Holistic part 1
The Total Package
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
September 12, 2010



This morning we’re kicking off a brand new series we’re calling “Holistic.” That’s a word you’ve heard before… what does it mean?

If something is holistic, it affects every area of your life. You’ve probably heard it most often in reference to medical treatment. In a holistic treatment, the doctor doesn’t just treat your symptoms, but your whole person. The treatment addresses your physical condition, yes, but also your spiritual condition, your social, your emotional, your psychological conditions, your mental condition… it’s holistic. It’s all-encompassing.

Often, people put God in a box and try to contain Him only to the spiritual part of their lives. When they want a dose of religion, they pull out that box and say a prayer or perform a ritual, but then they close it up and slip it back under the bed. That’s their understanding of what it means to be a Christian, to be a spiritual or religious person, and what it means to know God.

But that perception is so far off the mark. The truth is, real faith infiltrates every area of your life. It has to. Otherwise, it’s not real faith. Take a look at what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christ-followers in the city of Galatia…

Galatians 5:25 (NLT)
Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

Underline “every part.” So if you tend to reserve God for an hour on Sunday, and you just kind of ignore Him the rest of the week as you go about your life, you’re really missing out. You’re missing out on the abundant, exciting, celebratory life that He has planned for you. And you’re missing out on the richness of an intimate relationship with Him.

Here at Sunrise, we have a set of core values. It’s been a while since we’ve looked at them, so let’s review…

Sunrise Core Values:

Significant Relationships

A great deal of what we are called to do as a church happens through relationships. We encourage you to share your faith within the context of relationships. We want to provide ways for you to grow and learn from each other and encourage each other within the context of relationships. We stress that the Christian life is not meant to be lived in solitude, but that we need other people and they need us.

We believe that’s the way God designed us to live life… in community with others. If you flip through the New Testament, you find several passages that emphasis this in the newly formed Church. You find phrases like…

"Live in harmony with one another" (Rom. 12:10)
"Accept one another, as Christ accepted you" (Rom. 15:17)
"Serve one another in love" (Gal. 5:13)
"Carry each other's burdens" (Gal. 6:2)
"Teach one another" (Col. 3:16)
"Admonish one another" (Col. 3:16)
"Encourage one another" (1 Thess. 4:18, and 5:11)
"Build each other up" (1 Thess. 5:11)
"Spur one another on to love and good deeds" (Heb. 10:24)

God intended for us to live in community.


United Ministry

The Bible talks about how every Christ-follower is given special abilities to be used to serve others in and through the church. God has uniquely equipped you to make a difference in His Church… to make your own unique contribution. We call these special abilities Spiritual Gifts, and basically we believe that unless every Christ-follower is using his or her spiritual gift to serve others, we will never reach our full potential as a Church. One thing that drives me nuts is when I hear someone complain that they’re not growing and their dissatisfied in their faith, but I know that they’re not serving in any capacity. Because you can only grow so much sitting and listening to sermons. Real growth happens when you start serving. Jesus Himself said that He came not be served but to serve. And He expects us to serve, too. That’s important for us individually, and it’s important for us as a church. Because we will never reach our full potential until we are all actively participating in the ministry for which we’ve been equipped and to which we’ve been called.

Ephesians 4:11-12, 16 (NLT)
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. … As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.


New Beginnings

Listen, there have been a lot of people who have been hurt and disillusioned in life. They carry around pain and disappointment, shattered dreams, guilt…

Well, at Sunrise we want to offer new beginnings because that’s what Jesus offered us. In fact, the very name “Sunrise” implies a fresh start. Do you believe that God has the power and the authority to forgive a person, to heal a person, to change the course of their life? Then we need to value New Beginnings.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
…Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!


Real Life Christianity

This is really what we’re talking about during this series. We believe the Bible is as relevant today as it was the day it was written. So what we want to do here at Sunrise is interpret the Word of God within the context of today’s world and exploring ways it can impact everyday life.

James 1:22 (NLT)
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says.

We want to help people see how a relationship with Christ can improve and make a difference in every area of life. The Bible’s packed full of practical applications for our lives, and that’s what we’re here to discover.

