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Irritate One Another
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:24-26; Hebrews 10:24-25...
Track 4 of in the series
In Hebrews, the writer (many believe it is Paul) introduces an interesting concept, irritation in the church produces love and good works. In fact, all three together with Jesus as the center is what makes the Church effective in its mission to the world.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Irritating One Another

The birth of a pearl is truly a miraculous event. Unlike gemstones or precious metals that must be mined from the earth, pearls are grown by live oysters far below the surface of the sea. Gemstones must be cut and polished to bring out their beauty. But pearls need no such treatment to reveal their loveliness. They are born from oysters complete -- with a shimmering iridescence, lustre and soft inner glow unlike any other gem on earth.

A natural pearl begins its life as a foreign object, such as a parasite or piece of shell that accidentally lodges itself in an oyster's soft inner body where it cannot be expelled. To ease this irritant, the oyster's body takes defensive action. The oyster begins to secrete a smooth, hard crystalline substance around the irritant in order to protect itself. This substance is called "nacre." As long as the irritant remains within its body, the oyster will continue to secrete nacre around it, layer upon layer. Over time, the irritant will be completely encased by the silky crystalline coatings. And the result, ultimately, is the lovely and lustrous gem called a pearl.

In Hebrews, the writer (many believe it is Paul) introduces an interesting concept, irritation in the church produces love and good works. In fact, all three together with Jesus as the center is what makes the Church effective in its mission to the world.

The aim of God in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons with God himself at the center of this community as its prime Sustainer and most glorious Inhabitant. Renovare

True or False: It is possible to be like Jesus without close friends.

One of the things that makes an organization, a community or even a church successful or real is the experiences we have walking between the boundaries of suffering on one side and joy on the other. In between these boundaries we live out our ordinary lives together. Paul alludes to these experiences when he describes the followers of Jesus as the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:24-26 (NIV) But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

As Christians, having fellow Christians to live with, work with and in many instances, get irritated by is essential if we are going to foster relationships that will help us move along in our Jesus journey. I love how Paul wrote about this in His letter to the Hebrews.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

In modern day language, verse 24 reads, Let us study how to irritate one another to love and good works.

Irritate one another? I thought the “one another” passages were always about loving, encouraging, building up each other so we can become more and more like Jesus. Does Paul really mean to use the word “irritate”? Are we really encouraged to irritate each other?

Are there people in your life that just rub you the wrong way? Are there people you know that every time you see them, they just annoy you, irritate the stuffing out of you? Are some of these people Christians, members of your church? How do you deal with them?

I don’t think this is what Paul means when he uses the term irritate. He doesn’t use the term in a negative or destructive way. The term is used in a positive, helpful manner that leads to a better outcome.

Think about your Christian life. Looking back at the beginning to the present, who have been the people or person that helped you to grow to where you are today? How many times have they been the irritating person to spur you onto love and good works? Any examples of what it is like to be an irritating Christian?

True or False: The hands on the clock reveals who our real friends are.

I believe there are different types of friends. We need all sorts but there are those friends who you know you can always count on. They are the ones that when you are in need at 3:00 AM in the morning, you know you can call them and they will be there for you no matter what time of day you call.

How many 3:00 AM friends do you have? Are you a 3:00 AM friend to someone else?

These are the types of friends Paul is writing about. These friends are the irritating friends because they love us enough that they get on our nerves when we step out of line and they demand, require, push and irritate us to get back on the straight and narrow. These are our true travel companions in this life of Christ we live. They help us as we walk between the boundaries of sorrow and joy and together we make life a beautiful experience no matter what the circumstances are. Paul describes this as the reality of the Church…irritating one another.

Unfortunately, too many Christians totally misunderstand what Church is all about. For years the basic ABC’ of a successful church were Attendance, Buildings and Cash. If a congregation had an abundance of these, then “church” was a great and exciting thing. If you didn’t have these, something must be wrong.

But what is “Church” or better yet, what isn’t it? Give me a list of what it isn’t.

Many Christians today ask this question, what is church. But I say that asking this question is part of the bigger problem. What is wrong with asking this question?

The question tends to turn us inward. In fact, the question is one of the ways we trick ourselves. It misleads us. Because Jesus owns the church, not us. it is important that we don’t make an idol out of it.

True or False: I made my church an idol to worship?

This is a hard statement to consider. But is it true, by how we act, by what priorities we place out in front of us, can church become an idol?

Watching my son Tyler work with the students in RI, one of the biggest stumbling blocks he has to overcome is the idol worship of the church as witnessed by the people on the east coast. This idol worship has progressed so far that the best question to ask is not even considered, in fact it is forgotten and unknown. The best question to ask is, Who is Jesus?

The church is not the hope of the world – Jesus is.

1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you,

1 Timothy 1:1 (NIV) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

When we move our conversation about the church to the forefront, we tread so close to idolatry. We find in all of Jesus teachings that he says very little about the church. He says that He will build the church but it was never about the building, the organization or the everyday in’s and out’s. The priority of Jesus was always God first, the mission second and then the church. We also have to remember, the church builder is always Jesus. That is not our job. We don’t build the church, we become the church.

What is the difference between building the church and becoming the church?

Church is byproduct of people relating to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. As we crash into Jesus, a kingdom explosion takes place.

In CrossFit, there are some things that make the experience really work. For most who shows up to the gym or box, they are in great need of a change in their lives. Most mistakenly believe it is exercise that they need. In some cases, that is totally false. They are not in any condition to start the basics. For most, their diets and health habits caused them to be in the situation they are in. The reality is, they’ve poisoned their system. It is a detox that they need first, purge the impurities from their bodies. Diet, proper water intake and other healthy habits goes a long way in how a person feels and lives.

The local church can be the same way. Many are poisoned by the ideology of “church” and their message becomes “Come to Church” rather than “Come to Jesus”. For many churches, detox is what is needed.

What are the items a church might need to purge from their spiritual system in order to become a group of people who are focused on people around them rather than focused inward on themselves?

In Hebrews, Paul describes the church like a community. Note, there is a big difference between a city and a community as well as there is a big difference between a house and a home.

How do you define a community? What makes up a community? How is the church like a community?

Paul sort of describes a community as a place where people study (irritate) how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Church is a community with a clear mission to love each other, love those outside our community and to do good to everyone around us no matter who they are.