Summary: There’s no trouble we face that Jesus can’t fix.
This morning, I’d like you to consider a building project for the church. No, I’m not thinking about a new pavilion, or additional classroom space. Not even an expanded office suite with cappuccino bar. No, the addition I’m proposing is much more practical than that. Let’s start a building project for a two-fold expansion that would make everything we do around here instantly better. And the best news is, it won’t cost us more than a few dollars to do it. Are you ready to unveil the plan? I’ve got it on overhead (Show overhead of a rusty old barrel) . . . For those who grew up in the city, this is a burn barrel. This additional to the property would be located right outside each entrance to the church. In the first phase of its use, it would be similar to a coat room or hat check station at a nice restaurant. People coming in would leave their problems at the door. All the annoyances and troubles of life could be left there so that they won’t burden you down during the worship service. Every petty disagreement with people, every harsh word anyone’s ever spoken to you, even that annoying clock could be left at our new trouble check stations. Of course, since many of us live in the country, we can guess what the second use of these stations is. In the city, I might have to take some time explaining, but out here, you’ve seen similar things put to use before. You really don’t need all those troubles, do you? So here’s a thought, while you’re inside worshipping the Lord and being filled with the joy of His Spirit, our new associate pastor of relief ministry will set fire to the contents of the trouble check stations, so that when you leave, there’s nothing to sap the joy of the Lord away from you. What do you think?
Okay, so maybe that solution is a bit silly, but the concept isn’t. God has set aside places of worship so that His people can come to be refreshed and encouraged. Too many times we bring in junk that’s nothing more than the trash of this world contaminating us, and end up leaving worship just as miserable as we were when we came. If there was a device that could suck up all of your troubles and dispose of them, wouldn’t you want to use it? Well, the good news is, the church is that device. The problem is, every time we empty the bag of our spiritual vacuum cleaners, we root around in the grime for the stuff we’ve left behind. I join with the apostle Paul this morning in asking you to knock it off.
If we’re really honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that most of the troubles we have with the church are really problems we have with people. We like to think that our way of doing things is the only right way to do things. If only others would wise up to that truth. When they don’t act or think like we want them to act or think, our feelings get hurt, and intentionally or not, we build up walls to protect ourselves either from being exposed to people who aren’t like us, or to keep us from getting hurt by them. I’m not talking about those outside the church who are different than we are, although the same concept applies. I’m talking about fellow Christians. And so was Paul.
There’s a problem here. Just because we’re different doesn’t mean we can’t work together. If all us were the same, most of us would be unnecessary. A carpenter needs lots of tools to get the job done, not just a hammer and nails. Wisely, the Carpenter from Nazareth has chosen a well equipped toolbox with which to work.
We need to learn the contrast between difference and disagreement
Disagreements with others from the church are never a good thing.
Differences between us show God’s favor.
When we disagree with those around us, it always causes pain. Feelings are hurt, egos are bruised, walls go up. The unity Christ prayed for His people to have is destroyed. I have a sneaky suspicion that most of the time, people are not trying to get on your nerves or hurt your feelings. The truth of the matter is, most of us are just too busy trying to live our lives and do our jobs to even worry about what someone might have thought. We’d go a long way towards solving problems by just giving each other the benefit of the doubt.
Consider what would happen if God didn’t have a gracious spirit. Knowing that we’ve sinned, and that we didn’t do it because we had no choice or that we didn’t know better, but instead because we were just out to get Him, He chooses to leave us to our own fate and hate us forever. Does that sound like Him? Thankfully not! It shouldn’t sound like us either.