Sermons

Summary: Sermon #3 on creating a shared vision.

Matthew 16:13-20

“What Business Are We In?”

By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Grace UMC, Soddy Daisy,TN www.graceumcsd.org

Back in 1992 Ross Perot was running for President.

It was the first time I voted in a Presidential election, and Ross was my man!

When he spoke, I could relate.

I thought he could get the job done.

It wouldn’t be ‘politics as usual.’

Anyhow, Mr. Perot picked a Vice Presidential running mate.

He had been a war hero, and was an adjunct professor at some university.

The first the nation got to see of him was during the Vice Presidential debate.

Perot’s running mate started out by saying, “Who am I? Where am I? What am I doing here?”

It seemed an ingenious way to start…except for the fact that soon into the debate it became painfully obvious that he didn’t appear to know the answers to those questions.

In casting a Vision for Grace United Methodist Church, it is imperative that we know ‘Who we are; Why we are here, and What we are going to do about it?”

Over that past 2 weeks I have been preaching a sermon series about creating a shared vision for Grace United Methodist Church.

We’ve learned together that a Vision is a solution to a problem.

What are the problems that face Grace United Methodist Church and our surrounding community?

How are we poised to be a solution to the problems?

There were two times that Jesus spoke of ‘church’ directly.

The first time Jesus mentioned the Church was when Jesus and His disciples went to Caesarea Philippi on a retreat together…as we read in our Gospel Lesson for this morning.

Jesus gave the disciples a ‘pop quiz.’

No matter how annoying they can be, there are really good reasons why teachers like to give pop quizzes: they truly reveal what you know.

The first question of Jesus’ quiz was easy: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

This was fun for the disciples to answer.

Everybody jumped into the discussion, each with their own theory.

It’s easy to talk about the mistakes of others.

What the disciples didn’t realize was that this was only a warm-up question.

The second question was the REAL TEST—the most important question anyone will ever answer.

Jesus asked, “But what about you? Who do you say that I am?”

The Scriptures don’t tell us this, but I imagine it suddenly got real quiet.

I can also picture the glances that were so on fire with enthusiasm a moment earlier now falling slowly to the ground.

“Who do you say that I am?”

This question is much harder to answer because it’s personal; if you get it wrong, it’s you who are at fault.

This is the one question you don’t want to get wrong, because all eternity hangs in the balance.

The weight of this question must have made the air thick with tension.

Can you imagine the disciples slowly turning their heads in Peter’s direction, just hoping he would speak up as he often did—and thus, get them all off the hook.

Peter, probably uncomfortable with the silence, was ready to answer.

In one instance Peter lifted his voice with boldness and a sense of power and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus must have smiled at that moment, of course, I’d imagine Jesus smiled a lot…

…but in this instance, the tension lifted instantly!

Peter must have felt a surge of pride—and within moments he would need to be humbled…which isn’t much fun.

In the meantime, Jesus was to give Peter a blessing that would touch his life, and ours, forever: “Blessed are you, Simon, Son of Jonah, because you cheated on the test!!!”

“You got the answer from someone else!”

Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven.”

In essence, we all cheat death and judgment by getting our answer from

God.

There is no other way!

We don’t get there by having a high IQ or studying the right books.

It isn’t intelligence, family heritage, or nationality that gets us to heaven: it is the grace of God.

Only if we accept His love and help can we truly know Jesus.

In creating our Vision for Grace United Methodist Church, it is of utmost importance for us to know that everything about this church begins and ends with a single question: “Who is Jesus to you?”

Church begins with Jesus: “Who is He and What has He done?”

It’s all about Jesus and if it begins to be about something else, then it stops being the church.

I want us all to stop for a moment and write down on “sermon notes” insert in the bulletin the answer to the question: “Who is Jesus to me?”

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