“The Main Thing”

** This blog post is not my own creation… this is a passage from a sermon by John Ortberg.  PLEASE check out his teaching at menlo.church sometime.  

The name of this sermon is called “The Main Thing”. It claims that the main thing for churches, our ultimate mission is to “present everyone mature in Christ.” And I agree. Young & old, new Christian & veteran Christians, men, women, … everyone.

Sermon Scripture:

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”    Colossians 1:27-29

On television over the last several years there have a number of shows about what are called makeovers…extreme makeovers. Did you ever see any of those? They can actually be surprisingly moving because they usually involve not just like new makeup jobs. They’ll take people who have features for which they have been ridiculed, felt embarrassed since they were kids, and then people go through a process. It might involve surgery, reconstruction, diet, exercise, some processes that might be fairly costly or painful to do a makeover.

These show are watched by millions of people, and it’s swamped by folks who would like to be a part of something like this. Everybody wants a makeover. I’ve seen the before and after pictures and it’s amazing how dramatic the changes are. You’ve probably seen similar shows and photos. After seeing them you can’t help but think, “I would never would have guessed that the person in the “AFTER” picture is the same human being as the one in the “BEFORE” one.”

Typically the climax of the whole makover process is when the “new you” gets presented. Everybody who loves you is gathered there…spouse, friends, relatives, workers. Then there is this unveiling. “Now I present”… and this made-over person comes out. Very often they’ll look in the mirror and they’ll just be in tears because you know what’s on the outside is what we really long for is to be remade on the inside. The friends, when they see them, they can’t believe the difference.

Now one other thing we all need to know about these shows, and you’ll know where I’m headed with this…the people who go through this process, they actually expect to be transformed. Like if they didn’t look any different at the end of the process than they did at the beginning, they would want to know what went wrong. They would want all that money and effort back. They assume transformation is normative. It is expected.

Now how about us as Christians? Just take one statement from the apostle Paul. Paul says to the church at Philippi, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” …  How is that one going for you? Should we really aim for that? What do you think?  I’m serious about this. Let’s say somebody has been around a church for five years. Do you think they really should have made some progress in that department? Should we all expect if somebody is following Jesus, getting to know people who love them, learning to live in His presence, studying the Scripture, praying, should we really expect that people are progressively growing in their ability to do life without complaining or arguing, or is Paul just talking to hear himself talk?

Is it all just a bunch of religious language? Is what we’re really expecting for people is to go to church and be kind and respectable and do the obediant church thing… and hope they end up in heaven when they die? Quite often it seems that we really don’t actually expect for everyone to progressively be growing toward being presented mature in Christ. But, That’s the main thing! It boggles my mind how people can go to church and think that it’s about doing certain kinds of services or perpetuating certain kinds of traditions, or engaging in certain kinds of programs, and nobody is actually expecting that people are really genuinely becoming the people God created them to be.

The main thing for a church is not just to put on great services, not just to attract a whole bunch of people, it’s to actually help people become mature in Christ and it ain’t easy. But then Paul finds this strange thing right in the middle of all that difficulty, labor, and reality and sin and junk and habit, I find it’s not just me at work. Everywhere I turn there is God at work. I labor struggling, but not just with my power, with His energy. Over and over, I actually experience this, you will too. There He is. His energy that works, not just works, that so powerfully works in somebody like me.

The main thing is to present everyone mature in Christ, and maybe the most important two words are in Christ. See that is Paul’s signature phrase. He uses it scores of times. The reality in which we’re to be immersed, to live, the way that a fish lives in water, the way that we’re surrounded by air, the spiritual reality that is more important to us than air is to be in Christ and for Christ to be in us, to be connected to Him….

… The sermon goes on, and it’s VERY good.

I hope to post “my own” blog entry soon, but I just wanted to share this with all of you!


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