My Life is Hallel
I want to invite you to Luke chapter 19. I wanna tell you I’m going come a little heavy on the Scripture today because of the significance of what this represents to us. This is Palm Sunday leading into the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior. This is the anthem of our church. If you don’t celebrate today, no one else will, right? This is where we stake our banners in the ground and we just lift our flags in celebration for what God has done for us. This day is significant for our faith and your trust in that is highly significant when you consider the message in which God’s community stands on.
You think about what we proclaim as followers of Jesus, the story apart from the Spirit of God working in our life is a bit ridiculous. I mean you follow a man based on his death, burial, and resurrection, and proclamation that he himself is God capable of setting you free and promising you all of eternity in him. Not only is it a little bit crazy apart from the Spirit of God working in our lives and God revealing this to us in Scriptures. It’s unfolded. It’s also highly offensive. You know what Jesus said in his message. He told us that, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” By very nature of his message and his presence, he eliminates all other statements of truth and faith in this world by solidifying it in his identity. So what you believe about Jesus is very important.
Today what I want to focus on because today is Volunteer Sunday as it relates to Palm Sunday. I want to highlight the significance of Palm Sunday and sort of in with the idea of flavor of why this should matter to you in the way you live your life. When you think about this day, this day was defined by a moment in history that created a movement. It’s not a moment that we didn’t see foreshadowed, it was prophesied about. It was declared starting from Genesis Chapter Three through our whole of Scripture, but it solidified itself in this one singular act which Jesus was crucified for our sins. In this moment it created a movement, meaning God established his people built on the proclamation of his message, which we call the Gospel. It is a proclamation.
Today I want to talk about how that moment created a movement of which we are a part of and next week is Easter so you know what that’s going to be related to, right? I want to talk about the specifics of that moment next week and not only talk about it intellectually which I think it’s important. Why would you believe that? On what basis would you believe that? Then let that moment also affect our hearts in worship. So thinking about it today, Palm Sunday leading up to this moment that creates a movement in our lives. Luke Chapter 19 starts the events of Palm Sunday. It’s also in Matthew 21, but we’re gonna read it from Luke 19.
It says to us, “When Jesus approached Bethphage, and Bethany near the Mount that is called Olivet he sent two of his disciples saying, “Go into the village ahead of you. There as you enter you’ll find the colt tied on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you why you’re untying it, you shall say, “The Lord has need of it.” So those who were sent went away and found that just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord has need of it.” They brought it to Jesus and they threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.”
Jesus in these moments going into Jerusalem, he’s really demonstrating a couple aspects to the nature and character of his identity as he ascends into the city one final time. Riding on a colt was prophesied or riding on the back of a donkey was prophesied in Zechariah 9:9. That when the Messiah or the King would come he would come on the back of a donkey and an attitude of humbleness riding into the city. At the same time the idea of a donkey has precedent in the history of Israel. When you ride on a particular animal during the days of Jesus previous to this that animal often symbolized motive.
Meaning if you were somebody about to prepare for battle, going into war, I can tell you the animal that you probably don’t want to be on to be considered valiant as a warrior would be a donkey, right? You want to ride a horse and not just any horse, the biggest stinking horse that snorts so loud it scares everyone else around you, right? The horse is like the army tank of this time. When you read in Scripture in Revelation when Jesus returns, he returns on the back of a horse in a robe dipped in blood with a sword in King of Kings, Lord of Lords tattooed on his leg. I mean that is authority.
When he comes into Jerusalem for the last time he doesn’t come on horse. He comes on donkey, why? When you read the history of the donkey it was also an animal in which noble people would ride upon, an animal in which kings of Israel had been upon. The donkey was a symbol of peace and prosperity. It’s what you used within the context of your community when you were plowing the land when things were still. When the day to day of life was being taken care of. It’s also what a king would ride upon before his people as he presented himself to his people as a leader of peace coming to serve. It’s what King Solomon rode upon in First King’s Chapter One when he was first brought before the people of Israel as their King.
