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10.04.15 Chosen Yes; Chosen to Bless Galatians 3:6-9 Sermon Summary

by on October 5, 2015

All religious people share this in common: they think they have chosen the right religion. Biblical religion really isn’t about choosing God, but about being chosen.

Summary Points

  • Different ways we relate to “them”
  • How the church has killed faith
  • How we can bring faith back to life
  • How we have the same faith as God has

One of the first lessons we learn in life—and continuely throughout our lives—is that we are not the center of the universe. Our first human experience is that we exist. But it isn’t long before we discover the “them.” The first “them” we discover is our parents, and if we have them, siblings are next. We want food. We want a clean diaper. We want a certain toy. But we discover that these things are dependent on “them.”

Then we learn about them cousins, them neighbors, them in other states, them in other nations.

There are different ways we can relate to the “thems” in our lives. We can take the attitude us-and-not-them: Who cares about them? Or we can take an us-versus-them attitude, especially useful when our desires are frustrated by them. We can assume an us-and-them attitude, sometimes reluctantly when we have no choice.

But the faithful relationship, the one ultimately presented in the Bible, is an attitude of us-for-them. This was the call to Abraham and Sarah. “Leave your homeland, and all your us-ness, and I will bless you and all the world through you.” Abraham was chosen by God. The theologians call this the Doctrine of Election. Abraham was chosen, yes; but he was chosen to bless.

Historically speaking, faith evolves in an observable cycle. A community of faith—an us—encounters a them of other faith. In in the face of this difference, we formulate doctrine (teachings)—ways to distinguish us from them. We thus define faith as doctrines, rituals, or rules (typical of Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and Baptists respectively—though we all do all three).

When faith evolves this way, it becomes reduced to just believing the right things. It becomes intellectual and passive. Such religion results in inaction. Normally, something inactive is considered dead. I remember when a stock I was advised to buy became inactive. It died. Everything was lost. It’s the same with faith. James 2:26 describes it succinctly: “Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without action is also dead.”

So how do we keep faith active? How do we keep it alive and vital? The key to such a faith is to have an us-for-them faith. Abraham is the example. Paul reminds us that, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” And he goes on to promise that, “All those who believe with Abraham are blessed with Abraham.” In other words, people who believe as Abraham did are blessed and right with God.

What did Abraham believe? He believed he was chosen by God. And he believed he was chosen to be a blessing to others. It took time, and he and Sarah tried to game the system to move things along. But God was patient with Abraham until Abraham learned to be patient with God. And eventually, Abraham and Sarah lived to see the beginning of the promise being fulfilled.

This is what biblical faith is. It is Abrahamic faith. It is to believe that you are blessed to be a blessing. It is an us-for-them faith, a living faith, a righteous faith. It is a faith that makes us right with God because it is the same faith God has.

The Triune God didn’t celebrate being us together. Father, Son, and Spirit didn’t congratulate one another in their divine comunity. God is not a God alone, nor is God a God against, nor is God a God alongside, any sort of them. The biblical God is an us-for-them God. And we are the them.

Biblical faith, godly faith, is to be chosen, yes; but we are chosen to bless.

For those of us whose faith is dying, for those of us whose churches are dying, here is one sure way to give life to faith. Figure out how you have been blessed, then find a way to bless others. Figure out what you have been given: health, time, resources, abilities, etc., then find a need you can fill.

Vital faith asks the question, “How can others experience blessing because of me?” Others where you work. Where you live. Even the whole world. How can you be a blessing to them?

Because this is the same question God asked. “How can the world experience blessing because of me?” And his answer was Jesus. What will your answer be?

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