The Cost of Community

Description

In this message, we learn the cost of community.

Hey, everybody, good morning. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. I’m so glad that you’re here with us today, and I want to encourage everybody, mark your calendar, be here with us next weekend, because next weekend, is a historic weekend in the life of Valley Creek Church. You see, it will be the last weekend, that we ever gather together as one church in one location, because next weekend, we get to pray over and launch and commission our Denton Campus team. Good?

So, it’s been a long time in the making, I got so much, I’m so excited to share with you, I can’t get into it all now, but just – you want to be here next week, we got some special stuff, some unifying things that we’re going to talk about. Man, this is where god is leading us, and who God has called Valley Creek Church to be, so it’s a really historic weekend, we get to send them. And I’m just so excited about what Got is doing.

The building is incredible up there, I can’t go there today. That’s all good stuff, but we will tell you, be here next weekend, okay? We are in our series called 2 or 3, and we’re talking about godly relationships, and we started it last week, and we defined what a godly relationship is, we said that everybody at Valley Creek Church, every follower of Jesus needs 2 or 3 godly relationships in their life, and we said that a godly relationship is not just Christian community, it’s someone you talk about, learn about, and become like Jesus with. That’s what a godly relationship is, someone you talk about Jesus with, you fill your conversations with who he is, and what he’s doing, you learn about Jesus together, process your faith, share revelation, and become like Jesus together, actually take next steps on your journey with him.

And we said last week that whoever you’re walking with, the bible teaches us, you will end up going where they’re going, and becoming who they’re becoming.

That’s why it’s so important to have godly relationships in your life, because you want to go where they’re going, and become who they’re becoming. And your homework assignment this week, was to evaluate the relationships in your life, and just ask yourself the question, do I really want to go where those people are going, and become who those people are becoming? And so I hope you took some time to just process that with the Lord.

And we use Matthew 18:20, we said this is the theme verse for this series where Jesus says, “Where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, there I am also.” And I think we love the idea of godly relationships, until we get to the part of that verse that says, gather, like we actually got to get together. I think we love the idea of it, until it costs us something. We love the idea of godly relationships, until it’s a little bit inconvenient, and then we’re not so sure anymore, that we actually want to make the effort to find those relationships.

If I can be totally honest with you, in this series, I have a massive burden in my heart for you, to experience godly relationships. I think you could hear it in my preaching last week, you’re going to hear it in my preaching today. I didn’t even realize I had this big of a burden, until we’ve got into this series. My heart is all kind knotted up, and I’m trying to figure out how to communicate it you, and share with you, but I’ve got this burden on my heart for you, because I know that if you don’t have 2 or 3 godly relationships, you won’t become everything Jesus has called you to be, if you don’t have godly relationships, it will directly impact the quality of your church experience.

If you don’t have godly relationships in your life, you will never fully experience the resurrected Jesus Christ and all that’s available to you, through him. And so I’ve got this burden on my heart for you, and I’m trying to figure out how to cast a vision, how to inspire you, how to challenge you, how to motivate you to move forward, and step into these relationships.

You see, the church cannot compete with the world, in a whole lot of areas., okay? The church cannot compete with the world when you talk about entertainment, media, performance, programming, we can’t compete with the world with that stuff, nor do we want to.

And on the other side, the world cannot compete with the church when it comes to the presence of God, the word of God, being taught over your life by faith, and godly relationships. The world’s got nothing on us, when you get to those things, okay? World can’t give you the presence of Jesus, the world can’t teach you the word of God by faith over your life, and the world cannot give you Godly relationships.

And what we’ve done in American Christianity over these last few years is, we’ve reversed it, and we look for the wrong things in the wrong places. We come to church and we look for media, entertainment, performance, and programming, and we go out into the world and we look for fulfillment, for wisdom, and relationships.

Listen, it’s time to reverse those things back. That’s why I have this burden on my heart for you, because I want you to experience everything Jesus says the Church is supposed to be in your life. And I want you to experience the godly relationships that he says is here, and available to you, right now, in this church. And so I’ve got a burden, and many of you have a desire to get connected in godly relationships, and what I love about the bible is, it speaks to my burden, and your desire.

So if you got your bibles, turn with me to Acts 2 and Acts 16. Acts 2 and Acts 16, what I think is so cool about the bible is, no matter what you’re going through in life, you’re not the first person to experience it. All you need to do is go to the scripture, and search and study, and you will find someone else, who’s walked through the exact same thing you’ve walked through and it will give you wisdom and encouragement.

