This is the last sermon in the “You are the Church” series. We have talked about preparing for Sunday morning worship. We have talked about being here now, meaning being present when we are here. We have talked about being fed and feeding yourself. We have talked about congregational praise. We have talked about being the church throughout the whole week. So, now we come back to Sunday.
Back when I was an associate pastor my senior pastor told me, “I want you to know that right now you preach periodically, but it can get draining when you preach every week.” He would say, “Sunday’s just keep coming.” Every week I work on a research paper for you and present it to you. It is my God given task and I will be judged for how I do this. I will be held accountable to God for how I handle this book we call the Bible. If I misrepresent the Bible and use it incorrectly, woe is me. I am sure that I have actually. Pray for me with this. That is actually one way that you can prepare for Sunday morning worship, pray for me as I present the Scriptures to you. Pray for me as I stand between God and His people.
I don’t want to neglect to mention that we have other singers and musicians that need prayed for as well. Preparing for Sunday morning worship ought to mean that you pray for them. We have Christian Connections teachers and others involved on Sunday morning. Pray for them. We believe that God speaks to us, so we must pray that He will.
So, today I will talk about the 3 R’s of discipleship which we ought to take care of before Sunday morning worship.
My theme and application today is: You are not ready to worship if you are not right with others. This can be intentional or by ignoring a problem with someone else.
Let’s read Matthew 5:23-24:
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
- Background: Let me tell you what is going on.
- Listen, right here Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and they thought they had everything all together. But that was not the case. In this passage Jesus is telling them you can have it all together, but someone else is angry with you.
- Look what Jesus say, “leave.” Jesus says to leave.
- Can you imagine? You arrive early here at First Baptist. You sit down to worship. Then you realize that someone is angry at you or maybe there is a barrier in a relationship, maybe a misunderstanding. So, what do you do? You get up and go in the parking lot and call them. Or, you go to your house, but you work it out. You apologize. You try to clear it up.
- Jesus is saying that you are not right with God when you are ignoring a problem with someone else.
- It could be that you have tried to make things right with someone else, but they won’t work with you. I don’t think that is what Jesus is talking about in this passage.
- I am sure, in a group of people this size, some of you have barriers in your relationships with your children and you have tried to work it out.
- I would ask, have you tried in humility? Have you tried to own up to your faults and apologize?
- I am sure that some of you have tried that and they still won’t accept it. They still won’t reconcile.
- You can try other things. You can try a mediator, a counselor, a group called Peacemakers, but sometimes you exhaust all your options.
- If that is the case I don’t think Jesus is addressing you.
- I think Jesus is talking about people who are ignoring problems. 1 John 4:20: Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sisteris a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
- In this case Jesus is talking about worship, making an offering to God.
- Jesus says to seek reconciliation while you can.
- If you look at the next few verses Jesus talks about the time coming where you are turned over to the judge for your crime and then you cannot do anything. The judge throws you in jail. Back then they had debtors prison. So what is envisioned is that you have failed to pay a debt and you realize that so you make that right prior to worship. Otherwise, you are thrown in debtors prison and you can’t pay a debt if you are in prison.
- What this means is if you ignore a problem with someone, then your relationship with Christ is hindered, even broken. Maybe you don’t know Christ. You could die tomorrow; we are never promised another day. Then you die and go to hell and you can no longer fix that relationship. Fix it while you can.
- You are not ready to worship if you are ignoring a problem with someone else. We love God and love people.
- Preparing for worship means loving others and we do that through: repentance, restitution and reconciliation.
- Repentance: first we repent.
- Repent means to apologize and turn around.
- You come to worship and you realize that what you said to your wife was wrong. You said the eggs and bacon and pancakes and grits that she made you was terrible.
- You apologize, but say the exact thing later in the day. She makes steak and potatoes and you say they are just terrible. You say that she is absolutely a terrible cook. Were you really repenting? No. You were sorry, but you were not repenting. Further, you are now cooking your own meals.
- You need to realize, we need to realize, that we may need help being respectful and loving.
- Mercedes will say she is sorry, but she does the same thing later. BUT she is four years old. We are adults.
- Further, it is not enough to say we are sorry, we must ask for forgiveness. When we ask for forgiveness we ae humbly acknowledging failure and giving the person the ball. We teach Mercedes this. We tell her to say she is sorry and to ask for forgiveness.
- You are coming to worship and you are fighting the whole way to church. You sit in the parking lot and think, “What do we do?” Apologize and agree to take responsibility and work not to do it again.
- Restitution: So you repent, but you must make restitution.
- This goes along with forgiveness.
- Give them the opportunity to help you make it right.
- In Luke 19:1-10 Zacchaeus gave half his possessions to the poor and paid back four times the amount to people he had cheated. In Philemon 9-18 Paul tells Onesimus to return to his master; Paul will pay all his debts.
- That is restitution.
- Restitution is generally, restitution is ___paying___ back something of material value that has been taken ___wrongly___ . It is a way to “___settle___ the ___account”
- is consistent with biblical teaching
- helps release us from the effects of past sin
- weakens our prideful nature; brings forth humility
- helps remove stumbling blocks from other people’s paths
- reduces our tendency to repeat the same sin
- demonstrates the sincerity of our repentance
- We are not ready for worship when we are ignoring repentance and restitution with someone else.
- Reconciliation: we must reconcile with others.
- Reconciliation is more important, even more important, than giving.
- In this passage Jesus is saying that this is critical.
- Like restitution, reconciliation “settles the account.” However, it is in the realm of ___character Bitterness is the ___cancer___ of human relationships. It grows where ___unforgiving___ spirits dwell. It also prevents us from receiving the forgiving ___grace___ of God (Matthew 6:15).
- Reconciliation involves:
- Confrontation (Matthew 5:23-24; Galatians 2:11)
- Compassion (Ephesians 4:31-32)
- Concession (sometimes) (Romans 14:1)
- You are not ready for worship without pursuing:
- And reconciliation.
- Notice that I said pursuing this. This may take time, but you have to at least try. If you are ignoring problems with a brother or sister then you are not ready to worship.
- Follow Matthew 18:15-17: Talk to the person alone. Then bring someone else with you, then bring another person with you.
So, preparing for worship means that we must seek a right relationship with others. Having a barrier with another means we have a barrier with God.
This week prayerfully commit to healing a relationship. Or, at least try. You are not responsible for their reaction. You are only responsible for your attempts to make things right. Pray first.
What does this look like? Just call the person up and see if you can go to Bob Evans for lunch or invite them over. When you meet ask openly if you have offended them in any way. Go from there. Pray. Pray. Pray.
Let’s celebrate together
Do you know Christ?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)