Why does the church have no vision?
WHY DOES THE CHURCH HAVE NO VISION? (LUKE 12:13-21)
3 sins that hinder us from living for the glory of God and the extension of His kingdom.
Why Does the Church Have no Vision!
Traditional Sermon for New Years Day
It has become something of a tradition for me, on the first Sunday of the year to preach a sermon entitled, “Why I have no vision for the church.”
The purpose of the sermon is essentially the same each year – to remind us all that I am not the head of the church, the elders are not the head of the church, Christ is the head of the church and you and I are the church.
Christ has a vision for the church which is glorious and eternal and way beyond any earthly vision – it is laid out in the Scriptures that we are to be His holy, beloved, eternal bride and Christ is working out his eternal will in and through the church until He comes to take her to himself.
To that end, Christ has called, saved, justified, transformed and gifted each one of us and given us as gifts to the church that we might play our role in His perfect and gracious plan.
My role as an under-shepherd is not to artificially manufacture some arbitrary human vision for us to all pursue, but to help you understand Christ's vision for the church and to help you walk in it with an all-consuming passion.
Why does the church have no vision?
So I want to ask a different question this morning, “Why does the church have no vision?”
As I listen to many of our New Year’s Resolutions: I want to exercise more, I want to lose weight, want to spend more time with the kids, want to get a new job or a promotion at work, want to own a certain car, want to work at my marriage or overcome some or other obstacle or fear...they really don't sound that much different to the kinds of resolutions the world makes.
Sometimes there is a religious element thrown in, like, I want to read my Bible more, or want to be involved in this or that ministry, or want to want to improve my prayer life...but really, the goal and focus of our lives, the things that we are striving towards, are not much different to those of the world.
Some of us have no resolutions and no goals for the year – there is nothing significant that we are trusting God for, no God-sized mission that we want to accomplish.
It would seem that most Christians are content to attend church regularly, have peaceful marriages, a stable job, 2 children, a comfortable life-style with enough free time on the weekends and an early retirement.
Pastors and missionaries are not excluded from this small-mindedness. Many of us just want a smooth running church, a comfortable ministry, without too many challenges, a decent salary and people that appreciate and support what we are doing….
Is that why Jesus left the glory of heaven to come and be mistreated, misunderstood and crucified on a cross?... did Jesus die merely to make you and I comfortable in this life?...Or is there an infinitely more glorious purpose to our salvation?
Listen to these words of Christ:
ESV John 14:12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
2 Corinthians 5:15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.... 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.
I don't know about you, but to me, it doesn't sound like Christ left us here to carry on with our own thing and make our live as comfortable and pain free as possible while we wait for heaven. It doesn't sound like He has a few religious things on the side that He would like us to get to if we get a chance. It sounds like He has left us here to turn the world upside down so that nobody can come near our lives without seeing the glory and grace of Jesus Christ on display in three dimensions with surround sound?
What is our problem? Why do we so easily get sucked back into the world and start living for small things? I believe Jesus himself gives us some insight in Luke 12, so I want us to spend some time there this morning.
SUMMARY: 3 sins that hinder us from living for the glory of God and the extension of His kingdom. 1: Worldly Covetousness, 2: Worldly Concerns 3: Worldly Complacency. 3 sins that hinder us from living for the glory of God and the extension of His kingdom.
1: Worldly Covetousness (Lk 12:13-21)
Luke 12:1 – an important teaching before a packed crowd. The context is the rejection of Jesus first by the leadership, and ultimately by the crowd. They seemed so enthusiastic, but they were not really there for Jesus but for themselves.
READ: Lk 12:13-21
13: Two brothers come to Jesus and are wanting him to arbitrate between them. They are fighting over their fathers inheritance and are looking for Christ to settle the matter. The speaker, in this case, wants Christ to ensure that he gets his fair share.
13-15 The heart of the issue: Covetousness
14: Christ is not concerned with resolving the issue in external legalistic terms, instead he gets to the very heart of the matter – greed, covetousness:
15: Christ says literally, “look carefully, guard yourself, protect yourself against covetousness = a greedy desire for more.” A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
This man might simply have been seeking his rightful share of the inheritance – nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But Christ takes the opportunity to point out the lure of wealth.
Insight: We are so prone to desire
and pursue possessions, material things, money, as an end in itself, because we believe that having this or that thing, or owning a certain car, or house, or cell phone will bring us happiness and fulfilment, that having a certain amount of money in the bank will bring us security. We are prone to believe the lie that the abundant life, the happy life, the full and meaningful life is found in possessions.
Looking at what others have and are doing and I want the same – that is what the whole advertising industry and the core of this materialistic economy is build around = making us desire what we don’t really need. Giving us a continual lust for more, convincing us to covet what others have.
