|Series Theme: "Faith Sermons"|
Title: 1. A Knowing People
I have also been reflecting recently on what the Lord has been teaching me about the church of today:
i) Christians really need to learn who they are so that they
can explain their faith in simple language
can defend their faith wisely
can have a foundation for Spirit-power living
ii) As the church we need to model God's love, care and acceptance
iii) We need to learn to be aware of brothers and sisters around the world , what is happening to them, and take action on their behalf when it is needed, i.e. learn how to support the church around the world.
We focus on the first one, reflecting on a people who need to learn who they are so that they can be a credible voice in the world.
A. Questions about Jesus
The disciples, living close to Jesus, were able to bring all their questions to him.
We often find them asking questions of him in the Gospels
Question: Are we a questioning people who are not afraid to ask the Lord about our doubts?
Mt 11:2,3 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
- about Jesus' identity
Mt 13:10 The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"
- about teaching style
Mt 17:10 The disciples asked him, " Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?"
- about God's plans
Mt 19:17 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, " Why couldn't we drive it out?"
- about power limitations
Mt 19:27 Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"
- about self-interest
Mt 20:20-22 Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favour of him. "What is it you want?" he asked. She said, "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom." "You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them
- wrong asking
B. Questions by Jesus
But it was a two way street Jesus asked questions of his disciples
This would have often made them uncomfortable.
Question: are we open to the Lord challenging us, asking questions of us?
Mt 16:13-15 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, " Whodo people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. " Who do you say I am?"
Mt 11:7-9 As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet?
Mt 17:24-25 the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?" "Yes, he does," he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. " What do you think , Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes--from their own sons or from others?"
Mt 21:28 -31 "What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, `Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' " `I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. "Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, `I will, sir,' but he did not go. " Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered.
C. Twenty First Century Questions
Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?
Why isn't there mouse-flavoured cat food?
If the black box flight recorder is never damaged during a plane crash, why isn't the whole airplane made out of that stuff?
When two airplanes almost collide, why do they call it a near miss and not a near hit?
If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?
You tell a man there's 400 billion stars and he'll believe you, but tell him a bench has wet paint and he has to touch it? Why?
Why do you press harder on the remote control when you know the battery is dead?
Why do we wash bath towels? Aren't we clean when we use them?
What's another word for Thesaurus?
i.e. We prefer light-hearted humour to serious questions!!!
D. Twenty First Century Statements!
The following are a number of comments from readers of the Times on the Internet about one particular article. They reveal the modern tendency to make statements rather than ask questions, and unfortunately the statements often indicate a lack of thought behind them:
I can't wait for the roll-out of London buses emblazoned with advertisements (bankrolled by Richard Dawkins) declaring "There's probably no God .... Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" It says it all really.
i.e. forget about God!
Blind optimism is so often found to be bankrupt
One does not need to subscribe to or be controlled by religion to have compassion, moral & ethics - Its free and unconditional.
i.e. I can be moral without God
Unfortunately the Bible challenges the truth of that!
Religious beliefs are ideologies headed by make believe supreme beings that religious leaders manipulate to hold on to power and control the masses.
i.e. religion is about power!
Well, actually no, it's about be sacrificially servant-hearted, like Jesus.
"Religion for the common person is true, for the wise, false; and for the rulers, useful" (Seneca). Just maybe, the human species is getting wiser: we are learning to rid ourselves of superstitious beliefs in the 'supernatural' and of the need for religious 'comfort blankets'. We can be moral too!
i.e. religion is for the immature
Well, actually no, it's about thoughtful, maturity that only comes through the knowledge of Christ.
The last thing we need is politicians making decisions based on bronze age myths and their relationship with a made up friend... I should like to believe and go to heaven, but can someone with.. Faith....explain exactly where it is located
i.e. faith is about the past
No, faith is as relevant today as it was in the past and it is based on factual evidence
Fear was something I grew up with as a catholic child/teenager, as an atheist parent I am enjoying watching my children flourish in a environment where they are free to question all religions.
i.e. fear panics us away from the truth
Which is why Jesus came revealing God's love which drives out fear.
Religion is creating problems all over the world yet it is still being encouraged in our schools. It is at best a theory which was largely built on primitive belief and which has developed into a business
i.e. religion is a divisive out-dated belief system
Only when it is high-jacked by those wanting to use it for political ends.
Faith is lying to yourself about how certain you should be, convincing yourself to be excessively certain. Faith is inherently dishonest, because it involves LYING to yourself about how certain you should be.
i.e. faith is about dishonesty
No, it's about building understanding on the evidence that enables us to step out with God
E. Some Concluding Thoughts
Col 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Knowing how to answer ' includes:
knowing what to say (facts about faith)
knowing how to say it (with grace and respect)
2 Cor 5:12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.
i.e. Be ready to
1 Pet 3:15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
i.e. our role
Can we let the challenges of these three verses provoke us to becoming those ready and able to be His witnesses in today's world?