Let me read from Hebrews 10. Please turn there with me to Hebrews 10:19-25.
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart and full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:19-25).
Okay, let’s pray.
Father, we thank You for the privilege that we have to call You Father. We’re all children of God. You’ve given us a priestly duty to minister before You with praise and thanksgiving and blessing. Thank You for realigning our hearts in the last few weeks. We pray that You continue to give more revelation about what it is that You want us to do in life. Thank You, Lord. We pray that You’d meet us now. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Ever since we moved to Culver City, I’ve been asking the Lord, and you probably heard me at prayer meetings for the last few weeks or maybe last few months even, you probably heard me say, what Lord are we, why are we here in Culver City? And how can we reach Culver City and give us wisdom and strategy because we want to be a light here? And so I’ve been asking like, you know, kind of those kinds of questions about what we are to do.
And I think I’ve done this in the past where I asked a set of questions and the Lord was silent. And then I asked a different question altogether and then all the answers came. Same thing happened to me this past week. I stopped asking, what should our church do in Culver City? And I asked a more fundamental question, what is the church? And then the answer started coming.
And depending on who you talk to, you’ll get many, many different answers. Some people will quote from Ephesians 4 and it’s a five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and we need to equip the saints for the work of ministry. But does every local church have apostles? Does every local church have prophets and evangelists and pastors and teachers? Maybe a pastor, maybe a teacher or two, but many local churches I would say were missing some of these other offices.
And so I think this passage in Ephesians 4 is speaking about the universal church. So there’s so many different ways to answer the question. I think fundamentally when you talk about church, people answer in terms of where you go. Like I go to Hill Community Church, I go to Calvary Chapel, I go to whatever church that you attend and you give the name of that church.
And I get brought back to John 4 when the Samaritan woman is asking or talking with Jesus and her mindset is, where do we go for worship? Do you go to Mount Gerizim? That’s where Samaritans go. Do we go to another mountain where the Jews go? And so it’s always locational. And Jesus says, no. The Father is looking for a different kind of a worshiper, one who can worship Him in spirit and in truth. It’s not about where you go.
And I think the first inspiration from the Lord is church is not where you go, but we are the church. That’s God’s first answer to me. We are the church. There’s a personal church as we read about in 1 Corinthians 6 where it talks about we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. So wherever you are, the church is there. And then there’s a corporate sense that we read about in Hebrews 10. When we corporately gather, what do we do? We stir up one another toward love and good works.
If you think of church as somewhere that you attend, somewhere that you go to, somewhere you do ministry, then your mind is going to, is my local church growing? And usually we think in terms of number. Is it growing? If you think of yourself as the church, then you ask yourself, am I growing? I think that is far more important.
What’s the point of God bringing thousands of people here and none of us are growing? And most of us are lost. Is that even a good thing? Isn’t that actually worse? That you’re gathering more people and you’re not helping them and they’re staying lost or infantile? We’re doing them a disservice then, the more people who gather.
And so rather than saying, is my local church where I attend growing, shouldn’t we say, as I am a temple of the Holy Spirit, am I growing? I think the American church is very different from the Old Testament Tabernacle. And we’ll talk about that in a second. The Old Testament Tabernacle had certain elements in it, but there’s no section where there’s a children’s program or a youth program or soup kitchen. It’s a place of worship. It’s a place where you sacrifice. It’s a place where you offer something. That’s all it is. That is the Tabernacle.
And yet we are in America, we’re following a model of sorts, and it’s very needs-based. Actually it’s very self-centered. Like I need a kids’ program for my little boy, my little girl. If you interviewed people for why they ended up at a particular church, many of them would say it’s because of the youth program, because I just need a place to drop off little Johnny. It’s that kind of a… Like I have a need, and so let me find a church that will cater to my needs and I will attend there.
If you are single, what is your need? I want a spouse. And so will you go to a church like this? Probably not. You’ll go to a church with other singles, and I can’t blame them for… Because a lot of people want to get married, and so I can’t fault them, but that is their need and so they will find a church to meet their needs.
If you are grown up, if you have a family, then you want to find other families in a season of life. A lot of us are just plain lonely. We just want friends. We want people to share, to have common interests. Let’s go surfing together. Let’s play tennis together. Let’s do these things together, which I enjoy doing, and so I would like that too. I want someone here to organize a basketball tournament and invite others and invite churches, and I want to attend, and someone just run with the show. I would love to have that kind of a program because that’s what I enjoy.
