What is the mission of the church? In the fifth week of our Reset series, Todd Wagner teaches about the mission of the church and how we are to live lives of both love and truth.
RESET: Resetting Your Mission
RESET: Resetting Your Leadership
RESET: Resetting Your Relationships
RESET: Resetting Your Priorities
RESET: More of God
What is the mission of the church? In the fifth week of our Reset series, Todd Wagner teaches about the mission of the church and how we are to lives of both love and truth.
What Love Is:
What Love Isn’t:
What We Can Do:
Well, good morning! How is everybody doing? We are wrapping up our Reset series, and then we're going to continually reset our hearts every week. It's what we do. As we start a new series next week, we're going to listen to Paul's last words to Timothy. When you ever hear the last words of a dying man, you know they're not wasting their breath.
So next week, we're going to begin studying the book of 2 Timothy. We plowed through 1 Timothy in the fall, but now we're going to dive into 2 Timothy. It's going to be amazing, and that will reset our hearts week after week. Let us prepare our hearts now just by praying together. I know we've prayed a couple of times. We cannot pray too much. We're to pray without ceasing.
When we do formal group prayer and we say, "Amen," we're saying, "So be it," and what we're not saying is we're done praying and now we're going to live in our flesh. The reason we pray corporately is we realize if we aren't continually praying individually, it's going to be a corporate mess.
So let's just agree together that apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Let's agree together that even apart from God's help, we're not even going to be able to hear today's message. Apart from Christ's help, I'm not going to be able to give it in a way that's going to be acceptable and winsome.
So Father, we need you every hour, we need you. That's not just a song we sing. That's not just a hymn the church used to reflect upon. It's our confession. We confess that the longer we know you, sometimes we think we get stronger and that we can make you proud by doing things for you, and we repent.
Lord, our ears cannot hear, our eyes cannot see, and our hearts cannot conceive unless you open our eyes, open our ears, and keep our hearts malleable. It's a work of grace from beginning to end. So would you continue that grace? If there are friends here this morning who have never really understood the love and the grace of God, I pray today would be the day they would understand what love is, today would be the day, Lord, that they come to know you and understand the basis of our hope and why we sing to you.
We're not looking to perform. We are looking, Father, to fellowship with the redemptive love of God expressed through Jesus Christ and the goodness of your will and way constantly taught to us in your Word if we'll just pay attention to it. So we seek to do that now, Lord. So be it. May we heed your will and way. For your glory and our good and that the world might know you and receive the grace that we have received. In Christ's name, amen.
Well, this Reset series has been one that we've been having fun with together because in the midst of it, we're trying to just say, "Hey look, man. The Christian life is a life of continual repentance." We turned from our way of believing that we don't need God, believing that we have to perform for God if we think he is there.
Most of us think that God is like us, so we like people if they're valuable to us and do what we want them to do. So we impose that ideology on God, and we go, "I guess we ought to be better than bad. If we're better than bad long enough, then God will love us." We need to reset our thinking. This book is not a list of rules that you'd better do or you're going to go to hell.
This is God telling us what he has done to rescue us from the hell that we have because we've turned from him. It's a rescue that he accomplished. Religion is what I do. Christianity is what God has done. When you see the love of God, it compels you. It changes you. You understand, like my friend Lauren in the Watermark News today, which if you're watching this later you can go and watch the link to that Watermark News.
Lauren felt like, "Hey, I'm bent to do this. So if God made me this way, why shouldn't I go that way?" Lauren came to understand God didn't make her that way; sin did. God made her to enjoy him and to love him and to be secure and not codependent on fallen man. So when we gather in here every week (I say this a lot) we're really doing a pastor's conference.
It's the kingdom of priests pastors' conference. We invite everybody to come. We don't charge anything, but we do get together as a kingdom of priests, and we just say, "Hey, let's just remind ourselves who our God is and remember how to respond to him." I call this room the R&R amongst the staff. Not the worship center, because this is the worship center. Your lives are the worship center.
I call this the R&R for remember who God is and remind ourselves how to respond to him. So we come in here and we rest in what God has done and we get ready to live faithfully for him. We invite other people to come. Do you want to know what we're about? This is what we're about. We're always calling you to join us. We're always calling you to jump in with us here.
