The Gospel for Imperfect People: Church Members

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Sermon Notes

The Gospel for Imperfect People
“Imperfect Church Members”
John 16
A Word to All of Us
I am happy to pastor this church. I love each one of you dearly. When I say I look forward to worshiping with you I do not say that to sound pastoral, I say that because it is truth. I know that being faithful to church is a struggle to some, giving hard for others, serving consistently is a heavy burden at times. I do not expect any of us to get it all right all the time. I simply love you and want you to stay. I want you to keep trying, keep praying, keep struggling, keep trusting God. I care for you when you give or do not, I will preach to the church when it is easy or hard, if you are late or on time, when your family is strong and when it is weak, through all seasons I want to be with you. All I ask is you stick it out and trust in Jesus through the good and bad of life. Church life isn’t easy, but we are in it together.
Jesus’s Imperfect Group
When we come to John 16 we can learn a lot from the many implications in the text. When I say implications I simply mean the things we as a church know because we have the full revelation of scripture. For instance, we know that the audience that Jesus was addressing in John 16 was an imperfect group for the scriptures state we are all sinners, including Jesus’s own group. The text is not written to say: “Hear thou me you group of damned sinners”. Yet we know what they were, for scripture tells us what we all are. So here we have a group of imperfect people that Jesus loves. A group that will soon abandon Him in His darkest hour (32). Jesus knew every squabble that would arise among them, every failure that would weigh heavy on them, the struggle of the mind that would always be at war in them and still He spoke to them and gave them words of truth, hope, and joy. This is the message I hope to give to the group of Jesus’ imperfect people today.
The Words of Jesus a Real Comfort (1-4)
This chapter opens with Jesus revealing why He is speaking to them with such simple but rich words. His goal is to equip them with knowledge so His group of imperfect people will not abandon their faith. Jesus knew hard times were upon His imperfect group and the inner urge to abandon their faith would be great. Noble ideas would call them away, Storage love (love for family) would seek to elevate itself above Jesus (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26), fear would impose itself on the weak group, physical pain and alienation (which is loneliness) had them in its crosshairs, and self-gratifying pleasure of the world would soon be undressing herself to lure the group away. The disciples were in a dangerous place and Jesus knew it. We are in the same dangerous place and Jesus knows it. Later on, in the pages of scripture as the Christian church was developing and expanding we read that Paul had friends in the faith that abandoned him because they loved the world “Demas has forsaken me loving this present world” 2nd Timothy 4:10. It was from the backdrop of temptation and danger that Jesus spoke to His group and the words He spoke them brings the same comfort to us today that it brought to His original group of followers many years ago. Jesus has a word for every fear and danger in your life.
Each imperfect church member today can have the truth, hope, and joy needed to survive and thrive as a follower of Jesus, by believing the following implications in John 16:
I. Though Imperfect You are Important (5-7)
The first implication we observe is that Jesus planned to return to the Father. Jesus was not talking about taking a vacation but suffering and death. The disciples did not like the sound of that. He tells them, and us, that going to the cross is a plus for us. Embracing the cross and becoming a curse is how He planned to show us our worth. You are very important to this local body of believers because of Jesus.
a. A Word of Hope
As a church member your importance is measured by what Jesus has said about you and accomplished for you. It is easy and also dangers to measure your value in a local body of believers by any other factor than Jesus’s teaching and cross. Our self-worth as an individual, or church, is not wrapped up in self, but the Savior, we are valuable because Jesus is valuable. Very valuable people have walked in and out of these doors because they were measuring themselves with another metric. You matter to me, you matter to this church, but most of all you matter to Jesus. Your many imperfections do not make you worthless. It is what God has declared about you in His Son the makes you an in-expendable commodity in His Kingdom.
