The church belongs to Jesus. He calls the church “my” church. Valley Creek is one church that meets in multiple campuses and carries hope into thousands of locations. The purpose of planting campuses is to serve cities. Each campus is a safe harbor where we can dump our garbage and be built up to be carriers of hope in our cities. Every follower of Jesus needs a harbor where they can receive and contribute. The church connects us to the presence of God.
Alright, everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek. We are so glad that you are here with us today. Whatever campus you’re at, let’s just welcome each other together for a moment. We are so glad that you are here with us. We are in a series called Missional Move Hope for The City. And the last few weeks, man, I’ve given you a lot of stuff. We have talked about a lot of things, and I am so grateful for how you’ve listened, for how you’ve leaned in, for how you’ve engaged your faith. We are taking new ground together. God is sharing all kinds of great things with our church in this season. And last week, I shared with you our new vision and the details of our missional move. And so, if you weren’t here, just as a reminder, let me bring us all back up to speed. We said that our new vision as a church, we’re jumping right in today, is to be a movement of hope for the city and beyond. I hope that as you thought about that this weekend, it inspired you. See, we believe hope is here because Jesus is here.
And we believe we’ve been empowered to carry hope to every area of life, that there’s hope for individuals, hope for the cities, and hope for every area that exists out there. And the reason we have a new vision, for those of you that are like, “Man, but I like helping people taking next step.” I know, and that’s awesome. But here’s the deal, what a vision does, is a vision is a preferred future. A vision is seen what can be in the midst of what is. A vision is intended to move you forward by faith from where you are. The problem with taking next steps, our old vision, is that it becomes so much a part of who we were, that it became our lifestyle. So no longer was it a vision that we needed to rely upon God for, it became something we did every single day. So a vision, it stretches you. It takes you into a new place and it inspires you to create the future. So we want to be a movement of hope for the city and beyond, and we want to do that by two things, creating harbors or campuses, and hope carriers, people. We said that a campus, a church is basically like a harbor. And there’s an old saying that says, “Ships in a harbor are safe”, but that’s not what ships are built for. Ship in a harbor is safe, man, but a ship is not supposed to stand at harbor. It’s supposed to be out there cruising the ocean, loving out its purpose. But make no mistake about it, every ship needs a harbor. It needs a place that it can come back and pull up in a safe place, unload its cargo and its garbage, get fresh fuel, get a new crew, get a new mission, and then be sent back out to live out its purpose.
Okay. That’s a great picture for church. Christians in church are safe but that’s not what Christians are built for. We’re meant to be out there bringing hope to the world, but make no mistake about it, every follower of Jesus needs a harbor. You need a campus. You need a place where you can pull in and get rid of your sin and your brokenness, and your pain, and your dysfunction, and the hard realities of life, and get filled up fresh with the presence of God. Get a word from God and be encouraged to go back out there and live out your purpose. So we want to create harbors or campuses that raise up hope carriers to carry the hope of Jesus to all the areas of life. And our strategy is to simply help people taking next step on their journey with Jesus. We said that everyone starts lost or hopeless in this world, and our job is to reach, connect, develop people. And as they discover who they are, who God is and what they were created to do, they become a kingdom leader or a hope carrier. They didn’t have a heart, they now have a heart.
