Summary: God has chosen us so that we can become a distinctive people, helping others come to know His love for them.
If we stopped people on the street of Nashville and asked them what they think of when they hear the name “Nashville Christian Church” what would come to their mind? (Pause) Some might mention our parking lot, maybe others a pretty building in the middle of town. If we are a little more optimistic maybe an exciting youth program, they might mention a member or two that they know and like (or maybe dislike). Perhaps they would have received help from the church at one time or another, maybe brought their kids to our “Trunk N Treat” on Halloween or appreciated our chimes in the middle of the day. It’s hard to say how people might respond if you asked them what came to their mind when they are reminded of Nashville Christian Church. The thought might bring a smile to some people’s face, to others there might be a frown.
Now let me change the scenario a bit. How do you think that God would respond if someone were to bring up Nashville Christian Church to Him? (Pause) Well, that’s what we have been doing for the last several weeks, listening to God describe His Church. And I wonder what you have thought as you have seen the Church from a God’s Eye View. As we’ve listened we’ve heard God describe the church as the body of Christ, a diverse group of people all connected to others. We perform different tasks according to our abilities, and we all respond to the direction of the head, who is Jesus Christ. NCC is the body of Christ.
God also describes us as the Bride of Christ. We live our lives as a betrothed bride in anticipation of the time when Christ will come and claim us in a marriage ceremony. As we wait, our responsibility is to remain faithful and stay pure until our beloved comes for us. NCC is the bride of Christ.
Last week we heard God describe us as His family. He is our Heavenly Father, and we are surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ. The image of the family stresses the fact that the church is all about relationships. When we live in this church family, we can trust our family members to be there when we need them. We share our lives with our Father and our brothers and sisters. NCC is the family of God.
But this morning as we ask God what He thinks of our congregation, I think there is a smile that crosses His face as He looks at us with pride. Then He says, “Those are my people, they belong to me, and I have made them my possession so that I can show them my mercy, and then they in turn will proclaim my mercy to the people around them.”
Text: 1 Peter 2:9-12 (Have people turn there)
You know, as I have preached this series of sermons about the images of the church in the New Testament, I stepped back and wondered why God would devote so much of the Bible to helping us understand who we are. Why is he so intent on us understanding ourselves as the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ, members of His family and a people belonging to Him. There’s a scene in the movie Toy Story that I think helps us understand.
How many of you have seen the movie Toy Story. (It’s good to know we have such a sophisticated congregation here this morning!) On the surface the movie is about a bunch of toys that come to life. The lead characters are Woody a toy cowboy and Buzz Lightyear, a space ranger. On the surface the movie is about toys, but really it is about identity, understanding who you are. A pivotal scene occurs where Buzz has been captured by a boy who is going to blow him up with some explosives. Watch what happens…. (show from 56:54 to 59:31 where Woody and Buzz struggle with their identity as they are held captive by Sid. Buzz finds determination when He recognizes that his purpose is to bring joy to his owner, Andy)
I love that movie, not just because it’s funny, but because it portrays the struggle that we all go through at one time or another. Everyone at some point struggles to know why we are here, what is our purpose on the planet. But it’s only when we come to recognize our true purpose that we find the fulfillment and determination to be who we are created to be. That’s why God spends so much time giving us images to understand ourselves. He wants us to be who He created us to be, and in the 1 Peter passage I read a moment ago, He wants us to come to the realization that we are a distinctive people.