Living Stones

October 22, 2023 Preacher: Michael Clary Series: First Peter

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:4–10

 Good morning, church. It is great to see everyone here today. And my name is Michael. If I haven't met you yet, feel free to stop by the cafe on the way out.

Hopefully I'll be back there at that time and be glad to have a chance to meet you and greet you and just have a chance to get to know you briefly. And if you're newer here let you know we're going through a series and the book of first Peter and the, one of the big themes of the book is hope in the midst of suffering.

Today we're going to talk about the church because the text really focuses on the church. And there's a lot of metaphors for the church in the Bible, especially here in first Peter. But some of the metaphors for the church are like the people of God. So, we are a spiritual house. We are a temple. The Bible says whenever non-Christians.

Secular people, whenever they think of the church, probably what comes to mind for them would be things like, well, it's a building. It's that like 333 Warner where we are. It's like the church is that building. Of course, that's, that's not wrong. It's just incomplete. But they think of it as a building or merely a religious group.

Or a civic organization, a nonprofit, a 501c3, a community service club. That's, that's a secular mindset, the worldly mindset about what the church is. But we, as Christians, the body of Christ, we've got a different perspective on what the church is. Because to God, the church is a people. We are the people of God, His people.

We are precious in his sight, we have great value to him, and we are paid for and bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. There's a lot of metaphors other metaphors in the New Testament at the church. Things like the bride of Christ, or the body of Christ. We are a flock, like a flock of sheep. We are branches, and Jesus being the vine.

We are the salt of the earth. We are the Israel of God. All of these are New Testament metaphors for the church. And in the text that we're going to be in today, 1 Peter chapter 2, there's a lot of, there's like a, an accumulation of several different metaphors. So here in 1 Peter, we see that we are elect exiles.

We are a chosen race. We are a temple, a spiritual house, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. All of these are, are metaphors, language that, that, that give us a sense of what the church is. God loves the church. Amen. God loves the church. And that means God loves you. Of course, we believe that and it means that, but God loves the church.

God loves the corporate entity, the people of God. God loves the people as the people of God, and not merely as individuals that comprise it. Amen. But God loves it corporately, as a whole, the church, the church, the church corporate is the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, and Jesus died for the church.

So, whether you like it or not, when you become a Christian, you also join the church. Anybody who's a Christian, you're, you are part of the church. You are part of the, the universal, the theologians would call this the invisible church, meaning that you, there's, you can't see everybody's heart. So that part of it is invisible, but every true Christian that has been converted, they are baptized into the universal church.

Every Christian is in the church. And since you are a part of the church, the invisible, universal body of all Christians, then you must also join a church, a local manifestation of that universal reality. So, here this morning, Christ the King Church, between us and the 11am Service, we are the church.

We are a church, an expression of the universal church. So, Christ and his church go together. It's a package deal. You get, you, if you want Jesus, you get the church too. Jesus doesn't divorce his bride, right? I mean, Jesus and his bride go together. If you have Christ, you have the church. You cannot choose the father and the son and then reject his bride and his family, his sons and daughters.

It comes together, it's a package deal. So, there's no such thing as a churchless Christianity. All true, I mean, all true expressions of Christianity will necessarily involve the church, which means A church, a local church. God does not intend for us to live the Christian life all by ourselves, but with one another with all the baggage and warts and pain and all the difficulties and stuff that goes with it, but it's, it comes together.

So, our church, our text today, that's what it teaches. The church is special to God is a living. spiritual house for God. So that's, that's what our text says. And that's what we're going to look at today. So, if you want to grab your Bible, we're going to look at 1 Peter. We're going to be in 1 Peter chapter 2.

And we'll walk through verses 4-10.

Starting in verse 4.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men, but in the sight of God chosen and precious. You yourselves, like living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture, Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone, chosen and precious.

And whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. So, this idea of Jesus being the cornerstone, it originally came from the Old Testament. So, I want to read you a few a few scriptures here related to this. Originally in Psalm 118, it talks about the, the, this cornerstone. And then this idea is repeated several times in the New Testament.