In this story Jesus is not only fulfilling prophecy as the identification of Messiah in Zechariah 9:9, he’s carrying with it the demeanor of what he presents to the people. He is a King coming in peace. The deliverance of his position in Israel would ultimately lead him to the cross, which would culminate in the establishment of peace in our relationship with God. Jesus was the identity of Shalom when coming to offer himself for our sin. A beautiful moment as he ascends into Jerusalem on the back of this donkey and you see within the context of these passages of Scripture that this moment it builds in the idea of these people you think, “What’s happening in Israel right now? People are descending on Jerusalem. This is the Passover.” This is where families gathered together and they brought a lamb into the temple and blood would literally flow like rivers out as they would make the sacrifice for their sins ultimately looking for the one lamb that would come as the Savior and the sacrifice for all sin.
Now these people making this pilgrimage into this city seeing this Messiah fulfilling Zechariah 9:9 on the back of the donkey and then the passage goes on and says this, “As he was going, they were spreading their cloaks on the road as if he is royalty. As soon as they, as he was approaching near the descent in the Mount of Olives the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles, which they had seen and they say this shouting, “Blessed is the King who’s coming in the name of the Lord. Peace in Heaven and Glory in the Highest.”
In Matthew 21:9 it throws this word Hosanna in front of it, which means salvation now. An interesting thought this moment as Jesus goes into Jerusalem, why is it the entire crowd can in one moment know to sing this section? Why this phrase? How do they orchestrate this together, unprepared, not knowing Jesus was necessarily descending into Jerusalem but as he comes into Jerusalem they’re praising God with this phrase. How did the crowd know?
Well, for them this wasn’t an unfamiliar passage. To them this was the section of the Bible of which they would chant during this period of life. The Jews had this section in the Psalms it’s called the Hallel. It starts in Psalm 113 and goes to Psalm 118. There are particular festivals. There are three pilgrimage-festivals that they have, one is this Passover Celebration. When they go to Jerusalem to celebrate this moment they sing Psalm 113 to 118. If you were to look at that section in Scripture and maybe even think about reading it this week, you can see that this section of Scripture it was written out of the heartbeat of the Passover Celebration.
When you look at what’s happening to God’s people in Egypt as slaves, God’s setting them free. Free miraculously, God given them an identity in him and a land to belong to him and saying to them, “Through you all nations would be blessed.” When you read Psalm 113 to Psalm 118, you can see in your mind, you can just picture it’s a journey of Israel from slaves to freedom in God. They’re singing these praises during this festival of Passover because they connect their identity of who they are and what God has done.
The beauty of those Psalms in Psalm 118 as you get to the conclusion of the Psalm, the end of that Psalm also looks forward to a Messiah. One who had set them free in verse, Psalm 118 and Verse 26. He gives this quote and that’s how this group knows Jesus is the Messiah, he’s fulling Zechariah 9:9. He’s coming on the back of a donkey as a King who wants to establish peace. The Psalms that were sing, walking into Jerusalem talk about this and in unison they burst out in the celebration of this word for this moment because the Messiah has finally arrived. You can just imagine being a person in this moment seeing all of this take place. How God has culminated and orchestrated this throughout history and they are living in that moment in which the Messiah would come. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna save us now.
The response of some of the religious leaders are interesting. It says in Verse 39, “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” They know the Jewish people know they’re a monotheistic religious community meaning they only worship and believe in one God. Yet they’re witnessing this one receiving the praise of people. “Rebuke them.”
Isaiah 43 to 44, the culmination of God being one God, only one God ever existing. All that will ever exist is one God is told clearly was in those passages. No doubt, first on their mind looking at this praise Jesus is receiving. It even says within Isaiah 43 and 44, “That God’s glory he will give to no other.” Jesus gives this response, Jesus answered that, “I tell you, if these become silent the stones will cry out.” And the Pharisees who rejected Jesus were seeing the ramifications. What’s interesting is what Jesus says in response to them. He doesn’t just make up a phrase. He actually quotes Scripture, he quotes Habakkuk 2:11. In that chapter, God is condemning the people that stand against him, the nations that stand against him and saying for his people he will set them free. Now he’s actually using this passage, talking to his own people as if it’s condemnation for their rejection of him. They see the ramifications. Judgment. You see the crowd building and they don’t want to stand against.
