June 28, 2008

Brand Loyalty

Here's a 'sneak-peek' of the sermon I'm preaching tomorrow. Maybe some of you will see it in person and if you're not in the Indianapolis area and you want to watch/listen to it online or podcast it, you can check it out on the church's website here.


And now, to be honest with you, I’ve started wondering and asking myself in the last couple months if we as Christians have become more loyal to the brand or label “Christian” than to the person and message of Christ. In becoming a little uncomfortable with the “Christian” brand I have found myself now adding a description like “a follower of Christ” or “someone trying to be like Jesus” in an attempt to clear up any confusion around what a Christian is really all about. Many of you probably read or saw the article in the Indianapolis Star talking about the survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The survey found some pretty interesting statistics but needless to say, one thing was clear from their research, there are a lot of people that have either gotten the wrong message of what a Christian is or have no idea what that really means or looks like. I would imagine that a number of us at one time or another have been burned by another Christian that someone else has met in the past because the brand of Christianity they got from that person was not the Christianity of Christ.

The sermon series over the past two weeks has been on becoming a contagious Christian and we heard Mac talk about the story and how we are to be the story tellers. How timely as we hear more and more about a brand of Christianity that seems to be spreading a disease of fear, hopelessness and division rather than being the remedy of those ills.

C.S. Lewis said that every Christian is to become a “little Christ” (kind of like we take ourselves off, our desires, wants, attitudes and put on those of Christ) this “putting on of Christ”…is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity. Christianity offers nothing else at all.

And so this morning I would like to take a look at Paul’s letter to the believers in Ephesus and pull out a couple things that speak to what a Christian or “little Christ” is. Ephesus was a thriving city with tens of thousands of people traveling through the city annually. It was an important city in Paul’s missionary journeys and the churches in the area were experiencing significant growth in their congregations. Paul is writing this letter to these churches to encourage them in the faith but also to explain the purpose of the church and how a Christian should live. Read Ephesians 4:1-6

Christians are humble.

-We don’t have it all figured out, we’re not perfect and shouldn’t pretend to be

-We remember how we have been humbled by life and how Jesus stepped in to show us His grace in those moments humility

-But most importantly because Jesus was humble…read Philippians 2:5-8

Christians are gentle.

- Vs. 2 gentle = humility, courtesy, of being considerate

-When I think about the character of Jesus, I can’t help but think about how gentle He was

-I’m reminded of the story in John 8:1-11 when a woman caught in adultery is brought before Jesus…

-He still challenges her, calls her to something better but does so in a gentle, loving way, there was a gentle accountability

-If we are to be Christians, then we must be gentle

-We are gentle because “God works through all”

Christians are patient.

-Again this speaks to humility, an understanding that Christ has been and continues to be patient with us and so we must be the same with others

-Vs. 2 bearing with = “to put up with”, to exercise self-restraint & tolerance, endure patiently

-Think of the countless times Jesus shows patience with His disciples, or with the crowds of people that were constantly following Him around, or even the social outcast that was a cultural taboo to even interact with

-There are times when we have to “put up with” people because it is the Christ-like thing to do and if we’re honest, there are probably more times when others have to “put up with” us

-We are patient because Christ is patient

Christians are united.

-And when Christians strive to be humble, gentle and patient with one another then we are able to be united in a way that cannot be broken through a bond of peace

-Just as Jesus was united to the Father and us as believers to Christ, so too you and I with one another

-this is not a unity of “us vs. them” but rather an “us for all”

-Paul is emphasizing a “Oneness” with other believers, he is not saying that all religions are one in the same but that Christians are to be united with each other in Christ

-When Christians fail to be united w/one another, we fail to be like Christ

-This forces us to ask the question of why anyone would want to be part of faith that is divisive

Humility, gentleness, patience and unity are four characteristics of what a Christian is but don’t forget that you have to know the story in order to tell it. To be a “little Christ” you need to spend time in the Word, in prayer and in community to get to know THE Christ.