Because once you know who your Master is, that determines your mission. Once you know what your mission is, you can look who the mates are that you're going to run through life with. That's basically how you should choose a spouse. Figure out who your Master is, and then go, "All right. I'm going to live the way that my Master wants me to live, and then I'd better find mates who are going to encourage me along the way."
So when we get together for our membership classes here, that's what we do. We explain to you, "He is our Master. God is good. This is what he does for us. This is what we're going to try and do in response to him. We're not perfect mates, but we have a perfect mission because we have a perfect Master. So we are together going to try and be more faithful in our mission."
Today is resetting our mission. That's what we're talking about collectively. Now let me just say this. The church is a people. The church is not an institution. The church is not a building. The church is not a personality. The church is a people. So when I talk today about the church resetting its mission, (hint, hint; nudge, nudge) what I'm really talking about is you resetting your mission and all of us together collectively resetting our mission.
It is true that any relationship is only as healthy as the least healthy person in it. You might say that any chain is only as strong as the least healthy link. So what we are doing is we are strengthening our own individual link in this thing called the love of God, the people of God in the city. So today we're going to reset our mission.
Now what's great is that sometimes people are here with us for a while and they take off and they go other places to continue that mission. We love that because at Watermark, we're a part of a local church. In the local church, if it's the right kind of church, is only an expression of the universal church, which exists everywhere.
I just want to say, as we talk about these things… I've already said so many things that I've said hundreds of times here at Watermark, and you might be mocking me because you're like, "Man, Todd, you keep hitting the same points." The reason I keep hitting the same points is because vision rarely repeated is vision quickly forgotten. So I want to remind us.
That's why we're in this room. Remember the R&R? We remind ourselves of the greatness of God. We remind ourselves of how to respond to that so we don't forget as we head into the week. I was reading this week, and I came across a guy who is friends with the director, a guy high up in Chick-fil-A.
They were talking about how this guy when he would go to different operators, which is what they call their different owners, he always had a line that he would use. The line was this. "What did you do to build the business today?" What did you do today to grow your business? The way you grow your business annually is to grow it daily.
That's why Chick-fil-A is such an amazing place, because they realize that one of the things they want to do is not just make good food. They want to have great relationships, and they want to go, "My pleasure to serve you." Every day, we want to grow our business, fellowship with God, by saying, "Hey Father, I want to know more of who you are. I want to remind myself of how you provide for me the bread of life, which is even better than a Chick-fil-A sandwich, and I want to say it's my pleasure to serve you."
The way you grow your life annually is to grow your life daily. The way you become more of the beauty that God intends you to be is to grow everyday more into the Christlikeness that he wants. Now vision leaks, which is why we repeat a lot of things. What we have learned is that when people start to mock you because you say things a lot, you're starting to communicate vision, right?
One of the things that encourages me when we do the CLC, when we invite church leaders in from all across the country, is we talk to them and they just go, "Man, everybody we meet says the same thing, even some of the folks who have taken time off of work to host and greet us here this week. We can't believe they're not on staff because everybody here thinks alike."
Now that's not groupthink. What that is is a group of mates who have the same mission because we love the same Master. We're not being conformed to the world, but we're all being transformed by the renewing of our minds, and we're living in a mission that is good to the human condition. It is acceptable to the human soul. It's perfect in terms of leading us toward the life that God wants for us to have.
So when you start to repeat things a lot, and people go, "Here we go again. There they are. They're saying the same thing they've always said," the reason we do that is because vision rarely repeated is vision quickly forgotten. So one of the things we talk about here is that we're a battleship, not a cruise ship, right?
I was so encouraged this week. COVID wiped out our entire staff for re:gen. Almost 1,000 people are here on Monday nights. Not a single paid staff was here on Monday night, and yet re:gen went on completely unaffected. This weekend, our college director was out because of a crisis in his family with a child who was sick. Two other people had COVID.
They're doing their big weekend. We're gathering all of our college students who can get away for a weekend and launch in the year. It went off without a hitch. Because we are not a circus church where the best performers do things and you come and buy a ticket and applaud for how excellent they are. We're a church that teaches and equips the saints to do the ministry. We're a battleship, not a cruise ship.
So my friend who used to be here on mission with us who is now down in Waco in a place called Harris Creek, Jonathan Pokluda. When JP teaches things like this, he has actually started a series called Ecclesia. Ecclesia is the biblical word for church. So JP and I were together this week. We were hanging out, as we are prone to do, and just keep encouraging each other.
