“Where the Streets Have No Name”
Galatians 3: 26-4: 7
October 16, 2011
Intro: Let me start of by reading you a couple of quotes. Oprah Winfrey said, “I discovered I didn’t feel worthy of love unless I was accomplishing something. I suddenly realized I have never felt I could be loved for just being.” Madonna said, “My drive in life is from this horrible fear of being mediocre. That’s always been pushing me, pushing me. B/c even though I’ve become somebody, I still have to prove I am somebody.”
-Chris Evert, the great women’s tennis champion said, “I had no idea who I was, or what I could be away form tennis,” as she recalled the final years of her career. She said, “I was depressed and afraid b/c so much of my life had been defined by my being a tennis champion. I was completely lost. Winning made me feel like I was somebody. It made me feel pretty. It was like being hooked on a drug. I need the wins, the applause, in order to have an identity.” But when she no longer won, life changed; she didn’t feel accepted.
-You know, all of us want to be accepted. We want to win the approval of people around us and have a sense of belonging. Yet so much of the acceptance we receive is dependent upon how we look or how we perform; or where we grew up or to whom we’re related.
-One of the greatest concerts I’ve ever been to was the 1987 Joshua Tree Tour by U2 in Atlanta, Georgia. And one of my favorite songs from that album was “Where the Streets Have No Name.” The inspiration for the song came from Bono’s Northern Ireland upbringing. He said you could tell a person’s religion and income based on what street they lived on.
-Therefore he was looking forward to a place where the streets would have no names. In other words, where people would be seen as equals. Where people would be on an equal footing in life.
Sermon Idea: Today in our passage of Scripture we see the way the world looks thru the eyes of God. It’s a very different view than the world has. The world ranks you based on your performance, based on your looks, based on relationships and power. And that’s not too bad if you HAVE all those things. But very few people have those things which means that kind of rating system STINKS!
-If you do have those things you need to be reminded that those things are only temporary. They don’t last forever. But I want you to see what happens when your hope and trust is placed in Jesus.
TEXT: GALATIANS 3: 26-4: 7
Bckgrd: Paul wrote this letter to the churches that were meeting in what is now modern day Turkey. And he was concerned for them b/c there were people teaching them things that were contrary to the Bible. Some of these religious teachers were saying that a relationship w/God was performance based. In other words the people who did more good things were liked and loved by God more than people who didn’t.
-Apparently Paul became angry w/this type of teaching b/c it wasn’t a person’s performance that put them in good standing w/God. What people needed to be in good standing w/God was His grace. And he began to teach them that w/o the grace of God there’d be no salvation, no heaven regardless of all the good deeds we did.
-The unfortunate thing is very few people then and very few people now buy into what Paul taught. We still struggle w/the idea that God loves us based on our performance. What did Paul have to say @ this type of teaching?
-He wrote in Gal. 1: 6-7, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the GRACE of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
-Paul wanted them to see, and he wanted us to see what the message of Jesus brings to our lives; how the gospel of Jesus brings us freedom. Let’s look at a few things the message of Jesus brings into our lives. 1st, the message of Jesus brings:
DIV. 1: FREEDOM FROM RACIAL, ECONOMIC AND GENDER BARRIERS (vv. 26-29)
Exp: The Galatian church was a great work for the apostle Paul. He was their spiritual father, but whenever he left the church some people came in and began to teach that if they were REALLY going to belong to God there were some extra things they had to do. For one they were told they had to follow the OT law perfectly. Now the OT law is a necessary part of our lives today. The 10 Commandments are the basis for the laws we have in our country today. But the law of the OT doesn’t give us freedom; it doesn’t help us belong to Christ. It merely points us to Him.
A.You see, it’s impossible to belong to Christ thru keeping a bunch of rules and regulations. And the reason why is b/c none of us can perfectly keep the law. The Bible clearly tells us that we’ve all sinned and fall short of God’s glory. So the law points out to us our need for Jesus. It points out to us that if we’re going to belong to Jesus then we have to rely on His help. And we do this by entrusting ourselves to Him.
1. Now the good Jewish Xians of the day thought they were special before God. And indeed they were. But what they needed to be reminded of is that ALL people are special before God. God desires for all people to belong to Him; not just a select few.
a. 2 Pet. 3: 9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient w/you, not wanting anyone to perish, but ALL to come to repentance.” It is amazing to me to know that we can belong to Jesus, not b/c of how good we are, but b/c of how gracious He is! The verses I’ve just read point out God’s not interested in what color we are, He’s not interested in how much $ we have, or even what gender we are. The door is open to for ALL of us to find freedom in Him.
b. This is an important teaching b/c the fact is we all want to belong to someone or something. I really believe we all want to be a part of something greater than ourselves. Now you might be a real individualist and say, “I don’t need to belong to anything.” But everything in life points against this.