So I'll read to you. This is Psalm 118 and we'll pick it up here in verse 22-24, but here's Psalm 118. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing. It is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. That's Psalm 118. Now Jesus picks up that same idea and then in Matthew 21, here's what he says. So, he's sparring with the Jewish leaders. Jesus said to them, have you never read in the scriptures, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and given to a people, producing its fruits. So, he is quoting Psalm 118, the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. And he said this was, this is God's doing, and then he, his commentary on this is that the kingdom of God is going to be taken away from the Jewish people.

The, the ones who rejected the cornerstone and it's going to be given to this other people who will be a people, a corporate entity, a corporate collection of people, a body that are producing fruit. Acts 4:11. This is Peter and he's giving a sermon to the Jewish leaders and he's going to quote the same scripture again.

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders. Which has become the cornerstone and there is salvation in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. One more, Ephesians 2:19-22. So, then you, now he's speaking to the church, he's writing to the church here.

And the church is a mixed group of Jewish followers of Jesus and Gentile followers of Jesus. She says, you are no longer strangers and aliens. But you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure being joined together grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

In him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. So, here's what all these. Various texts are saying God's desire from the very beginning was to establish a place for him to dwell with his people. This is what the Garden of Eden was. It was a dwelling place for God amidst the people of God, right?

Now, after the fall there, God reestablished this by having them build a tabernacle, which later became a temple. So that temple, it represented God's presence on earth where he dwelt with and among his people. Now, in ancient architecture, when you were, you know, building a big building, the cornerstone is the most important part of the building because it was all the other measurements of the walls and the angles and that sort of thing was.

It was based upon the, the original cornerstone. So, it had to be cut to perfection, the cornerstone. And it was the first stone that would be set in place. And then all of the other stones and bricks and so forth, the building materials was determined by the original cornerstone after it was set in place.

And then the other materials, they were, they were related to one another and set in place relative to one another, but ultimately relative to the cornerstone. So, the cornerstone was extremely important. And what Peter is saying in this text in 1 Peter is that God still has a temple. Even though the temple itself in Jerusalem is no longer the dwelling place of God as a literal physical building.

God still has a temple, but the temple has now changed in light of what Christ has done for us. So, it's changed in that it is no longer made of bricks, which would be dead stones. They're, they're just bricks. Now, Jesus Christ, the human being, he is the actual cornerstone of the temple of God. And then the people of God, we are living stones.

And so there is this spiritual house, a spiritual temple that God is building up. And the spiritual temple is, has Jesus Christ as the cornerstone. We can't build a house without the cornerstone. It is fundamentally necessary as what Peter said in his sermon in Acts 4, there's no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Jesus Christ. He's the cornerstone. He's the non-negotiable, but the rest of the house is built up around and upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. So, the house then is made out of people. Not, there is no physical temple. There's no need for a physical temple on earth. As far as Christians are concerned because God's house is the people of God.

We don't need a building so you could have a church. I mean, whenever we first started this church, we met at a rec center. It's nice having a building. Buildings are great. Buildings serve a lot of good purposes, but the people of God, we are the church. It's not the building, you know, this building, we can move somewhere else and this building could be turned into condos or whatever, like so many other churches in the city of that, that happens to, or turn it into a coffee shop or like urban, what is that place over here on Calhoun, they turn it into a clothing store, urban outfitters, it's like it once was a church, but it's like the building is not the church, the people are no longer there, so the building can be turned into a clothing shop.

So, the people of God, we are the church. The cornerstone of the church is Jesus Christ, and he is alive by his resurrection, therefore we are alive, and thus us as stones in this building, we're living stones. And God also has a priesthood in his new temple, but this priesthood is also changed. The priesthood is the people.

The whole church. We'll get it. We'll talk about that. In a moment. Now, what, what the text that we read earlier said is that this the builders rejected this cornerstone. So, versus 7 and 8 in chapter 2, 7, 8 chapter 2 says, so the honor. The irony here is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.

They stumble because they disobey the word as they were destined to do.

Now the irony here is that even though Jesus was the cornerstone, the most important part, he's chosen and precious and the sure foundation, the people of God rejected him. So the Jews, the Jewish people, they rejected their Messiah, they rejected the cornerstone, and they were supposed to be building the house of God.

And they rejected the one vital, necessary, non-negotiable piece, they rejected Him. So, the builders rejected the most important thing, they rejected their Messiah. And those who reject Him will therefore be put to shame, because they crucified their own Messiah, sent to them by God. So, the stone that they threw out that they thought was worthless and unusable ended up becoming the foundation of the whole building.

