
With that as the dynasty I’ve been invited into, with that as my future, what does the world have to offer me today? What sorrow could befall me today that on that day isn’t (as the book of Revelation says) the former things are remembered no more? Here’s what’s great about this dwelling, dominion, dynasty. If you are in Christ, eternal life has already begun. This ever-increasing joy has already started. It doesn’t start upon physical death but is even now, Christian, growing in you.
Again, this goes back to we believe this. We believe this in suffering. We believe this in rejoicing. We believe this when everything is going our way, and we believe this when nothing is going our way. We believe this when there’s money in the bank, and we believe this when there’s not. We believe this when marriage is awesome, and we believe this when marriage is hard. We believe this when the kids seem to be lining up well, and we believe this when they start to wild out a bit.
We believe this at work, and we believe this at home. We believe this when we’re doing our hobbies, and we believe this when we’re just trying to rest. This defines us. Let me start to wrap up our time just with a couple of things. Look right at me. We’re almost there. You have been designed in the deepest part of who you are for the presence of God. The creator God of the universe built you to run on his presence. You can run on other things; you’re just going to break down.
What you’ve been designed for and what your soul is most hungry for is communion. It’s not connection; it’s communion with our Savior. It’s not a one-off on Sunday or 10 minutes at your kitchen island to start the day but a perpetual abiding in Jesus. We need to teach on that more. I think we do a bad job. I’m going to try to do better just teaching how we go about doing that because that’s a very different thing than, “Have a quiet time in the morning.” Isn’t it?
By the way, “quiet time” always sounded like punishment. I don’t know if you grew up on that. “You sit there and think about Jesus. Read your Bible a little bit.” It always sounded like you had done something wrong. That’s why I like abiding, communion. That’s what the Lord is after. You’ve been designed for this.
On top of that, the thinness of work and having a job just to pay your bills… No, no, no. You can toss that away because really what you’ve been called to is to bring order to chaos, light to darkness in the domain in which God has placed you as you came out of the womb with an intuitive bent toward whatever domain you’re in.
Have you ever noticed that people who stink at math never wanted to be CPAs? You never met a guy who was like, “My dream was crushed.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I mean, growing up my whole life, I just wanted to be a controller. I wanted to be a CFO. I wanted to be…”
“Well, man, what happened?”
“Gosh! I can’t add. I stink at math.”
You never met that guy. Why? Because the person who intuitively sees math like Neil saw the Matrix is drawn to environments where that skill set is applauded and taken advantage of. If you’re like, “Gosh! I’m not getting my purpose from work,” great! Because you’re not supposed to. That’s great news. You actually are bringing your purpose to work. Does that make sense? You’re not deriving it from; you’re taking it to.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a janitor, a trash man, or the CEO. All work is sacred work because you work for the Lord and not for man. You just rejoice as you sweep, as you sit in a board meeting, as you weld a pipe, as you teach kids with helicopter parents. I mean, “Amen!” or, “Ouch!” I live here too!
The cup overflows right into work. This is the dynasty in which we find our lives caught up. Here’s my invitation. If you’ve been hanging out with us for a while, you’ve been at the church, you’ve heard the gospel. Maybe you were like me. When I started getting not dragged to church but brought to church by a friend of mine, I had a list of about 30 questions the Lord was going to need to answer if I was going to believe in him. I think about that now and chuckle at myself because I just think the Lord was like, “This guy…wow!”
Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’re just like, “Uh, you know, I hear what you’re saying. I kind of want that to be true, but I don’t know what to do about this. I don’t know what to do about this. I don’t know what to do about this.” Here’s the way I want to encourage you. I don’t want to encourage you not to have doubt and not to ask questions. In fact, I want to commend you for being a thinker and invite you into asking those questions all the more.
What I want to ask you to consider, though, if the Spirit of God is doing something in your heart is to lay your yes down, and then let’s ask those questions, having submitted ourselves to Christ as King. If your questions are about, “Is he a trustworthy, kind King?” I point you only toward the cross and then his resurrection for your sake. He is a benevolent, kind King because he died for your sins.
Would you lay your yes down? Then let’s talk about your questions. If not, questions can somehow be like a posture of rebellion. Again, if you know the Bible, the Pharisees would ask Jesus a question. He would nail them, and then they would just think of another question really quickly because they didn’t want to submit to him as Lord. It’s the swoon theory all over again. “I don’t want to submit to Jesus. Let me make something up so I don’t have to.”