In a large vast kingdom filled with riches and power was the most noble and handsome prince. Living outside his kingdom was the most hideous people. Tattered clothes that reeked of rot, breath ridden with the worse kind of halitosis, and absent of all manners of good will and politeness. One day the Prince set out on a ride to see the farthest corners of his kingdom and beyond. When he crossed over the border and came to the hideous people he encounters a lady most hideous to the 5 senses and decided to love her. He wrapped her in a royal robe placed her on his very horse and took her to the palace where he made her his princess. Not a beautiful sight even cleaned up and clothed right, not educated, not connected, yet she sits in the palace robed in valuable glory. Where did she get such worth? Simply from the indwelling love of the prince for her. We are like the hideous lady who has immense value because Jesus loves us!
Do you rejoice in the value Jesus has given you? Do you attend this church because of how Jesus has valued you?
II. Though Imperfect You are Gifted (13-15)
Jesus was headed to the cross to make a worthless group eternally valuable to God, and at the same time looking beyond the horrific suffering to the coming of the Spirit of God into the lives of His imperfect followers. Jesus going away (resurrection from the dead and accession into heaven) would be beneficial to His group because of the coming of the Holy Spirit to teach, direct, and empower His Church of imperfect people. This second great implication from our text reminds the church how important each member truly is.
The Spirit of God is in each believer knitting us together, directing our steps, and gifting us in various ways for the glory of God and sake of man makes each gifted member a link in an unbreakable chain. It is this very chain that you are a link in that pulls others out of the fiery pits of hell. You are gloriously gifted and the people seated all around you need that gift. It is important for you to stay faithful to this local church because we need you.
We need you to grow, groom, and exercise your spiritual gifting right here with us. My gift of teaching is valuable to the church, your gift of mercy, giving, or hospitality is just as important to the church. Jesus died, rose again, ascended to heaven, and sent the Spirit of God in order for you to be gifted for where you are now. I encourage you to do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Several years ago, two students graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. The highest-ranking student in the class was a blind man named Overton and when he received his honor, he insisted that half the credit should go to his friend, Kaspryzak. They had met one another in school when the armless Mr. Kaspryzak had guided the blind Mr. Overton down a flight of stairs. This acquaintance ripened into friendship and a beautiful example of interdependence. The blind man carried the books which the armless man read aloud in their common study, and thus the individual deficiency of each was compensated for by the other. After their graduation, they planned to practice law together. (Gary Inrig, Life in His Body)
The great violinist, Nicolo Paganini, willed his marvelous violin to Genoa — the city of his birth — but only on condition that the instrument never be played upon. It was an unfortunate condition, for it is a peculiarity of wood that as long as it is used and handled, it shows little wear. As soon as it is discarded, it begins to decay. The exquisite, mellow-toned violin has become worm-eaten in its beautiful case, valueless except as a relic. The moldering instrument is a reminder that a life withdrawn from all service to others loses its meaning. (Bits & Pieces, June 25, 1992.)
We need to be put to use for the glory of God and sake of man. It was for this purpose that Jesus died, rose again, and sent the Holy Spirit. To do anything less is to make the work of Christ of none effect in our lives.
Will you stay and use the gift God has given you for His glory and our sake?
III. Though Imperfect You are Responsible (31-33)
The third implication is both a warning and encouragement. Jesus has died, rose again, ascended into heaven, and given gifts to men. We as Jesus’ imperfect group are now valuable, gifted, and accountable to God for how we respond to these truths. Jesus taught the disciples in parables about being responsible with what God has given. Each person here today will be accountable to God for how they utilized their redemption and gifting. Being imperfect does not excuse you from accountability.
On the day of judgment, we can say, the church you gave me was a bore, the preacher was not well spoken, the programs were outdated or far-fetched, or use the famous “I wasn’t getting spiritually fed” (says the conservative Christian that doesn’t believe in government handouts). Whatever excuse you can think of to avoid your responsibility as a saved gifted imperfect person before God will not be accepted. Jesus said the perfect words to imperfect people and then the responsibility to obey is on us. His disciples scattered on their own by no fault of Jesus. If you chose to scattered it is on you, and no one else. Today I want to encourage you to remain faithful and serve in all your imperfections because it is the will of God for your life. Jesus redeemed and gifted you that you may stand before Him accountable on the day of judgment awaiting great reward.
Will you serve God and be faithful in your imperfections as a church member?