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Home Sermons Home is the Way – Creating Home

Home is the Way – Creating Home

Date: 20/02/2022/Speaker: Ps Gary Chan

Good morning, my name is Gary and it’s my privilege to share the Word with you today. Whether you are new or have been joining us for some time, a very warm “Welcome Home” to you.

We are working our way through this sermon series “Home is the Way” where we have been exploring what does it mean to be community, and the kind of community that we are called to create centred around this image of a home. We have explored how the home we create has is foundations in love, anchored on 1 John 4:7-8 that encourages God’s beloved to “love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

So the kind of home that we are called to create is one that is not just a safe place, but a space that is relational, a space that allows us to feel safe and accepted but also helps others feel safe and accept, a space that is based on a covenant of love.

The past few sermons in this series are available both on our website and at our Youtube channel online. If you missed any of them, I encourage you to go through them in the coming week and reflect on them either on your own or together with others, especially with this series.

For those who did have joined us over the past few weeks, I would like to begin by inviting you to share with all of us what is one thing that you have learnt or taken away from this sermon series so far.

If you are joining us live, you can submit your responses anonymously by going to menti.com and enter in the code “8104 6080”. This is a great way that we can all build today’s sermon together and have your voice heard.

Let’s have a look at your responses that you have shared.

Let’s take a moment to pray and open our hearts to God this morning –

Dear God thank You for this time we can come together as community around the ministry of the Word. We ask You to speak to each one of us now, in the way we need to hear. Give us open hearts to know Your heart for each one of us and I pray that we will have a greater revelation of You – that the living Word will come alive in our hearts today and enable us to see You clearly, and follow You boldly. We pray that we will also be open to Your work in our lives today, and we will have a revelation of Your call to us to be the church and to create a home not just for ourselves and but for others as well. In Jesus name we pray, amen.

Each week we have been speaking of a different aspect of what it means to create home – to be community to one another. We have been learning that an important aspect of creating home is that are its foundations it needs to be relational and covenantal. That means, it’s about how we commit to relate to one another.

Today we will be working through a passage in the book of James, beginning in chapter 3:18 until chapter 4:9 where James is addressing some early Jewish Christians about life together in community, about creating home.

Jas 3:18; 4:1-9
Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you… Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Some tough language here from James. He isn’t mincing his words. But let’s take a step back to think about why is he being so blunt?

A big part of creating home is in the way we relate to one another. The way we are community. The opportunities of the good intent of what a home offers often comes hand in hand with the pain of conflict, brokenness, and hurt. Left unaddressed, this then causes what should be a movement of love and justice to become institutions that are irrelevant, out-dated, and dying out.

Church surveys today tell us that in this age we live in, fewer people identify themselves as Christians than a generation before. Or may identify themselves as Christian, but they don’t want to have anything to do with the church. Why is that? Because they see a lack of relevance to their lives, the lack of impact to the world and all the strife and the problems within the church has and conclude that there is really nothing different there for them compared to what the world is offering.

If we look at the entire arc of the narrative of scripture, God has a very different plan for the church – communities of Christians – us. God has called us to be home of all – a sign that God is present and at work. We are called to be a foretaste or preview of the age that is to come of God’s way of living for all. We are called to be instruments of restoration of God’s shalom peace breaking into every area of life.

So as we continue to create home for ourselves and others here at FCC, one foundation that I want to focus on is our own community life.

And that’s what the Book of James is. It is a very practical book that addresses the way we relate to one another in community. It was written by one of the early church’s pastors, James. In this letter, he addresses the kind of community they are called to build as people of God. And today, we will explore these lessons for our own community.

Today we are going to be looking at this passage of scripture in James 4 which we just read where the subject of creating home is in the foreground. We are going to look at 3 things –

Firstly, the importance of creating home and the kind of home we are called to create. Why is it important and what does it look like?

Secondly, the key challenges and barriers to creating home. Why is stopping us from becoming and enjoying the community we are supposed to be.

And finally, how we are going to get through these challenges and get our breakthrough to be able to move towards creating home.

It’s straightforward. Three point sermon. But I hope that you are ready to lean in to learn the lessons from it. Are you ready?

Firstly I want to give due credit and express my gratitude. In preparing for this sermon, I was very encouraged by the teaching on the understanding and development of Christian community by Pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, and will be incorporating some his work into this message.

Let us start by reading Jas 3:18 again.

Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

In Greek, every word has a range of interpretation, or is called a “lexical” range. In other words, a word can mean different things in different contexts.

Here we see a very important word we encounter often in scripture which is “righteousness”. Simply put, “righteousness” means “you have been put right”. Sometimes it means you have been put right with God. Sometimes it means you have been put right with yourself. Sometimes it talks about right relationships with one another. Which means to live justly, with integrity, with love.

Here in the Book of James, it actually carries all these meanings – the full lexical range of interpretation. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. Putting yourself right with yourself, with God and with one another.

And James says that this like a harvest. For a harvest to happen, you need seed. And the seed here is peacemaking. As we have explored previously, peacemaking is not about making robots who think alike and behave alike. It is not about burying or ignoring issues; it is about creating a harmonious community – the way it is intended to be. Verse 18 says that God will not be able to bring about change in your life and my life without us being involved in creating a harmonious community.

Wherever we look today, one trend that we notice is that the greater the progress around us, the greater the level of individualism. We live in an age never ever seen before that culture, technology, connectivity, migration patterns are all making us more and more individualistic. It is pounded into us by our environment – you are who you determine yourself to be, choose to be, seek to be.

But scripture tells us that it is not true – we are a product of our family, culture and our primary communities.

In Chinese we having a saying –
近朱者赤,近墨者黑. (Jìn zhū zhě chì, jìn mò zhě hēi)
Which means, we are the company we keep. We become what we create.

Social scientists have realized that the default way we operate is more a product of relationships and totality of experiences than of rationality. We are also more likely to have our beliefs shaped if they are shared by people that you love or like, and who love or like you. Our beliefs are more a product of our relationships and experiences and less about the way we think.

We are all here attending this FCC Sunday service and many of us would say that our lives have gotten better through the worship, the teaching, the support we get, and we thankful to God for this community, for this home. But when we look at our lives, some of us haven’t really experienced growth, breakthroughs, transformation, healing. And when we dig a bit deeper, we are still the same person inside, with the same struggles, same attitudes, same character.

We come in here and may feel better when we experience God’s love. But we are pretty much living the same way we did before we started coming to church. Our priorities haven’t changed because we haven’t yet allowed the gospel to shape our mindset, attitudes and character.

The Bible tells us that we need to be transformed and live differently as a result of the gospel.

In Rom 12:10 we are called to “honour one another”. Gal 5:13 says, “serve one another”. In 1 Pet 4:9, we are called to “offer hospitality to one another”; in other passages of scripture to “encourage one another”, “accept one another”, “bear with one another”, “admonish and confront one another”, “warn one another”, “teach one another”, “stop being fake with one another” (Rom 12:9), “share your possessions with one another”, “submit to the needs of one another”. This is how the Bible teaches us we are to “love one another” as part of our response to loving God – the first commandment.

1 Jn 4:20 reminds us that “If you don’t love your neighbour whom you have seen, you can’t love God whom you have not seen.”

You know what, you can’t really do that very well here at a Sunday Service. It has been even more challenging with Covid and being apart from others for over 2 years. If this Sunday Service is the main way you experience FCC, you are really not embedded in community or a fellowship, you are really in a crowd. You can have a deep, personal encounter with the living God; you may even help out to make this service happen, but you will not really experience change because you have not given yourself over to community.

When Jesus was ministering on earth, there was always a crowd following Him. The crowd wanted provision, healing, assurance, protection, blessing. Nothing wrong with that. But the ones that experienced the transformation were the smaller group of twelve who committed to community with Jesus and with one another.

The disciples were the ones who experienced the transformation because it is in community that we grow as Christ followers. Because real life is about meeting and relating. And we will become like our primary social community – the people you eat with and play with, converse with, counsel with and do life with.

And so, there is no supernatural character change without deep involvement in community.

But there is also another side to this.

Let’s read again Jas 4:1-4.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Here we see that James is upset with the conflicts going on in the church. So there are two ways to fail – one is to not seek community. The other way to fail is to get into community and end up fighting, and quarreling and life is full of strife. Either way, we are not developing strong Christian community.

In fact if you look at the result in verse 4, you will see here that doing it the world’s way, fighting for what we want in community, was considered by James as “friendship to the world” and hatred towards God. Friendship to the world was fighting. Hatred towards God was fighting. Why is that?

For us to better understand this, I am going to read from John 17:20-23, the words of Jesus here:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Verse 20 says, “that they may be brought to complete unity (or oneness) and then the world will know they sent me.” Jesus here is saying here, that the critical method, tool, measurement for evangelism to show the world who Jesus is, is not in our Sunday service, or programs, or sophistication of our theology, but in the beauty and depth of our love for each other.

What does it look like in your life and our church today? What does it look like in how the church is represented in Singapore and around the world? If we fail to build strong Christian community either by indifference or by conflicts, James says it is hating God. We trample on the main thing that God has given us to show the world who He is! And James says, it is the complete opposite of loving God – it’s hatred towards God.

So being in community, working through conflicts, sticking with the people we are put in community is so important both practically for our own transformation and for the witness we are as a church.

So why is this so difficult? What do you think prevents this kind of community from actually forming? Please share your reflections on Menti. What prevents us from being able to work through conflict, sticking with people we are put together in community?

James shares with us two causes in James 4.

Verse 2 says “you want something but you don’t get it”. The word “want” here is the word in Greek “hedone” where we get the root word in English for “hedonism”. I want something for myself. My comfort, my convenience, my control is the focus – it is more important than anybody else’s. I want to do it my way. My needs, my concerns are more important than the people around me.

That’s all it takes. When we say “I’d like to place my comfort, my control, my convenience ahead of people around me,” we have a breakdown in community. Where we get this right or wrong is in ordinary, everyday life, a hundred times a day. It’s where we catch this or lose this.

There’s a theologian George McDonald who said that the one way to understand hell is this: “I am my own”. Others have since added to this but the essence is that there are essentially two ways to live life. We can either operate out of a foundation of – “my life for yours”, or “I am my own – my life for me.” And every day, we have a hundred opportunities every day to operate on “my life for yours”, or “my life for me.”

A simple way to understand this is for example: no child has received life except for the laying down of the mother’s life in bearing and nourishing them, and caregivers to care for, nurture and provide for the child. For many of us, we are here because our parents or a caregiver kissed a decade or more of their lives goodbye, kissed their convenience, and certainly kissed their money goodbye. They laid down their life. They exchanged their life for ours.

And this laying down of life always entails a death. A death of my time in order to care for you. The death to my privilege and rights when I don’t retaliate when someone is attacking me. But “my life for yours” is the only way where any sort of life is possible. To embrace it is to live but to refuse it, is to spiritually die and spread death. There it is – heaven or hell, lurking every day in our church, our work place, our homes, our lives online.

A hundred times a day, when we see a difficult person coming towards me, on the basis of “my life for me”, I am fake or quarrelsome with the person or I try to avoid the person. On the basis of my life for yours, I honour, serve, accept, encourage, offer hospitality, teach, warn, admonish and be real with that person.

When you volunteer, when you give your precious time, when you are on a team and you don’t insist your way, these are little deaths, and yet in the dying of self, they lead to a resurrection of community and the creation of home.

In God’s commonwealth, death to individual needs leads to a resurrection of community. And home is created when we continually identify, develop and use our gifts, talents, abilities, resources, sacrificing our comfort, convenience, privilege to meet someone’s need ahead of our own.

And so the breakdown of community is simply – we want to please ourselves. And what is the cause of this want? What’s the root of this? It’s “pride”. This is what pride looks like.

And James says in verse 6 that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

So what is the solution? It’s right there isn’t it – the solution is to humble ourselves.

But what do you think it means to humble ourselves? Again please share your responses on menti.com.

While you are doing that, I want to share something by 18th century theologian Jonathan Edwards, who wrote a book called “Thoughts on Revival”. And in it he made the observation that for the periods of church revivals in history where the church grows, people’s lives are changed and communities are transformed. These revivals would end because conflict broke out within the church and how it was managed.

It was how conflict was managed that killed the revival. The thing that breakdown spiritual communities more than anything else, the thing that prevents home from being created is, pride.

So how do we humble ourselves?

Does it mean that we are not fighting with anyone else in this church then we are being humble? How do we know if we are really operating out of a place of spiritual pride or humility? Let’s have a look at your repsonses.

I have collected an inventory of six common behaviours that kill Christian community as a result of pride – or “my life for me”, instead of humility – or “my life for you”. And as we go through this list, I’d like us to each do a little inventory of how we are doing okay? Are we operating from a place of pride or humility?

 PRIDE – “MY LIFE FOR ME”    HUMILITY – “MY LIFE FOR YOU”

1 More aware of other’s faults. More aware of own faults.
2 Speak of other’s faults with blame and contempt. When it is necessary to speak of other’s faults, it is done with empathy, compassion and mercy to heal.
3 Separate from people you criticize or who criticize you. Stick with people through difficult relationships.
4 Dogmatic and sure about every point of belief and the way things should be done. Flexible, discerning, reflexive about every point of belief and the way things should be done.
5 Loves to confront or refuses to confront or seek understanding. Proactive to seek understanding and confronts when necessary.
6 Unhappy, self-pity, feeling sorry for oneself, feels owed of a good life. No self-pity, feels secure in their belovedness, lives from a place of gratitude of God’s grace and favour.

  1. When I am operating from a place of spiritual pride, I am more aware of the faults of others than my own. Spiritually humble people are more aware of their own faults than others.
  2. I am prideful when I have contempt when I speak of the faults of others – I am looking down on them and blame them for the issues going on; I am humble when I do speak of other’s faults, I do it with empathy, compassion and mercy to heal and restore.
  3. I am prideful when it leads me to separate from people I criticize or criticize me; conversely I am humble when I stick with people through difficult relationships and don’t give up on them.
  4. Prideful people are dogmatic and sure about every point of belief and the way things should be done. Everything is major. Do you get into conflict with others because you can’t be contradicted? Spiritual humble people are flexible, discerning and reflexive about points of belief. Reflexive simply means, to stop and consider where that person is coming from and whether that could be another perspective, or even a better perspective.
  5. I am prideful when I either love to confront, or I refuse to confront or seek understanding because I am so sure that I am right and the other person is wrong; I am humble when I am proactive in seeking understanding where there is difference and confronts others when necessary.
  6. Spiritually prideful people are often unhappy and feeling sorry for themselves. They are filled with self-pity because they are so sure of how life ought to go, and sure they are owed a good life. Spiritually humble people know that are secure in who they are in God, recognizing God’s grace and favour in their lives, and live out from a place of gratitude.

So how are we doing? Tough questions to ask ourselves aren’t they? And I hope that we are not defaulting to a place of pride when go through this and thinking instead “I know someone like that”!

The Word tells us to humble ourselves and I hope you begin to see that what the world calls humility today is not what the Bible calls humility. What we see as humility in the world’s terms is shyness and a lack of self-assertion. But that’s not what we see at all here.

Jas 4:6-7
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

We live in a time now where more and more people don’t believe in a physical “devil”. But we all recognize that there are powerful evil forces (or what the Bible calls principalities) that operate in the world today. We can name this evil as the “devil”; the evil that causes injustice, oppression, discrimination, poverty, brokenness, racism, wars.

So here James is saying – be humble, and don’t be afraid of evil or the powers that perpetrate evil. Take them on, face them down, resist them. James here is saying, “I don’t want you to be afraid of anything.” That doesn’t seem to go along with being humble doesn’t it? Yes actually it does!

If you watched the Prince of Egypt, you will remember the famous scene where Moses went to Pharaoh and said, “let my people go!” We all remember that scene right? But let me put into its proper social historical context. Moses went in front of the biggest, most powerful leader in the ancient world and said to him: “I want you to give up your entire free labour force which has been the cornerstone of your economic and military superiority right now without compensation, unconditionally and immediately, please.” Can you imagine saying that to a modern day dictator like Kim Jong Un, Adolf Hilter or Bashar al-Assad of Syria? And the Old Testament says that Moses was the humblest person on the face of the earth.

The principle is – Moses was not courageous and bold in spite of being humble. He was courageous and bold because he was humble. You know why?

Humility is not thinking less of yourself. Humility is thinking of yourself less. It is focusing less on yourself because you are confident of your own value and worth and that God is taking care of you and your circumstances in life.