But we find these things that we enjoy, needs that are in us, and I wonder if the approach is wrong. I wonder if we’re asking the wrong question, because if you’re doing church based on needs, then in a sense, aren’t we turning God into a vending machine? Aren’t we turning Christianity into a self-centered, self-improvement kind of a thing, where I just need to find what I want. God gives me what I want. God blesses me with what I want. He blesses me with a marriage. He blesses me with well-behaved kids. He blesses me with friends. He blesses me with people I can go fishing with. He blesses me with road trips and memories, and in the end, is that what we’re supposed to do when we gather as a church? For some, church is just a place to work. I think God, I think, not God, but the church system takes the best in God’s church and puts them to work. And I know that a laborer is worth his wages, 1 Timothy 5:5, but in God’s, in this institutional church, you don’t get paid. Everybody, everybody just is a volunteer. Only the pastor is getting money, and the church’s budget is just ballooning. Who knows what’s happening with that money? Everybody’s a volunteer. It’s a perfect system.
It reminds me of Jesus going to the temple in biblical times, and there’s money changers, and people at this institutional church are getting filthy rich because people are coming out of town. They can’t lug a lamb from wherever they came. They’re coming to Jerusalem, which is a far-off place. And so what do these religious people, these priests do? They have animals there right as you enter the temple, and they double, triple the price. And Jesus is throwing, overthrowing tables. Everybody’s saying, is this My Father’s house? Isn’t the house supposed to be to pray? Instead it’s a place where many people are getting filthy rich.
And so I believe everyone who’s serving at the church, at least as much as I can have a say in it, I want them to not be a volunteer. I want to pay them for their service, for their time, because that’s how you do it and work. Everybody, you’re not volunteering for your workplace. You’re getting paid for the time. And so if you’re serving God’s church, you should get paid for that time, even if it’s a small task.
I know there’s an example of Paul. And I think for a church planter, it’s a good example. He’s a tentmaker, and so he doesn’t want to burden the church. And he’s sensitive to the Corinthian church. He doesn’t want them to think that he’s taking advantage of the generosity of that church. And so he says, no, I’m funded by this other church. And some places he’s actually building, mending tents for a living so that he’s very clear, I’m not doing this for a paycheck. I’m doing it unto the Lord. So I respect that as well.
In churches, we have, if your identity is a minister and church is a workplace, things can get out of hand very easily. Because the more you’re zealous for the Lord, the church will want to take advantage of that and it’s going to want to put you to labor to serve in various ministries. Of course, volunteer, you never get paid.
In the New Testament church, there’s a clear distinction between elders and deacons. Elders are there for spiritual nourishment of the body of Christ. And so their focus is prayer and teaching. But as a church grows, as it did in the first century, there are widows who are older. And they needed deacons. And so that’s how the Office of Deacon, this table waiter started. And they needed to appoint spirit-filled deacons to provide food to these older women, these widows who could not make ends meet. And so that was an office that was birthed out of a very physical need because there’s no social security, there’s no government handout. This is the church being the hands and feet of Jesus and taking care of the needs of its own.
But I wonder, in all the different offices and all the different staffing and all the different salaries that go into it, I wonder, what is it for? Is it to actually serve the needs of the body of Christ? Or is it just to grow in number? Because if you grow in number, it does not guarantee that you will grow spiritually. If you are a pastor who is gifted at preaching and you have a strong ambition and selfishness and you have a lot of pride, then you want to build something with your hands. And so what do you do? You hire multiple ministers of a different ethnicity because you want your church to kind of reflect the vision that you have. So you want a large, multi-ethnic church and then you hire a very gifted praise leader in a full band.
And so many churches have followed that model. And so they can gather a crowd. But in the end, every church member that goes there, are they just simply growing in number, growing in a budget? Or are they growing individually? Because in the end, God is going to hold us, the leadership, responsible. How did you do with the people entrusted to you? Did they grow? It’s not about number. Each person, starting with the pastor, did I grow? It’s a much more fundamental question.
