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How We Change

Matthew 18:7-9, 15-19

By Stuart Mains

June 4, 2023

Gracias por leer este sermón. Si lo que escucha lo conmueve y se encuentra en el área de Boston, ¡considere visitarlo en persona!

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Good morning congregation and it is so good to be with you. You know I did this a little while ago but I don't know if you guys remember it because it's summer and it got a little bit warmer now it's colder again but church starts at 10:00 A.m. Oh man, isn't that wild? And so we would love to see you here worshiping God with us at 10:00 A.m. It's great to have you here at whatever time you get here but we prefer you to be here on time. Amen. Especially if you're a member of the church. We'd love to be with you today but I am Stewart, my wife's Ashley if you're visiting for the first time, welcome. We are so happy that you're here with us. We're grateful to worship with you. And this is a congregation that my wife and I moved to be a part of from Los Angeles about two years ago. We're actually coming up on our two-year anniversary this month and my son turns two years old on June 7 and this is right around the same time that we moved up here. So as you look at little baby Kevin, our fourth, you will now see how long we've been here.

But it's a privilege to lead this congregation and we love doing this work, we love you and being a part of this. Today we're going to be talking about this idea of how we change, how we change, what does it take to change, what's required to change. How does someone go from living one way and completely changing their lifestyle? When you think about how have you changed, what does it take? It doesn't happen lightly. It doesn't happen accidentally. You don't accidentally wake up and go from being a messy person to a clean person. You don't go from being a slob just to being super organized. When I was 18 years old I moved into a household of ten bedrooms with 15 men. It was a fraternity overflow house the church purchased for the college ministry and we moved into Gainesville, Florida, right across the street from campus with 15 guys. Few of them had their own rooms, but generally, it was two to a room. And it was disgusting. It was nasty. And so one day, and obviously this would happen probably every three or four months, honestly. But this particular mom decided this is gross.

I'm going to come on Saturday morning at 06:00 A.m. With blow horns, and I'm going to wake up all these men and we are going to clean this disgusting house. That's what she did. She came into the house and she just started blowing the horn, I mean, everywhere throughout the house. I was one of the last people to get up. And she came in and she ripped my blanket off of me. I was on the top of a bunk bed. She's like, Get out of bed and get dressed. That was my wake-up from this woman. And I didn't know her name. I didn't even know who she was. I didn't know if someone broke into our house, but it was one of the guy's moms. And she comes in and for about the next 3 hours, she said, you guys don't have anything planned from 06:00 A.m. To 09:00 A.m., you're cleaning today. And that's what we did for 3 hours. Sleepy and groggy, we cleaned the house. It had never looked as good. It never looked that good again. But for that time, it was awesome and it was radical and it was different, but it got something done.

Transformation when it happens and done right, it's shocking. Every one of us can identify areas in our life that we want to see transformation. But when it actually comes and happens in our lives, it's startling. It's an oddity, it's rare, it's unique. Some changes and transformations are inevitable. I don't know if you remember Caleb Miller before COVID but it was like he went into COVID as a child and he came out of COVID as a man. I mean, he was like seven, eight, nine inches taller than he was before. He was fit. I mean, he was looking good. Transformations sometimes are inevitable, like growing up. But many times, transformations, take deliberate effort. It's estimated $13.2 billion are spent every year in the US, on self-development. People pay shocking numbers to change. But when someone's really transformed, it's inspiring. When you see someone that does something that seems not just improbable, but almost impossible, it inspires you that maybe you could do the same thing. But, you know, we live in a weird world. It simultaneously tells you, never to change. Be who you are, and change everything about you. There is a spirit that goes out from the world that says, change nothing.

Be who you are. Be true to your real self, your real identity. And there's a whole nother version of what the world's teaching us that says you're not skinny enough, you're not pretty enough, you're not strong enough. You're not smart enough, you're not good enough. And so we're simultaneously pulled in two different directions, saying we must change everything about us, and don't you dare ever change. It's a confusing world that we live in, but nonetheless, we all have things that we want to change. We all have things that we know are just not what they need to be. Jesus is addressing this idea in Matthew 18. If you turn your Bibles there, he's addressing the concept and the idea of change and what it takes to change. And in this passage, he talks about the idea of self-change. You are able to deal with some of the things going on in your own heart, as well as how the Church changes us as we start in Matthew 18, verse 7 it's weird how he starts off this discussion about repentance and changing and overcoming sin. Look what he says here. He says, Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble, such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come.

He starts off with a text about the world's curses. Woe to the world. Woe to what's going on in the world all around us. Before he gets to talking about you changing, he starts to lay a foundation saying the world is messed up. In a different version, it says how horrible it will be for the world because it causes people to lose their faith. Situations that cause people to lose their faith will arise. How horrible it will be for the person who causes someone to lose their faith. In Greek, the idea of temptation is this idea of Skandalo. You get where the word scandal comes from, but it's the concept. It's not actually the concept of scandal that it's talking about. Skandalo means more this ensnaring, this trapping that takes place. Jesus is saying that the world is filled with traps and snares that will lead you down a path of temptation, in fact, to even lose your faith. And so before he even gets to how to deal with your sin with change, he talks and lays a foundation that feels a little bit negative that the world is messed up, that the world doesn't know how to help you change, that the world is not the place to turn for answers on actually how to change your life.

If you look at the world, you can look at it in two different ways. In this analogy, you can look at it as the Titanic, or you can look at it as an old cruise ship. If you look at the world as an old cruise ship, it's not sinking. It's just not what it once was. It's dilapidated, it's breaking down. It needs some work, it needs some renovating. And so what would you do with an old cruise ship that you want to be back into function? You would start to remodel it. You pump money into it. You would upgrade the slide that's there by the pool. You would make the attractions better, and the theaters more beautiful. You'd bring in better chefs. You'd do all these things. The window dressings would look better to upgrade what you see. But the ship itself is still not sinking per se, it's just old. But if you look at the world as Jesus is describing as this cursed world that we live in, it's actually much more like the Titanic. The Titanic was beautiful and powerful, but when it ripped the hole in its hall, there was no way to save the Titanic.

Instead, what you needed to do is you needed to get rescued, you needed to get off the boat. You weren't worried about how beautiful the crown molding was on the Titanic at that moment. You weren't thinking the attractions were really beautiful. Instead, what you were saying is, I need to be saved and I need to help save as many as possible from this boat that once was so appealing and attractive and now is a death trap that's going down. I must save everybody around me. Listen here in 2 Peter 3, verse 10, it says, but the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar. The elements will be destroyed by fire and the earth, everything done in it will be laid bare, some manuscripts say, will be burned up. Now, why does God use this to set up a topic about how to change? Why does he say that? Second, Peter says it's true that what's going to happen to this world is it's going to end in destruction. The world that we see around us will no longer be there when the Lord comes back. This is not the rah-rah motivational speech that you would expect from Jesus.

He starts off, Woe to the world. The reason that I believe that he says woe to the world is because a Christian that understands their eternal destiny is never meant to be in this world, it's actually an inevitable reality that we are going to see this world pass away and a new Jerusalem and a new heaven is coming. And therefore, as he's talking about how to change, he's saying we must have the record straight and clear as to what's going to happen here so that there's a clear and honest discussion about the desperation we need to have to change. The idea of changing, of looking for answers in a world that is being destroyed, then becomes stupid and foolish. You don't look to the world. You don't look to the Titanic for answers on how to stay afloat, it sunk. It didn't do it in the same way. If we're going to change, we must stop looking at the world that ensnares us and entraps us, and look at Jesus's words of what he says and so he lays this foundation that feels very condemning and challenging. But in actuality, I think he's trying to get us to look towards him.

He's getting us to look toward the eternal perspective. And with that eternal perspective, he says in verse 8, if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away, it is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or 2 feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eyes cause you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire. I mean, again, he is setting the foundation with a challenging passage. And the next two verses, if you're visiting for the first time, you're like, Where did I come? We are talking about being maimed. Gouging out my eyes and the whole world's going to burn up on the last day. Whoa. What is this church? But we got to read the Bible. Amen. And what he's saying? If the foundation is that this world is not where we can look for answers if the foundation is that this world is going to come to an end if the foundation of truth is that this is a sinking ship like the Titanic.

