Summary: This message calls the church, collectively and individually, to be "up to date" in their mission of reaching people.
“A Church for Today”
* Among the church culture in America it has become common to identify local churches with some troubling terms; “Contemporary or Traditional.” Why do I say these terms are troubling? Because the meaning of these words in this context has little to do with Christ Centered and God honoring attitudes and actions—but generally speak about “the music” style. This is sad because the church is, or at least should be, a great deal more than music.
* Think about those terms for a moment, “traditional” and “contemporary.” Even as I mention them in this worship context each of us conjures up our own images based on personal concepts. Another really distressing truth is that we have a tendency to allow others to define our concepts for us. Think about it; for some of us when we hear the word “contemporary” within the church we get a headache. We think of loud, hardly discernable words, which are repeated over and over. At the same time for another group, the word traditional means lifeless, dead, and without any real meaning. Honestly, both of these concepts possess flaws.
* Defined, tradition means the oral handing down of stories, beliefs, customs, and proverbs handed down in this way, an inherited pattern of thought or action, a specific long standing practice.
* Defined, contemporary means living or happening in the same period of time, of about the same age, and/or in the “style of the present or recent times; modern.”
* It is interesting to note that of all the things which Jesus fought, “tradition” headed the list. He spoke harshly to the “traditions of the Pharisees” and took them to task for rising the level of their tradition to a theological height. At the same time, Jesus desired to be “contemporary.” Better said, He spoke to the heart of people in the day He lived in terms they understood! A church for today is one who refuses to be pulled into cultural wars because they are focused on the eternal things and making “sure” that these things are communicated in the most commonly used language.
* I believe that the culture is seeking & searching for the truth, they are looking to us to see if we are “real” and “authentic” in our belief and faith. They are looking at us not only collectively, but also individually. So I ask the question, what does it mean to be a believer or church for today?
* Let’s see what the Bible says. Let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 9.
* I remind you that Paul is writing to the church at Corinth. This is a very carnal church. They are the church who has taken the attitude that “sin among God’s people is not business of ours.” Paul has already confronted them about confronting sin and in verse 19 he lays out the trek and focus of a spiritual filled, spirit let believer and thus, church for the day. Let’s read.
* Here, I find 4 marks, characteristics, or qualities which are needed in the lives of people & churches to fulfill this task.
1) CHANGED PEOPLE – V 19 – Paul says, “I have been set free.” Do we dare ask from what he had been set free? Well, to know the life of Paul is to understand that he was a “Pharisee” and lived in strict adherence to the law. Now, not just the Law of Moses but the rabbinical law which was far more restrictive. But there is more. His “road to freedom” was the Damascus Road. It is where he met Jesus. His life was change completely, entirely, and forever. He had been set free from sin’s power and sin’s penalty and based on his writings; he knew that one day he would be free from sin’s presence. He was so “changed” that in time he would be renamed and with the same passion he had attempted to destroy the church—he now build the church. With the same passion he attempted to dissuade people from believing he now endeavored to persuade them to believe.
* Paul’s life was changed. This was witnessed in every part of his life. People could tell how much he loved His Lord. Paul’s life was changed on that Damascus Road because he met the Jesus of Calvary. This is exactly what happens to everyone who meets Jesus. Many years ago Bill Gaither wrote a song which clearly expresses this truth. “Thanks to Calvary, I don’t live here anymore.”
* To be a church for today and believers for today means that Thanks to Calvary we’re different. Based on Paul’s next letter to the Corinthians, he teaches this means we have been “transformed” on the inside, “reformed” on the outside, and are being “conformed” for the “UPSIDE.”