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From the series Catch the Vision

People lose their way when they lose their why.

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People lose their way when they lose their “why.”  Some Christians will live ten, twenty, thirty, forty years and never fully understand. The big picture of “why.” Why God created – His love, His concern, why there is evil, why Jesus came, why animal sacrifice.

Why that there was this perfect environment and there is going to be another one: one called “Eden,” the other called “heaven.” This entire story – His story – we often call “history” and you are writing a story every, single day.

But here is the point: people who lose their “why” lose their way. When was the last time you asked the question, are you ready, “Why am I here?”

Why did God create me? Why is there so much evil? Why did Jesus come? Why is Jesus going to come back? And what in the world does that have to do with me?”

Three very critical “why” questions is what I want to talk about as we start this series called Catch the Vision because this is God’s vision. You’ve seen the beginning, you know how it’s going to end, God is at work, He is working all around the world in supernatural, amazing ways.

And there is also, I would say, evil in our day like few of us have ever witnessed in our lifetime. So here’s our three questions.

Question number one is: Why does the Church exist? Not this particular church. The Church in general. Why does the Church exist?

Second, why does this church exist?

And then the last one I think will be most interesting. Why do you exist? Is it more than: I want to be happy, I’ve got a good job, I hope…

Why, from God’s perspective, do you exist? Are you ready?

I want you, if you will, to open your Bibles to John chapter 1. And I am going to suggest that the purpose of the Church is to fulfill Jesus’ mission when He came to earth. The name for the Church is: the body of Christ. When Jesus came to earth in a physical body, He had a mission.

He said, “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” He had a mission. He said, “The Son of man has come to seek and save that which is lost.” He was on a rescue mission of fallen, evil world to restore and forgive.

In fact, He said, “The Son of man comes not to be ministered unto but to minister,” and here’s His purpose statement, “and to give His life a ransom for many.” So He is going to pay for the sins of the world.

And we get that. There is life, it’s a quality of life, He came to bring eternal life. But why He came, He has a four-fold mission, to accomplish that new life for you and me and whoever would take Him up on this absolutely stunning offer.

Mission number one: He came, are you ready for this? Jot this down. …to explain God. Have you ever wondered: What is God really like? Right? What is God really like? Men, women, is there a God? And if there is one, what is He really like? Jesus came to explain exactly what God is like.

John chapter 1, Verse 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God,” outrageous statement. “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him, nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

So what we know about this Word is that it was in the beginning, it was with God, it is, He is God, and He created everything.

Skip down to find out who this Word is, verse 14, “And the Word became flesh,” Jesus, “and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, glory of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John,” speaking of John the Baptist, “bore witness of Him and cried out saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I,”’” – why? “‘for He existed before me. For out of His fullness we have received grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

Now, don’t miss verse 18, “No man has seen God at anytime, the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He,” Jesus, “has explained Him.”

Jesus came to explain who God is. How He lived, what He said, what He did. He would say to a group of people, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” If you want to know: How does God feel about people who have made really, really bad mistakes and have done terrible things and are really sorry for it? You see Jesus forgiving. If you want to know what God is like when He sees corruption and evil and hurt, you watch Him cast out a demon. When you want to see what God is like when we are arrogant and proud and say, “I don’t want You. I’ll do my own thing,” you see how Jesus responds to the Pharisees.

In Luke chapter 4, we are going to get the second reason. He came to bring, He’s the king. He created all that there is. There will come a day, at the end of all time, where every knee will bow, every tongue will confess, on earth and in heaven and under the earth, that He is Lord of lords and King of kings.

He will consummate history. The King has come to the planet that He made and the people that He has created. And He loves them deeply. And has done this, theologians call this “hypostatic union” where He is fully God and fully man and veiled the glory of God so that He could live in a human body so we could know what God is like and so He could bring the kingdom. And the kingdom is nothing more or nothing less than the way life is supposed to work in God’s economy.

Well, how did He do it? Well, first, He taught about it. The context begins in verse 13. He has just finished overcoming the temptations of the enemy, the devil. Luke 4:13, “And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him for a more opportune time. Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit and news about Him spread throughout all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and He was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth where He had been brought up and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and He stood up to read.

“And the book,” or literally, “the scroll of the book of Isaiah was handed to Him and He opened the scroll and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel,’” or, “the good news to the poor. He sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

Do you see the characteristics of this kingdom? The blind, the poor, the marginalized, the forgotten, the prisoners – not just politically but the prisoners of their sin. Those who are downtrodden, those who are powerless, those that the world system crushes and says don’t matter. And He closed the book. And He gave it back to the attendant. And He sat down.

