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Madison Park in the Park: One Holy Passion
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5; Acts; Luke 15
Track 36 of 52 in the Sermons from 2003 series
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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, September 7, 2003
C. Sackett

Good Morning and Welcome to Madison Park in the Park. And thanks to all of you who prayed so diligently that God would give us this kind of weather. We're grateful to him for making this possible and grateful for you for putting up with a little bit of inconvenience to be together all in the same place at the same time. It's a delightful experience just to look out there and see you. I hope that you're enjoying the site as much as I am. You all look way too comfortable though. We should probably have to be like 105 degrees or something so you could feel like - no? . . . alright.

We want to talk to you about our new vision, our refined statement of who we are becoming; and, we want to talk about what some of the implications of that are, as we kick off this fall season and begin to move into the future as God, we believe, is identifying it for us. We introduced this just a bit last week. Madison Park Christian Church is becoming. We want you to understand that this is not a statement of fact as yet. It's a statement of desire. It's what we want to see happen. It's what we're dreaming about. It's the place we'd like to go. It's what we hope that every individual person, who is a part of this body, will begin to take into themselves and to feel deeply down in their heart. This is what I want to become. This is worth doing. It's worth being a part of. We want it to condition every decision we make. We want it to be a part of every plan that is created. We want to be able to run everything that we believe and do and feel through what we're about to talk about.

That we are becoming a people whose passion, whose only passion is Jesus. That we are becoming a people whose only desire is to know and to follow him better.

A people whose only ambition is whatever it takes to love and to reach the lost. Now I confess to you, it was the word ONLY, that got us into our greatest discussions. Nobody is arguing that we ought to be passionate about Jesus. Nobody is arguing that we ought to want to know him better or arguing whether or not we ought to share him with somebody else.

The question is, can that be our ONLY passion? What would that look like? Because quite honestly, I'm looking at a sea of faces for whom there are a great many things about which you are passionate. You're passionate about your spouse, I hope. Many of you are passionate about your work, you either love it or hate it, but your passionate about it, one way or the other. You're passionate about the Cardinals, or at least you should be. No? Alright Dan, you can be the one lone Cub fan in the crowd. See it doesn't take much to stir up a passion, does it? Because we all have them. We're excited about some stuff. The question is, can we be excited about those things in the context of being excited about Jesus?--having this deep abiding passion. And so we wrestled with, can we talk about having our ONLY passion be Jesus, our ONLY desire, our ONLY ambition. My job is to try to say the answer to that question is yes. And to put it in a context that makes it understandable and believable and doable.

Over the next several weeks, between now and Christmas we're going to try and break that thing apart and talk about our core values--what we stand for--what we believe in. So that if nothing else is true, at least this much will be true. You will know what Madison Park is and what we're trying to become and you can make a decision, a quite honest decision. I want to be a part of that, or, this is not the place for me. Now of course, that's not the decision we want you to make. That latter one. But we want to make sure that you have the opportunity to say no, if in fact, you don't think this is who you want to become. So let's think about it, shall we?

Madison Park Christian Church becoming a people whose only passion is Jesus. I'm going to ask you to do something that I don't normally do, but we're in the park doing stuff we don't normally do anyway, so. . . . I'm going to ask you to repeat that after me. . . . . . . .a people whose only passion is Jesus. . . . . that sounded pretty good. Now I'm hoping that when we're done with that, that it's just not something you say, but is something you actually believe. I think that is what was compelling the people of the New Testament.

Paul uses an interesting image in 2 Corinthians 5, when he talks about the love of Christ compelling us. It's really the image of two sharp walls hemming in a river. It reminds me a bit of being down in Colorado on the river. One of my favorite activities is white water rafting. If any of you want to plan a trip, I'm signed up today. Cause I love to ride the white water. There's a section down there in Canyon City where the Royal Gorge is, that is the place I really want to go. It took us about four hours to get from Point "A" to Point "B" where we had to get out. Now, I didn't want to get out but I didn't have, technically, enough experience to go any further. It is the same distance from Point "B" to Point "C", which now takes just about an hour and a half. You get through that section in just about half the amount of time because the water is moving just about twice as fast. The reason?--the walls of the canyon. The water can't go anywhere but there--so it gets no choices--it gets no alternatives--it gets no distractions--it doesn't meander--it just goes!

