Sermon: United and Responsive to God’s Call

Last Sunday, I was given the privilege to speak during our Tagalog Worship Service. I always say that whenever you are being asked to speak, your message speaks to you first. And that is always true to me. I always am the first to be convicted of my assigned topic. I always feel like I am the one being spoken to, because I can relate so much.

And this particular topic, by far, is definitely one of the most (if not THE MOST) convicting biblical lessons I ever studied.

Allow me to share with you my sermon, and I hope that it is a blessing.

♥♥♥♥

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. 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 4:1-7)

1 Kaya’t ako na isang bilanggo dahil sa Panginoon, ay namamanhik sa inyo na mamuhay kayo gaya ng nararapa sa mga tunawag ng Diyos. 2 Kayo’y maging mapagkumbaba, mabait, at matiyaga. Magmahalan kayo at magpaumanhinan. 3 Pagsumakitan ninyong mapanatili ang pagkakakisang mula sa Espiritu, sa pamamagitan ng buklod ng kapayapaan. 4 Iisa lamang ang katawan at iisa rin ang Espiritu; gayon din naman, iisa lamang ang pag-asa ninyong lahat, dulot ng pagkatawag sa inyo ng Diyos. 5 May isa lamang Panginoon, isang pananampalatay, at isang bautsmo, 6 isang Diyos at Ama nating lahat. Siya’y higit sa lahat, gumagawa sa lahat, at sumasalahat. 7 Ang bawat isa sa ati’y binigyan ng tanging kaloob, ayon sa sukat na ibinigay ni Cristo. 

Unity in Christ. United. This month our church, among all other United Methodist Churches is celebrating the LAITY Month. Laity month is celebrated to praise God for the different lay organizations in the church- the UMYF, UMYAF, UMWSCS, UMM.

We may notice that in church, maybe not in Fairvew Park UMC, there is a trend: we will start the year with a good attendance. We have strategic plannings, but at the middle of the year we notice that the attendance is suddenly going down… and people are disappearing one by one.

Unity, more than theological and doctrinal, is first and foremost RELATIONAL. There is dealing with people involved. We relate to other people.

Unity is not uniformity. We don’t need to dress the same, be from the same side of town. I am blessed to be in a church that recognizes the individuality of each member. I am not obliged to wear a certain color of dress every Sunday because we are not required to dress the same. Of course we have to dress modestly. That’s what’s required of us.

Unity is also not unanimity. We don’t have to think the same or have the same opinions and views. I have church mates who are from Ateneo and church mates from La Salle. I have friends from GMA and friends from TV5 but that never became an issue in church.

So what do we do to stay in unity with our church and with our neighbors?

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Paul starts the verse with an “urge”. He pushes us to live a live worthy of the calling we have in Christ. He starts with a heavy introduction, and we can see that he is about to say something very heavy. And then he asks-no urges- us to do the following:

1. Be completely humble. Humility is an attitude that recognizes the value and worth of others. It is putting other people’s needs first. It is the “you first, me later” attitude. You will think first of others before your self. The opposite of humility is pride. It is that attitude which says “I am better than you.” The problem with pride is it takes other people to see it. It takes godly people who will talk to you in love and tell you that you’ve got a pride problem. In love, okay? Not as mockery or whatever.

And the ultimate test of pride? How we treat our helpers. How we treat the security guard. How we treat the waitress, the saleslady, the driver- those people who we think we are better or higher than. When we think that we are “better” than others, we think that we have the license too treat them indifferently.

Philippins 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”

2. Be completely humble, GENTLE..

Gentleness. Sigh. Gentleness is also translated as meekness. But meekness is often mistaken to as “weakness”. People think you are weak because you are meek. People think you are weak because you’re gentle and always soft-spoken. We become pushovers. One of the best definitions of gentleness that I have ever heard is this: GENTLENESS IS STRENGTH UNDER CONTROL. It’s that attitude that you know that you are strong and you may be right but because you’ve got Christ in you, you will step back. You’ve got a long fuse. You will not be easily angered. Gentleness is released in strength but most of the time we need to step back and let God take control.

For men, you are known to be strong.. but you try your best to be gentle for us women. That’s why the term “gentleman” is created. And you can show your strength by being gentle. Somebody was rude to you at work, you don’t punch the person right away. You step back.

For men, it’s the actions. And for women? It’s the words.

And this I tell you, I was literally in tears because the Lord convicted me when I was studying this. I am a very outspoken person and most of the time I am very dominant.

