Why is Politically Correct Spirituality so Unsatisfying?
Acts Series: “Completely Irreligious, yet Radically Christian” Part 1
Pastor Jeff Christopherson - January 12, 2003
-I’m excited about Acts… C.D’s available
I. How we became ‘politically correct’:
Philosophy: from Rationalism (cause and effect)
-Enlightenment: spiritually / scientifically
‘truth’ is universally true
to Existentialism (subjective experience)
-Rene Descartes / Friedrich Nietzche -‘truth’ is personal
II. The problem with a pluralistic spirituality:
Relativity (the relationship between 2 ‘objective’ truths)
-Einstein: absolutes: time & space …
-relative to observer’s frame of reference
-brought in new absolute… the velocity of light
turned into Relativism (all truth becomes ‘subjective’)
-many extended the idea of relativity to other spheres…
-advertising: “how does the product make you feel?”
-the church: “how does your theology make you feel?”
Relativism is very polite, yet very impotent.
• If truth is based upon personal experience…whose?
• If there is no ‘objective truth’ then there is no ‘objective hope’.
• Ultimately, any society can only become so post-modern…
-The Book of Acts challenges our ideas of relativism…
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven…” Acts 1:1-2
III. How to find spiritual satisfaction (the Facts of Acts):
The spiritual climate found in the book of Acts is not too dissimilar to what we find in Canada:
• The religious (Jewish) world was divided into 2 major groups.
• The Roman world was largely secular serving money and power.
• The Greek world was spiritual, but completely pluralistic.
In the midst of this, Jesus’ church was born…
3 LESSONS FROM THE EARLY CHURCH
1. TAKE God’s WORD Seriously. (world’s oldest book)
This is a struggle for many of us–10 Commandments /10 Suggestions
-If you want to see God’s power in your life…
“…after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.” Acts 1:2
-the 1st thing Jesus did – “here’s the deal guys…”
“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” Acts 1:4a
-Jesus gave instructions… Naturally…“alright, let’s go gang!” …
-God’s word was specific: “Wait”
How can God’s Word make a difference in my life?
A. Decide if you BELIEVE that it is ‘GOD’S’ Word.
*(Billy Graham’s struggle…)
-The Bible is an issue of faith (you have to settle this one…)
B. Adjust your LIFESTYLE to God’s Word (don’t adjust God’s Word to fit your lifestyle.)
-Many of us have adjusted our theology to fit our lifestyle
-that sounds easier – but it pulls God out of the picture…
*(Furnace – change the filter – no heat…)
C. In your RELATIONSHIP with God, expect God to
SPEAK to you through His Word.
-The Point of the Bible is God revealing Himself to you…
2. RECEIVE God’s POWER Personally.
-Christianity was never meant to be another religion (another choice)
-Jesus came to fix what was broken in us…
-only the resurrection could do this (an objective fact)
“After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days…” Acts 1:3a
-this fact sets Christianity apart from everything else…
“He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve apostles. After that, he was seen by more than five hundred of his followers at one time…” 1 Corinthians 15:5-6 (NLT)
-this wasn’t done in a closet… nobody disputed the fact!
-You say: “I’m tired” “I’m discouraged” “I’ve failed…”
“How can I receive God’s power?”
-What does the Bible say?
“For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:5
-God’s power comes only from God’s presence.
-*(1/2 full cup of cold coffee…)
-Something supernatural was going to happen…
“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” Acts 1:8a
-They were to wait for Jesus to ascend – and the HS to indwell
-Acts is really a historical record of what the HS did through people
-Has God changed? No
-Has God’s church changed? Maybe.
*(Stuck in the snow: smooth tires – HD Tow Truck…)
1. TAKE God’s WORD Seriously.
2. RECEIVE God’s POWER Personally.
3. SUBMIT to God’s AUTHORITY Obediently.
-To see God work in your life, ultimately you have to settle the issue of ‘who’s the boss”…
“After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty day and spoke about the kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3
-“Kingdom of God”: the authority of God over individual hearts…
HOW CAN I LET GOD BE GOD?
A. Admit that MY PERSPECTIVE is incomplete.
-My good ideas all too often end up as disasters…
“So when they met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: “‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.’” Acts 1:6-7
-The disciples thought this was ‘Party Time’
-clean up on those Romans – restore Israel…
-Jesus says, ‘you don’t understand’
‘your perspective is skewed…’
B. Trust GOD’S PURPOSE for My Life.
-What is God’s purpose for your life?
-it could be carried out in many different ways,
-but ultimately it is this…
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 1:8
-This wasn’t a command as much as an observation…
-when the HS controls the church (people)
-the world bears witnesses to the power of God
-You say, “I don’t want to push my beliefs on others”
-that’s okay. Jesus didn’t say, ‘push your beliefs’
-He said,“you will be my witnesses” – you can’t help yourself!
*(a bridge is out – you come to a skidding stop…)
C. Live EXPECTING Jesus’ RETURN.
-What if Jesus walked in and said, ‘OK friends – it’s over’
-would you be excited or disappointed?
“After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11
-And there is a promise from God.
Scripture passages from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.
Home Church Discussion Guide: satisfying spirituality
Background to Acts:
In 30 short years, the church grew from what was considered an insignificant Jewish sect to a major force in the Roman Empire. Luke wrote Acts as a companion piece to his Gospel to demonstrate that Christianity was not a political threat to Rome, but rather a work of God’s Spirit in building up a ‘spiritual kingdom’ – one comprised of all who live by faith in Jesus. Luke does this by recording the historical account of two leading figures in the early church; Peter, the apostle to the Jews (chapters 1-12), and Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles (chapters 13-28).
The book of Acts serves our church today as a blueprint which guides our purpose, which demonstrates the way we relate to one another, and which details what we can expect for a culture which opposes the ways of God. My prayer is that we will really become this ‘Radically Christian’ community – setting something like this against a dark and despairing culture will be the greatest witness of the power of Jesus that our world could possibly see. Have fun in Acts!
1. When you think of the early church, what images come immediately to your mind? 2. After reading the introduction to this study, what expectations do you have for our church? For yourself? 3. Read Acts 1:1-11. What key concepts in verses 1-3 seem to contradict today’s relative spirituality? What effect should these concepts have on our lives? 4. From verse 6, what do the disciples think will happen once they receive the Spirit? How does Jesus explain the purpose of the indwelling Holy Spirit? How should this knowledge affect our theology of the Holy Spirit? 5. Verse 3 says Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples where he ‘spoke about the kingdom of God.’ If Jesus were to spend 40 days with your Home Church, what do you think he would be saying to you? 6. How should verses 10-11 affect our decisions this week? How will it?
2003, Jeff Christopherson, The Sanctuary