And because we’re Valley Creek, it’s a green heart, okay? And so what we said, is that every follower of Jesus is a hope carrier. There’s a treasure chest of hope the bible tells us within you that doesn’t belong to you. It’s meant to be opened up and shared with the world and we believe that hope carriers are sent to every area of life, that the Kingdom of God is a movement of hope, that the kingdom isn’t just meant for the church. No, no. The Kingdom of God is meant for every area of life where we go every single day and God’s design is that hope would cascade. Hope would flow through His church, His people into every area we go every single day in our lives. Hope is contagious. Hope cascades and hope leads. When you go where you went this past week and this coming week, whichever area of lives you walk into, when you walk in the door, hope just walked in the door, because the hope of Jesus is inside you. And so we said, we are one church that meets in multiple campuses, that carries the hope of Jesus into thousands of locations. That’s our vision. It’s a big vision. It’s a lot. If you want the full version, watch last week. That’s the recap. That’s the cliff notes. And we said, “Okay. Well, how do we get that started?” So well, that’s what Missional Move Hope for The City is all about. And what we said last week is we feel like in a sense, God is inviting or church to double down, to take what we’ve got, put it back in the Game, risk everything that we’ve got, and say, “We want to use it for the good of other and the glory of God.” That we were faithful when we had a little bit and now that our church is larger, we want to be faithful with the much He’s entrusted us with. And the truth is, sometimes you have to give God your future if you want to discover your destiny.
Abraham had to give God Isaac his future if he wanted to discover his destiny, being the father of many nations. Jesus had to trust God with His future by going to the cross so he could discover His destiny, being the savior of humanity. Sometimes you have to let go of what’s in your hand if you want to discover what’s God’s heart. And so we want to double down. We want to risk everything we’ve got in order to go where God wants us to go. And we said, “It’s literally a doubling.” We feel like God is inviting us to go from four campuses to eight in the next four years. Right now, we’ve got Flower Mound Venue, Denton and Lewisville, and we feel like God is inviting us to start a university campus, a Gainesville campus, a campus out somewhere on the 35 Court or Northlake, Argyle, Roanoke, somewhere in there. We said, “We’re not sure what the fourth campus is.” As we walk through it, God is going to show it to us and we want to move from being a church for a city, to a church for a region. We want to create a harbor of hope within the 20-minute drive of everyone in our area so that every person in this space has repeated opportunities to see and experience the hope of Jesus.
And I know some of you last week, you’re sitting here and you’re like, “Finally, a campus closer to my house. When is it happening? What it’s going to be like?” Okay, here’s the deal. If you’re excited and you’re like, “When can we go? Can I be on the launch team?” Get involved now. Start serving right where you are, wherever campus you’re in now. We will launch this in no particular order. It will be based on how God gives them to us, when we have the facility, the resources, and the leader, we will launch them as fast as we can. My encouragement is get involved now, if you’re getting excited about one of these spaces because there’s a whole lot of hope to give people right now. Okay? So four campuses in the next four years. And obviously, that’s a significant investment. We said it’s $20 million dollars. We’re going to have to raise up 750 new serve team members and develop 400 new leaders. We said, “That’s a lot.” It’s not a cost. It’s an investment. And so we’re asking every family to consider making a two-year gift above and beyond what they already give.
And all we’re asking you to do in this process is just ask, listen and respond. That’s it. No campaign, no fundraiser. You walked in today, there was no thermometer in the atrium. I told you there would not be. We just want you to ask God what He wants your family to do. And on February 17th will be Commitment Weekend, and we will show up with our commitments and our initial offering, and expand the kingdom of God together. I know that’s a lot and I just brought you all back up to speed. And I know some of you are sitting here and your whole thing is like, “Why, man?” Because that’s what Jesus did for us. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man came to see and save that which was lost.” Jesus came to seek, passionately pursue, and save us. Save us, heal us, make us whole. Jesus didn’t make us go looking for hope. He brought hope to us. In fact, John 1:14, it’s one of my favorite verses. It says, “Jesus moved into our neighborhood with grace and truth.” He made the ultimate missional move.
The first missional move, He left heaven, took on humanity. He moved into our neighborhood. He moved into your neighborhood, man. He moved into your life and your world so He could lay down his life so that you could live. And now, we are sent to go and do the same things. See, we don’t want to plan campuses, we want to serve cities. We want to go into new spaces, move into new neighborhoods with a grace and truth of Jesus, and lay down our lives so that they might find hope. See, this isn’t about expanding or getting bigger. This is about reaching further and farther. In fact, we don’t want to expand, we want to multiply, and there’s a big difference. See, in some of our campuses, in some of our rooms, uncertain services, we’re really full right now. And the easy answer would be, “We’ll just expand. Make the walls a little bigger so we can all have a seat. And I have to seat so close to each other.” Okay, that’s called expanding. We want to multiply. We want to go to new neighborhoods with the grace and truth of Jesus, and serve people.
