Our Priorities

Church Vision - Part 1


Thomas Davis

Sept. 6, 2020
Church Vision


Disclaimer: this is an automatically generated machine transcription - there may be small errors or mistranscriptions. Please refer to the original audio if you are in any doubt.

[0:00] At this time of year, there's lots of new things starting. So although it's two thirds of the way through 2020, in many ways, end of August, beginning of September is a fresh start.

[0:12] You've got the new school term starting, the new academic session begins. Here in our own congregation, we've got new trainees starting and we're looking forward to welcoming new people who've come to the city.

[0:25] And of course, we're also just at the point of beginning to come out of lockdown and we're able to start looking to return to normal in many ways.

[0:37] So it's a very, very exciting time of year. But that also makes it a very good time of year to look at ourselves as a church and to think about our priorities.

[0:51] And as we do so, it's always wise for us to ask the question, what kind of church do we want to be?

[1:03] And probably the best place to go to answer that question is to the last few verses of Acts chapter two. Here we have a description of what the church should be like.

[1:17] And for this reason, these are verses that really we should be coming back to every year, in fact, even more frequently than that, to be reminded of what God wants us to do.

[1:28] So let's just read these verses again. It says, they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers, and all came upon every soul and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

[1:43] And all who believed were together and had all things in common, and they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all as any had need.

[1:53] And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people, and the Lord added to their number, day by day, those who were being saved.

[2:12] There's a lot of wonderful teaching in these verses. Today I want us to focus on six points, and each of these will show us what our priorities as a church should be, and we'll hopefully spend about five minutes on each.

[2:30] Number one, here we see, we ask the question, what kind of church do we want to be? Well, first answer is, we want to be a church that wants to learn. In Acts chapter two, we see that they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching at the heart of their church life, was teaching and learning.

[2:50] I think that's a very significant point, because often when we look back to the early church and think about what it was like, we can immediately be drawn in our minds to all the amazing miracles and remarkable events that took place.

[3:05] And sometimes I think people can look back to the early church and think that everything was so radical and spontaneous and free, and it's true that many remarkable things did happen.

[3:16] But it's vital that we recognize that at the heart of the New Testament church was teaching and learning. People didn't believe what they liked, they didn't do what they liked, they didn't just do their own thing.

[3:31] The early church made absolutely sure that the teaching of the apostles was at the very center of everything that they did. And in fact, one of the main purposes of the miracles and the remarkable events was to authenticate this teaching.

[3:50] If you read through the New Testament, you'll see that again and again there are two massive dangers that face the church. One of these was false teaching.

[4:03] And that makes sense because at the heart of Christianity is a life-giving message, but if that message is going to give life, then it must remain accurate.

[4:14] For that reason, false teaching was a huge threat to the early church. And that's why the church in the Book of Acts was a church that wanted to learn.

[4:26] But we are exactly the same. We want to be devoted to apostolic teaching as a church. Now, you might immediately say to yourself, well, how's that work?

[4:40] We don't have apostles today, and of course that's true, but we do have their teaching because that's exactly what the New Testament is. You'll remember that Jesus in John chapter 16 said to his disciples, I still have many things to say to you, but you can't bear them now.

[4:57] When the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he'll not speak in his own authority, but whatever he hears, he will speak, and he'll declare to you the things that are to come.

[5:08] He will glorify me, for he'll take what's mine and declare it to you. Through the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus completed his teaching through the writings of the apostles.

[5:21] And now we have that writing before us here in the New Testament. And at the heart of our life as a church in the year ahead is that we want to learn from this teaching.

[5:34] Now, sometimes when we talk about teaching and learning, it's easy to kind of think to ourselves that learning stifles practical Christian living.

[5:49] So we can maybe think that while learning is kind of this sort of ivory tower thing that the select few do, that people who are maybe taining for ministry or something like that, they'll do that kind of really committed learning.

[6:02] The rest of us should just get on with living out the gospel in practical terms. So we can almost put practical Christian living on one side and learning on the other as though you kind of have to choose one or the other.

[6:16] But of course, that's a false dichotomy. The Bible never sets learning and serving in opposition. It's the opposite. The two go hand in hand.

[6:29] And again, that makes perfect sense because in every other sphere of life, learning creates opportunities to do practical stuff.

[6:39] So you think of every practical resource you have in your life, your house, your food, your phone, your car, your computer, your utilities. How do these practical things come to have a place in your life?

