Do you know who I hate? I shouldn’t say it that way… How about this?
Do you know who I have a hard time not hating?
This is Part 3 of our Brand New series. We all know that religion is a powerful thing and, because of this, it can be dangerous. Generally it can end up in the hands of a few people, driven by superstition and religion is also anchored in our conscience.
As we said last week, our consciences determine religious realities whether they reflect reality or not. All of us have experienced this. There are things you used to feel guilty about and don’t any more. Our country has seen extraordinary changes in our national consciences over the years. Our consciences have been shaped by a version or type of Christianity that is a blend between Jesus actually taught and what the temple model has taught as well. Our consciences determine the way we feel about God, sin and one another. Whoever controls your conscience controls your behavior.
This is Part 2 of our series “Brand New.” If you weren’t here last week, you can catch up (for free) right here.
Here’s what we said last week: The arrival of Jesus signaled something absolutely brand new. When Jesus showed up on the scene he initiated something brand new.
The Temple Model, a reference to the Jewish temple, was done. Jesus had a new model.
The Temple Model is about:
Jesus initiated something brand new:
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 ESV
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
This is a beautiful portion of Scripture of love.
I want to focus on verses 4-6 and focus on the lifestyle that God has invited us into. “Agape” is an ancient Hebrew word that means a divine love, a God love, that is to shape our life.
You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation of people belonging to God so that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into light.
Look around the room, you are who I’m describing. Because this is true, live good lives among the pagans so that even though they accuse you of doing wrong (they will), they will see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. What are those deeds?
It is God who saved us and chose us to live a holy life. He did this not because we deserved it but because this was his plan long ago before the world began. So whenever God acts, you would expect him to act according to his plan.
So when the events of Exodus occur, understand this: God is not “winging it” this is his plan. He waits for the moment and executes. This is important for us to understand.
“What must I do to be saved?”
The first person to ask that question was a Philippian jailer. Paul was in jail one night and at about midnight, while chained to the walls, and earthquake hit and freed Paul from his chains. It was the practice of jailers in those days to kill themselves if they lost their prisoners.
Today I want to talk about the value of reaching people for God. This value is very dear to my heart. We’re going to be in Mark 2 this morning. Here’s the context of the verse we’ll launch of:
Jesus had just healed a guy and then he called Levi, a tax collector to come follow him. This offended the religious people and they wanted to know why Jesus would socialize with sinners. Well, Jesus’ response was shocking:
We’re looking at different values for our church. One of our values is big faith. Another value is serving. Today, I want to talk to you about a value that wasn’t one of the original values of the church when it started in 1996. God did a work in my heart and now this value is one of the core values we hold. The value is generosity.
We’re going to go on a journey through the book of Acts.
Acts 20:35 NIV
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
What makes this value so important to me is I was not generous at all. This is something God has done in my heart and I want to tell you that story today.