Summary: Surrender, Unity, Fighting, The Church
LIFE APP – Applying Surrender
James 4:1-12 (p. 848) October 5, 2014
In my ministry life I’ve spent a great deal of time talking to people who couldn’t or wouldn’t see any reason to be a part of God’s family, the Church.
Almost always there’s a hurt from the past...and some are truly heartbreaking...but these individuals feel like the church has let them down in one way or another, or didn’t come through in the way they were supposed to.
It’s my opinion that there’s usually another issue or two that goes into that decision to reject the church...maybe after being hurt or leaving...they accumulate some “habits” or “baggage” that they are convinced they can’t do without...and they know eventually God will ask them about it.
Most of these folks want to convince me that they’re “saved” (usually they mention a baptism when they were 8 or 9 or a time when they confessed Jesus as Savior) but there is only anger and distain for His bride.
[Let me tell you...If you told me...”Rick, I love you...I enjoy your messages and you’re a pretty good guy...but I hate your wife...I can’t stand Kari!” I wouldn’t take it as a compliment, nor would I really believe you cared about me since you just attacked the one I love the most.]
Let me ask each of you, “Have you ever been hurt by someone in the church? Has another person who claims to be a Christ follower ever done something or said something that you don’t agree with?” Have you ever had an argument or a quarrel with another Christian?”
Those are really rhetorical questions because I know the answers before I asked the questions – Absolutely!!! All of us have been hurt...all of us have argued and been angry at another Christian.
Why? My dad used to say, “You can choose your friends, but you’re stuck with your family.”
Churches are made up of imperfect people who have different personalities, and who are at different levels of maturity...there are people in every church, including the New Testament examples where individuals have selfish motives for being there....Jesus uses a parable about a field being full of weeds & wheat. I think it is a perfect example of the Kingdom of God.
But think about your family...it’s filled with Godly Grannys and idiot uncles...but most of us don’t reject our blood families (some do) because of the idiot weeds.
James has spent a lot of time challenging us to apply our faith in the real world...and especially in our conversations...He’s taught us it takes perseverance and godly wisdom to do this with any degree of success...and no one does it perfectly.
James ends Chapter 3 by saying “Here’s what the wisdom that comes from God looks like: Pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, and good fruit, impartial and sincere (and then he says)
“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
What kind of crop do you think you get if you sow bitterness, envy, selfish ambition? James tell us:
I. THE SEEDS THAT PRODUCE FIGHTS AND QUARRELS
James starts our text with a question “what causes fights and quarrels among you?”
Most of us quickly respond: “That idiot over there!” Listen to what they did...what they said!”
Like this example:
The church service ended at the Lutheran Church in New Sweden, Maine as everyone “passed the peace.” It was the first Sunday after Easter, and the 50 people in attendance headed to the fellowship hour to have some coffee. Some of the people complained that the coffee was bitter, but people usually complain about church coffee, so they didn’t think much about it until some people began to get violently ill. By the end of the day, 16 people were hospitalized and one of them would die by the next morning. Police discovered that arsenic had been dumped into the 30-cup coffee maker, making this the nation’s worst case of mass arsenic poisoning. The next shock was that a well-respected member of the church, 53 year old Danny Bondeson, a potato farmer, was found dead at home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He left a note implicating himself in the poisoning. The investigation is now expanding to other members of the Bondeson family, whom police suspect may have been involved in the poisonings.
The story behind the story at this point seems to be that there was a disagreement in the church about a communion table. For years the church had a communion table that was against the wall, and the blessing of the bread and wine was done while facing the wall. The Bondeson family had donated a new altar so that the bread and wine could be done while facing the congregation. But traditions die hard, and the board seemed unwilling to replace the old altar, even though a new one had been donated, because they did not want to offend some of those who wanted the bread and wine blessed while facing the wall like it had always been done. Speculation is that not only Bondeson, but other members of his extended family, had become as bitter as the church coffee and decided to teach some people a lesson.