Becoming A Guardian of Your Galaxy (Or A Hero To Those You Know)

At Gateway Church in Austin, we are continuing a series called Flix: God, Movies, Life. 

You can watch the message here:

You can also work through the Next Steps.

Here are the notes from the message:

Guardians of the Galaxy

Ever had a bad day?

Our hero in this story had a really bad day. Young Peter Quill had never known his father, and now he has lost his mom. If that wasn’t tragic enough, while grieving the death of his mom, he was abducted by aliens.

Now that is a bad day.

As the story continues, we discover that Peter Quill grows up to become a criminal. Now he was an effective criminal so he has that going for him!

Even still, Peter Quill grows up to become StarLord and the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy and rescues the universe.

So how does a criminal with such brokenness become a hero?

In this series, we are looking at films to discover stories that resonate with what we may experience in life. Through the eyes of faith, with God and the Scriptures as our guide we can find ways to apply lessons from films to our own lives. Films give us good examples to emulate and bad examples from which we can learn. The best films resonate with our experience and inspire us to more in life!

In the movies and even in real life, we see heroes emerge out of their challenging circumstances all the time!

In fact, we need to change our perspective. We shouldn’t say that we are broken people who can become heroes in spite of our circumstances. Instead, we should realize that we are broken people who can become heroes as a result of our circumstances.

Too often we walk around wounded OR we try to act like we have it all together. When we opt for these routes, we are allowing our pride to keep us from experiencing healing and even bring healing to others.

The Creator of the Universe not only offers to heal us, He invites us to bring healing to others!

With God’s help, we can have a faith bigger than our circumstances rather than allowing our circumstances to destroy our faith!

What we discover in the Scriptures is that bad people and broken people can become heroes. The most unlikely people can become wounded healers – offering healing that lasts forever.

So what are you going to do with your wounds and your brokenness?

For each of us, we can we become guardians of our galaxy or at least heroes to those we know by doing two things.
  1. Ask God and others for help.

One of the marks of maturity is knowing when to ask for help.

Last week, Robb and Shaula Overholt spoke at Gateway South using this same film as their jumping off point and the story of Joseph as their example from the Bible. They shared one of the more difficult seasons of their lives and challenged us with this thought:

“God chose to use our wounds to bring healing to others who were hurting instead of letting us lick our wounds and feel sorry for ourselves.”

We have the same choice to make. Will we keep feeling sorry for ourselves or will we seek God and community for healing so we can bring healing to others?!

Will remain the victim or will we become victorious to rescue others?!

When we acknowledge our brokenness we can find healing.

When we do this, we let God turn what was meant for evil (either by us or by others) into good.

Because of our broken world, people hurt us, and we become hurt people who then hurt people.

To stop this cycle, God offers forgiveness and new life and purpose to all who ask for it. You cannot experience God’s forgiveness unless you ask for it. You cannot experience new life unless your surrender your life to Him. You cannot fulfill God’s purpose for your life until you surrender all of who you are to Him.

Here’s what is amazing: God can bring good out of the bad others intended.

Listen to this promise from the Scriptures in Romans 8:28

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

When we turn our lives over to Him and trust Him, our Heavenly Father can take the places of our greatest pain and turn them into the areas of our greatest triumphs!

Our Heavenly Father also promises:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:9

In other words, if we come to Him as we are, His love is bigger than anything we’ve done or any doubt we have or any issue with which we have struggled. It is in our area of weakness, that His strength is most obvious.

Faced with the potential destruction of the galaxy, our broken and messed up group of criminals have a choice to make – remain losers (people who have lost something) or save the universe.

In one particular scene, Peter Quill invites Drax, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket to help him rescue billions of people. These selfish criminals decide to sacrifice their lives for the sake of others!

This resonates with us! I imagine, at some point in our lives, we’ve all felt like losers! I also know that at some point in our lives, we have felt called by God to become a hero!

Second, to become heroes to those around us, we need to

2. Serve others with others.

As spiritually-minded people, another way to say this is we need to join the mission of Jesus and His Church.

This may not sound like what you’d think I would say. It is because unfortunately, we have fouled things up. We have messed up this word: “Church.”

  • The Church is not a building.
  • The Church is not a service on Sunday.
  • The Church is not an institution.
  • The Church is not a religion.

We’ve been tricked and confused. There is also a world religion known as Christianity that often does not represent Jesus well.

  • Rather than loving others, religion judges others.
  • Rather than inviting others in, religion excludes others who look differently or make different moral choices or believe differently.
  • Rather than acknowledging our need for God’s love and forgiveness, religion reeks of hypocrisy and pride.

Instead, the true meaning of the word “Church” literally means “the called out ones.” The Church is the community of people who follow Jesus!

The Church are those who given up their entire lives to follow Jesus. We are set apart from the world by our behavior and sent out into the world to bring new life!

