“ARE WE WILLING TO GET OUTSIDE THE BOX?”
CWBC – 8/12/18
INTRO – What does it mean to get outside the box, or to think outside the box?
Wikipedia has this to say about “thinking outside the box”: Thinking outside the box is to think differently, unconventionally or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel, creative and smart thinking…To think outside the box is to look further and to try not thinking of the obvious things, but to try thinking of the things beyond them. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking_outside_the_box)
When it comes to doing the work of the Church & sharing the Gospel in our world today, it’s going to take some thinking outside the box. Wednesday night in REFRESH, we were fervently praying for “Days of Hope” (slide). Tammie Miller specifically prayed that we as a church would get out of the box. Like we said last week as we began this series, “Grow Your Church, Lord,” the MESSAGE of the Gospel never changes, but the METHODS of sharing the Gospel w/ our world will continually change. Our world grows more complex – people’s lives grow busier – worry, anxiety, & pressure grows larger – which is why we’ve got to keep thinking outside the box on ways to get the life-changing Good News of Jesus to our lost & dying world. And that thinking outside the box MUST lead to us as God’s people moving outside the box! We’re going to see today in Scripture how God used some guys who were outside the box thinkers & doers.
EXPLANATION – Open your Bibles or your Bible app to Mark 2:1-12 (page 837 in pew Bible).
Mark 2:1-12 (ESV)
Jesus Heals a Paralytic
2 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Gospel of Mark – my favorite Gospel – shortest of 4 Gospels. Most action-packed of 4 Gospels. Words “immediately” & “at once” are used repeatedly throughout the 16 chapters of this book. Here’s what theologian A.W. Pink said about that:
“In all, this [Greek] word is found no less that 40 times in Mark’s Gospel. It is a most suggestive & expressive term, bringing out the perfections of God’s Servant [Jesus] by showing us how He served. There was no tardiness about Christ’s service, but ‘straight away’ He was ever about His ‘Father’s business.’ There was no delay, but ‘immediately’ He performed the work given Him to do. This word tells of the promptitude of His service & the urgency of His mission. There was no holding back, no reluctance, no slackness, but a blessed ‘immediateness’ about all His work. We should all learn from this perfect example which He has left us.” (Christianity.com/jesus/is-jesus-god/the-gospels/mark-the-gospel-of-immediacy.html)
3 things we see here about these 4 outside-the-box guys in this amazing story:
They knew their friend had a desperate need.
Don’t know details of the man’s paralysis. Maybe from birth. Maybe an injury. Broke his next in a fall. Maybe a degenerative disease.
Whatever it was, it put him in:
- A desperate condition
- A dependent condition
- A discouraging condition.
They knew that Jesus had divine power to heal.
Jesus had 3 main components of His earthly ministry: teaching, preaching, & healing. Matthew 9:35 – “And Jesus went throughout all the cities & villages, teaching in their synagogues & proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom & healing every disease & every affliction.”
Back up to Mark 1:21-28 – healed man w/ unclean spirit. Mark 1:20-31 – healed Simon’s mother-in-law of a fever. Mark 1:32-34 – healed many people of sicknesses & demon possession. Mark 1:40-42 – healed a man who had leprosy. So these friends knew that Jesus was already doing some outside-the-box stuff in His healing ministry & showing his divine power over diseases & demons before they ever brought their paralyzed friend to see him.
They knew that they were the designated means to get their friend to Jesus.
They were God’s “go-to” guys to get this paralyzed man into the presence of the Healer who could heal him of his physical sickness. And they knew that, b/c of the crowd in the house already that day, they had to think outside the box to get their buddy to Jesus. But more importantly, they were God’s “go-to” guys to get their friend into the presence of the Savior who could heal him of spiritual sickness. They may have thought that they were just the stretcher-bearers for their friend, but God had much bigger plans. Jesus didn’t just heal his body; He healed his soul – v. 5 – “…when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”
So, here are some questions for you to consider:
- How many of you have a friend who has a desperate need in their life right now:
- How many of you know that Jesus has the divine power to meet that need?
- How many of you know that YOU are God’s designated means to bring your friend to Jesus?
