Summary: A sermon on loving one another in a cynical, rude world.

[Lynn would like to acknowledge and thank two individuals: Years ago Pastor Rick Warren wrote a Sermon Series based upon 1 Corinthians 13, and John Ortberg wrote a book entitled: Everybody’s Normal Until You Get To Know Them. Lynn relied heavily upon these two resources for this series because they deal with Relationships and Community. He would like to recognize their influence in the preparation of these messages.]

January 12, 2007 … 7:51 in the morning;

an experiment began … sponsored by the Washington Post:

A young musician takes his position against a wall

in the metro station of the Washington DC., subway.

He is wearing jeans; a long-sleeved shirt, and a Washington National’s baseball cap. He opens his violin case … removes the instrument … throws a few dollars into the case from his pocket as “seed money” … and begins playing.

He plays for the next 43 minutes … and during that time

he performs six classical pieces – flawlessly !!

During that 43 minutes … 1,097 people passed by, tossing in a total of $32.17 into his violin case. Of that 1,097 people … only seven paused longer than sixty seconds to listen to this performance … of those seven who lingered … only one recognized the violinist:

Joshua Bell.

Three days prior – he had filled Boston’s Symphony Hall where just “adequate” tickets sold for $100 a piece. Two weeks later … he would play for a standing-room-only audience

in Bethesda, Maryland.

Joshua Bell’s talents & artistry … command an average of $1,000 per minute – when performing. … this day in the subway – he barely earned enough to pay for a pair of cheap shoes.

Now – you can’t fault the instrument …

he was playing a Stradivarius worth 3.5 million dollars !!

You can’t fault the performance …

he flawlessly played some of Johann Sebastian Bach’s best work !

Yet … scarcely anyone noticed the presence of such artistry

in this context … flanked by a kiosk on one side

… and a shoe-shine stand on the other …

?> Who has time to notice beauty or value … in the midst of

such a hectic, self-absorbed & pre-occupied society ??

Most of those passer-by’s … cynically wrote off this entertainer

As some typical, needy, dime-a-dozen musician …who needed a

few more cents to support his habit …or…

to pay for a place to sleep.

We are living in a cynical … rude … self-consumed world !!

?> would you agree with that ?

Cynicism is on the rise;

common courtesy is not so common anymore;

here in Memphis we are very adept at playing the race card

(especially if it helps to advance one’s personal agenda);

the tone of our society today is more & more

an irreverent tone of sarcasm & put down.

And … it is not just a certain “age group”;

it is not just a “racial divide”;

it is not just “gender based” … this is a “societal epidemic”!

Cynicism & rudeness seems to be

the common attitude of our world !

And rudeness … translates into a lack of respect!

it seems that respect for other people; respect for

property; respect for institutions … is at an all time low !!

For example:

In any election year, it seems perfectly acceptable to tear up the

Opposing candidate with smear tactics,

and if that does not work – just flat out lie about them!

Our entertainment; our political leaders; even our music

displays disrespect; rudeness and selfishness.

Yet …

The final sermon preached by Jesus Christ

– recorded in Matthew 25;

Christ depicted a scene of the final day of judgment.

On that day, as he painted this portrait, all will stand before him

and all will be held personally accountable

for their words and actions …

And the portrait that Jesus painted

was one of a shepherd … separating the sheep from the goats:

Matthew 25:31ff:

“When the son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in

heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one

from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his

right and the goats on his left. “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘come, you who are

blessed by my father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of

the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me

something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed

me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the

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