At the Sunridge 25-year anniversary celebration Britt said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Those are wise words for any church – depending, of course, on what the “main thing” is. At Sunridge the “main thing” is Jesus. Our mission statement affirms this: To help people FIND and FOLLOW Jesus (see Acts 17:27). What does it take to make Jesus the “main thing”? I have been an active intentional follower of Jesus for 40 years now. During that time I have learned and re-learned many lessons about how to make Jesus the “main thing.” About twenty years ago I began a list of my top ten life lessons. These are the most important truths that keep me focused and proactive about making Jesus the “main thing.” Every year or two I revisit this list and update it with my most current lessons. Some of the lessons have survived the whole twenty years, some have been inserted along the way, and some are new. My hope, prayer, and expectation is that Sunridge, during this next season of fruitful ministry, will be a church that keeps Jesus and the gospel at the center of all that you are and all that you do.
(Here is a succinct definition of the gospel: Gospel means “good news” and announces that God has entered the world through Jesus Christ to achieve a salvation that we could not achieve for ourselves which now 1) converts and transforms us, forming us into a new humanity, and 2) will eventually renew the whole world and all creation.)
I offer these (sometimes overlapping) lessons to you to in the hope that they will help to cut through the religious jargon that can sometimes confuse and distract us…
1. It really is better to give than to receive.
- “Give away your life; you’ll find it given back, but not really given back-given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” Luke 6:38 (MSG)
2. Empathy is more noble than sympathy.
- “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” 1 Peter 3:8 (NKJV)
- “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 (ESV)
3. The main things are the plain things.
- “My words are plain and clear to anyone with half a mind–if it is only open!” Proverbs 8:9 (TLB)
- “Tell me what to do, O Lord, and make it plain because I am surrounded by waiting enemies.” Psalm 27:11 (TLB)
4. God’s love is more easily caught than taught.
- “Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions.” 1 John 3:18 (TLB)
- “…For He Himself (Christ) is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” Luke 6:35 (NAS)
5. There is purpose in our pain.
- “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” Hebrews 5:8 (NAS)
- “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:5 (NIV)
6. Focus more on the Savior than on your sin.
- “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)
- “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” Romans 5:17 (NIV)
7. Right relationships are more important than being right.
- “Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” Proverbs 17:17 (MSG)
- “Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.” Ephesians 4:2-3 (TLB)
8. Pursue holy passions more than fighting unholy ones.
- “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (NIV)
- “[Jesus] gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:14 (NAS)
9. The best the Bible can do is to point out our sin, grace alone conquers it.
- “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Galatians 3:24 (NAS)
- For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)
10. The best is yet to come!
- “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)