He said, "Wagner, this is what I'm doing this weekend. I'm thinking about it. Do you think it's a good idea?" Now if you know JP, he likes the illustration. He says, "I'm thinking about coming out on stage just wearing my beach clothes." So he sent me a picture. So this is what JP is wearing. This is what he is wearing this morning when he preaches at Harris Creek.
He has his little Tommy Bahama beach hat on. He has the Hawaiian shirt. He has the flip flops. He has the white pants. He said, "What I'm going to do is I'm going to talk about people. Can you imagine if you're going to enlist on a time what you think is a time of your life and you show up down there on the coast of Texas to get on this ship that you think is going to give you the time of your life, and this is what you have on?
You walk on, not to this cruise ship with lots of banquets and lots of great music and lots of people having Mai Tais, but you walk into a grey ship and there are guns everywhere. You realize, 'I don't think I dressed for the occasion. I must have a different idea about what it means to have the time of my life.'"
Because Bernie Sanders showed up everywhere on Photoshop, JP is going to start to show up everywhere on Photoshop, so this is the image that he put up in the church to use. Can you imagine? If you show up like that? Can I just tell you, so much of what American Christianity has become is we're like, "Hey, just come to this Carnival Cruise, man. We just want you to be here.
We want you to like our captain more than their captain. We want you to like the food we serve more than the food the other cruise ships serves. We want you to like our music in the ballroom more than the music they play in that ballroom. Come and sail with us and we're going to do everything that we can do feed you what you want so you'll come back and buy another cruise."
That's a dead church. Can I just tell you? We're not trying to get you to cruise with us. We're trying to call you to be on mission with us. The pastors and the apostles and the prophets and the teachers here, just to use the words of Paul in Ephesians chapter 4, are here "…for the equipping of the saints for the work of service…"
This is the pastors' conference. We're a kingdom of priests, and we're going to get about it. You hear me say things like this all the time. If you're here and you say you love the Master but you're not on mission with other mates in an accountable way where you're underneath those who are in authority and can help you lovingly grow and admonish you when you're unruly and encourage you when you're fainthearted and help you when you're weak, then you're not a regular attender.
You're an irregular believer, and you have to find somewhere to enlist and just say, "I'm going to give an account, and these are the mates who are going to help me be faithful on this ship, which is on mission to rescue and protect people and bring life, dignity, and meaning to people." You hear us say a lot as a form of vision the Bible is our authority, our conscious in God. We stand firm where it's firm, and we're flexible where it's flexible.
I was so encouraged. This happened last April, last spring. A friend of mine here in town is a pastor at another church. Bryan Dunagan is the pastor of Highland Park Presbyterian Church. He tweeted out something as he was just sitting there and he was thinking about different brothers and mates in the city who aren't in the same local church but are part of the same universal church.
Here's what Bryan said. This is his tweet. I'll read it to you, but he just said, "This is what I'm learning from great churches and pastors in our city." He mentions a couple. He mentioned my friend Bryan Carter at Concord, who said, "Hope ain't cancelled." He mentioned my friend Jeff Warren at PCBC, Park Cities Baptist Church, who said, "The hope of Jesus is for everybody in our city." Jeff is passionate about that. It's not just for some little people but for everybody.
He mentions a number of other different churches. Then when he got to Watermark, he had my name on there. He said, "This is what I'm learning from other churches and pastors in our city." He said, "Todd Wagner: Ground everything in God's Word." Now let me just say this to you. We need all kinds of churches to serve and reach all kinds of people.
I'm so glad that certain churches are emphasizing caring for the least of these and certain churches are emphasizing hope and certain churches, in Bryan's opinion, are emphasizing the gospel being shared with everybody and faithfulness over intellect and other things that were listed on this thing.
As I looked at that list, I was really humbled and grateful that Bryan goes, "Todd, this is what you remind me of, that everything has to come from here. There is no hope apart from here. There is no reason to love the least of these unless you're doing it in Jesus' name. The gospel that we share comes from the Word of God."
By the way, one of the things I learned from Bryan Dunagan is that cheering for and celebrating others is a great way to show love. What a great tweet. I responded to Bryan. "Man, thank you Bryan. Hebrews 3:13, which says, 'But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you [get off mission].' That none of us get deceived that we are running a carnival."
