Welcome to Grace Summit!
Sunday Services at 9:30 and 11:00 am
Grace Summit Community Church is a nondenominational church which focuses on authentically living out what the Bible teaches. It’s also a church with a big heart—toward its members, guests, and those in our community.
Grace Summit leadership and members desire to make a difference in our world by demonstrating through our lives that God is real, that He loves people and that He wants a relationship with each person. The mindset of “making room for more” underlies the plans and activities of Grace Summit as we strive to include and connect with more people in all we do. We’d love to have you be a part of what God is doing here at Grace Summit!
This Week's Message
Let’s pray – Lord, thank You for this opportunity to come together as a church family – help our hearts be warm to You – broken before You today – so we can hear what You say to us. We want to learn to live as followers of Christ who hear their father speak – not missing the mark of what You have for us – to know that our relationship with You is in the right spot – and to know that if we go astray, You are waiting there for us to return. Help us to hear from Your Word today. In Jesus Name we pray.
2 Cor. 12: 14 Look, for the third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you, because I do not want your possessions, but you. For children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 Now I will most gladly spend and be spent for your lives! If I love you more, am I to be loved less?
For Paul, ministry is a relational thing – they are part of his family. Although there are organizational necessities involved in functioning as a church, they are never the main focus – first is relationships – first with God and then with one another.
Jesus called it The Great Commandment – Love God, Love others.
All of our organizational planning and activities should always focus on those things – even the most mundane administrative tasks should have at their heart loving God and loving people. Paul is not using the Corinthians to build his ministry or accomplish his goals. His ministry is focused on their benefit.
He desires to spend and be spent for others. His attitude of sacrificial service – “I will most gladly do it” – like the joy you get out of spending on your grandchild! That is how we need to view our involvement with His people – glad to spend and be spent for the lives of others.
Sometimes it is easy for our service to God and his people to make us angry and bitter. We serve and don’t get the gratitude we are looking for in our service. It is easy to develop an attitude of superiority toward those we serve – like somehow they need us – and we hold them within contempt! We need to be careful about that – especially to not look down on those we minister to.
Like the – why can’t they get this straight mentality! Like we do with our kids – and that may be fine with the kids when they are little, but we know that attitude has to come to an end and our love and service needs to be one of joy in sacrificing for others. Especially in others’ deficits – thinking we have to do it for them because they blew it – like they didn’t live up to their end of the bargain. The Corinthians never lived up and yet Paul was gladly spent.
Ministry is never about personal fulfillment – but that is not why we do it. You do it for others’ well-being. If that is why we do it – we will never do the stuff we don’t feel good about. I’m sure Jesus didn’t feel good about going to the cross! But we need to be willing to bear in our bodies the wrongs of others. Ministry is about caring for the souls of others – and it is a costly venture.
It IS a two-way street – if I loved you more – am I to be loved less? If you are on the receiving end of ministry – you have a responsibility also. You are to love back. Coming to church is not about gimme gimmme gimmmmeeee! You go to the mall for that!
You don’t rate the servers in church. All of us who are served – should we serve less? This is rhetorical – and of course the answer is no –
I am going to go back to a passage I mentioned last week
11: 28 Apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxious concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast about the things that show my weakness.
A key to doing relational ministry well is the ability to identify with those we minister to.
Paul – as he talks about the Corinthians – there are not many who are mighty, noble, or wise – God chose the foolish, weak, and despised to change the world – He called them common and ordinary – jars of clay – cheap – fragile. And in 2 Corinthians – he is saying- I am also that way – a fellow struggler in this journey of discipleship -= and therefore he can express sympathy and empathy with the Corinthians – and is able to properly bear their burdens. In order for us to minister to people, we need to be able to identify with what they are experiencing.
Jesus said His life was a demonstration of this
Hebr. 4: 15 For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.
Jesus identifies with us in every way. He is not incapable of empathizing with our weaknesses. He chose to identify in every way.
Who is weak without me being weak? Who is led into sin and I don’t burn with indignation - - he is able to identify in their sin – but to do that, what is he saying? Who is led (give cause, a stumbling block) – scandalon – whoa to the one who causes one of these little ones to stumble – those who cause others to stumble, Paul will deal harshly. Those who lead others astray will be dealt more harshly. And for those who are led into sin, Paul’s heart goes out. Paul comes next to those – he identifies with them. We live in a world filled with stumbling blocks. We see someone doing something bad – and we think – what a terrible person – or ourselves – we think we are terrible – but the culture is set up to lead us away from God. We see it in so many different ways – we have these mass problems in our culture that permeate the culture.
