“Horizontal Balance in 06: Outreach and Fellowship”
January 8, 2006
Horizontal balance in our relationship with God and others requires the balance of outreach and fellowship.
I. Christ's balanced life in outreach (John 17:14-18; Luke 15:1-2, 4:18-19)
II. Christ's balanced life in fellowship (John 11:54; Mark 3:14; Luke 14:25-27; 1 Cor. 11:1)
MessageWhen we lived in Dallas every year around the time of Halloween our church had a fall fun festival. We asked our oldest son Cody, who was three at the time, what he wanted to dress up as. We asked him if he wanted to be Tigger, since he loves Tigger. He said no. We asked him if he wanted to be something else. We may have asked him if he wanted to be lion, a bear, or some other ferocious animal. But he said no. Then we asked him, “Well who or what do you want to dress up like? Amazingly enough he said he wanted to be “daddy.” So we dressed Cody up in pair of dress pants and collared shirt so he could be like daddy. Just like last week’s story this was another incident of a pulling of the heart-strings.
Now just imagine how much God wants us to hear this same thing from us. In light of that, for today’s sermon we will go back in time and experience the life of Jesus to remind ourselves how we grow up to be like Jesus. Last week observed Jesus’ life in His vertical relationship with God. We saw how Jesus kept the priorities of prayer and the Word in perfect balance. So we will again do some personal and corporate inventory based upon our mission here at Trinity Fellowship. Last week’s sermon was about and this week’s sermon will be about the big picture and the basics of what God wants us to do in 06.
The “wheel” on the screen is a picture of what priorities we believe God has called us to have. We believe the Scriptures give us these commands personally and corporately.
For those who weren’t here last week I will do a quick review of the mission of Trinity Fellowship. Each priority or big command is a spoke in the wheel. There are four spokes in the wheel. The center of the wheel is worshiping Christ. Everything we do in our lives is for the primary purpose of worshiping and loving Jesus Christ. The vertical spokes, prayer and the Word, are how we love God in our relationship with Him. Furthermore, the horizontal spokes are how we love God in our relationships with others. For this morning I will focus on the horizontal spokes, fellowship and outreach. In looking at these spokes I want to emphasize keeping a balance of each of these in our lives.
So my purpose this morning is to motivate us to have a strong horizontal relationship with God in 2006.
Now I must ask you the question, “How well are you reaching out? How well are you fellowshipping with other believers? How well balanced are you with each of these?
First we look at some selected texts from Jesus’ life in the area of outreach and fellowship.
We will purposely spend a little more time on outreach in this sermon. Every church struggles to balance evangelism and discipleship. Some are great at evangelism, but do little discipleship and vice versa. It seems to me that we excel more towards the discipleship/fellowship side of the balance. That is why I will take more time on outreach.
At the end of Jesus’ life He prayed to a prayer to the Father that reflects well how He actually lived His own life. Let’s read:
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Jesus actually prays for the believers to be sent into world. The world is everything under the control Satan or not submitted to God. In verse 15 Christ prays for believers not to be taken out of the world, but that they be protected from Satan. So He prays for them to be in the world, but not of it, in the sense that they do not practice what the world practices. Here we detect the delicate balance that believers are to have. They are to reach the culture with the gospel, but at the same time not be contaminated by the world.
And that prayer is exactly how Jesus lived. He was tempted in every way that we are yet He did not sin. Our Savior did not build a monastery of relationships only with believers. Surely He could have hung around all the godly people waiting for the Messiah. He could have associated only with the clean-cut, non-profanity using, and listen only to Christian music type of people. Later in the sermon we will examine how Jesus spent a lot of time with believers and His followers, but for right now I want us to be reminded of how He engaged the worldly. Look at Luke 15:1-2
Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
To eat with someone in that culture was of much higher value than it is for us in our culture. By eating with another person it showed that you accepted them and were befriending them. This completely enraged the religious teachers of Jesus’ day because He was associating with worldly people. Furthermore, Jesus wasn’t passive about engaging the people of the world. He didn’t wait for them to knock on His door or visit His synagogue. He sought them out like we seek out a prized lost possession.
Look at Luke 19:10
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
Jesus had an aggressive approach in regards to evangelism. The reason why is because a lost person’s condition is so desperate.
Last week when my van broke down 6 hours away from Houston I had to call someone to tow my van to Del Rio. It took about 40 minutes to get to Del Rio. So here I am in a tow truck talking one-on-one with the tow truck driver. I knew this was a divine opportunity so I gave the driver a tract and shared the gospel with him. He said he had never heard the gospel message before and he would think about it. Then one of the hunters and I went to town about an hour an away. So I did the same thing and shared the gospel. Unfortunately, I seem to miss a lot of divine opportunities when I get distracted with the cares and the riches of this world. But when I am seeking for any opportunity to share the gospel with someone they are all around me.
Now that causes me to comment on evangelism methods for a second. Some people say lifestyle evangelism is the only way we should do evangelism. We shouldn’t do any type of cold turkey type of evangelism. But I don’t think it is an either/or but a both/and. The New Testament reveals Jesus and the apostles doing both kinds. I think we should do both, too. We need to seek out others and live it out before them.