Look at this, Verse 41, “When Jesus approached Jerusalem he saw the city.” Look, “He wept over it saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things, which make for look peace. I’m a King coming in peace. But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” Jesus comes for Jerusalem. He comes to his people and they reject. Jesus was on a mission of peace. Peace in our relationship with God. The Jews missed it.
You know what’s interesting in this story? Within the same chapter Jesus tried to explain this to them. In fact if you backed up to Verse 11 in Chapter 19 it says this, “While they were listening to these things Jesus went on to tell a parable.” Listen to the reason why, because he was near Jerusalem and they supposed that the Kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself and then returned.” So Jesus from this point on starts to tell a story, he starts to tell about someone establishing something, leaves, and wants to come back. What Jesus is communicating to them is they have this idea of what the Messiah is going to do. In their mind what the Messiah is, is going to set up a physical rule and reign at that moment and crush everyone that stands against his people.
But Peter in his Book, in First Peter, writes a beautiful description of this. He says to us in the story he says, “That God is not, not fulfilling his promises to you, but God is long suffering. Not willing any shall perish but all come to repentance.” What Peter’s acknowledging is in the Old Testament they had these prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. They’re trying to look at it, figure it out. How the Messiah is going to play all of this out that he will indeed establish his Kingdom. He will rule. He will bring back shalom, the peace that was lost because of sin. He will do that. But how? They couldn’t see it clearly. Jesus is trying to say to his people that the first thing that he wants to establish peace with is not necessarily the world, but peace with you.
What Peter says in the story because of that he’s saying, “Listen God’s not delaying in his promises but rather he’s long suffering. Not willing that you should perish but everyone should come to repentance.” What Peter is saying to us is that if God came back to establish his Kingdom right now, it’s important for us to understand that God is holy, and we’re not. God is perfect and we’re not. Because God is good and God is just, and God is perfect, God will judge those things. In the judgment of those things if you were to establish his Kingdom now it would eliminate anything that stands against him in sinfulness including us.
That’s what’s Peter is saying is that, “God is long suffering, not willing any should perish but all come to repentance.” The reason God’s Kingdom is being spread out in the way that Jesus is playing this out for us is to give us opportunity in the greatest that’s been delivered on this cross for us to come to him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and experience a relationship with our God.
This wasn’t the only time that Jesus tried to reiterate this thought to his people. In fact, when you read in the Book of Matthew, Jesus is talking in this passage to John the Baptist. You know the one that introduced Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In Matthew Chapter 11 John finds himself in prison. He’s looking at the Messiah and he knows what the Jewish mentality is about the Messiah. He’s trying to figure out how does Jesus fit into this? He’s supposed to come. He’s supposed to set up his Kingdom. I’m not supposed to be in jail anymore.
It says this in Verse Two, “When John sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied. Jesus in this passage he quotes Scripture he says, “Report to John. The blind see. The lame walk. Those with leprosy are cured. The deaf hear. The dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor.” John quotes a section of Scripture, or excuse me, Jesus quotes a section of Scripture from John. He quotes Isaiah 35:3-6. He quotes again Isaiah Chapter 61, the same phrases in both chapters. Both of those chapters are an identification of what the Messiah would fulfill. He’s saying to John, “John, you may not figure it all out, but what I want you to understand is I am living out the role of Messiah.”
You know one of the interesting things during the time of John and Jesus is that people had appeared in history and declared themselves to be the Messiah. They did it before Jesus. They did it after Jesus. What the Jews did is they looked through some of the prophesies of what the Messiah would fulfill. They came up with three identifying markers that if someone would show up and do these things they knew that the evidence of the Messiah was on him, that he would be the Messiah.
For the Messiah they were looking for three things. They wanted him to be able to heal a leper, to give sight to the blind, and to cast out demons. In fact, if you were to read through the Old Testament, no doubt you’re probably familiar with stories of leprosy being cured. But you know one of the interesting things that if you go through Scripture and you read about leprosy being cured that no Jew after the law was given ever received a cure from Leprosy. Miriam was cured from Leprosy before the law was delivered. Naaman who was a gentile was cured from Leprosy, but no Jew had ever experienced a miracle. Apart from that, that’s all the leprosy cures that happened in the time of Israel’s history. That’s how they’re looking, they’re waiting for that Messiah to deliver those promises. When Jesus tells John his identity he quotes those passages of Scripture of which he fulfilled, but not only those passages of Scripture he quotes what the Jews are waiting for in the coming of the Messiah. Jesus is helping them to recognize the feeling of the Kingdom in his identity.
