Summary: This sermon reminds us of the main purpose and vision of the church. The sermon helps us to see how to avoid "Americanizing" the church of Jesus Christ
Church in an Identity Crisis
In 50 years I’ve had the privilege to meet a lot of people. And of all the people I’ve ever known I have to say all of them, if given the opportunity would change something about their physical appearance. You know, maybe a little taller; little shorter; thinner; heavier; different hair color or amount.
If I was honest (and I suppose as a pastor I should be) there are a few things I’d like to change about my appearance – I mean if it was free and painless. Q. Is there anything you’d change about your appearance if it was free and painless?
You know that there a lot of people who have ‘issues’ with body image. They think they need to look this way or that way – as though there is a certain way everyone is supposed to look. But the fact is every person is so different, so unique. Here’s good news! While we have many similarities, as humans, all of are unique in our own way.
Yeah you may look a lot like your mom/dad. You may have brothers/sisters that look a lot alike. But fact is individually you are totally unique with your own fingerprints/DNA and other factors that make you different from anyone else.
And if you think about it in God’s creation every thing is unique. Trees, plants, animals, while they are very similar – they are still unique! And if you and I can fully understand how unique we really are it should help us in our identity!
As we finish today, this series of ID Theft I want to remind you of the three facts that we must get deep inside of us. Remember, I’ve said each week, when it comes to identity “when you know who you are – then you know how to live”. And so how you live life and process life totally depends on your identity on who you know deep in your heart – who you are!
And when you know who you are – then you realize that God has indeed made you unique. You are a unique creation of God!
Here’s what we’ve learned:
1. I was created by God and for God.
2. I was created for a relationship with God.
3. I was created for a purpose.
Get this its important. There is such uniqueness to who God has created you to be. Again you’re not just a number among 6 billion people – you are unique. Please don’t try to be like every one else, to be a ‘clone’ to be exactly like someone else. Your true identity is who God has created you to be – in His image – in ways that are to bring glory to Him.
And just like there is uniqueness for you and me individually – there is uniqueness in each local Body of believers – the church locally. Obviously there are things every church should have in common…right? The authority of God’s word; sharing Jesus Christ; worship and fellowship – a lot of things in common. And yet, at the same time each Body (church) is very, very unique.
How could we have missed it? How could we not look at the churches mentioned in the New Testament and not realize each church is unique. Their identity – though totally connected to Jesus – was different than others. Think about it – each church mentioned in Revelation? Unique! Church in Ephesus? Unique! Church in Corinth? Unique! The church in Philippi? Unique! Church in Acts? Unique!
Churches in the New Testament – all unique! Unique in shape; sizes; personalities; spiritual gifts; attitudes; strengths; weaknesses! Yet, it appears as though churches in America are in a huge identity crisis – because they don’t understand how unique God has created them to be.
When my family lived in Mississippi and south Texas as a small kid my mom said my older brother and quickly picked up changes in the way we talked. We started talking in a true southern drawl. Instead of saying, ‘tire’ we’d say ‘tar’ – you know flat ‘tar’. Tea" = "tay" "Fire" became "far". We adapted to our surrounding.
When it comes to the church – in America – something has happened. The church in America has adapted to its surroundings. Instead of understanding the uniqueness of who God wants us to be – we have “Americanized” the church of Jesus Christ. And because we have Americanized the church – it is broadly assumed that all churches should ‘do church’ to same way. Instead of understanding the uniqueness of each Body -- we instead want to ‘clone’ churches to look the same; operate the same as other American churches. Yet we know – not only were churches different in the NTestment – most churches, especially the underground churches – understand their uniqueness and they are not “Americanized”! They operate by the uniqueness in which God has created them. The church in America? Huge identity crisis!