Summary: Though we live in an Old World we act and live like people of the New World.
Title: New World People in an Old World
Text: Matthew 5:1-12
Thesis: Though we live in an Old World we act and live like people of the New World.
When I speak of an Old World I am referring to this life here on earth. There was a time in history when it was believed there were three continents: Europe, Africa and Asia – which comprised the Old World. Then came a time when explorers expanded the horizon and discovered a New World – which we know as North and South America and Oceania. There was a time when those who lived in the Old World longed to see the New World.
Similarly, Christians who live in this present or Old Earth World long to go to see the New World which we think of as the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven.
In the gospels Jesus says a lot about the Kingdom of Heaven. Early on we hear that it is near which evoked a bunch of questions about when the Kingdom would come. Then Jesus made a startling announcement, “The Kingdom of God cannot be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ for the Kingdom of God is already among you.” Luke 17:20-21 In other words it is here and now as well as then and there.
Here and now the Kingdom of God is the rule or reign of God in our lives. We live in this Old World under the rule o reign of God. That’s why we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Introduction: What is it that defines people in this Old World?
Our alikeness? Homogeneity: People share the same language, culture and traditions. In a homogenous culture the people are very much alike.
Our differences? Diversity/Fractionalization: There are many languages, cultures and traditions. In a diverse culture the people are very different.
We see our world as a place of great diversity. Despite the fact that the United States ranks in the middle as being neither homogenous nor diverse. However, our politics indicate we are pretty nervous about our immigration policy. While there was a time in the life of our nation when we thrived on diversity and embraced the idea of America as the “Great Melting Pot,” times have changed and we really don’t want to be all that diverse.
The recent fervor over the Coca Cola ad aired during the Super Bowl is a case in point. Coca Cola has long been an advocate of diversity. Some may recall the ad in 1971 that featured the song: “I’d Like to Sing the World a Song in Perfect Harmony” as people from around the world all held hands.
This year’s ad featured people singing “America the Beautiful” in different languages: among them Spanish, Tagalog, Hindi and Hebrew. Immediately there was a hashtag on Twitter condemning the ad, calling for a boycott of Coke products and demanding that people “speak American.”
We sometimes forget that America is a melting pot of peoples from around the world… we have thrived as a diverse nation. When the English came they brought English. When the Scandinavians came they brought Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish. When the Germans came they brought German… I’ve served churches primarily of immigrant origins. Our own church was founded by people of German heritage. The children were taught classes in German until 1936. Our church had English services every other Sunday until the mid 1960’s when English was spoken in the first service and German in the second until 1970 when we became and English only church.
As Christ-following, God-fearing Christians, we might be curious to know what God’s Word has to say about the way God sees us.
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus… and true children of God.” Galatians 3:28
“In this new life it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” Colossians 3:11
In Christ there is no East or West,
In Him no South or North;
But one great fellowship of love
throughout the whole wide earth.
Jesus reveals that God defines the world much differently than we do and in fact, is remaking the world in such a way that defines God’s people by their character and conduct more than their heritage. As God’s people we may look different, speak different languages and dialects, observe different customs and traditions, etc., but we are all kingdom people and as such have dual citizenship: We are citizens of this Old World and we are also citizens of the New World Kingdom of God. So we might ask what is it that defines people of the New World?