[6:52] It's because people learned about them. And everything that you and I can achieve in practical terms in our daily lives is because of stuff we've learned from whether it's using our computer to riding our bikes.

[7:06] It's all stuff we've had to learn. That's why education is a fundamental right in our society. Everyone has to learn in order to do anything, and it's exactly the same in the church.

[7:19] If we're going to achieve anything, it is essential that we keep on learning. That's why apostolic teaching must shape every aspect of a church's life.

[7:34] And by learning, it's going to give us so much help and it's going to give us so much confidence as we seek to serve. This is the kind of thing that the apostles taught about, that we need to learn.

[7:47] We want to learn more about the sovereignty of God because if we do that, it's going to massively boost our confidence as we seek to reach out. You think to yourself, how can we reach Edinburgh?

[7:58] How can we share the gospel with our friends? How are we going to see people who have no interest in the gospel converted? How is that ever going to happen? The answer is because God is sovereign and that makes anything possible.

[8:12] It gives us a massive confidence boost. We want to learn about the Lordship of Jesus Christ because He is a leader who's worth following and who's worth trusting in contrast to so many other leaders that we see around us today.

[8:29] We want to learn about the power of the Holy Spirit because He's the one who really can change people's hearts and change people's lives. We want to learn about the unity of the church so that we can all be part of a family together as brothers and sisters where no one is judged and where everyone matters.

[8:49] We want to learn about the ethics of God's kingdom so that we can be different, beautifully different from all the harshness and cruelty and coldness that we see in the culture around us.

[9:02] We want to learn about the promises that the Bible gives us for our future so that no matter what life does to you this week or in the months and years to come, you will know that you have hope and peace and security that you can never ever lose.

[9:20] There is so much amazing stuff to learn. That's why we want to make this a priority.

[9:31] May God make us a church that wants to learn. Number two, we see a church that wants to be together.

[9:44] They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and they've devoted themselves to the fellowship. They were a church that wanted to be together.

[9:56] That's a reminder that the apostolic teaching didn't just fill their minds with all this wonderful information that they could enjoy in isolation. It also showed these believers that they had something wonderful in common.

[10:11] That's what the word fellowship means. It just means in common. We get the word communion from that. That was so powerfully demonstrated on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two where you had all these different people, Parthians and Medes and Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Capodotius, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt, parts of Libya belonging to Sirene, visitors from Rome, Jews and Prostylates, Cretans and Arabians.

[10:37] They were all being united together in this amazing family called the Church of Jesus Christ.

[10:48] That of course brings us back to the two most important commandments that Jesus sets before us that we are to love God and love one another. As a church, we love one another and we long to be together because we are all united in Jesus.

[11:03] But of course, that love that we have for one another is not just a token statement that we express in words. It's something that must be shown in action.

[11:14] That's why it's so important to come together as a church. Now, I know that that's been so difficult and different over these past few months because of lockdown and in many ways we've had to try and make sure that we retain our togetherness even though we're not able to physically be in the same room.

[11:34] But even though that's worked really well and it has worked well in lots of ways, we must never forget just how important it is to be together and how much we long for the day when there's no restrictions on our togetherness.

[11:48] And being together as a church opens up so many possibilities for wonderful things to happen. We can talk together and take an interest in each other's lives.

[12:00] We can share the burdens and worries that we might have. We can give each other things to pray for either for ourselves or for others. We can laugh together. We can rejoice together.

[12:11] We can weep together. We can talk about the sins and struggles that we have in our lives. We can learn and grow together.

[12:23] There's so many amazing things that come from being together in fellowship. But it's also very important to remember that the in common aspect of being a Christian doesn't just apply to the good stuff.

[12:41] In other words, it doesn't just apply to all the joys and privileges and blessings of being a Christian. The in common part of the Christian family also applies to the hard bits.

[12:55] It's so easy to think that we're the only ones who have struggles. And we look at other people and we think, well, I'm probably the only person who has doubts.

[13:07] I'm the only one who forgets to pray. I'm the only one who doesn't really understand this part of the Bible. I'm probably the only one who's quite scared of sharing my faith. I'm the one who feels undervalued and kind of on the fringes.

[13:21] And I feel like I'm mucking things up most of the time. It's so easy to feel like that and to think that we're the only one who feels like that.

[13:32] But the truth is, when it comes to the hard stuff of being a Christian, if we spend time together, we discover that we actually have so much in common.

