Summary: God’s deserves the best of every aspect of our lives. He calls us to give Him the firstfruits of our lives. This sermon connects with Great Commandment of Jesus with the Old Testament principal of firstfruits
CATM Sermon - September 11, 2005 - Your Absolute Best!
It’s a good thing to be relaxed and casual. One of the comments we get a lot here at Church at the
Mission is that people like the fact that there’s not a lot of formality in our worship times together. It’s a rare thing for anyone to wear a tie and more often than not, your pastors are found wearing t-shirts or the like. Things are general just really laid back here.
I think the reason most people nowadays seem to like informality is that formality seems just plain unnecessary. Wearing a fancy suit or dress doesn’t, in most people’s minds, actually add anything to the experience of worship.
Playing dress-up just seems so unconnected to encountering God. (By the way I’m not criticizing
anyone here who may like to dress up - I’m just speaking of how I think most people feel)
Having a super-structured service where you follow along in a book just doesn’t seem like an essential thing as we come to worship God. Relating to each other formally also doesn’t make sense in this context.
And then we have the nagging example of none-other-than our Saviour Himself who...well who just hung out with people and shared life and...well, he just never wore a 3-piece suit.
Speaking of three-piece suits [play movie of penguin, still at first and then wiggling and falling into water] [While still] If we’re too casual about everything all the time, we can [penguin stumbles into water] find ourselves in places we just don’t want to be in.
So casual and lighthearted is good. But sometimes, sometimes we need to be not so casual and a bit more serious about the things that are truly important.
Not superficial things like clothing, but deep things like our relationship with God, our communion with God. And our relationship to people around us and the world around us.
Of course we are given the amazing gift of the Holy Scriptures to help us figure out our relationship to God.
And there are a few passages in Scripture which have always been the big ones for Christians, and have always carried a lot of weight because of the scope of what is said in the passage. Lisa read one just a few moments ago that I want to highlight as we discuss the topic of Firstfruits” today.
In Mark, chapter 12, Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these."
This is our key passage for today, and we’re going to come back to it in a minute to see how it relates to the whole idea of firstfruit.
Before we do that I want to look at an odd little story in the first book of the Bible.
Genesis 4:1 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man." 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.
4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
To condense the rest of the story a bit, Cain kills Able and gets banished from the Garden of Eden. A bad day in anyone’s books.
Now, this story is one of many stories in the Bible that troubled me for a long time. I thought, hey...so they both brought an offering to God. One guy was a farmer so he brought produce and one guy was a shepherd so he brought God some meat. What gives? What possible difference was there between the two guys or their offerings? None, right?
As with a lot important things, you’ve got to look at the details if you’re going to figure out what’s going on. There was a distinct difference, a huge difference between the offerings and the attitudes of these two brothers.
To put it simply, Cain brought some produce. Able brought his best. Cain brought a casual offering to God. Able put a lot more thought into it. I imagine these guys thinking to themselves.
Cain: “I’m really super-busy with these crops, but I need to bring something to God today. I’ll grab something from the field on the way. God will understand”.