SERMON – United Congregational Church of Christ (Armada, MI)
“Who Are We?”
· 1 Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20]
· Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
· 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
· John 1:43-51
This morning, the lectionary gives us four scripture passages. I generally try to evaluate each passage individually and then pray asking God to lead me toward a unified understanding of them so that I might be able to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus most effectively. This morning is no different and I pray that what God has given me I might pass on to you in some meaningful way.
We’ve begun the service with the Call To Worship as we read our Psalm 139 passage. (Read highlights from the Bulletin Call to Worship.)
We begin by acknowledging that God is our Creator and that He knows us unreservedly and completely.
· Does it make you nervous to know that God knows your every thought?
o Mabey not – or maybe it should.
o I personally have an issue with my thought life. I say things in my head that I would never dream of saying out loud.
§ I think things that I would never tell someone else because I am supposed to be a minister of the Gospel, and spiritually beyond all that.
§ Often I struggle with myself because I have a pretty big expectation for myself than what I actually demonstrate.
God knows our every thought, whether good or bad, but despite that he calls us anyway.
Our second and third scriptures this morning are from 1 Samuel 3 and John 1; the calling of Samuel the Prophet and Philip the Apostle.
In 1 Samuel 3, the child Samuel is established as one of God’s greatest Prophets. He was trained by Eli who was the temple priest of God.
· Eli and his sons performed the duties of the priesthood where the Ark rested in the House of the Lord.
· Eli was OK, but his sons were corrupt and evil in the eyes of God
o The sons kept the choicest meat for themselves rather than giving it rightly to the people, thus treating the sacrifice of God as contemptible
o They even slept with the women who served at the entrance of the tent of meeting. (Sexual-harassment is not something that is new in our world.)
· And so it was that Eli knew about the sins of his sons but he did not put a stop to it and so God put the boys to death and took Eli’s entire family-line out of His service as priests.
While Samuel was an exemplary man, he too was just a man, like all of us, and I am betting that he had his thoughts that he too struggled with. And the point is that God called him and had him do great things for His Glory despite those struggles that he had.
I believe the difference between the sons of Eli and Samuel was the struggle. The sons of Eli rationalized that their deeds were above reproach and so did not struggle with them, where Eli was humble and fought with his inner demons.
· I think this is because I am more apt to be sympathetic to someone who struggles because they know something is wrong than I am with someone who has rationalized their bad actions and no longer struggles with them but just lives out the wrong action as though it were right.
· This is the problem that we all have with Adolf Hitler and the Germans during WWII. Somewhere along the way they convinced themselves that the atrocities they committed against the Jews were right, and they easily performed mass executions and enslavement of many thousands and millions of Jews.
· And In America today, we have many Christians who believe that many acts are OK because it’s popular in our culture to believe it, but often we are not honoring God with those actions, but actually dis-honoring Him without any internal struggle to the contrary.
Then in John 1
Jesus met with Philip and told him to “Follow me”, he did so knowing that Philip was completely human, completely flawed, and a total sinner. But despite those attributes Jesus still called him to “follow me.” Philip demonstrated that he struggled within himself, for he was there with John the Baptist when many Israelites came out and were baptized responding to John’s message of repentance.
So, I see the message of God knowing mankind intimately and calling us into His service despite ourselves is dominant in our texts. So long as there is the struggle.
Do you have the struggle in yourself this morning? Do you want to do what is right but struggle with the desire to do what is sin?
“I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Our final scripture passage is from 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Paul uses the arguments the Corinthian church is using to justify their actions. They understood that the Grace of Jesus completely made them free to live without law and restriction in relation to God.
· “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.
· “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
· You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
To be sure this entire sixth chapter is a good one to use when discussing morality but at the very end I believe it shows that it is just as much about identity as it is about morality, and so I want to spend our remaining time together to discuss Who We Are as Christians and the Church.
WHO ARE WE?
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.