Many things around us have image problems – just look at McDonalds and what happened after the “Supersize Me” fiasco. They used to sell those enormous 1+ liter drinks and now after the movie that Morgan guy did from only eating their food for 30 days, they decided to change their image and now only are selling with small/medium/large sizes!
Like that, Christianity definitely has an image problem. Chris points out and I definitely concur that when you tell someone that you are a Christian, various assumptions can be made – that you are right-wing, fundamentalist, homophobic, etc., etc. But what if we use another term instead of Christian? What about what the original Christians went by – “followers of the Way”? Well, say that to anyone and they probably will think you are in some cult! What about “Christ follower”? That seems a little better.
1. Getting down to the core of it, what should our identity be? Let’s dig into the Word and see:
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD.
What’s it point? To be SET APART! If you continue on reading Leviticus, you will see the Lord continues to be specific in exactly how he means to be set apart, including do not steal, lie, defraud, rob, etc. But when you get to Leviticus 19, it gets a little weird: “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head”, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves”… But let’s be honest here – these specific situations are not the issue – the historical context must be taken into consideration. Tattoos relate to Baal worship. God was saying to live differently!
2. OK – you get it, but how are we supposed to live differently?
- Love Differently – Jesus’ said the greatest commandment was “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”. Jesus also said to Love each other as I have loved you. Now here’s the thing – others shouldn’t need to be told by you – they should notice your life change.
- Care Differently – caring for people, the environment, the city, etc. Why? Because God cares about these things! I really am not 100% convinced in the global warming topic, but I definitely believe we can and should be working toward change because there’s really no reason not to.
I can’t recall the specific verse Chris brought up but it is in Jeremiah… Chris spoke about when he and his wife were contemplating what to do they were somewhere I believe in Church Hill area overlooking the city and saw a Bible verse that specifically answered their contemplations (I believe this was it):
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Chris’ concern and love for our city is one of the driving reasons why he wants to plant a church in that area.
On an unrelated topic to the sermon, I was looking around the Internet on his sentiments, and came across an interesting book that seems to relate to that topic – The Suburban Christian, and apparently the guy who wrote it has a blog…