Turn to Eph. 4
Goals help measure success and effectiveness. Goals help focus resources, people, efforts. Goals can create teamwork. Goals help prevent failure, stagnation and complacency. Every successful team has a goal to win. Every successful company has a goal to have the best product.
Without goals, how do we, as individuals and as a church evaluate our effectiveness? Without a destination - how do we know where we are going, and how will we know if we’ve arrived? If we have no goals, nothing to work toward, nothing to accomplish - then where will we be in 6 months, 12 months, 24 months? We’ll probably be in the same place as we are today. In some areas that’s good, but in other areas, not so good - especially when it comes to the gospel and the eternal destination of souls.
We don’t want to be in the same place in 12 months. So we see, for the Christian and for the church, some goals, vision, something that is beyond us is necessary. God’s goals are not measured by our comfort, our personal taste, or to maintain status quo … godly goals need to be in alignment with God’s will and God’s plans.
This morning, I want to present to you what I believe should be our goal, our vision for Sunnyside. I’m not saying God gave me this vision in a dream - no bright light from Heaven with angelic voices. This is the culmination of much prayer, and processing and many conversations ….
I believe God us calling us to unify our time, energy, our talents, strengths and spiritual gifts to
Help People Reach Their Full Potential In Christ: Spiritually, Physically, Emotionally.
I’ll talk more about that later, but for now, is there really a full potential to attain? I believe so - we could look at many places in the Bible - but let’s look at Eph. 4.
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself. Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
If we are to help people reach their full potential in Christ, and reach that potential ourselves, there are several things to understand.
We see in verse 1 that
1) Everyone is invited.
Scripture is clear - God desires that none should perish. He wants all to come to a saving knowledge of Christ. That’s just a universal biblical truth - that the good news about Jesus Christ is for everyone - you name any religion, you name any ethnic group, you name any occupation, you name any social class, you name any problem - the gospel of Jesus Christ is available for everyone - the invitation is for all.
We should not withhold that invitation - we’re preventing others from reaching their full potential in Christ.
Not only is everyone invited to salvation, but we who are in Christ are to live a life worthy of that invitation. We are to live in a such a way that reflects our appreciation for God’s grace and mercy. Furthermore, we are to live in such a way that others see the effects of salvation - they see our transformation. And verse 2 - 6 encourage us to live in a state of humility, patience, gentleness and unity.
We we’re talking about goals just a moment ago - right there are two goals to adopt in helping people reach their potential in Christ - make any necessary changes to invite people into the Kingdom - and to make any necessary changes to live a life worthy of my calling.
Everyone is invited -
2) Everyone is gifted.
We’ll talk more about spiritual gifts in future sermons, but let it suffice for now that verse 7 is clear, Christ has given every believer a spiritual gift. This gift is grace - charis in Greek. It is unmerited favor – and Jesus has given gifts to each believer, not just grace for salvation, but grace for accomplishing His work in this world. These gifts are not based upon talent, skills, personality, status - they’re not based on anything other than Christ who is the one who gives the gift and our being in a right relationship with Him.
It is not about our ability, but our availability.
Am I willing to receive the gift that He has given and use it for His glory.
Now, I believe this with all my heart. God has a spiritual gift for each person in this room. If you are a believer in Christ, you have a gift. It’s between you and the Lord to discover it, and employ it. If you have not received Christ as your Savior, you have a gift waiting for you. The requirement, however, is to confess Jesus as Lord, and believe and obey.
You can read about spiritual gifts in Romans 12, 1 Cor. 13, Eph. 4, and we’ll get there later, but understand God blesses us with supernatural abilities, to accomplish His will and His plan in our lives and in the world. We’re in a supernatural battle - we need supernatural empowerment and weapons.
This also means, each person has a potential in Christ - physically, spiritually and emotionally. He has a purpose for each person. Each person has something to offer for the building up of the Kingdom of God - the building up of His Church.
Recognize you have been given a gift – discover what it is – through prayer, through Bible study, through service, and through trial and error.
Even though we have different gifts, notice in verse 11-12 that
3) Everyone is a Builder.
You and I have a responsibility to use what God has given - to do what - build up the Church. And He will hold us accountable - read the parable of the Talents. With a gift comes a responsibility to build.
Now, God has given apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors and teachers to the church. Why? To equip God’s people (the saints) for ministry. You have a gift from God, and it is the responsibility of some, like myself to help you use your gift to build up the church. In a sense, you are the primary church builders. Building up means to encourage and edify one another, but it also means to expand - to bring others into the body of Christ.