Then the idea of what he's describing is I love you so much that I desperately want you to make it to heaven. I love you so much that I do not want anything to get in the way of this desperation. You know, the spirit of transformation is desperation. The spirit of transformation is dealing with the things in our lives. The spirit of change that he's looking for, that Jesus is describing, it's a radical response. Many theologians and philosophers, bring up this idea of, does he really mean to gouge out your eye? I mean, is that metaphorically speaking? That seems harsh. Why give us hands if you want them to cut it off? That doesn't seem like it makes any sense. And I'm not here to pursue out whether he's meaning physically cut it off or metaphorically speaking, those kinds of things. I'm just saying you get the point of what he's trying to convey, that there must be such a desperate feeling inside of you that says heaven and hell are real. I so desperately want to go to heaven. I see the writing on the wall and I'll do whatever it takes to get right with God.

Transformation begins where contentment ends. Transformation begins, when you are so discontent with the circumstances that are happening in your life, there's such dissatisfaction with what's happening in your life that you must transform. Passivity does not breed change. Desperation breeds transformation, right? There's not this passive approach and in the American way, that is something that we have to be challenged with on a daily basis, that our lives are pretty much good. We live in a world that is comfortable. We live in a world that if you don't want to be confronted with the problems that you live in then you don't have to worry about it. I mean, even look at it in TV shows. Ten years or 15 years ago, the idea that you would say some of the jokes that they say in shows like The Office or shows across Netflix and just watch old shows. Now there are some really good things that have been taken out that were bullying, that were not helpful in society. But it has gotten to such a place where you say anything in disagreement with what popular belief is you are canceled. You are called a bigot immediately if you have a differing opinion in the culture around us, this idea that we live in a world that's pacified by comfortability, by an unwillingness to be able to say the hard things and the challenging truths.

Jesus is not willing to let you go to hell without knowing the truth. And so he says do whatever it takes. What a loving father to give you a lifeboat in a sinking ship. What a loving, loving brother to be able to say, come with me versus yeah, I see it sinking and I see that you're going to die, but yeah, go swim in that water that's coming in the boat. No big deal, it's fine. Jesus is calling us to see the reality of the situation and face the facts. The spirit of transformation is desperation and Satan will do everything in his power to minimize the seriousness of the issues that we're facing. And Genesis, verses 4-6, right? We know the story. The fall of man with Adam and Eve. God says to eat from any tree. But there's one tree that I don't want you to eat from. If you do, you'll die, but everything else is yours. In verse 4, the serpent Satan comes and says to Eve, you will not certainly die. The serpent said of the woman. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who is with her and ate it. God called this tree evil. She said this tree of good and evil, you should not touch this. Do not eat from this. This is bad. I don't want you there. I want you to eat from any other tree. But what did Satan do? Satan always minimizes the seriousness of what God says is bad. Jesus, in the passage of Matthew 18, says cut it off, cut off your hand, cut off your foot, whatever is going to get in the way. Why? He's saying that the stakes are too great. But, you know, Eve saw good things in the things that God called evil. Eve saw good things in the things that God said were bad for you. When you look at society and all around us, there are things that the world is teaching is good, that God has clearly, in his word said they're evil. Where do you stand on some of these matters?

Where do you stand on the teachings about sexual immorality, the idea of having sex with someone that's not your spouse? Are you willing to take a stand in a world that teaches there's no big deal with any of that? Are you willing to say, no, that's not right? God says it's evil, therefore I won't call it good. I'm unwilling to call it good. And oftentimes what happens is it gets so murky because of society that we start to question, well, why is it bad? And the idea that it's bad because God says it's bad stops being good enough for us. If God says it's evil, then it's evil. But why is it evil? What exactly makes it so bad? And it's research after research after research comes out, confirming the idea of cohabitation is not a better way to a healthy marriage or that sexual morality does not cause you to be a greater husband or a wife. And yet we still continue down the road of living these lifestyles because it doesn't make sense to me. And so if it doesn't make sense to me, that can't be what God meant. It is what God meant.

