Not Like Me: Who Are We Supposed to Be (video & notes)

This past weekend I led some breakout sesssions at the Thrive Conference and spoke at Bayside Church’s Lincoln campus. I had a fantastic time! Below is the message on video and the notes:

Our world is becoming more and more diverse with people from so many different countries, and different beliefs, and different standards, and different backgrounds – all in the same area.

Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, but too often we don’t even know our neighbor’s name.

No matter where you may be in your spiritual journey – whether you have had a close relationship with God for decades or aren’t even sure that you believe there is a God, today my hope is to help you see what God’s desire for your life really is.

God has created you to be different and to make a difference. You are unique by design, but we live in a world that values conformity. You are created to make the world a better place, but we get too busy trying to live the American dream that we miss the needs of those around us – including our own family.

God loves you and invites you to be part of His family so that together we can be transformed and help transform our world. Being part of His family means being part of the Church. If we can get past the misperceptions of the church, we can make progress towards what He wants us to become.

A friend of mine posted this question on his website: “If Jesus was walking around your town today, would he go to church?”

  • Some said: “Of course!”
  • Some said: “No! He would invite people out to the beach or into nature.”
  • Some said: “Yes, and He would turn over the tables in anger for what the church has become.”
  • My favorite response was: “Yes, His mother would make Him.”

The question itself shows how we have misunderstood who we are supposed to be. The Church is not a service on Sunday. The Church is not a building. The Church is the people who follow Jesus.

Matthew 4:19:

  • “Come, follow me, and I will teach you great insights.”
  • “Come, follow me, and I will give you great songs to sing about me.”
  • “Come, follow me, and I will protect you from the world.”
  • No, it says: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” In other words, follow me, and you can be part of helping change the lives of others.

Jesus does not invite us to follow Him for what we can get, but for what we can give.

In his book, An Unstoppable Force: Becoming the Church God Had in Mind, Erwin McManus said: “The church is not here to meet our needs. We are the church, here to meet the needs of the world.”

If you are already a follower of Jesus, do you see Bayside Lincoln as a place to meet your needs? Or do you see yourself as part of Bayside Lincoln here to meet the needs of your neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends?

If you don’t follow Jesus, don’t let our failures as the Church keep you from the One who loves you and invites you to be part of making a positive difference in the world!

Some of us haven’t connected to a community of faith because we’ve seen so many local churches mess this up. You have a chance to be part of a community that wants to be who God created her to be!

Too often the Church has been seen as exclusive and judgmental instead of loving and authentic. In the Old Testament there is a story of areluctant missionary named Jonah who had these same negative traits. He did not like his neighbors because they looked differently, believed differently, and lived differently. Jonah hated the Ninevites.

Jonah 1:1-2 – 1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

Jonah then went in the opposite direction and boarded a boat. Once the weather got intense, he asked the others on the boat to throw him overboard rather than turn the boat around. Jonah would rather die than help the people of Nineveh.

We should never allow our convictions to become a litmus test for friendship.

Jonah 3:4-5 – 4 “On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.’ 5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.”

People are more open than we realize!

Too often we limit who we think God should love.

Belong before believe at Mosaic. “Come as you are, but don’t stay that way” at Gateway.

But what about our kids? Aren’t you concerned they may be influenced in the wrong direction? Do you any of you have children? Then you know, when a baby is born, he or she is born a pagan! We should treat others without faith with the same patience and willingness to have the honest conversations as we do with our kids.

Jonah 3:10 – 4:3

10 “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, ‘O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.’”

Jonah wants to die because God wants to forgive. Jonah was upset and didn’t want to go to Nineveh because He knew that God’s character always leans towards mercy and grace.

The people around us expect judgment, but they don’t expect forgiveness.

Most of the time, we don’t have to convince people of their sin, but we do have to convince them that they are loved by God.

Romans 2:4b – “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance….”

We are set apart in our behavior, but we are to be sent out into our relationships!

Fellowship isn’t just what people of faith do for each other. Fellowship is what people of faith do together for the world.

Phil. 1:5 – “because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now”

Are we loving, serving, investing, and influencing our family, neighbors, co-workers, and friends? Are we known by our love?

Jonah 3:3 – “ 3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city—a visit required three days.”

Jonah went into the city, will we?


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