So what about the opposite, “cowardice”? Cowardice is looking at yourself and focusing on yourself. Courage is not focusing about yourself because you know that God is taking care of things.

Why is a humble person able to forgive and be gracious when someone attacks them or wrongs them? Because to them their worth isn’t based on what you think of them! They know who they are. They know God’s value of them. They know their worth. They know their call. Therefore if you vilify them, they can handle it.

Humility, kindness, deference, forgiveness are all a lack of self-concentration. It is not a lack of confidence. It actually comes from a place where you have incredible confidence. A proud person is always feeling snubbed, always feeling offended, always feeling like they are not getting their rights, always worrying. That’s pride. That’s why proud people are not courageous, not forgiving, and have meltdowns over how people are treating them or what people think of them.

So how do we get there? How do we become humble?

The rest of James 4 gives us two thoughts. They are two basic but enormous things and summarize a lot of what is going on in the Bible. We can develop humility to the degree we know and understand these two things.

The first thing is to know the greatness of God’s love for you.

In James 4:4-5, we read and this time from the Inclusive Bible –

Jas 4:4-5 (Inclusive Bible)
You faithless people (adulteresses), don’t you know that making the world your friend is making God your enemy? Do you think scripture says for no good reason that “the Spirit planted in us is passionate to the point of jealousy?”

The literal translation of the phrase “you adulterous people” is actually you “adulteresses”. James is speaking to the church that would have people of different gender expression. But he is calling them all deliberately, “adulteresses”, the female name. Why does he address a body that include non-female people as female? James here is tapping into one of the great truths of God’s love – God doesn’t just love us in the way a shepherd who loves a sheep, not just the way a Father loves his child, but the way God loves us the way a husband loves a wife. The church, us, we are the bride of Christ and when we follow the ways of the world, it is spiritual adultery!

This is what verse 5 means when it says God is jealous that the church has broken covenant and is in enmity with God. James describes a God who longs for the love of God’s people the way a husband longs for the love of his wife. It’s amazing how daring that it is. God longs for our love, but that’s not all.

The second thing to understand how to develop humility is in the upside-down, counter-cultural principle the kin-dom of God operates. In verse 6 it reads –

Jas 4:6
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Over and over, the Bible tells us that those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. The first will be last; the last will be first. The person who finds their life will lose it, they who loses their life for the sake of God and for the sake of others will find it.

The kin-dom principle is this – if you lay down your will to God; if you follow Jesus’ call; if you die to your own power, your own control, your right to be right; if you declare “my life for yours” each time, you will get your life back forever, safe and sound, you will have life and life abundantly, you will have peace that surpasses all understanding, and you will be following in Jesus Christ’s call and own example.

But if you try to hold to your power, your safety, your possessions, your comfort zones; if you say I don’t want to care of others, serve others, I want them to serve me; my life for me. You will not grow, and collectively, this home will not grow, and will not be a witness of Christ in the world and you and I will not be able to experience a greater fullness of God’s promise of shalom.

As we close our time together, I wonder how many of us when we look today at our own lives today, would recognize the pride within ourselves and the brokenness and evil that we create and perpetuate.

But when we repent – which simply means to stop, recognize that we are following our own selfish motives instead of following Christ, and go the other way by recognizing, knowing, believing and receiving God’s unconditional acceptance and love for each one of us in sacrifice of the one who has no sin for us. To the degree we understand this, and have a revelation of this love, is to the degree that we can step into our call to be co-heirs with Christ. That is the beginning of true humility that comes out of your incredible inner confidence of your worth to God. It is the beginning of which you can have courage, to be able to willingly serve others and focus on the needs of others instead of yourself. And that creates a home for God’s witness of the gospel in community with the people around you.

MY STORY

I’d like to share with you my own story. I grew up in a Christian family. When I was young, I had a very dogmatic relationship with the church and God. It was a relationship of fear and a relationship founded in love. I was good when I needed something from God, I went to church to please God. I prayed to get something from God. But my heart was far from God.

In my twenties, I came back to God when I gave up trying to run my own life. I was on a path to destruction. I had a bad relationship with myself – low self-esteem. I was gambling, drinking, chain smoking, coveting, lying to cover up my actions and had a horrible relationship with my parents.