We're just getting hazy and murky on what God says is good because Satan has minimized it in our hearts. Oftentimes we can feel like, well, I don't want to be a bad person in doing these challenging things. I'm going to hurt people along the way. Jesus said, Cut off your hand. That hurts. This idea of living in a world of desperation for change and transformation, it doesn't start with feeling good. Desperation is not a great feeling. It's not a spot that you should stay long term. God actually doesn't want you to just constantly be in this stressed-out, desperate state. However, it's a great starting point. It's a point that needs to be endured if you're going to actually follow through with what God's word is saying as you look at your life. What are you calling evil and what are you calling good? What are the things that you're calling evil? And what are the things that you're saying? This is how I must live. I love that. In our church, we hold to a standard that says what's good is good, because God says it's good and what's evil is evil. And it's not something that we say from the pulpit and then we go behind closed doors and have counseling times and go, I mean, yeah, but who can really actually follow that?

Or we're not going behind closed doors and living differently like Marquise was talking about the other six days of the week. We are a church that calls us to call evil, evil and good, good. Too many of us get cloudy on these matters. And Jesus is saying, stop it. Do you not realize this is a sinking ship? Do not hold on to the teachings of the world, but love the truth that I am trying to give you at this time I'm ever going to ask you to be able to share just a little bit about one of the sisters that recently got baptized in our fellowship.

all right, well, I had the privilege this week of studying the Bible with Jenny. Jenny, can you stand up so everyone can see? I had heard over the last few weeks that a couple of the sisters, Lisa Dueignez and Eleanor Baronson, talk about this girl whom they were studying the Bible with who just had one of the softest hearts they had seen in a long time. And Wednesday I was able to experience that. And about five minutes into our Bible study, they just silently put a tissue box right next to her. And I was like, oh, do you need a tissue? Do you need a blow your nose? And they're like, no, this is for her. This is just because it's going to start flowing once the scriptures and the conversation started. Jenny, you have allowed God's scriptures to really transform your heart, but it absolutely started with this spirit of desperation. And a few months ago, she had gotten sick and was praying these really desperate prayers to God, like God if you will only save me and I can get out of this situation, I'll do whatever you want. And a lot of us have heard of people doing that.

But even at that moment, she felt someone just gave her tissue. That's amazing. She had felt like, how dare I pray this to a God that I don't know. I'm praying this to God. And a lot of us do those things in desperate times. But she said, I really do want to get right with you. And God healed her from that time. She was hospitalized. She healed through that time. But then she held to her word. She said, God, I'm using this as a moment because it was kind of one of those moments long enough for her to pause and realize how desperate she was. She's a successful woman. She's in her 30s. She had so many things going for her as a woman in the world, but she had this moment in her heart to realize there is something missing, there is something in her heart. There is a hole in my heart that I really believe only God can fill. And over the last couple of months, honestly, she hasn't been studying the Bible that long. She has opened her heart up. She was so eager, so desperate, to build relationships, to study God's word and learn, how do I do this with Him? How do I have this relationship with Him?

She was willing to confess sin. She was willing to do so many things. And you know, the thunderstorm that happened on Friday night, she decided that was the moment that she wanted to get baptized. She had decided it two days prior and thunder came and the rain came and she ran, they were literally sprinting towards the beach to get baptized so that her soul can be saved and she could be right with God. Jenny, I'm so proud of you. Welcome to Congregation.

There are ways to get baptized indoors, but nonetheless one at the beach. You get to the beach, there you go. What has your relationship been with desperation? What is your relationship? Do you run and hide from it? Do you try to avoid it at all costs? Show me any area of sin in your life that is persistent and consistent and not going away, and I'll show you an area in your life that you are not desperate to change, that you don't want to change. When it comes down deep into it. We're toying with the sin a little bit. We're playing with it a little bit. We don't totally have this desperation thing down straight. We feel a sense of it's not good. But really why God, is it not that big of a deal? There is a complete difference between somebody that has what Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 7 as Godly sorrow versus worldly sorrow. Notice both are sorrows, but he says in verse ten, godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret. But worldly sorrow brings death. See what this Godly sorrow has produced in you. What earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourself, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done at every point.

