3 Strands of DNA ~ Heresy, Division, and Faith Expressing Itself in Love

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On Sunday we looked at the last of the strands of DNA within our church. We looked at how we here practice, “Unity in Diversity”.

And this value is one that is so needed and also so rare in our current church culture in the West. In the West we are so quick to divide, to call out “heresy”, to be angry and aggressive in person, on Facebook, in blog comment sections, and online in general.

What we looked at on Sunday is how a culture of division, and raising “secondary” issues to “ultimate” issues has taken hold. That people are quick to say, “if you don’t believe in…[insert current hot topic position] you aren’t a true Christian.”

In essence, the church is taking the easy route of dividing, and isolating – rather than loving and holding onto unity.

But this is not part of our DNA here at our church. Instead, we hold strongly to relationships over difference. Instead, we practice unity in diversity. Or as St. Augustine reportedly said, “Unity in essentials, liberty in non-essentials, and love in all things”.

We then explored not only how this is part of our DNA, but part of the calling of God found in many places but especially Galatians 5.

In Galatians 5 we read of how Paul is furious with how some in the church in Galatia are raising secondary issues (circumcision) to being a primary issue. In essence, they were taking a non-essential and saying it was an essential. And Paul has some brutally strong language for those who confuse those categories (just go read verse 12…wow!). And Paul warns the church that one divisive person, one angry person, one person who confuses the categories of essential and non-essential can infect an entire church. They can pollute it, damage it, and harm its witness.

And I think that’s the trend we see around us in the wider church culture. But the point for us and our church is to not ever let that drift happen here. Our focus is to continue  to practicing unity in diversity. Or as Paul says to do what is most important, “Faith expressing itself in love”

And that’s where we ended. I challenged us to just put that verse into practice. That is how we keep the main the thing “the main thing”, by ensuring that we express our faith in love. So I challenge everyone to love someone difficult this week. To actually move away from dogma, discussions, and debates to praxis – to faith expressing itself in love.

Because here is the truth, it’s much harder to separate from someone you are actively seeking to love. So put love into practice today.

Sermon Notes:

Big IdeaHold onto unity in diversity.

Teaching Points:

  • If you don’t talk about it, you won’t live it
  • Within Christianity as a whole in the West we are not all that generous towards one another or gracious.
  • We are shrinking what we believe orthodoxy is, to the beliefs we personally hold.
  • Unity in essentials, liberty in non-essentials, and love in all things
  • We are committed to one another even if we disagree.
  • Hold onto unity in diversity
  • You come together because of your shared belief in Jesus

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? What would you say are some of our core values? Have you noticed the trend towards dividing and debating in Christianity? Have you ever fallen into it? Why do you think it’s happening? Do you think that “holding onto unity in diversity” is important? How come? Who can you love this week? What can you practically do?

Challenge for the Week: Love someone you disagree with this week

4 Books: 4 Questions ~ The Gospel of John, Mystics, Mystery, and Connections

mystic-water-1410939On Sunday we opened up the beautiful poetic, mystical, and masterful book of John. John is a beautiful book about deeply connecting and communing with Jesus. John is about fully becoming one with Jesus experiencing his joy and his connection. And John uses all of these metaphors to speak of it: being born again (John 3), having springs of living water (John 4), partaking the bread of life (John 6), connecting to the vine (John 15), being one with the divine life (John 17), and breathing the breathe of the divine (John 20).

John wants to push us past our normal expectations and to remind us that we can fully connect with Jesus.

And one of the phrases John uses is “eternal life”.

When we hear this verse we most often think of the future. We think of something that happens after death. We think of something that will happen out there, not right here and right now.

But in reality that’s not what the word means. Eternal life surely does mean life after death, but it also means life right here right now. Its about expierenicng life that lasts into the future but start right here in the present. And John wants us to accept Jesus so we can experience this life now, that lasts and lingers into the future. John is all about us fully experiencing life abundant right here right now. In fact, Jesus says that in John 10:10.

But because we think eternal life is about the future we miss what we can have in the present. A real life deep and boundary breaking experience with the risen Christ.

Eugene Peterson gets at this point well when he translates John 3:16 as, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life” Anyone can have a whole and lasting life, now that leads to lasting life in the future but it starts today.

So what was the main point? Well its was simple – you can experience Jesus fully if you submit to him. That was it. Pure and simple. You can connect with Jesus. You can be changed by Jesus. You can have and experience that goes beyond what you think. You can be filled with living water, the bread of life, connected to the vine, breathing the breath of the Spirit. This is a possibility for all of us who want to follow and submit to Jesus.

So we ended not with more theology, because at a point all words break down. And we ended with practice. We ended with a traditional Christian practice for fully experiencing Jesus. We ended with communion, inviting all who want to experience Jesus to come forward. To have the bread of heaven, and the cup of salvation. To experience God in their present that lasts into the future. Because that’s’ what John is about. And may you experience Jesus in your life now, experiencing the life that is whole and lasts into the future. May you know the Spirit within you, and encounter the risen Christ in such a way that you are left changed.

 

 

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: You can experience Jesus fully, if you submit to him. 

Teaching Points:

  • John’s about connecting and communing with Jesus
  • Eternal life is popularly understood about the future
  • This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. John 3:16
  • “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God”. St. Irenaeus
  • We cannot shrink the gospel to what we are comfortable with
  • But he himself that justifies also deifies, for by justifying he makes sons of God. ‘For he has given them power to become the sons of God’ If then we have been made sons of god, we have also been made gods. St. Augustine
  • You can experience Jesus fully, if you submit to him.
  • if you submit to Jesus, if you accept him, you can experience him.

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? Had you ever thought about the gospels being different before? Are you comfortable with mystical experiences? Why do you think John believes they are so important? How have you connected and experienced Jesus in the past? How might you continue to experience him in the future and stay connected to him?

Challenge for the Week: Experience and connect with Jesus.