We see it in broken families throughout our culture. We see it in addictions in every aspect of our culture. Think of how food has become idolatry in this nation! We worship food in this country – and VIOLENCE! ANGER! It permeates all of society – because there are these stumbling blocks.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are NOT the stumbling blocks. Our tendencies are to point at people or institutions – but it is much greater than that.
Eph. 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood. The church focuses way too much on flesh and blood and it is ruining our ministry and witness. It is NOT against flesh and blood – people and the stuff they do – but against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil – there are spiritual forces of evil trying to lead people astray. We must understand – when we see those – that there is a spiritual struggle at the forefront – that doesn’t mean there is a demon here and there – but there is a spiritual battle taking place everywhere – and that is different from what is dramatized. It can be subtle – and the subtle attacks can be much worse than others – where we don’t even deal with them – and we miss what is behind all the corruption in our world.
So Paul saw that – so when he sees the Corinthians and their struggles – it was a community of addiction and sin and his heart went out for them.
With that as the background – how do we learn to personally identify with people in their struggles and weakness?
1) Don’t fake it! That is the worst you can do. Don’t say you understand when you don’t. When you have not been through it – don’t say, I understand what you are going through! You don’t. It is okay and good to say – look, I haven’t been through this – but I can see that it is really hurting you. We try to compare something we went through and in their mind – it doesn’t compare at all. Learn how to be honest with them. I have some black friends in ministry – and I can’t understand what they have gone through growing up in America – I have not been there – I can hear their story – and I can say – wow – I can see your pain as a result of this….
2) Don’t blow a person off. We do that by giving pat answers – they come with a struggle and we give a cliché! Throw them out the window.
3) Instead, seek to understand and clarify what the person is going through. This works in marriage – the listener needs to first listen, think carefully – and seek to understand and clarify. We do this by asking questions – drawing out – to see what they are going through.
We need to meet people where they are in their realities. We care about what someone is going through, but we are unable to understand what they are going through. We need to move to understanding and sympathizing and empathizing. We can’t really help fully until we have sought to understand. Practice this with your spouse – seek to understand and clarify.
4) Get involved – don’t just give instruction. Instruction can be good to give at times. Reproof can as well. However – if there is an unwillingness to bear the burden – just stop – you are not helping – you are only hindering. Your instruction is the proverbial person casting the pearl before swine. It has no value.
Jesus got involved. He participated with us in our weakness
Heb. 2: 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 For since he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.
Look what He did for us – made like His brothers and sisters in every respect – He became like us in every way so that He could help. Not only that, He suffered so He could help in every way. That is what it means to get involved. We need a new level of thinking.
5) We need to learn to live in our own weakness. Paul boasted in his. God chooses to display His power and grace through our weakness. He won’t be able to do that until we live in those weaknesses.
Think about the Grand Canyon – it is a deep incision on the surface of the earth – the water carving away at what was there – and it creates this thing of beauty. IN the same way – our wounds have carved away at the landscapes of our lives. And what remains is beautiful.
That is what Paul is talking about in boasting in weakness.
Finally – we need to – in identifying with others – and this needs to come at the beginning – we need to listen to people’s stories to get the whole story. Everyone has a story – we just see where they are – in all the dysfunction – but something got them there – they weren’t just born with all these issues. There is a story that brought the person to that point – and there is power in understanding the story.
The great vocation of the minister is to continuously make connections between the human story and the divine story. We have inherited a story which needs to be told in such a way that the many painful wounds about which we hear day after day can be liberated from their isolation and be revealed as part of God’s relationship with us.
We need to take all those things in our lives and others – that which has hurt us – and stop piling and hiding these stories – allow them to be revealed.
Healing means revealing that our human wounds are most intimately connected with the suffering of God Himself. To be a living memory of Jesus Christ, therefore, means to reveal the connections between our small sufferings and the great story of God’s suffering in Jesus Christ, between our little life and the great life of God in us.
We need to learn to connect our scars to the suffering of Christ.
Everything goes back to the cross – that is where the answer lies – the suffering of God for humankind - God became human – tempted in every way – do we believe He was tempted in everything? The Bible says He was. There is not a temptation you face that He didn’t… yet without sin. Let’s pray…