And what I love about Acts 2 is, it speaks to my burden as the leader of this church, to try to help you experience godly relationships, and your desire to get connected. And just so you know, as I jump into this message, I’m preaching this message assuming you actually want godly relationships in your life, okay? We kind of talked about the need for them, last week. And if you’re a follower of Jesus, whether you acknowledge you want them or not, the Jesus in you is calling out to the Jesus in others, because he’s always trying to unite his body back together.

So you can pretend for the rest of your life, that you’re good, and you don’t need godly relationships, as a follower of Jesus, but the Jesus in you, is calling out to the Jesus in others, pulling you together, because Jesus will always lead you back towards people, because he wants his body to be united, okay? So that’s the assumption, I’m going to dive into some stuff, again, maybe a little bit uncomfortable, track with me all the way to the end, because I’m going to bring you, I think some freedom and some hope at the end, okay? Are you ready?

Okay. Acts 2, this is the first church, resurrected Jesus is gone, spirit of the living God comes the church of Jerusalem, it says, Acts 2:42, they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day, the continued to meet together in the temple courts, they broke bread in their homes, and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily, those who were being saved.

One really simple question, does that passage inspire anybody else?

I’ve read that thousands of times in my life, every time I read those handful of verses, I get so inspired, because that is what the Church is supposed to look like. That’s Jesus’ dream, that’s Jesus’ hope, that’s an available reality for Valley Creek Church. I don’t know if you believe it or not, but we can be one church, in multiple locations, living, acting, experiencing, the exact things that those guys experience in the first century.

You see, that’s not just a description of what the Church look like, it’s a prescription of what the Church is supposed to look like. It’s not just what the Church can be, it’s what the Church should be, that’s Jesus’ dream, that is a life giving spirit filled Jesus focused Church, that’s what we want to be, okay?

And when you read those versus, you get this really cool picture, that you realize, everybody in that church was experiencing a supernatural lifestyle and godly relationships. You read it, it jumps off the page at you. They all experience the super natural lifestyle, and godly relationships, and we read that and we think, hey, that’s really cool for them, but because we haven’t experienced that in our own lives, most likely, it kind of leaves us with doubt that it’s available for us today.

Can I tell you something? Just because you haven’t experienced it, doesn’t mean it’s not real. Just because you haven’t personally experienced it in your life, it doesn’t mean it’s not real. You got to stop lowering your theology down to your experience, and start raising your experience up to your theology. Don’t bring what you believe, down to what you can see, bring what you see up to what you believe, okay? That’s called, faith, that’s what faith is. Let the word of God have more authority in your life, than your own personal experience, okay?

So you got 3,000 people here in this church, and it says, the Lord added to their number, daily, those who were being saved. I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds like Valley Creek Church. Thousands of people, and every day, someone new is coming to meet Jesus, and joining the church. And when I read that passage, I can see the apostles with their eyes like this big, stressed out like, oh my goodness, how are we going to disciple all these people and help them get connected and find godly relationships. I know the feeling, that’s why I know exactly what it looked like, in their minds.

And then I can see in the people’s faces, as they’re getting saved and joining into this church of thousands of people, stepping in, a little bit scared, intimated, and nervous, thinking, how am I going to get connected, and how am I going to meet people and how am I going to become like Jesus?

That first century church felt just like a whole lot of you feel today. There’s a little bit of overwhelming, a little bit of scariness, a little bit of, what am I getting myself into, and how does this whole thing work out? And what I love is what it says in Acts 2:42, that they devoted themselves, to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. In other words, they devoted themselves to godly relationships.

You see, that original word in the Greek, the word, devoted, it means to continue to do something, with intense effort, despite difficulty. I love that. To continue to do something, with intense effort, despite difficulty. Every new person who showed up in that first century Church, was devoted, to getting godly relationships. They made an effort, despite difficulty. They knew it was going to be a challenge, but they didn’t give up. You see, what the apostles did was, the apostles created an environment where relationships could flourish, but the people were devoted in their own heart, to finding godly relationships. When they got saved, they no longer expected anybody to connect them, they now become connectors for other people.

And when I read that this week, it brought me so much freedom, because I thought, listen, my job in this church is to create an environment where healthy relationships can flourish, your job is to be devoted to finding godly relationships.

