Summary: Tenth and final in series, "Life’s Too Short To..." this message looks at the ekklesia - the living body of Christ in the world, and challenges the idea that Christianity can be legitmately lived apart from it.
Life’s Too Short To. . .Go It Alone
Life’s Too Short To…10 of 10
Wildwind Community Church
June 5, 2005
Last week I talked to you about how life is too short to follow the crowd. Today I’m going to preach a message that could almost seem like the exact opposite – Life’s Too Short to Go It Alone. Last week I told you not to follow the crowd who is on what Jesus called “the broad road” (in other words the “wide” road) because according to Jesus the way to life with God is found on the narrow road – the one Jesus said only a few will find.
So this morning I want to confront what I believe is the most insidious sin going on in the American church today. Remember last week we talked about how we have to draw careful lines between American values and Christian values because they often are not the same? This morning I want to talk to you about what I believe is probably America’s #1 value, and I believe this American value has been taken into the church and is rotting the church from the inside out and I don’t use that language to sound alarmist, I use it because by most statistical measures, the American church IS rotting, it IS falling apart, it IS breaking down, it IS losing a grip on its ability to meaningfully guide and direct people.
What is this insidious sin I’m talking about? It’s not adultery, or greed, or lust, or lying, or envy, or gluttony. It’s actually much worse than those things, because this is a sin that has crept in under the radar screen of many churches, and many Christians in America. The things I just mentioned – well most people KNOW those things are sins. But this one has taken us kind of by surprise, disguised itself as a value that patriotic and God-fearing Americans ought to adopt for themselves, and thus has gained legitimacy in many of our churches and in the lives of many who call themselves Christian. My friends, it is a sin that some of you have embraced – probably not because you are bad people, but because you have never realized before that it is sin, that it should be avoided as steadily as you may avoid the obvious sins I mentioned earlier. Probably more so.
This sin is worse than all of those sins because, when we have taken this sin into our lives and our minds and our hearts, it makes it gradually more and more difficult for us to see any of the more obvious sins in our lives – it dims our perception of sin, keeps us from discerning the things that drive a wedge between us and God, and ultimately fools us into actually serving another god while we don’t even realize it.
This morning I want to talk to you about the sin (or the much exalted American virtue, depending on how you choose to think about it) of individualism. Individualism.
Are you surprised that it’s something that seems so mundane? Are you bummed out that it’s not more salacious or scandalous? Are you confused, wondering how on earth this word that doesn’t even appear in the Bible gets ranked by me today as one of the worst sins in the church? Let me tell you something. I can stand up and say these words because this is a church and I am the pastor and America grants me the freedom to preach whatever I want to whoever will freely listen. But do you realize that what I have just said – if it showed up tomorrow night on the evening news – would be very frightening to many Americans? The pastor of Wildwind Church is speaking out against individual freedoms, against an individual’s right to determine his own life, make her own decisions – the pastor of that church doesn’t believe in freedom – the pastor of Wildwind Church wants to tell all the rest of us how we are supposed to live. I can imagine Larry King just nearly having a meltdown at my calling individualism a sin. It’s downright un-American.
My friends let me make one thing very clear this morning. I’m thankful to live in a country where every person gets to determine how he is going to live. No one respects that right more than me. My aim this morning isn’t about telling Americans how they ought to live. My aim this morning is to make sure that those who have made the free choice to live as Christians understand that specifically because of that choice there are now areas of your life where how you live is no longer up to you. Fundamentally, to be a Christian is to align yourself with Christ, to be willing to adopt Christ’s values and priorities as your own. You don’t have to do this. You don’t have to live this way. You have the freedom to live however you choose – God bless America and every person who died, who suffered, who served – to give us that freedom.