You see, some of you, you don’t really understand our full model, because you only see what you see when you show up. But let me explain this to you. We are one church that meets in multiple campuses, one church. We have one vision, one set of spiritual leadership, one set of values and methodology, and activity, everything we do, we just meet at different campuses, but everything we do is the same. Like riding out in multiple campuses, we’re having services all over the place. They’re all the same. Look, if you’ve never been to another campus, you’re like, “What it’s like over there? In Denton or in Lewisville, or the –” it’s all the same. It’s the same songs. It’s the same videos. It’s the same message, and what we do is we leverage technology to present the gospel. See, it takes at least 20 hours a week to write a message. So sometimes when I ask you, “Are you with me?” Now, you get the pain that I’m putting into that thing. Okay. So think about this.
So instead of having four campus pastors, write four different messages, spending 20 hours a piece, one person writes one message, and everyone else gets to spend their time investing into people and reaching the lost. So it’s great stewardship and it keeps us united. One puts a thousand to flight, two puts 10,000 to flight. And our whole method is to just simply be faithful, man. Proverbs 22 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” We just want to be consistent, incredible, and faithful so the name of Valley Creek represents Jesus well. And so we have central leaders that create things so there can be great local implementation. And then, when we start new campuses and multiply, we send our best. We send our best leaders and we raise up new leaders, and we reach new people. Every time we multiply, all kinds of people have to rise up, and it’s amazing. Like, aren’t you glad that God sent us his best? That He gave us Jesus instead if a leftover angel with one wing?
I mean, can you think about the first century church for a second? You know how awesome they could have had a church if they just stayed in Jerusalem? Come on, man. They could have had Peter and James, and John, and Paul, and Barnabas and Timothy. They could have like the ultimate teaching team. You’d be like, “Why would we ever leave?” It would have been a killer church but they wouldn’t have reached anybody. It was as they multiplied to new places and sent their best, they started making an impact. You see, it’s in the missional move that we make an impact. And when you think about this, that’s what we’re doing, multiplying to new spaces to reach new people by sending our best leaders. And when you think about this, I get it, it’s a lot. Some of you are like 20 million. That’s a lot. It’s a lot. But you know what else is a lot? Seven hundred and fifty serve team members and 400 leaders. See, if you think about it, to do this, we have to come up with four new hub teams, four new kid’s teams, four new worship teams, four new production teams, four new group teams, four new everything that we have.
And where is all that going to come from? From you. Do you know how exciting that is? Because that means our whole church moves forward with Jesus. See, every one of us needs a harbor of hope that we receive from and that we contribute to. But here’s our problem. We have a low view of church. Like when you think about church, like what do you think church is? If we were hanging out, having a cup of coffee, and I said, “Man, what do you think church is? Like how would you describe church? Like, is church gathering? Is it a building? Is it a voting block of people? Is it a religious institution, an organization? Is it irrelevant? Is it just this optional thing? Like, what is church?” I think the problem for a lot of us is we have low view of church because we have a low view of Jesus.