Then I put 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. So what's 1 Corinthians 16:13-14? It's this. "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." That's verse 13. Be on the alert, man, because this world is going to pull you away and is going to try and sell you false doctrines. Stand firm in the faith, which was once and for all delivered to the saints. Listen, I didn't just put down 1 Corinthians 16:13. I put down 1 Corinthians 16:13 and 14. Verse 14 says, "Let all that you do be done in love."
Now if you remember last week, I told you that one of the reasons that I wasn't serving you in this way is because those closest to me and around me just said, "Todd, man, nobody gets us on mission like you. But man, because of just the pace that you run at, because of the way that you're relating to us, and because of what else is going on we right now are going, 'Hey, do you love us?'"
I just went, "Oh, man." If you guys don't know, no matter how on the alert I am, no matter how firm in the faith I am, no matter what a man I am, how strong I am, if I'm not known for love, I'm not who Jesus wants me to be. Here are my five points for this week.
So great leaders, no…great churches, are not grace graduates. Great leaders, no…not great leaders, great churches need to do life together. Great leaders, no…not great leaders, great churches need pruning. Great leaders, no wait…not great leaders, great churches are nothing without love. Great leaders, no…not great leaders, great churches cannot be who God wants them to be if they don't continually abide with Christ.
Do you remember what I said? What's true of one is going to be true of many. All of us, the weakest link in the chain here is going to weaken what God wants us to be. He wants us to be a community, not who runs great weekend services but a community of lovers who have great weeks of worshipping God in the world. We gather to scatter.
Now watch. This is why we teach the Word of God here. This is what I want you guys to understand about what we're doing. That is in 1 Timothy, chapter 3, verses 14 and 15, Paul says this. "I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God…"
I mean, listen. When you're hearing from a person sent forth from God… That's what the word apostle means: sent forth from God. By the way, you're not an apostle in the sense of a New Testament apostle, but all of us are sent forth from God. Lock in with me here. Because this is what our mission is.
This is how you can conduct yourself as part of the mates who are on mission in God's universal church in this local expression. There are battleships all over the world. This is one battleship, and we're not here to cruise. It's going to be really awkward one day when you stand before your King if you've just been cruising when you're supposed to be at war. So he says this.
"I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God…" Not some memory of God, not some guy who lived and said great things that now you can be like him, but the living God. He says because the church, you are, "…the pillar and support of the truth."
That's why I was so encouraged about what Bryan said is that man, "Todd, you're going to keep us focused on everything has to grow out of the Word of God." "…the pillar and support of the truth." By the way, the truth isn't just an idea. It's not just a proposition. Truth is a person. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. We're not bibliolaters here. We are Christ followers.
Jesus has told us that every jot and tittle…those are the smallest marks you can make in Hebrew…are not going to go away. This is the Word of God. It's amazing to me when God himself was here in the person of Jesus Christ how much he quoted what God himself had already said. Why? Because we need to be reminded much more than we need to be instructed because vision not repeated is vision forgotten. When you follow it, Paul starts to say there in 1 Timothy chapter 3.
He goes on and he says, "I want to warn you that the Spirit explicitly says that in latter times, men aren't going to like the truth." The latter times, by the way, just so you know, started right from the moment that Jesus was resurrected. God's kingdom program needs no other event for him to come crashing through the clouds and begin his next work, which is going to be biblically the next really strong visible prophetic event on the calendar.
It is what's going to be called the seven years of tribulation or the Seventieth Week of Daniel. It's going to be general world peace for three and a half years underneath a world leader who claims to be God who is going to be the Antichrist. Then all hell is going to break loose. It's going to be called the time of Jacob's distress or trouble like the world has never known, where almost 30 percent of the world will die.
Nothing else needs to happen for God to commence that. The trigger, if you're curious, is going to be the Antichrist making a treaty with the nation of Israel. I think it's going to be a removal of the church, and then the birth of a new group of people who are filled with the Spirit that will happen at the moment when the rapture happens.
I think God is going to turn the light on with a lot of people who go, "That's what my friends told me was going to happen. These Christians aren't evil who have been gotten rid of. Those Christians have been removed from the evil which is to come. Now we know that God is who he says he is and we're going to serve him during that amazing time of trouble."
Now watch. This is what Paul goes on to say. Verse 6 of chapter 4, this is what Paul goes on to say. In these last days, you should be, "…constantly nourished on the words of the faith…" Verse 10: You should "…labor and strive…" Verse 15 of chapter 4: "Take pains with these things…" Verse 16: _ "Pay close attention to yourself…" _ While you're on mission. _ "…and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this [pastor] you will save both yourself and those who hear you."
