Beginning her sermon, Andrea said that she had been away on holiday, and had visited a park where she was able to walk in between two tectonic plates, and was therefore, technically standing on ‘nowhere’. She then asked us where we were standing.
The reminded us that we are in a time where things are changing, and said that she was about to bring a challenging word for the Church, based on how we live our lives, and the choices that we make. The thing is that we really need to ponder and look at what is influencing the decisions that we make, in relation to where we stand, because, as the saying goes, “If we don’t stand for something, then we will fall for anything.”
Speaking from Joshua 24:1-15, Andrea asked us again where we were standing. In this passage of scripture, the Israelites have seen amazing things; true miracles. God split the sea for them; He gave them manna from Heaven; He fed them with grouse when they complained; He went before them in a pillar of fire, and yet, even with all of this evidence, they still had doubts that He actually had their best interests at heart. They hesitated when He told them to go and take the promised land.
This piece of scripture shows God being real. He is telling them clearly what He has done for them. The thing is, that we often behave like this, too. We act as if God doesn’t have our best interests at heart, but Jesus died for us. God sent us His one and only Son, so that we might be reconciled to Him, and yet, we are prepared to settle for a diluted copy of the unending love of God, and the sacrifice that He made.
The thing that we have to do first, is define the promised land. The Israelites saw it as crossing over the Jordan into Canaan “a land flowing with milk and honey.” To us, it is Jesus and the freedom that He gives.
How many of us are wandering? How many of us are saying that Jesus isn’t enough? In truth, we would never dare to say this, but it is often shown in the way that we act. If we are not wholehearted about Jesus’ freedom, then, simply put, we are not free at all.
God wants it all. All of us, and not just what we choose to give Him. If He isn’t located in the totality of our lives, then He isn’t located at all. The only want to get to God is through Jesus. We simply have to give everything over to Him, and yet, instead, we put our faith in other, worldly things. These things that we rely on will cause speed bumps and send up red flags to us. If anything other than Jesus is our focus, then our worship is dysfunctional. Jesus is the one and only mediator between us and God.
Andrea then brought us three points, to help explain why we must always choose God’s way and “Lean not on our own understanding.” She told us that the chair represents our way, and not God’s way.
The first of these points is:
- The Single Story
The danger of the single story is that it leads to us settling and wandering. This is when choices we make and influences (whether they are internal or external) take us off the path. We come to rely on the single story, often, because it will have a kernel of truth, but if we keep repeating it, then it will take on a truth of its own, and can become the only story. The single story is always reductive and to the benefit of the other person, who will try to keep us in the box. We must be careful not to settle for the single story. To reduce and label ourselves is completely un-Godlike. We are greater than the sum of our parts, and must work to reject the single story, because there is nothing that Christ can’t help us with.
- The Unreliable Narrator
This is where one version of events is told, but this could be a pack of lies. We see this as a literary technique used in books all the time, for example, in Agatha Christie’s novels. We must be careful to not believe other people’s versions of ourselves. The thing is that we can sometimes be our own unreliable narrator, but we must own God’s truth, not our own stuff, and live in it rather than making excuses.
It is important that we check who is telling the story, and we must not listen to gossip. Another person’s version of the truth is not Christ’s truth about us. Jesus came in love. If people don’t come in love, then they are not of Jesus. This life is short, and if we aren’t rooted in Christ, then there are plenty of things that will try and take His place. What we must remember is that love is about saying the truth, even if it hurts, and being honourable to God means following the path that He has set out for us, no matter how difficult it may seem, we are called to “go again, and again, and again.”
The world doesn’t like confidence, and the unreliable narrator will try and keep us down. We must be careful to not settle for the quiet life, but instead, do what is right in God’s eyes. In acts 7, Stephen reminds the Jews, that Jesus came and didn’t believe them, but we are called to discern and see Jesus’ presence and to believe in Him at all times.
We can choose God, of choose the quiet life. If we opt for the latter, things may be okay, but God wants more for us than that. He has big plans for our lives, and we must choose to let Him in and to let go so that He can work in us.
- The Moral High Ground
This means taking up a stance of being morally right, usually based on the assumption that our morality is better than other people’s. Thoughts such as “I’m so much better than you”, and “What you’re doing isn’t Biblical”, but this is not of God, and it is not of Jesus. We can hold fast to self limiting beliefs, self delusions, and excuses rather than reasons to love on people.
We like to place ourselves up high, when really, we should come down low. Jesus has no limits, and wants to come beside us and help us. God looks at us as if we are Christ Jesus. He sees us as blameless because of what Jesus did for us. The thing is that people often love to tell us that they are better than us when they should be helping us. That’s the key. We are all expected to help each other, and we are called to see everyone (regardless of their beliefs), as Jesus sees us.
Andrea then went on to tell us about doing things God’s way. In this, we must recognise our Godly calling and purpose. We must choose to follow this way. Our calling is simple. In Matthew 22:37, it says that me must “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and with all your mind,” and this means choosing to love Him, and our neighbours. This means that we naturally follow God’s law. We flow with Him, in the unforced rhythms of Grace. God is with us, and we are called to be the same as Him. Our purpose, as set out in Matthew 28:16-20, is to “Go out and make disciples of all nations,” as we follow His path.
Therefore, we must choose our path. This is an offer from God, and we can choose to accept it or not. Will we try to do things our way, and under our own strength, or will we take up the baton, and do things God’s way?
Andrea finished her sermon with this scripture from Joshua 24:15, which says “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Scriptures: Joshus 24:1-15, Proverbs 3:5-6, Exodus 3:17, Matthew 22:37, Matthew 28:16-20.