That’s the first century Church, that’s got to be our pattern too. My job is to create an environment where relationships can flourish, an environment of faith, hope, and love, where Jesus is revealed more, every time we gather. Your job is to be devoted, to continue to make an effort, despite difficulty, not sit there and say, well, they didn’t invite me and nobody asked me. No. Making an effort, expecting challenges.

I realized, we read that and some of you think, well, it sure is easy for them, that’s the first century Church, like, easy for them. They could have been beaten and killed for their faith, and they didn’t have a website to say, “The next gather time is at such and such,” you know, like, no, it’s never been easy for anybody, that’s why the bible uses the word, devoted, you have to make an effort despite difficulty.

I mean think of the other things in your life, right, has anybody ever gone out on just one date, in their entire life, the date didn’t go well, and you just decided, I’m just never going to date anybody ever again. Anybody?

Maybe I’m not going to date you no more, because that didn’t work out, but I’m going to be devoted, I’m going to continue to make an effort, despite difficulty. How about – has anybody every applied for one job in their life, and you didn’t get that job, and you just decided, well, I guess I’m just not going to work for the rest of my life. No, you are devoted, you continue to make an effort despite difficulty.

This is the moment I could insert a really good government joke, but the Holy Spirit is my best friend, and he’s telling me to stay away from that, this morning. You know, don’t do that. Okay, we’re going to stay away from that.

How about a restaurant, you had a bad restaurant experience, does that mean you’re never going to go to a restaurant again? No, you’re devoted, you make an effort despite difficulty. Why is it any different when we get to godly relationships?

Some of you have tried it, and it’s not worked out. Listen, some of you got connected with the Eeyore guy, right? You know, Eeyore in a while, “Oh, well. I guess we got to talk about Jesus together today.” Right? Like, okay, no. Like, that didn’t work, try again.

Some of you joined a group, you got the weird group, okay, you ended up in the weird group. There are always weird groups, praise the Lord of weird groups, because it gathers all the weird people together, and they all congregate over here. Okay?

And the good news for you is if try that group, you know where it is, so you can send other weird people to it, to spare the rest of us, okay? So just try again. Maybe you’re here and you got hurt. And you got hurt by somebody. And I want to tell you, I’m really sorry that you got hurt, because that’s not God’s intension. People hurt people so God uses people to heal people. So the worst thing you can do is say, I’m not doing that again. The best you can do is say, I got to press in and be devoted because God will use someone else to heal me from the hurt that someone before caused in my heart. And be devoted. And look at Jesus and his disciples again. We talked about it last week. We got to stop looking at Jesus and his disciples through the children’s Bible pictoral thing, right?

Like I think we think of Jesus and his disciples, they’re all like the same height and weight and they wear the flowing robes and they got everything in common and life is like really — no, they couldn’t have been more different. Peter was an obnoxious fisherman, Matthew was an educated tax collector, Bartholomew never talked or said a word, Judas was a deceiver, Thomas was the skeptic. These guys couldn’t have been any more different. And I think we look at it and we think the three years they hung out together with Jesus was just blissful and amazing, and they always got along. Are you kidding me? They offended — I mean if you hung out with Peter for one hour, you would be offended. Just think about it. Who wasn’t going to be offended at John and James with their pride of wanting to sit at the right hand and the left hand of Jesus? They offended each other all the time. And if you’re going to get in godly relationships, you will be offended. Write it down, so when it happens, bing, you say, oh John told me this was going to happen, so you’re not surprised.

It will happen. I promise you. In fact, you need to get in godly relationships so you can be offended because getting offended is God’s grace in your life. It reveals something gross inside your own heart and now God can deal with. And when you’re offended, instead of praying, Lord, change them, it’s, Lord, change me. You see, how did those guys make it through three years together in spite of offense and differences? Because was the center of their relationship. They didn’t gather in their name, they gathered in Jesus’ name. And Colossians 1:17 says, “He holds all things together.” When he is in the center of the relationship, he will hold it together when you gather in his name. Do you know why most of our relationships implode including our relationships within the church? Because we’re in the center and we don’t gather in Jesus’ name, we gather in our name. And I’m telling you, you’re not strong enough to hold your relationships together, only Jesus can do that.

