Summary: What is a Christian? What does it mean to be one in today’s post Christian society
What is a Christian?
In a few funeral preparation talks, I have people who have described their lost loved one in these terms
He didn’t believe in God
He didn’t go to Church
But he was a good Christian.
That isn’t a very useful definition of what is a Christian
So what is a Christian?
In Acts 11:26 we read:
and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.(NASB)
Story: I was at St Aldates last Sunday (08-07-2012) and I walked in and looked at the bookrack as I went in.
I saw Simon Ponsonby’s new book "Loving Mercy" but decided not to buy it - as I would never read it.
After all I have so many books on my bookshelf I have not read
As I went into Church, who would I run into but Simon himself.
"Have you got a copy of my new book?" he said "It’s free for clergy"
"No" I replied and he vanished off to get me a copy.
He gave it to me at the end of the service and I thought no more about it except I had been triggered by the sermon that their new Curate gave to think on the last words I had had with Addy.
What is a Christian?
As the new Curate preached, and although he didn’t say it - it suddenly dawned on me
A Christian is someone in WHOM GOD DWELLS
God lives in me and you if you are a born again Christian.
Have you ever thought of that?
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT dwells in you
No other religion claims that God comes to live in them
And suddenly, in the middle of the sermon, my mind went back to John 20 where Jesus said:
Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."
22 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
So there you have it
St Paul addresses the Ephesian Church with these words:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God to the saints who are in Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus (Eph 1:1)
Could you imagine Paul opening his letter to the Church in St Germans.
I would see him writing:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God to the saints who are in St Germans and who are faithful in Christ Jesus
What does the term Saint mean
Someone who is sanctified ¨C who has set themselves apart for God.
A saint is someone in who God dwells.
Perhaps we do have St Angie, St Addy, St Kathy, St. Maddy, St Sandra St. Stephen and St Caroline
You are Saints if God dwells in you!
But I’d like to look at our Old Testament reading from Ezekiel 37 this morning.
The vision opens with
1. THE VALLEY FULL OF DRY BONES
In the Vision Ezekiel sees a valley full of dry bones lying about higgledy-piggeldy.
They are dry which means they have been dead a long time
The Dry Bones symbolise our society - people who are dead to God
People whose God is simply to:
Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.
Which is an amalgamation of two biblical sayings:
ECCLESIASTES 8. 15 (AV) Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry and
ISAIAH 22. 13 (AV) Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die.
Sadly so many in our villages are simply dry bones when it comes to a life with God.
Like Ezekiel we are called to speak life to them.
2. The LIFELESS BODIES
But then the vision changes and God tells Ezekiel to preach to the bones and as Ezekiel does that the bones rattle together and form bodies with muscle and sinew but they are lifeless
The Lifeless Bodies symbolise for me the religious man or woman who strives to please God by his or her own actions.
Perhaps they come to church on Sundays occasionally but live the rest of the week as if there is no God
Their religion looks fine on the outside but there is no life.
What they need is the Breath of God in them.
3. THE BREATH
The Vision suddenly changes with God commanding Ezekiel to prophesy to the Breath.
Now in Hebrew this is ruah the same word as is used for the Holy Spirit of God in Hebrew
What is missing to complete the man is the breath of God.
It is when we live with the Holy Spirit in us that we really LIVE.