Develop Friendships

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 8/18/2019

The current world population is 7.7 billion people and growing. This number is so astronomical, it defies imagination. If I told you to consider the stars in the night sky (Like God told Abraham), it wouldn’t be enough. The naked eye can see no more than 10,000 stars at a given time. If each person on earth were a grain of sand, 7.7 billion people could be represented by these boxes. A 1x1 foot cube holds 1 billion grains of sand. Just one of these boxes, represents the whole population of North/South America. An 8 inch cube represents the whole population of the United States (330 million)! A 2.5 inch cube represent the number of “Unauthorized immigrants” (10.5 million, or 3%).

Let me give you a more significant number: 3.4! All these years we were told there are six degrees of separation between Kevin Bacon and every person on earth. The number is actually 3.4. Right now, you are 3.4 relationships away from influencing anyone on planet Earth, from the least to the greatest. We’re profoundly connected!

Do you remember that story in Genesis when mankind set out to build a tower as high as heaven—the tower of Babel? God sees that their intention is evil, so he confuses their language, and scatters mankind across the face of the earth? Technology is bringing everyone back together. Google Translate will translate anything you want to say into a hundred languages. On my phone, I discovered an app called Bixby Translate. If I focus my camera on any text, in any language, it recognizes the language AND superimposes the English translation over the image! On Facebook I’ve befriended wood carvers from all over the world. Facebook Messenger translates our conversations into each other languages! I also noticed that every time I type “God” it changes it to “good”. Those Atheist gremlins!

I believe we are experience a Digital Pentecost. In Acts 2, after Jesus was raised from the dead, people from all over the world were gathered in Jerusalem. With the roar of a tornado, the Holy Spirit comes upon the believers like tongues of fire, and they began to “speak in tongues…” Acts 2:5-8 says, “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

I don’t give Google/Facebook/Bixby the glory. The Bible tells us in Christ Jesus God is reconciling the whole world to Himself. Just like God used the Roman highways on Pentecost, he’s using Digital highways today, to enable His Church to proclaim the wonders of God in every language, and on every continent, on this planet.

Remember that passage we studied in Colossians 1:15-20? The Son (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” So what is this God of the Universe doing? “[Jesus] is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Nowadays, you’ll hear people talk about Globalism. Worldwide, we are experiencing the largest migrations of people the world has ever known. Globalism describes the practical erosion that’s occurring of national boundaries and cultures and identities. Some Christians see globalism as an existential threat! “The world is coming to our doorstep, our days are numbered, send everyone away!” But what if instead, globalism is an unprecedented opportunity? In Matthew 28 Jesus commanded his church to go into all the nations to make disciples. In Acts 1 the Apostles were commanded to be Christ’s witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the world. But now the world is coming to us! We barely have to leave our comfortable lifestyles to accomplish things for God’s glory no Christian generation has ever had!

I’m trying to calibrate how I feel about things to the truth of God’s world. I don’t know what “your” vision of the Kingdom of God might be… but God paints a pretty vivid picture of heaven for the Apostle John in in Revelation 7:9-10! “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

I was looking at these boxes and thinking… “what can one tiny little grain of sand do that would be of any significance?” I’m one of these tiny grains. You’re another. There are two things we can do. The first is this: be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. But the second is this: Join God’s work in the world! In 1 Timothy 2:3-6 the Bible says, “This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time.”

I’m trying to daily remind myself of this truth: that who I am is less important than people knowing who Jesus is… he must become greater; I must become less. For God so loved the World he gave his One and Only Son that whoever believes shall not perish but have life everlasting. That’s what this whole thing called life is about!

As God’s People we Need to Embrace Our Mandate (to Build Relationships and Make Disciples).

Matthew 28:18-20, “Jesus came near and said, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

You know, in all the years I’ve preached this passage, I never noticed the word “near.” Do you see it there in verse 18? “Jesus came near.” Jesus came near to us to draw us near to God. Jesus came near to you and me to reconcile us to God. That’s the whole gospel right there! But that’s the whole basis for mission too! Just as Jesus took the initiative to come near to us, he is commanding us to take the initiative to go and be near people of every tribe, tongue, nation, and culture!

When we draw near to people what is our first order of business? It’s simple. It’s helping people establish a relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our relationship building is a means to the greater good of people building a relationship with God. How does a person build a relationship with God? Will first they believe in Jesus, they repent, and are baptized into the family. But then their taught to obey God! All the authority you need to build Kingdom relationships has already been given to you. You don’t need anyone’s permission to serve God—you already have God’s permission.

As God’s people we need to battle our self-centeredness. A self-centered person imagines that the whole universe pivots around their purpose/desires/will. Self-centeredness looks like selfishness. A selfish person carries on with absolutely no regard for anyone else. A selfish person licks ice cream and sticks it back on the shelf. Don’t’ be an ice-cream licker. Nobody likes an ice-cream licker.

Self-centeredness looks like apathy. So many people today have this attitude, “I don’t care anymore. I don’t care whether 7.7 billion people go to hell or not.”

Self-centeredness looks like cynicism. A cynical person cares, but they’ve given up making any effort, because they don’t believe anything they might do will matter. They say, “I’ll just sit here on the couch. I stay here in my cubical. I’ll keep my head buried in my homework, in my job, in my books, in my phone, my TV, my family, my church circle”

Self-centeredness looks like isolation. How many times has someone told you Illinois stinks so bad they are getting out! I was always taught the brave run toward trouble, not away from it. When people tell me their leaving, I tell them I’m staying here on the mission field! I’m not going to live under a rock, I’m going to stand on the rock and proclaim Jesus.