And so you have to ask yourself the question, who is the center of your relationships? Because if it’s you, they’re already starting to fly apart. Only Jesus can hold it together. You see, I want to be real upfront with you in the series, that getting in godly relationships, there’s a cost to it. It’s not easy. This is not like, you know, just — I don’t know, I was going to say, pancakes and roses, but I don’t know what that means. But it’s not like pancakes and roses to get in godly relationships. I don’t know. But there’s a cost to it. It cost Jesus everything to have relationship with you, it will cost you something to have godly relationship with others, okay? Flip over with me to Acts 16 and let me show you this. Acts 16, this is the weirdest passage that I think I’ve ever used in a sermon. And you got to remember, everything’s written in the Bible for a reason, God’s put it there. And usually, there is a deeper meaning when you read something. And I think this passage, the deeper meaning really communicates to us the cost of getting in godly relationships. It’s odd, but I think you’ll remember it when I’m done.
So Acts 16, starting in verse 1, “Paul and Silas came to Derbe and then to Lystra where a disciple named Timothy lived whose mother was a Jewish and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.” Okay. Paul and Silas show up in town and they want to have a godly relationship with Timothy. And for Timothy, to enter into this godly relationship, he had to be circumcised, okay? I realized, all of the men just said, then I’m out. I don’t care what you say after this, I’m out on this godly relationship business. Listen, he had to be circumcised to get in this godly relationship because if he wasn’t, they were going to go and preach to the Jews.

He would have become a stumbling block to the Jews. So for Timothy, to walk with Paul and Silas, there was a cost in his own life to get in that godly relationship. And I think the deeper meaning that God uses, I think it’s there strategically for us as He’s communicating that if you’re going to get in godly relationships, there is always a cost you have to be willing to pay. See, you have to be willing to be vulnerable, okay? Timothy had to be vulnerable, can we agree with that? That’s pretty vulnerable. And if you’re going to get in godly relationships with other people, you got to be vulnerable. You got to reveal your heart and open up what’s inside of you and be honest, and authentic and transparent. 1 John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.” If we walk in the light — the only way you can have fellowship or godly relationships with other people is by being vulnerable, by bringing the things out of the darkness, the secret things, the hidden things, the things you want no one else to know about. It says, if we bring those into the light where Jesus can reveal it and heal it, in front of other people, that’s when godly relationships are birthed in our life.

How about James 5:16, “Confess your sins to one another that you may be healed.” We don’t confess our sins to each other to be forgiven, we’re already forgiven by Jesus’ finished work. We confess our sins to each other to be healed and whole. Some of you, you’ve got secrets in your life you’ve carried around for years, and they’re destroying you. They’re known at your heart, and at your mind, and at your life. It’s this burden you can’t bear to carry by yourself. The Bible says, confess it, bring it out into the light. There’s this healing, there is this wholeness that comes when you do that. In fact, you can only be loved to the level at which you’re known. And the reason so few of us ever feel loved is because we know that we’re not fully known. You can only be loved to the level at which you’re known. And what a lot of us do is we say, I’ve got stuff back here. They love me up until this level, let’s just keep it that way.

This is safe, there’s no risk involved. I’m going to keep it back here. But in your mind, you know you’re not fully loved because you’re afraid, if I bring this out, they may reject me, they may walk away. You can only be loved to the level at which you’re known, which makes it so significant that every time God says He loves you, it makes it even more significant than I think we read it at first glance because what God’s communicating is I fully know you so I actually have the authority to say I fully love you. You see, if you want to connect with other people, share your weaknesses. No one connects over your pride or your victories or your strength. Share failure. Friendship is born when you share something with somebody else and they look back at you and say, you too? Because I thought I was the only one. Okay. Be vulnerable. Then you got to be willing to give something up. Timothy had to give something up. And if you’re going to get in godly relationships, you got to be willing to give something up. Maybe it’s your pride, your ego, ambition, convenience, personal freedoms, personal right. You’re going to have to give something up out of your calendar.
The idol of the calendar that we worship, we pack our lives so full, if you’re going to get in godly relationships, you actually are going to have to change something in your calendar. You can’t expect everybody else to change and you get to stay the same. And this is where pride and selfishness creeps in that keeps us from godly relationships because we don’t want to give something up. And then you got to be willing to trust. Timothy had to trust Paula and Silas that they had his best intentions in heart. And we have to trust other people, some of you have to choose to trust people again. In fact, Proverbs 27:6 says, “The wounds of a friend can be trusted. But an enemy multiplies kisses.” I think we spend our lives looking for enemies who will multiply kisses. In other words, tell us exactly what we want to hear. You realize, if you’re hanging with somebody and they just tell you exactly what you want to hear, they’re not a friend, the Bible calls them an enemy? You think, it’s not an enemy, that’s my closest friend. If they always tell you what you want to hear, the Bible says they’re an enemy. But wounds from a friend can be trusted.

