Summary: A sermon about choosing, as a church, to move forward or die.
“It’s the Choices that Make Us Who We Are”
By Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN www.graceumcsd.org
Begins the final scene from the movie: "Spider-Man 3"
“Whatever comes our way, whatever battle we have raging inside us, we always have a choice,” Peter Parker says at the end of the movie.
Pretty similar to what Paul is telling the Church in Galatia.
And the Church in Galatia was a new church plant—at the time of Paul’s writing, it was a much younger church than even we are…
Paul had come to the province of Galatia; he had spent time with the people; he had preached to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ—and those who accepted the message formed a church—much like us today.
And the Galatian Church got off to a good start.
The people who filled the pews were Gentiles—that is they were non-Jews who had either formerly been involved in some pagan religion or in no religion at all before Christ introduced Himself to them through Paul.
Paul preached to them that it was not only the Jewish people whom God had called to be God’s chosen people—God’s chosen people included everyone…from the least to the last to the first!!!
People are people and all people are equally loved by God…
…no matter what!!!
Jesus died for the entire world, not just for an elite few!
And what good news that is!!!
So the Church was up and running; the future was looking bright!
The folks were excited.
The possibilities were endless!
The freedom the folks had found in worshipping and serving the God of Grace made all of life worth living.
But then, just when the party was really starting to Rock!
Just when things were starting to kick in real good…
…something had happened.
A group of Party-Poopers had infiltrated the ranks of this young church.
They were Jewish Christians or Judaizers (as they are called) who believed that among other things, a number of rules, laws and practices from the Old Testament were still binding on the New Testament Church.
They insisted that the Gentiles had to become Jews before they could be REAL Christians—and that they had to be circumcised.
In other words, the grace of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ from the dead, the forgiveness of Christ was not good enough—they had to do more…they had to earn God’s love!
And this threw a great big kink in the party!
It’s like the neighbors called the cops just when everyone was stepping out onto the dance-floor—ready to really start having some fun!
So fights erupted within the new little church.
Divisions began to tear the Body of Christ apart.
People were becoming confused and angry.
And a power struggle began between the old guard—the Judaizers who wanted to force everyone backwards and the new converts who had come such a long way and were ready to really break into a sprint!
That is the reason Paul wrote the letter the Church in Galatia.
They were suddenly having some major problems and Paul was fearful that everything was going to come falling down with a great big crash!!!
Paul writes to the Galatian Christians that Christianity is not about circumcision but a new creation!
It’s not about rules and regulations it’s about the movement of the Holy Spirit of God!
Paul writes in Galatians Chapter 5: “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
If you keep biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.”
And wouldn’t that be a shame!
We always have a choice do we not?
We can choose to follow the Holy Spirit of God, or we can choose to follow the sinful nature which includes: “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions, envy…and the like.”
If we make the choice to follow the sinful nature—we will destroy one another.
That will be the fruit or the outcome of that choice.
It’s interesting in the Movie Spiderman 3.
The black suit which represents sin and evil…
…Last week we saw Peter Parker reject that evil—and under the Cross of Jesus Christ in the bell-tower of a church—Parker was purged of the black Spider-Man suit.
But the other young man, Edward Brock, who was filled with anger, jealousy and rage toward Parker—Edward Brock who had prayed to God: “Kill Peter Parker.”….
…Became the new recipient of the suit.
And Brock ate that evil up!
He loved it.
When Brock and Spider-Man have their final showdown Spider-Man pleads: “Eddie, the suit—you gotta take it off…
…I know what it feels like…
…but you’ll lose yourself—let it go!”
Brock replies: “I like being bad—it makes me happy.”