So let me make a note right here. This is so important, okay? This is the point. God wants us to rest on and build on our foundation. He wants us to rest on our foundation. In other words, we're not working to establish our relationship with God. Our Master has saved us. There's nothing we need to do.
If you have acknowledged your sin and thrown yourself at the mercy of God and trusted in him, there is no work to be done in order to have peace with God. It's been accomplished. So God wants us to rest on, but he also wants us to build on our foundation. Let me just give you a couple of verses. This is Ephesians 2:19-21. Watch this.
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone…" Do you see that? Christ is the cornerstone, but we build on the foundation of Christ. Watch this.
This is 1 Corinthians 3:11-13. "For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid…" We are not trying to establish ourselves before God. Jesus has established us before God. He is the reason we have good standing before God. God demonstrates his love for us through the sacrifice of Christ.
Then it says in Romans, "Therefore…we have peace with God through _ [faith in] _ Lord Jesus Christ…" That's our firm foundation, but it says you have to build on that foundation. In verse 13, "…each man's work will become evident…" In other words, how you serve on the mission will determine the quality of what kind of servant you will be.
So we are sons and daughters of God if we trust in Jesus Christ. If you acknowledge your sin and trust in him, you are a son or daughter of God. But we're still going to be judged, and we're going to be judged by what kind of servants we are. Servants are not grace graduates. We're not perfect. Servants need mates. Servants need pruning. Servants should be marked by love.
You hear me talk about dead churches a lot. I'm not talking about other churches when I say that. What I'm doing is right here, we don't want to be a dead church. We want to stay on mission. We don't want to just slide into casual clothes and casual living. Why? Because we're the pillar and support of the truth.
When the pillar and the support collapses and all you have is the foundation, you have a dead collapsed church. So I'm all about gospel preaching and gospel foundation, but the gospel has legs. The gospel produces fruit. We don't just casually whistle our way through life. We go to work. We whistle while we work. We are sober celebrants, to use the phrase of a friend of mine recently.
I told you last week I was going to spend some time talking to you about how we build on that and how we love and what we do. I'm going to talk to you about biblically what love is. I guess maybe I just want to say one more thing. Watch this. This point is so important. God wants us to rest on and build on our foundation.
It's why Paul, when he was wrapping up his life mission statement… It was in Colossians, chapter 1, verse 28 and 29, and he just said this. "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man…so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose _ [we] _ also labor, _ [we build] _ striving according to His power, which works mightily within me."
Are you with me? That's what we're doing here every week. Paul goes to work. I want to say this. My life mission statement… For the longest time when people said, "Todd, what's your life mission statement?" My life mission statement used to be this. I want to do God's bidding with people I love.
One of the things that I did over the last couple of months is I started to think about, "Is that a good life mission statement?" I repented of that, and I've changed it. So instead of saying, "I want to do God's bidding with people I love." I now say, "I want to do God's bidding while I love people." That's no small subtle shift.
Instead of saying, "Hey, I love you if you're running with me the way that I'm running…" I want to say, "I love you, and I want to tell you why I run and about the goodness of God and the foundation which I stand on and build on. I'd love for you to do it with me, but I love you. I'm not going to love you more if you agree with me or build with me.
I just want you to know I love you. Because I love you, I know you're going to give an account. Because I know you're going to give an account, I want to spur you on to love and good deeds, but I want you to know my heart is love. Not, 'Let's go! Let's get after it!'" So this is just a fact, right? Do you want to see it visually? Here it is.
Where I say great leaders, write, "no," and scratch it out and put up there underneath it, "Great churches are not grace grads." One of the things that I heard a guy say to me recently was, "Hey, Todd, Watermark says they're not a perfect church, but you know the reputation out there is that you guys just think you're more perfect than everybody else."
It really made me sad. I go, "Why is that?" I'm going to just give you a quick little observation that I think is worth saying and noting. That is just simply this. People often feel conviction around those who are committed to excellence. So then they feel judged. It's like when I go home and my wife is making a great meal. I want mashed potatoes with skin in it and butter, and she is making cauliflower mash for herself.