In verse 8 it says they stumbled because they disobeyed the word. Meaning it wasn't an accident. It wasn't like they were like, Oh man, we totally didn't recognize our Messiah. What was wrong with us? We missed it. It's not that because that would indicate a soft heart toward God and a humility. Rather, they rejected him because they saw that he was from God, and they didn't want him.

They, they knew what they were doing. They did it deliberately, deliberately. They stumble because as verse eight says, they disobey the word. And then how many times did Jesus perform miracles and mighty acts in the presence of. The Jewish leaders or how many times did the Jewish leader hear reports of miracles that Jesus did, and they still rejected him.

They knew what they were doing.

And verse eight also says that they did this because they were destined to do so. And I'm not going to spend a lot of time picking this apart today, but just suffice it to say, God knows who will believe in him and who will follow him. And God also knows who will not believe him and not follow him. And God is able to use the unbelief of sinful men to bring about the belief and the salvation of his people.

And so, what we see here is like, God's purpose always wins. The corruption and the rebellion of the Jewish leaders could not stop God's purposes. They thought that by removing Jesus Christ, that they were thwarting God's plans or that the, the plans of, of Jesus. And it, it ended up being that in God's overall sovereign plan, it required a crucified messiah to, to redeem his people and God was able to use their unbelief.

Their sin, their rejection of the cornerstone to establish and set the cornerstone in place. It just shows the remarkable hand of God and his sovereign power, accomplishing his purpose through the sinfulness of these wicked men. I mean, just think about how massive this would have been to Jesus's disciples.

That did believe in him. They believe in Jesus, right? They followed him and how infuriating it would have been for them to love Jesus, to follow Jesus, to believe in Jesus, and then for their religious leaders, the people that they looked to as their leaders, to be the very ones that crucified Jesus. I mean, just think about how on Saturday, the day after the crucifixion of Jesus, just how insanely...

angry and infuriating they would be, they would have felt, because these awful, wicked men had crucified their Messiah, let alone the discouragement of having lost their friend and their Lord. But then, they realized later on that that wickedness done by the Jewish leaders was a necessary part of God's overall plan.

The Messiah had to be crucified. He had to die in order to save his people. That was part of God's redemptive plan. So, their wickedness needed to happen for God's purposes to be accomplished. And so, their sin ended up accomplishing God's purpose. And then after they crucified him, God raised him up on the third day from the dead.

And then Peter tells us all of these things for our comfort and encouragement to know that nothing is beyond God's control, and nothing can stop the plan of God for the church. The, the Messiah would be risen from the dead, which means he would have been killed. And then having been risen from the dead, the cornerstone was then set in place.

And then in his resurrection, us with stony hearts and hard hearts, our hearts are regenerated and made alive in Christ. And then we become living stones. And then we are set in place in this building, this spiritual house that God is building. With the apostles and the prophets forming the foundation and then we are built up on this whole this whole spiritual edifice God can always turn good or evil things into a good to accomplish his purpose because he has the power to do that.

Now. Finally, we'll look at verses 9 and 10 in chapter 2 So he concludes this little thought here and we'll just read these two verses and then do some application but you are You being the church, these are all plural, but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light.

Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. So, Peter piles up several little phrases, several little metaphors here to describe who we are as the church in Christ. And all of these, interestingly, are drawn from Exodus 19. So let me read to you what Moses, what it says here in Exodus 19.

So just to let you know where we are. Exodus 19. So, we're going from Peter all the way back in the Old Testament to the book of Exodus, second book of the Bible. And this is after God had saved his people from Egypt. So, they all went through the Red Sea and God had led his people out of Egypt. And they were, they wandered around until they ended up at Mount Sinai.

where God is about to speak the Ten Commandments. So, they're about to receive the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20. This is just before that. So, this is sort of the preamble. The preamble to the Ten Commandments in Exodus 19. And this is God speaking right before he gives the Ten Commandments. God says, You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to myself.

Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples. For all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.

So, you see that in Exodus 19, God used these words. God spoke these words to the people to tell them who they are. Now at this time, the people were the Jewish people. And then Peter takes these same words and phrases, and he lifts them out of Exodus 19 and then he applies them to the church. You see now church; Jesus is your cornerstone.