Timothy literally had to be hurt by Paul and Silas so he can be could be healed, had to be hurt so he could step into his destiny. You have to let people hurt you so they can heal you. It’s like my little kids, right, when they get a sliver, I got to chase some down, I got to grab their hand, step on their foot so they can’t get away. You know, that’s good parenting right there. And I got to hurt them so I can heal them. I got to hurt them to get the sliver out so that they can be healed. You got to trust people enough to do that in your life. And what I love about this passage is Timothy could have said, what? You’re all crazy, I’m staying right here. I got friends. I ain’t paying that cost. I’m a grown man. I ain’t paying that cost to go on this little godly relationship journey with you all. It’s not what he does. He pays it and it changes the entire course of the rest of his life and the lives of a whole lot of other people that he impacts. And what I think the deeper meaning in this passage that God is communicating to us is, if you’re going to get in godly relationships, you have to be willing to be circumcised in the heart.

You have to be willing to let something be cut out of your heart, pride, ambition, individualism, selfishness, control, your calendar. Whatever it is, something’s got to be cut out in here. You see, in the Old Testament, circumcision was a sign between man and God saying, I will now walk with you. When you cut something out of your heart to get in godly relationships, it’s a sign to say, I will walk with you. And we want someone else to pay the cost, but you got to be willing to pay the cost. You got to be vulnerable from the heart, give something up inside the heart, trust from the heart. In fact, it’s not what’s out here that keeps from godly relationships, it’s what’s in here that keeps us from godly relationships. So you got to stop blaming other people saying, it’s their fault that you don’t have godly relationships in your life. No, it’s in here, okay? You’ll probably never look at that passage the same again now, which was the intent. Now, you can remember that.

But it’s reality. You see, the world will tell you to find a friend. This is the world tells you, find a friend. Find someone just like you that’s convenient to hang out with, that will meet your needs, serve you, preferably watch your kids and pay for your meals, right? Which is why Facebook is wildly successful because as long as you’re meeting my needs, we can be friends. The moment you annoy me, blip, I just click the unclick button and you’re gone, you’re set free. And we bring that mentally into the church. But the kingdom tells you the total opposite. The kingdom doesn’t say, find a friend, the kingdom says, be a friend. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man with friends must himself be friendly.” That just makes sense, doesn’t it? It means you got to be a friend first if you ever want friends in your life. How about 1 Corinthians 10:24? “Nobody should seek his own good but the good of others.” Don’t go to get your needs met or to have someone serve you, you go and meet their needs and you serve them. Proverbs 11:25, “A man who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Do you want to be refreshed? Go refresh other people, encourage them. How about the one another verses in the Bible? Be devoted to one another, forgive each other, bear one another’s burdens, encourage one another. Stop waiting for people to one another you, and you go one another them. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us,” which means we’re in relationship with God because He loved us and it created love in our heart back for Him. Same is true this way. Go love other people first and it will create love in their heart back for you. In fact, a really challenging honest question you got to ask yourself is, would you want to be friends with you? Would you want to be friends with you? Are you someone who shows up to give and serve and bless and meet needs? Or are you always there complaining and whining and expecting and demanding and criticizing? Would you want to be friends with you? I mean look at Jesus, the Bible says, he was a friend of sinners and tax collectors. He never expected anybody to befriend him, he befriended everybody.

He walked up to the leper, touched him and healed him, he walked up to the woman caught in adultery, didn’t give her any shame or condemnation, picked her up, blessed her, forgave her and sent her on her way. The demoniac, he met him in a graveyard and set him free from demons. The crowds, he fed the crowds. Lazarus, he raised Lazarus from the dead. Listen, I’m telling you, you raise me from the dead, I’ll be your friend for life, okay? You raise someone from the dead spiritually, they’ll be your friend for life. John 15:16, Jesus says, “You didn’t choose me, I chose you.” Stop waiting for someone to choose you in this church. You go and choose them. Don’t wait for someone to be a friend to you, go and look for someone to be a friend too. And you might say, okay, well, practically, how do I do that here? Really simple, stuff like this. Come to service 15 minutes early and 15 minutes late. That’s 30 minutes to your entire week. Sit in the café, have a cup of coffee and talk to people. I’ll promise you, you’ll meet people. Come to the same service every week, sit in the same section because we’re all creatures of habit and we end up in the same places.