That's what happens when Christ becomes the compelling passion in my life. He begins to set up walls around my life so that everything I do is compelled in a certain direction. I'm no longer meandering (wandering) from one side to the other. I'm just headed in one direction with no distraction. It cuts out some of the choices that cause me to meander and wander and allows me to see life from a very pointed view. That's what we're inviting you to, is the kind of pointed view where Jesus is the guiding force. He's the compelling wall. He's what shapes us--drives us.

It's interesting to me that in the book of Acts twenty-eight chapters, the name of Jesus is mentioned sixty-nine times. Over and over and over again, what they did, they did in the name of Jesus. They took them to court and here was their comment. We could tell that they had been in the presence of Jesus. Paul becomes a Christian. He immediately goes into the city and he begins to preach Jesus. He gets in trouble. He has to leave and when they're describing his situation, this is the description. This is the man who was preaching Jesus. And the book ends in Chapter 28, Verse 31 that the whole church was moving, unhindered into the future, preaching Jesus. It became their compelling force. In fact it's used 213 times, just simply the name Jesus, 213 times by Paul in his writings. Thirty-six times in Romans. It's that shaping, driving force.

Well, what about those of us who are passionate about our work and passionate about soccer and passionate about music and passionate about life? How does Jesus impact that? He is it. Paul's simple statement is whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord. Whether you're going to work or going to play or enjoying company with your spouse or just enjoying life, if it is hemmed in by Christ, if it has the parameters of being Christian, you can be passionate about those things. And people can see that in you and when they see you at work, they identify you with someone who is passionate about a Christian employee or employer, a Christian athlete, a Christian musician. Somebody who is dominated by Christ, doesn't necessarily change everything they do. It doesn't mean that they're not passionate about the stuff that they really love. It's just that there is one overriding, driving, compelling passion that shapes everything else. And that passion is Christ.

It's the kind of thing that would get you up in to a 7:30 service if you were a musician wanting to practice for church to start. It's the kind of thing that would make you spend time with 60 or 70 high school kids on Sunday night. It's the kind of thing that would put you in the back with fifteen 3 year olds for two hours at a time. It's the kind of thing that would make you talk to your neighbor about Christ. It's the kind of thing that would make you go around your neighborhood and say, hey! We're going to the park for services today. It's the kind of thing that would cause you to not buy something so you could put something in the offering to pay for what needs to be done at the church. It's the kind of thing that just changes everything else and yet, changes it only for the better.

We're becoming a people, we believe, whose only passion is Jesus. A people whose only desire is to know and follow him better.

Are you ready for Part 2? We're becoming a people whose only desire is to know and follow him better. I'll give it to you in two parts, like we would at a wedding, cause that's kind of a long statement and it's always that glazed over look in the bride and groom eyes. You know, they can't get the whole line out.

We're becoming--here it is--A people whose only desire, is to know and follow him better. And I'm gonna come back one more time and say, "I hope that's more than just a sentence!", because we're going to offer you every opportunity we know how to make that possible. We're going to try to turn this place into the kind of place where Jesus gets elevated and all we want to do is just lift him up and know him and follow him in ways that we may never have thought about following him before.

One of my favorite lines in Scripture is John the Baptist's line. . ."he must increase and I must decrease. . .". It's that sense that I'm going to know myself less while I know him more. I pour myself in to my relationship with Christ. It's Paul's statement in Philippians, Chapter 3 after rehearsing all the things that he had going in his favor, born of the right tribe, spoke the right language, had the right religious background, he had everything going for him and what does he say, I count it all lost for the sake of knowing Christ. That's what we're talking about, is that driving desire that determines all of my decisions in life--to know HIM, to follow HIM.