It’s time for us as Christ-followers & as a Church to start thinking outside the box b/c we ALL have people in our lives who are in a desperate place in their lives right now & Jesus DOES have the power to radically & eternally change their lives. We need to start thinking outside the box b/c we ARE the means that God uses to bring others to Jesus.
As we move closer & closer to the “Days of Hope” services in Sept & Oct, there are 3 areas that I want to challenge you to think & move outside the box:
Get outside the box in Praying to God – Suggestions:
Turn off your phone!
- Average person spends 40 mins a day just on FB. Add another hour for time on other social media networks. How many of you have checked your FB or some other social media since you’ve been at church today? How many of you have checked it since this service started?
- But when it comes to teens – average about 8 hours a day on media.
- A study in 2010 by Kaiser Family Foundation estimated an average of 5 ½ hours of media use for those ages 8-10, 8 hours & 40 minutes for those aged 11-14, & just under 8 hours for 15-18 yr-olds. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2015/11/03/teens-spend-nearly-nine-hours-every-day-consuming-media/)
Pray all the time – Believe that God is hearing your prayers & answering them.
Ask others if you can pray for them – people you know & total strangers
Alistair Begg sermon this week: “Loved ones, do you see how important it is that we pray? Some of us think that if we could talk for a month of Sundays we would fix everything. [But] If we could get on knees & talk to God for a quarter of the time, who knows how many of our friends & loved ones & family would be radically converted & changed?”
Get outside the box in Witnessing to Others
Salesman – doesn’t make $ unless he closes the deal. Many of us don’t witness b/c we have that same mindset when it comes to sharing Christ. Feel like we’ve failed if the person we are talking to doesn’t pray to receive Christ.
But that’s not the way it is. Our job is simply to share & leave the results up to God. We don’t have to beat ourselves up if we don’t “close the deal.” We sow the seeds – God brings the growth. I read an article this week that said this: “Christian witnessing is merely sharing our heartfelt faith in Christ – what He’s personally done to change our individual lives! We’re not called to argue or debate anyone into heaven. We’re merely called to share! As in the courtroom, we’re called to be a witness for the Gospel, not the lawyer, judge or jury… Leave that up to God!” (https://www.allaboutgod.com/christian-witnessing.htm)
BUT – we ARE called to share! So start thinking about & looking for ways to do that. “Days of Hope” is the perfect opportunity for you to take that first step in sharing the Gospel w/ someone. You inviting them to come to one of those services may just be that crack in the door that will lead to them asking more questions & you sharing your story of how Jesus changed your life w/ them.
Get outside the box!
- Gas pump witnessing
- Grocery store witnessing – cashier & other people in line w/ you
- Doctor’s office witnessing
- Coffee shop witnessing
- Neighborhood witnessing
- School witnessing – classroom, cafeteria, practice, break time, study sessions
Get outside the box in Giving to the Church
We all like to make a good financial investment decision. We like it when the stock we bought goes up. We like it when the value of the house we bought increases. We like it when the investment in a good education translates into a good job.
But problem w/ all those investments is that they can all go south very quickly – the stock market can crash; the house can burn; the company we are working for can go bankrupt.
But there’s one investment that will never go south – that’s the investment that we have the privilege of making in the Lord’s work through His church. Giving our money in order that the Gospel can be proclaimed in our community is an investment that pays off w/ eternal dividends.
We need to be thinking outside the box in how we are giving to the Lord’s work, especially as we get closer to the “Days of Hope” services. ALL of us should be tithing faithfully (10% of our income) – that’s not the outside the box giving I’m talking about. That’s just basic, foundational obedience to the Lord for every Christ-follower. The outside the box giving I’m talking about is giving above our tithes so that these “Days of Hope” services will reach more people & impact our community in ways we’ve never impacted it before.
- PushPay app
- Special offering envelopes
CONCLUSION – Get your funnel out from last week’s sermon. The only way we are going to truly impact our community (56,000 in 15-min driving radius) w/ the Gospel is to start thinking outside the box, & then moving outside the box of our comfort zones. It starts w/ praying outside the box, witnessing outside the box, & giving outside the box. Will you commit to thinking & getting outside the box today?