Go 01: Learning As We Go

Go 01: Learning As We Go

November 16, 2019 2 By Stanley Isaacs


– [Narrator] Church, what comes to mind when you hear the word church? A building, an event, a
charity, a social club, something nice to do on a Sunday morning? Or maybe something more. What’s the purpose of the church? Why are we here? The word church means
the gathering of people with a purpose. We are called to embody
Jesus to each other and the world around us. The church is its best when we
follow Jesus and love others, when we introduce people
to the Jesus-centred life. This is the most loving thing we can do. This has been our experience. As a church, we’ve been our best when we’ve loved others in ways that are generous,
counter-cultural, and other-centred. This is who God has created
The Meeting House to be. It’s what inspired a small church to challenge religious culture and become a church for
people who aren’t into church. It drove us to launch our first mission, to look beyond the walls of one building and consider a new way of doing church in multiple locations. It motivated us to rethink what
it means to be compassionate and donate millions to partner with the most vulnerable
people in our world, and it moved us to
invest time and resources in producing curriculum to disciple not only our kids and youth, but thousands of students
across North America and beyond. This is our story. We are a movement
compelled by Jesus’ command to go and make disciples. It’s how we love people. – Amen.
(crowd cheering) – [Narrator] But our story
is still being written. God is still calling us to embody Jesus to the world around us, and we
believe that he’s calling us to do this in new and innovative ways, to take our focus on
evangelism and discipleship to the next level. The world is always changing. Our culture, our cities,
our families are evolving. If we want to love people,
then we need to go to them. This is why we want to boldly invest in equipping our church
family to creatively engage with people in our communities
who’ve never meaningfully encountered the good news of Jesus, and we embrace the
opportunity we’ve been given to go beyond our borders,
partnering and uniting with others to make more disciples and
advance the kingdom further than we can on our own. This is a game-changer. We are called to love others, and the most loving thing we can do is to introduce spiritually curious people to the Jesus-centred life. And we can’t do this alone. We do this in community through a movement of
Jesus-centred churches. It won’t be easy, but this is good work. The best thing we can
do for our neighbours, our world, and our own discipleship is to not make this about ourselves, but to go out and love others. This is who we are. This is what God calls us to, so let’s go. (clapping) – Woo, you guys are alive and awake. That’s some good enthusiasm. That video is exciting
for me, it’s compelling. And I wanna welcome you
to what is the beginning of really a two-week
miniseries just called “Go,” where we are focusing on the fact that we’re launching a
new three-year adventure for The Meeting House. For the next three years, we want to kinda re-channel ourselves into what is most properly
basic for The Meeting House, and that is we are our best selves when we don’t make it all about ourselves, when we go beyond ourselves
to reach out to others and we find our purpose for
being here in that reaching out, whether it’s reaching out in compassion, deeds of service, and giving
money to compassion agencies, or whether that is evangelism, just sharing the good news of Jesus and the beautiful peace
and freedom that we have, freedom from sin and
freedom from religion, that we can share that with more people, whatever compels us to
move beyond ourself, it is good and it helps
us be the best version of ourselves that we can be. And we’re launching what’s
called the Go Campaign then, moving into three years of being refocused on this fundamental truth. It’s a fund-raising campaign
to help us do this better, and it’s also not just that, it’s a missional campaign to
help us re-shift our hearts. So that’s what we’re talking
about today and next week. If you’re new to The Meeting House, especially if you’re not a Christian and you’re just here and
you’re checking us out or you’re listening online,
you picked a perfect Sunday. (audience laughing) Because today you’re gonna
get to hear us talk about you behind your back in front of your face. (audience laughing) One of the things that we do
as a church is we work hard at trying to be the best
version of ourselves as followers of Jesus. We really wanna take
his teachings seriously, but part of that is wanting
to share his teachings with others, ’cause that’s
one of the things Jesus taught is that, “If you follow me, “make sure you share
it with other people.” And so every so often we
cycle back to this topic and say how are we doing on that? Are we making Jesus our best-kept secret? Or are we doing well explaining who he is and what he taught to
other people around us? And so I’m really glad that you’re here if you are in that category of someone who’s just checking things out. That’s beautiful, you are home. You are among friends, welcome. We talk at The Meeting
House about discipleship, ’cause to be a disciple
means to be a student, an apprentice of Jesus. It’s not a classroom student, but it’s an active
learn-as-you-go student of Jesus. That’s a disciple. And we talk about our discipleship cycle, that is the different
stages of discipleship that we will continually go through at different levels in our lives as we move forward and grow spiritually. Our discipleship cycle looks like this, and we talk about trust,
grow, give, go, together. Trust, grow, give, go, and
we do all that together. And during this Go Campaign,
we’re gonna be focusing, it doesn’t mean we’re ignoring the rest of the discipleship cycle, but we’re gonna be focusing on going. But going, please notice,
is not a separate thing. There’s discipleship, the
discipleship over here, this cycle of how we grow, and then there’s this other thing now, taking that to the world. When we go, when we take the
