Illustration results for The Creed
Sermon Central Staff
Unity is not simply an intellectual exercise. We can believe the same things, recite the same creeds, belong to the same denomination, but that does not mean we have unity.
In his book Soul Talk, Larry Crabb writes:
"Which is worse? A church program to build community that doesn’t get off the ground or one person sitting every Sunday in the back of the church who remains unknown? A Sunday school class that once drew hundreds but has now dwindled to thirty or a Sunday school teacher whose sense of failure is never explored by a caring friend? A family torn apart by the father’s drinking, his wife’s frustration, and their third grader’s learning disabilities or a self-hating dad, a terrified mom, and a lonely little boy, three human beings whose beauty and value no one ever discovers? A national campaign that fails to gain steam for the pro-life movement or a single woman on her way home from an abortion clinic in the backseat of a taxi, a woman whose soul no one ever touches?"
We may notice the unknown pew sitter, we wonder how the teacher of the now small class feels, we worry over each member of the torn-up family, and we feel for the guilt and pain of a woman who has ended her baby’s life. But we do what’s easier. We design programs, we brainstorm ways to build attendance, and in our outrage over divorce statistics and abortion numbers we fight for family values.
These are all good things, but we don’t TALK to the pew sitter; we don’t ASK the teacher how he’s feeling; we don’t INVITE the dad to play golf, the woman to lunch, or the little boy to play with our children; we don’t let the aborting woman know we CARE about her soul.
That response to hurting people, I would label disunity. Disunity is not just fighting over personal preferences. It’s not just leaving the church because someone hurt your feelings. It’s not just gossip that tears down other members of the body. It’s leaving needs unmet. It’s failing to love people the way God would have us love. Unity is lived out in caring concern for others.
(From a sermon by Bret Toman, Unity For the Glory of God, 1/3/2011)
Max Lucado (Angels were Silent)
Describes how in a similar way we cry out for something to cut through the clutter of life, turning to faith and religion to give us simplicity, instead finding things just as complicated:
Enter, religion. We Christians have a solution for the confusion don’t we? “Leave the cluttered world of humanity,” we invite, “and enter the sane, safe garden of religion.”
Let’s be honest.
Instead of a “sane, safe garden,” how about a “wild and woolly sideshow”? It shouldn’t be the case, but when you step back and look at how religion must appear to the unreligious, well, the picture of an amusement park comes to mind.
Flashing lights of ceremony and pomp. Roller-coaster thrills of emotion. Loud music. Strange people. Funny clothes.
Like barkers on a midway preachers persuade: “Step right up to the Church of Heavenly Hope of High Angels and Happy Hearts ….”
• “Over here, madam; that church is too tough on folks like you. Try us, we teach salvation by sanctification which leads to purification and stabilization. That is unless you prefer the track of predestination which offers …”
• “Your attention, please sir. Try our premillennial, non-charismatic, Calvinistic Creed service on for size … you won’t be disappointed.”
A safe garden of serenity? No wonder a lady said to me once, “I’d like to try Jesus, if I could just get past the religion.”
He goes on to tell a favorite story of his where this simplicity was found:
Once a bishop who was traveling by ship to visit a church across the ocean. While en route, the ship stopped at an island for a day. He went for a walk on a beach. He came upon three fishermen mending their nets.
Curious about their trade he asked them some questions. Curious about his ecclesiastical robes, they asked him some questions. When they found out he was a Christian leader, they got excited. “We Christians!” they said, proudly pointing to one another.
The bishop was impressed but cautious. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard of it.
“What do you say, then, when you pray?”
“We pray, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’ ”
The bishop was appalled at the primitive nature of the prayer. “That will not do.” So he spent the day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. The fishermen were poor but willing learners. And before the bishop sailed away the next day, they could recite the prayer with no mistakes.
The bishop was proud.
On the return trip the bishop’s ship drew near the island again. When the island came into view the bishop came to the deck and recalled with pleasure the men he had taught and resolved to go see them again. As he was thinking a light appeared on the horizon near the island. It seemed to be getting nearer. As the bishop gazed in wonder he realized the three fishermen were walking toward him on the water. Soon all the passengers and crew were on the deck to see the sight.
When they were within speaking distance, the fisherman cried out, “Bishop, we come hurry to meet you.”
“What is it you want?” asked the stunned bishop.
“We are so sorry. We forget lovely prayer. We say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name …’ and then we forget. Please tell us prayer again.”
