Since the Church Is of God

Thursday, May 31, 2012

“He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:5 RSV).

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:3-10

In one of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts cartoons, Lucy shouts, “Do you understand?” Linus puts his hands over his ears and says, “Yes. I understand! You don’t have to yell at me!” Lucy reflects. “Perhaps you’re right. . Perhaps I shouldn’t yell at you so much, but I feel that if I talked to you quietly as I am doing now [and again she shouts], you’d never listen!”
This is reminiscent of generations of robust, aggressive, evangelical Protestant preaching. The practice of “laying the truth on the line” and turning up the volume is not to be downgraded if done with integrity. Most of us have heard the story of the preacher who wrote on the margin of his sermon notes, “Weak argument-​get louder here.” Christianity is more than something to be preached and something to be heard. Kierkegaard pointed this out: “Christianity, by becoming a direct communication, is altogether destroyed. It becomes a superficial thing, capable neither of inflicting wounds, nor of healing them.”
We who have been redeemed through Jesus Christ are the church of God, and therefore it is our responsibility to go beyond “turning up the volume” when presenting God’s Word. When we become Christians, we step into a sacred community where we are to serve others. The church is of God, not of human origin.

1) Since the church is of God, we should not resist self-examination.

The quaint old church on Main Street or in the suburbs, U.S.A., is facing many crises. The church has been a captive church swallowed up in a middle-class culture. Often it has acted as if its sole task is to do whatever the world wants done and to do it on the world’s terms. Afraid to live in terms of its own integrity, the church adopts what has been called a “flirtatious response,” trying to con the world into noticing its presence by all kinds of tricks.
In Robert Bolt’s drama A Man for All Seasons, the concluding scene has the Common Man step to the edge of the stage just after the godly Thomas More has been beheaded for defying for conscience’ sake the wrathful Henry VIII. The Common Man says to the stunned audience: “I’m breathing. . Are you breathing, too? . . It’s nice, isn’t it? It isn’t difficult to keep alive, friends-​just don’t make trouble-​or if you must make trouble, make the sort of trouble that’s expected.”
Here is our problem, at least in part. Any trouble the church has caused modern society is the kind that is expected, like passing resolutions at conventions. Jesus came to bring a sword, but we have been busy pin-pricking. Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple, but we have only hinted gently that they might be offending God. Lukewarmness often is considered virtuous; economic and social application of the gospel is sometimes rejected as subversive, as though communist inspired. Ministers, in far too many instances, have unwittingly sold out in the defense of an oppressive status quo and then wondered why their members ask, especially before the new wears off, “Have you heard our fine preacher?” Our Christian fathers in the first century did not flinch at the charge that they “upset the world”! What heirs we have turned out to be! We cannot bring ourselves to upset the apple cart, let alone the world.
Self-examination is necessary for the church in each generation. Some good and exciting things are taking place now as a result of such reflection. More good things ought yet to come.

2) Since the church is of God, it must learn and remember what God wants it to be.

The New Testament records the early Christians’ convictions about the purpose of the Christian life, community, and witness. It is more of a shout of joy than a closely reasoned theological argument. It invites people to come and see what God has done in Jesus Christ.
In the opening sentences of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he is refreshing the memory of his readers of their joy in their newfound faith, and then he gives this reason for it. “[God] destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ . . for he has made known to us . . [his] plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him” (Eph. 1:5, 9-10 RSV). God is summing up all things in Jesus Christ; he is bringing all things into clear focus in him. All things, as they are brought into their true relationship with him, also are brought into their true relationship to one another and so into an all-embracing harmony.
These early Christians meant business when they said they had found God in Christ or had been found by God in Christ. The one whom they called Lord was Lord in fact as well as name, not only of their lives but of the entire universe. Such a saving experience and such a sense of mission ushered them into a community, the church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The church is not a chance creation of a group of people who happened to make up their minds that they wanted to stand for certain things. They found a mission for living and the strength to carry that mission to the ends of the earth. We belong to the church not simply when our names are on the membership book but when we feel deeply a part of the power of the love of God that brings all things into focus in Jesus Christ.

Now in Conclusion

When you choose Christ in such a way that he truly becomes the center of your life, you put yourself in the sphere where you not only act but are acted upon. This kind of living is not passive. It goads you to your best and haunts you at your worst. It summons you up into what you could be and to forgive what you have been. It invites you to compassion and brings pain upon you. It bids you laugh at your own insignificance; it gives you a sense of your own importance. It calls you into the lives of the unlovable; it enables you to get along without their love. It drives you to the heart of sorrow; it puts you alongside joy as well. Since the church is of God, be a part of it.

God bless you all,
Pastor Mike
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Don't serve people - serve God. If you serve people you will be hurt and then you will quit. When you serve God you will continue to help people even when you are hurt by them - because it isn't them that you serve and you aren't doing it for your glory or for their response. You are doing it for God's glory and for their good no matter what their response.