He's fulfilled the temple. Now the temple is this spiritual thing that God is building, and we are the stones that he is putting in place in this spiritual house. So, he applies them to the church and the point here is that there is one people of God for all time. So, the Old Testament Israel has now been replaced by the church.

We are now the people of God, just as the people in the Old Covenant, they would have been an Old Testament church. But there's one people of God for all time. There are some that would say... Well, there's a plan of salvation for the Jewish people and there's a plan of salvation for the church. No, that is not accurate.

There is one plan of God, and it is always the church itself. It is always through Jesus Christ who redeems all of God's people. Old covenant, new covenant. We're all saved by the blood of Christ. There's one people of God for all time. Old Testament Jews. New Testament Christians were all the people of God.

So, God's initial saving acts in Exodus have been eclipsed by the final saving acts that Jesus Christ accomplished in his death and burial and resurrection. So as the church then, we are the people of God. We are the true Israel of God because we are in Christ who is the true Son of God. So, Israel is no longer the people of God.

The Jewish people are no longer the people of God. We are, as people who follow Jesus. The Jewish people, right now, ethnic Jews, unless they're Christians and they follow Jesus, they still reject their Messiah, they still reject the cornerstone. Only people who follow Jesus and they see that He is the cornerstone, they have faith in Christ, He is the cornerstone, only those people, those people are Christians, those people are the people of God.

The people of God is now the church. So, God called us as Christians. Out of darkness and into his marvelous light, as he says here in chapter two, God took us in as orphans, and he made his sons. So, whenever you became a Christian, assuming you're a Christian today, whenever you became a Christian, it was like the book of Exodus for you spiritually.

That's what, that's why Peter is applying the book of Exodus to the church. So, whenever you became a Christian, God brought you out of the darkness of your sin. The sin and the rebellion of your heart, God brought you out of that. He saved you and. Then he, he brought you into his marvelous light, and that light is the light of Christ, Jesus, who is the light of the world.

So, before you knew Christ, you were in bondage, you were like, you were like the people of God were in slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt. You were, you were enslaved, but sin was your slave master, but now or, you know, and even when, then you were under God's judgment, under God's wrath, but, but as a Christian, then you have received mercy.

He says here in verse 10, once you had not received mercy, now you've received mercy. Same thing as it was an exodus, like God's mercy was shown to his people. So, it was like an exodus for you. You were not. A, a child of God, but God brought you out and now you're in his light and you are the redeemed people of God.

And God says, here's what I want for you guys. I I want you to be a treasured people, my, a holy nation, a royal priest to a people of my own special people. That's who you are. That is who God wants us to be. That's who God saved us to be. Once you had not received mercy, but now you're a son, you're a daughter of God through faith in Christ, and God is your gracious father, we are collectively the bride of Christ.

Before, you were an orphan, you didn't belong to anybody, you may have had your natural family, but you did not belong to the universal people of God that are united in Christ. You had no spiritual home, but now you're God's people. Now you belong to God. You belong to the people of God. You belong to the church.

And as people who belong to the church, you're also people who belong to a church. You belong to this church, assuming you're not visiting from out of town or something, but you belong to a church. It's like there is a real local. You can look around and like, I know his name. I know her name. I know their names.

I've been in their house. I've been over you know; we've had lunch together. It's like there are real people and as real people, we belong to one another as the church. I've got some application points, but before I make the application points, I've got. But just a general application point that I want to make because it's relevant given current geopolitical events the modern nation of Israel is not the people of God.

So, we have Hamas, Israel, the war, the conflict there, that conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas has no particular spiritual meaning for us. Because, just because they, they're, the name of their nation is Israel, and just because we'd say they're Jewish people, the people of God now is those of us who are building our spiritual house on the cornerstone.

And whatever plan God has for the Jewish people and the Israelites going forward, that plan will, it's like there is no plan for them apart from their conversion to Jesus Christ. So, for those that would think that, well, what's happening right now is Israel and we must support Israel because they're the people of God and they, all the names of their cities and stuff sound like stuff that we read about in our Bible.

