Summary: to help my audience to recognize the Church realistically, change what can be changed, and to accept it as a group that will also always have flaws
Early in the morning of Sunday, August 13, 1961, the East German government began to block off East Berlin and the GDR from West Berlin with barbed wire and antitank obstacles. Most Berliners were asleep while it was done. Streets were torn up, and barricades of paving stones were erected. Tanks gathered at crucial places. The subway and local railway services between East and West Berlin were interrupted. Residents of East Berlin and the GDR were no longer allowed to enter West Berlin, among them were 60,000 commuters who had worked in West Berlin to that date. After 10 days of wall construction, citizens of West Berlin were no longer allowed to enter East Berlin. 171 people were killed or died attempting to escape at the Berlin Wall the 28 years that followed August 13, 1961.
On the 9th of November, 1989, the Border separating Western from Eastern Germany was effectively opened. It was no small matter. The barrier that had kept people from freedom, that had kept a Communist controlled country from outside connections, was taken down.
I once mentioned in a sermon how I’d like to have a piece of the wall. A few days later, in walked a lady with a framed piece of the wall, documented and everything.
It’s so significant that a barrier so decisively placed, for so long, would come down. And when it did, there were celebrations galore.
We’ve been looking into some of the different things that get in-between people and God. They’re for real – things that have been set up, across which a person can’t seem to travel, even if they wanted to – barriers like not trusting the Bible, not understanding the Bible, feeling like I don’t need the Church – probably you’ve known someone who was hindered by at least one of those things. Maybe you were at one time. But, this morning, I want to make this a little more personal. What if the thing that’s keeping your friend away from God is…you? What if the church itself is what’s keeping people from God?
We know we don’t want to do that! Why, that would be exactly the opposite of what we’re all about, wouldn’t it?!
But it wouldn’t be the first time it has happened. Sometime around 64 AD something was happening in the church on the island of Crete. Paul had left Titus there to get things in order. But there was a problem – false teachers.
Titus 1:10-14 The Message
For there are a lot of rebels out there, full of loose, confusing, and deceiving talk. Those who were brought up religious and ought to know better are the worst. They've got to be shut up. They're disrupting entire families with their teaching, and all for the sake of a fast buck. One of their own prophets said it best:
The Cretans are liars from the womb,
barking dogs, lazy bellies.
He certainly spoke the truth. Get on them right away. Stop that diseased talk of Jewish make-believe and made-up rules so they can recover a robust faith.
Several hundred years earlier, Epimenides of Crete had written these words – a poem by a Cretan about Cretans.
They fashioned a tomb for thee, O Holy and high one –
The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
The funny part is that Paul quotes this and then says, “This is true!” Sure enough, history says the people of Crete did have a bad reputation. They even created a verb from the word Cretan that meant “to lie.” The problem was that this was seeping over into the Church, and it was creating problems. One of the most obvious is that it would keep people from God.
Now, I want to speak first and mostly here to the people who are part of the Church right now. It’s not right that people will use someone else’s faults as an excuse, but it’s a fact that they will.
• “I can’t help the way I am. It’s my parents’ fault.”
• “I can’t help that I stole it. They shouldn’t have left it out in the open like that!”
• “I can’t help it that I lost my temper. They should have stopped me, and he shouldn’t have provoked me.”
We live in a pass-the-buck society. I know people shouldn’t do that, but they do. They were doing it in Crete, and Paul said for the people who were giving others an excuse, “Rebuke them! Get on them right away! Stop it!”
Yeah, but that was Crete and this is Rockford. But they also do it in Rockford.
This morning, while I speak to you who are believers and you who are already a part of CCC, I want to go straight to the conclusion this morning: