Saturday, September 12, 2015
Sermon Summary from Sep 6th, “Following Jesus” (Matt 4:19)
I grew up in the church, but either nobody told me what it meant to follow Jesus or it didn’t stick. I most of all remember being scared to death by my Sunday School teachers of anything associated with moral turpitude, but not how to live my life. I’m not alone. Surveys show that there seems to be no difference between born-gain Christians and non-believers on how they live their lives. Divorce rates, white collar crime, most areas of ethical behavior or benevolence are nearly the same. Jesus hasn’t changed our behavior.
What does it mean to follow Jesus? Phil Maynard derives his definition from Matthew 4:19: “Follow me (being part of the body of Christ) and I will make you (becoming more like Jesus) fishers of men (joining Jesus in ministry).” There is no cookie-cutter approach to these broad areas, but six dimensions of discipleship, a way of life, followers of Jesus for life. These dimensions correspond to the three broad areas:
Worship: Jesus said, “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” (Mt 4: 10)
Hospitality: “When did we see you a stranger and welcome you?” (Mt 25: 38)
Opening: “You have heard it said… but I say to you.” (Mt 5:21-22)
Obeying: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
Service: “You are the salt of the earth… you are the light of the world.” (Mt 5:13;15)
Generosity: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to the least of these… you did it to me.” (Mt 25:40)
Each on of us will find us in varying places, exploring, beginning, growing, maturing in each of these areas. The coming series will help us in determining where we are, what the next step is, and what assistance we might need to follow Jesus. Amen.
Sermon Summary from Aug 30rd ), “Is There a God?” (Ge 1:1-4; Ps 19:1-4; Apostle’s Creed)
In the coming weeks we are going to be spending time learning to follow Jesus. Is it worth it? Only if there is a God, and only if he is involved in our lives. And if God is real and is involved in my life, I’d better be involved in his!
So is there a God? Most of us experience God through creation or experience, many both. At a time when I was questioning how I was going to help my son overcome his doubts, I found myself high over the Rocky Mountains descending into Albuquerque and as I looked at their majesty there could be no doubt. I could assure others that God existed. The following morning I encountered the presence of God in unusual circumstances, and it wasn't the first time. God is involved in my life. His involvement has transformed me. I am a far different person today than the one in an Albuquerque motel 30 years ago.
But, why don’t so many people believe. I think the inhospitably of many so-called Christians has much to do with it. Who wants to be like the Westboro Baptist Church? Then religion in general. Who wants to side with ISIS cutting off heads and ceremonially raping Christian and Yazidi girls? Religion gives non-believers ammunition.
And then there is the misuse of the Bible. Too many believe God wanted to give us science or history lessons rather than theology—the story of God and us and his love for us. “In the beginning God..” That’s what we need to know. What follows is soaring poetry describing the love affair he desires with us. His pursuit of us when we fall away.
And let’s not push away scientists. Some of the greatest discoveries have been by devote scientists. Galileo (and how did the church treat him? Georges Lamaitre, a Belgium Priest first postulated the big bang theory in 1927. It took until 1965 to become settled science. And what came before? We know. “In the beginning, God.”
The Apostles Creed begins “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” God, maker. We normally focus on that word: God, creator of all things. But there is an equally important word: God, Father. It is a relational word. We have a God who created us, loves us and wants to be involved in our lives. It is only important to follow Jesus if there is a God and if he is involved in our lives. And I repeat. If he is, we better be involved in his! So may it be with you.