< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Good to Great in God’s Eyes Part 3

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Good to Great in God’s Eyes Part 3

Following is the end of my lesson from the Pursuing Great People chapter in Chip Ingram’s book Good to Great in God's Eyes.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says “Do not forsake gathering together to spur each other on to love and good works.” This verse is the one people use when someone says, “I don’t need to go to a church – I can be a Christian on my own.” Well, no, you can’t. We go to encourage others and to be encouraged.

God designed us to enjoy and contribute to relationships with other people. In the very beginning, God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18) and He said this even though man was in the Garden with God himself. And ever since, we've had a deep need to be known, understood, and accepted by at least one other person. We need others. We are created for community, especially as Christians: 1 Corinthians 12:27 says "You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it". That means we need each other if the body of Christ is to function as God intended.

In some religions the most holy people are the ones who live in isolation, in monasteries or on top of hills and that’s not Christian. True spiritual maturity is about learning to love like Jesus and you can’t practice being like Jesus without being in a relationship with other people.

I sort of have a tradition of doing a devotion at the closing ceremony of our youth's mission weeks and I wanted to share just one paragraph from the last one. I mentioned in the devotion that Troy always asks at chapel out at Corder’s farm on the 2nd to the last day, “How was the week? Good?” and that I heard one girl sitting behind me say really quietly “amazing”.

We looked around at the people helping each other all week; hugging, reaching out, praying, worshiping, laughing - all ages mixed together - and we got to see what God's plan for his church looks like in action. COOL creates the environment where we can feel the way we're designed to feel. Where we can do the things God designed us to do. Where we can feel even for just a week that we are Godly people. And it is amazing. It’s magical.

That’s what church should be. That’s why we need it.

Plus I like to say – going to church shows the world whose side you’re on!

A couple generations ago people didn’t move so much. A large percentage were born, lived and died in the same town and had a lifetime of friends built up there. That’s not the norm now. Divorce has split up families too. Busyness keeps neighbors from knowing each other.

Relationships require constant tending. Every human being was created with a need for love, trust, service with others and to be close to others.

You need to surround ourselves with people you can totally trust. Who provide insights and courage to you as you live your life of faith. They help you be a better person because they expect you to be. Kids in school who have a teacher who expects good things, who acts like he or she believes the student is capable of greatness – do better. Employers who expect their employees to be talented, upstanding, etc – usually have employees who are.

Family can be the same. Families should encourage each other, be a place where members can be themselves, create safe havens and show unconditional love, but still expect the best from them. Churches - same thing. Which means the church has to be a center of acceptance and love. No quarreling, no bitterness, no Peyton Place. In all of these relationships: friends, family and church – we should be encouraging each other to discover meaning and to follow Christ.

I don’t think you can talk about putting great people in your life without trying to be one yourself.

We need to infuse every relationship in this church with the life of Christ. Then every person will feel valued and discover how fulfilling a Christ-saturated life can be.

Next Chip says we need to learn to look for why God has placed certain people in your life at that particular time.

A prophet to confront you
A cheerleader to keep you going
A hero to inspire you

And he says in order to pursue great people we need to:

1. Pray. Ask God to put them in your life
2. Take initiative – go after them
3. Start in your relational network – look at the people you are already in contact with
4. Ask for help. Ask for advice
5. Persevere. Don’t give up on finding someone, on developing relationships
6. Do it by proxy. Radio, books, recordings, etc.
7. Make time in your schedule. You have to make time for the important things.

He closes by saying we are shaped by the people around us (or watch on TV or in movies or read about) – so lets make them great people!

This week – Be aware – Look for people who can help you grow. Work on a relationship with them. Look at how you can be a better role model.

Slow down in your life enough to make choices when things happen.

If you have a choice to do something with excellence or just half way - do it with excellence
If you have a choice of being kind or mean – be kind.
If you have a choice of doing something with honesty or dishonesty – be honest!
Slow down enough in your life so these little things don’t get missed. We’re supposed to do everything “as if unto the Lord”.

Think about where you need to grow. Just the awareness is a huge step in the right direction.

And think about where God has helped you – can you help others?

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