How are you doing in balancing your time in fellowship with believers, but also seeking the lost? We have a lot godly believers in this church. And the universal tendency for godly believers is to be not of the world, but also out of the world. Are you out of the world? My instinct is that some of us are.
Please take 30 seconds to write down some steps you can take to get into the world so you can share the gospel.
When we look at Christ’s life we observe another aspect of this outreach. He always reached the poor.
Take a look at Luke 4:16-21:
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.  The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,  and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
This is an amazing story. Jesus reads this passage from Isaiah in the synagogue and tells the people that He fulfills. He is the one who the Spirit of the Lord is on. He is the promised Messiah and Deliverer. The people are more shocked than Houston Texans fans when they win a football game. And notice what Jesus said He would fulfill. He would preach the good news to the poor and downtrodden.
This week Todd Cobbs told me a story of how Jim Dutton and Todd went door-to-door in some apartments sharing the good news. He shared an awesome story of how many people listened with attentive ears and attentive hearts. Now I would like him to share in particular how one lady responded.
Todd shares testimony.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had more of these stories happening at Trinity? Well here is an opportunity. This coming Saturday at 10:30 am we will meet at the church. Todd and myself will be going. All you have to do is come and watch us. Pray for us while we are talking. And then sometime in the future you can be the one to share. It doesn’t have to be this Saturday. Let me know.
One other opportunity is something we would like to try here at Trinity called “Operation Canning Hunger.” The way this works is that an individual family volunteers to collect canned food on their block. They go down their block and put door hangers on there neighbor’s doors letting them know they will come by on a certain day to collect donations for the Clear Lake Baptist Church food pantry. Then once a month you stop by to collect food. On the third time you collect you food you say, “Our church has praying for the people you have donating food for. But I was wondering if you have anything we could pray for you about.” Other churches that have used this program have found that it has opened the door for the gospel to be presented. On Thursday, Jan. 26 we will have an information and prayer meeting. Please consider attending this so we can give food to the poor and share the good news with the givers.
My prayer is that an increased fervency towards outreach and evangelism will result in many souls saved and many new converts being discipled at Trinity. I think it is God’s desire for us to grow not so much by transfer, but by conversion. As many of you know we hope to start a new church with a group of people from Trinity, sending them off to an area some 15 minutes or so away. But we need to grow from 260 in attendance to 300-350 in attendance. It seems to me that it would be exciting if we grew in number by conversion more so than transfer.
We have seen that outreach was a big part of Jesus’ ministry, but it was perfectly balance with fellowship and discipleship of believers.
Now let’s read Mark 3:14 and John 11:54
He appointed twelve--designating them apostles--that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach
Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.
Notice that Jesus spent time with his disciples. He lived with them. Jesus spent quality time and quantity time with the ones He was encouraging to become more like Him. Our Savior didn’t spend only a few minutes on the Sabbath with His disciples. He was “doing life together” with them throughout the week. Let me ask you this, “Was this fellowship with His disciples just drinking coffee, eating crispy crème donuts, and talking about the UT Rose Bowl win?” And for that answer you win free donuts to be eaten after church. No, that was only a small part of it. No, it was about doing life and ministry together. It was spending time together and then as we see in Mark 3:14 He sent them out to preach.
Are you spending quality and quantity time with believers?
Are you taking advantage of small groups, men’s and women’s Bible studies, youth group, and other ways of fellowshipping with believers here at Trinity?
Jesus not only spent quality and quantity of time with the disciples. He also challenged them to a whole-hearted devotion to Him. Let’s read Luke 14:25-27.
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Can you imagine the looks on the faces of the people who heard these words? Jesus used hyperbole, or purposeful exaggeration to shock his audience. I don’t believe he is telling the people to actually hate their family. This would be a contradiction to all of his teaching. But it is a rhetorical device He used to reveal to them that in comparison to their love and following him their love for their own family in comparison looks like hate.
Carrying a cross on someone’s back was a picture of degradation and humiliation. Carrying one’s one cross to the place they would die was a way for the Roman government make it appear that someone was admitting that the Roman government was right. Jesus was saying to the crowds if they wanted to be His trusted confidants and part of His inner team they must be ready to die daily to their own desires and ultimately die for Him.
Jesus always preached that eternal life and eternal deliverance from Hell are by faith alone in Him, His work, and His promise of the free gift of eternal life. However the call to be a trusted confidant of Christ’s required the challenge to give up everything and to ultimately die for Jesus.
So, my first question is have you trusted Christ? Do you challenge other believers at Trinity to live radically for Jesus? Do you allow others to challenge you to live this way? It requires quality and quantity of time to do this. How much time are you putting in?
When we study Jesus’ life we see perfect balance in His vertical relationship with God and His horizontal relationship with others. In His horizontal relationship with others He perfectly balanced outreach and fellowship. Our Savior and Lord sought out the lost, the needy and the poor in perfect balance with the quality and quantity time He spent in fellowship with His disciples.
Are outreach and fellowship priorities in your life? Will you balance outreach and fellowship in 2006? Will we as a church balance outreach and fellowship?
In 2006 will we climb up in Jesus’ lap to tell Him we want to grow up to be like Him?