Summary: Many people down thru the ages have been "purpose driven"... but have failed to understand the most important part of what makes us a Christian. Do you know what might have been missing in their lives?
OPEN: A mother looked out a window and saw Johnny playing church with their three kittens. He had them lined up and was preaching to them. The mother turned around to do some work.
A while later she heard meowing and scratching on the door. The cats were obviously upset and frightened. She shouted out to her son: “Johnny, what are you doing to these cats?”
“Mom, I’m baptizing them.”
She went to the window and, sure enough, there was Johnny dunking the kittens in water.
“Johnny, stop that!” she said, “You’ll drown those kittens.”
“Johnny looked at her and said with much conviction in his voice: “They shoulda had thought about that before they joined MY church.”
APPLY: Little Johnny was being spiritual. He was fulfilling his religious duty. He was living a “Purpose Driven Life.”
Now, for those of you who haven’t been here for awhile…we’ve been talking about the study book by Rick Warren: “The Purpose Driven Life”
I. As I prepared today’s sermon, it occurred to me that down thru the ages, many religious people who have been VERY filled with purpose.
* they’ve been very driven to do (what they saw as) their sacred duty
* they’ve sought to express their spirituality in very dynamic and powerful ways
But MANY of those purpose driven people have ended up being like that little boy baptizing his cats… they risked destroying the very church they thought they were serving.
Many have tended to become like the Pharisees of old. You realize, of course, that the Pharisees were very religious, very purpose driven. They tithed faithfully. They regularly attended worship services every week. They knew not only the Bible, but also practically every commentary about the Bible. In fact, they were so impressive that Jesus said that YOUR righteousness would have to surpass “that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law,” in order to get into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20
(pause…) But Jesus never liked the Pharisees. You don’t have to read very into the Gospels to realize that the Pharisees were not the good guys in this story.
So, Jesus never much good to say about them. But, why not? What’s not to like? They were religious… they were purpose driven…
Well, the reason Jesus wasn’t pleased with these leaders was because – in the midst of all their righteousness and purpose driven lives - they had overlooked one important quality that made the difference to God. They had trouble loving people. They didn’t much care for people that didn’t fit their mold. If you weren’t just like them – they weren’t going to like you.
II. Corinth had fallen into this trap
The people at Corinth were very talented people. God had given them a whole array of gifts and abilities and they felt driven to use to use those gifts and abilities for God.
But as you read thru 1st and 2nd Corinthians you get the impression that these folks didn’t much like each other.
• They argued over who had the best gifts.(I Cor. 12-14)
• They argued who had been baptized by whom (I Cor.1:10-17)
• They were so divided that they wouldn’t even share their food at fellowship meals
• AND they had even gotten into the habit of suing each other (I Cor. 6:7)
This was not a happy church
ILLUS: They remind of the story of an old synagogue in Eastern Europe. (pause…)
When the Shema prayer was said, half the congregants stood up but half remained sitting.
The half that was seated started yelling at those standing to sit down, and the ones standing up yelled at the ones sitting to stand up...
The rabbi, educated as he was in the Law and commentaries, didn’t know what to do. His congregation suggested that he consult a 98 year old man in a local nursing home, who was one of the original founders of their temple.
The rabbi hoped the elderly man would be able to tell him what the actual temple tradition was,
so he took a representative of each faction of the congregation along with him.
When they got there the one whose followers stood during Shema said to the old man, “Is the tradition to stand during this prayer?” The old man answered, “No, that is not the tradition.”
The one whose followers sat asked, “Is the tradition to sit during Shema?” The old man answered, “No, that is not the tradition.”
By now, the rabbi was confused and he began to say “but, the worshippers fight all the time, yelling at each other about whether.....” The old man interrupted, exclaiming, “THAT is the tradition!”
That was Corinth
A very religious church
A very talented church
A very “purpose driven church”
But a church that had forgotten how to love.