Churches can become very corporate, very top-down. And so now, when you, I went through one interview, lengthy interview process with a church in the area. And if you listen to the questions, they’re looking for a CEO. They’re clearly looking for a CEO because they want a vision. They want a plan. It’s like I didn’t even step foot into the church. How am I supposed to know what the vision of that church is and the plan for that church is? I don’t even know the people who are there. And yet, they want a vision and a plan. It’s all about numbers. It’s a numbers game.
And if you come with that mindset, OK, I need to be a CEO, so what strategy should I have? What kind of budget do we have? How do we spend that budget? Who do we hire? What kind of advertising do we do? It’s very strategic. And if you’re part of this kind of a church, there are just many meetings, many meetings. You have a meeting leading up to an event. You have a meeting after the event. You have debriefing. You have training. You have just so many meetings.
And I know if I was hired at that place, there would be an expectation. You attend all these meetings. You cast a vision. You disciple all these people. You run all these programs. In the end, does that guarantee that I grow, or does that the church grows spiritually? Or does it just maybe result in numerical growth, which is counterfeit? Could be counterfeit.
I remember I was a college staff right out of college. And we’re doing a new student welcome night prep. And so I was being groomed to be a future leader in this church. And so they put me in charge. That’s not what I want to do. That’s not where my gifting is in. And yet I was put in this role because they’re trying to see how competent can you be to put on an event. Because there’s many details. You have hundreds, thousands of students. And so you’ve got to mail merge. And you’ve got to put their address on this. And you’ve got to stuff the envelope with a flyer. This is how we did it back in the 90s. We just mailed out invitations to incoming freshmen of our new student welcome night. And I was put in charge of this. And I don’t like that. I don’t like bossing people around saying, well, you’re doing that wrong. Or I don’t even know. OK, you’re fine. But in the end, somebody looking over my shoulder didn’t like the way it was going. It wasn’t as smooth as they wanted it to be. And so I got rebuked. And so I was like, what is this? Is this a company? So if it’s a company, yeah, I can see if there’s a goal, an agenda. You have to produce numbers. Efficiency matters. I can understand in a corporate setting, maybe you get a little slap on the wrist because you did not do it as well as you could have. And maybe they should find somebody else to fill that role. I can understand in a corporate setting.
But in a church, you better believe many churches work this way. It’s corporate. In Hebrews 5, it speaks of the author of Hebrews speaking to a bunch of veteran believers in verses 12 through 14. And he says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God. And you have come to need milk and not solid food for everyone who partakes only of milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
And I wonder how this corporate approach to church with one or two teachers who are in the pulpit all the time, everybody else is in the pews, nobody else is expected to grow, nobody else is expected to teach. It’s built that way so that you keep on depending on somebody else for your spiritual growth. And all the while, you stay an infant. That’s what the author of Hebrews is saying. Is that what church is supposed to be, that you have the professional clergy who have all the answers, they are growing supposedly, and you stay a little kid, you have nothing to say, nothing to share, no testimony, you read the Bible, it doesn’t make sense to you.
Is that how it’s supposed to be? Or as it says in God’s Word that if you’ve been a Christian for 10, 20, 30 years, shouldn’t we all be teachers by now? Shouldn’t we all take our turns? Maybe not, it doesn’t have to be Sunday, but you have something to share. Isn’t that what church is supposed to be, where all of us are growing, not just one or two with a mic.
And so I’ve been brought back to the book of Hebrews, because Hebrews 8, 9, and 10. And we read chapter 10 at the outset. It is a picture of the tabernacle of God. And a tabernacle is dwelling place. It’s a meeting place. In fact, it says in Exodus 40:2, it’s a tabernacle of the tent of meeting. So when the Israelites were brought out of Egypt, Moses went outside the camp where Jesus was crucified, outside the camp. And Moses met with God outside the camp in his tent of meeting.
And so church for him was, I need to go to a tent, pray, and meet the Lord. And then it got more formalized. On Mount Sinai, God gave instructions to Moses. This tent, why don’t you make it a little bit more grand? Why don’t you make it with these particular things in it? Because it’s going to be a picture and a type for what is to come. And this tent of meeting now became a tabernacle for the 40 years. And then 440 years later, it became the temple that Solomon built.
But all three of them, it tells us what a believer is supposed to be. We are the temple of God. We have access to God. We meet God. And when we gather, this is a house of prayer. This is where we meet God in prayer. We’re not here meeting one another and fellowshipping and having good time, although that happens. The primary thing we’re doing in God’s house, it’s a house of prayer. It’s where we meet the Lord.
John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Dwelt means Jesus tabernacled with us. So where is the tabernacle? Who is the church? Who is here? We are the tabernacle. We are the temple. We are the church. It’s not a location, although you may go somewhere. That’s not the primary definition of church, somewhere you go to. We’re not churchgoers. We are the church.
And then Hebrews 9:14, it says, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14). And I find that expression, dead works to serve the living God, really remarkable. It’s saying in some sense, everything in the past was dead compared to what we have now. This whole tabernacle with animal sacrifices.
And then he goes on, let me just say, like Hebrews 8:7, it says, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second” (Hebrews 8:7). And so it’s not faultless. It’s not blameless. It’s imperfect. In fact, it’s in some sense dead. It’s dead works. It’s a fiction of sorts. It’s a pointer and a placeholder. It’s not the fullness. It’s impartial. It’s the first covenant. It’s flawed. But there is a purpose. It points to Jesus. It points to the future fulfillment in Jesus and what Jesus accomplished by dying on a cross.
And there’s some measure of purity, yes, in the old covenant. And when you laid hands on the animal and you were given an instrument and you slit the throat of the animal and you transferred your sin, it did have some effect. And it says in Hebrews 9:13, “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh” (Hebrews 9:13). So there is some purifying of our flesh. There are some benefits, some cleansing that happens with this whole fiction of me laying hands on an animal as if this is good enough. It was a placeholder. It was temporary. It was a pointer to Jesus who final is the final perfect sacrifice.
And He laid down His own life. And now it says in Hebrews 9:14, now the blood of Jesus cleanses our conscience. So I just want to just high level, I don’t know how detailed we can get in this first introductory sermon. Maybe we’ll go more in depth on other Sundays.
On the eastern side of the tabernacle was an entrance. That’s how you entered from the east. And then as soon as you entered was an altar of burnt offerings. And that’s where you would bring animals. And a priest would meet you there and he would give you an instrument and you slit the throat after you transferred sins to that animal. And then after that sacrifice, then you go to a laver, this place of cleansing with water. And then you enter or the priest entered the holy place. And in that holy place was a table of showbread and the menorah, seven oil-filled lamps. And then behind the holy place or dividing the holy place from the most holy place was a veil. And if you go through the veil, and only the high priest went through the veil once a year, the day of atonement, there was the ark of the covenant.
And so at a high level, this is a fulfillment of John 14:6. Jesus says, “I am the way, I am the truth, and I am the life” (John 14:6). And so the way is through Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen. You enter through Jesus. Jesus says, “I am the door for the sheep. I am the gate for the sheep.” And you enter through Jesus. And the first thing you do is, OK, you need a sacrifice. Before, it was impartial. It was a placeholder. It was a pointer. It was incomplete. It purified the flesh only. But now through the sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, now you are cleansed. And now the truth is now you’re washed. That washing is your baptism, where you went underwater with Jesus. The old you died. You came out in the newness of life.
And I think we just need to stay there. Like, what is the truth about us is that we’re clean. Amen? We’re beloved children. Amen? We’re beloved children of God. He loved us on our worst day while we were enemies. Nothing you do will make Him love you less. Nothing you do will make Him love you more. This is the truth of what happened at your baptism. We just need to stay there and understand that.
Once you understand, then you go from Jesus’ away the truth. Then you move into the life. And the life is communion with Jesus, who is symbolized by the showbread. Jesus is the bread of life. The seven oil-filled lamps is the Holy Spirit, the fullness of the Spirit of Christ. It’s also Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” And then the lamp stands, as we know from Revelation, is also the churches. And in the midst of Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the churches. And there’s an altar of incense. It’s the prayer of the saints. It’s communion.
And then once you understand that, you go even deeper to the holiest of holies. Because Jesus’ body was torn in two. And the veil was torn in two. Now we have access to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s all communion.
So Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:24). So now we’re being, I think the Lord is now challenging us. You need to understand the truth of who you are, the truth of who I am. In Christ, I’m a beloved child of God. That is the truth that will set us free.
That means God doesn’t owe you anything. That means nobody in this life owes you anything. That means even if you’re mistreated, you’re unaffected by them. By anything that happens, anything that is said by somebody out there, you’re unaffected because the truth has set us free. We’re beloved children of God.
And now that our image is restored, we are now becoming love. Now we are to shine the image of God. We are to become Jesus. We’re supposed to shine the light of Christ, which is to be a loving person. Which breaks it down in 1 Corinthians 4. Love suffers long and is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked. Thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
This is our identity. Now we are to grow in this identity of becoming love. This is what it means to shine. You need to have the truth to set you free. Because if you approach church and you approach life likewise as a self-centered exercise, you’re going to be irritated all the time. You’re going to be angry all the time. You’re going to be lacking and needy all the time. You’re going to be bothered all the time.
But if you believe the truth about who you are, that I’m a beloved child of God. I am worth the blood of Jesus. I’m not sin conscious, I am God conscious. That’s another way of saying it. Before when you were simply religious, you were just sin conscious. And so you try not to sin, and then you sin and you beat yourself up. You’re conscious of your sin. But what does a conscience that is sprinkled by the blood of Jesus offer to us? A good conscience. We’re now aware of God more than we’re aware of our sins.
So our identity is not sinner, sin consciousness, but now we are children, beloved of the Father. And now that becomes the motivation. I need to become love. And as I grow in this, then I overcome sin as a byproduct. Whereas if you’re conscious of your sin, try to sin less, you’re not going to get very far. But if you’re conscious of God, that I’m a beloved child, and you’re growing into Christ, the Christ who’s in you, the hope of glory.
And you’re becoming like him, who is Jesus? Jesus is love, God is love. You’re growing up into the image of God. It’s a paradigm shift that the Lord is granting to us in this time. It’s a huge paradigm shift. And it doesn’t take long, I think, for this to click. Once it clicks, everything looks new. Like you’re no longer irritated by your spouse or your children. You’re saying, how can I love them better? Like it doesn’t matter how they treat me, I’m going to be consistently shining and being like Jesus, who is consistently who He is.
God is love. He is a loving embodiment of love who walked this earth. And we are becoming love like Jesus. And just imagine if you are the kind of person that just people do things to you and you suffer long. You’re just kind. Every time somebody cuts you off, kindness comes out. Every time somebody says something unkind, you just show grace. This is what it means to be loving. It’s very practical.
So if it clicks, that we know now, okay, here’s the truth that will set me free. I am no longer self-centered. I will not think that God owes me something, that people owe me something, that now I just want to become love like Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen. I am a beloved child of God. I just want to believe this more and more. Think of how this one shift will set us free. Think of if you are not parading yourself, if you’re not puffed up, if you’re never rude, you’re not seeking your own, because you deny yourself. You take up a cross and follow Jesus. You’re dead to the old self. You used to be selfish. You came out in the newness of life. Now it’s not me who live, but Christ who lives in me. And you just start shining.
If this was how you wake up with this type of identity, even if people wrong you left and right all day long, if you just consistently shine and you’re saying, I want to grow into this identity as becoming love. This is why we gather, to stir up this in us. Like when we hear testimonies, oh, I see that brother and sister encountering setbacks and difficulties, but they respond with kindness. And you hear that and it provokes you, oh, I was unkind last week. I should become love. I should become like Jesus, who is love. I should become like God, who is love.
This is my destiny to understand who I’m supposed to be in Christ. He’s in me. May it come out now, because now I understand it’s not about me getting what I want. It’s me shining and serving others. Jesus says I didn’t come to be served. I came to serve. I’m not here to get what I want out of life and for people to treat me a certain way. It’s for me to shine.
What if we always rejoiced in the truth? What if we are the kind of person we can bear all the mistreatment and the patronizing of this world? And because we’re Christ followers, the outright slander and persecution and hatred, because you believe certain things about gender and about sexuality and humanity and marriage. You have certain convictions. And so people hear that and they think you’re they call you names and slurs. And you just you show kindness. What if that’s how we we are?
That’s why Jesus says in Matthew 5:14-16, not only is Jesus light of the world, He says “you are the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand and give light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
What if we took these verses, the very first sermon of Jesus to heart and say, this is fundamental for the believer that my destiny is to shine. I am the light of the world. Like we want we want we want we approach these verses like, OK, can somebody do put evangelism committee together? And should we put these events together? And let’s follow this this ministry program to reach out to cover city and let’s do good work. Let’s establish a soup kitchen and we want to do something that’s repeatable program. Get volunteers. Let’s grow this thing instead of. And so that could that could work. That could work.
