Summary: Sermon for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B
James 1: 17 – 27 / Is This For Here Or To Go?
Intro: Have you ever come home from the grocery store and realized that you left something behind? What did you do about what you had left behind? As a kid, did you ever leave your finished homework on the kitchen table and not remember it until the teacher asked for it? Have you ever gone through the drive-through at McDonalds, placed your order, paid for it at the first window and then drove off without picking up your order? I hate to admit it; but, I have. The frustration, anger, wasted time, the beating yourself up, could all be avoided if you had just taken the stuff with you.
I. How would someone who does not know you know that you love God? What is there about you that lets others know you love God?
A. Many Christians and non-Christians alike assume that the main thing about loving God and showing your love for God is being in church on Sunday.
B. God’s attendance chart. You get points for being in church. Bonus points: staying awake during the sermon, staying through the entire service, doing service projects, singing in the choir, or serving as liturgist.
C. Nothing could be further from the truth. The purpose of coming to church is to be equipped to live like Christ Jesus the other 166 hours of your 168 hour week.
READ: James 1: 22 - 27
II. What would you think of someone who goes to the grocery store, carefully selects each item, and takes the full basket to the cashier to pay for it; then, pushes the loaded cart to the door and leaves it there while they go home?
A. VS. 22 – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
B. There is a phrase that is quite common, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Unfortunately, that’s how many people view the church. “What happens in church, stays in church.”
C. Satan does not mind us going to church, as long as he can keep us thinking, what really matters is whether or not you make it to church on Sunday. He does not mind if you have an emotional experience in church, he does not mind you singing with every right note or feeling inspired by the service. As long as you don’t take it with you, there’s no problem.
III. Going to church, feeling good in church, meeting wonderful, friendly people in church and having a good time in church are all great! But, the power in the church is in the power of Christ Jesus to change lives.
A. VSS 23 – 25 – “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and after lookingat himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it---not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it --- they will be blessed in what they do.”
B. In our lesson today from Mark, Jesus quotes Isaiah saying, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” How far from God are we? Just being in this place does not bring us close to God.