message of Jesus to the world, we’re growing as disciples. We’re becoming our better selves. There’s no competition between us growing and authentically following Jesus and us sharing that with others. This is all part of what
basic discipleship means. It’s something you’ll hear us talk often at The Meeting House. We’ve said though for this season of life, our vision and the way
we’re going to express that we’re focusing on going, our vision then for
this next season of life is expressed this way, and
you’ll hear this often, it’s to introduce
spiritually curious people to the Jesus-centred life, through a movement of
Jesus-centred churches. Now as talk about this, we
could almost break it down into different components. We say we want to introduce. That means we’ll take the initiative, we will accept that truth. We accept that God asks
us to take the initiative in introducing people. We are not just being passive in saying we have a lovely church here, let’s just wait for more people to come. That’s not what Jesus calls us to do. He calls us to take the initiative. So we will introduce
spiritually curious people. Who’s that? These are people who are all around us, and we should actually be
a part of that as well. Spiritually curious people are people who find spiritual truth interesting, fascinating, and they have questions. Well, and that should always be us. We should always find
other people’s spirituality and our own and questions of faith one of the most interesting
topics to talk about, and we should always be curious
about the something more. We should be spiritual seekers. When Jesus said to ask and seek and knock, he didn’t mean until you find me, and then you’ll have
every question answered and you’ll be completely satisfied. The apostle Paul said
until we get to heaven, we are always kinda seeing
through a glass darkly. We’re not fully understanding everything and there’s always more to learn. And so we don’t want to create
an us and them distinction that says people who follow
Jesus have all the answers and everyone else has all the questions, and we just have to come to them with all the truth that we know, but rather to join in with them and say I’m spiritually curious, too. I’m curious about what you believe and where you’re at in
your spiritual journey. Let me share where I’m at in mine. Spiritually curious
people are all around us. Not everyone is at that stage, by the way. So you’ll talk to some people
and they’ll just get awkward when you raise the topic of spirituality or you ask some questions
about themselves, and you’ll quickly discern
that they’re just not there at that place at that time, that’s fine. And you have that conversation
with someone else. Not everyone is at that point right now, but there are many, many people who are. We want to introduce
spiritually curious people to the Jesus-centred life
through a vision statement that will appear in a moment. (audience laughing) We want to introduce
spiritually curious people to the Jesus-centred life, through a movement of
Jesus-centred churches. Now this Jesus-centred life, we think that this captures everything. It’s not just a message and
it’s not just doing church. Oh, please, no, save me from that. I don’t wanna just do church. I got better things to do with my time than to just do church, like it’s one more
tradition to add to my life. But if it’s a Jesus-centred life, if it’s actually a spirituality
that changes everything. With Jesus at the centre,
believing that he shows me not only who God is, but he shows me the best version of being human as well, that he’s like one-stop shopping for the most important things you could ever learn in the universe, then I want my life to
be centred around that, to have that Jesus-centred life through a movement of
Jesus-centred churches. Then we do this in community,
we do this together. And we are not only gonna encourage our Meeting House campuses
to be as healthy as possible, our Meeting House communities, and in the future plant more of them, but we also wanna help other churches that aren’t Meeting
Houses rediscover Jesus at the centre of
everything and help them be the healthiest version of
themselves that they can be. So this vision statement
as we understand it, we wrap our minds and
our hearts around it, I think is something
that is compelling for us to move forward, and with that in mind, I wanna invite you to open up your Bibles to Acts chapter 10. That’s where we’re headed
today is Acts chapter 10. Either you have your own Bible with you or you can look on with
someone close to you, or we have visitor
Bibles across our sites, you can get ahold of one, or you can use a Bible app to
follow along on your phone. But while you’re looking
up Acts chapter 10, I’m just gonna mention what’s
coming up over the weeks ahead so you know next week is part two of this little two-part miniseries. Darrell Winger is gonna come
and be teaching next week, and we’ll have communion
together as well as a church to kind of initiate our new season of Go. And then after that,
we’re starting a series called “The Missing Peace.” And “The Missing Peace”
is going to give us a practical opportunity to talk about the peace teaching of Jesus in both terms of non-violent
resolution of conflict, enemy love, also just how
with a peaceful disposition, we can enter into potentially
awkward conversations with family members and friends
who we don’t get along with. We’ll talk about how the enemy-loving peace teachings of Jesus
can be infinitely practical in our day-to-day lives. That’s coming up after this series, and we’re gonna have some of
our own teaching team teaching and I’ll be a part of that. We’ll also have for the first time our new staff member
teaching during that series. If you were here yesterday,
you heard the announcement. But if you weren’t here yesterday, then it’s time for us to let you know that we have a new person
on our teaching team at The Meeting House as
part of our staff family, and that is, drum roll… (imitating drum roll) Danielle Strickland. (audience clapping and cheering) (laughing) “Oh my
goodness, that’s amazing!” Yes, it is, yes, it is. So we’re so happy that Danielle Strickland is gonna be joining us as family, and she’ll teach a few times a year. She’s gonna be part-time. She has a very full life and she’s doing other amazing
things for the kingdom, and she’s not gonna quit that. We don’t wanna pull her away, but a few times a year,
she’s gonna be teaching. But when she teaches here,
she’s not teaching anymore as a welcome guest, she’s
teaching here as family. So we’re really excited about that. All right, now we’re gonna
dive into Acts chapter 10. So to give you some brief setup here, it’s the first century
and there is hostility between two groups of people,
the Jews and the Gentiles. This is Israel, and Rome has invaded, and Israel is occupied territory. You couldn’t be more hated
if you were an occupier, a Roman in Israel, by a Jewish person who has now been completely overtaken. Their country is now being held hostage. And so you have these
two groups of people, the Jews and the Gentiles, the Jews and the Romans specifically who are at odds with one another, and God has a plan for bringing the people who are furthest apart closest together. It’s not just a plan to move people who don’t quite get along a little closer. It’s a plan to bring people
who are furthest apart closest together, so that
they not only become friends, but they call each other family, that they have each other’s backs, that they care for one
another like their family. And Jesus has made that
possible through the cross. He’s done away with the Old Covenant law. It’s been crucified
along with people’s sin, and now in the New Covenant
allows Jew and Gentile to come together in this
sociological miracle that will bear evidence
to the miraculous nature of the ministry of Jesus. And yet, even though Jesus
has declared all foods clean, he’s put away the law, he’s made it possible
for them to fellowship because one of the things
that would keep them separate would be even just the dietary code of the Torah, of the Old Covenant, that would say you can’t
accept the hospitality if you’re Jewish of a Gentile because that would make
you ritually unclean because of the foods they
eat and other practices. And so they had to live separate lives, which allows the bigotry and
the stereotypes to fester as you keep so separate, and so now Jesus has done away with that. He’s calling them together. But it takes a long time
for the early church to really wrap their heads
and their hearts around this. They are wrestling with
these implications. And even things that Jesus did
teach that’s in the gospels is something that it’s taking
them time and further tutoring from the Holy Spirit to really believe as fully, as radically
true, as Jesus said it was. And this is one of those situations. The Holy Spirit’s gonna teach
Peter, the apostle Peter, that it’s okay for him to
actually fellowship with Romans, and he’s going to meet with the Romans, this particular Roman,
his name’s Cornelius, and encourage him to
go and talk with Peter. And the Holy Spirit is this beautiful supernatural dating service. He gets us in proximity with one another, and he’s done some pre-work. He’s done the, “You should meet my friend, “and you should meet my…” And he’s done some
pre-work, but in the end, we need to actually do some talking. We need to actually
build some relationships. It’s still up to us now to
walk into that relationship and begin to talk about Jesus
with people, share the gospel. Peter’s gonna learn
that message right now. All right, so Acts chapter 10, at Caesarea, there was
a man named Cornelius, a centurion, in what was
known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his friends were
devout and God-fearing, and he gave generously to those in need and he prayed to God regularly. So as a God-fearer, here is a person, he has no religious background either within Judaism or Christianity. He would have pagan Roman
religion as his background, and yet he is strangely attracted to God, to the idea of God. He is interested, but
not enough to convert. He has not converted to Judaism. He’s not converted to Christianity. Maybe he’s never heard about it. It’s a new movement at the time. He’s spiritually curious,
but he’s not committed. Cornelius becomes, paradigmatic,
of the kind of person that we want to reach
out for, make space for, at The Meeting House, someone
who’s not yet committed, but is spiritually curious, and we find out is living a good life, like really cares about
doing the right thing. So he prays. What God does he pray to
or exactly how does he pray and how committed is he to
the god that he prays to, we don’t know, but he prays. And he gives to people who are in need. He’s living a good life. And so God cares about
him and sends an angel to carry a message to him. One day, here it is, about
three in the afternoon, he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel
of God who came to him, and said, “Cornelius!” And Cornelius stared at him
and said, “What is it, Lord?” And the angel answered. Now what does the angel say? Stop trying to do good deeds
because don’t you know, all your good deeds are like filthy rags, they’re a stench in
the nostrils of Yahweh. You are a condemned man, a filthy sinner. Repent now or burn
forever, have a good day. Is that what the angel says? (audience laughing) The angel appears to him and says, “Hey, you know what? “Your prayers and your gifts to the poor “have come up as a miraculous
offering before God.” In other words, when you do good deeds, it’s like burning incense
in an offering of praise and God just goes (sniffs), “Mm, that’s good, that’s beautiful.” Now here’s a person not a Christian, he’s not Jewish, he’s
not part of God’s people, but he’s living a morally good life and he cares about the
right kind of things, and God loves it. That’s a starting disposition for us towards those people who
are not part of our tribe, not part of our faith,
who don’t follow Jesus. We don’t look upon them as just only people who don’t
believe, they’re unbelievers, and then push that into the blackness of they are just people
who live in ignorance and who are sinners who need a Savior. And there’s truth in the fact that we all need a Savior
because we all sin, but we don’t just stereotype
them with the negative and acknowledge that there are
good people living good lives that God is pleased with who
have nothing to do with Jesus. That’s an amazing fact of Scripture. Now some of us who have