If you follow Jesus, you are part of the Church!

Erwin McManus, our pastor in Los Angeles used to say: “The Church is not here to meet our needs. We are the Church, and we are here to meet the needs of the world!”

How differently would the world view the Church if we chose to live as we were created to live – loving and serving and meeting the needs of the world around us.

The Church’s mission is to advance Jesus’ invisible kingdom. His invisible Kingdom is advanced through the faith, love, and hope expressed by those who follow Jesus!

We do not advance the Kingdom of Jesus through violence or arguments or protests
or posts on Facebook.

We advance His Kingdom through a willingness to lay down our lives to love, a willingness to represent Jesus by living godly, holy, and selfless lives.

We do this not so that God will love us. He already does! We do this in response to His love – out of gratitude for His love!

Listen to the description of the local church in Jerusalem in the days after Jesus rose from the dead and His Spirit came to guide those who followed Him fully. Listen to the difference between this movement of Jesus as compared to religion or cultural Christianity:

42 (The early church) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
– Acts 2:42-47

Every single day, lives were being changed! People were discovering that God loved them, came for them, died for them, rose for the dead for them, and now can live within! Every single day!!

What is also remarkable is how the people are described. They were described as “praising God” AND “enjoying the favor of all the people.”

  • I know people who are known for praising God, but they are not the same ones that enjoy the favor of all the people.
  • I know people who enjoy the favor of others, but they are not the same people who are known for praising God.

This seems like an oxymoron: two phrases that do not belong together like “jumbo shrimp” or “cafeteria food” or “SMU Football.”

We can learn from the early church in order to experience the fullness of life with Jesus.

They were devoted to God AND they were devoted to each other.

As a result, they experienced the miraculous AND lives were transformed.

Let’s take a look at how they were devoted to God and how they were devoted to others according to this passage.

So how were they devoted to God? According to Acts 2:42-47, they fully engaged in

  • the apostles’ teaching about God
  • prayer
  • going out to serve other believers and those who did not yet believe
  • trusting God and sacrificing for others

How were they devoted to each other?

  • They gathered in the temple courts with each other (large groups).
  • They shared meals in their homes (small groups).
  • Fellowship with each other.
  • Sacrificed to meet the needs of others.

Using the early church as our standard, how devoted are we to God and to each other?

The early church came together regularly in large groups and small groups.

Coming to a Sunday inspire service once in a while is better than never coming. Watching a message online is better than never watching. Some of you are just checking things out, and that is great. Take your time. No rush!

In fact, if you aren’t yet sure about God, you are in the right place. At Gateway, Sunday mornings is a gathering of the church and we include and invite those who are checking things out. Sundays at Gateway are much like Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where the disciples came along with those who were skeptical along with those who were unwelcome in the Temple.

You are welcome here no matter where you may be spiritually:

  • No matter what you might look like.
  • No matter what you might believe.
  • No matter how you might vote.
  • No matter how you live your life.
  • No matter what you might have done.
  • No matter with what you might be struggling.

When we say: “No perfect people allowed” we mean it!

We are all fully aware that we are messed up and broken AND we are offered forgiveness and new life in Christ AND we have the opportunity to bring hope to humanity!

The Church is a place where anyone can come as they are AND anyone can experience the transformation Jesus offers through His Spirit so that we do not stay as we are!

At the same time, for those of us who have chosen to surrender our lives to God and to follow Jesus, we need to step up. To be devoted to God means, connecting with God daily through the scriptures and prayer. Being devoted to God means to spend time serving others and to spend time with others who are following Jesus. Not just coming every once and a while on a Sunday, but coming every Sunday you are in town and you aren’t sick and coming early, participating fully, and staying late – helping others connect, meeting others out on the decks, or serving on one of our serving teams.

Life is too hard to try to pull off on your own! We need each other! We need to serve others even more than they need our help!

Even in the film, we are reminded that odd friends are better than no friends.

Which leads to the word: “fellowship”….

Growing up I thought “fellowship” was like singing Kumbaya around campfire. I never truly understood what this meant until a movie came out called Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. Any Lord of the Rings fans?

Much like the diverse group of creatures that team together to become guardians of the galaxy, the Fellowship of the Ring was made up of hobbits, dwarves, elves, and humans teaming together to save civilization! These creatures that normally did not like each other were now united for a common cause.

According to Philippians 1:5 the word “fellowship” is translated as “partnership in the Gospel” – in other words “partnership in advancing the message of Jesus.”

Fellowship is not just what Christ-followers do for each other.
Fellowship is what we do together for the world!

Now consider how the early church sacrificed. As each person dove deep into their relationship with God, God led each to sacrifice for the needs of others.

Miraculously, as the early church chose to fully trust Jesus – even with their belongings and finances – He worked through them to see their family, neighbors, co-workers, friends, and even complete strangers transformed through their generosity.

