Summary: Signage is important. ur church is a sign to the world. What are we communicating about the God we represent?

“Treasuring God’s Mission”

1 Pt. 2:4-10

Visiting an unfamiliar city, a man left his hotel to go to dinner. As he walked along the unfamiliar streets he saw a sign in the window of a shop which said, “Chinese Laundry.” The next morning he gathered his soiled laundry and went back to the shop, went in and laid his laundry on the counter. He said to the clerk, “I’m traveling. Could you have this done by 5:00 when I will pick it up? Just package it, light starch in the shirts.” The man behind the counter looked perplexed. “Sir, I don’t understand what it is you want me to do for you.” The traveler said, “I want you to do my laundry.” Still the clerk looked confused. So the traveler said, “Last night I saw the sign in your window that said Chinese Laundry - I’d like you to do my laundry.” “Oh,” said the clerk. “You don’t understand. This isn’t a laundry; it’s a sign shop.”

Sometimes signs can be misleading and people can be deceived. Let’s face it - signage is important. So we need to recognize that Hope Reformed Church is a sign to the world which communicates God. Do we treasure God’s mission so passionately that the world sees God’s heart in us? What is it we communicate? Are we deceitful or accurate in our representation of God to the world? Peter lays out a blueprint of three priorities for the Church to follow in engaging in the mission of God.

According to Peter one priority of God’s mission for the church is to engage in SHARING CHRIST’S LOVE. “As you come to him, the living stone also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house...” THE CHURCH IS A PRECIOUS COMMUNITY OF LOVE AND LIFE. Our life comes from a life-giving stone. Our community begins with Jesus Christ the life giver. In ancient times the cornerstone was more than symbolic and celebrative - it was literally the first stone put in place which provided the strength and stability to the entire foundation and building. Peter is saying that we have no meaning and life apart from Jesus Christ. He gives the life to our community.

Let’s understand, then, that Christianity is a community. When we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord we become part of Christ’s body; we become part of the church. To claim I can be a Christian but do not need the church is wrong. To claim Jesus Christ is to become part of his body in the world, the church. It’s to become a member of a community held together and given life by Jesus Christ. That’s why Peter goes on to say that WE ARE ALL LIVING STONES. While Jesus is the foundational cornerstone we are the living stones which make up the rest of the structure. Together we radiate the presence of God in the world. What a privilege! We are the living stones because God has chosen us and we belong to him! In Ephesians 5:25 Paul says that “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...” He loves the church; He loves Hope Church so much that he died for her! He did not choose us because of our worth or because we were the best available - rather he chose us because He chose us! Remember how the Old Testament talks about the choosing of Israel? “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers.” The Lord loves - because He loves! The Lord chooses - because He chooses! He’s called each of us - because He’s called us! Nothing can explain the love of God for us. The wonder is not that God chooses some and not others, but that God chooses any at all!

What do people see when they look at us? Do they feel left out, unwelcome, unable to live life at our level? Or do they feel they can come as they are and be accepted and loved?

So we are living stones, A COMMUNITY OF GREAT VALUE SO WE CAN PASS ON A GREAT LOVE. There was once a family who brought their youngest child, a girl, to be baptized. When it came time for the baptism the family went forward, including a very happy three year old brother. When the baptism was over, the minister carried the baby into the middle of the congregation, expressing what a delight it was to welcome this little child into the larger famil, the Church. The little brother had followed the minister, and now standing beside him in the aisle he noticed a grandpa aged man sitting and smiling. In a voice that all could hear, the boy said, “Would you like to touch our baby?” “I would,” said the elderly man. So the minister gently held out the baby for the moan to touch. The man seemed so pleased that the little boy said, “Maybe someone else would like to touch her.” As the minister walked down the aisle hand after hand reached out and touched the baby.”Now,” said the minister, “those of you who have touched the child should pass that loving touch to others around you, until all have been touched.”

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