Sermons

Summary: Regardless of denominational affiliation or whether we are Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, we can stand united at the Cross of Jesus Christ to preach the Good News of the Gospel.

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THERE SEEMS TO BE AN OBSESSION WITH CATEGORIZING AND LABELING THE VARIOUS THINGS IN OUR CULTURE. FOR EXAMPLE, IN THE NFL, IT IS NOT ONLY BROKEN DOWN INTO THE AMERICAN AND NATIONAL CONFERENCES, BUT SPLIT INTO THE NORTH, EAST, SOUTH AND WEST TEAMS THAT COMPRISE OF 32 FRANCHISE TEAMS.

IT IS NO DIFFERENT FOR SHIPPING, BUSINESSES, CAR MAKES, AIR LINES, MEDIA BROADCASTING. THEY ARE PROVIDE SIMILAR SERVICES, BUT COMPETE AGAINST ONE ANOTHER.

THE SAME IS TRUE FOR OUR CHURCH BODY. WE MAY ALL BE CONSIDERED “CHRISTIANS”, BUT EVEN SO, WE ARE STILL BROKEN DOWN AND CATEGORIZED INTO “PROTESTANT” “ORTHODOX” OR “CATHOLIC” CHRISTIANS. IF YOU ARE PROTESTANT, IT GETS EVEN MORE COMPLICATED AS WE ARE DIVIDED DOWN INTO DENOMINATIONAL TITLES, CONFERENCES, AND DIVISIONS.

WE ARE ALL GIFTED AND CREATED TO WORSHIP AND SERVE GOD IN OUR OWN UNIQUE WAY. THE NEED FOR DENOMINATIONS ARE CRUCIAL IN HELPING US GATHER WITH ‘LIKE-MINDED’ PEOPLE WHERE WE CAN “CONNECT” AND COLLECTIVELY WORSHIP WITH OTHERS WHO FEEL AND EXPRESS THEMSELVES LIKE OURSELVES.

HOWEVER, THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THESE “OPPORTUNTIES” AND “COMMUNITIES” SLIP OUT OF PLACE AND BECOME MORE OF A DIVISION, A HINDRANCE AND ANYTHING BUT, “UNITED” IN PURPOSE. WE SOMETIMES USE OUR TITLES AND ORGANIZATIONS TO JUDGE, COMPETE, OR EVEN….DARE I SAY….HATE OR DESPISE BECAUSE OF OUR DIFFERING WAYS TOWARDS SERVICE, MINISTRY AND WORSHIP?

I THINK WE ARE WELL AWARE THAT FOR YEARS SOME CHURCHES HAVE BICKERED AND SLANDERED EACH OTHER OVER BELIEFS ON BAPTISM, HOLY COMMUNION, AND EVEN THEOLOGY. A LOT OF “UGLINESS’ HAS OCCURRED OVER WHAT DIVIDES US, RATHER THAN UNITING UNDER WHAT JOINS US IN CHRIST JESUS.

JUST AS PAUL URGED THE CHURCH IN PHILIPI (2:5), “IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH ONE ANOTHER, HAVE THE SAME MINDSET AS CHRIST JESUS….” THIS IS SIMILAR TO WHAT ST. AUGUSTINE SAID, “IN ESSENTIALS; UNITY; IN NON-ESSENTIALS; LIBERTY; IN ALL THINGS CHARITY.” IF YOU READ PAUL’S LETTERS ESPECIALLY TO PHILIPI AND THE CORINTHIANS HIS MESSAGE IS CLEAR: PREACH CHRIST! PREACH THE GOOD NEWS! IT IS ALL ABOUT…ONLY ABOUT, JESUS!

DESPITE OUR VARIOUS DENOMINATIONAL UPBRINGINGS, AND DESPITE WHAT DIFFERENCES ARE WRITTEN IN OUR CHURCH ABOUT OUR DOCTRINES, CATECHISM, AND SACRAMENTS, WE CAN STILL STAND “UNITED AND UNDIVDED” ON ONE THING: JESUS CHRIST.

I BELIEVE IT WASN’T MUCH DIFFERENT BACK IN THE TIME OF PAUL. SEVERAL CHRISTIANS WERE GETTING INTO ARGUMENTS, BREAKING RELATIONSHIPS, AND EVEN DIVIDING THEMSELVES APART FROM ONE ANOTHER NOT ONLY OVER TEACHINGS, BUT EVEN THE “TEACHER”. I’M RIGHT! YOU’RE WRONG! OUR LEADER IS IN CHARGE! NO, OUR LEADER IS IN CHARGE! SOUND FAMILIAR?

PAUL URGES ALL CHRISTIANS TO STAY UNITED IN WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT: JESUS CHRIST AND THE GOOD NEWS! ALL OTHER THINGS IN REGARDS TO TEACHINGS, BELIEFS, AND UNDERSTANDING SHOULD BE TREATED WITH RESPECT AND LOVE.

WE MUST CHOOSE TO “AGREE TO DISAGREE” WHEN OUR UNDERSTANDINGS AND PRACTICES DIFFER GREATLY. I LIKE WHAT MATTHEW HENRY SAID ON THIS PASSAGE: HOW FAR WILL PRIDE CARRY CHRISTIANS IN OPPOSITION TO ONE ANOTHER! EVEN SO FAR AS TO SET CHRIST AND HIS OWN APOSTLES AT VARIANCE, AND MAKE THEM RIVALS AND COMPETITORS.”


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