If you don't know what that is, you're lucky. Basically it's mashed potatoes, except it's not potatoes. It's cauliflower, and it tastes exactly like you think it would taste, but it has to be better for you. I feel judged every time I'm sitting there putting butter and sour cream on my baked potato and she is eating cauliflower mash.
Every time I go to lunch with my friends here on staff, I'm always like, "I'll take a cheeseburger, fries, you have triple fries. You have loaded fries? All right, good. I'll take that and he'll have the skinless chicken breast and broccoli." And I feel so judged. He is not doing anything but just committed to healthy eating.
There's a story that was told about Billy Graham. A guy walked into a locker room afterward. He had just got done playing golf. He took his shoes off and he threw them in the locker. The guy next to him looks at him and says, "Hey bro, what's up? Why are you so angry?" "Because I just played golf with Billy Graham."
He goes, "That doesn't sound like you should be angry at that." He goes, "Yeah, brother preached to me the entire 18 rounds." He goes, "Really? What did he say?" He goes, "He didn't say a thing! He just didn't throw his clubs like me. He didn't cuss like me. He didn't flirt with the golf cart girl like me." And he felt judged.
I can remember when I was in high school, I lost all my friends. I didn't care if they smoked dope. I really didn't. I just didn't want to smoke dope, and they just cut me out because they felt judged by me. I thought I was wanting to be an athlete, and I didn't think athletes smoked dope. I can remember when I got to college and Christ captured my heart.
I stopped drinking, and my friends felt judgment just because I stopped drinking. I wasn't saying anything, but they just pushed me away. Sometimes you're going to get pushed away just because you're committed to excelling still more. I want to read to you, though, what it says that we should do when we excel still more. This is 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, verse 1.
_ "Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God…that you excel still more." _ In other words, that you don't just rest on the gospel, you build on it as well. When you build and others are resting, they're going to feel judged.
Now if you do it with arrogance, like, "What's wrong with you? Why can't you be as good as me? How come you're not as good as us?" When I talk about the dead church, I'm not talking about out there. I'm just saying, "Hey, this is our battleship. God is going to take care of all the other battleships out there in the world, but this is the one underneath our command. This is the one that we serve on and we are not going to get off mission."
I don't want you to stand before a military tribunal and, if you will, your commander in chief and have him go, "What did you guys do? How come we told you to go into the Persian Gulf and you were always down there in the Caribbean? You guys have amazing tans. What's this bill about all the kinds of food you were eating? By the way, that place that you were called to bring peace and protection? Why is there chaos and death?" Because you were off mission.
I don't want to be part of a dead church, because I love my Master and I happen to know that the dignity and the purpose and the life that he has called me to is not going to be on a cruise, man. I'm supposed to be at war right now. Let me tell you why sometimes people often feel conviction around those committed to excellence.
This is John, chapter 3, verses 19 and 20. I'm going to read it to you in the New Living Translation because I think it's so clear. Just watch this. I'm going to warn you. "And the judgment is based on this fact: God's light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed."
So I want to talk to you about what love does and what love is. I just want to say this. Remember how in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 I talked about how we're also to walk as those who please God? So you ought to know, how did God walk when he was here? Here's the answer. Let me take you back to the Old Testament first.
In Psalm, chapter 89, verse 14, this is how God rolls. "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before You." So how does God roll? Justice, mercy, righteousness, kindness. How did God roll when he was here on earth? Well, John, chapter 1, verse 14, "And the Word became flesh…"
The word that was always with God and the word that was God. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, [and the Father is] full of grace and truth." He is not 50 percent grace and 50 percent truth. He is 100 percent grace and 100 percent truth all the time.
Let me just give it to you in just a visual way. I have so many more verses I can take you there. That's why I'm going to give you one more. That's why Micah 6:8 is in your Bible. Do you want to know what God wants while you're on mission? "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
Our mission is not this or that. Our mission is this. It is Christlikeness, grace and truth. That's love. Justice? Care. Rescue? Judgment of evil. That's the mission. Look at this little chart. I'll just give it you as quickly as I can. If you get too heavy on one as the other, if you're all about grace, you're going to have commendation of sin. You give hearty approval to those who are going the wrong direction.
If you are all about truth, you're going to just be one who condemns sinners and doesn't ever give them any hope that God loves sinners, dies for sinners, and rescues sinners. He hates sin, so sin can't be in his world. When he brings his kingdom, there will be no sin. So if sin is in you, you're going to be in trouble. Let me rescue you from sin.
