Summary: A sermon about rallying around the Resurrection.
“First United Church”
With the advent of Social Media such as Twitter and Facebook we have seen people become especially emboldened to argue, curse and call one another names—all from behind their computer screens and smart phones.
It’s kind of like the phenomenon of how people can sometimes turn into “seemingly” vicious monsters when they are safely behind the wheel of a car.
One wrong move on your part and you are called every name in the book.
And if they pass you or you pass them, better be prepared for an angry face, a mouth spewing profanities and everything else.
And this is coming from a complete stranger who knows nothing about you.
If you were to meet at church or at a dinner party they might be the sweetest and most lovely person in the room.
You might become the best of friends.
It’s kind of comical, in a way, if you step back from it a bit.
But in other ways, it’s kind of sad.
With social media, for example, we can be really, really nasty.
It’s easier to demonize another person when you don’t have to look them in the eye or speak to them face-to-face.
The vitriol seems to be especially fierce when it comes to politics.
We make sweeping judgments about people based simply on who they voted for or their thoughts on a particular issue.
It’s really not fair.
And it’s not good for our health, our society, our own spiritual well-being.
One thing I have learned over the past few years, as the political divide has become more and more fierce, is that I love and respect people from both sides of the isle.
And there are great Christian disciples of every political and ideological stripe.
Some of my favorite people—many of the people I admire and respect the most probably voted for a different candidate than I in the last Presidential election.
I also have great respect for and wonderful friendships with people from other Christian denominations and churches.
Every first and third Wednesday of the month, people from at least 6 different churches come together in our Family Life Center Building in order to run the East Ridge Community Food Pantry.
We begin each day with a pray.
We all have one goal in mind—to serve the Living Christ through serving others.
And yet, do we all believe the exact same things?
Do we all stand in the same place on social and political issues?
I highly doubt it.
Do we love one another?
Do we love Jesus?
Do we love our neighbor?
I think we do, in imperfect ways, I know we do.
Are we making a positive difference for Christ in this community?
Without a doubt.
And I think that this is the kind of thing that the writer of Acts saw in the first Christian Church when he wrote that “all the believers were one in heart and mind.”
We are told at the beginning of Acts Chapter 4 that the brand-new Church had grown to about 5,000 members, and we can only imagine the diversity of different ethnic backgrounds, ideological attitudes, and theological points of view that existed in that group.
`On the day of Pentecost, just a short time earlier--of the first 3,000 members of the Church--there were Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya near Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs.
Talk about a motley crew.
And yet, we are told that this diverse group of Jesus followers “testified [together] to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”
We are also told that “There were no needy persons among them.”
They had great unity in the midst of incredible diversity and amazing generosity in the midst of poverty.
It really is a miracle.
By giving Christ Lordship over all aspects of their lives they were providing a living sermon for the world.
And the church grew incredibly fast against all odds.
E. Stanley Jones once wrote: “In a divided world seeking unity, a divided Church not seeking unity has little or no moral authority.”
One of the great strengths of the United Methodist Church, in my opinion, has always been our diversity.
Sadly, we have a long way to go on the racial diversity front, but I’m talking about our diversity of opinions.
Republicans and Democrats are members of the same Church.
People who hold very different views on a large array of topics and positions sit on the same pew every Sunday morning, worshipping the same Lord and Savior.
John Wesley set a great example for us when he said: