From Me to We Ephesians 2:19-22
Video for “From Me to We” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2qNJ8zVH9Y
?From Me to We- The Kirk and the Church? Ephesians 2:19-22?? 7-13-14 Scots Confession 16
How do we get from ?Me? to ?We?? This is an important question. In such a varied, pluralistic, divided, skeptical, and self-centered culture, consumer driven- competitive culture is it possible to really be a ?we?? Jesus would say, Yes. It is the way God made us to love God, love neighbor, even love enemies, even turn the other cheek. Last December in Navarre in an international cross country race, a Kenyan Abel Mutai was clearly winning. But then the Kenyan stopped ten meters short of the finish line- thinking he had won- and slowed down. Now the second place guy, Ivan Fernandez Anaya, could have just rushed passed him and won the race. The third place guy was way back. But the second place Anaya had mercy- he knew who really won, and so he slowed down behind the slowing leader- and motioned for the Kenyan to continue on to the finish line. Me-ness had turned to we-ness. The super competitive freaked out- but most had a strange warming in their heart. It was a love your neighbor as yourself moment that had meaning way beyond winning a race. There is this predicament of ?we.? Our togetherness- our ?we-ness? can be kind of a perch from which we look down or even attack others who are not yet part of our ?we.? The human way can be to have fluid allies. So America gets caught spying on Germany. Just as in a family, we may upset or rub against each other, we are called to get over that. We are called to respect our differences, but that does not mean erase our differences. We get to a place of togetherness by recognizing we can stay together; we can be embraced by God and each other, and we can commune together. I. THE CHURCH ENDURES- The church of Christ in every age endures. The perpetuity of the true church in the world is a strong Reformed doctrine. Despite storms, heresies, fallings away, schisms, the church is always preserved. Karl Barth said that the church was continually created by God by the power of His Word. Barth, the greatest theologian of the last century, also said that without the scriptures the church would dissolve into nothingness. Calvin made a famous, and I think beautiful statement about the endurance of the church. It is a word we need to hear today in which the median sized Presbyterian church is 89 and the average age of a Presbyterian is 67. Calvin said, ?Although the melancholy desolation which confronts us on every side may cry that no remnant of the church is left, let us know that Christ?s death is fruitful, and that God miraculously keeps his church as in hiding places. So it was said to Elijah, ?I have kept myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee before Baal? (1 Kgs. 19:18- Inst 4:1,2).?? I have heard some atheists claim the church is dead. Tacitus said the same thing in the 3rd century; Voltaire said the same thing in the 17th century. Hawkings says the same things today. Yet, despite severe persecution in places, and sharp skepticism in others, the church world-wide is actually growing numerically. Several feet under London?s Royal Botanical Gardens is the Millenium Seed Bank- called the Noah?s Ark of Plants and Flowers. Here 2.2 billion seeds from about 100,000 different species is kept at -20 degrees Celsius. It is said these seeds could be used to repopulate the earth with plants in case of a catastrophe. God always leaves a seed- a remnant whether it be Noah, or Abraham, or Elijah, or Jeremiah, or Jesus. A shoot comes from the stump- the church and the faith will endure. The question is will you be a part of it? Will you be a part of the eternal church that gives seeds of hope and faith and love? Or will you decide to be on the outskirts or to be on your own? God calls us together- to be a ?we? and not just ?me.? II. THE CHURCH EMBRACES- We are no long foreigners but citizens. It boggles my mind at the horrific sadness that a mother would send her child a thousand miles away to another country rather than keep her child with her, but according to Homeland Security 52,000 children have been apprehended crossing our southern border this year. We are brought into the family. Paul says we are a part of the household. We are one building together- leaning in on each other for strength. When you see the wonderful Children?s Ministry Building go up- it is made not just of one 2×4 but of many leaning on each other. We are not called to be Christians by ourselves- but to be a building together- a household- that God uses to minister in. God longs to embrace you, to make you part of the family. But do not hesitate. People get afraid of the church when the church is in a state of flux. They become afraid to commit. I am not afraid to say we are committed to our ancestral home- the Presbyterian Church- even if that home becomes rundown and it is not bright and shiny and pure as it once was. As a child I can remember going to my great uncle?s house. As a young child, my great uncle, was strong, smart, funny and his house seemed huge in the foothills of South Carolina. But as I got older, my uncle Bub got really old. The last time I was there his house was run down, weeds had taken over. But the family lives on, the blood lives on. I am not embarrassed in the least to say I am from there. We are not called to fix America. We are not called to fix the church in America. We are called to be the best Christians we can be for God- without apology. III. THE CHURCH COMMUNES. By faith we believe the church has a special relationship with God and a special relationship with each other- we are a we now. Not like a club but a community brought together by God who gives us faith. We have a place at the table. In the Edisto Presbyterian Church that I visit on occasion when I am on vacation there, they celebrate communion as the French Huguenot Presbyterian Church does- everyone comes forward to a huge table- a group at a time- and they take communion there. The table is a conference table where we hear different perspectives, but it is the Lord?s table nonetheless. The table is what unites us. Friday night we had a beautiful full moon. I remember telling my wife when I was in Detroit and she was in Chapin that we were looking at the same beautiful moon. I tell my granddaughter that ?I see the moon and the moon sees me, God bless the moon and God less me!? That phrase was what my grandparents passed on to me. Seeing the same moon from one generation to the next is a uniting thing. But believing in the same God who made the moon is even more of a uniting factor. ???We have been going through the Scots Confession. One of the problems with the Scots is that they were very, very clannish, and they were proud of their differences, uniqueness and perspectives. What united the Church of Scotland was not a sense of patriotism, not a hatred of the English or fear of the French, but a true movement of the Holy Spirit. Knox said some pretty harsh and sharp words, but the Spirit used him nonetheless. It was evident to all that it was a spirit of love- that God was doing something. Let me tell you- God is doing something right here. It is not huge. It is not explosive. But I see it almost every day- God is changing hearts, bringing people with different perspectives together, and doing it despite all the clannish thought around us. No longer strangers, but fellow citizens with God?s people- members of His household. being built up together by Him. In Jesus Christ we are one people, one house, a ?we.?