    1 Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

    Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
    1929 days ago
    Daily I ask Holy Spirit to examine me and show me truth that He can transform me to be what He wants me to be.

    I have learned so much through Jesus and have changed and been transformed so much through Jesus that I have no choice but that He is the center of my universe and the world's universe He is lord over and of.

    He ministers to us each new day so that He can fill us to over flowing with His goodness, love, truth, mercy and grace so that we can splash the over flow over to all others that we come into contact with each new day.

    This life is not a game it is for real and can be real and beautiful for and through Jesus or deadly and ugly because of the evil one of old the devil.

    With Jesus my life really is an awesome adventure each new day.

    He sets up divine appointments with new people all the time in my life so that I have the chance to share my Jesus with them.

    Thank you PastorMike for a blog that was another surprise for me to read because it was not what I expected.
    1937 days ago
    As I read this blog I thought to myself how many Preachers and even laymen when preaching , teaching or just witnesses are afraid to stand up for what they truly believe for fear of being disliked. Even churches on the whole are more worried about being popular with others than if what they teach is right on with God. Take the issue of Gay Marriages etc .

    This blog bought this verse to my mind. 2 Timothy 4:3: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. I am thankful that you are one Preacher who will tell it like it is.
    You will stand on the word of God, even if you stand alone. God Bless. Paulette

    1938 days ago
    Knowing you is a deeply rewarding gift. Thank you for loving us.
    1939 days ago
    Love it as always, really makes you think. Thanks
    1939 days ago
    This was so so so so good, Pastor Mike. I have shared the last paragraph with several friends and have printed it out so that I can be reminded of it often. Yes and amen, Brother. Yes and amen.
    1940 days ago
  • ERIN1957
    So many of the modern churches want to draw in many, but some have lost the message with being entertainers or want to put on a show. Or the flavor of the month of anything goes, all goes. Never trying to step on toes or offend any group or any bad choices.
    Especial large now in the media with the presidential election at bay. Money at play and the anything goes again.
    I stand back and watch so much anger directed at the churches, even fighting amongst themselves. People leaving churches they have attended all their lives because of "new" doctrine, new rules and getting away from the true teachings; the Word of God. I am sad to see this all. This of all times is our time, the Christian time to join together and get back to the beautiful WORD and stand strong together.
    Thanks Pastor Mike another great teaching!
    In Him, Erin
    1940 days ago
    Wonderful blog Pastor Mike!! You always seem to know what I need to hear!!
    I am so thankful you are a Pastor who tells us just like it is!!
    Thank you Pastor Mike!! Keep them coming, Please! Hugs!! God Bless you and yours!! So very thankful to have you as a Friend!!
    1942 days ago
    How wonderful that you taught this lesson. We were trying to do some changes in our church without losing sight of what our church is. It seems that you always teach about something that is going on in my life. God really did put you in my life & I'm so glad He did.
    1942 days ago
    Wonderful blog my favorite line also is..."It summons you up into what you could be and to forgive what you have been."

    I have been forgiving myself more. Thank you for the wonderful message.
    1942 days ago
  • KAYDE53
    Thanks for another thought provoking blog!! I certainly don't want to live a passive life; I do want to live up to what I can be through Him!! Amen!!
    I like the line, "It goads you to be your best and haunts you at your worst." It really does, I know both those feelings very well!! Thanks!
    1942 days ago
  • CHRIS3874
    thanks again
    1942 days ago
    Pastor Pastor Pastor MIke

    Awesome Sermon I love it it's so true we are a worldy & a luke warm society I see it time and time again most don't want to convict the lost or even challenge the luke warm.

    As I read your Conclusion my eyes filled up and I was choked up, I see myself growing and how different I'm seeing myself and how I desire to correct when I just lightly step out of line with my thoughts and frustrations. I sometimes want to pray God teach my husband a lesson but then I catch myself and I say guide him and protect him.

    It's so hard to do but the feeling inside is so beautiful Pastor and I'm sitting here just eyes filled with how much I want to be filled with love and forgiveness in all things that is my desire.

    Thank You Pastor it's not all about just being tolerant which is not the right thing you can disapprove and be passive at the same time but there is away to do it in love.

    Awesome my cup runneth over. I read another message from a co-worker who preaches to elderly and it was awsome. I'll shall post it as a blog.

    Thank You

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1943 days ago
  • BOVEY63
    A truly wonderful blog Pastor!
    1943 days ago
  • BAKER1009
    Wonderful blog.
    My favorite line, "It summons you up into what you could be and to forgive what you have been."
    I forgive myself for what I have been, and keep looking forward to what I can be!

    Thanks Pastor Mike!!
    1943 days ago
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