And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him and He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” This is a Messianic passage. Jesus is saying, “I am the Messiah. I am bringing the kingdom.”

If you read the book of Mark, it’s the earliest of the gospels written. And it is written for the Roman audience and so it doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about this or that. It goes immediate, forty-one times the word “immediately” is in the book of Mark. And it’s like Jesus came, baptized, ministry, bang!

And as soon as this happens, you know the first thing Jesus does? He is bringing the kingdom. And so in the synagogue, the next time there is a demon possessed man and he speaks out, the kingdom comes when goodness crushes evil and so Jesus says to the demon, “Come out of him!” and it does. And people are going, “Whoa!”
And the next thing we find, He goes out and there is a leper, a marginalized person no one will touch. And Jesus doesn’t just speak a word, He touches him and he heals the leper.

And then we have a woman caught in adultery. And we have the pain of death and He raises to life a widow’s son. And Jesus takes the values of the kingdom – humility, kindness, love, justice – and He flips it upside down and those who recognize their need.

Matthew 5 through 7 He says, If you want to know what a kingdom person looks like, they are poor in Spirit. They are merciful. They have a pure heart. And He says, I have come to bring the way God operates and the way life is supposed to operate.

He is bringing the kingdom to earth.

The third thing that Jesus came to do was not just explain God and answer the question: What is God really like? And He didn’t just come to bring the kingdom to help us understand: This is how life is supposed to work. But He made disciples.

In Matthew chapter 4, He said to a group of people after praying very seriously and seeing their heart and their interest, “Follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men.” He didn’t say, “Come to a meeting.” He didn’t say, “Just believe a certain set of lists.” He didn’t say that, “I want you to be religious.”

He said, A disciple is a follower. I want you. I am the Rabbi. I have come from God, I am the Messiah, I am asking you to align your life, your heart, your priorities, your relationships, your money, your future, and your dreams behind Me and follow Me. And as you follow Me in your lifestyle, I will make you a person who is used by God to bring the kingdom to other people, to explain God to other people.

And so Peter and James and John drop their nets and they leave a business. And one by one by one, He makes disciples.

It’s a very different world now to be a follower of Jesus. You think that what has happened in Paris, San Bernardino, Syria – you think those things are going to be isolated? You are living in a day where what it means to be a follower, the reason we are talking about this is you need to step back and you need to go, Whoa! Why, why am I here? Why is this church here? Why is there the Church? And what does it really mean in our day? I’ve got to catch the vision of a real follower.

Because for some, they lose their life. And that only makes sense if there is a real heaven that you actually believe in, not just intellectually agree with.

The fourth thing that Jesus did to bring life: He surrendered His life. Hey, no one took it from Him. It says the Father gave the Son. But Jesus willfully, instead of retaliating, instead of calling angels down, understanding that when He would give His life, surrender it, then you and I would receive life.

Mark 10:45 says, “Even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto or to serve, but give His life,” and the little word for there is an interesting Greek word. It means: for the sake of and in the place of. “…give His life for a ransom for many.” In other words, you were ransomed out of sin. You were bought out of the slave market of sin and death so that a space could be created, even in a sinful world, where you, under the covering of the blood of Jesus, could have intimate, free, voluntary fellowship with the Creator of the universe. Who, for reasons I have no idea, has chosen to make us the object of His affection.

So, why is the Church here? It’s to complete the mission. Every ethnic group and all kinds of “Christian” groups, there are a people who have a personal, loving relationship with Jesus who believe God’s Word, who are following Him – that’s why the Church exist. Can we do a quick review?

The Church exists to fulfill the mission Jesus started on earth. The mission then was to explain God, to bring the kingdom, to make disciples, and to surrender His life. Have you got it?
Question number two: Why does this church exist? I would like to suggest the following definition. I believe this church exists to complete the mission that Jesus started while on earth in this specific arena and this specific time.

We live in a unique sphere. We don’t think of it that way but we’re to complete the mission of Jesus in our sphere of influence, and then the nation, and the world, in this specific moment in history. Think of that!

So why are we here? Why aren’t we in Texas or North Carolina? Why aren’t we in Sudan? Why aren’t we in India? Why aren’t we in Mumbai? You are here because the sovereignty of God has placed this church in the Silicon Valley at this time with a level of wisdom, strength, leadership, education, wealth and the most multi-cultural, diverse place in all of the United States.