See, one day, Jesus and his disciples were walking along. They were having a conversation and Jesus said to them, He said, “Hey, guys, who did the people say that I am?” They said, “Well, Jesus, the people, they say — some say you’re like John the Baptist. Some say you’re like Elijah or one of the prophets. In other words, some say you’re a good man. Some say you’re a good teacher. Some say you’re prophet, a guy who hears from God.” He says, “Okay. But what about you? Who do you say that I am?” And Peter steps forward and for the first time says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” In other words, he says, “Jesus, you’re everything. You’re the Lord and the Savior of all creation.” Jesus says, “Okay. Blessed are you, Peter. This wasn’t revealed to you by man, but by my father in heaven. And based on this truth of who I am, I will build my church, Matthew 16, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth would be loosed in heaven.” What’s fascinating is the first time the disciples declared that Jesus is the Christ, is the first time Jesus talks about the church. The first time the disciples actually acknowledged that Jesus is Lord and Savior, is the first time Jesus comes right back around and talks about the church. And what that tells us is that your view of Jesus determines your view of the church. This is why He says in Verse 18, “Based on this truth of who I am, that will be the bedrock foundation of how I build my church.” In other words, however you view Jesus is your foundation of your view of the church. And if He’s the Savior and Lord, it’s firm and it’s strong. If He’s optional, a good man, a teacher, a prophet, it’s on sinking sand, man, and it will come crashing down. Are you with me on this?
You see, if you see Jesus for who He is, you’ll see the church for what He’s intended to be. And when Jesus says you’re one thing, the church will be part of your everything. And what He does in that passage, when He talks about the church, for the first time, Jesus tells us five things about the church. You’re like, “Why does this matter?” Because if you don’t get this, harbors of hope don’t make any sense and they’re not exciting. See, the church is Jesus’ idea. In Matthew 16 when He says, “I will build my church,” the first time the word church is ever used, it comes out of Jesus’ mouth, which means it’s His idea. He’s the architect, the designer, the planner. The church wasn’t created by pastors years ago. It’s not from some religious do-gooders or some moral people. No, no. It was birth in the heart of God before creation was made. You see, the church is not a building or a gathering. The church is the people of God, united by the spirit of God, under the Lordship of Jesus sent to bring hope to the world.
That’s the church. It’s the people of God united by the spirit of God, under the Lordship of Jesus sent to change the world. And while the world may think the church is foolish, God says it’s heavenly wisdom. The church is a divine in origin. It was birth in God’s heart, so we better be really careful about criticizing the church. It’s his idea. Second thing is this, the church is being built by Jesus. He says, “I will build my church.” Then they give you great confidence to know that Jesus is building us. Come on. Jesus is the one who is putting us together. Like catch it. You didn’t just show up here. You’re like, “Hmm, I think I did.” No. You didn’t just walk in. God placed you here. He decided that you were supposed to be a part of Valley Creek Church in 2019 from whatever background or life that you’re in because He believes there is something for you to receive and contribute in this time, in this place, in this family.
You didn’t just walk in. So at 1 Corinthians 12, it says, “God arranges the parts of the body just as He wants them to be.” He put you here because He wants you here. He’s building us. Like listen, the bible says, “We’re living stones, not living bricks.” Bricks are all unformed. They’re exactly the same. Living stones have different shapes and colors, and sizes, and He’s the master builder. And He picks them up and He builds them into something that is beautiful, powerful and purposed. See, hear me. You’re not okay without us and we’re not okay without you. You need us and we need you. There’s people in this church that God has handpicked out to build and strengthen your life. And there’s people in this church that God has handpicked out for you to build and strengthen their life.
So we’re not okay without you and you’re not okay without us. So think how supernatural this is. Come on, man. Look around this room. People from different tribes and tongues, and nations, and different backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses, and races, and ages and genders. And yet, we all come together in unification under the name of Jesus. That is supernatural in and of itself, okay? Third thing He says is, “The church belongs to Jesus.” He says, “I will build my church. My church.” He takes ownership, authority, which means He takes responsibility. This is not my church. This is not your church, it’s Jesus’ church. Acts 20 tells us, “He bought and paid for it with his blood,” which means he paid a high price to get us. And if He owns us, He gets to lead us and guide us, and define who we are. And when He declares something that’s His, He takes care of it, and He provides for it. The fourth thing is the church is Jesus’ dream. Catch this.