been raised in the church will wrestle with this
more than those of us who are just reading
this for the first time. Some of us who were raised in
the church will have heard, at least within certain
streams of Christian theology, the doctrine of inability. The doctrine of inability would say that until you actually come to Christ, there is nothing that you can do, even have faith in God,
that would please God. You can’t contribute
anything to your salvation is what they’re trying to
protect, it’s all grace. But in so doing, they would teach that there’s just nothing you can do that could please God in any way or else you might confuse
that with contributing to your own salvation, and
it’s all grace from God. So even your good deeds
are not acceptable to God. He finds no pleasure in anything you do until you finally become a Christian. This doctrine of inability is
championed in certain circles, but it can lead to a strange
understanding of Scripture. And the story of Cornelius, of course, just moves in contradistinction to that. There’s a verse in the Bible that some of us would be familiar if we’d grown up in those streams, and that would be from the prophet Isaiah who says that all of us have
become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous
acts are like filthy rags. This is a verse that I
sometimes would hear quoted saying that even the
righteous things you do are like dirty rags to God. There’s nothing you can
do that could please him, and even your good deeds are bad deeds from God’s point of view, so just give up, and hopefully the point is
then you’ll turn to Christ for salvation, not trying
to earn it on your own. But whatever the motivation, if it’s not biblical, it’s not biblical. But this verse exists, what
are they talking about? Well, just zoom out, read
the verse before this. The verse before this says, Isaiah’s talking about his
own religious friends, family. He’s saying you come
to the help of those… Well, first he’s talking about God. He says you come to the help
of those who gladly do right. Oh, wait a second, there are
people who gladly do right. He says and who remember your ways. But when we, now he’s talking
about religious people, the religious group that he’s a part of, but when we continued to sin against them, other people who gladly do, the Corneliuses out there
who gladly do right. He said those of us who
are religious people, he says we will tend to judge them. Judge first, shoot first,
ask questions later. And we continue to sin
against them, you are angry. Well then, how can we be saved? If religious people sit
in the seat of judgment over other people, we sit in the seat that only belongs to God himself and only condemn and dismiss. He says how can we saved,
because we’re living, we’re trying to play the role of God. And we’re the ones who
are violent towards them. We continue to sin against them. Given that context, yes, then
we move on to the next verse. All of us have become, you see, become, we’re not just born in this state, all of us have become. He’s saying those who were righteous have now abused their righteousness and have become like one who is unclean. All our righteous acts
are like filthy rags. So while you are condemnatory,
judgmental, and dismissive, then you just go through the motions of doing righteousness religious deeds. Well, that’s just an insult to God. But we don’t draw from this verse the fact that Cornelius can’t exist, There can’t be a person
who’s not a Christian, who’s just spiritually open, doing good deeds, and God loves it. The angel doesn’t appear
to say and quote Isaiah and say, “ah, filthy rags.” He says this is beautiful. It’s an offering of praise to God. So that’s one truth that I think we need to take away from this passage. The other truth is that even
though what Cornelius is doing is very pleasing to God,
it’s still not enough, ’cause the story doesn’t end there. The angel doesn’t come
and say on the one hand, stop trying to do good
deeds, it’s an insult to God, but on the other hand, the
angel doesn’t come to Cornelius and say you’re doing good
deeds and that’s enough, I’m just here to bless
you, and then move on. He says, “No, you’re doing
good deeds, God loves it, “your heart’s in the right place, “your headed in the right direction, “but now there’s this liberating
message you need to hear, “and I need to connect you with someone “who will share it with you.” So the other truth is it’s not
enough just to do good deeds. It’s a good start, it’s wonderful, but there’s this liberating
message called the gospel, the good news of Jesus
people need to hear. The other truth is that the angel doesn’t give him that message. The angel gives him the message that he needs to hear a message, but the angel doesn’t
give him the message. And this reveals the beautiful truth that God will do all the preparatory work. He’ll do all the setup, but in the end, he wants people to share the
gospel with other people. He wants humans to share the
gospel with other humans. He’ll be working behind the scenes to get people ready to
hear the gospel message, but in the end, it’s our job. God has his role, but he
wants to partner with us. He’s not gonna do it all. He doesn’t just want
spectators, he wants partners. He’s not gonna do all the evangelism while we just say yay, go team Jesus. He’s gonna prepare hearts
and then encourage us, and hopefully prepare our hearts to go and have these conversations. So that’s what has to happen next. He’s got Cornelius ready, and
the angel actually tells him, “Now send,” you see this in verse 5, “send men to Joppa to bring
back a man named Simon,” who’s also called Peter, and he’s staying with another
guy called Simon the tanner in a house by the sea,
so you go to that town and you ask for that guy. You’ll find the house,
find this guy Peter, and bring him here, he’s
got a message for you. And so Cornelius says,
“All right, let’s go.” Now he’s gotta get Peter ready for this, because a Roman centurion, or his servants who have
been sent on his behalf, showing up at his door saying, “You gotta come to our house,” that would be someone that
Peter would say, “Mm, no.” Peter has his own religious
