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(Vision) “What Do We See - Really?”

October 14, 2018

 (Vision) “What Do We See - Really?”

John 4:27-38

 

 

For Announcement:     Mission Focus:  The Twigg family in Paraguay as they begin again.

            Consultation weekend Nov 1-4:  Letters sent, questions?

 

For Prayer:      Rory Gillespie and First Pres Lamar - consultation weekend

        Preparing hearts for our own consultation weekend

        Dan Finch, new lung

        Sandy & Mickey new grandson

        The Twigg family in Paraguay

        Folks recovering from storms in the south

        Pastor Andrew Brunson released from Turkish prison

 

Sermon

Let’s do a little imagination exercise.  Let’s think about the church 5 years from now.

Let’s think about what it will look like if no new people come.  Who will be left?  Who will have moved on?  Who will be unable to get here? Is what you’ve imagined bleak?  Uninspiring? Possible?

 

Let’s get our head away from there and imagine something else.  Let’s again think about the church five years from now.  What do you want to see?  Shout it out!  

 

So how do we get from today to there? What sort of effort will it take?  What kind of commitment from you who are here today? What needs to shift in your thinking and in your understanding of God’s purpose to create the urgency around this vision of the future to actually fuel it and make it happen?

 

In 28 days we will hear from Dr. Paul Borden the prescription he will give that will get us to that church of the future.  Between now and then it would behoove us to be praying individually and corporately about how we are prepared to receive what he will say.  

 

There is one main purpose in what he will prescribe.  Every thing he will ask us to do will be for the purpose of making disciple of Jesus Christ from people who are not yet in the church.  Because a church does not exist to be a landmark or an historical reference point or a museum.  The church exists to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  And maybe that’s the first thing that we as a congregation really need to get our heads and hearts around.  Covenant Partners of Rome Presbyterian Church are meant to invite other people to know Jesus and help to nurture that relationship. From here on out everything we do in the church, for those of you who are attending now, will be to equip you to be salt and light outside of the church, in the world you live in.

 

I wish we had something that could read your heads and hearts right now.  A “Gut-o-meter” that would measure your response to what you have just heard!  Let’s talk about this from the perspective of vision.  What we see with our physical eyes, our spiritual eyes, our intuitive eyes.

 

It’s a matter of seeing what God sees on all of these different levels.  Turn with me to John 4:27-38.  I preached on this back on June 3rd, so if it’s familiar, there’s a reason for that!  But I want to look at this from a different perspective because it shows us what Jesus sees.  He sees things from a perspective that is beyond ours but invites us to “wake up and look around” to see what he sees.  Let’s read this from the NLT as printed in your bulletin.  This picks up after Jesus has spoken to the Samaritan woman

 

27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” 28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” 30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him.

 

Hold the phone!  Do you see what just happened with this lady?  She did what we call “evangelism”.  She went home and told people how amazing Jesus was and she was so convincing in her own belief that the people wanted to hear more and they came to check Jesus out.  Note that she did not memorize a formula, knock on any doors, or preach any sermons.  She simply said, “Hey, I just met a guy . . .”  Evangelism, sharing what you know and believe.  But back to the passage.

 

31 Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”

33 “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.

 

Married people.  Barry and I celebrated our 26th anniversary on Thursday.  Yesterday we contemplated another arrangement as we worked on a plumbing problem together.

How many of you have ever uttered the smallest of exasperated sighs at your spouse?

I imagine Jesus doing this (demonstrate) before he goes on to explain.  

34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

 

These verses, 34-38, define what we, the church, are supposed to see:  fields ripe for harvest.  In case you didn’t get Jesus’ subtle allegory the fields being ripe for harvest mean a world ready to come to Jesus.  That is as true today as it was when Jesus sat by the Samaritan well. 

 

Let’s break this down some more because I think it is key that we understand what we are doing here and why we are called by God to do it.

 

34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.

Why do we seek nourishment?  To nourish is to supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth. We nourish what we care about and what we cherish.  Jesus loved the Father and his will for humanity so much that he gave himself fully to it - even to the point of dying for it.  In all seriousness, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can please and delight my spouse.  What can I cook that will make him smile?  How can I serve him in a way that will bring him joy?  And my relationship with him is nourished and fed by these thoughts.  So it is with us and God.  When we seek to please him, to do God’s will, to see what he sees and respond as He would respond, it brings nourishment to our souls.

 

So are you content to just go along, believing what you have always believed about God or are you hungry for more.  Are you hungry to do the things that please God?  And being fulfilled by doing what God is asking you to do for him? Does your soul need nourishment? Jesus promises that in obedience is joy . . . 

 

35-36 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!

 

“The fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life.”  If you want to experience true joy, share your faith with someone and watch them come to believe.  There’s nothing like that reward because it’s not truly a personal accomplishment but an act of obedience that gives to the other person a relationship with God now and the promise of eternal life to come.  That is life changing work.  And Jesus looks out and sees that now is the time to get it done!  The fields are ripe for harvest.  

 

This concept is not for some other brand of church.  This whole idea of sharing the gospel with those who are lost from God is a mission for every church that calls itself Christian.  For every individual who calls themselves Christian.  If it seems like too tall of an order or too uncomfortable, then perhaps we need to look at our own relationship with Jesus. What’s that about?  Maybe I need to ask myself “Why am I a Christian?” And when I can answer that question, perhaps there will be some good news I can share with someone else who needs to hear it.

 

I’m just going to leave that there today.  You can figure out what you want to do with it.

But I have included in the bulletin a litany of confession.  We will pray it together but why don’t you read it over to yourself first.  See if there are things there that you really need to confess . . . 

 

Join me . . . 

 

Litany of Confession                     (inspired by Habakkuk 2:1-4)

For ignoring the vision

breathed by the living Spirit

churning deep within our souls;

Lord have mercy,

Lord have mercy,

Have mercy upon us.

For refusing to look at the vision

alive within those

who look or act or sound different from us;

Christ have mercy,

Christ have mercy,

Have mercy upon us.

For choosing familiarity, ease, and comfort

rather than risking the opportunities

afforded in the vision

Lord have mercy,

Lord have mercy,

Have mercy upon us.

Written in 1998 by Katherine Hawker for the Evangelical United Church of Christ.