When He says, “I’m going to build my church,” the church didn’t even exist yet. The church couldn’t exist until the Holy Spirit was poured out after Jesus was resurrected from the grave. So He’s dreaming about something that isn’t even yet. That means 2000 years ago, Jesus when He said that, he was dreaming about you and me. He was dreaming about Valley Creek Church in 2019. He was dreaming about Missional Move Hope for The City and what it would look like to be hope carriers, and be a church for a region. He was dreaming about how we would be representatives of Him on this earth, together in this time, in this place. It’s Jesus’ dream, which brings me to the last thing, and it’s this, the church is a movement of hope. He says, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys.” Okay. Gates are defensive, which means that church is on the offense, hell is on the defense, which mean in Jesus’ first declaration of the church, He declares the church is a movement of hope.
Because the church and only the church has the authority to bring the hope of heaven to this earth, not the government, that’s obvious. Not healthcare, just make sure you’re with me. Not education, the church. It’s a movement of hope. So our vision is just to be what Jesus declared the church was supposed to be 2,000 years ago. Thank you, Jesus, for the church. So maybe we need to think differently about the church. Maybe we need to treat her with some honor and some respect. Maybe we need to have some reverence and some awe, and some wonder. Maybe we need to prioritize her and have a little bit more passion for her, because she is sacred and holy. She is not superficial. She’s supernatural. Like catch this. Maybe the world has a low view of the church because the church has a low view of the church. Maybe the world thinks the church is irrelevant because the church acts like the church is irrelevant. Okay. I’m going to push here for a second, all right? Just telling you right now so you can brace yourself. Okay. Guys, if you treated your wife the way you treat Jesus’ church, how would she respond? If you talk to her, engage with her, resourced her, invested in her, spent time with her, pursued her the way that you do it to the church, how would she respond? Okay. Ladies, if your husbands treated you the way you treat the church, the way you resource and engage, and prioritize, and talk about, and lean into the way you treat the church, how would you feel if your husband treated you that way? We got to understand that the church is the pride of Jesus.
And we got to give her a little bit more honor and respect than we do. And here’s the deal, when you honor God’s bride, He honors you. So in Psalm 92:13, it says, “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish.” It’s a promise. It says, when you align yourself and plant yourself in God’s field, He promises you’ll flourish. That passage, you can read it on your own, it goes on to say, you’ll become flexible and withstand the storms of life. You’ll become strong and a person of nobility and purpose. You’ll bear fruit in old age and be vibrant all the days of your life. There’s a greenhouse effect for every person who chooses to align themselves with the thing that God is building. In fact, think about this. You can’t flourish outside of God’s field. How can you build your life outside of what God is building? I’m just saying, it’s a really interesting question. Like notice, He doesn’t say, “I will build your business, your marriage, your ministry or your life.” He says, “I will build my?” He says, “I will build my?”
Okay, there we go. And when you align yourself with that, He builds your business and your ministry, and your marriage and your life. See, we have to change our thinking around this. We say, “God, bless what I’m building.” God says, “Why don’t you align yourself with what I’m building and you will be blessed?” And that’s called humility. Humility is choosing to align yourself with what God is doing. Humility is choosing to say, “God can do more in my life His way than I can do in my life my way.” In fact, this is so important for you to understand, it is impossible for you to live out your destiny outside of the church. It’s literally impossible. You say, “Oh, I’ve done a lot of life, I made a lot of money.” It’s not your destiny.
