Warming God's Heart
Before I begin, I have a few notices that got missed:
(Insert quote from Adrian Plass "Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Christian Speaker Aged 45 3/4" p77-79)
I want to talk about reality and make believe.
- quote from Adrian Plass funny - why?
- It parodies what see in church all the time
- Just enough truth to hit home and point out our true opinion of church and ourselves.
- We understand the silliness that is a regular part of our lives as christians and in the church
- If we look at some of the practices of our church with a jaundiced eye what do we see
- Every Sunday someone goes around and places a card and a pencil on each seat. When I was at school a very popular practical joke was to place lumpy or sharp items on seats in the hope of catching someone unaware.
- Our communion is full of dilemmas for someone like me. First there is a huge question of whether to sit and wait or to go out the front. If I sit and wait am I allowing my brothers and sisters the opportunity to express God's love and Grace to me in service or if I go to the front am I making a statement of spiritual commitment to God. And that is only the first dilemma. Each Sunday we invite people to partake how and where they want. The question is where? I could end up receiving direction to partake in Jenny's office, the toilets or the kitchen. Ultimately what I want to do is to get up and go somewhere, anywhere because it is getting very uncomfortable sitting on this card and pencil.
- And why do we do these silly things? Each one of them was begun for very good reasons.
- The problem we have is that we take that jaundiced eye and use it to judge ourselves as christians, to judge our church and all we see is a bunch of people doing very strange things, things that are pointless, things that are counter productive, things that will never achieve anything.
One of the things we lose sight of is our great heritage:
- This church was planted by a group of youngish people who felt called to place a church in a new suburb of the time Belconnen
- The original idea was a joint work with a number of denominations jointly financing ministry.
- Later we see the church of Christ members worshiping with St James in Holt Primary school before the building of this church.
- It is a heritage of vision, hard work, mission and outreach.
- This is our heritage and who we are.
- Going back further we could talk about the founding of Churches of Christ in the ACT with the beginning of monthly meetings in 1925.
- Or we could trace the history back further - noting the strong ecumenical focus, the strong mission focus and the strong spiritual focus.
- Ultimately we could trace our heritage back to Barton Stone and the Cane Ridge revival in the second great awakening where people sought God, found him and began this movement.
- Another strand of heritage in NationsHeart today is that of the charismatic renewal beginning in 1967. The time when the mainline churches discovered the Holy Spirit again. The emphasis on God being active in our midst, the emphasis on mission come at least partly from this heritage.
- The charismatic renewal had its roots in Pentecostalism. A group of christians who were prepared to be shunned by the rest of Christianity because they wouldn't compromise what God had said to them.
- Pentecostalism began in the search by a group of people for greater depth in their relationships with God. They sought God, prayed and experienced new life that they came to call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
- They themselves were part of another movement called the Holiness movement. A group of christians who sought a deeper life in God, a life of greater holiness, greater Intimacy with God.
- I look at this heritage and see heaps of good things. I look at our church and see those same good things - a very volatile mix. This is our heritage and this is who we are.
When we look at our church do we see this heritage as who we are or do we see the silly things, the wrong things?
If there is one thing I struggle with it is that I can so easily identify the silly and the wrong and so often I miss the reality.
I want to try to look through God's eyes and see his reality.
Peter makes this statement of who we are:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
For you once were not a people , but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.
He is making a statement of our heritage and what God believes we are individually and as the church.
We are a chosen race.
1. We have as our heritage God's promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
2. -We have as our heritage the exodus:
3. For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed. (Josh 24:17)
We are the royal priesthood. We are the ones to mediate God's love and grace to the world. We are the ones with free access to approach the creator. We are the ones responsible to introduce God to the world.
We are the people for God's own possession. Have you ever known the feeling that there was something you just had to have. If there was something that was more important than anything else and you would do anything to have that thing.
After a lot of time and effort, after going through stages when you never thought you would get there and actually own it. Finally you have the money and you buy it. You have this huge warm feeling, this huge sense that you have got there, it has finally happened and you own it.
This is what God feels about us. This is the feeling that God has when he things about us. We are his own possession, the thing that he has spent and strived for beyond all reason. The thing that makes his heart warm.
This is what I wanted to say to you today. The reality, God's reality. In the midst of the silliness, the stuff that is wrong.
This church, This people, the person on the left, the person on the right. These are the things that God thinks about that make his heart warm.