That does not mean that there's any particular plan that God is enacting through this that we can look to our Bible and say, oh, that's what it is. We care about the people of Israel because we care about people. We care about the people of Palestine because we care about people. Now, regardless of the politics of it all, that's not what I'm getting into here.

I just want us to be very cautious about drawing some spiritual meaning or theological significance from current geopolitical events regarding the nation of Israel, because that's not what the Bible is talking about. The people of God are the church. Now there are Christians that live in Israel.

There are Christians that live in Palestine, Christians that live all over the world. That's what the great commission said we're going to do. So, God's accomplishing his purposes. But as a legal or a national entity, the nation of Israel, we don't want it to just read too much theological conclusions from that.

Okay, I've got one, two, three application points. Ready? Here's the first one. Every true Christian belongs to the priesthood of believers. Every true Christian belongs to the priesthood of believers. So, in 1 Peter, he calls it a royal priesthood, meaning that it is a just like Adam in the garden was a priest and a king, a priest-king.

So, we, as the people of God, are a royal, kingly priesthood, spiritual. We now are the fulfillment of what God initially created Adam and Eve to be. Now, there's a personal aspect of this as a priesthood. Personally, we all have direct access to God as individuals, so we don't go through priests. This is where I think the Catholic Church makes an error in calling men priests by which, which has the implication that we get access to God through this man, Father so and so.

No, that's what we have, you have access to God through faith in Jesus Christ, you as an individual. So, we do not need to go through another human being to pray or to have our sins forgiven or anything like that because we have access to God. So, in that sense, we all are priests. We all are a priesthood.

Jesus is our great high priest and there is no mediator. Between us and Christ, Christ is God, Christ is God. And Christ is the mediator between God and men. And through faith in him, we have direct access. So, Eric and I are two elders at Christ the King. We're not priests. We're not mediaries. Now, we can preach the gospel to you.

We can, if you want to confess your sin to, to one of us, we'd be glad to confess, you know, listen to what you have to say and to assure you of your pardon in Christ, but that you do not need to come to us for forgiveness. You can confess your sin to another believer as well. There is a, there is a priestliness about our corporate identity in that we all minister, right?

We all preach the gospel to one another. We pray for one another. We serve one another. We love one another. We build one another up. We speak the scriptures to one another. We encourage one another. You don't have a particular class of people that are authorized to do all of those functions in the body of Christ and nobody else does.

I think that this is a And so we see the paid staff or the leadership as they're the professional Christians. So, they do the work of the church and everybody else, you know, kind of you pay the bill by tithing or giving and then pay them to do the work. That's not how it works. You pay those who teach you and by and what they teach you to do is to do the work.

So, we all do the work and then you have those who preach and minister and shepherd and provide leadership. But as we all serve together. So that's the personal aspect. The communal class is that we all belong to this priesthood. So, I don't think it is accurate. It's not a big deal to me, but I don't think it's accurate to refer to one another as priests.

And we don't do that here anyway. So, I don't know anybody that does this, but I don't think it is a good to refer to any individual as priest because it's the priesthood of all believers. It is a corporate thing. It is not you’re a priest, you’re a priest, you’re a priest. That's too individualistic. We are a priesthood corporately.

And corporately, we exercise priestly functions as members of his body. So, Christ is the head, and the rest of us are an arm, a foot, a toe, an ear, a pimple, whatever you are. But it's like we are all corporately the body. So, if we look through this text, there's several you's that Peter says here. You this and you that in chapter 2.

It's all plural. They're all plural.

That's number one. Here's number two. Belonging to a local church is an enormous privilege. Belonging to a local church is an enormous privilege. So as members of his body, we are members of one another. We belong to one another, we could say. Here's how the Apostle Paul said it. This is 1 Corinthians 12:27.

Paul says, “and now you, plural, you all are the body of Christ and individually members of it. Corporate individual. You are the body of Christ and individually members of it. So the church is you, the church is not the staff, the church is not this building, the church is not the leadership, the church is not your city group leader, the church is all of us, we are all the church, the church is you, and as such we belong to each other, we're not merely a religious organization of saved individuals, we are the spiritual house of God, we are living stones, we are God's personal treasure, amen.”

Amen. Now, in verse seven of chapter two here, Peter says, it is an honor. Let me read that again. So, the honor is for you who believe. 1 Peter 2:7, the honor is for you who believe that's Christians. This is an honor that we have this belonging to the people of God is an honor. We should treat it that way.