sensitivities as well. He hasn’t quite caught a vision of just how radical the New Covenant is, because Peter would still be
keeping kosher at this time thinking that, “I can’t even sit and eat, “even if I wanted to,
even if I wanted to go “and share the gospel with a Roman, “which I’m not sure that I do.” Even if you believe,
well, this is the message that will help you go to
heaven instead of hell, Peter might say, “Exactly,
– (audience laughter) – “and that’s why we
shouldn’t tell the Romans.” And so for even if he gets
over that emotional bias and Peter says, “All right, I’ll go,” he has a religious reason not to, and that is that in order
to maintain Torah law, he can’t sit in fellowship
and just eat the meal. You see, to travel in those days, you didn’t just have a few hour car ride, meet with someone, say hello,
and then drive back again. You’d travel for a day
or two to get somewhere, and then you would stay there
for a day or two at least to have any kind of
meaningful conversation, so you’re going to have to
rely on their hospitality. That’s what happens here. The men come to Peter’s house and they stay with Peter
for a couple of days. Then Peter has to go to Cornelius’ house and he has to stay there for a while, and that means he’s gonna
have to eat their food and participate in his customs, and that’s gonna make him ritually unclean according to religious law. So God’s gotta work on Peter’s heart and say, “Peter, you need
to be ready for this.” And so God gives Peter a vision, and as we read on, just
for the sake of time, let me summarize what you
find in the verses ahead. As you read on, Peter falls asleep or falls into a trance while he’s praying, and the Scripture specifically
says this happens, verse 10 says he became hungry and he wanted something to eat. While the meal is being
prepared, he fell into a trance. So he goes up on the roof
to pray and he’s hungry, and he falls asleep and
he has a dream about food. (audience laughing) It’s interesting, God just
uses a very physical desire, craving, and says, “I will use something “very properly basic about yourself “and I’m gonna teach you
a profound spiritual truth “that will change your life forever.” You’re gonna talk about that
in home church this week, how God can use just really
basic things about our humanity to teach us profound spiritual truth. So Peter’s hungry, he
has a dream about food, and God uses that dream to
teach him some profound things. And the dream is in essence a bunch of animals appear to Peter and God says, “You can eat all of them, “you can eat them all.” But many of these animals
that appear to Peter are not kosher, they’re not
animals that you should be able to eat according to the religious law that’s revealed in the Bible. But the Bible also reveals that there’s a New Covenant
coming, a New Testament, and things are gonna be different. Peter hasn’t fully got
the implications of this, and here we are at Acts chapter 10, long after the death and
resurrection of Jesus. He’s a leader of the church, and it is so radical, the
New Covenant is so radical, it’s taking time for even the leaders in the New Testament church
to really figure it out. And God has to repeatedly say to him that you can eat this food. In verse 15, God says,
he hears a voice saying, Don’t call anything impure
that God has made clean. Don’t call anything impure
that God has made clean. God has made this food
clean, you can eat it. It happens three times. Then verse 17, while Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found
out where Simon’s house was, stopped at the gate, they called out, asking if Simon also known
as Peter was staying there. While Peter was still
thinking about the vision and what the Spirit had said to him, or the Spirit said to him,
“Three men are looking for you. “Go down, go with them,
see what they have to say.” And Peter goes down. Now this all happens, it says, while Peter was still
thinking about the vision, that’s verse 19. Back in verse 17, it says
while Peter was still wondering about the meaning of the vision. Peter is still realtime,
real world, realtime, sorting out what all this means when there’s a knock at the
door, people calling out. He still hasn’t fully processed how radical the New Covenant is. Now people arrive at his house and say, “Will you come to a Roman’s house? “God has told us that we’re to come to you “and ask you to come
to a Roman centurion.” Not even just a Roman dignitary that happens to be visiting
Israel, but a Roman centurion, part of the oppressive
force against your people, “Will you come over for tea?” (audience laughing) And Peter is sorting this out realtime. So again to condense the
text, Peter says yes. He has to travel for a
couple of days with them to get to Cornelius’ house. Peter goes inside the house,
and Cornelius has called extended friends and family to come. He really believes that
the vision he got is true, Peter will come, and Peter
has a message for them. And look at verse 28. Verse 28, Peter says to them,
“You know, you are well aware “that it’s against our law for a Jew “to associate with or visit a Gentile, “but God,” two of the most
powerful words in the Bible, but God, “but God has shown
me that I should not call “anyone impure or unclean,
so that’s why I came.” And Cornelius tells his part of the story, they’re having kinda their first date. It’s going splendidly. And then verse 34, Peter says,
“I now realize how true it is “that God does not show favoritism…” I now realize, this is
realtime revelation for Peter. And what it tells me,
he says, “I now realize “how true it is that God
does not show favoritism, “but accepts from every nation “everyone who fears
God does what’s right.” And then he goes on to
tell him the gospel. Cornelius still needs to hear the gospel, but Peter needs to also hear
the implications of the gospel, this miracle of unity. This tells me some things. It tells me that there could
be something in your life that God wants to say to you
and he’s begun to say it to you through Scripture, through the Spirit, through the Christian community, but you still won’t fully
understand it until you act on it. When you act on the little that you know, you’ll understand the rest
