Summary: Most Christians want to take Jesus into their world, but feel inadequate to do so. Instead, we build walls to keep the world out, which isn’t the answer either. This sermon helps give steps to help people show Jesus in their world without selling out.
Good morning everyone. My name is Josh, and I am one of the leaders here at Beginnings. We are really glad you decided to hang out with us this morning. Let’s pray as we move on this morning.
Maybe you are able to relate to that clip. Many of us want to make a difference in our world. We want to interact with our culture, we want to talk with our friends about God, but we don’t know how.
Here is the dilemma, on the one hand we have most Christians saying we need to stay out the world. I grew up in a church that said the world and everything in it is bad. A very doom and gloom outlook. There are verses, like what we will look at today that say if you are friends with the world, you are an enemy of God.
Then we have verses that say, “Be in the world, but not of it.” Jesus even prays before he dies, not that we would leave the world, but that we would stay in it.
While growing up in church, I was taught that the world in which I lived was this horrible place. A place that was by some opinions, beyond saving. The ironic thing about that position, is that the people who held it and taught it to me, were saved from the world. Go figure. Within the church, you have two extremes when it comes to culture and how we interact with it. Build bubbles to keep it out and keep our kids from it, or immerse ourselves so we relate to culture and then there is nothing different about us. Most churches today have perfected both of these.
I saw a poll a few weeks ago where they asked people this question, “What groups of people do you dislike the most?” Here were the top 3 answers: One, serial killers, which isn’t a surprise. Not many people like them. Two, child molesters. Again, not a surprise. Three, evangelical Christians. Why? I think it is because we have perfected the bubble, and nothing being different about us.
For the past few weeks, we have been in a series called A search for what is real, that has taken us through the book of James. James wrote his short letter to Christians who were not acting like Christians.
It is the same today as it was in the 1st century when James wrote his letter. The church he was writing to, was struggling with the same problem: how do you interact with the world around you, that is why James spends time talking about it. How do followers of Jesus interact with the world around them? That is the question.
If you have your bibles, you can open them to James chapter 4, which is on p. 870 if you grabbed a bible from the lobby.
Last week, we looked at chapter 3, which talks about different kinds of wisdom. Wisdom from God and wisdom from the world we live in. James now continues that discussion on how we interact with the world around us.
This is what it says in James 4, verse 1: 1What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"? 6But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
This is one of the most action packed verses in the entire book of James. In fact, many historians say this is the pivotal and most important part of the whole letter. One even said, “The whole book hinges on this one passage.”
Often, when we think about the culture around us, we see it as something very different from the church. Which in many ways it is, but our culture has become incredibly spiritual, with many people open to asking questions about God and having conversations about “spiritual” things. The next time you are in Barnes & Noble, go look at the spirituality section. You can also check out the self-help section, which one author said is really just another way of saying, “I am looking for God.”