And I think it is so easy to take this for granted, the privilege that we have. The belonging to a church, verse 10, he says something similar. Once you were not a people, all the non-believers that you know in your life, they're not a people. In a corporate sense, recognizable by God.

But you are a people. Once you were not a people, but now, because you're a Christian, you are a people. So, he's, he's blessing you, blessing us corporately as Christians. We are a people. I know Christians from all over this whole planet. I know Christians in India, Christians in Argentina, I know Christians in England.

I don't know if I know any Christians in Australia, maybe I know Christians in China. So do you, you, we have a few of them that, that come here and those people, even though we might not share the same appearance, we are a people and locally we belong to.

I'm not planning on it, the Lord, they don't have this. And I think it's, we've, we almost take it for granted. We, we just kind of, we don't really stop and thank God for the privilege that we have a community.

If I move to another city or if you move to another city, I'm not planning on it, but if I were to, one of the first things I do is, I'm fine at where's my people, where's the church, where's the, where's the body of Christ here? And what local expression of that body of Christ in that city do I want to join my family to?

Because that's how foolish would it be to, to, to neglect that, to not join with the other group. It's like how we're not meant to do this alone. We're not, you're not meant to live out the Christian life by yourself. You know, it's kind of youth groupy, but it's a great illustration to, you know, like the campfire, you know, you take the campfire, it's burning at night, and you got all the kids hanging around and they just finished singing some campfire songs.

And then the guy comes out and goes, let me take this one little, one little piece of the campfire out and sit it over here. And by itself, it goes cold, it burns out. But the fire together, it burns hot. And that's, that's not a cheesy illustration. It's just cliche because it's so common, but it's so common because it's so good.

If you're outside, if you're, if you're detached from the body of Christ, it means you're alone. It means you're, you're, you're flaming out, you're, you're isolated. And to think about how lonely, I mean, there's, there's so many studies published on this that modern America is more individualistic and isolated than ever before.

And people are lonely. And if you didn't know Jesus. You would not have the greatest filter that just says, like, all the people of God are in this one place and it's called the church. I mean, obviously there's going to be people that may not be believers here, but generally speaking, it's like the people of God.

We go to church, we belong to a church, we unite to a church, and that's an incredible privilege. You belong somewhere, you belong to someone, not merely God, but also these people. And just, and I think of this as evangelistically. How important it is that we can, that is something that you can talk about as one of the benefits of knowing God.

Not only are you saved forever, but you also gain a human family now. You're a people. Number three, the church is an us first institution, not a me first institution.

The church is an us first institution, not a me first institution. The church is for you, but the church is not about you individually. The church is about us, and the church is for us, but it's not about you personally. Americans, we have this really bad habit of approaching our faith too individualistically.

It makes us selfish. Because we think in terms of my needs, my wants, my family, my time, my resources. And we just, we think about this wonderful treasure that God has given us, this wonderful privilege that we have. We think about it merely as individuals. And so, we think Christianity is about me, me and Jesus.

Me and Jesus. Church is about me and meeting my needs. Worship is about me and catering to my preferences. And what I get out of it. If you ever complained about a worship service and you know, you said to somebody, I didn't really get anything out of that today. You know, you've said it, you know, you've done it and I've done it too.

We all do. We've done this. But what does that, what does that reveal about us reveals that what are we, we think that we should come here and get something. It's like, this is about me. I want to have my tank filled up and they have my needs met. I need to be fed and it's their job to do it.

And so, we're, we come to this thing thinking, what am I going to get out of it? But whoever said worship is about you, it's not about you. It's about God. Whenever we come here to worship, this is about God. We come here to praise the triune, eternal, glorious God who sent His Son to die in our place so that we could have the privilege of coming here and knowing Him as sons and daughters and be in His presence without being totally obliterated by His holiness because we're sinful.

Rather, we are forgiven. We've received mercy and now because we've received mercy, we're a people. It's about God. It's not about you. But we make it about us. We make it about our consumer preferences. I spoke to a man once who, who went to a faithful gospel believing, Bible preaching, elder shepherding, all the things that we'd want, like a faithful church.

