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"How Then Shall We Live" Series Intro

July 17, 2016

“How Then Shall We Live?”

1: Intro – Based on our Identity In Christ

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

 

Children’s Sermon: What do you do when you lose something?  How hard do you look? When do you quit? 

I want to tell you a story about lost and found.

The Alderson and Saxe family usually sit in this pew.  Do you know who they are?  Lisa is their college student.  Let me show you a picture. Lisa has a very hurt back which has kept her in the hospital for many weeks. We have been praying for her to get better.

Lisa has a little dog named Riley.  Let me show you Riley.  Riley loves his Lisa! And after Lisa had been gone to the hospital for so long, Riley got worried. So do you know what Riley did? He left home to find her.  Riley walked five miles from his house looking for Lisa.  And then guess what! Riley was lost!  So everybody started looking for him! And they finally found him and he got to go visit Lisa in the hospital.  Phew! 

When we care very much about someone or something that is lost – we will go to great lengths to find them.  At one time, all of us were lost and do you know who came to find us?  Jesus. He is always looking for the lost ones.  He doesn’t want any one to be far away from God, so he came to earth to look for us and to tell us how to get to God.  And then when Jesus went back to heaven, he told his disciples, us, that our job is to look for the lost and show them the way to God. It might be a long job, but that’s what God is asking us to do.  Are you ready? Let’s pray.

 

Intro:  We are moving on to a new sermon series.  The idea began on the day of Sunday School celebration.  As I was sitting in the pew  looking up at the front of the church, I thought, “Wow.  It’s pretty dull up there.  I wonder what might bring the space alive?  Maybe a banner? What would the banner say?” And the words came to me: “How, then shall we live?”  Interesting.  But every time I’ve encountered of God since about where to go in preaching, those words pop up.

So what’s a preacher to do?  You follow God.  And the first answer to that question, “How, then, shall we live?” seems to be – based on our identity in Christ.

 

This past week I spent my mornings in Monroeton serving as a Zombie Outbreak Rescue Team member.  You see, Pastor Bill Klees and his son had helped portray Paul and his guard for our VBS and he asked if I would reciprocate by helping with the 6th-9th grades at their VBS.  Are there real zombies???  Well, there were in Monroeton this week.  The premise was that anyone who has not come alive in Christ is a person walking around the earth who is not alive at all!  Non-believers = zombies.  We had a lot of fun with that.

 

The point is that there is a difference between a life lived in Christ and one that isn’t.  But here’s the thing.  Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between those who are alive in Christ and those who are dead in their sin, even if you’re the one living the life!  We lose sight of what our new life in Christ is supposed to look like.  We lose sight of what our identity in Christ is.  The NT is full of information on this topic.  It’s one of the reasons it was written.  We started out with Paul’s letter to the Colossians, now let’s look at what he said to the church in Corinth.

 

As we go, think about this: Is my identity in Christ shaping my thoughts, words, and the work of my hands? Read 2 Cor 5:16-21 (The Voice)

 

2 Corinthians 5:16-21The Voice (VOICE)

16 Because of all that God has done, - Let’s stop right there and think about that.  It’s all because of what God has done.  It’s all grace.  Too often, as we race through the world we forget God’s faithfulness to us and we take for granted that he has saved us from our sin so that we could live the life he desires for us.

 

Because of all that God has done, we now have a new perspective. We used to show regard for people based on worldly standards and interests. No longer. We used to think of the Anointed the same way. No longer. – Isn’t this the truth?  How often have we not said something to someone because we thought their place in society prevented us?  We have friends in Scotland who have been awarded a merit by the Queen herself.  Pretty cool!  These particular friends still hold on to the prestige and honor of rank pretty tightly.  One must act a particular way in the presence of particular people. For her, the thought of approaching Queen Elizabeth with the gospel would be incredibly rude because of who she is, ignoring the fact that she is a human in need of the grace of God.  (I have no way of knowing the spiritual state of the Queen of Britain but if I were to meet her, and be allowed a conversation, I would hope to speak of her spiritual life with her.  My friend would be appalled!)  Whether it is the Earl of Alnwyk or the beggar on the street, Paul writes that there is no difference in how we are to regard them.  They both need Jesus.

 

Do you hesitate to share your faith with someone because of their social status? Because you consider them to be above or below you? Get rid of that idea!

 

17 Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone—and see—a new life has begun! – There it is.  Because of all that God has done to redeem us and forgive us, if we receive these gifts, we become a new creation in Christ.  Encountering Christ in our hearts results in a transformation: from the old us to the new us. So in what condition are you living in?  I’ve encountered a lot of Christians who have acknowledged Christ as Savior and Lord who are still living in the old life.  Sometimes I even meet one when I look in the mirror!

 

In what ways is Jesus continuing to make you new in your relationship with him?  How are you growing in the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control?  How are you living out your forgiveness of sin?  How are you living into your redemption?

 

18 All of this is a gift from our Creator God, who has pursued us and brought us into a restored and healthy relationship with Him through the Anointed. – All of this is a what? A gift.  From God. He not only created us but pursued us and has restored us to a right relationship with him.  How are you responding to this gift?  Living life the same way day after day?  or are you seeking to live this life to the fullest as it was intended?  If belonging to Christ makes no difference in your daily living, check your pulse!  You might still be dead of slipping into a coma!

 

18 All of this is a gift from our Creator God, who has pursued us and brought us into a restored and healthy relationship with Him through the Anointed. And He has given us the same mission, the ministry of reconciliation, to bring others back to Him. Wait! What? God has given us the same what?  Those who have been made alive in Christ have the same mission as Jesus! The idea is not to get saved and live happily ever after!  The idea is that once reconciled to God we seek to reconcile others by introducing them to the good and gracious Savior who saved us.

 

Why aren’t we more about this?  Why am I not more about this?  Each of us has to answer that question for ourselves.  But do you know why I have a sneaking suspicion that we’re not doing it?  Because it would result in adults coming to be baptized and begin their lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.  It would result in stories being told of how God used even me to share the gospel with another traveler on the road.

 

What will it take to get us to be more concerned about others being reconciled to God than it is about what music we like and don’t like on a Sunday morning?

 

19 It is central to our good news that God was in the Anointed making things right between Himself and the world. This means He does not hold their sins against them. But it also means He charges us to proclaim the message that heals and restores our broken relationships with God and each other. – The simple message is: God forgives your sin.  Will you receive it and the redeemed life that comes with it?

 

20 So we are now representatives of the Anointed One, the Liberating King; God has given us a charge to carry through our lives—urging all people on behalf of the Anointed to become reconciled to the Creator God. – Christian, does this sound optional to you?  Can any of us say, “Oh, I’m a Christian alright! Jesus died for me! But I’m not that kind of Christian who goes around talking about it.  I just let it show through my actions of kindness and service.  Do you know any people who don’t go to church who are kind and nice?  How will anyone know the difference between you and them if you don’t tell them about the hope you have in Christ?

 

21 He orchestrated this: the Anointed One, who had never experienced sin, became sin for us so that in Him we might embody the very righteousness of God. – This is how God designed it to work.  Jesus took all of our sin upon himself, died on the cross, rose from the dead so that we could “embody the very righteousness of God”. 

 

Concl.  You, in your new life with Christ are meant to embody, be, exemplify, model, proclaim the righteousness of God.  There are people we encounter everyday who don’t know that the Creator of the universe knows them and loves them and wants to forgive all of their sins and give them a new life.  Who is going to tell them?

 

If the answer is you and me, how then shall we live?