Presentation on theme: "The Children of God are Obvious. Worshipping with People We Didn't Hand-Pick Writer and NPR commentator Heather King, a recovering alcoholic who has."— Presentation transcript:
Worshipping with People We Didn't Hand-Pick Writer and NPR commentator Heather King, a recovering alcoholic who has come to faith in Christ, reflected on her initial experience with the church: My first impulse was to think, My God, I don't want to get sober (or in the case of the church, worship) with THESE nutcases! (or boring people, or people with different politics, taste in music, food, books, or whatever). Nothing shatters our egos like worshipping with people we did not hand-pick …. The humiliation of discovering that we are thrown in with extremely unpromising people!—people who are broken, misguided, wishy-washy, out for themselves. People who are … us.
She continues… But we don't come to church to be with people who are like us in the way we want them to be. We come because we have staked our souls on the fact that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the church is the best place, the only place, to be while we all struggle to figure out what that means. We come because we'd be hard pressed to say which is the bigger of the two scandals of God: that he loves us—or that he loves everyone else. – Adapted from Heather King, "The Better Church," Shirt of Flame blog (10-23-11)
John understood that none of us loves in a true sense by our old nature The challenge becomes that God calls us to love all who we find as our neighbor He does not give us the luxury of picking and choosing who we love He exhorts us to demonstrate our transformed nature by loving as Jesus loves Show you are the Children of God, grow up into the love of Christ
Little Children: Do Not Be Deceived (vv. 7-9) Our thoughts, words and actions are good indicators of who we are The one who practices righteousness is righteous Those who act righteously do it by virtue of their connection to Jesus We can only do righteous deeds by virtue of God’s grace at work in our hearts The one who practices sin is of the devil – he sinned from the beginning Those who wallow in, revel in, rationalize & justify their sinful ways show their true nature The son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil Jesus came to tear down the kingdom of the devil Those who follow Jesus will walk in His footsteps
No one who is born of God practices sin John is not saying that born again believers will never sin He is saying they will not willingly continue the sinful ways of their old sinful nature Because His seed abides in him The Holy Spirit transforms the fundamental nature of the believer at the moment of the new birth There is still a need for this new life to grow to maturity and bear fruit He cannot abide in sin, because he is born of God This seed of new life creates a change that is not compatible with our old nature and ways The soil of the believer’s life becomes inhospitable to the weeds of our old sinful ways
An Obvious Standard (vv. 10-13) The obvious evidence between the children of God and the children of the devil (You are one or the other) Anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God God knows you are not going to be perfect, but what is the goal and desire of your heart? Where are you getting your direction and motivation? Only if you are motivated and governed by the Holy Spirit and honoring God are one of His children The one who does not love his brother is not of God Are you harboring hatred, a grudge or bitterness against someone? You have not fully understood the Gospel or understood the implications of Christ’s death for you You need to either come to Christ or grow up in Christ
You have been taught from the beginning – love one another To love you brother is not a new command Even non-believers value and pursue love, twisted though it may be Do not be like Cain – who was of the evil one He murdered his brother Genesis 4:3-10 Why? Envy, Jealousy Because his deeds were evil His brother’s deeds were righteous Do not be surprised if the world hates you just like Cain hated Abel Evil cannot stand for righteousness to prosper It exposes evil for what it is Instead of admitting the wrongs committed, evil seeks to remove the prick of righteousness to its conscience
Evidence of our identity: True Love (vv. 14-18) We know we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren The change from strife, envy, jealousy, anger & hatred to love and compassion show a radicle change in our hearts He who does not love abides in death To harbor and even foster anger, jealousy is clear evidence that we have not been transformed by the Gospel It is evidence of our sickness & only breeds death Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer John is echoing Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5:21-24 No murderer has eternal life abiding in him Hatred, envy, jealousy, anger and bitterness are incompatible with the truly transformed believer
Jesus gave the clearest demonstration of love He laid His life down for us John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren Are you willing to give up your life, desires, opinions and preferences for your brothers and sisters? Exhortation Whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? God has given these things to us for this very purpose Let us not love with word or tongue, but in deed and truth He is not condemning the loving words He is saying words are not enough Talk is cheap, so back up your words with actions
Therefore: Show you are the Children of God, grow up into the love of Christ Bono on Spiritual Formation Your nature is a hard thing to change; it takes time…. I have heard of people who have life-changing, miraculous turnarounds, people set free from addiction after a single prayer, relationships saved where both parties "let go, and let God." But it was not like that for me. For all that "I was lost, I am found," it is probably more accurate to say, "I was really lost. I'm a little less so at the moment." And then a little less and a little less again. That to me is the spiritual life. The slow reworking and rebooting the computer at regular intervals, reading the small print of the service manual. It has slowly rebuilt me in a better image. It has taken years, though, and it is not over yet. –Bono, U2 (with Neil McCormick), U2 by U2 (HarperCollins, 2006), p. 7
Have You Been Praying for Armadillos? Christian comedian Ken Davis tells the following story about waiting for a "sign from God." A Christian gets on an empty city bus, walks to rear, and sits down. Lord, he prays, if you want me to speak to someone about you, please give me a sign. At the next stop another passenger boards the bus, goes all the way to the back, and sits down right next to the Christian. The passenger asks, "Do you know anything about Jesus?"
He continues… The Christian excuses himself for a moment and slowly bows his head and once again prays, Lord, if you really want me to talk to this stranger, I need just one more sign. Please turn the bus driver into an armadillo. Have you been praying for armadillos? Have you been waiting for a sign from God you really hope never comes before you get serious about following him? – Clare De Graaf, The 10-Second Rule (Howard Books, 2013), page 51