We’ll be coming back to this in a few minutes.


Intimacy with God

Being a Christian is not about going through rituals on Sunday morning; it’s about developing a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s about getting to know Him better and better all the time. It’s about experiencing His love and loving Him back. It’s about living as part of the family of God… intimately connected to each other and to Him.

Philippians 3:8 (NLT)
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

You see, being a Christ-follower is not about a religion. In fact, I don’t even like to use the term religion to refer to Christianity. Because it’s not about a religion; it’s about a relationship. It’s about knowing Jesus. So at Sunrise we want to see each and every person grow and excel in their own personal relationship with Jesus.



Sharing Our Faith

Look, we’re surrounded by people who are far from God. And we need to be about the business of sharing our faith with them… by showing it through our actions and by telling them about the difference God has made in our lives. Because without Jesus, a person can never realize their purpose in life. They can never know their Creator, they can never discover how they were meant to live and they can never experience the love and forgiveness that Jesus offers for this life. And they can never experience Heaven. Look at how Paul expressed his own drive to tell others about Jesus…

1 Corinthians 9:16 (NCV)
Telling the Good News is my duty—something I must do. And how terrible it will be for me if I do not tell the Good News.

So sharing our faith is a value here at Sunrise. In fact, it’s a mandate that Jesus gives to every church and every Christ-follower. When was the last time you told someone what God has done for you?



Expanding the Church

Acts 1:8 (NLT)
“And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

This means a few different things for us. First of all, it means that we’re going to grow as a church ourselves. Now, this past year has been rough on us. With our move here to the mall, we lost a few families and we gained several others. So we essentially broke even in terms of attendance.

But from this point, we need to grow. We need Sunrise to expand and increase in our numbers, in our influence, and in the depth of our relationship with God. And let me be clear about this… if you’re counting on me to do that on my own, it’s not going to happen. Because the Bible teaches that we are ALL responsible to build His Church. Remember we looked at those verses earlier in Ephesians? We ALL need to be sharing our faith and inviting people to join us here at Sunrise and making sure we’re here ourselves. Think of one person right now that you can invite to come here with you. Hey, we’re talking about expanding the church… we could literally double in a week if every one of us just brought one other person.

Expanding the Church also means that we’re going to be involved in starting new Churches. Right now, we’re pretty strapped financially ourselves. But we’re still committed to helping out a couple of other churches that have recently started in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland. If you’re not familiar with them, then you can pick up their prayer cards this morning. And eventually, we’d love to give birth to a new church right out of Sunrise.

And the third part of this value is expanding the church around the world through missions. So we aim to give 10% of our income toward missionaries and missionary organizations. We’ve had several missionaries speak here at Sunrise. We’ve supported missions in Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Turkey, Japan, Thailand, Mozambique… And on the back wall there’s a map and some support cards available for some of those missionaries.

Plus, there are short-term mission trips. In October, Shera will be going on another trip herself to Guatemala. I know several of you have considered going on trips like that yourself soon. If you want to be kept in the loop on future opportunities, then either talk to Shera or circle “M” on your Communication Card, and we’ll keep you informed.

So those are our Core Values. Those are the things that are important to us as a Church. They are our priorities for us.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

I mentioned that the value “Real Life Christianity” is what we’re focusing on during this new series of messages. We’re going to be talking about how real life Christianity involves our schedules, our relationships, our families, our priorities, our worldview, our habits, our goals, and yes, even our finances.

Because as a friend of mine once taught me, He is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. For your faith to be genuine… for you to experience real-life Christianity… you need to realize that it’s all-encompassing. It’s not just a matter of what you believe; it’s about how you live. And it’s not just about what you do; it’s about who you are.

1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)
…You must worship Christ as Lord of your life.

Now, it took a bit of time to go through those core values and to describe what I mean by Real-life Christianity. So we’ll really be diving into this series next week. This week is more of an introduction. So just for the next few minutes, I want to show you three ways that you can envision God’s role in your life. Some of you have seen this before, but I’m going to show it to you again. Because when I first came to understand this, it was like a light came on for me. It was revolutionary. Often, the way we view God and His role in our lives is flawed. And so we miss out on the life He has for us because we misunderstand How He fits into it.