of what you don’t know. If Peter had just stayed at home and said no to the Roman visitors, no, I’m not going, I need to
figure out this vision first, ’cause I think it has vast implications, so I will meet with other Christians and I will pray more and I
will focus on the vision, or some of us might say, “I’ll
just have more Bible study “and I’ll get together to
really figure this out. There are things in our lives
that God is saying to us that we will never understand until we actually move out
on the bit we do understand and start to engage with people around us, especially people outside the church, especially non-Christian
friends and family. And it will be in engaging with them and in conversations we have with them that lights will start
to go on and we’ll say, “Now I know how God’s
already at work out there, “now I see it.” But you can spend years just
trying to interpret the vision never leaving the house, so to speak, staying within the confines of the church, reading Scripture, and
you’ll never know everything God has for you to know. But you’ll become the
better version of yourself when you don’t make it all about yourself and you go beyond yourself
to connect with other people. God is at work in their lives. So Peter goes, he explains
the gospel to them, he says it’s a message of peace. And Cornelius and his whole household, all the people there, the
Holy Spirit falls on them, has miraculous evidence, and
it takes this miraculous jolt to actually help the New Testament church, who is now Jewish, realize
how can we deny Gentiles access into this community of faith when the Holy Spirit is
already doing this amazing work and using our proclamation
of the gospel to do it, we’ve got to embrace this. And they get baptized,
and this becomes the event that actually cracks open
the nut for the early church to say maybe you don’t have to
be Jewish to be a Christian. How far we’ve come, right? There was a time in the church where instead of saying I’m Jewish, how could I ever be a Christian, there was a time in the church
where the real question was, can you be non-Jewish
and still be a Christian? It was such a thoroughly Jewish
movement from the beginning, but they cracked open the nut so Gentiles could be Christians. Of course, there’s just more of us and we flooded in and we took
over the whole enterprise, not always for the better. That’s another story. Right here we see the first
revelation that opens it up for Jew and Gentile to
become family together. So I wanna now ask some questions
surrounding application. What are we gonna do about this? How are we gonna challenge
ourselves to move forward? Well, this is a theme passage
for us in our Go Campaign, which I think is gonna
be a defining moment in the history of the church. I think years from now we will think back to this three-year
campaign and we will say, “Do you remember when
and how that influenced “who we became?” I think this is that time. I wanna talk about some
of that application. Before I do, I wanna open it up to Q & Eh. Does anybody have a
question about this passage? Anything that I have said, left unsaid, a verse here that we had to skip over, or something that we looked
at that wasn’t clear to you or you wanna dig deeper in? Any questions? We’ve got someone with a microphone and they’re happy to
come to you with the mic if you have a question. Just raise your hand and flag them down, make sure they see you. Do we have any text
questions that were sent in? Are there any text questions? Oh, there is a text question
and there’s a hand up here. Okay, but first let’s read this. Why wasn’t Cornelius told
to leave his position in the army and embrace pacifism
as part of his conversion? Isn’t this the way of Jesus? Thank you, David, that’s
a fantastic question, and it’s such the right
question you should be asking. This says you’ve been tracking with some of the
implications of this passage that I put that question in your home church questions this week. I’m asking you. Beat you to it. (audience laughing) Because I think that’s
one of the implications. I’ll give you, because you’re asking, I don’t wanna avoid it completely, so I’ll give you an initial response. But then I do want you to talk more about it in home church. This is not the first
time this has happened. Jesus himself also engaged
with a Roman centurion in his ministry, and he
blessed that Roman centurion, which is a great example
that opened the door for people like Peter to believe that this is really
something he should do. And in both cases, when Jesus engages with the Roman centurion and when Peter engages
with the Roman centurion, in both cases, they’re blessed, but there’s never any discussion about you should resign from the army, because being a Christian
means you should be a pacifist. This is very true, and on
the surface it’s often used as one of the examples of why Jesus was more just war than peace oriented. But having said that, I think the response can be pretty simple, and
that is we have no record of any ethical instruction about anything between Peter and Cornelius, between Jesus and the centurion. It would have been commonplace
to have mistresses. We don’t deduce from this and say, well, he never mentioned you
shouldn’t have mistresses, so I guess… No, he didn’t mention anything
about any aspect of worship. He didn’t say, “By the way, “when you burn incenses to Caesar, “that’s like worshiping a false
God, you should stop that.” Didn’t mention any of that. So there’s no ethical
instruction about anything. So then to say, well, he
didn’t give ethical instruction about whether or not violence
is okay for a Christian, I think is a misuse of the text. The text just doesn’t include
the discipleship conversation but it does say in the text
that Peter stayed with him and ministered to him and
taught him for some time. It just doesn’t give us
any of the content of that. It’s a great question, thank you, David. I guess you could strike
that one off the list of home church questions this week. Do we have a mic? Yes, okay, good, yeah. – [Man] Just a little
kind of a point that I’m, I guess, radically obvious today is that should we really be looking at those that maybe most offend
us or are most fearful of, and approach those people? – Yes.
