Summary: We have 2 advantages over non-Christians. Because of God's blessings in our lives, we are better off than many in this world, but we must be careful not to see ourselves as being "better" than others.

For the next few weeks we’re going to be focusing on what can we learn from Scripture as it applies to a popular new TV series (now entering its 3rd season) called “This Is Us”. It’s been nominated for 8 Emmys because of the power of its writing and its acting, and it has literally brought many of its fans to laughter and tears… because they see themselves in this story.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it’s the story of the family of Jack & Rebecca Pearson. They have 3 children: Kate – an overweight girl that often struggles with her self-image because of that weight problem. Kevin – a handsome (sometimes self-absorbed) man that becomes an actor. And Randall – a highly dependable and responsible young black man that the family adopted when he was a baby. They were all born on the same day. One of the geniuses of the plot of this show is that it bounces back and forth between stories about when the kids while were children, teens and adults. Sometimes the story line bounces back and forth between the different ages in a single episode. This is an example: (timestamp – 0.0 thru 4.20)

A friend of mine told me how amazed he was at how much like his family these characters in this TV series were. In fact, it seems that everybody who becomes a fan of “This Is Us” says the same thing: “THIS IS US”. They literally see themselves in the stories of this TV show.

Now, a little disclaimer here. This is NOT really a Christian show. God, Jesus, and the Church are rarely if ever mentioned. The actors often use curse words, and the family members struggle with betrayal, anger, selfishness… and just plain old sin. But the folks in this series are not portrayed as devious or nasty or evil… they're just PEOPLE. People just trying to get by in this world.

Now THAT is what I want to focus on in these sermons: THIS IS US. These people are just like us. Romans 3:23 says “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

Too often, church goers see themselves as somehow superior to those who are outside the church. I’ve not seen that too much around here… but it does happen. And here in Romans, Paul is trying to get the Christians to understand that as Christians – we’re just like everybody else. EXCEPT in two major areas…

The first major area we’re NOT like everyone else is this: Christians tend to live better lives than those who don’t have Christ.

ILLUS: A study done about 9 years ago by the University of Chicago found that those who attended church weekly and took part in other religious activities performed an average of 128 acts of kindness a year versus 96 such acts by people who never attend church.

(National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago circa 2005, reported in Gazette {7/2/05})

ILLUS: A recent study, surveyed 795 college men at a public university and found that college girls were safer with men who were religious. They found that religious men were less likely to be sexually promiscuous, or to force themselves sexually on women and were less likely to be consumed with pornography. And men with a religious affiliation tended to drink less alcohol — which has been linked to increased aggressive and violent behavior, which included aggressive sexual behavior.


ILLUS: In addition, I have numerous studies in my files that have shown that Americans who are regular attenders at church are generally happier and healthier than those who don’t go to church.

In other words… spending time with God in church, Bible study, and personal prayer makes us better people than we would have been if we didn’t do those things. Belonging to Christ gives us a decided advantage over those who aren’t Christians.

But there’s a danger here we need to avoid. The danger is believing that because we are BETTER OFF than others that we are somehow BETTER than other people. It’s the old “Holier Than Thou” syndrome. Now, we ARE better off than non-Christians, but we’ve got to be careful not to use OUR righteousness as some kind of yardstick to compare ourselves with people who don’t go to church. And there are 2 reasons for that:

FIRST – we’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (you’re going to hear me quote that verse quite often in this sermon). and that means that - since we’ve all sinned - some non-Christians are gonna be nicer than we are sometimes.

ILLUS: In the TV clip we watched we were shown a powerful story about one brother giving up something that was very important to himself so that he could be there for his brother in his hour of need. Now, I don’t know about you… but I could see that happening. I could visualize a person doing that for his brother.

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