The bishop was humbled. “Go back to your homes, my friends, and when you pray say, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’ ”
Those three fisher men had encountered that you don’t have to be too complicated in your faith, you don’t have to get it all right.
Instead, they had hearts that were focused and strengthened by simple trust in God.
The two men in our story in Luke—like so many of us searching for strength and security and sense in a complicated and confounding world—ended up finding their answer in a remarkable man that cut through all of their confusion.
J.S. Whale has said that one of the greatest dangers that theologians face is that we put a pipe in our mouths and our feet on the mantelpiece and sit down in an armchair to discuss theories of the atonement instead of bowing down before the wounds of Christ, that we scurry round the burning bush taking photographs from suitable angles instead of taking our shoes off our feet for the place whereon we stand is holy ground.
William Barclay, The Apostles’ Creed for Everyman (New York: Harper & Row, Pub., 1967), 23.
Bruce Larson said, “The events of Easter cannot be reduced to a creed or philosophy. We are not asked to believe the doctrine of the resurrection. We are asked to meet this person raised from the dead. In faith, we move from belief in a doctrine ...
The evangelist David Pawson tells a story about a budgerigar that sang hymns. He belonged to an old lady in Cardiff and could sing a whole verse of ’What a friend we have in Jesus!’
And when visitors come to this old folks home they heard a little voice saying ’What a friend we have in Jesus,’ and they look around and there’s this budgie in a cage and for some reason they push money through the bars of the cage.
And the lady who owned it sent the money to a Missionary in Africa.
That budgie was doing more than most church members, because it was actually praising God everyday, and supporting a Missionary in Africa. The old lady had sent over £175.
It’s was only a budgerigar, - it wasn’t a believer, and there are an awful lot of budgerigars in Church, saying the Creed, singing their little hearts out, and filling the pews.
When you believe the ’good news’ you can’t simply hold onto it like a treasured possession. For God’s Kingdom to come, Jesus must rule in the hearts of His people, and we must be the ones who go out and spread the good news.
Illus.: “The Boy Who Believes in the Holy Spirit Isn’t Here”
A children’s catechism class was learning the Apostles Creed. Each child had been assigned a sentence to repeat. The first one said, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” The second child said, “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son…” When he had completed his sentence, there was an embarrassing silence. Finally, one child piped up, “Teacher, the boy who believes in the Holy Spirit isn’t here.”
"I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one would walk with me than merely show the way. The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear; Fine counsel is confusing but example’s always clear. And the best of all the preachers are the ones who live their creeds, For to see good put in action is what everybody needs. I soon can learn to do it if you let me see it done. I can watch your hands in action but your tongue too fast may run. And the sermon you deliver may be very wise and true, But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do, For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give, But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live."
Blow the trump and ring the bell;
Dress it up and make it sell;
Fill it with the rich and well;
And count the heads.
We’re doing well!
But where’s the faith?
Read the creed and get it right;
Hold it fast with all your might;
Close the door and bolt it tight;
We’ve no need for further light!
But where’s the faith?
Build the church and make it grow,
Cushioned pews in classic row;
Made for comfort we love so.
Come in, relax, enjoy the show!
But where’s the faith?
Like James said, that’s a whole lot of religious activity, but it’s not saving relationship of faith with our Lord Jesus Christ. But…
In the sickroom on the bed –
Invalid, helpless, but not dead
Hear her praying through the pain,
"May my suffering be your gain."
There’s the faith.
Here a loving mother gives,
With all the reason that she ...
The rock group Creed sings the words, “Only in America we stamp our god, “‘In God we trust.’” (Creed, “In America”)
KNOW WHAT YOU BELIEVE
The contention of the atheist is logically unsustainable and realistically unlivable. English journalist Steve Turner, in a work entitled, “Creed” sums it up pretty well:
We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin.
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.
We believe in sex before, during, and
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.
We believe that everything’s getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.
We believe there’s something in horoscopes,
UFO’s and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher although we think
His good morals were bad.
We believe that all religions
are basically the same –
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.
We believe that after death comes Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it’s compulsory heaven for all
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan.
We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.
We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and
Americans should beat their guns into tractors
and the Russians are sure to follow.
We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.
We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth
that there is no absolute truth.
We believe in the rejection of creeds,
and the flowering of individual thought.
If chance be
the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
and when you hear
State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb blasts school!
It is but the sound of man
worshipping his maker.
SOURCE: Steve Turner, “Creed” and “Chance” quoted in Can Man Live Without God by Ravi Zacharias, pp. 42-44