Sunday, April 13, 2008

Working the Body

Today (April 13, 2008) my sermon was drawn from Article 7 of the new proposed Statement of Faith for the Evangelical Free Church of America. (All of this is part of my sermon series on what we believe, why we believe it, and what difference it should make in our live. The series in entitled, "It's Hard to Believe.")

The Article reads:

We believe that the true church comprises all who have been justified by God's grace through faith alone in Christ alone. They are united by the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, of which He is the Head. The true church is manifest in local churches, whose membership should be composed only of believers. The Lord Jesus mandated two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which visibly and tangibly express the gospel. Though they are not the means of salvation, when celebrated by the church in genuine faith, these ordinances confirm and nourish the believer.

After the morning service during our discussion time, aptly called "The Pastor's Study," because that's where we meet, our discussion turned to how do we, as the Body of Christ, live out the reality in our daily lives? How can we be the church outside the walls of the facility often referred as the church? As we threw around some ideas I was drawn to Jesus' words when He told His disciples that they were the "light of the world" and the "salt of the Earth" and by extension "Unhidden hilltop cities." I noted that Jesus did not say they would become these things, He said that they are these things.

Too often, I believe, we in the church feel that we are inadequate for the task for which we have been called, and that is to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. We feel unprepared, untrained. If only there was another class we could take, after the numerous ones we have already taken, on how to be good witnesses, or how to better share our faith. Doesn't strike you as odd that the first church didn't have class one in Friendship Evangelism, but people were added to the church on a daily basis, and sometimes in large numbers.

I believe, as those who have put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ, those who according to the Scriptures are born again, have what is needed. As the Holy Spirit has been given to abide in use we become the salt and light of which Jesus referred. Our task is therefore to go forth and live our lives by the power of Him who lives within us. We are to go forth and pray for those we shall and do encounter, and we go forth to compassionately, selfless, and even sacrificially care for the people we encounter on a daily basis. I guess another way to say that is we are to let the life of Christ live in and through us.

What do you think? This coming week, Lord willing, I am planning to address the issue what what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ in our world today? What does it mean to live incarnationally before our family and friends?

Have you any thoughts on those questions? I would love to hear your musings on what it means to be the church, rather than to just do church.

3 comments:

Brandon K. Baker said...

A.W. Tozer wrote, "One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always."

I think this quote aptly sums up what it means to "be the church" rather than to "do church." If all that identifies FBC as a church is that a group of men, women, and children all show up at the same building at the same time, then the church is not much more than a pastime. The same applies to any church congregation. When do we, the church, finally come to a point when we crave getting our hands dirty? What does it take to move us from predictable worship patterns to exciting, scary, spirit-lead worship that changes both the church and the world?

I guess the truth is that we are a spoiled and consumer punch-drunk generation of believers. We've bought into the Burger King mantra of "Have it your way" and have cast out the biblical concept of denying ourselves and following Jesus (Luke 9:23). Most of us, myself as much as anyone else, are full of excuses on why we can't fulfill the aforementioned command. Most of us are satisfied with fulfilling "love thy neighbor" simply by being nice to people in the grocery store line. I don't know what it takes to shake the sleep away and wake the church up to the reality of a suffering world. Somewhere deep inside of me there is a desire to get knee deep into the refuse of this world. I hope that desire is stowed away in all of us.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Randy,
I think we have been around this block previously...but here goes!

We are called to be salt and light...as you say we are told we ARE salt and light...not BECOMING salt and light. Sprinkling salt makes food tasty (and sometimes raises blood pressure!) it also makes one thirsty. In icy weather...sprinkling salt makes the ice melt and makes the sidewalk safe to walk on without the risk of falling. Salt adds flavor to life....perhaps a little kindness or good deed done for a neighbor will add "flavor" to their day and ease a life heavy with the cares of this world. Being a faithful friend to one who does't know Christ...yet has a great need OF Christ can cause that person to become thirsty for what you have that seems to satisfy YOUR deepest longings and needs as you walk this earth. Perhaps there is a block of "ice" in our lives...one who resists the claims of Christ and anything Christian...sprinkling salt will melt that icy exterior and perhaps melt a heart of ice.
The salt analogy just goes so far....I think we as the bride of Christ here on this earth have lost our "saltiness" because we have become too much like the world. Christ called us to "come out from among them and be seperate"....we don't seem to like being "different" in this day and age. We have fallen for the world's message of "tolerance"...anything goes....we must not judge....be accepting...don't be judgemental.

Christ was loving...but He was also judgemental...He confronted people with their sin...He called for repentance...and then forgave their sin. We (the church) on the otherhand pussyfoot around sin...trying our dead level best not to "offend".

The world isn't thirsty because we aren't salty!
We dress as immodestly as THEY do...we use the same foul and often vulgar language as they do, we cheat in business practices like they do,we are fearful like they are, we worry like they do, we are selfish and unethical...like they are, we have a "form of rightousness"...but it stinks as far as they are concerned.

I think we ARE becoming salt and light...in that until we allow the power of the Holy Spirit to daily transform us to HIS image...we remain in our own image...faulty to the core. We have the POTENTIAL to BE salt and light...but only HE can truly make us salt and light. The more we become LIKE Christ in our daily walk...the saltier we become, our light shines brighter. It seems to be a progressive thing...I have ALL of the Holy Spirit....but I can only be effective as salt and light as HE has ALL of ME ! That is a daily act of the will on my part.

As Paul said..."Oh that I might DECREASE and HE might INCREASE"

Prayerfully, Ruthie

Mike Daley said...

Over 30 years ago, in High School, my Christian witness was being observed. I only found out one instance today when an old classmate found our blog and posted this comment, "I knew you were a christian then and admired your resolve, I came to Lord when I was about 20, He has been faithful even though I often have not been. "
So, as you say, we "are" the light, and we don't always know it.