You've proven yourself to be innocent in this matter. This is a desperate person for a change. I mean, you go through the words that are being used there, the earnestness, even the indignation, just the anger, the hatred towards the sin that is pesky, that you can't deal with, that it's addicting, that you can't overcome it. There's a hatred towards it, an anger towards it. You're not supposed to always be in just a peaceful state of everything is good. That is a lie. Even Jesus came into the temple and saw sin going on in the church at that time and said, I got to deal with it. And he flipped the tables in the temple and said, this is not how we're going to worship God. There are times to be angry about the right things, having this holy discontent inside of you, insane lies and goes, this is a depressing message and depressing life. This idea of how do I change? I cut things off my body and I got to be desperate. What is that? And really, in actuality, that's not the truth at all. When you are desperate for God, he always shows you away.

When you are desperate for God, it fulfills you. It changes you. It never comes back void. You never come to God. Desperate on your knees with God begging, please give me answers. And he goes, Nah, not today. That's not God. How many in this room, in this congregation cried out to God? And then within a day or an hour later, someone reached out to them? How many of you are on Instagram? God can even use Instagram. Amen. We're praying out to God, help me find something. And then you saw our church pop up. It's not by coincidence that that happened. And there are consequences if we don't respond, right? We must respond. Look in Psalm 119, verses 1-5. Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. He says, in a dark place, what do you turn to? God's Word and it will light your path. Not the world, not your version of good versus evil, the word of God. And too many of us in our version, our pseudo understanding of Jesus have actually thrown out the Bible in order to follow Jesus in our version. And God's word is nowhere to be found in our lives.

And yet he's saying plainly, I love you, but there are some truths that you've got to hear. Will you respond? Will you respond with desperation? Will you be willing to say, I'll do whatever it's going to take? Or will you say, I don't know? I don't know if I want to do that. Some of you are in this room right now, and the idea of being desperate is so far from you, not because you're rejecting something that you're seeing, but because you're completely unaware of the world around you and what's going on. You're completely unaware of the spiritual realm. This is a woman that is, I'm going to show you a video here, that's singing Rihanna's. Work. Work, work okay? And she is singing this song with her headphones on and she doesn't realize what's happening. It's a little hard to see somewhat, but be looking behind her. Go ahead.

She is not on our worship team, you can tell why.

All right, that's good right there. She had no idea. And the video pretty much ends right there. And you're like she starts to stop. You're like, don't stop. Keep going down further. You don't know that bear is chasing you, but she has no idea what's going on around her. She is just in her own Rihanna world, right? "Work, Work, Work, Work."

I mean, she is just in it. Do you hear the bear? I mean, she is aloof to what's happening. Some of you have come into church today and it's a great first step. And I don't want you to feel berated by what I'm saying. I want you to be sober by what I'm saying. There is a spiritual war all around us that's going on that you may be unaware of, and we do not want to beat you over the head with it, but we want to give you clarity. Why? Because we want to help rescue you from the sinking ship. We love you. We deeply love you. Look at what 1 Peter 5 we're going to go down to verse 6 which says, humble yourselves therefore under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you. Be alert and sober mind your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. There was not an ounce of desperation in that woman's voice or attitude or posture, because she had no idea what was right outside of her purview right.

She couldn't see what was happening. But right there, if that girl was not a good snowboarder, oh, my goodness, that'd be a different video. You wouldn't have seen it. I mean, it would have been a massacre. God in his word is saying, be alert, be sober-minded. Why? Because your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Jesus is not being mean when he says, to deal with sin. Jesus is not being unkind when he says the world is cursed. Jesus is actually the most loving. He can, because he sees the writing on the wall of what's going to happen. He's saying wake up. I love you too much. I care too deeply for you to let you just go riding around Perusing not seeing the lion that's right there. You must be sober-minded. What is it going to take for you to wake up? What is it going to take for you to be able to see? Jesus calls for drastic measures and drastic actions. And the beautiful thing is that in God's divine plan, he doesn't leave us alone. He gives us a community, a culture around us to live in a church, to be able to be transformed in.

You don't have to do it alone. The second and final thing is the culture of transformation. The culture of transformation is in his church. In Matthew 18, verse 15, it says, if your brother and sister sins, go and point out their fault just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you've won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the Church. And if they refuse to listen even to the Church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Again, this is a hard teaching and a challenging teaching. But when you look at it with the lens that Jesus is teaching it with, he's actually saying it in such a transformatively, loving way. He's saying, I'm giving you the plan of how to transform your life. And what does he say? He says you need a friend who's willing to speak up. You need a crew that will come to rescue you, and you need a church that upholds God's standards.