You know it’s true, unless someone got your seat before you today, right? And then that’s the frustrating part. But we’re creatures of habit. And then when we give you time to talk to other, actually walk over and like introduce yourself. You’ll be amazed at how fast you start to get to know people. Invite someone to your house or out for dinner. What friends in your life do you have that have never been to your house or you’ve never been out to dinner with? Something happens in that moment. Join a team. Serve around here. Fastest way, it’s like a band of brothers. Man, you got on mission with people, you start bonding with them really quick. Use the things we give you. Merge, Soul Sisters, Experience, All In, Leadership Community, Beyond, come to those things when they’re available. How about this? Have you ever just stopped and asked God? Ever just pray? Hey Lord, I love godly relationships in this church. Will you provide and give me some wisdom? And in every one of those situations, don’t go to find a friend, go and be a friend. Listen, can I just — what I like about our church is that we’re just kind of honest and we go to the bottom line.

One of the things that’s really sad to me and where we live here is we’ll get people from other churches and they’ll show up and they’ll come and they’ll meet us and they’ll say, oh yeah, I was at such and such church for six months, a year, five years, whatever it is and they’ll say, I just never could get — and it’s really sad that you even know that word. And the excuse is I couldn’t get connected there, so we’re coming here to try to get connected. And the sad part to me is like, I know that church and it’s a good church. And they’re creating environments where relationships can flourish. And sometimes I want to look at those people and say, “Hey, did you make an effort?” Did you walk around and did you go and try to be a friend to other people and did you pray about it and did you pray about it and did you use the things that were available to you or did you just sit back and wait for somebody to show up and invite you to their house and it never happens so you’re disappointed and offended, you’re going to come here with the same attitude, I promise you the same thing will happen here. Not because we’re not a friendly church, we’re a very friendly church but you got to make the effort, you can’t defer your responsibility to get connected to other people.

And I think at the end of the day, there’s two real big reasons that we don’t get connected or find godly relationships because who cares about having Christian fellowship when what we’re talking about is godly relationships? Don’t get stressed out about the word “fellowship” let’s call it “Christian community” okay? Because that’s the wrong word we use. But it’s – we’re too busy, we fill our lives so full of business that we pack our calendars, we’ve got no time for relationships, some of you make your life so busy, so you don’t have to get in relationships because you’re afraid of them but the bigger reason is we’re just terrified of being rejected. At the end of the day, here’s where I’m trying to pull this whole message to is this, we’re terrified of being rejected. Terrified. We wear masks, we keep our distance, we sit on the sidelines, we stay to the fringe because if I stay out here, you can’t really hurt me. And if you’re afraid of being rejected, then you have forgotten that Jesus was rejected so you can be accepted. You forgot it. When Jesus hung on the cross, what did he say? He said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

And in that moment, Jesus took all your pain and your shame and your sin and your brokenness, your embarrassment, the things you want to keep in the dark, the things you don’t want anybody to know about, he took all of that, your loneliness, he took all of it in that moment and Jesus experienced the pain of separation for the first time in his life, he was rejected by the Father, he was forsaken, Jesus was rejected so you and I never have to be. In fact, now in Jesus, you’re fully known, fully loved with no fear of rejection. Fully known, he knows everything about you. And because he knows everything about you, he can fully love you because he doesn’t look at you through your lens, he looks at you through the lens of Jesus Christ with no fear of rejection. Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Kind of sounds like never, do you agree with that? Kind of sounds like it’ll never happen. You’re his beloved son or daughter and whom he is well pleased in Jesus. Jesus came to get what you deserved, rejection, so you could get what he deserved, acceptance.

