Sermon Summary (8/18/19) “Who we believe in Matters” (Exodus 20:2-3; Luke 14:26)
My all-time favorite novel, James Michener’s The Source, tells a story of a man mesmerized by the Canaanite fertility goddess, Astarte. He kills a man because of his worship. His loving wife, a follower of El, says, “If Urbaal had had different god, he would have been a different man.”
What we believe about God, who we believe in as god, matters! The very first of the Ten Commandments, some would say the commandment from which all others flow, is “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Who or what are your gods? We all have them. We are all slaves to something. Good things. But we error when we make our good things our ultimate things. Martin Luther said, “Whatever your heart clings to and abides in you are your gods.” And depending on our gods, we will be either Christ-centered or self-centered. The greatest contest in our society is not between religion and atheism, but between our competing gods.
What we believe matters. What we believe in shapes us, forms us, determines our behavior, establishes our relationships. What we believe in, really believe in, shapes our very lives.
What good things have you made ultimate things? Your family? Approval? Romance or attraction of the opposite sex? Or here’s the tough one, your grandchildren. There is no doubt that Rosemary’s children and grandchildren were paramount. That’s just the way it was.
What then do we do? Step one is this. Give thanks to the God of the Universe for the good gifts, the ultimate gifts that he has given you. That is the first step in lifting God into his rightful place. Then take to heart the earliest creed of the church: “Jesus is Lord.” That is the beginning of putting no other gods before God.
This begins a sermon series, “Living Our Beliefs.” Some have said, “You can be a Methodist and believe anything.” That is not true. We are first part of the Universal Communion of Jesus Christ. We are baptized into the Universal Church and then received into the United Methodist Church. We hold in common the universal beliefs of all Christians: The Triune God, Salvation by grace through faith in the acts of Jesus Christ, the reign of God is both a present and future reality, the authority of Scripture in matters of faith, the doctrinal statements set forth and bounded by the ancient creeds. So may it be for us.