And he complained, he says, I'm not being fed. And I know this church. I'm like, yes, you are. You don't like the food, but you're being fed. You're like the two-year-old kid saying, I don't want broccoli. I want candy. The pastor is saying, I'm not going to give you candy. I won't give you broccoli. You need vegetables.

You need protein. You need nutrients. And then you walk away from the table saying, I'm not being fed. Yes, you are. You don't like the meal. And that problem is not their problem. That is your problem. I didn't say all that to him. I was nice in the conversation. I didn't want to yell at him. But he's thinking this, when I come here, it should cater to my personal tastes and preferences.

He was a consumer. The preaching, the music, the style needs to cater to his personal preferences. And Americans, like, we're conditioned to think this way, and we do it automatically. I don't think anybody chooses to be selfish toward the church. It's just a natural byproduct of the way that we're conditioned in a have it your way society, where we expect to customize and control everything.

It's like, we should take our church and make it like an app on your phone. We can just toggle on and off all the different preferences to get this customized experience that is exactly what you love. And here's the thing about God that is exactly poisonous to your soul to have everything exactly the way you want it to be.

Because you've never learned to accommodate anybody else that way. And you never learned to serve or lay down your life or deny yourself that way. It's always about you, you, you, you, you, and nobody else. And everybody else is supposed to accommodate you. I'm not accusing anybody here of doing that. I'm just saying, this is what happens in our society.

As American Christians, we want a custom controlled, smartphone toggle options off and on type of church. Custom theology, custom church programming, custom emphases. And somewhere along the way, we forget that the church is the place where we learn to love. And when you love somebody, you put them ahead of you.

You lay down your life. Self-denial.

So, we're a spiritual house? A sure way to approach or to weaken our spiritual house is to approach church life as a me and not as a we. A me first attitude turns the body of Christ into a consumer product, and it turns Christians into church connoisseurs. Isn't it funny? You can, you can go on Google or Facebook, and you can give a church a one to five star rating.

What's the criteria, whatever you want it to be. Give it however many stars you want, comments. Somebody gave us a one-star review. It's still on there. You can read it. I gave us a one-star review once because we had done flyers in the neighborhood, and they didn't like that. Somebody had taken the flyer off of their windshield of their car, left it on the ground.

So, this church littered our neighborhood. One star. Oh, this is hilarious. But we, we do this to where we, we, we think that the church just needs to be whatever we want it to be. And that's how you end up with market driven churches to suit our personal taste. Alright, here's another one. I know you've done this too, so don't, I've done this myself.

You ever get in your car after church, and you immediately start the evaluation? Now if you visit a church, you do it immediately. It's like, alright, what'd you like? What'd you like? Eh, I didn't like that either. Yeah, I see what you're saying. It's like, we start evaluating. Now that's no different than the food critic writing a review of a Manhattan diner for the New York Times Weekend Edition.

What did I like? What did I not like? And evaluating. And what does that do? It's like, I'm the judge. My preferences and tastes are the standard by which I will evaluate the body of Christ expressed in this location.

If that's your weekly routine at the church you go to, that's a problem because we're not here to serve ourselves. The church is not a product on Amazon. I read a review of screw tape letters. This, this one chapter is kind of like a little commentary and the commentary summed up the chapter of screw tape letters a little better, but I'll just, let me just read you this quote.

It says, "even church going can be an immoral act if one treats a church as a mere vacation spot to be sampled and critiqued like a restaurant. So, the danger screw tape is encouraging here. is that a church can then become a place to affirm one's sense of self-righteousness and piety instead of a place that challenges one to grow in faith and charitable love."

That's convicting. The church is a we. If you're a member of Christ the King Church, if you're, you know, in process, or if you consider this your church home, the church is you. And the church is us. Together. We all belong here. We all belong to one another. We're a spiritual house and Jesus is our cornerstone, and we are the living stones and we're built up together that way.

You ever played Jenga? I know Wade's family plays Jenga. It's a good metaphor for the church because it illustrates the importance of all the different pieces. We all depend on each other and interrelate with one another and the individual role pieces in that Jenga house. They play a role in the stability of the overall structure.

And a me focused attitude, it weakens the building. It's like pulling your piece out. It's like, well, I'm not going to, I'm not going to play ball there. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not, I'm not down with that. Cause I don't like it. And you're, it's like, you're pulling your piece out of the structure and that weakens the structure.

