Our culture has truly made diversity one of the highest pursuits for our society. One might argue that diversity has become its own god in our society. In its purest form, the idea of “diversity”, has the meaning of different things coming together as one. However, most of what you will hear, see, read, and receive from this culture is a celebration and even a quest to be more and more different, to the point that coming together is increasingly more difficult. We hear people say, “Let’s come together” and “Accept me the way that I am”, yet, our differences are so strong—and beliefs at war with one another in many cases—that there is no common value to bring us together.
In Galatians chapter 3, the apostle Paul taught the church of Galatia that because of their faith in Jesus Christ they were now one unified family; sons and daughters of King Jesus. Today we will learn how and why our faith in Jesus makes us one family through three reasons we see in our text.
Many believe that Christ and His church are more about condemnation than about forgiveness. This is not entirely surprising since our society embraces and even celebrates behaviors and mindsets that the Bible would call sin. This seems to put God and His people in opposition with the people of this world. But in fact the opposite is true. God is for forgiveness and His desire is not to condemn but to forgive and so also His church must be for forgiveness over condemnation.
Our God is the God of forgiveness, overlooking our wrongs, adopting us into His family, and empowering us to forgive as He forgive. In Colossians chapter 3, the apostle Paul taught the church of Colossae that they could forgive each other by putting on the traits of Christ. We can forgive each other by putting on traits of Christ.
If you could identify the way people treat one another lately, would you characterize it as loving? I imagine you wouldn’t. What have we seen? A nation at war, not from without but from within. A people who have polarized themselves on the grounds of politics, color, science, beliefs, gender, and so on. Love does not define us, our differences define us.
In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul told the church at Corinth there is a better way to live: Living out Christ’s love. We can live a better way by living out Christ’s love.
Do you ever feel so uncertain that you feel stuck? Do you feel like the changes to your environment especially over the last year have crippled your decision making or even stopped you from dreaming of a better future? All of us are facing this in some way. Every one of us have had changes at work, changes with education, changes in parenting, even changes in just how we go to the grocery store. Even the stablest personalities might be sick of all the change.
It should comfort you to know that although the world and everything in it is in constant disarray, the Word of God stands firm and God’s promises to us are immovable.
Faith remains! God has given us faith that stands strong under trial and encourages us through hardship. In Philippians chapter 3, the apostle Paul told the believers at Philippi that everything in life depended on faith in Christ Jesus. We can have the same perspective as Paul and live by faith in Jesus.
In the real world, we often put up a front to hide our reality, because we first of all don’t want to realize it ourselves and then we most definitely don’t want the rest of the world to realize it. Why do we hide and cover our reality? Because our reputation is more important than what’s real.
This was the nature of the church at Sardis; they valued reputation over reality. In Revelation chapter 3, Jesus corrected the church at Sardis for appearing to be alive when they were really dead. Someone is listening today, in-person or online, and if you’re honest with yourself, you see that in reality, something in you too is either dead or dying. As we discuss this chapter, we will see that we can receive Christ’s correction and experience real life in Christ through the three ways that the text gives.
The Bible talks about ways that we can glorify God on our own. We glorify Him with our faith, trusting Him with our future. We glorify Him with our worship, proclaiming with what we say and do that He is worthy to be praised. However, in order to glorify God “in everything,” we must also learn to glorify God with one another, corporately. And you can’t do the “one another’s” of the Bible without…one another.
In Peter’s letter to the Church scattered in Asia Minor, he gave them instructions about how to glorify God with one another. We can follow these instructions and glorify God with one another.
Sometimes the body of Christ gets out of sync. Our relationships with one another are strained by some hurt, some injury, or some misunderstanding. Many of us have been tempted to isolate or move somewhere else when the body gets out of sync. Hurt amongst believers can become like a cancer that no one cure and eventually every party loses energy to try. But perhaps our solution isn’t so different from the solution for our physical bodies. We need to see a great physician.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he gave the church instructions on how to rightly treat their fellow believers and so remain unified as the body of Christ. We can follow these instructions and stay unified together as the body of Christ.
What if you had your yes on the table–even a radical yes that you had once given God–but then you made mistakes that led you to taking your yes off the table and now you feel distant from God? Maybe you have other relationships that have either become distant or severed because you can’t forgive them or they can’t forgive you?
We can give God our “Restored Yes”, whereby we accept the gift of grace He offers to us to heal our broken past with Him and to take steps towards restoration. As we give God our restored yes, we can pray for restoration in every relationship in our lives. It is only through His grace and power that we can experience this kind of restoration.
What if we’ve taken the step to put our yes on the table but then life got difficult and we took it back off? What if we had our yes on the table and were waiting on God to move but He never did, so we took our yes back off? What if our yes is still on the table this morning but we’re exhausted, burning out, and we’re very close to taking our yes back off the table? Today we will learn how to give God our “Relentless Yes,” whereby we keep our yes on the table, no matter what life throws at us; no matter how long we have to wait; no matter how tired we get.
In the book of Joshua, the writer recorded how Joshua trusted God with his relentless yes in defeating the city of Jericho. We can trust God with our relentless yes to whatever He asks us to do.
What if we’re warming up to the idea of trusting God Himself—not just His plan—with our lives, but then He calls us to do something that we feel unequipped for? Something we don’t feel worthy to do? Something we outright don’t want to do? Many of us hear that calling and get stopped in our tracks, thinking of a million reasons why we can’t do something, so time passes and we don’t give God our yes; we reluctantly say no with our actions. In the book of Exodus, Moses wrote how he reluctantly gave God his yes when God called him to free the people of Egypt. We can give God our yes even when we feel reluctant.