When you read in the Old Testament the Jews got to this place where they started to think, “Well, God’s given us the law. If we just live the law then God would find us acceptable. The only problem with that thinking is the law was never given to us, to give us the freedom for deliverance. The law was only given to us for our condemnation.
There’s no mistaking it that when you read in Matthew Chapter Five, Six, and Seven. Jesus, in Matthew Five, Six, and Seven, gives the Sermon on the Mount. This is the first act Jesus carries out in the preaching of his Kingdom. Jesus was baptized. Jesus went into the wilderness. Jesus comes out of the wilderness. In Matthew Five, finally sits with his people and delivers the Sermon on the Mount about what his Kingdom is. The first thing Jesus starts to talk about is blessedness of those that are poor in spirit.
Then he starts to converse over the law because the idea of the mentality of the people is the law sets you free. Jesus went on and he said this, “You’ve heard it said you shall not kill, but I say he who has anger in his heart has murdered already. You’ve heard it said that you shall not commit adultery. But I say he who has lust in his heart has committed adultery already. You’ve heard it said you shall not steal. Bu he who has coveted in his heart has stolen already.” What Jesus is saying is, “Look, the law doesn’t prove that you’re right. What needs addressed isn’t your behavior, it’s your heart.” You can’t change your heart. It condemns all of us.
There is no mistake that after Jesus shares that message as the Sermon on the Mount, Chapters Five. Six and Seven, that the first act Jesus does in leaving that Mount in Chapter Eight. He comes down from the hill and he heals a leper. Why? It’s the declaration of the coming of the Messiah in both word and act. His freedom. The peace, the peace is being made known and arrives in this moment, creates a movement. I think within of the context of this thought that it’s Peter reflecting on these words. In 1 Peter 2, look at this when Peter starts to think about his own positioning Jesus and how that position creates movement Peter starts to reflect I think back on Luke Chapter 19. The events of this day and look what he says. He says in this Scriptures it says, “See I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone. The one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
Peter’s identity is really important here. He’s saying in this verse, “A cornerstone is essential to the building of any structure,” and Peter says, “If you wanted to build a building you would pick the most precious level perfect stone to start that building, that structure because that stone would set the precedent for how that building was navigated. If that stone was off, everything else was off.” So that cornerstone became the foundation to everything you wanted to build on. Peter’s thinking about all that Jesus had done. In fact if you backed up just one or two verses from here Peter is saying, “That we’re all living stones being built up into a spiritual house of which Jesus himself is the cornerstone.” Peter’s taking all of the picture and the story of the Old Testament and saying it’s culminated in God’s people because of what Jesus has done as the cornerstone.
Then he goes on in Verse Seven, listen to this, “Now to you who believe this stone is precious, but to those who do not believe the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” But then he goes on again and our identity in Jesus, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priest of a holy nation. God’s special possession that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous, wonderful light. What he’s saying in this verse is pictures of the Old Testament. Priests, and temple, and nations as God’s people, and royalty belonging to a King. All of that identity now is on you because of what Jesus has done.
But in this story Peter’s really showing two positions. Verse six, “Belong to Jesus.” Verse Seven, “Rejecting Jesus.” When Peter thinks about the rejection of Jesus look at the Psalm he quotes, “The Hallel.” Psalm 113 to 118, the Psalm of Celebration that they would sing for the Passover. Interesting about the same Psalm, the very same Psalm that the Jews shouted in celebration over Jesus Verse 26. Just a few verses previous to that, acknowledges that he’s also going to be rejected. What Peter is doing in this story is he’s reflecting on how that identity should shape our lives, and what we become. Recognizing the identity of the Messiah, how it sets us free in him but there’s two sides to this coin. In embracing him or rejecting him there’s only two positions in this life, but in rejecting him the beautiful picture that’s established. When Peter describes it he does it in Jewish language.