But isn’t it better if we say every believer, you have to shine where you are. And if that’s not happening, if you do evangelism on a weekend to feel better, does does. But but most of the day you’re dark. But but in a moment you put on a face and you shine. It’s not even real. It gives us a false sense of, oh, I’m doing OK, because I’m going with the program. It’s better to say. Am I shining? Does my spouse see it? Do my kids see it? When I go to work, do they see it? When I when I’m going to the coffee shop, do they see it? Then you know it’s real.
And that’s what the Lord wants. He wants real instead of counterfeit. He wants the real thing. He wants you to shine because Jesus is the Light of the world. He’s in you. He must come out. I must become less. He must become greater. I am dead. So I just want Christ to be exalted in me. That’s the light that shines. The good works is not a program, not a ministry. It’s just who you are coming out.
And so when you show kindness to somebody who is down and out, you’re not doing it because somebody is watching you. You’re not doing it because this is the hour of good works. You’re doing it because it’s who you are inside. And some of the good works that God meant Jesus mentions in the in the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, is when you get reviled, you don’t revile. That’s how you know it’s real. That you can that you never have a bad day. That’s how you know it’s real.
Like if somebody can ruin your day just by one word, it’s not real. But if you are the kind of person you can’t be, the light cannot be snuffed out, you know it’s real. The darkness is growing but you just get brighter. Then you know it’s real. The good works come out. And that person who insulted you, they see the kindness that they received. It’s like Saul when he sees Stephen being martyred, stoned. It had an effect on Saul. And soon he became saved. Stephen was the tool that God used to soften a murderous Saul before he became a possible.
And there will be some people who are doing terrible things to us, but because they see the light in us, they say, I want to know what makes you tick. And eventually they will become a fellow believer. And they will glorify our Heavenly Father together. That is evangelism. That’s real evangelism.
And so as much as I wish that Lord answered my question at the beginning, can you give us a strategy for Culver City? Do we do a soup kitchen? Do we go to Santa Monica College? Do we do UCLA? Do we just have flyers and go to downtown Culver City, just start being kind to people, sending out our flyers? And we may end up doing these things in the future. But before we do those, I think much more fundamental is we are the church. So we must shine. We must become love.
Okay, let’s pray.
Father, I pray that You forgive us for being self-centered in our approach to church and in our approach to life in general. We just want what we want when we want it. We get easily triggered, provoked, angered, irritated. These are signs that we’re still alive to self. Lord, we’re reminded of our conversion when we first met Christ and the first act of public obedience was to be washed by the baptismal waters where we confess to the world, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. I came out of the water in the newness of life. I am a new creature, a new creation.
Thank you for reminding us of the fundamental truth that life is not about getting what we want, but about shining and becoming love. In Jesus’ name, Amen. That’s why we gather every Sunday to stir up one another. Be more loving, brother. Be more loving, sister. Let’s shine. Let’s show good works throughout this week. That’s why we gather. It’s not to get our needs met, to have fun. These are byproducts. These are additional blessings that come.
But Lord, we thank you that you stopped us from asking the wrong question. What do we do at church? Instead, you’re asking us, who is the church? And our answer is, it’s me, Lord. I want to be the church. I want to be the light. I am the beloved child of God. I am in Christ. I want to be a joy to my Heavenly Father as I become love. Please, please help me to provoke love and good deeds in my fellow brothers and sisters as we gather every time on Thursdays and Sundays.
Father, may we consider how we are doing this each day because we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We have church every day because it’s in us. And when we gather corporately, we’re here to stir up one another. That is why we gather. Thank you, Lord.
We thank you for the blood that was shed that gives us a good conscience. And we are God-conscious, not sin-conscious. We’re not worms. We’re not sinners, but we’re beloved children of God. It starts with this reality, a firm identity as beloved children of God. You loved us on our worst days while we were enemies.
Father, we thank you for your body that was broken. The veil has been torn from top to bottom. And we can worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. We can live in communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thank you, Lord, that this is what our life is about. And after we pray and meet with you, Lord, we shine the rest of the day until we meet you again.
Thank you, Lord, for making it very simple for us. Thank you, Jesus, as you are the way, the truth, and the life. We pray that you minister to us as we partake in the Lord’s Supper. In Jesus’ name, Amen.