[13:45] That's exactly why Jesus says, spend time together, bear one another's burdens, because the doubts and fears and worries and anxieties and insecurities that you have, I am 99% sure that I have them as well.

[14:02] And that's part of the beauty of being in the Christian family is that we don't just have all this amazing stuff in common, which we do have in common. But the fact that we find it difficult, we have that in common as well.

[14:15] That's why Jesus wants us together, because we can support and help one another through it. And I think it's absolutely crucial that we remember this, because if we do, then I think it will cure what is one of the biggest problems facing the Christian church today.

[14:41] The Christian church faces many challenges. Some come from the outside, but some challenges come from the inside. And I think that one of the biggest internal problems that we face in the Christian church is that we constantly feel threatened.

[15:01] So for example, we feel threatened by Christians who think differently from us. We feel threatened by Christians from different church backgrounds or from different social classes.

[15:14] We feel threatened by Christians who have had a more successful career than we have. We feel threatened by Christians who like things that we don't like, or don't like the things that we do like.

[15:25] We feel threatened by Christians who have made big mistakes in their lives. And equally, we can feel threatened by Christians who have achieved amazing things.

[15:37] We look at all these things in other Christians, and we can so easily feel threatened. And I do it myself. For those of you who come to St. Columbus regularly, you'll know that there's a huge church building just across the roundabout from us.

[15:53] It's now called the Hub. And there's lots of buildings like that in Edinburgh that were once massive churches and are now used for something else.

[16:03] And I find myself feeling sad when I see that, and you think, you know, it's such a shame that these churches are no longer being used as places of worship.

[16:15] But imagine that a new congregation did start in the Hub just across the road, and it became a huge congregation, and it really flourished. And the people who walk up and down the Royal Mile every week flocked in there to hear the good news being preached.

[16:30] I asked myself the question, how would I feel if I stood here in St. Columbus watching that happen across the road? And the answers that I'd probably feel threatened, and I shouldn't feel like that, but I probably would.

[16:47] And I think, oh, why is everyone going there and not coming here? It's so easy for us to feel threatened by other Christians in loads of different ways.

[17:02] And often that's not because we don't like them, but it's very often because we think that for some reason they don't like us. But I think the reason I feel threatened and we all feel threatened by others is because we tend to focus on all the stuff that's on the right-hand side, the stuff that makes us different.

[17:23] But of course, that's a huge mistake because by doing that, by focusing on all the stuff on the right-hand side, we forget the fundamental truth on the left-hand side that we are all united together in Jesus.

[17:43] And as a result, we have so, so much in common. And when we remember that, the threats stop feeling like threats, they actually become incredibly exciting.

[17:59] So you meet Christians who think differently from us, you think, well, we are definitely going to be able to learn stuff from one another. And you see Christians from different church backgrounds or social classes, you think, that's brilliant.

[18:11] There's people from different parts of society coming together and united in Jesus. If there's Christians who are having a brilliant career, that's amazing because it means that Christians are achieving things for the glory of God and can use their position and their resources for His kingdom.

[18:25] If there's Christians that like things that we don't like, well, we need to just, that's an opportunity for us to learn from them and to think about how we can support one another. If there's Christians who've made big mistakes, that is actually what Christianity is all about, the fact that we all make mistakes and that the gospel and the church is a place where people who've made mistakes can be healed.

[18:49] And if there's Christians who are achieving amazing things, well, that's brilliant because we all share in that work together. And if we just focus on the fact that we're actually all got so much in common, there's so much that we can be excited about.

[19:07] It's a massive reminder that one of our priorities is that we are to be together, supporting one another in every way.

[19:19] And we must remember that when it comes to fellowship, it's essential that we are always inclusive and not exclusive.

[19:31] It's a reminder that everyone who comes to church is precious. Everyone has gifts, everyone has faults, but we all belong together. And it's very important that we remember this.

[19:41] When it comes to apostolic teaching, we are utterly exclusive. The New Testament and the Old Testament, the Bible together alone is the Word of God.

[19:53] That is exclusive and it has a unique place. But when it comes to fellowship, we must be totally inclusive where everyone is welcome.

[20:07] And that brings me to the other big threat that threatened the New Testament church. You remember a wee moment ago, we said there was two massive threats to the New Testament church. One was false teaching.

[20:18] The other was division. Can you imagine reading these verses in Acts chapter two and it said, some believers met at the church of Jerusalem, but others met at the free church of Jerusalem.

[20:34] That would be just, that would be absolutely horrifying to the apostles. To the apostles, division between believers was utterly unacceptable.

