Summary: For the last three weeks we have compared the church to a store - a store getting ready for Christmas. But the church is not a store - it is a unique institution designed by God to share His grace with a broken world.
Intro.: I need to apologize to you - I lied to you.
1.I told you that we would spend time looking how we might restock the store.
2.But it dawned on me during the week that if I did that, I was leaving he wrong impression.
3.It might sound as if the church were just another store – with a product to market.
4.The church., as we shall see, is unique.
Trans: Let me suggest three ways in which the church differs from a store.
I. In a store, the products are obtained from an outside vendor; in the church, the shopkeeper is the toy maker.
A. We sometimes get things reversed. We think we are in charge and God is where we get all that we need.
B. But God does not run a store – rather he is responsible for all that is his. Take a look at Colossians 1:16-17 - For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
C. God is not merely a storehouse of gifts – he is the very glue that holds us together.
(Ill.) It is a very special glue – not like those we have available to us:
1.There is a very simple glue that holds the little plastic toys that can be thrown against the wall. It sticks, but comes off so easy.
2.Then there is rubber cement – it holds papers together, but allows them to be taken apart.
3.You might also think of Elmer’s glue – you put two pieces of paper together and then pull them apart – but the paper rips. But you can still pull them apart.
4.And then there is super glue. And it is even not as good as they say. I can say that from first hand experience. Sandra and I were in our first apartment – it supplied a refrigerator – an old refrigerator. And, as was bound to happen, it broke – not the compressor, not the door, not the seal. It was the little clip in the back of the fridge that holds the shelf in place. Now, I was smart and got some super glue to put it back together. I held for a while – but eventually it broke again.
D. Super glue is good, but it does not have the power of God.
E. We cannot just think of the church as a store – but we must remember that we are connected to the Lord of Lords, the Kings of Kings.
II. In a store, broken merchandise is of little value; in the church, God values everyone – even though everyone is broken.
A. Brokenness is nothing new. Deb may joke about knowing she was broken until I showed up on the scene – but, sadly, she, like the rest of us, is really broken.
B. Remember, as members of the human race, our brokenness comes from two sources:
1.Part of our brokenness is just an illusion – it comes from the fact that we are created beings. We are not all powerful, we are not all knowing, we cannot always be present. These are attributes reserved for God alone. But it means that we are less than perfect – it means we are not perfect. At the same time, realize that there are no flaws rooted in our creation. God created mankind just as he wanted us to be.
2.Brokenness comes from another source – we are fallen people. Throughout scripture our sinfulness is evident. It was evident in the story of Adam and Eve. Isaiah says are “sins are like scarlet...” Romans 3:23 makes it clear that “we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
C. We are broken, but that does not stop God from loving us. “For God so loved the world ...” was not said when we were perfect. Rather it was said even as we were broken. Paul puts it this way, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Ill.) I tend to be a tosser – when something doesn’t work, I will toss it out, I will buy a replacement. So when the lawn mower stops working, I take it out to the garbage and go buy a new one. But we have a neighbor who is wonderfully skilled in repairing things. So he will come out and grab the lawn mower, pitter around for a few hours, and bring back a working lawn mower.