What do you need? You need a friend to speak up. You need someone who's willing to challenge you. In the world that we live in right now, this is something that is foreign to most churches. The idea that you would actually challenge somebody on the way they're living their life is almost insulting. Why would you ever say, the way that I'm following God's word is not accurate? That's not loving at all. You're just a jerk. You're mean. And yet God's Word says something very different. Proverbs 27, verse five said, wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. We need friends that intervene in our life. Do you have these friends that are willing to speak up? God's word says that the wounds from a friend, they do surgery, they hurt for a little while, but they have a better end than if they never would happen in the first place. An enemy is the one that says, yeah, you're good. Stay in the boat. It's sinking, but swim. See what happens. That's what an enemy does, it pacifies you and tells you you're fine. But a friend challenges and speaks up.

Then if you don't listen to the friend, it says, to bring a crew of people with them. What's the intention? To get them? No, to love them. We need not just one friend to speak up, but we need a crew of people that are going to be willing to call good, good and evil, evil in our lives. You know, the world is lonely. The world doesn't have many friends. 60% of Americans say they feel lonely on a consistent basis. The majority of people say they don't really have a best friend outside of their spouse or significant other. This idea of having a crew feels foreign to many people. And yet you that have been in the church for any length of time, you are basking in friendship. But we can't have relationships that don't speak up. We must have relationships that talk and challenge and deal with things. We can't build these moats around our hearts and not be willing to take on the challenge that people want to bring before us. Are you easy to challenge? Are you easy to say something to? And then finally, a church that holds to a standard.

Too many of us have this kind of incognito mode church. Do you ever see that on your Google Chrome or on your iPhone Safari? You can do anything you want online without there being any history taken. If you do incognito mode or private mode on your phone, and for someone that was addicted to pornography before meeting Jesus and connecting with what was happening there in my spiritual life, I use that all the time. Why? Because I didn't want to have a record of what I was doing online. In many ways, we live in a culture where we do incognito church. We come in and I don't want anyone to know who I am or why I'm here. I come in, OOH, that was interesting. OOH, I got that little nugget. Okay, let me get out of here quickly. And it's interesting in our church family, usually how many friends who would hear about us would be through word of mouth, and that's still happening. If you've come out from a friend inviting you, that's great. We'd love to have you here, but we also have a lot of people here that nobody reached out to them except for Instagram or Google or online or they found us trying to research churches.

And so it's much easier if you're one of those people to come in. I don't know anybody here, and I'm going to skedaddle right out of here right when the message is done because I don't want anybody in my life. And actually, the churches that grow the most, the most radically growing churches that we have in America right now are the ones that have very minimal ligaments of connection to anybody that comes to church. They actually set up the church that way. It's actually a more inviting environment if nobody's going to follow up with you. The idea that I don't need a connection or I don't want anybody actually looking at my life, and yet Jesus is saying, if you want to transform, you need to have a friend, you need to have a crew, but you also need a church that holds to the standard of God. The church can't be a church that doesn't hold to the truth. It needs to be something that is obvious and clear in what they teach and preach and what they expect from you as a member of the church. In order to be a member of the church, we go through Bible studies.

Why do we do that? Because we're mean and we don't want people to be members of our church. No, but we want to hold a standard of what it means to be a member of God's family. We love you. If you're visiting with us, we want you to join us. But we want you to join us in a way where you're educated on what you're actually doing. How many churches have baptism days that they have no idea what they're doing scripturally at all? How many people attend churches for years with no clear understanding of what it means to be a disciple or a follower of Jesus Christ? That is not the church that you're at today, and if that's what you're looking for, I want to persuade you, to stop looking for that kind of church. That's not the church that should appeal to you and draw you in. This should be something more attractive to be a part of a family that's going to ask you how you are and what you were doing last night and how is your life and what's going on, and I love you and want to be with you and spend time with you and connect with you as family, not just as a Sunday parishioner saying hi to each other.