[20:49] Is it acceptable now? Has apostolic teaching changed? No. And that's something that we all really have to think about.

[21:03] May God make us a church that wants to be together. Number three, in Acts two, we see a church that wants to worship.

[21:16] They were devoted to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Here we have two aspects of church life highlighted, the Lord's Supper and prayer.

[21:28] And these two things should be at the tart of our church life. Sharing the Lord's Supper together is a vital part of what we do as a church. Now that phrase you see there, breaking of bread, that could just refer to eating together, but I think it also refers to sharing in the Lord's Supper together.

[21:46] And in the New Testament, these two things were actually done at the same time. People ate together and shared the Lord's Supper together. Either way, we are clearly commanded in the New Testament to share the Lord's Supper in which we remember, we proclaim and we give thanks for the death of our Savior, Jesus.

[22:08] And one of the crucial reasons for that is because it keeps the atoning death of Jesus on the cross at the forefront of our minds. That's one of the wonderful things about the Lord's Supper.

[22:19] It keeps us pointing us back to what Jesus has done for us on the cross. And so when we're thinking about our priorities and when we're thinking about the months that lie ahead for us, let's look forward to sharing the Lord's Supper together.

[22:37] We haven't been able to do that because of COVID and rightly so. And that restriction will remain in place for as long as it needs to and we absolutely accept and understand that.

[22:51] But the fact that we haven't been able to do that, please don't ever let that leave you thinking, oh, well, it's not that important. It will be so good to celebrate together with bread and wine that Jesus died and rose again for our sins.

[23:10] But alongside that, we see prayer highlighted. That's another absolutely vital part of what we do as a church. And again, if we're thinking about our priorities, you're thinking what kind of church do we want to be, you think, well, what kind of stuff do we want to do as a church?

[23:27] And there's loads of things we want to reach out. We want to disciple one another. We want to visit one another. We want to organize events. We want to do lots of stuff, but job number one, the first and main priority for our work is prayer.

[23:45] We must never forget that we don't pray for the work of the church. Praying is the work of the church. And that makes perfect theological sense because who is it that has the resources and the wisdom and the power and the strength to bless us in the year ahead?

[24:03] It's God. And so let's pray to him and ask him for everything that we need because when it comes to serving Jesus in this new academic term, more than anything else, we need God's help and we need to keep praying.

[24:22] That's why prayer is such an important part of church life. And there's various opportunities for us to come together to pray, whether it's at city group or at engine room or on Friday mornings.

[24:34] And we'd love for you to come to these things or in your own personal prayer lives. Please remember that by doing that, you are working for God.

[24:45] You're taking up the work of the gospel and you're bringing it forward. And isn't it brilliant that job number one that we have to do as a church is something that every single one of us can do?

[25:04] So it doesn't matter if you're three years old or 103, it doesn't matter how much you know or don't know. You can all pray and please do.

[25:17] Please keep praying for the work of the gospel. Both of these things, the Lord's Supper and prayer are a reminder that worship is at the heart of what we want to do as a church.

[25:31] Indeed, everything we've said about learning and fellowship, that's also part of our worship to God. That every part of life is a living sacrifice, an act of worship and devotion to God.

[25:48] That's why it's really important to have an accurate perspective on our lives as Christians. Sometimes we can look ahead to the coming school year or academic year and think to ourselves, well, yeah, actually, okay, I want to give certain things to God.

[26:03] So I'm going to give God this part of my life. I'm going to give this chunk of time to God, or I'm going to give this aspect of this week to God.

[26:14] And that's a good thing to say, but it's not really exactly what God wants us to say, because what rather than saying, I'm going to give God this or that in the year ahead, what we should simply be saying is just, I'm going to give God this year and everything I do is for Him.

[26:35] And that's amazing, because it means that your life in serving Jesus is not just confined to what you do at church or in particular roles that you may have.

[26:45] It covers everything. It means that your job is for His glory. What you do tomorrow morning at work is for His glory. Your community involvement is where God has placed you so that you can be a light for Him.

[27:00] Your home is a place to be filled with love and joy of knowing God. Your hobbies are a means to enjoy the blessings that God has given us. No part of life is outside the Lordship of Jesus.

[27:13] Therefore everything can be for Him, and in everything we can worship and glorify Him. And so for the week ahead, every day is for God.

[27:27] Let's do it all for His glory. And then on the first day of the week, we come together, whether it's in person, in the building as we're enabled to do that, or whether it's just connecting online, we come together to worship.

