“What Makes a Great Church?” is the title of our Sermon Series. It is based on Paul’s letter to the Philippian Church. Among all of Paul’s letters, the book of Philippians best illustrates John Wesley’s often repeated characterization of the Christian Life as both Happy and Holy! Paul urges the church to become recipients of God’s GRACE, and live as a community of faith “in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel.”
I can remember as a young pastor, I had a church member who was upset with me because I did not “brow beat him enough” from the pulpit. He often said to me, “I need you to let me have it preacher! Give me some good old hellfire and damnation in your sermons!”
I didn’t quite know how to respond. My entire life I had learned from the scriptures and the teachings of Jesus that the unconditional love of God is what transforms lives. Jesus’ love and acceptance for the woman at the well, whose life had been a tragedy of bad choices when it came to relationships, is what brought her to faith in God. Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan became a teaching tool for the disciples and for Christians today. Jesus taught us that one of the most important aspects of our faith is that we live it out in serving and loving others who might be different than us!
I later discovered that my friend, who was angry with me, was really struggling with trying to overcome an addiction. What really helped him in the end was a brother in Christ who walked alongside of him as a sponsor in a recovery program. What really helped him in the end was not being “fussed at” every Sunday, but being loved and mentored by someone who had walked in his shoes and understood his foibles.
John Wesley wrote, “It is not possible in the nature of things that a [person] should be happy who is not holy (Works, Sermon 45: The New Birth).” Such holiness, Paul teaches, is the furthest thing from a pious moralism that withdraws from engagement with the world. Rather, holiness means sharing the “mind” that was in Christ—that is, living out the pattern of Christ’s self-giving love in trusting obedience to God (Phil. 2:5-11) – by serving each other and participating together in the work of the gospel. (Wesley Study Bible, CEB)
Let me encourage you to begin reading through the Book of Philippians in preparation for this new series. You won’t want to miss it!
Sermon Series: What Makes A Great Church?
Sunday, August 21 – “Partnering in Grace and Love” – Philippians 1:1-11
Sunday, August 28 – “Moving Forward” – Philippians 1:12-25
Sunday, September 4 – “Walking with God” – Philippians 2:1-11
Sunday, September 11 – “Reaching Up” – Philippians 3:1-16
Sunday, September 18 – “Reaching Out” – Philippians 4:1-8
Sunday, September 25 – “Living Generously” – Philippians 4:10-20
I will look for you in worship this Sunday as we learn together what is takes to be a Great Church!
I Love Being Your Pastor,