Summary: "For Dummies" books are a raging success! Why? Full of practical wisdom and simple "How To's" Wouldn't a "Christianity for Dummies," a book full of practical wisdom & simple How Tos on how to live out our faith, be great? James & this series is JUST THAT
Christianity For Dummies: How to Start & Stop Wars
A. Have you ever heard of the "War of the Whiskers" or the "War of the Oaken Bucket" or the "War of Jenkins' Ear"? These were actual wars fought between nations! War is a fact of life. Not only are there wars between nations, but there are wars of one kind or another on almost every level of life - tragically and embarrassingly enough, even in God's house.
B. Take Johnny for instance. His mother looked out the window and noticed him "playing church" with their cat. He had the cat sitting quietly and he was preaching to it. She smiled and went about her work. A while later she heard loud meowing and hissing and ran back to the open window to see Johnny baptizing the cat in a tub of water. She called out, "Johnny, stop that! The cat is afraid of water!" Johnny looked up at her and said, "He should have thought about that before he joined my church."
C. You know the sad truth about that joke? That is EXACTLY how a lot of people in a lot of churches treat each other - they war against each other with loud meowing and hissing, biting and scratching and all the while not caring one iota about the harm we are inflicting on the other party in the process.
D. Think about some of the "wars" you've seen waged in churches during your life. The colors of carpets, positions of coat hooks, finances, and the BIGGIE right now, worship wars!
E. James discussed this important theme of war within the church in the 4th Chapter of the Book of James. He points out that they start because we are At War with Each Other, At War with Ourselves, and At War with God. Like any good physician, James first diagnoses the problem and then follows his diagnosis with an eight-fold Rx on how these wars can be stopped.
II. Scripture Reading & Prayer
A. Read James 4:1-10.
B. Pray - Father, it deeply saddens us that we taint your glory and offend the blood of your Son Jesus Christ that was shed to purchase the church by fighting like cats and dogs with each other, ourselves and you. Forgive us, help us to stop such foolishness in your house.
III. We Are At War With Each Other (Read and explain 4:1a)
A. James asserts that fighting is going on in the church. What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Who is you? Christians! Psalm 133:1 says "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." SURELY, of all people, brethren ought to be able to live together in love and harmony, yet often they don't. Scripture is replete:
- OT: Cain & Abel, Lot & Abraham, Absalom & David.
- Jesus: Disciples = who is greatest.
- 1st century churches: Corinthians = competing in worship, suing each other in court; Galatians = biting & devouring each other; Ephesians = Paul had to admonish to spiritual unity; Philippians = two women couldn't get along. James = Class Wars (rich & poor), Employment Wars, Personal Wars (speaking evil of/judging each other), Church Wars (tongue, selfish ambitions).
- 21st century churches = Communion Day Catfight (New Salem MB Church, Memphis), Killer Church Fight (Calvary Baptist, Fair Oaks, KY)
B. James asserts that fighting is going on in the church. But notice James does NOT...
1) Tell us what over! Why do you think that is? Oversight on the Holy Spirit's part? God forgot to put that in the Bible? No! IT AIN'T IMPORTANT!!! Outside of a major doctrinal dispute and even then it needs to be with love, gentleness and mutual respect! Are we ridiculous enough to think that on Judgment Day Jesus is going to reprimand the guy in the pew beside us for voting against the color of carpet WE wanted or for music type X, Y, Z? "James seems to be bothered more by the selfish spirit and bitterness of the quarrels than by the rights and wrongs of the various viewpoints." (Moo)
Application: Think about how all this foolish mess must grieve Christ's heart to see! Read John 13:34-35. My goal for Crossway = Love God, Love People...we can't claim to love God and love people and then disobey Christ's command by fighting each other. How is the Mt Carmel community, Tipton County, the world going to know that Crossway truly loves and belongs to Jesus? Not by us warring! If we have love for one another! 17th century Jewish philosopher Spinoza: "I have often wondered that persons who make boast of professing the Christian religion - namely love, joy, peace, temperance, and charity to all men - should quarrel with such rancorous animosity, and display daily towards one another such bitter hatred, that this, rather than the virtues which they profess, is the readiest criteria for their faith."