Summary: If Christians are to make a difference in society, we must be salt and light. This sermon adds sandpaper... sometimes we have to rub against the grain.
Sand Paper Christians
These words were scribbled on the tomb of an Anglican bishop in the crypts of Westminster Abbey...
"When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, But, it too, seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me. But, alas, they would have none of it. And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world." (Author unknown)
How sad and how true are those words
we can be world changers,
but it calls for us to change ourselves first.
The world needs world changers, because the world is in trouble.
We cannot continue to go in our present direction because history and scripture tell us that the bridge is out.
Promiscuity, hedonism, drug-addiction, the deterioration of the family, the rise in violent and hate crimes, homosexuality, pornography, abortion, materialism, murder, rape, terrorism, juvenile delinquency, the decline of the public school system, the drop-out rate and on-campus crime.
Our society is in dire need of change-agents... the ones who can facilitate the change.
There was a time when they looked to the church to be that change agent.
Sadly, today.... there is a rising perception of the church as inept, benign, and irrelevant.
When people need help today with family problems, moral guidance, and they are turning to self-help groups, support groups, and the government.
And why is it that despite the fact that 86% of Americans claim to be Christian and claim to believe in God… we have so little affect on culture, on politics, on crime, on immorality.
The Monk was right….
WE HAVE NOT CHANGED OURSELVES.
We can still be the change agents the world needs and God intended us to be.
Let me use an object lesson to explain how.
1. What We Used To Be Like.
We used to be sinners, driven by sensuality, by materialism, by our desires and temptations.
Just like the rest of the world.
I want to let this stocking represent our OLD NATURE, our pre-Christian life.
We lived in a world of sinners and we fit right in... just sliding right along and going with the flow, (rub two stockings together)
We liked the way it felt to fit in. We liked being one of the gang, others to like us.
Being different was a great sin and the thing we tried very hard not to do.
So, there we were… just a stocking like the rest of the stockings, slip-sliding along… fitting in.
But then, one day, a bad thing happened to upset our little world....
2. God saved us.
You might say, "That was not a bad thing."
Well, not at first it wasn’t.
Because at first we were saved but we continued to act pretty much like we did before.
Rub stockings together
We just did a few new things... attend church, pray when we needed something, and maybe cut out a couple of really objectionable activities.
But for the most part, most people were not even aware of the change in our life.
We just continued to fit in with our old friends, our old activities, and our old ways.
But that created a problem
We began to realize that we could not be new wine in old wineskins
We could not just add a few spiritual activities to our un-spiritual activities, add a few Christian friends to our un-Christian ones.
We began to realize that God’s will for us was "...be not conformed.... but TRANSFORMED"
We realized that God, who we had invited into our heart as Lord, Boss, Master.... was taking it literally
He thought we really meant that stuff about becoming new, transformed, different, not like we were.
He did not understand that all of that was just church-talk
He was like the co-worker that you really can’t stand who hears you say, "Come see us." and he thinks you mean it and he shows up at your house at supper time with his nosey wife, his fat, ravenous children, and his annoying long-haired pooch who is shedding all over your couch.
There is God, standing at the door of your library (your thoughts) and saying these disgusting pictures (Sexual thoughts) will have to go or I’ll have to."
And He walks into the kitchen and looks in the pantry to see what you are eating... your appetites and desires. He says, "This stuff is disgusting, and I will not eat this stuff."