Application: Watch Out
Of course, we are all greedy, but none of us admit it. That is the problem, that is why we are so easily sucked into this system because we do not acknowledge the seductive power of materialism, we do not heed Christ’s warning here= Watch out, be on your guard, protect yourself.
Illustration: Security fences in South Africa
We are all security experts in South Africa. We know all about electric fences and security gates, and motion sensors, and anti-hijacking glass and vehicle tacking and watching whether you are being followed – we live, constantly on our guard against the very real threat of violence and crime
We frown on people who don’t take security seriously…and yet we do nothing to protect ourselves from the spiritual threat of greed, against the lure of materialism
16-20 The parable: Living for worldly comfort
16: Jesus tells them a parable, a story which is taken from normal, everyday life, but which is intended to teach a spiritual lesson.
17: In this story we have a man who is rich, who has been blessed by God, who has no earthly, material needs. He has more than what He needs, but rather than give the excess away, or use it for some spiritual or eternal purpose, he decides that he needs even more…greed, the constant desire for more, its never enough, we are never satisfied, we are never content.
18: So he decides that he should embark on an expansion project. That he has “x” years left until retirement and that they are best spent building bigger, better, gathering more. His whole mindset is self-serving
19: Jesus gives us insight into His mindset = a man’s life consists in the abundance of his possessions. If I have that much, that much more, or that little bit more, if I can have that = then I will be happy, then I can eat, drink and be merry. Then I can relax and enjoy it all in my latter years.
20: Parables normally teach one main lesson and this is the main lesson of this parable – You fool! This mindset, this approach to life, is folly. To live for things, to try find happiness or security in what we have or how much we have, is folly. To live for this world alone, is folly, because we can’t take any of it with us, it adds nothing to our eternity.
21 The solution: Be rich toward God
21: Here we see the bottom line – we are either living for ourselves or for God. The purpose of our lives is either to serve self, or to serve God. We see material things either in terms of how they can serve me, benefit me, make me happy – or how they can be used to serve God and His purposes.
These two are mutually exclusive mindsets – we gain our satisfaction either in gaining more things and money, or we gain satisfaction in using things and money to gain more of God. It’s not a matter of how much we give, but what is our mindset!
This is the first obstacle, the first sin that hinders us from living for the glory of God and the extension of His kingdom – worldly covetousness.
2: Wordly Concerns (Lk 12:22-34)
READ : Lk 12:22-32
22: Do not be anxious, 25 which by being anxious, 26 why be anxious, 32 fear not – this section is about being anxious, being fretful and fearful, being sinfully concerned, being worried and burdened.
Jesus is speaking here, to those who are just trying to survive. Some of us say, “I am not trying to be rich, I am not seeking comfort and pleasure and more and more…I am just trying to survive. I am just trying to get through the day, to put bread on the table.” Jesus is speaking about those who are so weighed down and burdened by realities of their daily life that they have reduced the purpose of their life to mere survival, to merely existing, to staying alive.
Physical Needs/ Concerns
22-24 Concerns: about wordly needs
22: Do no be anxious about your life – about holding onto your life. We all have a picture of what our life should be, how it should unfold, what we need – and we can hold so tightly onto that picture, that we can’t do anything else or be anything else.
22: Jesus is talking about food, clothes, homes, health, safety – very real physical needs. He is not denying that we have valid physical needs – He is telling us that we should not make the whole purpose of our lives merely the pursuit and satisfaction of those needs.
23: Life is more than food. We have been given life and given bodies by God – not as an end in itself – live just to stay alive, have a body just to feed and clothe it. No, we have been given life and bodies for much more than mere survival – life is more than that.
He addresses condern about physical needs, he addresses…
25-26 Concerns: about Maintaining control
25: We don’t have control over our lives and every detail of our lives, and that can become a great concern for us. What if… we can be so debilitated by the “what if’s,” so afraid to die, that we are too afraid to live.
Jesus is here addressing our tendency to put our faith in ourselves. We believe that we can and should be in control of everything – that everything must work according to our plan – we get anxious and burdened and sinfully concerned when we feel like we are losing control, the whole purpose of our lives becomes keeping everything in its rightful place. We are anxious about all the things we cannot do, cannot get to, that seem to be escaping out control…because fundamentally, our faith is in ourselves – we are the director of our lives.
As James 4 put it – we say tomorrow we will go here, do this, do that, when we do not know what tomorrow will bring, we are not the ultimate director of our lives, its is not our plans which will ultimately prevail, but God’s.
Jesus is highlighting our misplaced faith– we are so confident in what we can accomplish, so fearful when things get beyond us, more than we feel we can bear, we find it so difficult to trust and rest in God’s control over every detail of our lives.
26: If you can’t even add a minute to your life. If your birth and death and everything in between is completely under God’s control – then why are you so anxious? Where is you faith – in what you can do, in your control over all things, or in God’s sovereign control over all things?
