Matthew 5:14-16, CEB
This week our video presents some challenging questions. We need to remember that Rev. Slaughter’s study and his point of view are his and that we are free to disagree with his perspective. I invite you to listen to the video conversation this morning with an open mind. Try not to react immediately until we have a chance to process what we hear. We are trying to discern God’s message and will for our lives; there is room for differences of opinion.
[VIDEO: #2 – “Revolutionary Lifestyle”]
Let’s begin with a little background about our church. SSUMC membership is: 57% female/43% male; that seems to be in-line with what Rev. Slaughter quoted at: 30-40% male/60-70% female on average. We do not measure attendance by gender. Father’s Day is not the lowest attendance, but it is half of Easter Sunday’s, on average. So, the question is: Why are there more women involved in church, in general?
- Passive Christianity vs. Rebel Jesus
- Where is the revolutionary transformation?
- Christianity used to be serious, challenging, difficult, and demanding.
- It is about mercy, but it is also about overcoming self.
John 2:15, CEB: “He made a whip from ropes and chased them all out of the temple, including the cattle and the sheep. He scattered the coins and overturned the tables of those who exchanged currency.”
The Taming of the Church
For the first three hundred years after Jesus’ resurrection, the church was illegal. To be a follower of Christ was to be a rebel and to take enormous risk in proclaiming Jesus as Lord. Why was Christianity such a threat to the Roman Empire?
- “Caesar is Lord”
- Christians accepted the clear and present danger of following Jesus.
- Displaying a fish decal on your car or wearing a “Jesus Loves You” t-shirt doesn’t seem all that rebellious now, does it?
When did “the Church” stop causing trouble?
- Ironically, the “legalization” of Christianity almost dealt a fatal blow to the vibrancy of the church.
- Jesus’ followers started to become comfortable and complacent.
- Christians enjoyed being part of the status quo instead of the rebellious fringe.
Matthew 7:21-23, CEB: “Not everybody who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. On the Judgment Day, many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name and expel demons in your name and do lots of miracles in your name?’ Then I’ll tell them, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you people who do wrong.’
A Kingdom of God Worldview
Our commitment to Jesus means commitment to a revolutionary lifestyle, in which we do not subjugate our allegiance to Christ to any other priority. The commitment means ensuring that our lifestyle is in alignment with a kingdom of God worldview. A worldview is defined as a set of fundamental beliefs that determine primary life values, decisions, and actions.
Some contemporary worldviews include:
Heresy of the nation state – Christians began to value, honor, and prioritize a worldly system, ideology, and politics over the kingdom of God.
- “For God and country” became the rallying cry instead of “Jesus is Lord.”
- Constantine wanted to harness the passion of Christianity to power the army of his empire.
- The Church is not subject to any nation
What are the implications today?
- No flag in church (remember Nazi flags in German churches)
- No “Pledge of Allegiance”
Why is it important for us to understand that Christianity must be lived out in community?
- All of us – all the parts – are needed to present the full array of spiritual gifts that Paul so eloquently describes in 1 Corinthians 12.
- People like to say they are spiritual, but not religious.
- What they are really saying is: “I don’t need to be part of the body of believers, I can do this alone.”
- They are wrong…The revolutionary lifestyle of being a Christian requires connection to a radical community of Jesus followers.
- Without this connection we cannot live fully into the potential of all that Jesus has called us to be in the world.
Jesus said we are light destined to illuminate the glory of God throughout the world.
- We cannot fulfill this task on our own.
HOMEWORK: Consider this –
- Where have we accommodated our lives to worldly values instead of Kingdom values, to worldly politics versus a new Kingdom community?
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.