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Series: Other Speakers; Faith
Sun am 18 August 2013 – Justus Swart
1 Cor. 1:17; 1 Cor. 2:13; Rom. 12:9-18; Matt. 5:3-4 (Message); John 16:33; (Eph. 6:16)
We are God’s heavenly family on earth, which means we become part of something eternal the moment we accept God’s love for us and the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. Our faith brought us into sonship. The faith choice that we made not only links us to God but also to every believer who is on the earth. We are united together in faith. This gives us an image of the global Church. It is the family of God on the earth, ready to demonstrate how wonderful and amazing our God is. We are not some arbitrary afterthought but we are joined to this heavenly family of faith and are connected to the history tracing all the way back to Abraham. The Bible is not some disconnected text book, but this is our history! This is where our faith comes from! This is why we can stand here this morning and faithfully declare the Word of God as all the men and women in the Bible have before us. We are part of an unfolding history of God’s goodness and grace and His love for humanity. He did not create us and leave us to our own devices. He continually sends His Word to His people to bridge the gap between what is happening in the Scriptures and the times in which we live.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power (1 Cor. 1:17-NIV). There is a crucial differentiation between the wisdom that comes from humanity and the wisdom that comes from Christ which rests in the power of the cross. We as God’s family should be demonstrating a wisdom that comes from the Spirit; we should be living a life that is exemplary in the world today, something that is alternative to everything we see. Spiritual wisdom means we have to look at something with different eyes, something that comes through the perspective of our faith. This wisdom comes through the painful process of renewing the mind. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments (1 Cor. 2:13-15).
This is not simply about behaviour modification. It is not about the do’s and don’ts. The gospel is about Christ, about Him wanting to invade your life and wanting to consume every faculty of your human being which displaces everything; everything has to find a new place. It causes disruption in every sphere of our lives because God is not satisfied with being in a temple; He wants to invade your life. This is about heaven invading earth. It is not a mystical thing; it happens in you and in the community as we do it together. This wisdom means we can see things from a different perspective and have a different reaction to things.
Disillusionment is when people are disappointed in the church or in God. They come to church with a certain expectation of who God is and what the church is, and in their experience of church or God did not meet their expectations. This is something we will all go through on different levels. It is a critical part of our Christian walk and we need to know how to overcome that without all the unnecessary detours that take us sometimes years to recover from. Nobody is immune from this. Every person is vulnerable to this simply by the fact that we are human; we have expectations and needs. It is difficult and confusing when we are thrown into a community over which we have little control. The scariest thing we can do is live ‘out of control’ and trust God. The questions we must ask ourselves are: What is disillusionment, where did it start? What causes disillusionment and where does it come from? What are the symptoms? There are strands of Christianity that peddle a gospel that seeks to place God in man’s debt. The way they do that is by preaching that by doing good you earn the right to a good life. We do not find that in the Bible. If we look at the Bible in-depth we will see that a lot of good and faithful men had many trials in their lives. Stephen is an example of this.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Rom. 12:9-18). This is quite a challenging list, and we ask, “How is this possible?” If you take this manifesto of the Christian life as it is meant to be practiced and lived out, if you take this Scripture and try to live it out perfectly, it will take a few months and then you will be disillusioned. This sobers us. We never committed to something that was going to be easy. We come to the end of ourselves and have nothing left to give. We must ask these questions, why we get to this point after we have been running so hard for God, chasing after righteousness and then something bad happens. We have used the gospel as a stepping stone towards a good life; then we learn the hard way that God can never be in anyone’s debt; God can never owe you anything.
Faith is not something that we live for ourselves, we are now connected to this ‘ginormous’ family that lives in the presence of God. We are constantly coming into God’s presence and constantly being sent back into the world to go and preach this gospel through our lives. We need to worship, we need to be in God’s presence with other believers, and we need to hear the word of God. Faith without works is dead. Our faith compels us to live this life even though it costs us everything. When we came into faith we did not know it would cost us everything. Disillusionment actually gives us a plain and simple view of reality. It offers us the most sobering view of what is going on around us. In Christianity we have never been asked to escape from reality; we deal with everyday realities like everybody else – divorce, job losses, death. We are not promised a detour, we have to go through it and faith is the key to all of this. There has to be a grabbing onto God and never letting go because you know the decision you made is going to take everything from you.
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you (Matt. 5:3-4-Message Bible). The wonderful hope at the end of this is that God is there so ready to embrace you and give you everything that you need to carry on in this journey. This jealous God is not happy with being second best in your life.
We have this new category of Christianity known as the un-churched; Christians who want to be Christians without the Church because of disillusionment. The truth about God’s love for us becomes hidden in our circumstances, trials and hardships. This is the first and most important piece of information that goes missing in a time of hardship, the simple and most honest truth that God loves us. God sent His only Son to this earth because He loved us, that is the first truth that goes missing. There is hope. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world (John 16:33). Faith gives us a different standpoint. Faith locates us primarily in God as a starting point. God is our starting point, and our finishing point, and our entire race. That’s God! Righteousness on the other hand is what we need to pursue, but the actions themselves do not make us good, only He can make us good. The righteousness we have comes from Him.
From the standpoint of faith we now look at a community differently. We no longer have expectations of the community, but we come to give to the community. Love must be sincere and it is difficult to do that outside of God. When you are located in God, loving sincerely comes from the depths of who you are.
From a standpoint of faith we can see that disillusionment is an important part of our Christian walk. Even though the storms are raging, our King still sits upon the throne. In experiencing real and difficult times, we can connect to something that is much bigger, so much greater and that is the fact that God loves us and He has never stopped being a part of us. He has been a part of us before we even knew Him.
To see the significant in the factual is wisdom. The spiritual man makes judgement on all things. A faith perspective changes everything and disillusionment brings us to a point that we must realize that faith is the only, only option. We can rely on it; it is a promise from God. Faith is power, a standpoint, a location, a living space in the presence of God. The Bible talks about the shield of faith; it will protect you (Eph. 6:16). Through faith we can see people and situations for what they really are, without being overwhelmed or intimidated. This is a habit we have to form within ourselves, take on a faith perspective when things get rough. Christians can quite happily live out of control because we know that God has designed everything and we have nothing to fear. Do not hold back when things get tough, do not cut yourself off from your community of faith; do not shut God out of your life. God wants to fill you up again.