Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: We must use the courage that a life in faith with God gives us to live a life that is more revolutionary than our secular world or any other non-Christian faith. God will give us the courage to work like army commandos.

If I told you that religion is not the same as Christianity, would you be surprised? Religion is man's attempt to reach God. It focuses on our deeds. It is the broken cistern referred to in Jeremiah 2:4-13. Christianity is God's attempt to reach man. We are meant to be fully in relationship with God, but we've traded his power and his strengths for the emptiness offered by an empty, worldly life. We try to solve our problems by ourselves. We dig our own well or cistern. We abandon God and his spring of water that never dries up. The problem is that our own cisterns always break. They never hold up to the pressures and strains of everyday life. They can never hold water. God will never help us dig our own cistern. He will never help us seek joy outside of himself.

We need to satisfy our spiritual thirst with the living water that Christ and Christianity provide. We have to drink from God's well instead of the earthly well. Israel was in the same situation in Jeremiah 2:4-13. Israel lost its moral compass and commitment because it exchanged its relationship with God for a relationship with idols. God was a dependable source of sustenance and life for the Israelites, and he will continue to be a dependable source of sustenance and life for all eternity. His glory is so overwhelming that we are not capable of experiencing it. It is like coming into contact with a high-voltage power line.

The Israelites in Jeremiah’s time lost their identity as God’s chosen people because living in a new homeland had corrupted them. They worshipped the false gods of the people who were already living in their new homeland. Our true identity is in Jesus, but we won't know that until we have a personal relationship with him. Each and every one of us was created in his image. We must immerse ourselves in him. We must drink the spiritual water he provides for us.

Once we have a relationship with Jesus, we can show his warmth in a world that can be cold toward Christianity. We are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ in spite of our differences. Our brotherly love can be parallel to the love Jesus shows to the world. The source of our brotherly love is our birth into the family of God through the redemption offered by the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is similar to all Jews being siblings because of their common heritage in Abraham, but the redemption is so radical that we are changed.

Some of you might remember that as the year 2000 approached some people hoarded food because of the fears surrounding Y2K. These people forgot that we do not need to hoard material goods for fear of not having enough of the necessities of life. When we have an abiding relationship with God, we have everything we need. Since God's presence is perpetual, the necessities of life will also be perpetual.

What we seek the most in life will shape our character, personality and relationships. If we live for material goods, social standing or security, we will become people without substance. We will be nothing more than empty shells. If we seek God, we will become more and more like him. We will be people of solidness, truth, love and grace.

We are to obey God and the leaders chosen by him. This is not meant to be blind obedience, but obedience after thoughtful consideration that results in persuasion. God and his chosen leaders do not demand obedience without reason. Those false teachers who do demand blind obedience will get Christians who change orientation any time another golden-tongued leader comes along. God and his chosen leaders are steadfast and true in faith, and we are to follow their example. We are to use God's authority to lead society with the authority and message of God's Word because it never changes. In the words of a prayer I found while I was researching this homily:

Christ is shepherd over you,

Enfolding you on every side,

Christ will not forsake you, hand or foot,

Nor let evil come near you.

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to follow the high moral standards God has set for us. We are to show Christian hospitality. In ancient times, hospitality included putting a guest up overnight. This was hard to do in times of persecution, since the Hebrews would not know if the guest was a spy or a fellow believer who was being persecuted. When we identify ourselves with Jesus, we will face ridicule and persecutions. We are not to avoid them. Instead, we are to embrace them. The Hebrews did not know how far-reaching their act of hospitality would be.

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