Last Sunday we started with the opening of Jesus’ High priestly prayer in which he prayers for his glorification. Now within the first 5 verses of Jesus’ opening there were…
This Sunday we are going to return to the Gospel of John and pick up where we left off. We will get into the 17th chapter of John which encapsulates…
Friends today we are returning to the book of Job to examine the conclusion of the matter. The matter I am talking about is the question of why innocent people may suffer especially when a good God is keeping watch over it all. Now three of Job’s friends took a stab at it and in different forms you will remember they came to the simple assumption that the only possibility is that Job or his family did something wrong in the past. Then Elihu the mysterious forth character appears and gives three very plausible explanations for the existence of suffering in general. in the end, after all the speeches were completed, it is God’s turn to take the stage. God addresses Job’s suffering in a very different and unexpected way. God reframes the whole conversation by counter questioning Job. You see Jesus do this all the time in the Gospels. And the purpose of this counter questioning is not to dodge the original question but to elevate the thinking of the questioner in such a way that the questioner is able to see things from a perspective in which the original question is not so relevant any more.
This is the fourth and last sermon in the series on Being Church. We looked at metaphors of church such as “the Body of Christ”, “the Bride of Christ” and the spiritual family or “household of God”. Today I am going to address both the fourth and fifth metaphors, church as the “building of God” and “temple of God”. Because the building metaphor is a partial metaphor as it’s focus is only on Christ’s role as the cornerstone of the building. To see what the rest of the building is supposed to do we have to examine the next metaphor of church, the “temple of God”. So today we will tackle both metaphors, building and temple in sequence. Let’s start with the building metaphor.
I want to talk about forgiveness this morning focusing on Jesus last words on the cross, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.” I am getting some of my inspiration today from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s book, Strength to Love. I will try and give credit when I am using his thoughts, but may forget at times. If you hear me using words like “nullification” and “interposition” you can be pretty certain the words did not come from me. I want to share with you an incredible story about a 24-year-old young man. It's a story of forgiveness, redemption and hope. It's a story that connects us with the essence of life. What this story reminded me of, is that though the life of this young man was marked by unspeakable violence and terrible loss, his life is also an inspiring story of hope, resilience, and strength.
To recap we are in a sermon series I started couple Sundays ago titled “Being Church” in which we are going to look at 5 metaphors describing church in the New Testament. We started with … and last Sunday we looked at … This Sunday we are looking at the church described in the book of Ephesians as the “household of God”. Eph 2:19 and 20 states, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together”. John 1:12-13 elaborates on this idea of household of God like this, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God”. In other words, just as you are physically born into the household of your earthly parents, you are born-again into God’s household.
Today, the metaphor we are going to meditate on is “the bride of Christ”. This is a metaphor that functions at the level of the universal church. The Bride of Christ is the whole church put together, not any one individual local church. Fair enough? Now we typically don’t spend much time thinking of this metaphor except when we are at weddings and the Ephesians 2:22 to 33 passage is chosen. Now this is a beautiful passage that talks about how the wives should honor their husbands and submit to them in everything. In the culture we live in, many men might take it as license to Lord it over their wives and many women might jump up in horror and get all defensive and say that they are equal to any man so why should they submit to any man. But this passage cannot be properly understood without its context and without the Holy Spirit’s help. So if you are listening to this and have difficulty with this passage please do two things. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you and secondly, let me finish laying out all the blocks so you can judge the finished product and not the construction site.
One of the things that is different about being in the outdoors is that it is a dynamic space right? Because the conditions are always changing. Set in just such a condition, an intriguing Bible passage in Luke 12:56 Jesus tells the pharisees that they know how to interpret the earth and the sky to forecast the weather but they fail to be interpreters of the time they are living in. As people of God, in other words we aught to know how to read the times we live in. Now we certainly live in strange times. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that is similar in scale to something that happened a hundred years ago. Then we have an economic situation that has not seen unemployment this high since the Great Depression. We have protests on the race issue like we have not seen since the time of Martin Luther King! With wave after wave of big things happening the question that many are wondering about is, “what does this moment mean for us as individuals and us as a church. To get clarity about what to do as a church, it would really help I believe to examine what it means to be church. That is what this sermon series that I am starting today will address. In the New Testament, you find 5 metaphors describing the church and each sermon in this series will look at one of these metaphors. Today, I am going to start with the New Testaments description of the church as the “Body of Christ”.
Today I want to talk about gently and humbly bringing our brother or sister back to the right path not being judgmental, but out of a caring attitude or “care-fronting”. I am not sure that this is a real word, but it is a word used by David Augsburger in his book Caring Enough to Confront. When I was in V.S. we were required to read this book, though at that time it’s title was, The Love Fight. At the yearly V.S. retreat, David Augsburger was the guest speaker. He endeavored to help us have more healthy V.S. units; by helping us get to the bottom of issues and work toward reconciliation, rather than fracturing over disagreements. Ignoring issues that came up as twenty year olds shared the same house, was not healthy in the long run, but neither was becoming judgmental. How do you work through differences or shortcomings in a healthy way. Paul in Galatians would say that we start by gently and humbly addressing our brother or sister’s falleness recognizing how easily it could be us in their shoes. The goal here is compassionately restoring our brother or sister, not judging them.