Archive | October, 2013

Unity In Identity

25 Oct

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” 1 Cor 12.12

Unity is a popular and important topic in the church today. It is easy to look at the church worldwide and see how different and unique the different branches and denominations are and question how unity can be found. Historically, unity was assumed to be found in doctrine, but that backfired and brought us the somewhat scattered church we see today. I propose that unity is not found in uniformity of doctrine or practice, but in (1) identity, (2) purpose, and (3) Spirit. This post will look at how we in this broad, diverse church find unity in identity.

Unity through identity is nothing new, in fact it is as old as the Bible itself. We see a negative example of this way back at the tower of Babel. A modern example is how unity is found through national identity. But the church has an identity more deep and all-encompassing than anything the world has to offer. The apostle Paul spoke of this identity in many place throughout the New Testament.

In the above verse we read, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” The church is broad and diverse and has many different groups and members and organizations, but the truth is that we are all part of the same body. But that does not imply uniformity, instead it implies diversity. A body can not be made up of all hands or feet or any part. To be unified as a body implies many different parts which look very different. A hand is very different from a foot or an eye or a breast. Each part of the body interacts with the world in very different ways. Imagine a nose trying to find unity in practice with a hand. Is that really going to work? Or imagine an eye trying to force its worldview on a foot. How would that work?

The members of my body are unified because they make up me. In the same way, the church finds unity in the midst of their differences through the fact that they make up one body. In Ephesians 3.14-15, Paul says, “…I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” We, the church, make up one body whose name is Christ Jesus. We won’t find unity through uniformity of doctrine or practice, but we can and we do find it through our identity as the body of Christ. And bearing the name of Christ, we can celebrate the diversity of our members while remaining unified.

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You Are Amazing

19 Oct

Does God have to hold his nose when He interacts with us? Does He grit his teeth and say, “Well, I died on the cross so I guess I have to deal with them.” Many in the church would give this impression of God and his view of humanity. A popular term I have heard in books is “worm.” It is seen as humble for church leaders to say, “I am such a worthless little worm, yet for some reason God continues to love me.”

But is that really how Jesus sees us? An important term used in the New Testament is “redemption.” To redeem something means to buy it back, or to return it to its original value. Jesus illustrates this in Matthew 18.11-14 when He tells the story of a sheep who wanders away from the fold. When the shepherd realizes that the sheep is gone, He sets out to find it and bring it home, or redeem it. The concept of redemption assumes original value. Something can not be brought back to its original value unless it had value to begin with.

We each have individual value as unique and special creations by God, and our value was proven by Jesus’ death on the cross. In Romans 8.31-32, the apostle Paul says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” According to Paul, we lost the right to question God’s love and value for us when Jesus sacrificially gave his life for us. This is also emphasized in 1 John 4.9a where we read, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world…”

We are each children of God, but when we sin we take on guilt and shame which causes us to flee from God just as Adam and Eve did long ago (Gen 3.1-8). But God was not willing to leave us wallowing in guilt and shame. So He came to the earth and weighing his own life against ours, He willingly chose to sacrifice his own life for us. When He was killed, he took all of our shame and guilt and buried it deep in the ground, never to be seen again. But did He do it reluctantly? We read in Ephesians 1.5 that He has adopted and redeemed us “according to the good pleasure of his will.” Did you hear that? It pleased God to save us and adopt us as children!

When we speak down of ourselves we are misrepresenting the heart of God. He does not see us as disgusting little worms, He sees us as something amazing, as something worth redeeming. We lost the right to question God’s love and value for us when He gave himself for us on the cross. God did not die for you because you are a disgusting worm, He died for you because you are amazing and worth it! Let’s praise Jesus for that.

Where We Find Rest

13 Oct

Today we spoke about yokes and burdens! While Jesus was on the earth, He said that if we will lay aside our burdens and instead take his upon ourselves we will find rest. But what are those burdens we need to lay aside? And what does it mean to take his yoke upon ourselves? Please listen and be blessed in Jesus’ name!

To play or download the message, click here.