I’m just saying no, no. Say yes. Say yes to Jesus as King. Then let’s ask the question of what to do with this difficult Old Testament text or, “How does this make sense?” or, “Why is the Christian sexual ethic what it is?” or, “Is this hate? What is this right here?” Let’s ask those questions under the banner of Christ’s kingly benevolent reign.
If you’re here and you’re just like, “Man, I don’t know if that’s where I am,” well, as Christians, we are all recipients of the hospitality of God. Here’s what I want to do. I want to extend our hospitality (the hospitality we have received) to you. When you walked in, you were given this little purple sheet. It just says, “A place to belong…community at The Village.”
There are two invitations on here I’m making to you, whether you believe or don’t believe. The first is what we call Home Groups. What Home Groups are here at The Village are not big Bible studies. They’re places we gather to “one another” one another. If that doesn’t make sense to you, these are environments that are meant to encourage, build up, hold accountable, pray for, and to talk through where we are in life and try to (by the grace of God) bring those things into alignment with the Word.
If you want Bible studies, we have classes galore. This is one of those places you can connect with other Christians. Here’s what I’ll tell you about Home Groups. Home Groups will at least have the possibility of having all the dysfunctions of home. I’m not trying to oversell this. When you go to a Home Group, let me tell you what you’re going to find there: people. Wherever they are (people), things are messy because people are there.
I want to encourage you that should embolden you to be a part. I’m not candy coating anything up here, am I? Gosh! We’re broken people clinging to Jesus Christ. That’s what we are. You’ll find us with good days and bad ,days as human as you can imagine. The only perfection here is the perfection of Christ. Maybe that will help you make sense if your hypocritical friend who brought you…
Your friend, by the grace of God, is doing the best they can with where they are, and Christ is sanctifying them over an extended period of time. That should make you feel more welcome, not less. That should help you understand the invitation of Jesus more than be repelled by the invitation. Because if he takes your hypocritical friend, he might just take you too (back to those… Moses or you).
If you’re like, “Where I am in life right now, I don’t think you want me around normal people,” first, I think you’re assuming the people in our Home Groups are normal. Second, let me lay before you the second invitation. Every Wednesday night from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. up here in this very room in Flower Mound (other campuses, they’ll be talking about where these things land at their campuses), we do something called Recovery.
Recovery is that place where, if you are broken… If something is short-circuiting… You have an addiction issue. You have bad relational issues. This is a place for you to come and just be honest about that. I’m just going to plead with you. If you’re a guest with us, we are not interested in being pretty. What I mean by that is not that we don’t work out and eat vegetables. What I’m saying is we don’t pretend we have everything together. We want to be really honest that we’re all clinging to Jesus.
Recovery is that place that if you think your story couldn’t be received well by what in your imagination you’re deeming “normal folks,” I would just invite you right into the heart and mess of The Village Church on Recovery, Wednesday nights from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Again, if you’re not a Christian, the reason we were losing our minds earlier, shouting, clapping, and singing, if that was weird to you, it’s because we’re celebrating this. What we were created for, we get to be in. In being in, dwelling with, communing with Jesus, we’re seeing our love grow, our peace grow, our patience grow, our joy grow. It’s not as fast as we want, but they’re growing, and they’re growing a lot faster than if we were just trying to will it.
I mean, God help you. Have you ever tried to increase your own patience? This is what we’re celebrating here. It’s not us. I’m not seeing anybody in this place walk with any kind of swagger. Gosh! We’re just trying to point you to this really beautiful thing that’s happened to us and invite you in. Let’s pray.
Father, thank you for our time together. I thank you that you have made a way for us. The great barrier of sin and rebellion against you has kept us from the thing for which our souls are most hungry. I do thank you for those who in this season are enduring a difficulty that is enabling them to see maybe for the first time in their life that they’re trying to fill the void in their heart with things that won’t work.
God, I pray you would just expose this where it lies, where we expect our spouse to be something our spouse was never meant to be, where we expect work to be what it’s not meant to be, children to be what they’re not meant to be, sex to be what it wasn’t meant to be, vacation to be what it wasn’t meant to be. You would bring into our mind’s eye, our heart’s eye an awareness that only in the abiding presence of Jesus will our soul find its rest.
I thank you for the invitation that you say all who are weary and heavy-laden are welcomed. What God extends that kind of invitation? “You’re broken, fragile, weary, addicted, foolish, dumb. You’re my people.” It’s a stunning thing to consider, and we bless your name for it. It’s for your beautiful name I pray, amen.