We have concern over physical needs, we have fear of being out of control.
29-30-We Pursue what we love
29: The worldly concerns become worldly pursuits. We pursue that which we love. Jesus says, Do not seek, aim for, desire, crave, strive after, as the main goal and focus of your life – your material needs. Health, home, food, clothing, jobs…
30: This is what unbelievers run after and live for. They have no higher calling, no greater allegiance, no sure hope, no greater god than themselves.
You must get this! Christ is not here talking about greed for more and more – He is talking about the mindset which makes satisfying my basic material needs the whole point of my life! When God wants all our needs fully satisfied, He will take us home to heaven…This life is about denying ourselves in order to pursue God’s eternal purposes.
31: We have the privilege of serving God in this world – that is why we have been left here. Seek his kingdom and His righteousness as Matthew 6 adds. Live to serve God rather than live to serve self.
33-34 What it looks like to seek His kingdom
In case you are wondering what it looks like to seek first His kingdom, Jesus gives some practical examples: sell your possession and give to the poor. Instead of using your money to serve self, use it to serve others for the glory of God. Use it to store up eternal treasures, to accomplish things that will matter in eternity, spend it on that which is eternal – spend your time and you money and your wealth on meeting the needs of others – people matter to God. God’s kingdom is made up of people and is build by bringing people to recognize and submit to the king.
PRIOTIZE THE ETERNAL OVER THE TEMPORAL, PEOPLE OVER THINGS, OTHERS OVER SELF
The solution: Seek, trust
A: Solution = start investing
34: In vs 34 Jesus again gets to the heart of the matter: We are concerned about what we love, and we seek what we love. If you want to change what you love, change what you seek. What we are investing in and sacrificing for – that is what we love. So if we want to love and long for God more, we should start sacrificing and expending ourselves in pursuit of Him and His purposes.
Solution A = Start investing secondly – start believing.
B: Solution: start believing
Since the heart of the problem is a problem of faith – Jesus reminds of some important things to help build our faith.
22-23: Consider: The importance of your life – remember that you were made in the image of God and redeemed with the precious blood of God’s own son = your life is about more than mere food and clothing.
24: Consider: God’s Sovereign Power: Jesus points to God’s providence, His sovereign care for the birds and the flowers. He points to the fact that God is continually upholding the whole universe by His power – He is surely able to take care of your basic needs.
27-28 Consider: God's Fatherthly care. He doesn’t only point to what God is able to do, but what He delights to do. To the special concern He has for people and particularly for His children, those for whom He sent Jesus Christ and who have come to believe in Him. Vs 24 of how much more value are you? Vs 28 how much more will He clothe you. Vs 32 The Father, our Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom! You have been made an eternal citizen of His heavenly kingdom because He loves you.
This is an argument from the greater to the lesser – if God has given you all this at such great cost – would he really ignore or withhold the basic needs you have as you continue to carry out His purposes for you life? We can be abundant and extravagant in loving and giving and sacrificing for others because God has been so abundant and extravagant toward us in Christ.
1) Start investing in what matters to God 2) Build up your faith by giving careful thought to – the purpose of your life, the sovereign control of God, His fatherly care for you.
3 sins that hinder us from living for the glory of God and the extension of His kingdom. 1: Worldly Covetousness, 2: Worldly Concerns 3: Worldly Complacency
3: Wordly Complacency (Lk 12:35-40)
READ LUKE 12:35-40
Don't get lulled to sleep, don’t put it off, don’t leave it for later – don’t think next year, once I have this or that sorted out, then I will serve God.
Don’t waste another day, today could be your last!
As many of us face going back to work and possibly feel a bit daunted or down about another year looming ahead. Let us get our eyes off the temporal material things and recognize – God has eternally significant things for us to accomplish. He has a kingdom building program that He has invited us to be a part of.
As William Carey put it, “Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God.”
· By faith, one man, Noah, saved every living creature from the flood
· By faith, one man, Abraham became the father of a nation
· By faith, one man Moses – overthrew the most powerful empire of his day and lead a few million people to a new land
· By faith, one man, Joshuah – lead a rabble of slaves to conquer the promised land
· By faith, one shepherd boy, David – overthrew Goliath with a sling and became the nation’s greatest king.
· By faith 12 ordinary fishermen who turned the known world upside down
· By faith, one man, Luther, overthrew the power of the Roman empire and started a spiritual revolution
· By faith, one man, William Carey, became the spark that ignited modern missions
· By faith, one woman, Glady Alward, cared for over a hundred orphans in the middle of a war
Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every weight and sin, which clings so closely – let us trust God and run the race with endurance, fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ, the founder and perfector of our faith.
What are you trusting God to do in your and through you in 2020?