(audience laughing) And everyone else. I would just say don’t leave the people that either concern you,
worry you, offend you, grieve you, don’t leave them off the list. Don’t create an us versus them. Don’t create a priority list. We don’t need the Holy Spirit
now to come and tell us that it’s okay to go and fellowship with all the Corneliuses out there because we just read it in the text. The Holy Spirit who inspired the text has already just told us. So you don’t have to say,
so the lesson of this is I should go and pray and wait for a vision to know who I should talk to. No, ’cause we’ve already read the story and we know you should
go talk to everybody, including the Corneliuses, including the people who
potentially offend you. You don’t have to wait
for marching orders. We already got them and
the Spirit has spoken. These are good questions. Thanks, you guys. Let me share some wrap-up thoughts. Just to remind us again, it’s God’s job to prepare
people to hear the gospel. It’s God’s job to prepare
people to hear the gospel. And yet it’s our job,
and this is gonna appear right here in a moment,
it’s gonna be miraculous. (audience laughing) It’s God’s job to prepare
people to hear the gospel. And it’s our job to do everything we can to help people hear the gospel. It’s our job to do everything we can to help people hear the gospel. So God prepares people for the gospel, and he prepares us to
go and give the gospel, but he doesn’t do that final
presentation of truth for us. He could have, he could have
done it here quite easily. He goes to great lengths, but you know, both Cornelius and his
whole household are blessed, but so is Peter and the
early New Testament church. In fact, Acts 15, they
have the Jerusalem council, where they try and figure
out how to actually intentionally take the gospel to Gentiles. And the apostle Paul comes along and says, “I’m gonna do it.” All of that is the result and
it’s kicked off by this event. The entire stream of
the New Testament church is blessed because of Cornelius. It’s not just Cornelius who’s
blessed because of Peter. So if you’re a Cornelius here today, if you’re someone who’s
just sorting it out, we are blessed to have you. You will teach us many things, even in the questions that you bring and the things that you
observe, you will help us grow, and we wanna also be a blessing to you and help you grow as well. So that being said, I’d love to give some next steps moving forward, and part of that is just to
participate in the Go Campaign, and part of it is going to
be relationally connecting with other people, and
part of it is saying I’m also willing to financially contribute to our Go Campaign, which is
also a fundraising campaign. We’ve done this before. In the history of The Meeting House, just to zoom out a little bit
and give you some context, we have had what we’ve called missions in the history of The Meeting House, where we’ve gone into two,
three, four years of seasons where we’ve used fundraising
as an opportunity for us to refocus our hearts as well, and not just have a fundraising
campaign on the side, but really theme our growth around that. We did mission one way back in the day when we first were
considering going multi-site and we called that mission, “It’s Simple, “We Want the Entire City to Hear.” And because of the money we
raised through that mission, we were able to make the
transition into a multi-site and also our online presence increased. And then we did mission two, which we creatively
entitled, “Mission Two.” (audience laughing) And we thought, there, we’re
gonna do a second mission and that’s the end of it, so
we’ll just call it Mission Two. And in that, we emphasized compassion. That’s when we added a
large significant amount of compassion to our
budget, and ever since, we have really changed the
ethos of The Meeting House, and we’re so glad for how that mission really helped change our hearts, and we raised millions
for compassion agencies, and now we just bake
that into the normalcy of how we do church. We turned a huge corner there. And then we had a third
mission we called “Transform.” And now here we are
with our fourth mission, which we’re just calling “Go,” and we are asking you not only to accept kinda the homework projects
of reaching out personally, but also financially to donate. And one of the suggestions I would make is that you pledge or you give to the point where there
is something experientially in your day-to-day life
you’re gonna have to give up. So it’s not just I’ll redirect some funds or I’ll give a little bit extra, but actually to give to the point that there’s something
you’ll need to sacrifice in your day-to-day life. It can help leverage actually this becoming a
spiritually-refocusing experience. So in mission one, Nina and
I, we had bought a new house. It needed renovations badly, and so we said we’re going
to save up some money and then spend it on renovations. And we saved up some money,
and then mission one started. And we said, “You know,
we’re gonna give that money “into that mission.” And for us primarily it was the kitchen that needed to be redone, but every time after
that during that mission when we went into the kitchen and we were just working in the kitchen, we were well aware that
this was not the kitchen we had dreamed we were going to have and we remembered why we
