Sunday

A New Reality

Apparent Hopelessness

The painful realities of this world we live in are constant. Moment by moment we are reminded that something has gone terribly wrong. We're reminded that we, humanity, are broken, and that no matter how hard we strive, we can't fix ourselves or the mess we're in. Through terror, war, injustice, and oppression we're reminded of the sickness of our hearts. Through sickness, pain, cancer, and death we're reminded of the fragility of our bodies. Our hopes, so quickly placed in the fleeting chance that someone or something might come along and intervene thus making things right, are in a moment dashed, and we're quickly reminded once again of the world in which we live, and we're left once again, hopeless.

Not All Is Lost

But not all is lost. The bible tells us that a person has come to put things back the way they were intended. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus entered into human history as a humble baby, born of a virgin, in a manger. There was nothing in this baby that should have caused us to immediately recognize him, and if not for God shining his star brightly over him (Matthew 2:2), no one would have. This baby would grow into a boy who would eventually grow into a man with the simple identity of a carpenter's son (Matthew 13:55). But eventually, Jesus would enter the scene in a new way. He would enter with power and authority that was formerly unseen, and with a message that was unheard (Mark 1:14-15, 27). Jesus entered human history as the light that would shine into the darkest of places, exposing the sins and brokenness of humanity and revealing our need for a savior (Mark 4:21; John 1:9; 8:12). He came proclaiming a kingdom that was unlike any other kingdom, a kingdom that would begin so humble and small, but would eventually spread its growth throughout the entire world (Mark 4:30-32). 

This kingdom did not come without a cost. Jesus went to a cross and died a brutal death in place of humanity. The death he died was to take upon himself the wrath of God that is due to all people for our rebellion against The Creator. The death he died was to defeat the enemies of Satan and sin, and the ultimate enemy death. Three days after his death, he rose from the grave, and in so doing he won the victory that we couldn't on our own, and he now sits in heaven at the right hand of God as the ruling King of all. 

In Christ alone is our hope for the ways of this world to be changed once and for all, and because he has already been dashed at the cross, our hopes for a new reality remain intact. 

A New Reality

The bible ends by telling us what the new reality will look like! 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, more pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:1-4)

Some of us are without hope. We see and feel the realities of this life, and despair and lostness overwhelms us. 

The declaration of the gospel is that there is hope! Jesus came proclaiming his kingdom, and he promised that he will one day come again and bring it to its completion. He is coming! We have hope. Reality will be made new.

Christ is all!

Pastor Mike 

   

The Value Of The Church Gathered

In Taproot Church, we gather every Sunday morning to worship Jesus, sit under the preaching of God's word, and be equipped for the work of ministry in everyday life.

We also gather in Gospel Communities (GC's). GC's are small groups of people, joined by the gospel, pursuing the renewal and redemption of their community together for the purpose of being discipled and making disciples of Jesus.

The Sunday Gathering and Gospel Communities are invaluable pieces to the ministry and mission of Taproot Church. These are two of the primary ways in which we're able to press into the reason for our existence, which is to know Jesus and make him known.

Below are some reasons why we value these gatherings the way we do.

1. It's biblical. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." The early church valued the gathering of the saints to the point that correction was necessary if there was a neglecting of it. It was in the context of the church gathered that people were encouraged in the midst of all that is difficult in this life. 

2. It reflects God. The God of the bible is Triune. This means that he has existed in perfect community for all eternity. Being his image bearers, we long for this kind of community, but sin has distorted it. Now, instead of enjoying the presence of God and others, we would rather hide (Genesis 1:8). In the finished work of Jesus, the type of community we see in God is restored to his church, and we reflect that to the world. "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

3. Discipleship. The commission of Jesus to his disciples is to make disciples. A disciple is a follower of Jesus. Discipleship is the process of learning how to follow Jesus. This does not happen alone. It also doesn't happen in the context of a one and a half hour service on Sunday mornings (though this is vital). Discipleship is the process of a lifetime and it's greatest value comes when we are gathered with others who are learning how to follow Jesus along with us. It's in the context of the gathered saints where our weaknesses and sins are revealed, and it's in these gatherings where we are most likely to be pointed to Jesus. Proverbs says, "Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement" (Proverbs 18:1). Living life in this type of community is often not easy, but it's always worth it.

4. Equipping and maturity. Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, saying, "And God gave the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood" (Ephesians 4:11-13). Paul is not talking about offices in the church, but gifting. In other words, there are those in the church who still operate in this APEST model of gifting, and they've been given these gifts for the equipping of the saints. (We'll talk more about APEST another time). Furthermore, the hope in this is that the saints would reach maturity in Christ, that is, that all followers of Jesus would know Jesus more fully, and realize their value in the gathering of the church. If left to a small group of people or one "dynamic" preaching pastor, the local church is sure to never see real maturity. This isn't always the case, but often it is. We are equipped and we mature when we gather and are equipped through the gifting of many. 

5. Whole body ministry. The church is referred to as a body (1 Corinthians 12), which requires all parts in order to function well. Often, there are several parts of the body which are neglected or not used at all, but when the church places value in the gathering of the church, the whole body is included in ministry. This is why our Sunday gatherings are not referred to as services. The goal of the Sunday morning gathering is not simply to serve you, but to serve you by equipping you, helping you to see that you are a vital part of the ministry of the church. You are then equipped to go out and serve not only in the local church, but in your city, neighborhood, workplace, schools, etc. In this, you are doing the work of ministry in your everyday life.

6. To be sent. When saints are equipped, saints are sure to be sent. This is a difficult but beautiful part of being the church. The work we do is in hopes that more would come to know, follow Jesus, and be gathered with Jesus' Church. This happens as people are sent.

7. Worship. The final thing I want to say about the gathering of the church is that it's an act of worship to King Jesus. He paid the price for our sins on the cross, rose victoriously from the grave, and is alive and well, ruling and reigning at the right hand of God today! All this is for the church. Jesus loves his church. We are his bride, and no matter how messed up we tend to be, he sees us as perfect, beautiful, and holy! When we gather, we do so because of the love and finished work of Jesus. 

Christ is all!

Pastor Mike