Summary: The following sermon is going to review the sources, the scope and solution to maintaining unity within the church so that its members continuously emulate their love for God and one another!
Living for Others
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
As I feel that all too familiar throbbing in my head I turn over and clumsily smash that dreaded alarm clock. I wish I could say that I feel rested, but I tossed like the waves of the sea all night in fits of anxiety. I know that success comes from hard work, persistence, discipline, sacrifice and late nights but how is on to sleep restfully with all the rejection, passion, failure, doubt, and fear that comes from constantly striving to “one-up” all others? As I get ready to face those “cutthroat” strategists that merely see me as a steppingstone to their success, I know I must not show weakness but confidence lest they take what is mine! And yet despite my power and prestige, nice home and good retirement fund I cannot help but feel in the pit of my stomach that my life has somehow been a dismal failure. What is this thirst that I feel in the core of my soul that just never seems satisfied no matter what I buy, say, or do? Why do I so often feel like an alien living in a foreign land? Despite being in a world that celebrates freedom of choice and sees truth merely being the figment of one’s imagination, I still cannot help but feel and are drawn to a singular path that makes sense and gives meaning to my life! While I am tempted to dismiss these questions as merely philosophical meanderings of sleep deprivation, or the product of a second helping of spicy tacos before going to bed, I cannot for I am tired of being depressed, living in fear, and trying to fill the void of love in my heart with things that once obtained fail to satisfy my insatiable longing to know why I exist and what is the meaning of my life?
So, as I lie in my bed frightened, confused and craving for that which I am uncertain, an epiphany comes flooding into my mind … what if those “Bible thumping, foolish Christians,” as I often call them, are right that life has meaning only in the bosom of one’s Creator? In the darkness of both morning and in my soul, I decide I will be either foolish or brave, too which I am not certain, and seek my answers at the local church. Sunday arrives and as I get into my car my head and my heart are pounding so hard, I wonder if they might burst! What could I ever possibly offer God who has everything? Will not lightning strike me dead the moment this lustful, angry, spiteful, self-focused, infatuated person enters His place of worship? Also, I cannot help but wonder who I will meet when I walk through the doors? If I meet the “judgmental Christian” will he/she quickly see my black soul and place upon my back burdens that I could never bear? But worse than that what if I meet those “pretenders of the faith” that worship only on Sunday and the rest of the time live like I do? I doubt their delusions and fantasies of doing so little and yet “being right with God” will show me the way to fill the gigantic hole in my heart. And what if the church is a “fighting church” or worst yet a “social club,” either of which might not accept the “real me,” for I am simply too weak and have no desire to keep my “worldly façade” any longer! So, with so many unanswered questions and not knowing what lies beyond I open the door …
This story of a seeker highlights some of the greatest issues facing today’s churches. If we are to fulfill Christ’s command to let our light shine and invite the fearful, wayward, self-absorbed, lost into a sanctuary that emulates and points to God’s love, then we simply must take the necessary steps to judge ourselves and be distinct from the world but at the same time be humble enough to forbear in love those who are still bound by the shackles of sin or are just starting to invite the Spirit to remove them! To appease the fears of seekers that they might find either judgment or lukewarmness once they open the doors of the church great care must be taken to ensure that acceptance is not based on combative mastery or social popularity but on faith in a risen Savior! It is not easy to maintain this kind of unity and peace amongst the body whose members are made up of so many sinners, but it is achievable. Due to evidence of personal conflicts and quarrelsome selfish ambition, Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church of Philippi encouraging them “to draw rather clear social, ethical, and theological boundaries around his communities, lest the community not last or, worse, be absorbed into some sort of syncretistic amalgam of Christian and non-Christian beliefs and practices.” The following sermon is going to review the sources, the scope and solution to maintaining unity within the church so that its members continuously emulate their love for God and one another!