I think Paul does the same thing in more of a gentile specific way of thinking, he writes it in Second Corinthians Five. He says for us in Verse 17, “This is what we’ve become.” In this moment creates a movement. And look, his concluding thought here, therefore. He says this twice because there’s two concluding thoughts we want from this passage. ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, look he’s a new creature. The old things pass away behold new things have come.”
What Paul is saying about what Jesus has done here is the idea of addressing the heart. This word new creature literally means metamorphosis where you become a beautiful butterfly. You go into the cocoon a nasty looking caterpillar and you come out, beauty. I want to tell you that beauty isn’t because of what you do. It’s because of who Jesus is, right? When God sees you, he sees the righteousness of Christ on you. When Jesus addressed the Sermon on the Mount because people miss the intentions and purpose of the wall, his identification was the heart. Your hearts needs a place to become new. Your heart needs peace, it’s in rebellion against God. The King has come on the back of the donkey, blessed be the name of the Lord. Hosanna, save us now.
“Therefore,” he says, “If anyone is in Christ, metamorphosis.” Then he explains it, he goes further in the explanation in Verse 18. “Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them and he has committed us the word of reconciliation.” Then from that moment for us that created the movement he defines it this way. Therefore again, therefore because of what God has done in the depths of your soul. Therefore the peace he has established, we are ambassadors for Christ as though God were making an appeal thorough us. We beg you on behalf of Christ be reconciled to God. If God is not, not willing to, or not wanting to not leave his promises unfulfilled but he’s long suffering to you not willing that any should perish but all come to repentance. We beg you reconciliation.
We become ambassadors through the moment comes the movement ambassadors. He’s saying to us because of the goodness of who God is when the life cuts me, I want to bleed Jesus. When you think about the identity of an ambassador that represented this world today, an ambassador doesn’t really represent a nation. An ambassador represents the agenda of a King. He goes into a country and the declaration of what the King desires to proclaim. Saying in the experience of our life wherever we are we represent or we bleed Jesus.
Let me just ask you maybe in more specific way, we think about this movement, what does it look like to be an ambassador? This is Volunteer Sunday. We’ll have a meal at one o’clock today to meet. When you think about how we represent Jesus, what does it look like to be an Ambassador for this movement? When you consider what God has done, he created his church for a purpose. Coming to church on Sundays is sort of a ritual thing in our culture. It’s a fading ritual, but if you’re here on Sunday because you’re supposed to be here on Sunday I want to welcome you. But I want you to know that, that’s not why we assemble, right? We don’t come to church together or we’re not at church together on Sunday because you’re supposed to gather on Sunday. We gather together as God’s community because God has a purpose for us.
In fact, he laid into that purpose in Matthew 28, 19 and 20. At the end of Matthew he tells us, “All authority has been given to him, to Jesus. Go into all the nations and make disciples.” We call that the, “Great Commission.” The commission of God to his people. So we say this, “Our purpose, our mission is the Great Commission.” Our commission out of the Great Commission is a response to the need. God created his people for this movement because there is a need for you in this world and what is that need? It’s sin, if we think about it in the negative side. Sin. Presented in the gospel. Sin is the problem, the Gospel is the solution. That proclamation is the solution, right? The church exists to get the proclamation of peace that’s at the destruction of sin. That’s the need.
When you live in various places of this world, I think what we come to realize is that need is always there. It’s always sin, but depending on where you live in the world the flavor might be a little different. I mean the way I do ministry in Utah might look a little different than the way I might do it in any other state, or maybe any other country in this world. The way that sin rears its head and the need in which it presents for the Gospel might be different. The beauty of that it gives me a platform to understand how to preach the Gospel. That’s why Paul said in First Corinthians Nine to the Jew, “I became the Jews. To those without the law I became like those without the law.” He identified with the people-group that he was with so he could leverage the news of the Gospel in their lives so they could understand how Jesus came to deliver them.
It’s sort of like this, I don’t go to an elementary school teaching kids how to have a Godly 401K, all right? I don’t go to a retirement facility teaching people in that facility how to raise young children. It makes no sense in context as it relates to God. I mean it’s all important, but context matters. When you look at need within our area, we have particular ways in which we share this Gospel and the purpose for which we created which gives us mission, all right? So you see the purpose of our existence, but we can refine the way we live out that mission.