And until you believe that, I mean believe it, not cognitively say it, believe it, you always enter your relationships skeptical, guarded and judgmental, you will expect other people to reject you and you will reject them. In fact, do you find yourself saying things like this well, they didn’t invite me and they didn’t call me and they didn’t remember me and she forgot my birthday and he didn’t encourage me and they didn’t say anything and they posted this big thing on fellowship and – on fellowship, on Facebook is what I’m looking for, Facebook, and they didn’t invite me to come to this thing on Facebook and I can’t believe it, why didn’t anybody invite me and all this stress about nobody including me, do you know what that’s called? It’s called insecurity. You’re letting other people define your value in life, okay? The other side of the spectrum is can you believe they acted like that? Can you believe they got that going on in their life and their kid behave that way and that they said this and that?

I mean who would want to hang out with that guy? Can you believe – that’s called judgment. And judgment is self-protection, because if I judge you now, you can’t reject me later. If I judge you first, you can’t reject me later because I’ve just devalued you to a place where your voice has no authority in my life anymore. If I reject – if I judge you now, I’m rejecting you first, you can’t reject me later. In fact, the most judgmental, critical people you know in your life are the ones who are the most terrified of being rejected. It’s why they judge or they act like I don’t care what anybody else thinks. Inside they’re terrified of being rejected, so they judge and criticize everyone first so no one can hurt them later. You see, if you think you have to earn God’s love, you always make other people earn your love. If you think you have to deserve God’s forgiveness, you’ll make other people deserve your forgiveness. If you think you have to achieve God’s favor, you’ll make other people achieve your favor. If you think God could reject you, you will always anticipate other people rejecting you and if you think God is judging you, you will always judge other people.

Romans 15:7, “Accept one another as Christ has accepted you.” Until you really believe you’ve been accepted by Christ, you will never be able to fully accept others for who they are and you will never allow yourself to fully be accepted by them. In fact, if you think of Jesus again, how did he go and be a friend to everyone? Because Jesus was totally secure in his Father’s love. Totally secure. He knew he was fully known, fully loved, with no fear of rejection. He knew he was his Father’s beloved and whom the Father was well pleased. Read the gospels, Jesus was rejected at every turn. Judas, one of his closest friends, his brothers and his sisters, his own flesh and blood brothers and sisters, they all rejected him and yet I think every time Jesus just looked back at the Father and said, “Thank you, Father, that no matter what happens around me, You will never reject me. I am secure, I am accepted, I am wanted and loved.”

See, if you’re afraid of being rejected in this life, it’s because you don’t really believe you’ve been fully accepted by the Father. Maybe you need to take Hebrews 13:5 and just start meditating on it, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” But what if I, never. But what happens if, never. What about, never. Never. In fact, when you’re in Jesus, the Father cannot reject you again, He cannot reject you because He has already forsaken Jesus and if He now rejects you, He would nullify the work of the cross. This is big stuff and we carry these wounds with us because we think that God is mad at us. In fact, if you think God can reject you at some point in time for your future failure, you’re saying your future failure has more power than Jesus’ finished work. I mean, you got to think of the cross, the horizontal beam rests on the vertical beam.

Your relationships rest on this relationship. These relationships are only as stable as this relationship is strong. And if you’re afraid to get in godly relationships because you’re afraid somebody’s going to reject you, it’s because you don’t really believe you’ve been accepted this way. I’m telling you, Jesus died so you could be fully accepted, rejection should not be an emotion or a fear that a believer carries around because it’s already been taken care of. In fact, the Bible says if they reject you on this earth, they’re not even rejecting you, they’re rejecting Jesus. He says if they reject you, they’re not rejecting you, they’re rejecting Him. And God has provided great godly relationships for you in this church, you just have to now participate by faith. Be devoted, make an effort despite difficulty, be a friend. In fact, when you go into those relationships, don’t go self- focused, go Jesus focused, okay? Don’t go self- conscious, go Jesus conscious. Don’t go and try to gather in your name with your needs and your problems and your insecurities, get together with other people in Jesus’ name with his solutions, his provision and his full acceptance.

There is a cost to getting godly relationships but Jesus has really already paid it. He took all of the rejection, the fear of actually being known by other people, he took it all on the cross, you’re now fully accepted. The cost we have to pay is gathering in his name instead of in gathering in our name. Letting him be the center, him hold it together, resting in his acceptance in our life and when you know you’re fully known, fully loved with no fear of rejection, it’s really easy to be vulnerable, to give something up and trust from the heart. There is a cost, but it’s so worth it. Because when you gather in Jesus’ name, you experience the resurrected Jesus Christ. That’s what changes our lives.