How can you leave out a God-given destiny outside of the one thing that God says He’s building? It’s not possible. And so what faith says is, “I don’t get it. I may not even like it but I’m going to choose to align myself with it, because it’s what He says He’s doing.” And if you’re here and you have a low view of the church so your life like reflects that, that’s okay. Hear me. That’s so okay. Don’t look at the church. I think a lot of us have a low view of the church because we look at the church. Our focus is on the church. We’re waiting for her to win us over, for her to wow us, for her to be perfect. There ain’t no perfect church but there’s a perfect Jesus. So hear me, hang on, don’t look at the church, look at Jesus. Because if you start looking at Jesus, you’ll see Him in His grace and His mercy, in His love and His wisdom. And all of a sudden, you’ll want to be a part of His idea, you’ll want Him to build your life. You’ll want to be submitted and surrendered to what belongs to Him. You’ll want to be a part of His dream and you’ll want to be a part of the one thing that He says has hope.
Don’t look at the church, look at Jesus. And you’ll hear people say things like this, “I like Jesus, I don’t like the church.” I get it, man. Sometimes I don’t like the church. You get that? It’s not the building, it’s us. But don’t look at us, look at Jesus. Because the more you look at Jesus, the more you start to love what He loves, and the more you want to be a part of what He says He’s doing. I want to be a part of the church, not because I think the church is awesome, because I think Jesus is awesome. So here’s one simple question. And the church is awesome because He says it’s awesome by the way. So don’t like clip that out and be like, “Hey, you don’t think the church is awesome.” No, He does think the church is awesome. Jesus thinks it’s awesome. Do you catch what I’m saying? What’s one thing in your life, one next step you can do to align yourself with Jesus’ church?
Maybe it’s just go to first step. Maybe it’s just to come every week. Maybe it’s to build a relationship, join a team, start to give, be a part of the missional move. I don’t know what’s — if you’re over like this, what’s one thing you can do? I’m not saying you even have to get here. Just one step that you can do to align yourself with what He says He’s doing. Are you with me on this? See, catch this. The world right now is looking for identity, relationship and purpose. That’s what we all look for. Watch this. Go to the circles for me. Every one of us, we’re looking for significance, for connection, and we want our life to count to make a difference. Okay. Well, think about this. The three primary analogies that Jesus uses or the bible uses to describe the church are family, a body, and a field. It’s in a family that you figure out you’re a beloved son or a daughter. It’s in a body where you become connected to God and to others. It’s in a field where you’re firmly planted that you become purposed, productive and fruitful, living a life that matters.
That means it’s in the church and only in the church that you’ll ever figure out you’re a beloved son or daughter, that you are connected to God and other people, and to live a life of purpose being planted in His field. When you engage in His church, the family, the body, the field, you start to discover God’s heart for you. And if the church is His bride, then it’s in the church and only in the church that you’ll even figure out the fullness of His love for you. This is not leftovers. This is not optional. This is not, if I have time this week, or if I feel alive and awake and had enough coffee. This is like, if you want to live free, this is Jesus’ method. That’s what matters. So hear me. Don’t let your past experience determine your view of the church. Don’t let some other person’s failure determine your view of the church. Let your view of Jesus determine your view of the church.
My hope for some of you in this missional move is that it’s going to heal you from past church wounds. That some of you, you’re going to get off the sidelines and get in the game, and some of you are going to double down and say, “This is what life is all about.” Don’t let man’s brokenness keep you from God’s design. Come on. Are you with me? Listen. Think how strategic Satan is. He knows the only thing in the universe that can usurp his kingdom is the church. “I will build my church,” Jesus says, “and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” He knows, He heard that. He knows that the only thing that can concur the kingdom of darkness is the church. So what’s he going to attack? You and your view of the church. He’s going to try to offend you, divide you, harass you, frustrate you, separate you, distract you. Because he knows, if he can get you disconnected from what God says will take down his kingdom, he neutralizes us. So here’s the question.
