Summary: A sermon preached at the 60th anniversary of Burlingame Federated Church. This sermon is composed of highlights from my series "Committed Community."
God’s Committed Community
Today we have come together for a historical event. This church – Burlingame Federated Church – BFC - is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary. What we are coming together to celebrate is not the anniversary of this building – because this building is more than sixty years old. In fact next year this building will be 100 years old. The church is and had always been more than a building.
What we come to celebrate today is the fact that in 1948 three distinct congregations in this community united under one roof to serve Jesus Christ together. They “federated” – joined together – as three distinct units in one location – in one building – to worship together, fellowship together, minister together, study the scriptures together and to reach out to this community together.
Let us never forget that even though we are celebrating sixty years as a congregation – our heritage goes back much further than that. It was Jesus Christ who founded the church when He said;
“I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
The church has never been my church or your church – even though we talk that way. You see the church has always belonged to Jesus Christ. He said, “I will build My church.” If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior – you are a part of His church – because what makes a church is not the building that they meet in – but the people who are joined together because of the relationship that they have with Jesus Christ. You see when you accept Jesus as your Savior relationships change – God becomes your Father and other Christians become your brothers and sisters in Christ. It is the Bible that defines what the Church is - not us. Bible tells us that the church is at least four things:
1. The Church is a FAMILY.
When we become “born again” we are born into a new family – Christ’s Church. Our sins have been forgiven – we have a purpose for living – and we receive a home in Heaven. Our relationships change and so do our priorities. A top priority of families is to build relationships with one another. But that’s not all. The Bible says that the Church is:
2. The Church is a FELLOWSHIP.
In the dictionary the word “fellowship” is both a noun and a verb. In our church fellowship is both a noun and a verb also. We are a fellowship and we fellowship together. What is fellowship? The best definition I have is "Two fellows on the same ship." We’re headed in the same direction. We’re going to the same place. As Christians, we’re all headed to heaven. Therefore a top priority in fellowship is harmony. If we are going in the same direction – if we are going to an eternal home – we are going to be together for a long time and we need to live together in harmony. But that is not all the Bible teaches about the Church – it also says:
3. The Church is a BODY.
We are a body, not a business. We are an organism, not an organization. Therefore whatever your gifts and talents consist of - you are needed by the body. You have been placed here to help the whole body. For a body to function properly – it needs all its parts - it needs all its members. It needs arms, legs, hands, and feet - all of its members for it to function to its fullest ability. Therefore, a top priority in the body is unity with diversity.
Have you noticed we’re all different? We have different colored hair. We have different color eyes. We have different finger prints. We have distinctly different DNA. We’re different ages. That’s the way God has made us. That’s the way God has placed us together. God loves that. God loves diversity – but He also wants us to be united in our diversity. We’re different in many ways – yet we have the same Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ. We have unity with diversity. But that’s not all the Bible says about the church - it also says:
4. The Church is a FLOCK.
Throughout the Bible God is portrayed as the Shepherd of His people. David wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalms 23:1 Jesus even said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and they know Me.” John 10:14 Because of this fact a top priority in the flock is togetherness. You see there is safety in numbers that is why the Bible says:
“Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up....Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12 (NKJV)