Whoa. That’s called stewardship. That’s called responsibility. So it would seem that God wants to take little pockets of heaven on job sites and little pockets of heaven for stay-at-home moms and little pockets of heaven where people are working out and having coffee all over the Silicon Valley.
So how would Jesus’ mission be accomplished if our job is to fulfill His mission in our unique sphere of influence in this amazing time of history?

See, we are getting to where you can, a priest gets his throat cut one day, fourteen people blown up by a bomb, a truck goes in over here. Have you gotten numb yet? Or had your heart ripped out? You know what will happen to you? Like the frog in the pail of water – slowly, slowly, slowly – you will hear about people dying here, there, everywhere. And until it gets on your doorstep you will think, somehow, that you are immune. And you are not and I am not. What it means to be a follower in our day is going to be completely different.

And so are you ready for this? You know why we exist? This will be very complex, get your pen out for your notes, we are here to explain God to our world. This church exists to explain who God really is to the Silicon Valley.

People should visit our church, know about our church, be connected to our church and realize, Oh! So this is what God is like!

The second reason we are here as a church is to bring the kingdom of God to the Silicon Valley and to the Bay Area. They should meet bosses and supervisors and moms and dads who: “Why do you parent like that?” “How could you ever forgive your ex after what they did?” “Why would you spend your time and your money doing that?” They should meet people who say, “Corruption is intolerable. The sex trade is intolerable. Evil is wrong.” And God has given us education, leadership, resources, time, and money that is not about us.

We want to take pockets of heaven all throughout. And our church, collectively, corporately, is here to explain God in partnership with other groups. To bring the kingdom in real life, real time, into homes and businesses.
You know why we exist? This church exists to explain who God really isto the Silicon Valley.People should visit our church, know about our church, be connected to our church and realize, Oh! So this is what God is like!

The second reason we are here as a church is to bring the kingdom of God to the Silicon Valley and to the Bay Area. They should meet bosses and supervisors and moms and dads who: “Why do you parent like that?” “How could you ever forgive your ex after what they did?” “Why would you spend your time and your money doing that?” They should meet people who say, “Corruption is intolerable. The sex trade is intolerable. Evil is wrong.” And God has given us education, leadership, resources, time, and money that is not about us.

We want to take pockets of heaven all throughout. And our church, collectively, corporately, is here to explain God in partnership with other groups. To bring the kingdom in real life, real time, into homes and businesses.

And, are you ready? To make disciples. What did Jesus do? He met needs in people and then He taught them and then He trained them and loved them and then He gave them opportunity and experience as they were following Him. And He said, “Now you go make disciples.”

Our church is here. Matthew 28. Jesus said as He left for the universal Church and for every local church, “All power in heaven and earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, into every ethnic group and make followers,” authentic followers and disciples, “teaching them to obey everything that I taught you, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” And, by the way, don’t get uptight. “I will be with you always, even unto the ends of the earth.”

So we don’t come because it’s nice or there’s good children’s ministry or the worship is nice or, Thank God it is air conditioned with how hot it has been. We come here as a group, this church exists to fulfill in our space/time history and unique city an opportunity to explain God and to bring the kingdom and make disciples. And the last one is kind of hard: And to die. To die to ego as a church, to die to worrying about what people think or buildings or reputation and to say, “We want to be a church that gives our life away to help other people, especially other people who no one cares about.”

About seven years ago, we codified what this would look like on our journey. Our vision statement, you have probably walked out the doors many, many times and maybe read it at least once, maybe not.

But it’s a long statement that has a preferable future, has a little bit of strategy in it, and then it has the heart of our mission. Follow along. “This church exists to be a catalyst,” we don’t have to be famous, we don’t have to be big, “a catalyst to transform the Bay Area from a place of spiritual darkness to a global, strategic teaching and discipleship center for the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

It’s a picture of what the Bay is known for and the transformation of what it can be known for. That’s vision. It’s a preferable future. And God has done a lot of things along those lines, at least I have gotten to see in the last seven years.

We realize we can’t do it alone, so we partner with Living on the Edge and like-minded churches who take God’s Word and what we do all around the world.

And then, finally, it’s to produce Romans 12 Christians here, there, and everywhere. Romans 12 Christians, if you’re new, that’s our code for a disciple.

See, people say, “I am a believer, I am a disciple,” and you look at their life and there is no correlation. Romans 12 outlines, from Scripture, if you’re a genuine follower, you love God and Jesus says, “Follow Me,” and you are following Him, I will tell you this: in a moment in time you have surrendered all that you are and all that you have and said, “I am in.”