Self-centeredness looks like fear. Everything you are afraid might happen actually happened to a man named Daniel in the OT—yet in circumstance after circumstance… exile, threats, sabotage, doom, the fiery furnace, the mouths of lions—he trusted God.

7.7 Billion people--there isn’t a shortage of opportunity, there’s lack of willingness.

As God’s People We Need to Cultivate an Optimistic Attitude.

There are some things I’ve been told, and I have believed, that are simply false. For example, we’re told that people (especially young people) are more hostile and resistant to the gospel than ever before. Recently I read a book called “You Found Me” by Rick Richardson. The cover says, “We hear a steady stream of reports about how droves of people, especially younger generations, are abandoning Christianity. But new research shows that unchurched Americans are surprisingly more receptive and open to the Christian faith than is commonly assumed.” I pretty much highlighted the whole book.

No, America is not becoming non or anti-Christian. No, millennials aren’t leaving the church at alarmingly high rates never to return. No, the church in America will not disappear in a generation. No, trust in the Church is not at an all-time low. Yes, the majority of Americans are still churchgoers. Yes, 70+ percent of Americans still identify as Christians. Yes, people are as religiously committed or more religious as ever. At one time, we had 75% of the unchurched in our churches, but most simply lost interest, or had a change in life circumstances that ended their involvement. [Get the facts, this book will blow your mind].

Think of it this way. Let’s just assume everyone is moving further from God. The further people move, the more their personal crisis deepens. The deeper their crisis, the more desperate their search. The more desperate their search, the more open they are to anyone who might have an answer. What crises am I talking about?

There is the Ecclesiastes’ Crisis. King Solomon filled his life with very finest things this world has to offer. But no matter what he filled his life with, none of it, not a single thing, could fill his life with purpose/meaning. We have all this prosperity and materialism, yet people feel hollow and dead inside. Why on earth am I here?

There is the Psalmist’ Crisis. My God, My God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far from saving me, from hearing my prayers? Is there any hope? There is the Job’ Crisis. How can God truly be good, and yet my life be filled with so much grief (Job lost all his children in a tornado)… my physical health failing so miserably (Job couldn’t get any pain relief)… my livelihood gone (Job lost his whole farm—his servants, his livestock, all of it)… my mental health devastated (at one point Job contemplates suicide). He turned to his wife, to his friends… they were all miserable comforters.

There is the Romans 1 Crisis. The slippery slope of a fleshly life spiraling completely out of control toward certain destruction. How do you stop the freight train? There is the Romans 2 Crisis. The sheer lunacy of living a religious, hypocritical, moralistic, pharisaical, untransformed life.

Don’t be fooled. Nobody is doing better without God; some are just better at hiding it than others. 75% would response positively to an invitation from family/friend—not a stranger, not a cold call… but from someone they trusted.

As God’s People, We Need to Follow Christ’s Example.

You know what the number one factor, feeding the fastest growing churches in the world is? It’s hospitality! Yes, it’s preaching the gospel… but first and foremost, its practicing hospitality with the unchurched. It’s intentionally making ourselves available to people, instead of burying our heads in the sand. It’s certainly important that we learn to practice hospitality here at 225 Toronto Road, Springfield, IL. But it’s infinitely more important that we practice hospitality where we live. And even more important than hospitality is learning to hang out with people far from God.

Sometime read the gospel of John. John 1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… but the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus goes out into the Wilderness to meet John the Baptist. Jesus goes to Bethsaida, where he finds Philip. Jesus goes to the Sea of Galilee, where he met Peter/Andrew, James and John. John 2, Jesus goes to a wedding (where they were serving alcohol), and this is scandalous to say, Jesus brought the best wine. Jesus went to the temple to advocate for justice. John 3, Jesus goes to Nicodemus, an intellectual teacher and Pharisee, at night. John 4, Jesus goes out to the edge of the city to meet the Samaritan woman, whose drawing water, whose been ostracized by her village. Jesus then goes into her village to preach. Jesus goes off to Cana of Galilee to heal the son of a Royal Official. John 5, Jesus goes over to the pool near the sheep gate, where a large number of the disabled people—blind, lame, and paralyzed—were laying around hoping for healing. John 6, Jesus goes into the countryside, where he feeds the crowd of 5000, who were so harassed, helpless, and hungry. John 7, Jesus goes to his own brothers, and the Jewish leaders. John 8 Jesus goes to the woman caught in adultery. John 9 Jesus goes up the man born blind.

The whole gospel of John is simply a journal of one encounter after another, one conversation after another. Read the Gospels. Read the book of Acts. List all the place Jesus… all the place God’s people… were willing to go to spread the gospel. It’s mind numbing. If we’d GO, there is a mere 3.4 degrees of separation between us and 7.7 billion people on earth. But if we don’t go and develop relationships, there might as well be 7.7 billion degrees of separation.

Romans 10:11-15, “For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame, since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”

Scripture Verses

Romans 10:11-15; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; Revelation 7:9-10, Colossians 1:15-20

Worship Set

  • Your Love Awakens Me by Phil Wickham
  • Christ Is Enough by Hillsong
  • Who You Say I Am by Hillsong
  • Reckless Love by Cory Asbury

Study Questions

Apply It!

Resources

Check out the book You Found Me by Rick Richardson.

Downloads & Resources