didn’t have that kitchen, ’cause we actually believe
in something more important than us getting the kitchen that we want. And so it might be the
first step of frustration, why did we give that money away anyway? Our kitchen really needs work. And it’s, well, oh, I know
why we gave that money away, because we actually believe there’s something more important, and here I am whining about
my kitchen, wait a second. And then it became this
entire spiritual practice of reconnecting with why we exist just because I walked into my own kitchen. There was no regret. We sold that house and
we actually had a profit. Now we have money in the bank. The next house we were looking at, guess what it needed? A renovated kitchen. (audience laughing) And we said, “Well, now,
we’ve sold the house “at a profit, now we’ll…” And then we started mission two. (audience laughing) We did the same thing again, now knowing that we are actually
gonna benefit from the fact that we are not gonna walk into the future we picture for ourselves because
we’ve given that money away and using the kitchen at that next house actually became a spiritual
experience for us. We’re still now discussing
what is it gonna be for this mission that we will sacrifice? And for you, you might
be at a level of income where you use a house cleaner, and instead of coming twice a week, they’re gonna come once a month. Maybe you are at a level of income where you go away for vacations regularly, and you’re gonna cut
down on your vacations, so when you don’t go and you have a cheap sit-around-the-house vacation,
do some things locally, that’s going to actually become a way of being in solidarity
with people around you. Actually, they don’t get to
travel like you do anyway. And some of you are not
in that snack bracket. You’re saying, “I’m just
going to not buy the new car “I’ve been saving up to buy,” or “I’m going to scale
down my purchase of,” or “I’m just going to…” I’ve talked to some families who say, “We’re just gonna give
up cable TV for a year.” And I think, well, let’s move
on, that’s far too convicting. (audience laughing) There’s different things
you can stop doing, and we’re encouraging you to do that so that this becomes a lived,
not just a give’d experience. We’re gonna give, but we’re
also gonna live differently in light of this and help us refocus. If you wanna contribute, if
you go to themeetinghouse.com, which by the way, part of where pre-giving has already gotten us to is that we have completely redesigned from the ground up our website to be a place for spiritual-seekers
to go and ask questions. If you go to themeetinghouse.com, you can go right now on your phones, if you go there, everything
about the website is now it’s launched
as of now this weekend, everything is designed primarily, you can still get
information as a church-goer about the church, but
everything is primarily designed to create a hub for
spiritually-curious people to come and ask questions. Also, I just learned this, this morning, if you were to go right now, if it is a Sunday morning
when you’re listening to this, to themeetinghouse.com, you would notice, and it’s mobile-friendly,
which our old site never was, if you go to the top right-hand
corner of the first page, there’ll be a little button
there that says “notes.” And if you push that button, you get this morning’s
sermon notes to follow along. And it’s only gonna be
live on Sunday mornings, and then somewhere around noon,
that’ll disappear each week. That’s gonna be one opportunity for you to just make a practical use of this. But we’re inviting you not only to use it, but then to make this a tool in your hands that you can share with your friends, encourage them to come
here to ask questions. Become familiar with the
material on the site itself so that you can share it with
others as questions come up. But this is one of the kinds of things we’re inviting you to donate to. So if you go to the site,
you can look for Go Campaign. It’s easy to find as you scroll down, and all the information
is there for donating. Also though if you prefer a hard copy, we have across all of our sites a booklet that gives you information
for our Go Campaign and good old-fashioned paper pledge cards, but we can do it all online as well. I’d love to pray and just
ask God to help us walk into our own future in a way that we don’t have to be
dragged kicking and screaming, but we can walk into our future in a way that is filled with a sense
of anticipation and joy. Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, I ask
that you would give us the encouragement that we
need to take bold steps to walk into the space of other
spiritually-curious people that you have already been
doing preparatory work with, that you would help us build bridges of friendship and kindness with people who are not part of our
tribe, not part of our group, that we would be people
who take the initiative to build those bridges, we’d push past old prejudices
and ideas and stereotypes. I pray that we would
also have an awareness, a sense of partnership
with your Holy Spirit as you lead us forward. Father, I look forward
to what you are gonna do in us and through us,
even as you encourage us to live differently so
we can give differently. Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of being a part of this church. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.