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It's Complicated, Part 2

From the series Purpose FULL

In this age of digital church, do you feel disconnected? Does it feel like something’s missing? Are you spiritually drifting? In this program, guest teacher Ryan Ingram continues his series Purpose FULL by looking at the need for meaningful community. Hear how intentional friends and mentors, can actually help us discover and stay on purpose.

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Message Transcript

See, it’s easy to say, “I’m just going to do me.” But it comes at a cost. Rising anxiety, rising depression, sense of instability. See, in a world defined by the religion of “me”, you are rudderless, you are anchorless, you are adrift. And it says, “Anchor yourself in the house and family of Jesus.” What does it mean to be in the house? I would say most of us feel like, “Hey, I’m a part of the family of God. I’m a part of the family of God.” But are you a part of the house of God? There’s a big difference between being a house, like being part of the household, or a guest, right?

When you’re part of the house, household, like, you are have deep responsibility in that household. Like, my kids hanging out together, you know, there are chores that we have to do. Whether it’s cleaning or cooking or some of these sort of things, there is responsibility. But there’s a deep level of relationship, isn’t there? There’s a family sense that we are together, traveling. There are different roles that each of us fill.

And that sense of autonomy struggles against that sense of wanting to be a part of the house. And some of you experienced that. Remember that first time that you came home from college after extended time away and your parents are going, “You know, I know you have had a lot of fun, but in our house, this is kind of how we need to do things here. And if you want to go off and live on your own, that’s okay, but in our house…” Why?

Because there is a way of going about things in our house, in God’s house, in the house of Jesus.

And we can struggle with some of those things until we have the roommate that is so constantly messy and disorganized that all of a sudden, we become the one going, like, “No, there’s got to be some rules to our house.” See, there’s a difference of being a guest. And I would say most of us, most of us believe and feel like we are in the family of God, but we are more guests in the houses of Jesus or in the houses of worship.

We show up and we kind of partake and it’s like, “Hey, nice, I got this meal.” But some of the accessibility, some of the responsibility, some of the just going like where Paul and Barnabas going, like, “We are not doing our own thing. We are part of a greater thing. And so, we are going to bring this before you and whatever you say, we are going to do.

See, it anchors us. It anchors us into community, it anchors us into the ways of Jesus. Join the family and then get engaged in the house of Jesus.

Like, I’m coming into this community; I’m going to be responsible for certain things. I’m a participant. I’m not just showing up and taking. I’m someone who is bringing to the table. I’m coming recognizing, okay, I’m a learner as well. In a world defined by religion of “me”, anchor yourself in the house and family of God.

You may be part of the family, but are you a part of the house? Many of us have operated just simply as guests.

The second thing in a post-pandemic world is in a world of sound bite theology, think deeply in refining Jesus-centered community. In a world of sound bite theology, I mean, what we have today is: Can you tweet it? Can you repost it? And it becomes the framework for our theological or our ideological or philosophical understanding.

In a world of sound bite theology, of what we see, would you think deeply in refining Jesus-centered community?

You notice that in the text it said, “After much discussion.”  This was a big issue, it was urgent, there was already a lot of mis-teaching that came out of this.  It’s like, “Man, let’s just get on this really quick.” And they took their time and they thought deeply and well in examining the Scriptures and what God is saying and how He has worked to come to where they landed.

We live in an age of information overload where we are constantly barraged by so much information it’s hard or impossible to take it in. So, we actually abdicate our thinking to other people.

What do they think? What do they say? Whatever they said, then that’s what I believe. And whatever they posted, whatever they posted…

And you never go behind and look at what they really believe or what they really view or understand. We live in information overload and then in a culture where it almost demands instant reaction to something.

And so, it’s not only that like I am barraged by all this information, but I have to respond immediately. I have to repost immediately. I have to show other people what I really believe and what I really think on something that happened ten seconds ago, ten minutes ago, one day ago.

We live in a world of sound bite theology and, yet, the calling if we are going to live a purpose filled life is to think deeply in refining Jesus-centered community. “After much discussion.” We are losing the ability to think deeply and dialogue about important and even controversial things.

I don’t know if this is true for you, but I found over the pandemic that I just would check the news feed nonstop. I just, I would wake up in the morning and I’d check it, then I’d go check it again, then I’d go check it again. Then maybe you’re so tired at the end of the night, then you just scroll Instagram. And what I found was I was unable to concentrate.

Deeply distracted. Anytime I began to focus, and even unmotivated. I love to read, and there was a good chunk of time I just felt like I couldn’t read at all, except little sound bites.

See, the calling to a purpose filled life is not to react to all that’s up there, but to sink deeply into the Word of God, to read deeply classic works in what others have thought. And to engage in a community that is centered on Jesus.

I keep getting back to this, because I keep seeing us not centered on Jesus.  Like, at the end of our conversation, was Jesus the focal point? Was He the One, like, would He be honored by the conversation? We may have disagreed with it, but would He be honored by the conversation? Not simply centered on our preferences or our opinions.

Ted Turner notes that most people are not driven by well-understood and articulated philosophical worldviews. He says more typically, people express their life philosophy in what we could call a street philosophy, which is held intuitively, unexamined, but that powerfully captures the gist of one’s perspective on reality.