How can we ever reveal Jesus to the world if we’re not willing to be devoted enough to reveal Jesus to each other first? Listen, I realize some of you, this is terrifying what I’m saying. Terrifying. You’re like, “I like coming in and enjoying the big corporate gathering, I don’t –“ listen, it’s slow next steps. We’re learning from the first church, their lives exploded with the power and presence of Jesus, they changed the world, turned it upside down because they were devoted to get in godly relationships. Some of you, you’ve been hurt, today’s a new day to let Jesus heal you. Some of you, you’re terrified of this whole thing, start by just meditating on the fact that you have been fully accepted by Jesus Christ. We’ve got to start changing the way we think so that we’ll move into the way – to change the way we live, okay?

Are you with me? So you close your eyes and let me just ask you what’s – just what do you sense the Holy Spirit’s saying to you? I know this is deep, I know for some of you I’m digging in places in your heart you don’t want me to dig. But the Holy Spirit is here and he’s trying to bring comfort and encouragement. He wants to bring you freedom. He’s not trying to hurt you, he’s trying to free you from whatever bondage has been in your life. Some of you, maybe it was five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, you had great godly relationships in your life, something happened and you’ve never reengaged since, maybe today’s the day. Maybe it’s as simple as telling the Lord, “Lord, I was hurt by people, so I need some people to heal me.”

Maybe you’re here and you’re new to this whole following Jesus thing and all this sounds crazy and you’re like, “Man, I got friends but I know they’re not friends I really should be hanging out with, they’re taking me in the wrong direction. I don’t know, this church is so big. I don’t know, how do I do it?” Listen, the first church, thousands of people, but every individual made a decision in their heart to say, “I will be devoted, I will make an effort despite difficulty.” It’s so freeing to know difficulty will come, you don’t get surprised. When it doesn’t work out with somebody, don’t be surprised. It’s difficulty. Satan wants to do everything he can to isolate you and divide you and keep you by yourself. I think one of the greatest tricks Satan has in the Bible belt of American Christianity is to keep us under this fallacy where if we just go and try it at another church, it might be a little easier to get connected and 10 years go by, five churches later and we still don’t have godly relationships and we’ve lost 10 years of kingdom work.

Ten years of living with the resurrected Jesus Christ. At some point, you just got to make a decision to say, “This is scary.” It is scary, man. It is. But when you rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ, they can’t reject you because he has already accepted you. And maybe you’re here and this whole thing of rejection, you’ve maybe just experienced rejection recently in your life by someone, today’s your day to put your faith and your trust in Jesus and say, “Lord Jesus, I receive your acceptance. I received it when you died on the cross, you were forsaken that I might be accepted and I now walk with you, I give you all my sin and my shame and my brokenness and I take your righteousness and your holiness and your redemption and I will walk with you secure and valued and loved because of who you are and what you’ve done in my life.” That can just be logic or cognitive information in your head or you can buy faith, choose to reach into the spiritual realm and say, “No, this is true.”

“This is an anchor for my soul. And if I believe it, it will change how I engage in every relationship in my life because I now am fully known, fully loved, with no fear of rejection.” So Jesus, we thank you for the body that you’re building us into, we invite you to keep moving and working. Lord, help us to be devoted, to look past the offenses and the obstacles and the calendar and the challenges and childcare and all that stuff that we use to kind of create an obstacle in the way, remove all of that stuff, Lord. Help us to be a friend around this place and would you supernaturally, Holy Spirit, draw us together into godly relationships where we can be free to encounter the fullness of the resurrected Jesus Christ because we two or three are gathered in your name, you show up and you meet us in that place.

May that be true of Valley Creek Church from this day forward and forever, that we are a church that gathers around your name, Jesus, not our name. We love you, Lord. Thanks for what you’re doing in this place. Hey, if you’re here and you need prayer for anything, we got people here to pray for you, maybe you need prayer to – you want to meet Jesus or you need prayer for healing or prayer for some pain of rejection in your life, come up and just let these people pray for you, let them minister to you before you leave. If you’re new to Valley Creek Church, I’d love to invite you to Guest Central, it’s right out here, our leaders will be in there, they’d love to meet you. For those of you that want to give your tithes and offerings, there’s boxes at every door when you leave, we believe giving is a response to the goodness and the grace of Jesus but listen to me, may you go this week resting that you are fully known, fully loved, with no fear of rejection because of what Jesus has done and that will change how you engage with everyone else around you. I love you. Have a good week.

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