And you are living a life that is separate from the world’s values. You have your struggles and I have mine but your path and your life is separate from the world’s values.

You have a sober self-assessment. You know what you are good at, what you’re not so good at, and where you need other people. And you are serving in love. You are connected to other people and you are meeting needs and they are meeting needs. You have love and accountability and community. And, finally, you are supernaturally responding to evil with good. That’s Romans 12.

Now, here is a little moment so just, some of you are thinking, Man, that guy is really fired up this morning. He is.

You are living in a time in history where the Church, filled with regular people like you and me will either take a step and be genuine followers at greater cost than ever before and make a tremendous difference like what we heard is happening in Ethiopia, or you will be passive, fatalistic and you will watch this world continue to change and evil and corruption grow.

And I will tell you, there is a sovereign God who is much at work, who is waiting to hear from a people who would cry out and say, “I am in.”

The last question: Why are you here? Now, we know this mission that Jesus started was to give life, to explain God, to bring the kingdom. We know that it is to make disciples of ordinary, regular people.

Every one of those early disciples were uneducated, apart from a couple. God uses ordinary people. In fact, some of you just might be too smart, I’m not sure. But I don’t think the Lord will hold that against you.

But I think what it will do is there is a stewardship for all of us. What are we going to do with our lives? Why are we here? If we just looked at your behavior or my behavior is it like: I am here to be happy, I am here to be successful, I am here to impress other people, I am here so someday, someway people will think blah, blah, blah, blah. Why are you here?

My prayer for you is that when you put your head on the pillow tonight, you will just be, literally, shaken with the idea of answering the question before the Maker of the universe and His Son who died for you: Why am I here? What am I doing with my life? Why does my schedule look like this? Why are my priorities going that way? Why am I so uptight? Why do I worry so much? Why am I so driven?

Let me answer this last question and if you are taking notes, it probably won’t come as a huge surprise, but you are here to fulfill your irreplaceable part as a member of His body to fulfill Christ’s mission. You are irreplaceable.

I have a physical body. Jesus has the spiritual body called “the Church.” This is a local church. Now, in my physical body, I can cut off that finger and cut off that hand. I can actually get poked in the eye – I hope it never happens. I can still function, right? But I will never function the way I was intended.

See, if you don’t fulfill your irreplaceable joint, ligament, connection in the body of Christ, this church will not explain God how we could. We won’t bring the kingdom how we could. We won’t make disciples how we could. And we won’t die and give life to other people until every, single one of us is fulfilling that role that God has for us.

And so can I tell you your mission? Are you ready? Your mission is to vividly explain God to your family, your friends, and your co-workers. That’s the goal, every day. Every, single day. Your apartment, your house, you’re married, you’re single. You get up every day, your life, your behavior, your speech, your kindness, your values, what you watch, what you don’t watch, who your friends are, what you do with your money, what you do with your time. You are this billboard: This is what God is like, imperfectly of course. That is the will of God for you, here, connected in this church.

Secondly, to proactively bring His kingdom to your home, to your work, to your school, to your business. For some of you, He has placed you, you need to bring the kingdom to the whole educational system, to the whole world of technology, to entertainment, to children, to the marginalized. You need to dream a dream that is beyond our own self, “What’s in it for me? Can I be happy? Am I fulfilled?” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

And you need to say, “Why am I here? Why this education? Why this role? Why these resources? How in the world, God? How do I bring Your kingdom first to my family and to my friends?”

The third reason that you are alive is not just to vividly explain God or proactively bring His kingdom, but to intentionally make disciples.

Intentional means there is a plan. There is a schedule. There is an outcome. Intentionally make disciples of your children, your friends, your co-workers, strangers, every ethnic group.

God wants us to make disciples. But you know something? You can’t take someone where you haven’t been. And you can’t do it alone and I can’t do it alone.

And so we are going to ask you to say, “Yeah, I will be a disciple.” And I will rearrange my priorities. I will make some decisions where my work and youth sports take second to God’s calling on my life.” Ask yourself.

And, finally, you will daily surrender your life and you will die. You will die. And it is painful. And, by the way, let’s not sugarcoat dying. When Jesus died on the cross – very, very painful. But Jesus said in John 12:21, “Unless a grain of wheat fall unto the earth and die, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it bears forth much fruit.” He said to His disciples, “You can’t even be My disciple. You need to completely rethink what it means to be a follower.”

It’s not about coming here a couple times a month, listening to some guy talk, reading your Bible a couple of times in the morning, and trying to be a good, moral person. Errr. That is not a disciple.

