Sunday, June 26, 2005
Sermon Summary: June 25, 2005
Continuing with my week long tradition, another summary my sermon this Sabbath:
I think in North American society we've become a bunch of Zaccheuses, rich people isolated by the pursuit of wealth above all else. Loneliness is very easy to experience in today's society and churches, but consider the contrast with the church of Acts 2. They were a radical society living in a totally communal (even communist) way. They shared everything, wanted nothing, and were happy and growing. Contrast that with the society we live in and the churches we attend.
The reason they were able to live share their material possessions was because they were already sharing their spiritual possessions. Galatians 6:1,2 says: "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." We are not to experience salvation in isolation, but to help each other in the spiritual experience. There is no room for individualism, self-reliance, or autonomy in the Body of Christ.
James 5:16 says "Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed." Sin is not just between us and God, because Christ has chosen to deal with sin through the ministry of His Body. Confession doesn't mean going to a spiritual person in order to get to God (Catholic priestly confession), but rather God comes to us through His body in the act of confession and prayer.
All this doesn't abrogate personal responsibility, as Paul reminds us (Gal. 4:3-5). We can do this either by trying to ignore or enforce the law of love in the church. What we need is faith in God's power to restore, and to work with Him by either submitting to correction when we have sinned or speaking the truth with grace and gentleness when we see our friends in danger. Then we will become the community of believers that God intends us to be.
I feel the impact of this message, as someone who enjoys his internet time. The internet is a great tool for connectivity, but is can lead to disconnection with the community we need most, those flesh and blood people through whom God can restore us.