Church membership is not about joining a group of people who are 'all cleaned up' because you are 'all cleaned up.' It is not about perfection, but direction. It is not about our finished work, but His finished work, and the continued working out of our salvation. It is not about being the same, but about being unified in our mission, vision, and lifestyle.
During the Pastor's class, we discussed our Coast Values which is our mission and vision statement. We are called to be disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus. We are called to follow Jesus and help others to follow Jesus. That's our mission. (Matthew 28:18-20)
But making disciples is not about having everyone go out and become street preachers or go door to door engaging strangers in brief discussions about eternity (although it may include this for some). Embracing the goal of a disciple-making disciple begins with the heart attitudes of resting in Jesus (for pardon and perfection), hoping in God (for help and happiness), and pursuing love (by trusting and obeying God's Word in every situation and relationship). These heart attitudes are crucial for driving any practices that the Bible commands. These commanded practices are what we will discuss this coming Sunday.
You can listen to the Pastor's Class, Life in the Body - Part 5, here.
The message during the worship hour focused on Luke 10:1-24, especially verse 3. The Bible calls us to pursue love and the Lord Jesus commands this by saying, 'Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.' Sounds like fun, right?!
'Lambs' do not represent perfect people or 'all cleaned up' people but people who are 'domesticated' or submitted to the will of God through faith in Christ. 'Wolves' do not represent people who are pure evil or are the worst people around, but people who are potentially dangerous because they are 'wild' or hostile to the claims of God on their lives and not submitted to Him.
We highlighted the underlying truths that we must believe in order for us to hear this command and statement by our Lord as something we should eagerly embrace and live out:
God wants us to pursue our happiness.
God is not the Cosmic Kill-Joy; He is the Cosmic Real Joy! We are to be happy lambs. We will not do what this passage calls us to do, if we do not believe that God wants us to pursue our happiness.
The Bible talks more about happiness than we may realize.
What we mean by happiness is not liking our earthly circumstances and feeling pleasurable things all the time. So what do we mean by happiness from a Biblical perspective? What we mean is true happiness or Biblical happiness which is rooted, not in earthly circumstances or changing feelings, but in the truth of God and our unchanging relationship with Him. We can see this kind of happiness expressed through these words: happy, blessed, joy, peace, content, satisfied, rejoice, delight. Let me give you a sampling: Isaiah 52:7; Proverbs 29:18; Psalm 21:6; Psalm 65:4; Matthew 5:6; Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 32:11; Psalm 43:4; Psalm 90:14; Psalm 100:2; Matthew 25:21; Luke 2:10; John 15:11; Romans 14:17; Romans 15:13; 2 Corinthians 1:24; Galatians 5:22; Hebrews 12:2; James 1:2; Jude 1:24; Psalm 122:6; Psalm 122:7; Psalm 147:14; Lamentations 3:17; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Philippians 4:11; Psalm 81:16; Psalm 90:14; Isaiah 55:2; Jeremiah 31:14; Philippians 4:11; Psalm 37:4. So, you can see, the topic of happiness, as God defines it, is a major theme of the Bible.
We all want to be happy.
O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. – Psalm 90:14
We all pursue happiness in our every decision.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2
We believe that those in authority over us should enable our pursuit of happiness.
For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. – Romans 14:17
We were made to find true happiness in God alone.
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. – Psalm 16:11
Our problem is that we believe the lie that God is anti-happiness.
The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:1-7
Our problem is not that we pursue happiness, but that we are too easily pleased.
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. – Isaiah 55:2
We must pursue happiness in God, to a large degree, by pursuing the happiness of others in God.
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. – John 15:11
God wants us to pursue our happiness – happiness in Him through submission to His Word. Do you believe that? Do you see that in the Word He has given us? Do you see it in the things He is bringing into your life? Do you see it in what He calls us to do?
You can listen to this message, Lambs in the Midst of Wolves - Part 1, here.