Summary: This is the second of four sermons introducing Band Meetings in a new way for today. Here is a link for more information - “Discipleship Bands: A Practical Field Guide” (download a free copy at https://discipleshipbands.com/ )
Series: “Bringing Back the Bands”
A sermon for 1/31/21
Pastor John Bright
2 Corinthians 3 “17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Last week I introduced a way of thinking about the Christian Journey from Seedbed Ministries. JD Walt, a former Dean of the Chapel at Asbury Seminary, works for and writes for Seedbed. He describes our lives within the two halves of the gospel. Last week I shared this quote: “The first half of the gospel is about believing in the love of God for the world. The second half of the gospel is about becoming the love of God in and for the world. We stand on this conviction: the world will awaken to the first half of the gospel as the people of God awaken to the second half of the gospel.” (Discipleship Bands: A Practical Field Guide)
I wanted to go into a little more detail. JD Walt often talks about finding the two halves of the Gospel in two Bible verses. The first half of the Gospel is found in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That’s a verse we ALL know! That’s the BELIEVING verse of the first half – “believing in the love of God for the world.” To find the second half of the Gospel we look to 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” This verse describes the transformation of BECOMING like Jesus that is the second half – “becoming the love of God in and for the world.”
Sooner or later, to get on with our Christian Journey, we need to pass from the BELEIVING that we did all on our own and get to the BECOMING that we have to do together. That part of the journey – in between the two – is what JD Walt describes as the BELONGING TO JESUS. It is a seismic shift in the life of a Believer to move a way from belonging to the world and move toward fully and completely belonging to Jesus. It sounds like it should be so much hard work… but instead it takes the hard decision to surrender. We can say over and over – “Jesus, I belong to you.” We can band together so we have allies in the effort to surrender that does not come easy to most of us.
Anybody remember the days before you had Google Maps on your smarty-pants phone? Do you remember the days before we got on the computer and printed out a hard copy of the directions for a long trip? We had map books and maps on paper that were a mighty challenge to fold back the the original shape. We sat and planned. We wrote out directions on a note pad. It was an adventure that folks today who only have a pleasant voice saying “Rerouting” over and over will never know.
You get the directions (one way or another) – then you take a water bottle or two, maybe a snack – then you go to the car, maybe check your tire pressures – and finally you are sitting in the car. You just sit there. Maybe you even start the car and make sure none of the warning lights stay on and then you sit. You know where you want to go and you even made plans. Then you just sit in the car staring out the windshield… going nowhere. That’s a picture of a Believer that is stuck between the two halves of the Gospel – they are on the journey between BELIEVING and BECOMING.
This is “The Gap” between where we are and where we need or want to be. Getting to the other side of “The Gap” is part of our Christian Journey. That’s where we encounter Holy Discontent.
We all want to be free – v. 17
“17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
We live in country that values liberty, or we may call it freedom. We think of ourselves as free but when you are stuck – you may not even realize it. That’s what Jesus told the folks in Israel:
John 8 “31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”