Sermon Topic: Being the Church
Sermon Date: 17th September, 2017.
Sermon delivered by the Reverend Ross Hathway.
Genesis 2: 4-17
Being the Church.
(SERMON NOTES by Reverend Ross Hathway)
I am indebted to Eugene Peterson’s book Practice Resurrection [link to Introduction of book] for much of the following thought. It was preached with illustrations by Reverend Ross Hathway, on 17th September, 2017, as an introduction to a series on Biblical Theology that is running concurrently with a series of Children’s addresses from the King Snake and Promise.
How do you measure a human being?
We cannot measure ourselves by examining ourselves in terms of ourselves, by evaluating ourselves against a non-relational abstraction such as ‘human potential’.
Nor can we abstract God into an impersonal ‘truth’ apart from our hearing and responding to the words he uses to call us into life, into holiness, into relationship.
We can understand neither God nor ourselves in any living, adequate and mature way that is an impersonal, non-relational way.
When God’s calling and our walking fit together, we are growing up in Christ.
God calls us. He doesn’t hand out information to us.
He doesn’t explain. He neither condemns nor excuses.
Adam in the garden disobeyed God’s command and broke the intimacy that had been created by God’s speech.
The equilibrium between God’s word and Adam’s walk was destroyed.
God called again and began the process of getting Adam back in relationship with the word that made him in the first place, setting him again in a position of responsiveness to God’s calling.
Later (Abram) Abraham in Ur was called by God to leave his country and go to Canaan.
There he would initiate the formation of a people of salvation.
Abraham set out, walked westward across the desert.
His responsiveness to God’s call resulted in Abraham becoming our father in the faith.
God gave him a promise a covenant.
Land descendants and blessings. An undoing of what Adam did.
Then Moses tending sheep in Midian was called by name at the burning bush:
‘Moses! Moses!’ He heard his name called and learned the name of the One who called him:
‘Yahweh.’ Moses’ personal response, his ‘walk’, to that personal call at the burning bush developed into a congregation of people walking out of Egypt through the sea into freedom.
We will see God calling David and Solomon and how they like Adam listened varyingly.
Jesus on the shores of Galilee called four disciples by name > became 12.
From Acts we have seen how they became the company that the Holy Spirit formed into the church at Pentecost.
A man named Saul walking on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians was stopped in his tracks by a voice that addressed him by name: ‘Saul! Saul!’
Like Moses 1,200 years before him, he learned the name of the One who called him by name; this time the name of the One who called was ‘Jesus’.
And in that calling Saul’s very own name was changed to Paul.
Saul was converted on the spot from chasing down Jesus followers to being a follower – Jesus’ call and Saul’s response became Paul’s walk. > Keep in step with the Spirit.
God speaks the decisive word that puts us on the way, the road, the path of life.
It is a word to be listened to and obeyed, a word that gets us going.
Fundamentally, it is a call: God calls us.
Application for us?
The response to God’s calling is walking. Walk is what we do.
We follow God’s call.
We respond with our lives.
We don’t start out by thinking about God.
God is not an idea.
We hear and respond. We obey.
But our obedience is not that of a mechanism/robot.
We hear our name and respond to the triune God --the One who calls us.
Call comes into our ears, bringing us into a way of life that has never been experienced in just this way before.
It’s a promise, a new thing, a blessing, our place in the new creation, a resurrection life.
When the calling and walking are in equilibrium, we are worthy.
We are in the balancing scales, in sensitive and simultaneous touch with the God whose name we know and the God who knows our name.
God calls; we walk, aware of the delicate, sensitive connection between call and walk,
It is a relation that is never one-sided but always reciprocal.
This is what it means to grow up in Christ, to live into maturity, to become worthy, healthy.
As our language matures in these God-initiated conversations along the Christian way, they become increasingly personal.
This is God’s yearning.
We are a bunch of different people united by Jesus, heeding God’s call on a journey.
And God uses us in calling others to join us.
As we study God’s walk with his people in the past and his supreme calling in Jesus may we truly know his blessing and the fulfillment of his promise.