Summary: To meet the challenges of this American culture, the church must be people of faith (the right KIND of faith)...
Meeting The Challenge
“A People of Faith”
* Do you remember that old challenge, “I dare you?” Or how about the next level, “I double-dog dare you?” Those words were a ‘line in the sand’ type of statement. Most of the time, we would rise to the challenge or go down trying. No self-respecting southern male would walk away from this.
* This month I am laying before us a similar challenge. In fact, if I thought it would work, before God, I would ‘double dog dare us’ because we have a huge challenge before us. In our community we literally have church buildings on every corner. We have all sizes, types, flavors, and styles. (From time to time it occurs to me about how much more effective for the Kingdom we could be together than separate even why it is that, even those who believe alike cannot be together—but that will wait).
* Here is the sad part, just as surely as we have church buildings on every corner; there are people on those same corners who have no relationship with God through Jesus. The heart wrenching, heart breaking part of all of this is that it seems like the two cultures never intersect. While it is not surprising that the unchurched, unsaved culture seem to want little to do with the church, I wonder; do we really have a concern about them & their eternal destination? If we do possess a concern, what is it that we are willing to do to show that concern so they can know the Jesus we know?
* When the Apostle Paul was facing his death, he penned one final letter to the young preacher we know as Timothy. As far as we know, 2 Timothy is the last letter Paul would write. In chapter 4:7 he writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.”
* As we think about “Meeting the Challenges” which we face, let us center our thoughts on these words of Paul. Two years ago, I preached a 3 part series of messages from this one verse on “How do you stay the course?” Today, this verse is still as fresh as it was back then.
* However, every time I read this verse it gives me the sense that Paul was on the third & final journey of his manhood (journey of sacrifice). A review of his life & ministry will reveal that he has lived out all three journeys in the life of a man (submission, strength, & sacrifice). As he reviews his own life he writes, “I have fought, I have run, and I have kept.” Today let’s talk about this “Keeping the Faith” and what it might mean.
* If we are to meet the challenges we are facing today, we must be a people of faith so our community can see a people of faith so that they will come & share our faith with us. FOR SOME: this reality is painful as it will require a personal check up about your faith. Let’s begin here with ‘faith.’ Let’s ask & answer 3 questions about faith; what is it, what it does, & will do?
1. What Faith Is? – (Hebrews 11:1) – So much of what we do in life displays faith. Without thinking we turn on a light switch, the ignition key for our car, or push the button on our ‘garage door opener’ expecting a response. We expect the response because, without even thinking about it, we trust the power company to provide the power. We know that if the power is on, the light bulb will work (if it is a good bulb). This is the essence of faith. When we see something work so well & so often, it receives our trust with no thought. We simply have faith. We can’t see the electricity, the remote control frequency for our garage door opener, or even the internal combustion of the car engine, but through the success of past performance, our faith tells us what will happen.
* Or how about this: you go to a doctor whose name you cannot pronounce and whose degrees you have never verified. He gives you a prescription you cannot read. You take it to a pharmacist you have never seen before. He gives you a chemical compound you do not understand. Then you go home and take the pill according to the instructions on the bottle. All in trusting, sincere faith!
* We never have to question whether God can do what He says He will do because He done it before. He has demonstrated His power in a myriad of ways. He parted the Red Sea, closed the mouth of Lions, cooled the fiery furnace, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and even raised the dead. We can trust Him because He has proven Himself trustworthy, and we can put our faith in Him because He is worthy of our faith.