I was invited to a service like this by a friend where I had a revelation of Christ’s love for me. I was convicted and started going to church but didn’t see much change in my life because I went mainly for the teaching to get more knowledge. I thought that was what spiritual growth was – being able to be an expert on the Bible. But that wasn’t growth because I was still operating on the principle of “my life for me”. But our God is greater – God doesn’t give up on you and God didn’t give up on me and I watched how God brought me into a greater revelation of who I am in Christ and God’s love for me and I began seeking after God’s presence and God’s heart. So I contributed to the worship team because I knew I could experience God’s tangible presence each time I worship so that’s where I would serve. Still my life for me, but I began to see change and growth. At that time I never wanted to get involved in the lives of other Christians. They always had a “we are right” holier than thou attitude, wanted to control my life and so I never allowed myself to enter into authentic, relational community. God forbid they knew I was gay! But God brought me to FCC. Hallelujah! And I started learning to relate to others authentically, learning what it means to be a part of creating home, and through the process of understanding my call and serving others, I started seeing changes in the way I viewed myself and related to others. I have been here now 19 years and God continues to work in my life and continues to work in all our lives until we become the kind of community that God has called us to be. And through it we will experience the promises and favour of God and real growth, not just in pure numbers, not in knowledge of the bible but the kind of growth that matters to God in who we become – the church that Jesus has calls as the hope of the world, Jesus’ hands and the feet, the sign and foretaste of the life to come.

FCC’S REVOLVING DOOR

One of the problems we have in FCC is a revolving door. We have a high turnover rate – people come and people go. Some involuntarily because they leave Singapore to live or work in other countries. But many others leave because of conflicts, lack of care, or a space for them. This sermon was inspired when I received a text last week from a long-time member saying “I am leaving church.” That hit me hard. While they have a role to play in not wanting to stick with community, I ask myself have we been so focused on ourselves and on doing church that we forget what it means to be the church?

Being part of a church or a community is not easy. I too have wanted to leave FCC many times, but each time I prayed about leaving and going somewhere else, the answer is no. Then I understand why. Because wherever I go, the one constant that follows me, is me. And I will bring all the same issues into the new community where I need to work it out again or leave and start again. And I will never grow.

When we each collectively operate from the foundation of “my life for you” and not “my life for me”, it will change the focus and the reason of why we do what we do. For example let’s say if I am a member of the worship team, am I here to serve and be ministers of God’s love and presence to people, or am I here to perform my favourite songs in the way I want it? Are we here to only receive ministry or are we here to welcome, include and care for others in this community and what they are going through?

If you are already committed to this community, let’s take a moment to pause and reflect for a moment. How does “my life for you” change the way you see your own role in creating home for others? I would like to invite you to share one thing you recognize you need to do differently in your life and in the life of this church.

And today, if you haven’t not given yourself over the community, will you make a decision to move from the crowd – “my life for me”, to community – “my life for you”, from pride, to humility?

As you reflect on these questions, let’s look at the life and ministry of Jesus Christ where we see “my life for yours” in the ultimate. God comes to earth to be with humanity as “Immanuel” – the God who is with us – the God who makes a home with us. The creator of the universe is also the God who comes to make a home with humanity, serves humanity and eventually gives up His life for humanity. On the cross, Jesus Christ experiences hell – the rejection by humanity and overcomes it, so that now when we try to draw near to God imperfectly, when we try to humble ourselves imperfectly, when we try to serve other people imperfectly, when we try to resist evil imperfectly, God is with us because nothing separates you and me from God’s abiding love.

I pray that this truth will pound into your heart and head as you leave from here. Of your confidence in your worth before God and the confidence that God is working out everything in your life for your good. For your own life and the things that God is going to do in you and through you in creating home in the journey ahead.

CLOSING PRAYER

Will you join me as we pray this prayer aloud together from the Message version of 1 John 4 and 2 Corinthians 5 –

“God is love. May God’s love take us permanent residence in our lives. May it find it’s home in us, have the run of the house and come to a place of maturity. May the love of Christ have the first and last word in everything we do – and may it compel us towards God’s perfect will for the future.”

And with one heart, let all of God’s people say – “Amen”. Hallelujah! Thank you church.