2. When I was in college people wanted to belong to certain fraternities or sororities. They wanted to be w/a group they could identify with. Athletes want to be a part of a team that wins championships. Businessmen want to be identified w/companies that are successful. And the list goes on. And striving to be a part of those things in and of themselves aren’t wrong.
a. But for many of us, being part of groups like that aren’t possible. I won’t be a part of a Super Bowl championship team, and I think the reasons why are pretty obvious. Many people won’t be a part of the Greek life in college b/c they didn’t go to college or they didn’t have the right connections or meet the qualifications necessary to be a part of a certain group.
b. Most of us aren’t going to be a part of a Forbes 500 business. But here’s what’s amazing. We ALL have the opportunity to be a part of the family of God. It doesn’t matter what your background has been. There have been kings and slaves that have been a part of God’s family. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. You can have the same standing before God as anyone else.
B. And Paul had to remind the Galatians that when you step into a relationship w/Jesus, He knocks down all the human barriers that we like to set up. In our world today there is a great crying out for belonging. 1 in 4 people in American today live alone. Studies have shown that Americans say they’re among the loneliest people in the world.
1. While belonging to certain groups can be enjoyable and can be of great use in our lives, those groups won’t bring ultimate fulfillment to your life. And the reason why is b/c on their own they have no real power. It’s only when we’re connected to Christ that we’ll find freedom, that we’ll find a sense of belonging.
ILLUS: Lawrence of Arabia had the trust of many Arab tribes during WW1. He was a British scholar and soldier. And when the war ended, several Arab leaders asked him to come w/them to Paris for the peace talks after the war. When they went into their bathrooms they were astounded to discover the unlimited amounts of water they could get into the bathtubs and sinks by simply turning the handle on a faucet.
-When preparing to leave Paris, they removed the faucets and packed them in their luggage, thinking the faucets themselves magically created vast amounts of water. Unfortunately for them, Lawrence had to break the news to them that the faucets were useless unless connected w/the pipes, that were in turn, connected to a source of water.
a. Do you long for freedom? Do you long for a place where the streets have no name? The only place you’ll find that is in Jesus. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.” The only way you’re going to experience that great sense of freedom and belonging is when you’re connected to the source of all life, Jesus Christ.
Reit: The message of Jesus brings freedom from racial, economic and gender barriers. Next, the message of Jesus brings:
DIV. 2: FREEDOM FROM RULES AND REGULATIONS (ch. 4: 3-4)
Exp: When most people think @ religion they tend to think @ rules and regulations you must follow. As a matter of fact, when I visit w/people and talk to them @ what it means to be a Xian, the majority of people will tell me, “It means doing more good things than bad things. It means following the 10 Commandments. To be a Xian means you’re nice to other people.”
A.Now I’m all for rules and regulations. And none of those things I mentioned are bad things. We should strive to have those things be characteristics of our lives. But if you’re relying upon your good works and deeds to get you into heaven, into a relationship w/God then you’re barking up the wrong tree.
1. And it’s a real shame that so many of us think of Xianity as being a faith @ rules and regulations when it’s not! Xianity actually gives us freedom from rules and regulations. Let me explain. Gal. 2: 16, “So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, b/c by observing the law no one will be justified.”
a. What does that mean? It means that when a man stands before God after he dies, God’s not going to look at one of us and say, “Hey, b/c you’ve kept most of the rules and regulations you get to be a part of My family. Go to heaven.” Rom. 3: 23 tells us that we’ve all broken God’s laws. The book of James tells us that if we’ve broken one law then we’re guilty of breaking them all.
b. Let’s say after church you’re going home and you’re in such a hurry to get home to eat the wonderful lunch that your wife’s prepared you get pulled over for speeding. If you tell the policeman when he comes to your window, “I know I was speeding, but didn’t you notice a mile back I stopped at that red light?”, do you think he’s going to be swayed by that? I seriously doubt it!
2. I ought to know since I’ve tried to talk my way out of a ticket before and it didn’t matter. He’s not interested in how many of the driving laws you’ve kept at that point. He’s merely interested in the fact that you were breaking the law when he pulled you over. You might have just broken the law once, but he’s still going to give you the ticket.
a. He’s not going to say, “Well, since you’ve kept most of the laws while you were driving I’m going to let you off.” He’s going to let you know that since you broke the law you’re going to have a price to pay. You see, that’s the purpose of the law. The purpose of the law is to remind us how we’re supposed to live. The letter of the law offers no grace. It’s not meant to.
b. But the awesome thing @ Jesus is that He can remove the burden of the law from our lives. According to the Bible there’s a penalty for breaking the law of God, and that is to be separated from God for an eternity. But Jesus came, not to offer us more rules and regulations to follow, but to offer us grace from the penalty of the law.
