Called to Our Culture -Transcript
1 John 4:7-21
The text of 1 John is ever so important for those, and for we of the Christian faith. It is a sermon that John a disciple of Christ Jesus wrote and gave to new Christians, on how to be, what to be, and most importantly to love one another as God, through Christ Jesus has loved them.
All of our lives are blessed and better because of such love, our Church, St. Peter’s will be made better and giver a better future when such love as Jesus taught, and John preached is felt and realized by all who encounter us…(Remember Jesus’ words: “I give you a new commandment, to love one another as I have loved you…they will know you are my disciples by how you love…” (John 13:35)
Let us in great detail spend a moment reflecting on this powerful message, afterall it is foundational to our faith:
God’s Love and Ours
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God(This is and should not be strange). Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love(All these pronouncements, speaks to God’s love to us, and for us) . 9
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him(Recall John 3:15, ‘…God so loved the world, that God sent God’s only begotten and loved Son into the world. Not to judge or condemn it, but to save it. That whosoever believes in Him, and calls on him shall not perish, but shall have live, and life abundant/eternal…” .
10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he/God loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit(when you fully without reservation surrender unto God, knowing you’re not perfect aware that you need God’s grace/mercy, forgiveness but thankful, the Holy Spirit becomes active in your life). 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
To restore more than a sense of “Beloved Community,” to be moved from despair to hope, or to build a new future here at St. Peter’s one must began with love. Verse 16 of today’s text says what we must live by; “…we have known and believe the love that God has for us, God is love, and those who abide in love abide in and God abides in them… there is no fear in love…”
We must intentionally engage our community, not withdraw from it, not just complain or critique it, but genuinely engage it. If we cannot get to a beloved community within this ecclesia, within this gathered body, we will never those not here to ever get here…we are called to purposely and intentionally engage our culture…
What is critically important in this undertaking is that we do it out of and with love(you can’t fool person, as to if you really care about them, if you really do have the love of God in your heart. In building and inviting community and culture to come Dr. King wrote this: “Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the fighting fire with fire method is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community…”
The challenge before us is not a new challenge to the church, history has shown and taught us if we will learn and listen that always we are called to our culture, called to engage, not hide, not rationalize cultural change and challenge, but participate and encompass them.
From Stephan being the first martyred for Christ Jesus, to new converts to Christianity being barred/forbidden to Jewish temple worship. To the mid 1500’s council of Trent, dealing with new controversies of the Reformation, to Pope John XXIII(23rd), calling Vatican II, in 1962 stating; “It was time to open the windows of the church to let in some fresh air…”
In more recent times, we’ve witnessed an unpopular president embroiled in conflict, chaos, and scandals leaves the Whitehouse, while demonstrators and protestors are taking to the streets demanding justice demanding change. Our culture our society was undergoing great change…
Our entertainment and marketing industries saw the forces of change, television send radically new shows reflecting that like “All In the Family,” Stanford and Son, The Jefferson’s, The Brady Bunch, Taxi, Mary Tyler Moore. Gone were Leave It to Beaver, and the Dick Van Dyke Show and all they projected.
Lavern and Shirley, Three’s Company, Barney Miller and Good Times, Different Strokes, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, all reflecting a changing culture.
More women were entering the workforce, as were more Blacks, greater numbers of persons were delaying getting married and having children. Changes and impacts to our culture were everywhere. The church even made some small measured changes, acoustic guitars became somewhat acceptable, some churches allowed electric guitars and drums into their worshiping space.
We today find ourselves again in a time of great change and impact, like the early 70’s, we too have recently had an unpopular scandal-filled presidency leave office, though not before inciting and insurrection,, in an attempt to hold on to power. Again like the early 70’s there are major demonstrators and protestors are in the streets demanding justice because Black Lives Matter, people are not illegal though their status may be, and LGBTQ+ persons and their families are demanding to be treated equally. Again, major forces impacting and demanding change to our society and culture.
It is into this culture that as a church we are called to evangelize, to engage for the sake of the gospel. The epistle of “1 John” that we read today gives us a vitally important requirement if as in the John text we are to bear fruit not merely or just for the growth and renewal of St Peter’s but fruit for the kindom of God.
As I conclude close today, I have one very important question I want to leave with you. How you answer it individually, and how we answer it collectively will greatly determine the outcome of St. Peter’s future.
“Does our current church congregation have the ability/will/commitment to grow into the culture and society we now live-in?” Christ Jesus says; “I am the vine you are the branches…abide in me…and bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
We beloved are called to our culture. Impacts and Changes are an on-going part of that process. We cannot, nor should we halt the march the progress forward to a better world. We as persons of faith do what we do because of love.