I'm not going to tell you it's okay if you just keep going your own way. That's "…a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." That's what Jesus was: full of grace and truth. And it's what the church should be if we're the pillar and support of the truth. So let's move. We should do God's bidding, declaration of truth, while we love people.
If we're not known for love, gang, it doesn't matter what else we are known for. So are you ready for a little Bible paradox? Our mission is not to love the world. That's what happens so much with the church. The church just looks like the world. "Hey, the way we're going to get more people to sail with us is we'll do better music. We won't ask too much. We'll give them tips and techniques for living."
No, that feeds the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the boastful pride of life. That's not of the Father. We don't love the world. We're not like the world. So our mission is not to love the world. First John 2:15, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world _ [and the world's way] _ the love of the Father is not in him."
So Bible paradox. Our job is not to love the world. Our job is to love the world. John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." So watch this. We are to love truth, which means we are to love Jesus.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. If we love Jesus, we will seek to be conformed to his image and, "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to _ [Jesus'] _ power, which mightily works within me."
When Jesus is working within me, the fruit of Jesus, the fruit of God, the fruit of the Spirit, love will be there. Now I'm just going to remind you. We can't be surprised because we love Jesus that the world will not love us and sometimes feel judged by us. Write it down. We can't be surprised because we love Jesus that the world will not love us.
Let me quote from Jesus, who is not just the pillar and support of the truth. He is the foundation of our being accepted and he is the means through which we can be faithful. John, chapter 15, verse 16. I want you to know. Listen. You didn't just walk down to some church and enlist. You were chosen. If you know Jesus, he chose you.
If you're here today, and you go, "Well, is he going to choose me?" The answer is yes. He says to you, "Come." If you're sick and tired of being sick and tired and trying to find meaning and purpose in life through the lust of your flesh, the lust of your eyes, and the boastful pride of life, come unto me, because that will never serve you.
Get out of your casual cruise life, which brings depression and anxiety, and come find dignity and meaning and purpose and forgiveness and hope. Be all that you can be. The few, the proud, the faithful. Let's go. Jesus says, "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another." Watch this.
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also." "And they're not keeping my word, so they're going to hate you."
We love the Father who loved the world, but who is not of the world, so the world hates him. They were amazed at Jesus' words. The crowd said, "Give us more," and the world says, "Get rid of him." So this is what love is. Love is not what we do, but what God has done.
First John 4:10 says, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to _ [the world]_ …" When you define love as anything less than sacrificial service, you're perverting love. So here we go.
Love listens. When the world says to you, "Well, you guys say you're not perfect, but you're just more perfect than everybody else." We go, "No, we don't think that." Just do what I did. I just go, "Hey man, can you tell me why you think that? Can you tell me what it is that makes you think that I think I'm better than you? Because my Bible says love is not arrogant. Love isn't boastful. When I hear you say that, I'm hearing you tell me that I'm boastful and arrogant.
We at Watermark, Todd Wagner does not want to be boastful and arrogant. I don't think I'm better than you. The more I get to know Jesus, the more I can't believe that God loves me except because of Jesus because I see how infinitely separated I am from him. Paul wasn't just using a preaching technique when he said he was the chief of sinners.
I think the more you see the goodness of God, the more you see your fallenness. But what is it about me that makes you think I think I'm better than you?" Love listens. It doesn't say, "What are you talking about?"
Love serves. _ "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." _ Love does. Love does. _ "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." _ James said in chapter 1, verse 22. Here's the key. Love smells like Jesus. Now what's that mean? Write this down. Second Corinthians 2:15-16 says, _ "For we are a fragrance of Christ…" _
Hey, that'll sell, right? It's better than Ralph Lauren or Stetson, whatever else you're using, Drakkar Noir? I'm just going through the things I wore in high school. I have no idea what smells good today. Love smells like Jesus. There's a fragrant aroma. You know, one of the things that I heard is, "Todd, the aroma of Christ is not on you." I go, "What are you talking about?"
Instead of love listens, like, "Hey, help me understand. What do you mean?" If we're the fragrance of Christ… But you need to watch this. "…among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing…" Wait, we smell different to different people? You bet. Because "…to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life."
What that means is when you hear about Jesus, the Lamb of God, and the kindness of God, you're like, "That's awesome. Give me that. Give me love, a sinner." But you hear about Jesus, the Lion of Judah, that Revelation 19 says will come of the armies, which are in heaven and have a sharp sword and he treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, that's an aroma of death.
