C.O.R.E. – E: Equipping – It’s all About Me
11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the TRAINING OF THE SAINTS in the WORK of ministry, to BUILD UP the body of Christ, 13 until we all REACH UNITY in the faith and in the KNOWLEDGE OF GOD’S SON, [growing] into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.
14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us GROW IN EVERY WAY INTO HIM who is the head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love BY THE PROPER WORKING OF EACH INDIVIDUAL PART.
Reviewing the CORE –
C – Christ – It’s all about Him!
Jesus Christ has to be at the center of all that we do as His followers and as the church. We do what we do for Him and because of Him. We should constantly be striving to have “the mind of Christ.” To think, love, and act as Jesus would in our daily lives. It’s not easy, but it’s what we are expected to do. When we don’t think like Christ…act like Christ…love like Christ…we leave the world confused and vainly searching for life and hope without any idea where to find it. When the people of the church are living like Jesus it will stir things in people, cause them to wonder and question things about themselves and others, and ultimately enable them to find their way to the source of hope found in a relationship with Christ.
O – Outreach – It’s all about Them!
Our purpose for being the church is to fulfill the Great Commission given to us by our Lord upon His departure. Go…make disciples…share His story. When the church is focused on making disciples and sharing His story we see the impact it can have in live, homes, communities, populations. When the church is silent and stagnant we see the destruction that can come instead. Today there are more vacant churches around in large part because the church as a whole has lost sight of the need to focus on outreach as corporate bodies and individual members. We need to remember that we are here for the people who are not yet here.
R – Relationships – It’s all about Us!
Jesus commanded us to love each other like He has loved us. He declared that this is the way that people around us will know that our faith is genuine, when it is authenticated by the love of Christ expressed by and toward one another. There are no short-cuts to this, we either have true AGAPE love or we don’t—it can’t be faked. Most of the people around us have seen plenty of Christ-followers and churches acting in ways that are not steeped in love. When they see genuine love it will rock their world. Love that is characterized by; grace and mercy; compassion and passion; generosity and action; sacrifice and selflessness. They can deny our claims and statements as much as they want to, but it’s impossible to deny a life characterized by this type of love.
1 John 4:7-21
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
We Conclude this Sunday with: E – Equipping – It’s all about Me!
Imagine for a moment a stream of people who are in line getting the things they will need for a long journey. There are tables stretching toward the horizon and people picking through the things on the tables in hopes of getting all they will need for the adventure. How silly would it be to decide that I don’t want to wait in line so I’m going to skip it? How far on the road would you make it without the supplies?
For many this is how they approach the Christian journey. Once they are saved they believe that they have all they need. While it’s true that you only need to be saved to have eternal life in heaven, there’s so much more to be experienced and done if you will make being a Christ-Follower part of your daily life. In addition there is victory and strength for life that can only be found in this abiding relationship as a disciple.
The Abiding Truth of Equipping Discipleship
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. 3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8 “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
9 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
Abiding in Our Relationship (John 15.1-11) – We are Connected
- Abiding Connection – Living With, Dwelling, Staying, Committed
- Equipping Connection – Getting what is Needed: Nutrients from the roots
- Producing Connection – Bearing Fruit Identified by our Relation
- Preserving Connection – We avoid being cast off as worthless
Abiding is Our Requirement – The Word Disciple Indicates we Must
- You don’t have to be engaged in the discipleship process
- But why wouldn’t you want to be?
Abiding is Our Responsibility – I have to Personally Engage
- Churches provide opportunities, but you have to follow-through
- I think one of the saddest things is that in a day and age when we have more opportunities for Christians to be equipped and to be engaged in Bible study and communities of faith growing more and more like Christ we find a lack of participation in personal and collective discipleship. The evidence of this is painfully apparent.
- Some Ideas:
- Get on a Bible Reading Plan
- Get Involved in a Study
- Don’t Miss any Opportunity for Growth as a Disciple
Abiding has Real Results – Rewards for Following Through
- As long as the Tree is rooted and receiving nutrients it’s logical to expect fruit.
- As long as the believer is rooted and receiving nutrients we can expect growth.
- The growth and fruit (or lack of) in our life identifies where we are rooted.
A Final Thought: Avoiding the Frustration of Childish Christians
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 – 1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?