And if we are going to live purposefully in a post-pandemic world, first we have to anchor our lives into the house of Jesus, and in the family of Jesus. Then we have to be a people who are not going to live on the surface level of things, but we are going to think deeply in refining Jesus-centered community.

Meaning, refining means that there’s going to be some friction. That other people and you are going to grow together and help each other grow. That’s why Proverbs says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” That sharpening effect, that comes with friction.

But when you have committed to the house of God, like, this is my household, this is my family, these are my people. I’m not running away the minute there’s friction. I’m leaning in because we’re family. Refining Jesus-centered community.

What does this mean? It means we have to intentionally and systematically mute the noise. With your phone, do you have a day where it’s just turned off? “I can’t do that, Ryan.” By the way, you can. None of us are that important.

Do you have a time when you shut off all the alerts on your phone or you set it aside at night?

Tim Ferriss, he has this quote. He says, “Win the morning, win the day.” That has been so challenging to me, because I would wake up in the morning so distracted and I’d be checking that news feed and I would be all of a sudden then on Instagram, and I’m just zoned out. And I get up super early, and sometimes I’m super tired. And then I look up and an hour went by and I did nothing. I’m like, “Why am I up early doing this?”

And so, I just started leaving my phone in the other room, leaving my computer in the other room, sitting with God’s Word, my journal, some books that are deeply challenging to me.

When was the last time you read a book that was deeply challenging to you? When was the last time maybe you read a Christian classic where you asked one of your pastors, “Hey, what’s one of the most formational books you have ever read? What is one of the books that you go back and reread over and over again?” And then begin to discuss with other believers what you are learning and how you’re growing.

In a world of sound bite theology, we must become a people who think deeply in refining Jesus-centered community in order to have a purpose filled life post pandemic.

Finally, in a world paralyzed by chronic uncertainty, isn’t that the last year? Like, you can’t even plan. You don’t even know what’s going to happen next. Chronic. And I think that might be our norm for a while. I think we used to feel like there was a lot of certainty and you could plan, and you never gave thought about it. And then all of a sudden it has been completely disrupted and it’s chronic uncertainty. And it’s disrupted and we don’t know what to do. And what it does is it paralyzes us, doesn’t it?

In a world paralyzed by chronic uncertainty, do the next right thing in front of you. Here’s what I love, right? So, Paul and Barnabas, they, instead of doing their own thing, they bring it down to the leaders of the church. There is much discussion.

Where they landed, they didn’t answer all the questions. There are so many things, think about this, Jews and Gentiles now worshipping together under the banner of Jesus, now one family. How in the world does that work? What in the world does that look like on the island of Cyprus? What does that look like in Iconium and Lystra and where they are at as opposed to Jerusalem? And it looks so different.

And how do you figure out all these different things? And here’s what they did. Here’s what was amazing. They simply move forward on what they were absolutely clear on. What they were absolutely clear on is there is nothing more to being saved other than placing your faith and trust in Jesus. What they are absolutely clear on is in following in the ways of Jesus, you’ve got to say no to sexual immorality, you’ve got to say no to your old life when it comes to idolatry and your worshipping and say yes to Jesus. Other than that, go figure it out.

There are lots of letters in the New Testament that help us go figure it out. They just did the next right thing they knew to do. They wrote a letter and let them know it. They didn’t wait until they had the perfect plan. And so many of us, in the world paralyzed by chronic uncertainty, we are waiting for perfect. Wait until we have it figured out.

And your call in fulfilling your purpose, my call to fulfilling my purpose, just do the next right thing in front of you – today! What is the next right thing? It’s really not that hard. Dallas Willard said it this way, I totally ripped it off from him, by the way. He says, “Simply do the next right thing you know you ought to do.”

That’s basically the crux of following in the ways of Jesus, of loving your neighbor as yourself. Like, what does that look like? For some, the next right thing in front of you is getting deeply into God’s Word, having a conversation, extending forgiveness, deleting your social media posts, confessing a struggle to someone who is going to help you walk along the way, loving your neighbor.

There are so many “next right things” you know to do that just come up and you just go, “Oh, God, what’s the next right thing? I don’t need step three or step four or step five. But what is the next right thing for me to do?” And then do it. Don’t delay. Do it.

Friends, how do we live a purpose filled life in this post-pandemic world? It’s possible. It’s anchored, it’s anchored in the house and family of Jesus. Anchor your life in a house of worship – family moving together.

Think deeply, think deeply in refining Jesus-centered community. And then just simply do the next right thing you know to do. And in that, you will discover, we’ll discover, we are a purpose filled and a purpose full community of Jesus.

God, thanks so much for Your grace and Your work in our lives. And I know this time has been so hard, filled with anxieties and fears and so much that has gone on that felt like, “Can we even move forward in life?” Father, I pray right now that Your Holy Spirit would come alongside as the great comforter, to comfort those that are wrestling right now. The great guide who says, “Yes, these are the next steps.” And You would cause us to be a people that lean in for Your name’s sake so that other people might experience Your goodness and grace. In Jesus’ name, amen.