I remember a conversation starter we did in our high school youth group. It went something like this: You are about to be marooned on a remote island, but you have three minutes to gather three things to take with you. What three things will you take? Of course, there’s no right answer and sometimes the responses are pretty hilarious.
There is a deeper question to ponder, though, and I think it is worthy of asking. On Sundays we are taking a journey back to basics and, ultimately, we’ll ask that question. I am approaching this discussion from the aspect of the three commands from Jesus; love God, love others as yourself, and make disciples. Within the context of those three commands lay a theological battleground in some corners of the Christian church over doctrinal matters, traditions, and experiences.
I have served in and worshipped regularly in six churches and some of you have worshipped in dozens through your life. Researchers have reported for years that we choose our church home, not generally based upon brand name, but rather on a host of other factors including; friendliness, authenticity, worship style, atmosphere, mission, kid friendliness, location, and so on.
Theology often lands somewhere down the list a-ways. So, we find ourselves today with churches often populated with people from very wide faith backgrounds and sometimes no background and as people move to Sun City this contrast is particularly notable. Coming from different parts of the country and, often, very different cultural norms in the communities you came from, we make for an interesting mix of people and social background.
The challenge for us is to be a church that can be flexible and dynamic as we meet the needs, sometimes very specific needs, of a community in the second half of life. Consider, how do you differ from others in our congregation? We may not be ethnically very different, but I see a very diverse span of interests, influence, life experience, economic means, and very different world views.
The BIG question for us is this: What are your essentials of faith? What are the things which give you hope, assurance, peace, and spur you on to serve God? What things are you not willing to give up? By this, I don’t mean worship style, like organ vs. piano or hymns vs. contemporary. I mean, what do you believe about God, Jesus, Holy Spirit and the Bible? How do those aspects of God shape you as a believer? How do you measure it?
Our Christian faith doesn’t answer every question of life, but it does inform and guide us and that makes our faith messy at times. By the time we finish this sermon series, I hope you will have affirmed or reaffirmed the basics of our shared faith – that is what binds a wonderful, motley, gifted, generous bunch of folks together known as Lakeview UMC.
I am reminded of Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 4:7-9,
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Friends, hang on to Jesus, keep changing lives for Christ, sharing the Good News, Caring for One Another, and Growing in the Image of Christ.