This blog will include the sermons I have preached as a lay minister with the Anglican Parish of South Queens in the Diocese of NS and PEI in the Anglican Church of Canada. Because my preaching schedule varies, the frequency of postings will vary.
I hope that these sermons will enrich your spiritual life as much as they have enriched mine.
Saturday, 3 May 2014
Romans 12:1-8, Colossians 3:12, Romans 16:1-27 Together We’re Better
Several years ago, when I was working for a local
lumber mill, the company had a contest where the employees were encouraged to
come up with a slogan that portrayed the company’s mission. The slogan was to
be used on all of the company’s promotional material. The winning entry was
“Together We’re Better”, and it reflected the employees’ desire to work
together to produce top-quality products.
Christianity can use the same motto, because together
as Christians we can go a long way to fulfilling God’s call in our world. In
Romans 12:1-8, Paul tells us about the internal life of the Christian community
and its relationship to the surrounding world. In Colossians 3:12, he goes on
to tell us how our Christian life is transformed into a life of compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We are to adopt these qualities,
but we can’t do it on our own. As we surrender our lives to God’s control, he
changes us so that our lives become a reflection of Christ, thus exemplifying
each of these qualities. This gives us a spirit of submission in the fear of
Jesus is the reason we have been forgiven of our sins.
He is the author of our salvation. Forgiveness is just the beginning. The
Christian life is a journey in which we take thousands of steps to become more
God is never pleased when someone says, “I love Jesus,
but I don’t need the church”. No Christian can walk alone in his or her faith
journey. We need each other and should serve and support each other with love
and gladness. Christians are part of one body-the body of Christ. Each
Christian has a part to play in that body, and if one Christian doesn’t perform
his or her function to the best of their ability, the entire body loses its
effectiveness. Our unity is built on the Church’s body of truth-the Scriptures.
They tell us that we are not to live independently of one another, but
dependently, as members of a body. We have a hunger to belong-a hunger that can
only be satisfied by our new life in Christ. We need each other. Just as eyes
can’t provide hearing and ears can’t provide sight, we provide for the rest of
the body the gifts which others lack.
Unfortunately, even the best of families have
conflict, and the Christian body is no exception. Jacob and Esau did not get
along. King Saul tried to kill David. Paul wanted nothing to do with his former
traveling companion Mark. The New Testament is full of advice on resolving
difficulties, but it can be summed up in this three-step process. First, be
factual. Relationships grounded in the truth are helpful to all, but not all
truth is ours to tell. Truth told in confidence must be kept in confidence.
Also, truth must be told at the right time and in the right way. Second, be
flexible. It will be a happier day when we stop demanding perfection from
others, especially when we ourselves are far from perfect. Finally, be
forgiving. Bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances you have with
one another. Forgive as the Lord forgives us.
We are what we are by the grace of God. As such, we are
to be transparent vessels of God’s anointing. We are to dress in his robes of
righteousness and his countenance of glory. We are called to a different
standard of living. We are never going to be able to wear the uniform of the
world without realizing that underneath it we also wear our relationship with
Jesus Christ. It means that there will be times when we will not fit in with
other crowds…when we will look different…unusual…odd.
That’s OK, because whether they know it or not, the
world is echoing what the Apostle Peter says. “You are a chosen generation, a
royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people”. We are actually fulfilling
what Paul encouraged us to do: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be
transformed”. We are only accidentally in this world. We are really part of the
Body of Christ. We are part of the people who are transformed by the renewing
of our minds. The ways of the world, the way the world judges and evaluates
things are not the way things really are. And that is precisely Paul’s point.
We are called to look at the world with different
eyes-the eyes of Christ, because as Christians we are called to be the eyes,
ears, hands and feet of Christ in our world. We are to do what we can to save
others’ lives-physically and spiritually. We are called to be witnesses through
our testimony-both verbal and non-verbal. Both types of testimony must be
clear, visible and consistent. Paul calls us to live our lives not by
conforming to the the standards of this age, but by allowing ourselves to be
changed and live by Christ’s standards. We must rid ourselves of and forget
about those things which have been an obstruction in our lives. We are to
sacrifice our lives to God at all times and in all places. We have to go
through spiritually what Jesus went through physically. We must die and be
buried in order to experience a resurrection into a new, free, full life.
In Colossians 3:12, we are called to be meek, but we
must always remember that meekness does not mean weakness. For example, consider
the story of Moses. In Numbers 12:3, the Bible says that “Now Moses was a very
humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth”. He was
meek, but he was not weak. He killed the Egyptian who beat his Hebrew brother
unjustly. He fled to the desert and built a fortune over forty years. He faced
Pharaoh and demanded “Let my people go!” He led the Israelites to the Promised
Land. When God was so angry with Israel that he was going to kill all of the
Israelites, Moses stood in intercession and said, “If you kill them, Lord, kill
me also!” God changed his mind because of Moses. That’s meekness, but it’s
anything but weakness.
We are going to give our lives for something, whether
it is a career, a sport, a hobby, fame or wealth. None of these will have
lasting significance. Service to others is the pathway to real significance. It
is through this that we discover the meaning of our lives. As we serve together
in God’s family, our lives take on eternal importance. Paul said in 1 Corinthians
12:14, “I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not
less…because of what you are a part of”. God wants to use us to make a
difference in his world. He wants to work through us. What matters is not the
duration of our lives, but the donation of them. Not how long we lived, but how
At every critical turn in our lives, we must ask
ourselves, “Does the fact that I am a follower of Jesus Christ have anything to
say to me here?” If we do that, some good things are going to happen. First, we
will occasionally find ourselves doing some “lowly” work. For example, on the
night before he died, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet-and that was lowly,
dirty work. Love sometimes stoops down in order to do the simplest things for the
neediest people. If we follow Jesus, we will never again be able to look at
someone else’s needs and say, “I don’t care. It’s not my problem. No sweat off
of my back.” To be a follower of Jesus means looking out for other people,
including our brothers and sisters in Christ. It also means looking for Jesus
in the presence in other people, including our Christian brothers and sisters.
Second, Jesus will ask us to make some hard choices.
These choices will shape and form the lives of boys, girls and adults,
including all of us. They will touch hearts and change the lives of those who
are here in church and those who have not even thought about becoming part of a
community of faith. The present age is knocking at our doors. It is seeking
comfort and counseling in these troubled times. It asks, “Can I find love in a
world of hate? What can I do with this fear? What is the reason for the hope
that lies within us?” God trusts us to answer these questions by helping each
other and working together with our brothers and sisters in Christ to do his
work in our hurting world. The body of Christ can accomplish great things when
we work together to fulfill the mission and vision God has put before us.
As we read the Scriptures they reason with us. They
tell us not to react instinctively to things, but to think them through. They
give us a new framework for our understanding, a new context in which to
reason. The more we draw our understanding from the Scriptures and learn to
think God’s thoughts after Him, the more secure and the more effective our
F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, New American Standard Version