[27:42] We sing praise to God with joy and thankfulness. We pray to Him, confessing our sins and pouring out our burdens to Him and interceding for those around us.

[27:52] And we study God's word to learn more and more and more about what an amazing God we have. May God make us a church that wants to worship.

[28:07] Fourthly we see a church that wants to share, verses 44 and 45, all who believed were together and had all things in common. They were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all as any had need.

[28:21] This is the kind of verse that can maybe make us feel a wee bit uncomfortable because we think, well, is the church meant to be a kind of common ownership society? Is it a sort of communist type thing where no one owns anything?

[28:34] And over the years, some people have taken these verses to mean that. But that's not the case, I don't think.

[28:44] Because we must never forget the rule that scripture interprets scripture. So we use the whole of the Bible to understand the specific parts of the Bible. The interesting thing here is that you only have to go to the next verse to see that we're not being told to sell all our possessions.

[29:00] Because you can see there in the second last line that they still had their homes. And that ownership of property and the respect for other people's property is a key biblical principle and it's enshrined in the eighth and the tenth commandments in particular.

[29:16] So these verses aren't saying that we have to renounce all possessions, but they are teaching us that the New Testament church was ready to share what it had in order to help those who are in need.

[29:33] And again, that is a vital part of being a church. We want to give up what we have in order to help those who are in need. And in so many ways, you have been incredibly generous over the years in that regard.

[29:47] And that's a brilliant thing and it's something that we always want to continue. One of our great goals is that the people around us will know and see that we are a church who cares about them.

[30:00] The church in Acts was ready and willing to share of their resources. But it's also clear that these believers in Acts chapter two didn't just share their resources.

[30:13] They also shared their time. That's not stated explicitly in these verses, but it's obviously true. They spent time with one another.

[30:27] And that brings us back to the theme of being together. And it's one of the biggest challenges that we face today in the church, the constraints on our time. Because life is so busy and there's so many things that we need to do.

[30:43] But you know the amazing thing that when God the Holy Spirit gave the teachings of Scripture to the church 2000 years ago, he knew that in 2020, Christians would be really busy.

[30:56] He knew how busy you would be. That's why he gave you the Lord's day. That's why Sundays are such a brilliant thing. They're an amazing opportunity for us to slow down, to rest, to worship, to learn and to be together.

[31:14] That's why as a church we always want to make the most of that. We want to graft as hard as we can through the week. We want to enjoy the opportunities that God gives us in our lives.

[31:26] But on the first day of the week, we want to come and enjoy the amazing privilege of having time. Time to be together and time to worship.

[31:39] May God make us a church that wants to share both our resources and our time. Number five, we see a church that wants to reach out.

[31:53] So as a church we want to learn and grow and worship together just like the New Testament church did. But we must never think that that's just about nurturing ourselves.

[32:04] It's very easy to become inward looking as Christians. It's easy to become inward looking as a church. We must never forget that the New Testament church was a missionary church.

[32:15] It was constantly reaching out. That's the whole context of Acts chapter two, where Peter is proclaiming the gospel. That's fulfilling what Jesus himself said at the beginning of Acts, that he said to them, you'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

[32:37] It's reminding us that as a church we always want to be reaching out. We want to be in constant contact with the world around us so that we can share the good news of Jesus in any way that we can.

[32:52] You'd notice in these verses we're learning something very important about that reaching out. In verse 47 it says that the church were meeting together, breaking bread in their homes, receiving their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God, and they were having favour with all the people.

[33:15] Now I think that's a really important and fascinating point. It's telling us that the New Testament church didn't kind of block itself off into this cocoon and cut off the outside world.

[33:29] It was the opposite. It was a wonderful light in that world and people looked upon them with favour. And we want to be exactly the same. We want to have favour with the world around us.

[33:41] We want them to see that we love God and that we love them. We must never ever forget that humanity is beautiful and broken.

[33:53] It's made in the image of God but fallen in sin. Now the fallen in sin aspect of humanity means that as a church we will face opposition. Indeed, the New Testament says don't be surprised if the world hates you.

[34:08] But because of that it's easy to jump to the conclusion that the New Testament is expecting us to always be this kind of source of frustration and ridicule in the eyes of the world around us.

[34:21] Here we've been reminded that that's not the case. The New Testament church wasn't kind of cut off in this cocoon where everyone just looked on and thought, well, they're nuts and there was this constant tension between the New Testament church and the people around them.

