A Diverse Church

As we are being challenged to read and study the book of John, I wanted to share some of my personal sermon notes with you to help you understand the book. I preached through the entire book over the course of 1 year when I pastored First Baptist Church Del Rio. Enjoy!

Diversity means to be inclusive. Jesus was the master of diversity. He preached about it and freely spoke about it. Today, when you think about your church, what comes to mind? Are you living in the past or are you moving forward. Do you see a shift in the diversity of your church? We should be excited, ecstatic, and enjoying the fruits of others that have come before us to allow you and I to see the change in the makeup of your congregation. Jesus is alive and He is always at work all around us. All we have to do is open our eyes. 

Read: John 10:1-21—“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” 19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” 21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Pray

  1. Diversity begins with Jesus—verses 1-9
  2. Jesus is about to unload information that is going to blow the minds of these religious leaders. 
  3. He says very truly or: interpretation what I am about to tell you is of the utmost importance. 
  4. Gates are how a sheep or a person enters into a particular pen or yard. It is the entrance by which it was designed. 
  5. Jesus explains that the gate is the only way to enter. If you enter (or try to enter) any other way, then you are a robber or a thief.  
  6. Climbing the wall or fence in order to enter
  7. Making your own entrance in the pen by crushing the rocks
  8. Digging under the fence
  9. When the Sheppard opens the gate, the sheep follow, not just because the gate is open.
  10. They follow because the sheep recognize the Sheppard
  11. They hear His voice and they follow
  12. They won’t follow someone they don’t know. They run away
  13. If you know the Sheppard’s voice, then follow Him. If you are trying to enter the Kingdom of God by following a stranger instead of Jesus, you won’t be able to enter. 
  14. Do like these sheep, and run from the unrecognizable voices. 
  15. In verse 7, Jesus makes another statement of what I am about to say is the Truth: I am the gate for the sheep
  16. If any one has come and made a claim that they were the awaited Messiah, of course you know that have been fake, false, liars, or thieves as Jesus describes them. 
  17. They came to steal you heart. They came to take what wasn’t theirs to take. 
  18. But thank God, most did not listen. You have a God sense in you because He created you in His image so that you would know whom to follow. Even those that have gone astray and followed other gods (g), they too know the truth or knew the truth. Everyone has been created in the image of God in order to know whom to follow. 
  19. Her is the catch though: You must enter through the gate, which is Jesus. 
  20. Jesus says if you choose Him, He will save you. You will be able to come and go in peace, verse 9.
  21. Jesus is a diverse thinker, because He as the only one that could bring all peoples to Himself regardless of color, culture, community, or character. 
  22. Diversity starts with Jesus

 Application—Have you embraced Jesus and His diverse church?

  • Diversity includes others—verses 10-16
  • When sheep (people) decide to follow other Sheppards other than Jesus, they exclude all others not like them
  • The picture becomes clear when you see the results of what a liar, false prophet, or fake has in mind. The all have 3 things in common: to steal, to kill, and to destroy. They want to steal your heart, kill your ministry, and destroy your family. 
  • A true Sheppard (Jesus) wants to celebrate who God created you to be. He gives life and He gives it to the fullest. You will receive the best life ever when you invite the Lords of hosts to enter into your heart.
  • Jesus says a statement that will scratch the heads of even the best theologians. He says in verse 16, that He (Jesus) has other sheep (people) that are not like you. 
  • He then says I must bring them, I have to bring them, and I will be bringing them too. They will know me, and they will listen to me.
  • Jesus is the author of diversity. He made no bones about His church being a place where culture, race, color, family, socioeconomics, or any other definition we can place on it, would be welcome.
  • He was actually explaining to the Jews that Gentiles were about to join the group. That was so hard for them to hear because they had nothing in common.
  • The cross is an even playing field. There are no hurdles or hoops to jump through. All can come. Jesus already made sure of it.

Illustration—The San Antonio Spurs of the NBA are one of the best examples I can explain what diversity looks like. The players come from all over the globe. US, Canada, Australia, Brazil, France, Argentina, Virgin Islands, and Italy. They all came together to do one thing and that is to play basketball. 

Many of us come from different areas of the world, all to do one thing: to make Jesus known to all the nations. Jesus was as diverse as it comes.

Application—Do you know that God has made you unique and has a place for you in His church? If not, then know Him today.

  • Diversity is to be celebrated—verses 17-19
  • Jesus loves you so much that He chose to die for you
  • He did to so that you can live in harmony with our brother and sisters who are not like us. 
  • We celebrate diversity. 
  • For some, diversity can be a divider like we read here in verse 19-20. Some people just can’t imagine a church that looks different than them.
  • Jesus came to set us free from that mindset by including everyone from everywhere to the cross. He went to the cross voluntarily. 

IllustrationJohn 17:20-26, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”Application—Have you come to the gate of Christ? He has made a way for you to enter and it is through Him.

Application-Today, worship the God who created diversity!

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

Published by Larry Floyd

Follower of Jesus the Messiah. Husband, father, grandfather, son, uncle, friend, and pastor

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