Summary: Fourth of July sermon, 1. United in Love 2. United to Lift up Christ 3. United to live for Freedom
“United We Stand”
July 6, 2014
Community Service in the Park
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
We are united here today in this lovely setting at the foot of Mount Shasta to celebrate freedom and to worship Jesus Christ. We can agree on that, can’t we? We are grateful for our freedoms and we worship our Creator God, Jesus Christ, who gives us them.
For too long the Body of Christ, the Church, has focused on our differences instead of what we agree on. I think it is okay to have opinions. I think it is okay to have different doctrines. It is okay to have different beliefs – as long as we don’t let them divide us. Who wants just one restaurant? Who wants just one denomination? Our forefathers fought and died to make it possible to have more than just one state run church. In spite of our differences – we can still be united in love.
My wife and I just celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary. If you know Julie, you know we are very different from one another. Our backgrounds are very different. Our families are very different. We think differently. But one thing has kept us together for all those years-love! Our love for God and our love for each other binds us together. Love enables us to get past the differences. Love is the glue that binds us together.
1 Corinthians 8:1 tells us that knowledge puffs up - but love builds up. We need to grow in knowledge –in theology and doctrine and Scripture - but we must not let it puff us up and divide us. Love enables us to get pass the differences.
When we are divided we are weak and ineffective. The world sees us fussing and feuding and fighting. We need to be okay with our differences and love each other anyway. How are we ever to lift up Jesus if we don’t? Nothing hurts the cause of Christ more than carnal, cranky Christians fussing and feuding. We need to be united in love and we need to be united in lifting Jesus up.
One of the blessings in my life is the opportunity to have friends from many different faiths and religions. Most of my friends are Christians of one faith or another. Some are Arminian; some are Calvinists; some are Buddhists; some are New Age; some are even atheist. I don’t believe it is my job to convict someone of sin. It is not my place to judge or condemn. I leave that to God.
I believe it is my job to love everyone as they are and to live my life in such a way as to let God’s light shine through me. The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict and correct. My job is to love everyone. I don’t have to agree with them – but I have to love them. And I do. And because I do – I can be the light and the salt God called me to be. You will never win anyone to the Lord that doesn’t like you. They will reject your faith along with rejecting you. Love covers a multitude of faults, Peter wrote. (1 Peter 4:8)
We are celebrating our freedom today. Do you know what our moto was back then? “United we stand – divided we fall!” The thirteen colonies understood that there was strength in unity. Any army knows that to conquer the enemy you divide them. Satan know that, too. He uses it against us. Had the 13 colonies of Great Britain in North America not united in their rebellion against the government they would have been defeated and there would be no United States of America. But they united and declared their Independence from England.
The grievances were many. Taxation without representation was on the list. The government taking private property was another. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the government interfering with their religious rights. When they won their freedom - the first and most important of their God given rights was the freedom of religion. In their declaration they said,
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.