Consider for a second that phrase: the early church was “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” 

Seeing the greater context shows how this was possible.

Remember: they were the first people on the planet to believe that God came to earth as a baby, grew up, lived a perfect life, started traveling with a group of followers, taught with authority, healed people with diseases and illnesses, and even died on the cross to heal our spiritual sickness – our sin that separates us from God. Rising from the dead He promised to send His Spirit to live within all of those who choose to follow Him.

This was remarkable! They were the first to believe this! The early church might have unusual beliefs, but they sacrificed to meet the needs of others!

Rather than being confused or even repelled by their beliefs,
the people around them were intrigued by their generosity.

You see, we live in a different day and age, but some things never change. People are drawn to Jesus when people who follow Jesus live remarkable lives.

  • When we choose to give generously…
  • When we choose to meet the needs of others through serving…
  • When we choose to invest our time and energy into the lives of others…
  • When we choose to sacrifice for the sake of others!

Everything changes!

Others want what we have!

In the midst of a divided nation, the Church needs to be known by our love rather than who or what we seem to hate!

When people look at your life and my life, do they see someone who is willing to sacrifice for others? are we known by our love?

That’s what resonates with us in films: Broken people become heroes when they are willing to sacrifice their lives for others.

Broken people become heroes when they are willing to sacrifice for others.

When we start to put the needs of others before our own, our needs are less overwhelming.

That’s the power of Go! Teams or serving on Sundays with guest services, Next Gen, or production, or serving in a ministry area or serving with your network. Serving and sacrifice bring healing!

Why is that? Because we tap into a spiritual truth. Jesus said: “if you lose your life serving others for my sake then you will find your life.”- Matthew 10:39

Just before that Jesus also said “To follow me, you must die to your self every single day.”

This is so countercultural! This is the exact opposite of what our world tells us.

Our world tells us to:

  • “Look out for yourself because no on else will.”
  • “Do what you feel like as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody.”

What if we started serving or neighbors, our kids, our co-workers, and our family – dying to self daily?!?

We will not only bring change to those around us, we will change! Suddenly we are looking to God to meet our needs while we meet the needs of others!

The reason we miss our heroic calling is because
we are consumed by our selfishness.

What if instead we sought to meet the needs of our spouse rather than get mad they aren’t meeting our needs?

Most marriages struggle or even end because eventually the couple starts evaluating the relationship by “what is in this for me.” “My spouse doesn’t meet my needs.” Which leads to “I no longer love my spouse.”

Some of you feel like: “you don’t understand: I’m such a giving person. I already give more than my spouse or my co-workers or my family or my friends. I’m being walked on! People are taking advantage of me! What about my needs?!?”

Of course, in those extreme cases of abuse, we want to help you find healing and find a safe place.

Most of the time, many of us aren’t being abused. We are just being annoyed.

Part of the solution is being in community. When you start serving with others, you get to know others. When you begin to share about your life with others – the ups and the downs, they can become your own personal board of directors. Others can help us see that the problems that feel so overwhelming to us may not be that big after all or they can offer ideas from the scriptures that have helped them in their struggles.

Or those in your life who care for you, may have the courage to speak honestly to you so that you start to see your part in the conflict.

Or those closest to you can challenge you to speak up to those taking advantage of you. Sometimes serving someone means being willing to have a hard conversation with them – sharing the truth in love!

So we can see that the early church was devoted to God and devoted to their community.

That is what the Church is supposed to be! Devoted to God and devoted to each other! In the process, our lives are changed and the lives of those around us are changed as well!

For a story on God’s miraculous work in my life on this issue, check out Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (Without John Candy).

 

Sometimes God says “yes” to what may seem like small prayers
so that we can trust Him when the answer is “no” to big prayers.

So now, in this moment, I want to tell you something that I know to be true.

  • God loves you.
  • God offers you new life through Jesus.
  • If you will surrender your life to Jesus and connect to community, He will transform you.
  • If you follow Him fully, you will be amazed at what God does in your life and what God does through your life.
  • If you have chosen to follow Him, but have slipped or fallen away, you can start afresh today.
  • If you fully follow Him today, God has even greater things for you than you could ever ask or imagine. Start dreaming again! Let Him speak to you again! Be willing to go wherever He wants you to go!
  • When you lose your life serving others, you will find your life!

Maybe for you your brokenness comes from your family of origin. Have you ever considered that God put you in that family so that you can experience His healing and bring that healing to all of those who have come before you and start a new path for all those yet to come?

We have some work to do. We will be stretched maybe more than we’d want. We will need to sacrifice perhaps more than we ever had.

But He is with us! No need to fear anyone or anything! Our hope is in Him! And we can bring hope to the people around us!

“What starts here changes the world!”

 

The Church was born to love God and love people – to be counter cultural and subversive agents of change!

 

 

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