It’s like being at a construction site and I’m the foreman. I observe you and think to myself, so-and-so would be good at laying floor - so I ask …. So-and-so would be good at putting up drywall - so I ask …. So-and-so would be good at putting in the electric or plumbing. You go get lunch. You go get supplies …. And you, just stay away from the anything breakable.
I want to place you in positions where God can use you, where HE can be glorified through you, where you can help the mission of the church in winning souls. But often there’s resistance - for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s because you think it’s not in you, you can’t …. May I remind you of the words of Jesus “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” And then Paul said, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I’m not saying I get it right every time - I don’t, but some when they say no, aren’t saying no to me - they’re saying no to God.
Look at verse
He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
You have a gift, you have a responsibility, you have a place to use that gift - and it’s to build the church - to help people reach their full potential in Christ.
Everyone is invited, everyone is gifted, everyone is a builder,
4) Everyone is called to Mature
Listen to verses 13 and 14 again - Building the church will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ (that’s the full potential). We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
Everyone has different goals in life, and different places to serve - God has a unique plan for each person, however, there is at least one goal that we all share – that is our maturity. We’re not talking age or how long we’ve been saved.
Christian maturity is defined and evaluated by our likeness to Christ Jesus. Christ is our standard - and no one else.
So here we see in verses 13 and 14 that everyone has a potential, a fullness in Christ to reach. We see this also in
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Let me explain a little bit about maturity - what it is and what it isn’t.
Christ-like maturity is our goal. 1 John 2:6, if we claim to be in Him we should live like Him. Maturity – teleiōs (τέλειος) in Greek - is a word which we should become familiar with, for the Word of God calls us to it.
Teleiōs means perfect – but not as in perfection, but rather as completeness or fully grown (maturity).
On the screen you see a Vincent Van Gogh painting - Sunflowers. Is this painting perfect? Yes and no. It is not perfect in the sense of being an exact replica of sunflowers. It’s obvious it’s a painting. By the way, this imperfect painting sold for $40 million. Not bad for imperfection. But it is perfect in the sense of being complete for the purposes for which the artist intended.
See, the artist knows from the beginning what he is painting. And what he’s creating. And he knows the purpose. And the artist knows when to apply the last stroke of the brush. He knows when the painting is complete. Then he hangs it up for others to enjoy. The artist knows the imperfections more than anyone - but he hangs it up anyway - he’s not concerned about the imperfections, he’s concerned about the purpose.
Teleiōs - perfect- kind of has two components: first, it’s a process - it means becoming complete in Christ, it means becoming like Him more and more. Through faith, and knowledge of Christ (experiential) - the more we know Him, become intimate with Him, the more we become like Him, the more perfect we become.
The second component of teleiōs is fulfilling your intended purpose and call for which God created you (Eph. 2:10). When you use the spiritual gift He has given you, when you do what He has called you to do - you are being teleiōs - perfect. If God has called you to teach, then teach. If God has called you to hospitality, then practice hospitality. If God has called you to lead, then lead. Use whatever God has given you and so be perfect, while simultaneously strive toward Christian perfection - maturity - Christ-likeness. Understand, that Christian maturity encompasses all areas – spiritual, physical, emotional - get there later.
He's given you a gift, He’s given you a place, our goals is maturity, but remember, every part has to work together - John Calvin said -
“No member of the body of Christ is endowed with such perfection as to be able, without the assistance of others, to supply his own necessities.” - John Calvin
Every brother and sister in Christ needs every brother and sister in Christ.
That’s why I believe, that not only do we need to embrace the vision ourselves, but we need to work together to Help people (our church, our community) reach their full potential in Christ: spiritually, physically and emotionally.
How do we get there? We’re going to start having conversations. Start planning goals in accordance with the vision. In unity, we’ll begin to move in this direction. But, for now let me end with this:
I’m asking that each person begin to assimilate this vision into your prayers.
Then, evaluate what you do here at Sunnyside - begin to ask yourself some questions, and bring these to the Lord.
Am I serving in the capacity that God desires?
Am I using my spiritual gifts, my talents in a way that is pleasing to God - in a manner that He wants me to. If you are serving and you’re growing weary – either need a break or you’re in the wrong position. If you’re operating outside of God’s call and gifting, you’ll burn out, lack joy …
How am I building up the church? What goals can …?
How am I helping others reach their full potential in Christ? Or what can I start do to help others reach their potential …? Or, what do I need to reach my potential? Identify what’s stopping you.
Lastly, how can I help you?