What we say here as a church community if I just think about the need, I think about the solution in the Gospel, and I just consider Utah. You might be interested to know that Harvard Encyclopedia of Ethic Groups labels Utah as different than anywhere else in America. Like America in their encyclopedia at least is all the same and then Utah it’s different. It also says to us, “Hey there’s particular ways you can speak into people’s lives.”
I’ve lived in several different states in my life. I love Utah. I love the mountains. I tell people it seems like there’s two kinds of people in this world. There’s beach people and there’s mountain people. I am a mountain person. I love the ocean. I hate the beach. I hate the beach because when I lived there sand got everywhere, on me, and my car, couldn’t stand it. Then seagulls were just bad bums waiting to happen there. I’m not a beach person. I’m a mountain person. I tell people my view from my window is a postcard every day, and you just live in jealousy, that’s how Utah is.
One of the things I’ve noticed about Utah is that it can become a very lonely place. It doesn’t need to be. I think the Gospel helps us find freedom in that, but Utah can be an isolated place and there’s several reasons for that. We see prescription drug abuse and suicides high here. It affects, I know it affects us personally as God’s community, those things. We get isolated. What do we do with those things we wrestle with in life?
Everywhere in the world, there’s religion presented everywhere in the world. I want you to know everywhere that religion is presented it’s always the same flavor, its just got a different name. What I mean is religion is about performance, right? You live up to this standard and hopefully God loves you, but the problem is you never know if God accepts you or loves you. When you got sin, what do you do with it? When you know your heart needs transforming, how do you respond? Religion does two things to people. It takes you to pride or despair. When it takes you to despair it makes you feel lonely. Honestly, if you become proud you elevate yourself above people, and again you’re off on your own. But the Gospel gives us a place to address the loneliness.
You think of what Jesus says in Second Corinthians Five, “God wants to transform you. God wants you to belong. God wants to make you new. God’s got a place for sin.” He died for it that you could be a part with him. You belong to him. As a church family this is what we say because of this passage and some other passages in Scripture I’ll share with you. But we say this very plainly our mission, our mission’s for everyone to experience, that was crazy. Everyone to experience, really pay attention to this now. We want everyone to experience a transforming relationship in Christ that transforms their relationship with others. Metamorphosis. We want you to be a beautiful butterfly. That’s what Jesus’ mission’s about. If I just throw another verse in there, the two greatest commands. Jesus says, “Love God, love others.” God created you for relationship, not loneliness. The Gospel’s about relationship, not religion. Jesus died for you that you could belong to him. Jesus wants you in a relationship to him. That’s why he transformed your heart so that you can experience shalom in him for all of eternity.
What does it look like for us to be an Ambassador? There’s purpose for the church. There’s need, there’s mission, and if I could just build on that for a moment. There’s a way I think as a church that we just live that out. Now I’ll tell you this, there is truth and there is method, right? Truth is truth regardless if you believe it or not. Marry truth. Method is a tool. Methods changes over time and so if you think about retirement homes, young kids, there’s a way that you approach in how you might talk about Jesus depending on the environment you’re in. Methods change and so at our church we’re looking for the way God’s moving in this world and how we can be a part of it. I think there’s certain principles. If I go on the basis of cornerstone, I would say that if you’re into construction, maybe some plumb lines, this idea that when we build on this cornerstone there are these certain lines that should just emanate from us in the way that we live as ambassadors in this world.
Let me just give you some of them. I don’t know how many of them, one, two, three, four, five, more than five, okay? We should be Gospel driven. What I mean, the Gospel’s the proclamation that sets us free, not religion, Gospel. Not performance on our part, what Jesus has done. This is why it’s important to be Gospel driven. The Gospel isn’t something I believed in at one point in my life and Jesus saved me. It’s something I lived in every day. Every day my identity should be shaped in Jesus. Every day Jesus’ righteousness washes over my past failures. Every day God is calling me into something new in him and to live in light of that message that sets me free. The Gospel isn’t something that just happened in my life. It’s something we walk in as a community every day.
