1. Today is a special day - as we have received Tom and Jonathan Olsen as members of First Reformed Church. We celebrate the grace of God that He calls us into fellowship with one another. We celebrate the participation of the Olsen family in our fellowship over the past few years.
2. To change membership from one church is not an easy thing to do. There are many factors involved and we can appreciate the factors that have led to Beth’s and the remaining children’s decision to remain members of the Valetta Church while actively involved in our church and Beth’s supporting Tom in the vows he has made today. Showing respect and sensitivity to friends and family.
3. We have been going through a series on the 7 deadly sins. Today we would have completed the series by examining the sin of lust, but we will postpone this until next week.
4. I thought it more appropriate to focus on what it means to be part of God’s church and what God has called us as a church to do together. A time to reflect on what church is really all about. And perhaps the passage that I have chosen may not seem to deal with church, at least with First Reformed Church, but I hope we will soon see how it does.
1. The story is fairly well known. Jesus and His disciples come across a man who has been blind since birth.
2. In His words and actions Jesus teaches His disciples what their ministry was to be all about. And he teaches His disciples here today the same lesson. The text or main passage that reveals this is when Jesus tells them "we must do the work of Him who sent me." Friends, FRC, people of God from other churches, Jesus says to us today. "We must do the work of Him who sent me".
3. In fact that is why we exist as a church. We are not a social club or a place for us to simply be encouraged to face the challenges of life. We are not here to just carry on past traditions. We are not even a church just to be taught the truth of God’s word. We are here "to do the work of Him who sent me."
4. What is this work of God? Jesus, earlier in John, had told the disciples (John 6:29) "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." But I’m not sure they understood and so Jesus teaches through the blind man that stood before Him. For He says that the man was born blind so that the work of God might be displayed in His life. Let’s find out what He means.
5. As we said, the blind man crossed their path. The blind man could be any person with physical or spiritual needs that cross the path of God’s people. How do we react to those who cross our path, the path of us as the church? There are three ways we can react, as we see in the passage and its setting.
a. One way is to reject them. We see this in the last verse before this passage. We see it how the "recognized church" of the day, the Pharisees treated Jesus when He crossed their path.
John 8:59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
They were jealous of Jesus and so they chased Him away. We can also see people as a nuisance or hindrance. We can ignore them and pretend they don’t exist. We see the world around us and those in it as something to be avoided.
b. A second way is to see them as a object of theological debate. The disciples asked why this man was born blind, whether he sinned or his parents. We may have people come to us with difficulties or afflictions. They may have spiritual struggles. They may have broken marriages and broken hearts. And we may wonder why and we may discuss how God’s word may apply to them. They become objects of curiousity. And while theology is important that is not enough. It is not enough to ask those in need if they are saved or to tell them to be saved. That is not wrong but it misses the point.
c. And so Jesus shows us the right way of dealing with those who cross our paths. We must respond to them with the love and compassion of God, of Christ Himself. When we do this we do the work of God.
6. Jesus did the work of God. He knew what His Father’s work was. He was sent to earth to do His Father’s work. And that work was to bring good news and to heal the afflicted.