And so, we're creating as many things as we know how to do that. You're going to begin seeing signs and brochures and other things for the journey. Our new educational model for adults is to be able to help you in your faith journey become more like Christ. New classes, more classes, renewed classes, revived classes--places where you can come and find a place to see Jesus and to know him better. We're going to encourage you. We're going to just try our best to compel you to find yourself in some kind of adult study. We've got a number of small groups that have already started and some of you are saying to yourself, what I would really like to do, is not go to a Sunday school class or an adult fellowship class because I don't really like to be around that many people, but if I could be in a group with six, seven, eight people, that's what I'd really like. You come and see us. We have the place now for you to plug in. We want you in those groups because that's where you get to know each other, but you also get to know Christ. Our fall Women's Bible Study kicks off soon. Wednesday night Bible Study with Bob Lowery begins this coming Wednesday night. For the adults we have opportunity after opportunity, after opportunity for you to come to know Jesus better.

And for the kids, it happens everywhere. Just in case you didn't know it, you probably ought to be aware, from the time we get them in the nursery, it is not just child care. It is never even billed as child care. We are here to teach your children to know and follow Jesus and we start as soon as they can learn to listen. And we do everything we can at age appropriate levels to introduce them to people who love Jesus and let them find out how to follow him better. We're trying to become this kind of place where people really do want to know HIM--to let their whole life be driven by him--to make every decision in the light of this question--What in the world would Jesus do in these circumstances? We want our young people to be able to go to school and understand that it's alright to be Christian.

One of the things I like about days like today, I just have to be honest with you, I like to look around and realize I'm not the only person who is naming the name of Jesus. I don't know if you've ever felt that way, but those times when you feel like you've got to be the only one who cares whether or not anybody is Christian. Because you work around people. You go to school around people. You're just involved with people for whom Christ isn't that important and you find yourself saying, I feel like I'm out here by myself. Look around during the day. You're not alone. We're in this company together and we're on a journey together to be as much like Christ as possible.

Madison Park Christian Church trying our dead level best to become a people whose only passion is Jesus, whose only desire is to know and follow him better, whose only ambition is whatever it takes to love and to reach the lost.

Are you ready for the third statement? Whose only ambition is whatever it takes to love and reach the lost.

There are fascinating stories in Luke 15 you know and mis-told so often. In fact, I remember here, not long ago, listening to a sermon tape on Luke 15 and this fairly renowned preacher is preaching away on the story of the lost sheep and how the shepherd left the ninety and nine and here's what he said. Safely in the fold while he went and looked for the one lost sheep. I thought to myself, you know, before you preach on national radio, you ought to probably read the text. I didn't mean to be mean. It's just that, that's not what the text says. It says he left the ninety and nine out there alone, by themselves in the wilderness while he went to look for the one. He recognized the risk of leaving the ninety-nine unsheltered but the one was worth the risk.

That's what we want to become, a people who are willing to do whatever it takes, including leaving the ninety and nine in the wilderness while we look for that one lost sheep. Whatever it takes to clean the house to find that one lost coin. Whatever it takes to wait for the return of that one lost son. And quite honestly, I have to confess to you that it's that story of the prodigal son that so troubles me personally. There was a time in my life, when I first became a Christian, when I honestly related to the prodigal son. I mean I understood that part of the story. You know the story, right? Dad's got two sons, good Jewish family, one son says, man I want to go off and do my own thing, want my part of the inheritance; I wish my dad was dead, basically, is what he is saying. He gets his portion of the inheritance. He takes it off to a far country; and, he wastes it in riotous living. He finds himself feeding pigs in a hog trough, wishing he could come home because the slaves got fed better than he did. All the while, there is the older brother who is still at home, never left, always does the chores, always takes care of things, very reliable, very responsible, never does anything wrong, and there's the father who waits on the front step for his son to return. And when he sees the prodigal coming home the father literally runs off the step, throws his hands around this smelly, pig laden child, gives him a big kiss, puts on a robe, puts sandals on his feet, puts ring on a finger and says, I don't want to hear about this working as a slave, you're my son. Kill the fatted calf, let's eat. And the big brother gets unhappy because of all the attention paid to the prodigal son.

