Whatever It Takes

I love my church.  We started from scratch with no people, no money, and nowhere to meet.  Yet in four short years God has breathed out a miracle at Life Church Michigan, becoming one church in two locations.  We are thankful for how far we’ve come, but there’s no resting on laurels here: we have more work to do and people far from God to reach!

Luke 14 tells us this story:

One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely. There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen.

Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away.

Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” Again they could not answer.

What we learn in this passage is that Sunday is a day for healing.  The church exists for broken people.  The church is not a social club for perfect people.  The mantra for following Jesus has always been the same: No Perfect People Allowed!

Too often our friends and neighbors think they have to get all dressed up and put on an act before walking in the doors on a Sunday.

Listen, if I cut my arm off, do I pause to change into my best suit, casually meander into the ER and act like I’ve got my life all together?  HECK NO!  I do whatever it takes to rush into the ER — bloodied and in pain — and trust that I won’t be judged but that I will be healed.

This is what the church could be and should be.

The story continues in Luke 14:

When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor…

Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Church isn’t about insider-politics, control, or gossip.  It’s not about you.  Church is about them: the 7 in 10 Michiganders who never darken a church door!

Religious people are easy to spot because they always make it about them: their preferences, their comforts, their choices.  Jesus flips those attitudes in His movement: the local church is the only organization on Planet Earth that exists for the benefit of its non-members!  It’s not about us!

Jesus continues talking to the crowd in Luke 14:

“When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors…

Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”

In other words, God’s House is for the Outsiders.  The lost, the let-down, and the looking.  That is who Jesus came to reach.  The church that doesn’t evangelize will eventually fossilize!

This is why I love my church.  We have a white-hot vision to Reach the Lost at Any Cost.  We are willing to do anything short of sin to reach people far from God.  We really are!  We will not cater to religious preferences and we will be missionaries to our region.  We are willing to do whatever it takes.  That’s our calling!

One of my favorite Billy Graham quotes is this:

The evangelistic harvest is always urgent. The destiny of men and of nations is always being decided. Every generation is crucial; every generation is strategic. But we cannot be held responsible for the past generation and we cannot bear full responsibility for the next one. However we do have our generation! God will hold us responsible at the judgment seat of Christ for how well we fulfilled our responsibilities and took advantage of our opportunities.

We have to do whatever it takes — Jesus is God, the Bible is true, Hell is hot and Eternity is a long time!

Luke 14 crescendoes into one of my favorite teachings of Jesus:

So the Master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that My house will be full.’

We have a mandate from Jesus Christ: Make Heaven Crowded!  The church doesn’t have a mission; the mission has a church!

We have to do whatever it takes to reach more people far from God throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region!

And that’s exactly what we are aiming to do this Fall at Life Church Michigan.  We had a lot of fun filming this video (in one take!!) and it sums up some of the big moves we’re making this September in Midland, with teenagers, and more:

Jonathan is the founding pastor of Life Church Michigan.

You can get his new book at HolyShiftBook.com.

He once bought pantyhose with Tina Fey (true story).