Damariscotta Baptist Church
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

03/11/12 Sermon

John 2: 13-22

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen.

Has anyone ever told you a joke and then they ask Do you get it?

Now I dont know about all of you but sometimes Im kind of slow when it comes to getting jokes. They can just go right over my head. Especially the ones that make you think a little.

One of my favorite comedians is a guy named Stephen Wright. And the thing about Stephen Wrights humor is that it makes you think a minute in order to get it.

Let me give you a few examples: He tells the joke about his dog, he says: I spilled spot remover on my dog .and now he's gone.

Heres another one: I was pulled over for speeding today. The officer said, "Don't you know the speed limit is 55 miles an hour?" I replied, "Yes, but I wasn't going to be out that long.

I like this one:

     -I was born by Caesarean section, but you really can't tell...except that when I leave my house, I always go out the window..

     -If you can't hear me, it's because I'm in parentheses.

      -I went down the street to the 24-hour grocery.  When I got there, the guy was locking the front door.  I said, "Hey, the sign says you're open 24 hours."  He said, "Yes, but not in a row."

      -There was a power outage at a department store yesterday.  Twenty people were trapped on the escalators.

Now some of these jokes can make you think a second before you get them. And in order for them to be funny you first need to understand them.  You need to get it. (And of course you might get it and still they are not funny). But what my point is, is that we need to get it.

Now as I read our Scripture in preparing for todays message I thought about how sometimes we dont get it when it comes to what it means to be a Christian, living the Christian life.

As individuals and as a body of believers we can miss the punchline----we miss the importance of what it means to be a set apart, holy, sanctified community of followers of Christ.

-You know we often read this scripture and immediately THINK about money and how a church can bring the ways of raising money or selling things in the church. But when we really get to the heart of Jesus anger in the temple, what we see is that the real issue has to do with bringing the ways of the world into the church; infiltrating the ways of the world in such a way that Gods house with Gods people are no longer set apart or different than the world.  And it happens so subtly and gets so engrained, so entwined that its very difficult for a church to get it, to see whats happening.  While a church thinks its being faithful and religious, whats really happening is that it is going thru the motions of being religious; its going thru the routines of religion, but there is no life, no transformation.  And when it happens the faithful cant see it, they dont get it and it becomes very difficult to break itself free of it.

Now thats what we see happening with Gods people in Jesus day. Their worship in the temple had become a process, a routine. It was a well oiled machine for people to come do their religious stuff, get their sacrifices, offer them up and go on about their busy lives.  The religious experts even made it easy for the people to do their religious business of making their sacrifices by providing the convenience of having livestock and moneychangers on the premises.  As a result, the Temple and Gods people were no longer set apart and holy. Their faith was a lifeless routine with legalistic procedures.  And while Jesus had been preaching about this over and over til he was blue in the face, they just didnt seem t get it. It was so engrained that Jesus needed to wake them up------- thats why we see Jesus with a whip and angry. His blood pressure was up. He needed to raise his voice and turn over some tables to get their attention.

I love watching college basketball this time of year. ----Sometimes youll see a coach who cant get thru to their players. And one of the things youll see coaches do to get their players attention is to intentionally get a technical foul. He or she does it to wake them upto see that they mean business.

In a way thats what we see Jesus doing. He is getting closer to the end of his time on earth and he needs to get a technical foul to wake up his people to get it.

So what does this have to do with us today?

Well just like these religious people at the Temple, we too can be bringing the ways of the world into our congregation. We too can turn our faith into religious routines, going thru the motions and procedures. We come to church, we sing in the choir, we serve on a committee and think were being good religious folks.

Meanwhile, there is no transformation and life. There is no holiness and righteousness; no humility and selflessness. No thoughtfulness and respect. Our churches really look no different than some organization in the culture. With no understanding or expectation of holiness, our churches are becoming more and more like the culture with its theology that we should just accept and appease people just as they are.

Isnt that the way of the culture? The progressive mindset says that people were born a certain way and have had all kinds of experiences so we need to accept them as they are---bless their hearts.

If people are bullies, lets let them bully us. If they are living immoral lives, bless their hearts they were born that way so lets just turn the other way. If they are defiant and unrepentant we certainly dont want to stir up anything. After all, Jesus was meek and mild..

Our churches are getting to where they expect nothing from individuals and cower to those who push the mindset that there should be no discipline and no accountability.

We stand up for nothing, afraid to rock the boat. Perhaps its because we dont want anyone to overturn our tables and confront our own worldly ways that we choose to hang on to.

But let me make something very clear. While the church is full of sinners, it is not to be filled with unrepentant, defiant sinners.

We do not turn the other cheek towards individuals who live in such a way that they affect the witness of the church to unbelievers.

While we are all sinners, we arent to remain in sinwe are seeking to be more and more like Christ.

The church needs to grow a backbone and stand up to bad behavior that has a complete disregard for character that is not seeking to be Christ-like.

We are in the season of Lent that began with Ash Wednesday and a time of repentance.

Repentance is part of our identity. So is humility and a submissiveness to unity. The church is not to be submissive to unrepentant defiance to authority or those who undermine it.

While the church is open for all people, Jesus calls everyone to follow him. And followers of Christ follow Christs ways.

While the church is a place where we offer grace to others as Christ did, we do not cheapen grace by turning the church into the common property of the secular culture.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hung in a Nazi prison camp, wrote about cheap grace in his classic book The Cost of Discipleship. He said:

"cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ."

He went on to define true grace as costly grace. He said: "costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him..

Today on this 3rd Sunday of Lent, Jesus is coming to turn over the tables in our individual lives and as a congregation to wake us up to get it. He calls us to a true and costly discipleship.

He calls us to be HIS church not some religious institution of lifeless procedures that we do to make us believe were faithful.  And he is calling us as a church to start acting like a church. Where grace and forgiveness is freely offered BUT is NOT cheapened without repentance.

He is overturning our tables to be a community of baptized believers who practice discipline and accountability. We are a community of unity, not one of conflict and dissension.  This church is not a secular organization where we think the leaders are politicians that we mistrust.

The leaders come from the body of baptized members and they prayerfully make decisions based on costly grace not cheap grace.

Jesus stood up with courage when the worldly ways infiltrated the temple of God. And he calls us to stand up with courage as well. He calls us to start becoming a holy, sanctified body that follows his ways.

Christ is still driving out those who bring in the ways of the world into his church. He does so when we truly seek to live out Jesus ways and stand firm to them with discipline and accountability, unified together as the Body of Christ.

Jesus is coming to us today---Hes overturning our tables; calling us to be a church that is filled with his living presence.do you get it?

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen