Summary: Let us be the body of Christ that truly loves God and each other with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength!
FAMILY OF GOD
Live Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
Let me start this sermon by telling you a story. I used to travel from my home in Hillsborough to Prosser Brook where my grandparents stayed. The road was made of dirt, full of pot holes, twists and turns. I remember I had a really old Acadian Chevette. That car had weak breaks, little to no struts and burned a court of oil every half hour of driving! To travel to my grand parent’s house in that car was a task fraught with all sorts of danger! When I first started driving the only way I could get safely to Prosser Brook on those treacherous roads was to learn how to read the signs. When the sign said twisty turn ahead I slowed down and navigated towards the direction of the turn. When the sign said bump ahead I slowed down and tried to avoid the pothole – lest my whole car be left in pieces on the road. In the way that I learned to read the signs to my grand parent’s home Paul is inviting us today to celebrate our close, church family and to not forget to read the signs of unity that got us peace. After a while I stopped looking for the signs when I drove my car. My memory of every turn and pothole was flawless! So I thought! One day I forgot there was a sharp corner coming ahead and did not subsequently slow down. I soon learned going the speed limit was ok for only some parts of a dirt road, but not all parts! I flipped the car over a 100-foot bank. Praise be to God the car landed on a tree after only 20 of those feet. This is what can so easily happen inside of the church if we forget how we got unity and take just one sharp, conflict turn too fast! This sermon is about how to read the sign posts of unity so that we might keep on building on our family love that we have for each other.
Sign Post 1: Jesus is the Head of the Church
22 And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:22-23, NIV)
Appointed and called by God (Hebrews 3:1), after the order of Melchizedek (Psalms 110:4), of unblemished purity (Hebrews 7:26,28), Jesus offered His own life as a sacrifice for all so that through His death and resurrection there might be a path of reconciliation (Hebrews 2:17) and redemption (Hebrews 9:12) for all those who believe (John 3:16). Predicted (Psalms 118:22) and appointed by God (Ephesians 1:22) this lamb that was slain (Revelation 5:12) has once and for all ended the hostility between male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free; for we are all one in Christ Jesus our Lord (Galatians 3:28). No longer foreigners and strangers, God expects His friends and citizens (Ephesians 2:19) to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bonds of peace. Nothing helps us to keep this unity any better I think than being reminded that Jesus Christ is the Lord of everything seen and unseen. While intellectually you know this road sign is true that Jesus is the lead of the church, your heart might beg to differ.
I had a gentleman come into the church and made a statement that I found quite amusing. We have all heard of the quote: “when two or more are gathered in My name, there I am with them (Matthew 18:20);” but what about his statement: “when two or more Christians are gathered together there are always at least five contrary opinions!” It is almost like I cannot agree with either myself nor me any more than you can agree with yourself and you. Stories of church splits, conniving church members, rampant gossip, and blatant hypocrisy are so numerous that they have informed and negatively colored the broader culture’s definition of “church”.
Let me give you an example of a strange church split. 100 years of Christian fellowship, spiritual love, Godly unity, and community growth ended last Tuesday in a fit of congregational discord not to be rivaled in this century. Holy Creek Baptist Church was split down the middle like the tabernacle cloth that tore at the point of our Lord's crucifixion. It is said that one could hear that rip a hundred miles away. Holy Creek Baptist was severed from the once stalwart cord of unity that bound them together. The fist of discord has pounded an army of Christian soldiers into two disheveled, unorganized factions of estranged members. The source of dissension in this once Holy house of God, is a piano bench which still sits behind the 1923 Steinburg to the left of the pulpit. Landover Baptist members who have friends or relatives at Holy Creek Baptist, say that the old bench was always a source of hostility. People should have seen this coming. "That congregation was getting ready to break for the last 10 years," some said. "It's just a shame that it had to be over a piano bench." One outside pastor commented, "However ridiculous it might sound, I'm sure the Lord is using this whole thing in some way that none of us can see or make any sense of at all or ever hope to comprehend." At present, Holy Creek Congregation will be having four services a day. There has been an unspoken agreement mediated by Pastor Deacon Fred of the Landover Baptist Church. Each faction will have it's own separate service with it's own separate pastor. Since the head pastor is not speaking to the associate pastor, each will have their own service, which will be attended by factioned members. We are told that the services are far enough apart that neither group will come into contact with the other. An outside party will be moving the piano bench to different locations and appropriate positions, between services, so as to please both sides, and avoid any further conflict that could result in violence (Source: http://www.landoverbaptist.org/news0899/piano.html)