There was a time in my life when I really related to the prodigal, because that's who I was. I was a far piece from home, man. I didn't grow up in a church and when I found out about God and the church and Jesus, I felt like I needed to come home, but I didn't belong there. I literally smelled like the pigs. And it was an amazing story to me that God was willing to open up his arms and let me come in.

But that, quite frankly, has been, oh I don't know, 35 years ago. I'm gonna say this and you don't dare say anything about it. I no longer smell like the pigs! In fact, my struggle isn't with the prodigal. My struggle now is sometimes I'm like that older brother. I have become so comfortable in my relationship with Jesus that sometimes I wonder well, what's wrong with those people over there who don't know Jesus and hey! I don't want to do anything differently than we are doing now in order to reach those people. Because you see, that's the implication, by whatever it takes. What if church was never the same? I'm mean, you've gotten to the place that you kind of like that 8:15, 9:45, 11:15 stuff. We kind of like the style of worship that we use. Some of you even like the way that the sermon gets preached. What would happen, if on Sunday morning, you came and found out that Madison Park would never do church the way we do church now because we've made up our minds, that in order to reach lost people, we had to do wholesale, 100% change? You ready to do that? Or are you the person, who like me says, wait a minute. I kinda like things the way they are and those folks can find Jesus someplace else.

Or to quote one of my friends that I've traveled with on a number of occasions during mission trips when we get into some cross cultural, cross language situations, says, facetiously now--he doesn't mean it-- but here's what he says, "if those people want to know Jesus, let them learn English." But don't we sometimes say that? Oh, I don't mean with our words. But don't we sometimes say that when we say, if you want to come to church at our place, here's when we meet and here's how we have church and this is the way we do it and if you don't like it, then guess what?

We're asking this body of people to become the kind of people that we will do literally whatever it takes and if that means massive change, then those of us who already know Jesus will not behave like older brothers. We will welcome the change because we want to welcome those who need Jesus. Now that's what you're committing yourself to is the kind of life that says, whatever it takes, wherever we have to meet, whenever we have to meet, whatever we have to do in order to make sure that people get a chance to know Jesus.

Madison Park, a church that is trying to become a people, not a place, a people, a body of believers, the community of saints, a bunch of folks that look just like you and me trying to become a body of people who really, passionately, are in love with Jesus. So much so, that we are ready to commit ourselves to this; Our only passion is Jesus. Our only desire is to know and follow him better. Our only ambition is whatever it takes to reach and to love the lost.

Now that is our invitation because here's the bottom line. Here's the truth of the matter. People who are passionate about something, do whatever it takes. When you are passionate you will do whatever it takes and we're inviting you to that. It is not a simple invitation. This is not easy. We are not trying to make this something that everybody and anybody can just automatically say to. What we're trying to say is this is what we believe God is calling us to and we're inviting you to accept that challenge. We don't want to be a place, comfortable as it might be. We want to be a people who are sold out to Christ and are willing to do it all, no matter what. To that, we invite you today.

We're going to sing, what has become one of the most compelling songs that I think has been written in a recent time. One Holy Passion, One Driving Desire, One Ambition to know Jesus, to make him known. We want to love him. It could be on this particular day you have some decision you need to make, and if that's true, we're inviting you to come. If your ready to give your life to the Lord and be immersed into Him, if you need a church where you need to call home and you're already immersed believer and this is the place for you, we want you to come. If you're a believer who struggles in your life and yet you know that you want Christ to be that driving passion, and you want us to pray with and for you, then you feel free to come. We're inviting all of you, however, right where you're going to be standing to begin the process of saying whether or not you really want to commit yourself to this new life whose passion is Jesus. Let's stand, let's sing. If you need to come, I'll be waiting right here in front for you.