The church family that you're a part of, it matters. There was a study there were two studies done. I'm going to share it here quickly. One was in eleven companies with 58,000 work hours. They did this study, and they said, if you sit within 25ft of a top performer, your performance will increase by 15%. There was nothing different about the people in the study except for where they sat. They didn't get smarter. They just sat next to somebody that was a top performer, and it changed them. But if you're sitting within 25ft of a low performer, your performance decreases by 30%. The culture that you surround yourself, it matters. It affects you. No, I'm my own person. Shut up. That's not true. That's not accurate. Another study was done when 100 actors came into a park, and one by one, they'd walk up to somebody and they'd hand them their coffee. Now, 50 of them were hot coffee. 50 of them were iced coffee. They'd hold out their coffee and they say, can you hold my coffee for a second? They pull out their phone. They send a text message. They get the thank you very much. They get the coffee, and they go about their day.

30 minutes later, a researcher comes up and said, I'll give you $20 for a minute and a half of your time. Can you read these three paragraphs here? And then can you answer two questions? And the two questions after they read the three paragraphs what were the qualities that you would describe the character as? That was a question. What were the qualities that you described the character as? Of the people that had the warm coffee, 80% of them said warm and genuine, and other synonyms of that. The ones that had the iced coffee said cold. Not kind, unloving, whatever, some synonyms of being cold. I don't know if they said unloving, but 80%. 81 for the hot, 80 for the cold. Said those two things based on the coffee they held 30 minutes ago. They didn't think that about that person. They were influenced, your environment influences you. Church, where you worship matters. The idea that I'm going to pop around and have a great relationship with God is not true. You are so influential, don't talk like you aren't, and don't talk like you're independent, you are.

Not even a cup of coffee could influence how you view things and not ingest them. I mean ingesting it, I can see that caffeine, there you go. But just holding it makes a difference as we wrap it up. Do you have a friend? Do you have a crew and do you have a church? Do you have a friend that will speak up? Do you have a crew that will rescue you? Do you have a church that will uphold the standard? The standard is not easy. The standard is challenging. The standard, as the passage goes on is that if you do not obey God's commands, they must kick you out of the church. What popular church have you seen kick somebody out of the church? That's not in our culture, in our DNA. Worship should be done personally as what is taught in our DNA. Worship is between you and God and no one gets in the way of that. And who are they to stop you from coming and worshiping God? Jesus's very words say if you don't obey God's word the first time, the second time, or the third time that you should be asked to leave the fellowship.

You ask the church to pray for you, you save the church. But if you don't listen after that third time of being brought before the church, you're asked to leave the fellowship, church. What is he saying? What is he conveying? He's saying there has to be a standard. It's not good enough. It's not good enough to be a church that just has a friendship that will say things and crew that will retire, and rescue you, but not a church that actually holds the standard of Scripture. What test would you ever study for if there wasn't going to be a grade? The idea that my daughter worked her tail off at the science fair in third grade. They don't give real 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place until fifth grade and she got a participation award. My daughter said I'm done with the science fair until there's a possibility of me winning something here. That's what we do, we want results. What happens is there's a standard? Jesus's words are somewhat haunting in the culture that we live in, a culture that tolerates everything. The idea that the church of God must have a standard and ask people to leave that don't hold to that standard and yet still profess that they worship God, he says, that can't be my church.

The spirit of transformation is desperation. The spirit of transformation that you should be feeling right now in your seat if you are not a disciple of Jesus Christ is. You should be desperate. And if you're not desperate, it's because you don't understand or because you pacified yourself. It's time to get desperate. We love studying the Bible with people, and there are about 60 people studying the Bible right now in this congregation with us learning what it means to either be a disciple or learning why they did what they did in becoming a Christian. We would love to study the Bible with you, to teach you what God's word says, to help you get the right kind of desperate, and then move on from there to living a life that is honoring to God. But this idea, the second part that we talked about, this idea of culture, of transformation, must be where you live. Your friendships must call you out, your crew must be someone that you listen to versus tolerating the sin that you're in and saying maybe you'll get better, I hope it works out for you. But your church also has to hold the true standard of God.

Jesus is saying I love you more than anything and therefore I'm going to say some hard truths, not because I'm mean, but because I love you. We must learn how to change Jesus's way. Amen.


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