I mean, the thing is most church complaints are petty. I'm not talking about doctrine. I'm not talking about they reject some core gospel doctrine. I mean, like, of course we criticize and critique that because that's. I'm talking about the sorts of things that drive the way we perceive and experience at church.

We do it as consumers. And our petty complaints are matters of preference. And we just gotta be honest about this. If something doesn't like, if there's something that you don't like and it doesn't suit you very well, think of this. Maybe the thing that you don't like suits someone else perfectly. And that's just what they need, and it ministers to them.

And so, your service Could be to support and the church in that thing that you don't like knowing that it builds somebody else up My mom and stepdad are here today. My mom she posted on Facebook about the old the old timey hymns And the old timey hymns administer so a lot of people a lot of younger people like I'm not really into that but We sing, we, we sing a variety of songs here and it, it, in a weird way, it's, it's delightful to me whenever there's a song and I'm like, yeah, it's not really my favorite, doesn't really scratch my itch, but I look around the room and I see people, their hands are up and their eyes are closed, you could tell it is, it is just like God speaking to them and they are being fed and nourished by that and I'm like, man, praise God for that because I want them built up and we can do that with all the various things that we complain about.

So, if there's a preaching topic that you don't like and gets under your skin, maybe that preaching topic that isn't relevant to you at all is exactly what somebody else needs to hear. And that is exactly how the Spirit is challenging them and convicting them and leading them to repentance and prompting their growth.

Maybe the distance you drive to get here is a nuisance to you. I know that's the case with a lot of people, but that distance for you means proximity for somebody else. It means you driving 30 minutes or so to get here, it means you're driving to a place that is five minutes or less or walking distance for somebody else.

And that gives them that that's a benefit and a blessing for them because we, unless we all live in the same house, we're all going to be traveling different distances. Maybe this neighborhood isn't the best fit for you, but it's the perfect fit for the people that live around here, right? We're a gospel witness right in this neighborhood.

Maybe you leave church, and you feel like, nobody talked to me today. Well, did you talk to anybody? Or is it always everybody else's responsibility to do the talking? Maybe you need to be the one doing the talking and initiating with somebody. And maybe saying, I'm an introvert, that's the last thing I want to do.

And maybe God would say, that's where you need to grow. I want to challenge you.

Hopefully you don't hear me as stepping on toes in a mean-spirited way, because my evaluation of this church is that we don't have, I don't think that that's generally the spirit of our church. I think we're a strong and healthy church. We've got flaws, of course. I'm leading this thing. How can we not have lots of flaws?

But I think there's a, there's a spirit of love and, and support and I'm, I'm super encouraged in all those things. But I, I say these things to highlight them now because I do believe in the days to come. Those of you who know me well, you know, I already think this, the days to come there's going to be hardship as it gets more difficult to be Christians becomes more difficult to be Christians in our culture that is growing more hostile towards us.

And we're going to need each other and we're going to need to have a relational social foundation built to where we can call upon one another and rush to each other's aid whenever there's a need that arises. There may be somebody in our church that loses their job because they're a faithful Christian and their employer's in a position to punish them for it.

What I see here, I do see a we first church at Christ the King. So, this is not a rebuke on Christ the King on the whole. This is a, an exhortation for us to be mindful of temptations that are very common in our society and to trust God and grow and to not fall into the pitfalls that are so common.

But I believe we're building a strong foundation. Let's keep it up. So be encouraged.


Let's pray.


Our Father and our God, thank you for the church. What a gift it is, what a privilege it is to be a part of your body and that you call us your bride. Thank you, God, for the people that are here, the individual members of the body of Christ.

Thank you for these living stones that are precious to you. We belong to you. We belong to one another.

Father, I pray for all the ways that we have failed you and disobeyed you. All the ways that we have fallen into the trap of consumeristic individualism. We approach the church like a, like a customizable product, an app on our phone that we can dial in exactly what we want and not have to give and bend and flex to accommodate others who have different preferences.

Forgive us, Lord, for any ways that we've fallen prey to that. Help us to repent of that and give us grateful hearts for the church that we have. Help us to love your people here. Show us practical ways, Lord, that we can serve and build up this body here. Thank you, Jesus. We love you. We pray all this in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.


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