A disciple is a follower who says, “I am going to deny myself. That’s my ego, my agenda, this is what I want, my way, on my terms. I am going to take up a cross and I am going to kill that. And I am going to follow You.”

Now, here’s the deal. Hebrews 12:2. It gives us a sneak peek into what was going through Jesus’ mind as He was struggling?

And, by the way, this is hard, okay? This isn’t like easy, nice, read a few verses, God is going to give you money, answer all your prayers. This isn’t the prosperity gospel. By the way, that doesn’t work anywhere except in little windows of time in America where people get conned into believing that you can manipulate God.

But Hebrews 12:2 says that as Jesus went through this agonizing process, knew that His death would bring life to whosoever. It says, “Who, for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.”

And can I just ask you guys? Because I have been a little intense and you probably need a break. Just recently, what has it felt like? Think of the last time you really made a pretty significant sacrifice. Like maybe you stopped and helped someone on the side of the road or maybe you had a friend who was really going through it and you just thought, The last thing I want to do, and you spent two hours talking to them.

Or like a group in our young professionals, they found out one of the people was living in their car and in a desperate situation. And four or five got together and they paid off a debt, they got him a car, they loved him.

And when I’m around them, you know what they, what do you feel? Do you tell me, what do you feel when you give your life away? What do you feel when you make a great sacrifice so one of your kids can do this or do that?

What do you feel when you love people deeply and it really costs you something? Anybody? Unbelievable joy.

See, the kingdom is it’s flip flopped. What the world says, it’s upside down. Jesus said, “Give that it will be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over back into your lap.”

As you give your time, as you give your life, as you care about people, as you live the kingdom way, God pours out grace. And the whole world is thinking, Oh, if I just had enough money, if I meet the right person, if I had this kind of car, if I had this kind of house, if we finally go public, if I could own my own business, if all my kids turn out right, blah, blah blah, blah, blah, blah. There are a lot of people who have all that. And they are putting white powder up their nose.

There are some who making twenty or twenty-five million because they can hit or bounce or sing or do something.

The most beautiful, wealthy people in the world, their lives seem to be just on the front of grocery store magazines, of tragedy.

Now, God may bless you deeply in some of those areas. You know what? Don’t feel guilty. Enjoy it! And be generous with what He has given you.

I am starting a little project with my wife. And, as normal, she is ahead of me. But we are in one of those seasons where we are asking: What should the next season look like? And I came across a book called Living Forward by Michael Hyatt. And it’s a layman’s way to develop your own life plan.

And in the early chapters, they ask you to think of the people who are most important to you. And then he paints this picture and I am going to paint it for you.

I want you, right now, to imagine, it’s a little morbid. But since it’s going to happen you might as well face it, you died. But you are invisible and you get to do what most people don’t. You get to see all the people who came to your funeral. Visualize probably family on the first couple of rows, friends, maybe some people from work, maybe a neighbor, maybe someone in your small group.

So you’re dead. And you do this exercise. And I just did it yesterday. What would you want God to say about your life when you die? What would you want Him to say?

As I wrote out about a paragraph, I wept. I thought, Wow, this is what I really want You to say. And I came to grips with, If I really want you to say this, there are some things that probably I need to address.

And then I wrote a paragraph. If you’re married, what would you want your spouse to say? How do you want them to remember you? What would they actually say about you? “My wife was…” “My husband was…”

Tthat day is coming. And none of them are going to say, “Oh!” By the time you die, for most of us, “He or she was so beautiful.” Or the big company that you did. It’s going to be relational. Believe me, I have done this scores of times. I have buried lots of people.

And afterwards, then when you go to a little house and people eat those little cheese sandwiches and tell stories, they are going to tell stories about you. What do you want your kids to say about you? What do you want your grandkids to say about you? What would your friends say about you?

And this process is where you actually write that down and then you say, I can’t do this. But I would want them to say these things so I am going to now work it backwards and I am going to realign my life and my time and my priorities in relationships. And I hope I’ve got some time, okay? But I don’t know.

But I am praying that when my wife, if I get to go first, I hope she will read my paragraph and I hope she will say, “You know, that’s what Chip was to me. That’s the kind of man he was, that’s the kind of husband he was, that’s the kind of father he was, that’s how he led, that’s how he provided, that’s the way he interacted with our grandkids. That’s what he did in my life.” I want her to be able to read that paragraph and say, ‘That’s true.”

And to do that, I desperately need God and I have some work to do. How about you?