So I want to show you three images that portray how we might view God in our lives.

 
How Does God “Fit” Into My Life?
 
pie chart 

The first is kind of a pie chart. You have God as one part of your life, and then you have all the other parts. I put a few of them in the chart… Family, Career, Recreation… and you can add whatever else is part of your life… The future, Retirement, Goals, Marriage, Thoughts, Travel, Friends. Whatever. The pieces of the pie would probably be different for you than for me. Because we all value different things. But regardless, this is not a Biblical picture of what our lives are meant to be. In this concept, our lives are compartmentalized… fragmented. It’s not holistic; it’s segmented. Sure, you pay attention to God when you’re dealing with that particular wedge, but the rest of the time He’s on the sidelines. He’s marginalized.
 
So put an X through that diagram. And let’s look at another. This one’s a hierarchy… an order of priorities. And I’ve seen this model a variety of times in my lifetime. In fact, I’ve been taught this one. I’ve been told this is the way it should be. I’ve been told that in order to put God in His rightful position in my life, He needs to be tops. He needs to come first. He is the most important part of my life… Everything else pales in comparison. And that’s pretty tough to argue with, isn’t it? It sounds right, doesn’t it? So when you diagram it, it looks like this…

Heirarchy 
 
So here you have a hierarchy. And in this hierarchy, you put God first. And everything else falls into place below Him. Normally, I’ve been told that Family should come second. Then the Church, Career, and whatever else. Sometimes those are mixed up a bit depending on who you’re talking to, and maybe the priorities get reshuffled from time to time. But God is always at the top.

But what I’ve found is that this just doesn’t cut it. This may sound good, and it looks good on paper. But I’ve found that there are times that I have to put my wife before the Church, and times when the Church needs to come before her. For example, if Shera and I have an evening reserved for each other, but if I get a phone call from someone whose child is critically ill, that may need to take precedence. But if someone calls and wants to get together to talk about a new colour scheme for our website, it can wait… I’m going out with my wife.

And again, even though God is at the top, everything is still segmented. You still have God, and then you have your family, and then you have your career, and then you have the rest of your life. It may define their level of importance, but they’re still separated. In fact, it puts the various parts of your life in competition with each other, each trying to become more important than the next.

So putting God at the top of this chart seems to make sense, but you quickly find that it’s insufficient. So put an X through that chart. It just doesn’t work that way. It’s not practical.


One more diagram. This is the best I could come up with to describe to you the role that God wants to have in your life… the role He needs to have.
 
 
orbit

In this model, God is the center of your life and everything else revolves around Him. Just like the orbits of planets and planetoids and comets and asteroids are influenced by the Sun, all the different parts of your life need to be under the influence of the Son.

Acts 17:28 (NLT)
For in him we live and move and exist.

And sometimes orbits can cross. Did you know that from January 1979 until February 1999, Pluto was actually closer to the sun than Neptune? And yes, I know that Pluto has been degraded from being a planet to being a dwarf planet or a planetoid. I always thought that Pluto was farther away from the Sun than Neptune, but for half of my life it was actually the other way around. But then the orbits crossed again and Pluto will be farther away for the next 200 years.

At times one area of your life may be more important than another, and then at times they may be reversed. But always under the influence of Jesus.

Isaiah 48:17 (NLT)
This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.”

So over the next four weeks, we’re going to be exploring what it means to follow Him along those paths. We’re going to look at what the Bible has to say about the various aspect of our lives, and what kind of direction or guidance His provides. We’re going to see what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ, and not just limiting Him to an hour on Sunday and to a small area of our life.

COMMUNION

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)
You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.

William Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army and lived a remarkable life himself. One time he was asked what the secret of his incredible life was, and this was his response:

“I told the Lord that he could have all there is of William Booth.”
~ William Booth

Does He have all that there is of Greg Hanson? Does He have all there is of you?

 

 

Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2010 SunriseOnline.ca