Summary: An all day sermon on members of the Body of Christ who are no longer in active duty, but are missing in action.
Missing In Action
You will notice that today we have a POW - MIA flag hanging behind the pulpit. It is an unfortunate symbol that has come about because of the Pride of man. As I sat this past week and watched the news of our solders starting to return home and our POW’s returning home, my heart was filled with joy. But I know that in every war there are causalities. Some good people die and some good people never get home.
Paul says in Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his great power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks. Our fight (or War) is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.
Paul says that we are at war. And if you have been clothed with Christ then you are a solder in this battle. And just like in any war or battle there are some unfortunate consequences. In the Army of God today there are those who are Missing in Action.
I. Who is Missing In Action?
There are several different types of causalities in this war. The result of every case is death. You see we can fool everyone in this room, this town and this county but God knows the truth if He lives in our hearts.
The first group of those who are Missing in Action are those who only come to worship on Sunday Mornings and do not study or pray.
Sure because they fill out attendance cards, or make it to an occasional Bible class they think that they are fine. But we need to realize that God wants 100% of your heart. Not just part. If we are Sunday Christians at best then we are lukewarm at best. John writes in Revelation 3:15-16 "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth!
If we are lukewarm, we detest God to the point that the King James says we make Him want to puke, do you think that we are pleasing to God?
The next group of those who are Missing In Action are those who only come every now and then.
They might have been committed at their Baptisms but now they are just dabbling or playing with Christianity.
They come once in a while when other things don’t come up. They would be at worship but the weather is just perfect for golf, or if their next door neighbors best friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s dog wasn’t having puppies then they would be sure to be here.
Yesterday and today they are having the NFL Draft. It has got me wondering what would happen if football coaches approached their work like most churches are expected to. For example, I wonder what would happen if when a player was too busy to show up for practice, the understanding coach simply said, “We’ll miss you. I hope you’ll be able to make it next week sometime.” Imagine the players leaving practice and hearing the smiling coach say, “Thanks for coming. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow.”
If a football team operated like a typical church, we might expect concerned members to call the coach, saying, “I believe that Practice is boring, and I don’t want to come anymore. I was wondering, could you make it a little more fun? And by the way, you might want to talk to the coach at the school across town. He seems to have the right idea.”
The coach might send out quarterly questionnaires about what the players would like to change about the team (I can just imagine the answers: “shorter practices,” “more winning”).
A coach, responding like a typical church, might first feel guilty that the practices were not meeting the player’s needs, and he would try to adjust his program to suit this player and every other player who complained. Between trying to keep everybody happy and giving every player a good experience, the coach would squeeze in a little football practice. And what kind of season would this coach have? It’s a safe bet that the coach wouldn’t be the only one who felt like a loser.
But this is the very way that most churches function. To expect that members be committed to the church at the same level of commitment that would be expected on an athletic team would draw the charge of legalism and become intolerable to most Christians. Because the god of individualism pressures us to program to the lowest common denominator, we seldom raise the expectations high enough for members to experience real community.