1. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you, the people of First Reformed Church, are really an odd or a strange group of people. Perhaps I feel I can say this because I won’t be here the next two Sundays. But its something that I want you to think about this morning. You are a odd or strange group of people.
2. Some of you are farmers, some are die-hard city folk. Some of you are so Dutch that your blood is orange. Others of you are wonder what the colour orange has to do with being blood. For you do not have an ounce of Dutch blood in your body and you may even be happy that you don’t. Some of you are well off - not a financial worry in the world. Others wonder how you will pay your bills next week. Some of you are very conservative while others may even be considered liberal. And I don’t mean politics although I could. If I’d suggest we talk about Premier Harris, we would have an argument that would soon be very heated. Some of us home school, some send their children to public school or Christian school. Some are very charismatic and would love to shout and dance to the Lord. Some of us would walk out if we started dancing. Some reject women in office, some of accept them. Some love to hold bazaars, some think they are wrong.
3. We are so different from one another, that some of us have little or nothing in common that would lead us to socialize or have anything to do with each other outside of the church.
4. And yet here we are. Why? Because the one thing we share is that we have a desire to worship God. And not only that, but God has put within you the desire or the leading to worship Him here with one another. We have something that is much stronger than the differences we have. We have faith in Jesus Christ. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.
5. But the differences we have often prevent us from fully living out what it means to be a fellowship of believers. And that has happened here in our church.
6. One of the corporate sins that FRC has committed is the sin of having factions. Of having divisions within the church. Of letting people know by words or actions that "they are not one of us." We have shown more concern for some than for others. There were times when non-Dutch spouses became part of the church by joining but for years did not feel like they really belonged. Times when the youth group was split between those from the city and those from the country.
7. And at times I feel there are factions today - depending on how we educate our children or how we live out our faith. These factions are serious, they are sinful. And we need to confess them and ask God’s forgiveness for them. I believe these factions are not as great or bad as they once were, but the past history of them still affects us today and as I said, some still exist.
8. Paul says factions are sin:
Gal 5:19-21 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
9. Rather than to have factions , God tells us that we are to accept one another/
Rom 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
10. And this does not mean to accept just some and not others but to accept all who are in this body of believers. What does it mean to accept each other? To put up with one another and keep our negative thoughts and feeling inside? It is much more difficult than that. Here is what it means to accept each other:
* to take to one’s self
* to take as one’s companion
* to take by the hand in order to lead aside
* to take or receive into one’s home, with the idea of kindness
* to receive or to grant someone access to your heart
* to take into friendship
11. We have some good biblical examples of what it means.
a. Acts 18:24-26 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.