Mission Dei: Building the Kingdom
Our Public Relationships Part II
September 27, 2017
Dear Christian Friends,
We are in the final of a four week journey through our annual theme, Missio Dei: Building God’s Kingdom. We have defined a mission as a purpose that orders and directs us toward a certain goal, as opposed to just sort of aimlessly wandering through life taking up time and space with no particular destination in mind. That our God has always been on a mission, is on a mission in this very hour, and will be on a mission until His Second Coming is indisputable. The Father sent the Son, on the Day of Pentecost both the Father and the Son sent forth the Holy Spirit, and from that day forward, the Spirit of God dwells in us and sends us to do God’s will in each and every relationship we have. Three weeks ago we focused on our mission to our intimate circle, two weeks ago our mission to our personal circle, last week to our social circle, and today to our public circle.
Answer #1 to the question of what God’s love looks like when we take our private convictions into the public circle is that it looks like rain and snow accomplishing the purposes for which they were (sent). According to the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, more than 40 percent of Americans “say” they go to church weekly. As it turns out, however, less than 20 percent are actually in church.
Research like that makes us wonder how it can be true that God’s Word isn’t returning to Him empty. How can it be true that God’s Word is achieving what He pleases and is successful in the thing for which He commissioned it? The answer to those questions is that God’s ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are deeper than our thoughts. That’s another way of saying that our assignment is to work hard at planting the seeds of God’s Word, to work hard at watering and fertilizing and cultivating the tender plants, and to trust God to do the growing and providing of harvest.
A more encouraging survey comes to us from the Billy Graham Center, which surveyed 2000 unchurched Americans. Five insights from that research may surprise you. 1) Most have some church background. 2. Most quit church because they got out of the habit of going. 3. One third have plans to go to church in the future. 4. The unchurched are very open to a gospel conversation- 47% would definitely interact freely in such a conversation and another 31 % say they would listen carefully without participating. 5. If you invite them, they will come. 55% said they would come if invited by a family member, 51% if invited by a friend.
The kingdom of God looks like three Christians responding on FB to NFL controversy- 1) Players should be fired and I’m never watching NFL again, 2)President Trump is an idiot, and we need to get rid of him. 3) I wonder how we can both respect our country and address the issues of police brutality and racism at the same time.
Answer #2 comes from Romans 10, It looks like conversations and actions seasoned with (grace).
Paul said it this way to the Colossians, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
The kingdom of God is like three Christians who post on Facebook today 1) One posts her favorite recipe 2) One posts a right wing news article which blasts away at liberals 3) One posts a left wing news article which blasts away at conservatives, and 4) One posts with tears in her eyes about the devastation in Puerto Rico and wonders how we can pull together and help.
Which leads us right into the third answer to the question of what God’s love looks like when we take our private convictions out into the public circle.
It looks like citizens disagreeing without being (disagreeable) The Pharisees were about as disagreeable as you could be in the day of Jesus. The opening verse of our Gospel lesson reads, “Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle Jesus in his words.” In these verses, the Pharisees join forces with their opponents the Herodians to try to destroy Jesus. They imagine they will throw Jesus off guard by flattering him with words of praise. Should God’s chosen people the Jews pay taxes to an evil government or not?
When Jesus answers that we should give to Caesar whatever belongs to Caesar and to God whatever belongs to Him, He is focused on the big picture instead of the various pieces of the puzzle. We are to be loyal and obedient both to the secular and the spiritual authorities. As we take our private convictions out into the public arena, we do well to remember how broad and how deep and how high and how everlasting is the love of our God for us. He loved us by creating us wonderfully and marvelously and with purpose in the first place. He loved us by redeeming us with his very own body and blood. He loved us by placing His Spirit inside of us in the waters of Holy Baptism. He loved us by instituting government, church, and marriage all with distinct purposes. And in our texts for today, he invites us to think about what it means to be citizens in both earthly and heavenly kingdoms.
Bernard Meltzer was a radio talk show host who offered advice to callers on a show called, “What’s Your Problem?” He had this to say about working through our disagreements with others, “If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along - whether it be business, family relations, or life itself.
Worship Sermons & Letters