Summary: A Sermon for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost Proper 7
5th Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 10: 24-39
The Gaze of God
Today in America, we are also facing another challenge to our relationship to God, the individuality of faith, private faith, which is seen as more important than the body of Christ; the church individual, and the church as a whole. Our faith is more than individuals, it is rooted and grounded in the church. Paul’s speaks to this very clearly in Romans 12:12 as he says: "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body though many are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews, or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit."
This responsibility to the corporate whole, to the church body is missing today as many people think of only their individual faith, their private feelings, and have no sense of loyalty or responsibility to the members of the church.
Remember back to Jimmy and Tammi Baker who are clear this examples of this. Many people gave faithfully to them, hoping their money would he used to further the kingdom of God, but in fact, much of it was used for the comfort, and pleasure of the Bakers. A million dollar house, new fancy cars, expensive dresses and suits, all of this, while millions are starving, while many elderly are eating cat and dog food, as many live shut up in their homes and apartments, fearful of coming out because of the threat of crime and no one being around to help them.
While many are starving, fearful, hurting and lonely, the Bakers were denying the trust, the faith of the community of believers who gave so faithfully to them. To me, that is their sin! not being, faithful, not being responsible to the community of believers.
Individual denominations try to say they have the only true faith, they are the only true believers. They try top say if your faith is not like ours, then it is no good. You have to believe like we do. So they try to rob other denominations of believers, because they believe their faith is the only true faith.
They have lost the wholeness of the body of Christ. All denominations have a genuine, true faith in Jesus Christ. Each is entitled to display that belief in their own unique way. We have far to much proselytizing. We need to respect each other’s denomination’s believe, and instead of fighting for those who already believe, we need to reach out to those who have no faith.
In our gospel lesson, Jesus also speaks out on the issue of oneness and togetherness in the body of Christ as He says, "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master." There is no one up-mans-ship in the church. No one is better than another! No one’s faith is perceived better than another! No one’s private feelings should be foisted off onto another, but together the body of Christ, the church should grow in mutual faith, in mutual love, in mutual respect for each other.
Paul says in Romans 12.5. "so we though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another."
From Emphasis magazine comes the following by Pastor Maseroni, " I know a pastor who had a church," he says," whose leader said to him," ’We want the full gospel of Christ’s saving grace preached in our church. However, when they heard the fullness of the gospel, it meant they had to change some of their preconceived notions and they refused. They began to harass the pastor and tried to find ways of stopping his preaching and ending his ministry. In attempting to compromise and meet their expressed needs, the pastor did everything possible but it was never enough."
As Jesus says in our gospel lesson, " Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth, I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." In the proclamation of the gospel, not everyone is going to like everything, but we have a responsibility to the community as a whole to respect the differences, to uphold each other in love, and most importantly to put aside our preconceived ideas for the witness of the gospel, for God’ s glory.
Paul says further in Ephesians 4,"And His gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God, to mature person hood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wile. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the dead, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and up builds itself in love."