[34:35] It wasn't actually like that. The New Testament church found favour with all the people. And that actually makes perfect sense because although the broken aspect of humanity will oppose God's plans and resent the church, the beautiful aspect of humanity longs for what it knows is right and true and good.

[35:04] And if we follow Jesus' teaching and his example, then more and more and more we will become what humanity was always meant to be.

[35:15] And the people around us, the humans around us will be able to look at the church and think, wow, there is something special there.

[35:26] And I want to be part of it. So we are to be reaching out. That's why we want to plant churches. That's why we want to support global mission.

[35:37] That's why we want to help struggling congregations across Scotland. But as we do so, we always have to rely on God for the results.

[35:50] If you look again at these verses, verses 46 and 47, you'll see that there's two day-by-days in these verses.

[36:02] The first one, it says, day by day, the church was meeting at the temple, worshiping, eating, praising, sharing, building up a good relationship with one another and with the people around them.

[36:16] And then day by day, the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. We need to make sure that we are doing the first day-by-day activities in these verses.

[36:33] The rest, the building up of numbers, the softening of hearts, the conversion of sinners, that we leave with God.

[36:46] We must always remember that numbers is God's business, not ours. He's the one who does that side of it. And as we look to him, may he make us a church that wants to reach out.

[37:05] So what kind of church do we want to be? We want to be a church that wants to learn, a church that wants to be together, a church that wants to worship, a church that wants to share, a church that wants to reach out, and number six, a church that wants to keep going.

[37:21] That word devoted at the very start of verse 42 that really sets the tone for the whole of this section that we're looking at. That word basically means to continue, to persist, to keep going.

[37:34] And that's what the church of Jesus Christ does. It keeps on going. So as we go into this new phase, we want to keep on going, keep going with our services, keep going with praying together, keep going in planning out activities, keep going in meeting together as elders and as deacons, keep going in involving you all in every aspect of church life that you can.

[37:57] We want to keep on going together. And that's why future leaders are so important for our church, not just ministers, but kids' church teachers and singers and musicians and clerks and people who can do admin, leaders for camp, treasurers, leaders for city groups.

[38:14] The aspect of church life we need to keep going, which is why we absolutely need you in our church serving. So let's keep learning.

[38:26] Let's keep close together. Let's keep worshiping. Let's keep sharing. Let's keep reaching out. Let's keep going. And as we said at the very start of the service, let's remember what Paul said, brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

[38:54] The last thing I want to say is this. We've been asking the question, what kind of church do we want to be? And in doing so, we've been reminded of some of our key priorities.

[39:06] And in doing all that, it's easy to think, well, that's all great for Christians, but what's it got to do with everybody else? And maybe if you're not a Christian, you might be thinking, well, what on earth has any of that got to do with me?

[39:19] Well, what I want to say is this. I think it's the case that everything that we see there, these are the things that everyone around us wants as well.

[39:35] People long to learn. And more than anything else, people crave the truth. People long for community.

[39:45] So we crave friendship for company and for togetherness. People long for something to worship. That's why we fill that gap with our career, our home, our football team, our political ideology or whatever it may be.

[39:59] People long to share. People aren't devils. People want to help those who are in need and to provide some kind of support and help for those who are struggling. People long for purpose.

[40:11] We crave a role that matters and that can make a difference in the world. And people long to be part of something special, to be devoted to something that's so precious and meaningful and real that we will never, ever give up on it.

[40:28] The New Testament priorities for the church are actually the very thing that humanity craves but doesn't have.

[40:40] And that makes perfect sense because the church is the new humanity that God is building. And by becoming part of that humanity, we become everything that deep down we long to be.

[40:56] In other words, the stuff that we want as a church is the very stuff that we've always longed for. And it's the stuff that everyone around us is longing for as well.

[41:09] And that's why if Jesus is calling you into his church, he's not calling you to be part of something weird or strange where you will feel uncomfortable and out of place.

[41:24] He's actually calling you into something brilliant where you will finally feel at home.

[41:35] Let us pray. Father, we thank you for your church and for the amazing privilege of being part of your church.

[41:47] And we pray that all your priorities would be our priorities, that we would learn and grow together, that we would spend time together remembering everything that we have in common, that our whole lives would be lived as an act of worship to you, that we would reach out to those around us, that we would share what we have to help those in need and that we would always, always, always keep going.

[42:17] And keep our eyes on you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.