Growing Up Together
I’m going to start by reading some things that kids have supposedly said about the Bible. I found these on the internet, so I’m not guaranteeing that they are entirely accurate... but they gave me a good laugh. Here we go...
· In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that.
· Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did.
· Then God made the world.
· He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet.
· Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden.....Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.
· Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.
· Noah's wife was called Joan of Ark. Noah built an ark, which the animals come on to in pears.
· Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.
· Moses led the hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread which is bread without any ingredients.
· The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten ammendments.
· These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff.
· Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.
· Moses died before he ever reached Canada. Then Joshua led the hebrews in the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.
· The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.
· After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.
· After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore.
· There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.
· After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.')
· When the three wise guys from the east side arrived, they found Jesus in the manager.
· Jesus taught the Golden Rule, which says to do one to others before they do one to you.
· Jesus also had twelve opossums. One of the oppossums was St. Matthew who was also a taximan. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.
· Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.
· Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. It was a miracle when Jesus rose from the dead and managed to get the tombstone off the entrance.
· He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.
Ok... once again... no guarantees that all of those were really said first by kids... but I’m sure that many of you have heard children say some pretty funny things about the Bible, about God, and about life in general.
Child-like and Child-ish
Jesus invited us to come to God like little children... I think he was talking about the kind of trust and belief and love and excitement that kids have.
Child-like is a good thing... but child-ish can be a bit of a problem. It’s probably best that we don’t go through our whole lives thinking that Judas was an asparagus, or that Jesus healed leopards. And while we want to keep the enthusiasm of children... we also need to develop the maturity of adults... at some point we have to grow up... at least a little.
But growing up is not fun! I realize that some of you are in the middle of it. Being a pre-teen or a teenager can be both wonderful and horrible... sometimes all on the same day.
One of the worst things for a lot of people is dealing with growth spurts. Thankfully, I avoided the worst of it, because I’m short and I never grew very much! But some of you will remember how awkward it was when you grew 6 inches in 6 months... or you might remember how awkward your kids were when they had a growth spurt! It’s like your brain can no longer remember where your arms and legs are. You trip over your own feet and you knock things off tables and you walk into doors. You start to wish that your body would get its act together and start cooperating and be able to follow the directions that your head has been trying to give!
There’s another kind of Body that works best when all of its body parts are cooperating and working together. That’s the Body of Christ, the Church. The passage that I read earlier talks about what it means for the Body to grow up... and a lot of it has to do with unity.
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:1-4, TNIV)
Like an awkward kid tripping over his own feet, there are times when unity seems hard to find and hard to hold on to... there are times when we aren’t very humble or gentle or patient with one another, and when we would rather snap at other people than bear with them in love.
Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us alone without help. In fact, our unity comes from God first. One Bible translation puts it this way: “The Holy Spirit makes you one in every way. So try your best to remain as one. Let peace keep you together.” (Eph 4:3, NIrV) The Holy Spirit makes us One, and our unity is based on our One God... “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph 4:5-6, TNIV)
Growing up is hard... and I’m so thankful that our good strong God is the one who gives us the power to do so. Whenever we read scripture passages about how we should live or how we should act or how we should treat one another, it is important to remember the encouraging truth that God helps us and gives us strength. Not only that, God also graciously forgives our weaknesses. God is over all and through all and in all... and the Holy Spirit is gradually making us more like Jesus Christ.
One way that the Trinity helps us to grow up is to give us gifts. The New Testament talks about a wide variety of gifts and this passage in Ephesians highlights a few of them.
“to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it... Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-13, TNIV)
Equipping for Service
I love these verses because they say so much about our life together, the important roles that we each play, and God’s desire for us as the Church. You have called me to be your pastor, and I am honoured, thankful, and pleased to be here. I am looking forward to ministering with you and among you. I am using those words very carefully... my role is not just to minister to you or to minister for you... but to serve with you and among you. You are Bloomsburg Baptist Church... together, we are Bloomsburg Baptist Church—and God has put his Spirit in your hearts and given you many gifts. You are leaders and teachers and evangelists and givers and prophets and administrators; you have been given gifts of service and wisdom and healing and mercy and encouragement and faith and discernment. No single one of you has all of these gifts, but as a body you have these gifts and many more. One of my roles is to equip you to use your gifts as you serve one another and your families and your neighbours, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ
When we use our gifts to give glory to God and to serve one another and the world around us, then we grow up as the body of Christ... we get past the initial growth spurt and it stops feeling so awkward because we become united... united in faith and in our knowledge of Jesus... and we reach maturity together; we grow up tall and strong until we look more and more like Jesus Christ.
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph 4:14-16, TNIV)
In another letter, Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me”. (1 Co 13:11, NIV).
As small children, we get confused easily. We might think that Solomon had too many porcupines, or that Judas was an asparagus. Sometimes child-ish churches get confused too... they argue and fight with one another; they believe that the church exists for their own benefit, they believe false teachers because they choose not to read or think for themselves, they are “blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”.
But I know that Bloomsburg Baptist is not a child-ish church. God has done good things in you... we are worshipping and serving together... the Holy Spirit is here among us, teaching us to speak the truth in love... God is faithful and good, and so we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Do you know the love of Jesus Christ? Are you willing to serve others by learning to use the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given you? Are you ready to surrender to God as He causes you to grow up into unity and maturity?
“then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”(Ephesians 4:1-6, TNIV)
313 ~ Take My Life and Let it Be (verses 1-3,6)
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21, TNIV)