ILLUS: In the days of the Revolutionary War a Baptist pastor named Peter Miller was friends w/George Washington. There also lived in the area a man named Michael Wittman. Wittman did all he could to make the pastor’s life miserable. One day Wittman was accused of treason and was arrested and sentenced to death. The old preacher set out and walked 70 miles to Philadelphia to plead for Wittman’s life.
-He was admitted into Washington’s presence and at once he begged for the life of Wittman. Washington told the preacher, “I can’t grant you the life of your friend.” The preacher said, “He’s not my friend. He’s the bitterest enemy I have.” Washington was stunned and said, “You walked 70 miles to save the life of your enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. I will grant the pardon.”
B. That’s a pretty good picture of what Christ has done for us. In our very nature we break all the rules and regulations we see in Scripture. But Jesus teaches us that when we trust in Him for the care of our lives, He’ll give us freedom from those rules and regulations. And we’re transformed from being His enemy to being His friend.
1. Now I don’t know @ you but I want to belong to One who offers me His grace. I want to belong to one who knows I’m weak on my own, who knows I’m sinful at my very core, and yet He offers me grace.
a. If you try to live your life solely by rules and regulations, you’re going to be condemned every time. And your life’s going to be filled w/anxiety and doubt. You see, it’s impossible to keep the law. But God, in His grace, gives us freedom by what He does, not by what we do.
Reit: The message of Jesus brings freedom from racial, economic and gender barriers. His message brings freedom from rules and regulations. And finally, the message of Jesus brings us:
DIV. 3: A NEW INHERITANCE (ch. 4: 4-7)
Exp: V. 5 gives us the reason Jesus came to this world. He came here to “redeem” us. The word “redeem”=”to set free by paying a price.” In the Roman Empire at this time there were over 60 million slaves! And a person could buy a slave in any Roman city, either to keep him as a slave or to set him free. Often times the slaves would be set free and then be adopted by their master as their son. The result is they were able to inherit the wealth of their adopted father. Well, Jesus came to purchase us so that He could set us free from the slavery of sin, but also to keep us for Himself.
A. You see, Jesus wants us to be free from the penalty of sin, but He wants us to belong to His family. Why? So that we can inherit His riches. Jesus didn’t just leave the glory of God in Heaven for 33 years and then die on a cross for fun. He came here for a purpose and that purpose was to give man freedom from the penalty of sin and to bring us into His family.
1. But if we’re not a part of His family then we can’t receive His inheritance. We all know Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world. But I’m fairly certain I’m not going to be inheriting anything from him. I’m not related to him.
a. Who are you leaving your wealth to? You’re going to leave it to your family! And God’s going to do the same thing. What kind of inheritance is it? It’s a BIG one! Eph. 2: 6-7, “And God raised us up w/Christ and seated us w/Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show us the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
b. That Scripture tells us God’s riches are incomparable. And there are actually some things you can inherit right now. For one, you inherit God as your father. That means you can talk to Him. You can share w/Him your hopes and dreams and ask for and receive wisdom and direction.
2. You also inherit the HS. And His guiding presence in your life will change the way you live, the way you make decisions. But you also receive a future inheritance which is eternal life in heaven. I don’t know @ you but that sounds like a good deal to me!
a. But to receive that inheritance begins w/surrendering your life to Jesus, which means allowing Him access and control of your life. What happens if we don’t do that? Then we’ll remain spiritual orphans w/nothing to inherit but despair and loss.
b. One of the greatest things to discover is that God desires ALL people, regardless of gender or wealth or skin color to be a part of His family. The door is open to all of us. The question is “Will we step thru it?”
B. There are a lot of little cliques around us. Some people are blessed w/great connections that allow them to have access to things some of us can only dream @. Others of us are very limited in our resources and b/c of it we’re sort of trapped where we are. But Jesus removes those barriers and allows us to have equal standing before Him.
1. There are a lot of great reasons to make a decision to follow Jesus. But let me share w/you just a few of them. The gospel of Jesus brings freedom from racial, economic and gender barriers. It brings freedom from rules and regulations. And finally, it brings a new inheritance.
a. Would you like to invest your life in Jesus? If so, then take this time right now to pray and tell God that you want Him to forgive you of your sin. Tell Him that you believe in Him and that you are trusting Him w/your life today and that you are asking Him to be the Lord and Savior of your life.
b. If you prayed that prayer, open your bulletin and fill out the section on the right side. Then check the box that says you committed your life to Christ. Place it in the offering basket so we can get you some information in the mail on how you can grow in your walk w/Christ.