Twenty years ago, we began a brand new church. You’re sitting in it and we have many partner churches that have come alongside us. We are one church and we exist to be a church that un-churched people like to attend.
Maybe there is one of our partner churches in your area. You can visit NorthPointPartners.org to find out. We would love you to join us in an actual bricks and mortar environment, if not you can still watch online.
We started a different kind of church 20 years ago. We wanted to be a little more raw and create more community. No more steeples, stained glass, pews and long sermons. A lot of what we do in church has changed. Whether you know this or not, we have been on the cutting edge here of creating church environments. Now our worship environments don’t have natural light, we want flashing lights and smoke and stuff. The church in America has changed and it’s changing. Maybe the best part of all is that you don’t to wear a tie or heels to church. You can come just as you are as if you just woke up, like some of you did today.
Church is way more accessible for those not into church. It’s changed a lot. Now, with all of that change, progress and cool things, we still hold on to things that hold us back.
Even with all of our progress, we continue to hold on to things that hold us back.
If you have a tendency to resist church, this is the perfect teaching series for you to be a part of, and here’s why. We are going to discover that most of the things you resist about church are things the church should resist. We’re going to talk about some of those things and it will get interesting.
Think about it this way- From an outsider’s perspective, what is the church?
It should be this- A community of people who followed the teaching of a man sent from God to explain God and to clear the path to God.
That’s what it is, simply put. What is there to resist about that? You don’t have to agree or like it, but it certainly shouldn’t be disliked. The three top commandments were love God, love one another, love your enemy. What is bad about that?
For the first 300 years the church existed, the primary thing people didn’t like about Christians was that they said Caesar wasn’t their king, Jesus was their king. They weren’t exclusive or anything, they just stated that Jesus was their king. People didn’t like that.
Wouldn’t it be cool if the only bad thing people said about the church was that Christians believed Jesus is God? Think about it. What if a Christian’s belief of Jesus as king was the only complaint a non-Christian would have? In my lifetime, I have never heard anyone say they resist the church because of what a Christian believes about Jesus. I hear a thousand other reasons but never that.
The church should be irresistible except for the fact that we believe Jesus is Lord and the Son of God. It’s okay for people to disagree with that.
A few years ago my son, a good friend, and I visited China. We were in factories and during one of the tours the employee asked if a young woman employee could shadow us so she could learn as a part of her training. She didn’t say a word the whole time. At the end they asked us if we had any questions. We were wrapping up our time together and the young woman said she had a question. This was a surprise because she hadn’t said a word for the entire tour.
She asked her question, “Are you a pastor?”
I said, “Yes.”
Here’s my question, “Why doesn’t everybody in America go to church?”
I didn’t know what to say. I asked her a few questions to learn more about her story. I found out a few years prior she had received some Christian literature and learned to follow Jesus. She was a Christian. But the state approved churches were too far away and the underground churches in her area were dangerous to attend. She loved church and she had heard that in the USA there were churches everywhere but that most Americans don’t go to church and she could not figure it out.
“Why wouldn’t everyone want to be a part of a community to celebrate that they had been forgiven? To learn about God? To love one another?”
I had no answer for her question.
Who doesn’t want their life to be better and who doesn’t want to be better at life?
When you decide to follow Jesus and take his teachings seriously, your life will be better and you will be better at life.
Her question, “Why doesn’t everyone in America go to church?” How did we become so resistible? Where did all the other stuff come from and get in the way. What happened?
Here’s what we’re going to discover that the resistible factor is not a result of new things being added but old things that were added back in.
To set the context for this series, let me introduce you to the Temple Model.
The Temple Model – Represents all ancient religions and also non-Christian religions in the world today. It goes all the way back to Egypt, Assyria, Greeks, Romans, Jewish Temple System, and even still today.
Four components of the Temple Model:
1. Sacred Places
For people to go
2. Sacred Texts
Oracles or inscriptions
3. Sacred Men
Always men who read the inscriptions and tell the followers how to live.
4. Sincere followers
Sincere may not be the best word but I wanted the fourth to start with “S.” Superstitious may have been another good word but I’m going to give people the benefit of the doubt and use sincere.
Mud hut regions of the world have this same system. The witch doctor rules the community and “controls the truth” of what people are supposed to do. On the other side of the spectrum, in Iraq, the same thing happens. The Temple Model is alive and well today.
But what we are going to discover is that this “temple thinking” is alive and well in the local church as well. Anyone that can stand up and say, “If you don’t do ____ then you’re going to hell,” has a lot of power.
The Temple Model- Grants extraordinary power to sacred men in sacred places who determine the meaning of sacred texts.
If you look at that and ask, “Andy, isn’t what this place is? We come here and listen to you from what you say in the Bible and then go live it. Aren’t we doing that right here in the local church? And isn’t the Temple Model what most churches are?”
What we are going to discover in this series is that even though the Temple Model has trickled in to the New Testament Church and the gatherings of Christ followers, it should not be that way and here’s why:
The arrival of Jesus signaled the end of the temple model and the beginning of something entirely new.
This is for everybody in the entire world. Jesus told the disciples that there is no more “Jerusalem” and they are to leave because the message was for all men everywhere.
There would be no more sacred places, you know why? Because Jesus would teach that you are sacred. And you are sacred, and you are sacred and you are sacred. The person to your left or right is more sacred than any piece of dirt you will ever stand on and any building you may ever visit.
There would no longer be sacred places and no more any sacred people. There was never to be anyone to go to God on your behalf. All of that would end. The Old Testament would be fulfilled with a single verb (love).
How do we know that?
Jesus predicted a new movement.
One day they were walking up to Philippi and Jesus asked, “Who do they say I am? Who do you think I am?” Peter told Jesus he thought he was the Messiah, the living God. Jesus told Peter he was correct, but he knew that not on his own merit. Then Jesus told Peter:
Matthew 16:18 NIV
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Build is future tense.
Ecclesia is the original word for “church.” (“ἐκκλησία” in Greek)
“Church” does not appear in the first English translation in the Bible because Tyndale had the guts to keep to the true meaning of the word. It’s a gathering of people, it’s a congregation. And he was burned at the stake for making that the term in his English Bible.
And then translators took a German word meaning “place” to replace Ecclesia. And that’s why when you think church you think place and space, sacred space. Jesus said that had come to an end. He was building a congregation and would be with them wherever they go.
Jesus instituted a new covenant.
This was a new arrangement with God. Before this covenant, you needed a high priest. Jesus brought an entirely new thing and God could be approached directly.
Luke 22:20 NIV
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
When they watched Jesus bleed to death on the cross it must have dawned on them that this was the final sacrifice.
Jesus gave new meaning to the sacred text.
These are the kinds of extreme things Jesus was saying:
Matthew 5:17 NIV
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
This was a big statement. Jesus claimed that the entire Old Testament funneled down to him as a person. That all of the old deeds pointed to his arrival. The Old Testament was a directional sign to Jesus. Who would say that?
Then later, Apostle Paul agreed with Jesus’ claims. It was is the Law was the guard rail to lead to Jesus. The entire Old Testament was like a cocoon and out of that the Savior was born. While the cocoon was important, it is now finished.
For Jesus to replace the law, he made it simple.
Jesus instituted a new movement-defining ethic.
This was significant!
John 13:34 NIV
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
When he said this, they knew exactly what he meant. This wasn’t “random acts of kindness” it was way deeper than that. Jesus had just washed their feet. He was their rabbi! These were the hands that healed the blind, cured leprosy, and made people walk.
Jesus did for them what they would never dream of doing for each other. Then he told them to go and love as he had loved them.
In those moments when you’re the big shot and the crowds surround you, remember this night. You will never be greater than your master and Jesus had just washed their feet. He turned the paradigm upside down. If you think you are sacred, get the towel out and wash more feet.
John 13:35 NIV
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Love was to replace law keeping.
Self-sacrifice would replace animal sacrifice.
The vertical would be measured by the horizontal.
The evidence you are a Jesus follower isn’t how well you pray or attend church, it’s how well you love people who are difficult to love.
Jesus even said, if you are at the temple and you’re about ready to make a sacrifice to God and it dawns on you that things aren’t right with your brother then go and get right with your brother. The gift to God can wait.
Then Jesus did the most unimaginable thing for that group of people. We read this and it’s just words on a page, but this was staggering:
Jesus gave new meaning to Passover.
This was the most important Jewish celebration in all of Judaism. What would be the equivalent for us? This is the best I could come up with: Imagine that it hits the news tomorrow that a proclamation from the Billy Graham association asks that, since he’s so respected, when he goes to be with the Lord we actually celebrate Billy’s birthday on Christmas to remember him.
Yea… that’s weird for me to even say.
What if Pope Francis had the idea? “From now on, celebrate me on Easter.” I mean, we love you, Pope Francis, but you are not listening.
Check it out. When Jesus met with the twelve on Passover:
Luke 22:19 NIV
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Body? Jews had been celebrating Passover for years! Jesus wasn’t around then. But Jesus claimed that it was his body. This would have been shocking for the disciples.
“Okay, Jesus, we have been very flexible… We’re with you… but you’re not Moses!”
I’m telling you, when Jesus changed the meaning of Passover they should have all gotten up and left the room. But Jesus was saying that this isn’t a continuation of something, he’s doing something entirely new.
The arrival of Jesus signaled the end of the temple model and the beginning of something entirely new.
No more sacred places or special people. The entire Old Testament was transformed into a single verb that you apply to God, your neighbors and your enemy.
After the resurrection and ascension the church got off to an amazing start. And then some temple model thinking began to blend in with Jesus-followers thinking. They couldn’t get rid of the old thinking. Unfortunately, some of that thinking is alive in churches today and it’s a reason that we are resistible.
But we are going to figure it out and let go of the things that are holding us back. We are going to do our best, by God’s grace, to re-embrace what Jesus had in mind when he said this is something new and it’s for every single person. What Jesus teaches is for everyone, everywhere, regardless of past religion.
This message is from Andy Stanley
North Point Community Church
Title: “Letting Go”
Series: “Brand: New”