Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we celebrate the closeness, the oneness, the community and family spirit that stems from our faith in You. Being one with You also means being one with our fellow saints. What a joy it is to know we’re not alone, but a mighty army of believers prays for us, encourages us and works together to uplift us from the ravages of sin. May we never take each other for granted. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF THE CHURCH
TEXT: Galatians 6: 1-10, 14-16
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Fact: humans are social creatures. The proof is found in Genesis where God creates Eve and gives her to Adam with the words: “It is not good that man should be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.” Fact: The foundational building block of human social interaction is the traditional family. Proof: The 4th commandment. Fact: Early humans accepted God’s order and their lives revolved around the family from which tribalism then evolved. This later turned into nationalism as the tribes grew and expanded. The various nations of the earth give evidence of this in their history. Of course, trade, commerce, invasion, and natural intermarriage between these various nations has homogenized the world, as we know it. America is the foremost example of this. And this melting pot has enriched lives. So, our social interaction as people has expanded. But has that yearning to be “one” with others always been fulfilled? Has true unity been enhanced in our modern world, or has that concept been “dumbed down”?
Everywhere you look you’ll find support groups, clubs, special interest organizations, the list is endless, isn’t it? All are loosely grouped around some sort of special interest.—Soccer clubs like soccer. The society of bee-keepers is interested in bees. And yet, aside from those external commonalities, you’ll find little “oneness” among the members. You’ll find little agreement about morality, how to raise children properly, or even how to interact with those who have transgressed the club’s rules. All this ends up breeding disharmony within the organization. I suppose that’s the reason most groups have few rules—it means less disharmony. I also believe this is why political correctness has taken hold of America today. Disagreements are detrimental to social interaction, so people try to find a way to minimize chances for such disagreements. And yet, true “oneness,” true unity and togetherness, true singularity of purpose in life has been lost, as a result.
Of course, in past times, the Christian Church served as the glue which held people together. It served as a support network to all its adherents. Since its members gave their allegiance to Christ and His Word of truth, disagreements were resolved on that basis. And since its underlying principle was one of love and forgiveness for all sins, that caused people to be humble with each other and forgiving toward each other. “There but by the grace of God go I.”
However, as Christianity became increasingly attacked by its enemies and branded as uptight, judgmental, and now very politically incorrect—people looked for socialization elsewhere. Hence, the many special interest groups you find today. Years before, everything was rolled up in the church and revolved around the church for our forebears. But now, we have social balkanization, don’t we?
Down deep this social superficiality has begun to chaff on those who support it. Let’s face it, seldom can you discuss and get true help with marriage problems from your friends at the soccer camp. They just don’t care about you that much to get too involved in your life—especially if it entails work on their part. People are searching for “oneness.” They still want to belong to a family of like-minded people who will uplift and assist them with the problems they face. They still want some sort lasting meaning to their lives which puts the daily grind into perspective and enables them to cope with it all. Well, you and I have it here at church! So, to those who are searching I say:
DON’T BE JEALOUS—JOIN US!
That theme might strike you as odd. “Jealous? The world isn’t jealous of us as Christians.” Yes, they are. They see your unity. They see how you care for each other. They see the self-sacrifices Christians make for their fellow saints. And down deep, a part of them is very jealous that they don’t have it in their lives.
Of course, all of this stems from Christ’s love, God’s love, showered upon us. It all stems from being recipients of total Godly forgiveness won by God’s Son on a cross. He made us eternally right with God and one of the fruits of that is that we can be right with one another, too.
Listen to St. Paul as he writes to the Galatian church. What other human organization would preach such words and actively seek to put them into practice? “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing (before God we’re all nothings), he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”
No other organization on earth can compare when it comes to such unity of purpose. No other group, outside God’s family, exhibits and teaches this kind of uplifting, soul-healing behavior. No other group can fill your core being like God’s Church. And it’s all because in the Church, “the love of Christ moves us.”
Human organizations naturally revolve around humans and hence are as shallow and petty as all humans are. But the Church revolves around God. Hence it is as deep and profound as its Creator. Paul lays that truth out when he writes: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Getting back to the 4th commandment, the unity of the nuclear family is most special. Having parents who care, who love, who are always there for you means you really can let your hair down around them. You can be yourself. And you also know they are there to help and support you with good advice and council. Yes, because of sin, such earthly families all have their dysfunctions. Yet, our all-knowing, all-loving God has provided us with another family which, when they live through the Spirit, is never dysfunctional! The Church is that family. Its ties to us are eternal. Look around. See the saints here with you? Get used to their faces. You’ll see each other in heaven, literally forever!
My friends, you and I have been given something special in Christ. We have a oneness that the world cannot understand and is jealous of. When they quiz you about it, they will find it all more than amazing. They will also attempt to use human reason to explain it away, thinking: “Well, I guess so and so is just more special than me.” Yes, you’re special, but not because of some innate ability. That’s pride talking. No, we’re special only through and because of Jesus Christ and His heavenly gifts of loving forgiveness. In his conclusion St. Paul reminds each one of you of that very fact. “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule; even to the Israel (the chosen ones, the Church) of God.” Amen