Have you been neutralized? Have you fallen into his trap? This is why the bible tells us in Hebrews 10, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” When the world says, “Do it your way.” Jesus says, “We’re better together and we got to fight for it.” Every follower of Jesus needs a harbor of hope that they contribute to and receive from. And hear me, we can get excited all day long about being hope carriers to the areas of life. It is impossible to be a hope carrier out there if we can’t give and receive hope first in here. Come on. Are you with me on this? See, we are stewards of hope. I get it. I’m trying to change your thinking a little bit here. We’re stewards of hope and there is no person beyond the reach of Jesus when the church understands who the church is. It’s what Jeremiah 29, God says, “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city.” If it prospers, then you too will prosper. Like I’ve taken you to this city. Some of you, you’re like me, you feel like a foreigner.
You’ve been dropped into this land, you’re like, “Where in the world am I? How does this work?” Ask the church. We’re the people of God in a foreign land and He says, “Hey, guess what? You’re the stewards of hope.” And if you don’t decide to be the presence of God in the city, there won’t be any peace and prosperity for the city. Shalom. But when you decide to steward hope and get involved out there, guess what? The lost, the lonely, and the broken will find hope. See, when the church does what the church does, there’s hope for the lost. There’s hope for the lost. There it is. There’s hope for the lost. Like think about this, think how lost our city is. Lost, broken, sin, dysfunction, shame, guilt. Jesus came so the lost will be found. See, people don’t need religion or church service, medicine, a counselor, they need Jesus. And all those things are good, but remember, Jesus is the great physician.
He’s the great healer. He’s the great counselor. He’s life. And it’s the church gets to tell people that there is no other name under heaven, which men might be saved. There’s hope for the lonely. Think how lonely this world is, depressed and detached, and disconnected. Well, guess what? Jesus came to bring people into his family and it’s the church that gets to tell people, and connect people to the presence of God. And then there’s hope for the broken. There is no person beyond the healing power of Jesus and He has decided that he want to heal them through you. So He’s given you gifts and abilities, and talent, and time to use that to bind up the brokenhearted. See, hear me. Hope is here because Jesus is here. Every campus is a harbor of hope. And when people come in, they don’t come into a building, they come into people. When a lost person shows up, they’re not coming to a building. They’re coming to an atmosphere that’s supernaturally created by our faith, hope and love.
Church is, come as you are and become who you were created to be. That’s hope, and that’s what happens every single week. We are the presence of God in the city. We are the stewards of hope. That’s why, just in one month, these are stories that I’ve heard. People show up and they give us their guns because they’re about to take their life and they don’t know what else to do. They’re terrified. They show up and they give us their drugs because they want to be free from their addiction. They show up and say, “I’m thinking about leaving my family and I’m terrified that I’m actually going to do it. Can you help me?” People show up and say, “I just found out that I got cancer. I haven’t been to church in 50 years. I don’t know where to go or what to do. Please, I’m scared.” People show up when their lives are broken, they’re hurting, they’re lonely. They pull in the parking lot and say, “I’m not even sure why I’m here. I just pulled in.” Well, I know why. Because hope is here. Come on. Think about it.
Every week, the lost are found, the lonely are connected, the broken are restored. The sick are healed. Demonic oppression is set free. Next steps are taken. A faith is filled. A hope begins to flow. Love empowers. Every week, man, because it’s supernatural, because it’s what Jesus is doing. So I want to align my life with what Jesus is doing and I don’t want Satan’s schemes to allow me to have dysfunctional thoughts about Jesus’ church, because of what I’ve experienced. I want to look to Jesus and see the one who gave us life so that I might be free. And then in that, understand that I want to be a part of any idea He’s got.
I want to belong to anything that He’s doing. I want to be built with anything He’s building, and I want to be a part of any dream that He has and any movement that He’s initiating. But when we don’t see it that way, it’s because we’ve forgotten how good and gracious Jesus actually is to us. Let me close with this. One day, Jesus is in this house and He’s teaching, and it’s a great day, and the room fills up. It’s a great church. The room is so full, it’s standing-room only. People are packed. They’re like standing in every window out the door, and Jesus is doing that thing that He does. He’s teaching unlike anything anybody’s ever heard before. They’re loving it. They’re taking notes. They’re like, “Give us more. It’s amazing. I mean, it’s like the best churching service you’ve ever had.” And when all that’s happening, there’s a couple of guys that realized Jesus is in town so they go and they grab their friend, this paralyzed man. He spent his whole life paralyzed. They pick him up on a mat and they ran to bring him to church and they get there only to be defeated.
Because the service is so big and people are so focused on Jesus that they can’t get in. But today, they’re going to make sure their friend gets to Jesus. So they walked around and then they decide, there’s no way in so they go up on the roof. And they rip a hole in the roof because they’re desperate to get their friend to Jesus. They lowered him down, and Jesus looks at the man and He says, “Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven.” Now, pick up your man and walk. And for the first time in his life, he walks, grabs the mat, rans out. Everyone goes rushing out, filled with hope, amazement and wonder. And we hear that story and we think it’s about a paralyzed man getting healed. It’s not what that story is about. That story is about a lost man being found. That story is about a lost man who needed to be saved. That’s why Jesus says, “Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven.” That’s the miracle. The healing was the bonus. God saved his soul and fixed his legs in the process. It was his soul that needed to be saved.
And we read that story and we get so confused. See, the problem was, they were having such great church that they forgot about the lost people outside. They were focused on me and Jesus. Me and Jesus. Jesus, build my life. Bless my life. Me and Jesus, that there’s lost people wanting to get in that they’re ignoring. Okay. It can never be about me and Jesus while lost people want to get in. It has to be about us having hope for the lost, the lonely and the broken. And what I love about that story is an unordinary action brought an unordinary result. They ripped a hole in the roof. This is an unordinary action, to take everything we’ve got and risk it for people we don’t know who are lost, and dying, and broken and need Jesus. And I believe it will lead to unordinary results. We have to make it hard for people to go to hell in our city. We have to make it hard to be hopeless in our area. There’s hope. So here’s my question. Who’s that one person in your life that needs hope? For one moment, that person on the mat in your life, in our area, who’s that one person? Why don’t you actually think about him for a second? Maybe it’s your mom, your dad, your ex-husband, your ex-wife. Maybe it’s your stepson or stepdaughter. Maybe it’s your teacher, your neighbor, your friend, your coach. I don’t know. Think of one person. Maybe their name is Steve, Susan, Bill, Katherine. I don’t know. Who’s one person?
That’s who this is for. This can feel so big that we lose the individual impact. This is for that person. See, there’s hope for them. And in a moment when we release service, I want to encourage you in the hope for board that’s out in the atrium, go and write their name by faith out there. Put some faith into action and just say, “Lord, I have hope for Bill, for Susan, for Steve.” Write their names there. Because faith in action starts to say, “Jesus, I want to see your church for what it actually is, a movement of hope for the city and beyond.” Every one of us needs a harbor of hope and the world deserves harbors of hope. So close your eyes with me. Here’s the really simple question today. What’s the Holy Spirit saying to you? I realized that was a lot and I know it’s been a lot, but what does God wants to say to you today? My guess for a lot of us is that there’s an invitation to repent, to change our thinking a little bit. Say, “Jesus, I’m sorry for the way I’ve talked about your church, for the way I’ve treated your church, that I haven’t believed that she’s your idea or your dream. That I forgot that she’s supernatural and this is what you created me for.” And so maybe in your own way, today is the day to say Jesus, “I take a step of alignment with you.”
There’s hope for you, and there’s hope for me and there’s hope for them. Jesus, thank you for the church. Thank you that you bought us with your blood, that we are your idea, that you are building us, that you own us, that you dream about us and that you empower us. Right now, would we be transformed by the renewing of our minds change the way we think so that we wouldn’t just try to consume, but that we would receive and contribute from the harbor of hope, and help create harbors of hope for the world around us? Jesus, may we continue to multiply for the good of others and the glory of God. We love you, Jesus, in your name we pray, amen.