Things Visible and Invisible 4-27-14
For Video of Preschool children singing, click here. http://youtu.be/oZ3B1AyYjpU
Video for Most of this sermon: ?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XN4gp2ks-E
?Things Visible and invisible? 2 Kings 69b- 19; John 1:1-4 4-27-14
There is visible fellowship and invisible fellowship. Two people can be visibly at the same table and be in two different worlds. They can be texting other people. But you can be miles apart and have strong, invisible fellowship- where your heart reaches across the miles to each other in love- where you are in earnest conversation with each other. On the surface you are miles away- but in your heart you are there. Truth is, ideally you want to have both the visible fellowship and the invisible fellowship working together. It is the same with the Church. I will be talking about the church as fellowship for several weeks- and we will also be looking at some themes found in John Knox?s creeds as this is his 500th birthday year. ???? Being together is important, and we are beginning this on Preschool Sunday. It is important for the older to care for the younger. We are doing that here at LMPC as it is mainly the older folks who are supporting the building for the children. That is a sign of God?s Holy Spirit at work. Malachi says that the Spirit turns the hearts of the older to the younger and the younger to the older. Outsiders may not be able to see this visible sign of unity- but insiders know- we care for kids here. The Church is the visible things that we see- the buildings, the pews. When someone says, ?I?m going to LMPC- they probably mean the buildings.? But perhaps they mean more- the church is more than we see in many ways. I. PEOPLE CAN BE INVISIBLE- The Pharisees asked ?Who is my neighbor?? Jesus told about a Samaritan caring for a Jew. 1) CHILDREN– Sometimes our children are hard to see. Sometimes when I look out and see who is here, I miss the little heads that are not quite sticking up on the pews. But children add so very much to a worship service- with smiles, energy, and hope. The Presbyterian churches of SC establish and sustain Thornwell Home for Children- helping children who are abused, neglected, or orphaned. Children can lead us into ministry- that is what we are doing with our CMB. 2) THE ELDERLY- Next week we will take up an offering for the Presbyterian Homes You know the Presbyterian Churches began five Presbyterian Homes and endowed them so that people who move there and run out of money are not kicked out- like they are in some homes. 3) DISABLED- One of the things we hope to do is to begin a disabled respite care spot. 4) DIFFERENT RACES- I have seen people just walk by others speaking another language as if they were not there and didn?t deserve a smile. I have seen bitterness between races. But you know where I don?t see that? In our fourth Sunday Services. We are having one tonight. 5) DIFFERENT DENOMINATIONS- Some would rather talk to a Buddhist than a Southern Baptist. But the truth is everyone needs Christ. I appreciate the fourth Sunday services in that they bring a different flavor and culture. We must grab a hold of our brothers and sisters and recognize our common Lord and common goals. But it is also true we must not neglect- all people church folk and non- need the Gospel. We do not need to keep it to ourselves. The church is always asking who are the invisible or neglected people of our society? Jesus also did that- he touched and healed lepers who were stashed away in leper colonies. He visited with the shunned tax collectors like Zaccheus and Matthew. He brought sinners away from their sin and back to the Father. II) DEEDS CAN BE INVISIBLE- Jesus said that our goal is to do visible things invisibly. To not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. The church does more than we realize. A week and a half ago, we had a group of men take our old well pump from the office house and install it for a home in our community that had no water. The poor guy had been going to one of our member?s houses to get water and to wash. Now he has water and is grateful. Most of you haven?t heard about that. You won?t hear about the counseling, you won?t hear about the person who turns away from leaving their family because they realize that God wants them to try again. III. SPIRITUAL THINGS CAN BE INVISIBLE- This is what we talked about a little last week. There is more to life than meets the eye. We know that before glasses, microscopes, telescopes, infrared goggles our vision was limited. Can we not recognize there is a part of life we cannot see? We do not see God- but He is there. We do not see God?s servants the angels- but scripture says they are around- and there are millions who would testify to it. Elijah?s servant was worried- the army of the king of Syria had surrounded Elijah and him in their valley. He thought there was no escape. But Elijah prayed that God would show him that there is more than meets the eye. God opened the servant?s eyes and he saw myriads of angels surrounding the army of Syria. I think Jesus was referring to this story when he told his servants ?Do you not think I could ask the Father and he would send myriads of angels to rescue me from this cross?? Jesus was not afraid of the Romans, or the Jews, or pain or death- because He knew that this life is limited and finite and our power and pain is limited and finite. Even death is not the last word. In the end, the resurrection of Jesus proves the defeat of death. If you knew that death, or the government, or pain would not defeat you, would you live your life differently? Sometimes we forget the power of God- the power of the angels- the power of the resurrection. We think that only impersonal earthly power wins, when it is often the invisible personal, loving power of God that wins. ?? The old saying of the Holocaust victim was ?I believe in the sun even when it is not shining; I believe in love even when I am alone. I believe in God even when He is silent.? Sometimes we do not see or hear the power of God- or the love of God. But after the cross comes the resurrection. III. THE CHURCH IS BOTH VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE. If you were to say let?s go to Lake Murray Presbyterian Church- someone might say, ?Oh that church is beautiful.? They may have been referring to our sanctuary. And they would be right- but there is more. I hope they said the church is beautiful they were referring to the people. Not our looks on the outside- but our heart on the inside. For the church is not our Children?s Building or sanctuary- as important as they are. It is the people who really believe. Billy Graham was good about this. He said you can come to church ? but that doesn?t make you a Christian any more than going into a garage makes you a mechanic. You can be an elder, deacon, member, or even minister and not believe. You can be baptized, be on a committee, work the rummage sale until your hands are raw but what counts in the end is the inside of you- the heart- your belief- your love for God that shows itself in love for neighbor. On the other hand, if you are a believer of the heart, you want to be with believers in the visible body. You long to be with others who believe and are like-minded. We desire the church not only because we want to get more done for the Lord together, but also we need the encouragement in a world that cares little for the soul. Lots of people try to figure out who is going to heaven and who is not. In the end it is up to God. But that doesn?t mean we can?t have some clues. God cares that what is in our heart shows in our behavior. If you believe it shows on the outside- the invisible often shows itself on the outside. I know there are exceptions. But I also know that we too often excuse away our visible actions that are wrong by saying it is not always true. Jesus said ?By their fruits you shall know them.? How do you know what kind of apple tree you have in your yard? It is hard to tell a Golden delicious apple tree from a Red Delicious- but when the apple comes- one stays green and the other turns red. In another place, Jesus said, ?The world will know you are my disciples by your love? (Jn. 13:33,34). We must confess we have not loved God as we should and have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. But we are AT LEAST TRYING. We have not given up on love. We may debate where the boundaries of love are- but we are at least agreed that we are to love God and love each other. ?? There is this relationship between the invisible church and the visible one. The person who thinks there is no relationship is missing something. Just as the invisible God leaves His fingerprints everywhere to testify to Him- the church of the heart must leave evidence of itself in the church of the body. Christ links Himself to the Church calling it His body. You cannot unlink yourself from the body. Christ cares for His body the Church- and wants you to be a part of it. He calls the Church His family- we are His brothers and sisters if we believe. He says He is there in the breaking of the bread- where two or more are gathered together in His name. He is there when the Gospel is proclaimed (Lo I am with you aways when you go into all the world). While it is true a person isn?t a Christian because they are in church anymore than a person is a mechanic because he is in a garage- the corollary is also true- If you are a mechanic- hopefully you will be in a garage to do your work; If you are a Christian hopefully you will be in a church to do the Lord?s work, and honor Him with your time. The Church is in many ways more than we can see- but it is also what we can see. The Church is visible and invisible.