A study showed that women release 25 thousand words a day. 25 thousand! And men? 10-15 thousand words. You know that scene at home when you talk to your husband when he comes home at night “how’s your day?” “What did you eat for lunch?” “How’s this? How’s her? How’s him? (knows everyone) Yadayada..” And the husband would answer, “m-m.” “yup” “hmm” And you will get mad, “why are you so quiet?” “magsalita ka naman!”

The reason why men don’t talk too much at home because us women are on our 23 thousandth word only, and men are already on their 15 thousandth.

I always pray that when I get married and be a wife, I would not be a nagger. I would talk less, shout less and always be gentle with the words that I say.

Actions for men, WORDS for women.

If you’re a man who talks too much, then it’s actions and words for you. If you’re a strong woman, then it’s actions and words for you.

3. Be completely humble, gentle and PATIENT.

Be patient. Patience. Longsuffering. Forebearance. Patience is knowing what will happen, but we are patient because we know that God is in control. We don’t tolerate, for the bible tells us not to tolerate sin- but we are calm because we know that the Lord will take charge of our situation. And this is really so hard, knowing that we can do something but you need not do something drastic because you trust that the Lord will handle everything for us.

You are driving, and somebody cuts you- an FX perhaps. And this is very common. I live in Fairview and I need to pass by commonwealth, the “killer road”, in order to get home. At night, the drivers are usually very fast. Somebody cuts you, you don’t have to go down and shout or even fight the other driver. You are calm because you know that the Lord will handle everything for you.

Patience is the attitude that “God’s plan is going to work out”. There are situations wherein our emotions are stirred but because the Lord is in us, we know that even when we are hurt, we don’t need to fight the person who has hurt us; we don’t have to shout; we don’t have to take revenge; because the Lord is just and he will take control of our situation. He will act on our behalf. He will turn things around for us. (Jordy, my bff, you’re in my mind right now :))

Sometimes when we don’t like the situation that we’re in, we become impatient. Or when we don’t like that way people do things, we become impatient. The bible tells us to Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out. (1 Thessalonians 5:13-15)”

My mom has a lot of maintainance drugs and because I am a nurse, I see to it that she drinks all 4 of her meds. I make sure to remind her every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY. Sometimes at lunch time I call her to ask how she’s been, if she’s eaten her lunch already, and if she drank her meds already…. and she’ll say she forgot to. I will continue to remind her that she needs to drink them because she needs to. And I’m sure she’s also seeking patience for me because I am in constant pursuit of her good health.

You may have an officemate that is sooooooo slow. Be patient. Encourage that officemate. Or a boss who shouts all day long. You don’t have to shout back. Be patient.

And what is the gluing factor? What will motivate us to be humble, gentle and patient?

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love

If we love God, and God’s love transcends in us, then that is our motivating factor to do all these impossible things. The enabling factor for these things to come to pass is love. We may think of them as hard or nearly impossible- for how do you become patient to somebody who is impossible to love? But because you do this out of love, it is possible.

And then, we continue-

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Make every effort. Paul didn’t just say “keep the unity”; he said “make every effort to keep the unity”. It’s an effort. It’s not something that we will just give up because we can’t; we will make an effort to do it even if it’s hard. It’s not something that we just do, it’s something that we choose to do.

In church, we may often get offended by our pastors, by other people. Sometimes what we do is go to somebody and tell him, “you know what, I got offended by pastor’s sermon this morning..”. And your friend says, “you know what? Me too!!!” And you will say, “come on, let’s look for others who got offended by pastor’s sermon!!”

It’s not like that. When somebody offends us, we shouldn’t look for people who got offended too and look for a pity party. Forgive the person who has offended you. Talk directly to the person and tell that person how you got offended by what he said.

It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. If you wanna keep unity, we have to keep, preserve and fight. Make an effort.

On January 27, 1986, a Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster happened. The Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all 7 of the crew.  The reason, they found out, was an O-ring. Disintegration of the entire vehicle began after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff.

Sometimes we think of ourselves as insignificant to the church. We may think of our talents as unimportant. But they aren’t. We aren’t. Each of us is important for the church to function.We are the”body of Christ”, and if one of us gets lost, the church gets lost, too.

We must all make an effort to keep the church united. We must all make an effort to live in harmony with one another. Our love for Christ and His love for us should motivate us to be united as members of the church. Our love for Christ should motivate us to be humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another in love.

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (JOHN 17: 20-23)

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