Second is this in light of the Gospel, we speak the truth in love. We understand that our hope as a church that this isn’t the first time you’ve heard me say this, but we speak the truth in love. That’s Ephesians 415, a direct quote, but what we do as a church is we understand that truth is the catalyst for change. That truth is the place where God meets us to help us understand who he is and his correct identity. Truth is the catalyst for change, but truth is not a club to beat people up with. Truth is a club to serve others with. Truth is not about proving I’m right and you’re wrong. Truth is a place that we should all seek transparently for God’s identity to be written in us. It’s not about, truth is not about intellect and information and proving that you know a lot. Truth is not about information. We seek it for transformation. But how does this apply to my life? So we speak the truth in love, we become all things to all people.
May we say this, people are not the enemy. Ephesians Six tells us in Verse 12, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers against spiritual forces of darkness.” We want to become all things to all people means we’re servant posture. That means we recognize the truth is hard enough in itself. The truth embraces where we conflict with God. We know that the truth becomes offensive especially when it’s contrary to that because we want to meet all, become all things to all people. We want to make it hard for people to hate us. We want to love them so deeply the only offense they find is in the truth, but we want them to know deeply that God loves them. We love them too, right? We want to meet people where they are. and love them as Jesus loves them.
Ministry exists for people. When we gather together on Sunday, we don’t gather to accomplish tasks. God doesn’t need you, as a pastor I find that incredibly freeing. But when I just tell you when we get here on Sunday it’s not about just accomplishing a task. God doesn’t need you to accomplish a task. He can design someone else out of thin air to do that. The beauty of walking in this is you get to run and grow as you serve God too. When ministry exists you’re on a journey learning about your relationship with God. What God calls us to is not to accomplish tasks but rather ministry exists through reach hearts. People aren’t the problem, they’re the calling. People are the mission. When you read this in Scripture there’s this word that Scripture uses calls hospitality.
It is huge in the New Testament as it relates to the unbeliever. In fact if you read in Titus Chapter One, First Timothy Chapter Three, it talks about the qualifications of church leaders of elders. It says one of the qualifications is hospitality. When it defines that word, it defines hospitality in the treatment of people that don’t know Jesus. How do you love on people that don’t know Christ? How do you serve people that might be contrary to your belief? Meet people where they are, become all things to all people. Love them as Christ would love them. In Exodus, we’re outward focus. I mean Jesus told a parable about a 100 sheep. He said this, “There’s 99 and when one of them’s lost, he leaves the 99 behind and goes after the one.
God cares about the one and so we want to be outward focused. When we create ministry as a church it’s good to minister to one another, but we don’t want to become ingrown. We want to create ministry. We want to think outwardly. As a church during the summer time we do evangelistic outreach, we do a lot more in our community. We’re there. One of the joys of sometimes we do it and we see people come to church. That’s great. But can I tell you? The number one driving force behind it isn’t necessarily to get people in the church, but to get the church in the community to be a living example of what it means to be a light outside of these walls. To love people where they’re at. We want to be outward thinking and actually want to be community centered. Discipleship happens in community. Growth in Christ happens in community. Utah is a lonely place and when we can create community and pouring into one another’s lives and serving one another it’s beautiful.
I know we say this a lot but church on Sunday when you sit in rows, it’s difficult to use your gifts. I think it’s important to have formal teaching to learn and let it impact our hearts, a beautiful thing honoring God’s Word. At the same time, the entire time you hear this, what do you do with it? It’s not until you bother getting in a circle in any context with God’s people that you’re able to make the application, right? Which is why we encourage small groups. Using your gifts to bless one another life and growing in community together, it’s a beautiful picture of what Jesus does.
We want to be, only two more by the way, we want to be either God dependent or spirit led. What that means is we don’t want to do anything on our own strength. I said this already to us, but God doesn’t need me, right? The beauty is he still works through me, not because he needed me to be in a particular situation but I’m learning about my relationship with God as I’m serving people. Let me give you an example. The Bible tells us in Galatians Chapter Five the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness. It says, “Against such things there isn’t even a law.” That’s what’s God’s spirit wants to do in me.
When I’m left on an island to myself I would like you guys to know that I am the most perfect human being on planet earth. I mean I am the most loving person when I’m by myself. I’m the most patient person when I’m by myself. All fruit of the spirit, I got them all. Got them covered, man. But when I get with people I tend to find out that sometimes my love might have restriction, and sometimes my patience might meet an end.
It’s like this, maybe when you were single before you got married you probably thought you were God’s gift to whoever it was that you were about to get married to. Then when you got under the roof and you were with one another 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you started to realize, “Man, maybe there’s not quite enough patience or love here as I had before when I was single.” You look at him and you’re like, “What’s wrong with you? Because you know what I was like before this happened. I was the most perfect human being that ever lived, right?” It’s when you get with people that you realize where your failures are.
Under what context is God’s people ever told to stop loving? Stop being patient? Under what context? You can blame whoever you want, I mean Adam and Eve started that [inaudible 00:42:11]. The truth is it’s teaching you something about your own relationship with God and where it’s weak. Now the answer to that isn’t to be more patient. The answer to that is to be more spirit led, and what I mean is surrendering yourself to God. How can you work here? My attitude stinks. Their attitude might stink too and I may use that as an excuse, but Jesus I know you want you light to shine through me so you want to spirit led.
The last is this we want to be equipping and reproducing. I will tell you as a pastor this is probably one of the more challenging spots for me. Not because I don’t want to live it, but because Utah is growing so much that we’re getting a lot of people here in and out for jobs, right? This is crazy for me. I think this is only a season of ministry because Lehi has grown so fast. Our church has a turn over rate of every three years. Every three years we’ve got a new congregation. Now some of you might have been here longer than that, but a third of you statistically over the last three years, a third of our church moved somewhere. I mean it’s not like you don’t hate us and you go down the street, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m literally you’re like 100 miles or more away.
That’s because of what’s happening in our culture. It’s really weird so when you’re about equipping and reproducing people it’s hard to pour in a certain culture that you want to create in the church so stop doing, nah I’m just kidding. If you’re here I’m thankful we have time to invest in you, but at the same time it’s a difficult spot. If I tell you where I wrestle the most it’s right here. Because here’s what I understand as a pastor. Ephesians Four, 11 and 12 it says this, “God gave pastures for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry.” What that means is God’s not gonna judge me on how well I do ministry. God’s gonna judge me on how I help others do the work of the ministry. This isn’t a one man show.
You know one of the things I love about ABC is … I’ll tell you guys this that I would have … When I think about ministry, I would have been the last guy up on a stage. I was the kid that went to school that took the F’s because I didn’t want to give the oral book report. Like, “No, thank you.” I didn’t want to do that ever, right? This is the most fearful spot you could have ever told me that I would be in. I don’t feel like when it comes to this, I don’t feel like I got it all together. I don’t feel like the most gifted human being but here’s what I do feel like. I get to watch some of the most talented gifted people serving Jesus. I love the position God’s given me to do that. I love to watch what God does through his community. I just happen to be some dude. I don’t want to undermine the position of leadership but I love where I’m at and just being able to see what God wants to do in you.
Let me just say it like this for us. I think the best ministry ideas are in the congregation. The best place to start ministry is here. We’re not necessarily looking to just become ingrown but go create ministry. Go find places to let God’s light shine in you in this world. The question for us isn’t no longer if you’re called but where and how? What does it mean to be an ambassador? All of us have that calling to live sufficiently in Christ and give extravagantly with our lives. The church isn’t just this audience on Sunday, it’s a community on mission. It’s better described as an army than just a people that just watch something. This is God’s plan A. Our mission is the great commission.
This event was intended to create a movement. If you don’t celebrate, no one else will. Now I love the beauty of this movement because it brings us to our place to recognize our need for Jesus. If you don’t realize you’re sinful you’re not going to see a need for Jesus, right? But God doesn’t want you to sit there. God’s calling you to something new and transformational in him where his identify is over your life. He forgives the depth of your soul to be reconciled to him. You can’t do it in law and when you see that, when you see that transformation take place, the place within your heart with that grace that makes this difference in your life. It’s a place of rejoicing. It’s a place of celebrating. It’s a place not just seeing a Hallel, but your life becomes a Hallel. What God has done. This story we’ll look deeper into next week but this story calls me to change. To live in an attitude of rejoicing because the newness of spirit God has put on me. What does it mean to be an ambassador? This moment created your movement to live that out.