When you are declaring the justice of God and offering the mercy of God, if they hear, "You're judging me. I don't want to believe this of God. I don't want to believe there's judgment. I don't want to hear there's sin. I don't want to believe that my flesh is not what God wants it to be." That smells like death when you say, "You'd better."
The church can't choose which one it is. It should love the sinner, but because it loves the sinner, it does not commend sin and give hearty approval to it. I have to go to this just very quickly. I say this is why our only hope is to be like Jesus, who though he denounces appalling guilt, he also with fierceness wept over the city. Our world has gone crazy. Have you noticed?
A guy about a hundred years ago, G.K. Chesterton said the world will be at the height of its imbecility when it calls cats dogs and the sun the moon. We're like, "Who is going to call a cat a dog? Who is going to call the sun the moon?" Who is going to call a man a boy or a man a woman? Who is going to say you can just identify with whatever you want? Our world.
It's not going to like you when you stand up against it. I have so many illustrations of this and no time to give them to you all. This week, for instance, Focus on the Family just tweeted out a little statement. They said, "On Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden announced that he had chosen Dr. Rachel Levine to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of HHS. Dr. Levine is a transgender woman, that is, a man who believes he is a woman."
Because they said that, they were stripped of their right to speak in public. They said, "You can't say that!" They go, "Say what? We didn't say anything pejorative. We were just defining what a transgender person is. It's a man who believes he is a woman or a woman who believes she is a man." They go, "That's hate speech. You can't do that."
I have a list of people so long who have lost their right to speak because they're not saying what the world says you now have to say. By the way, this is how the world changes. The world changes when it takes something and what was condemned, must now be celebrated. Then from there, you go what was celebrated must now not be condemned.
Then eventually, and this is where we're getting, those who will not celebrate it will need to be condemned. Church, are you ready? It is not loving to call a man a woman. It's not loving to come alongside mental illness and say, "You keep going." We're not to be conformed to the world, but we have to renew the mind. We have to be merciful toward those.
We have to go, "Help me understand what you're going through, how you feel that way. What makes you want to present contrary to how God created you?"
"I don't believe in God."
"Okay, let's talk about that. I'm not better than you. I have my issues."
"I don't have an issue."
"Oh, you have an issue with God."
Let me say this. Toleration where people are concerned is a virtue. Toleration where truth is concerned is a tragedy. Truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth, but truth won't be heard if it's not said in love. There are going to be some people who say, "If you say that, we have to condemn you because it's not loving to say it." And you have to keep saying it.
You are the pillar and the support of the truth. This is truth: that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners among which, Watermark, we should know we're the foremost of all. Love serves and love suffers. So are you ready to suffer? Love doesn't lose heart. Love doesn't get bitter. There's no future in bitterness.
If you don't have the political power you think you should have, if you don't have the career you think you want, if your kids are not allowed to go to certain schools because you won't go along with society, love doesn't get bitter. Love "…does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered…"
It "…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…" Love speaks truth and doesn't care if the world hates it because love loves the world. If you are here and you have never been loved yourself, you need to know God loves you. He is not mad at you.
I don't care what your struggle is, Jesus has died for you like he died for me. I'm not better than you. I am a sinner redeemed by the grace of God who sees the goodness of God and wants to live on mission with him with other mates who want to love and serve you. But if you're my mate, we are going to be the pillar and the support of the truth.
We're not going to be soldiers who entangle themselves in the affairs of everyday life so we might please the one who enlisted us as a soldier. I'm going to ask you to be strong in the grace with me of those who are in Jesus Christ. Love doesn't just go along to get along.
Love speaks up with its speech seasoned with salt, as it were, but I don't know how else Focus on the Family could've said that. They even said, "How could we have said that in a way that you wouldn't have thought was inappropriate?" They go, "Well, here's how. You could've not said it." Love doesn't cut that deal, but love was cut that you might be redeemed. Let's go, church.
Father, help us to be your people. Help us to build on the foundation of your love. Help us to be filled with grace and truth. Help us to be uncompromising. Father, we cannot do this except by your power which mightily works within us. So Lord, we don't want to be on a cruise ship, and we don't want to be arrogant. We want to be like Jesus, and we know the world hated him and the world loved him. Help us be okay with hate. Help us be renowned for love. In Jesus' name, amen.