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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

We Belong to God

Sunday Sermon Summary: August 12, 2007

Pastor Spike says: I hate to break the news to you. It is not all bad. Some of it is good. The news is about Sara Groves who is a profound singer and a delight to be around. She has come to Charleston for the past three years. The bad news if that she will not be coming this year. The good news is that Sara and Troy have a new baby girl! Check out Sara to see wonderful pictures of her and the baby!

They eyes of those new parents are full of awe and amazement! God looks at us just that way. He is gushy and mushy. Sometimes we struggle with this. It is hard to believe that an all powerful God could look at us with so much love. Sometimes our experiences tell us otherwise. People also tell us what we do or how to act each day. Ads are the most popular form of communication these days with our state leading the way with billboard ads. These voices clamor for our attention --to tell us how to live.

When we worship, the beauty of it is not in the bricks or sticks, it is found in you and me, the singing of our hymns, the love we offer to one another. That beauty will save the world. It will stay the chaos of our lives. If you want someone to turn against you, start taking about love. Reverend Dr. Craig Barnes , who was Pastor of National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC has some impressive congregation members. World figures and political leaders attended his church. Sometimes, he would be asked," Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Is that all we know?" Yes! We long to know him. Yes! That is all we know.

The text lesson for the sermon is Matthew 22:15-22.

15Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" 18But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, 20and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?" 21"Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." 22When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
The text today tells about the struggles we have today. The verse is sometimes taken out of context. They forget who the audience is...when the Pharisees try to entangle Jesus. They are setting a trap for him. To get the Herodians and the Pharisees to work together was impossible as those two groups did not like each other. In this passage of scripture, they work together. They hate Jesus more than each other because Jesus challenges what they believe. The Pharisees were zealots for truth--they held the law of the prophets. They followed everything to the letter. They missed the point. They thought God wanted separateness from the uncleanliness of the world. They stayed away from others not like them. They misunderstood. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Is that all you know?

Now about those Herodians. Judah was a roman province with Caesar as king as the incarnation of God. Caesar wanted people to believe he was the source of abundant life. The Herodians had a long alliance with the roman government. They did not like Jesus either. So, those two groups did not like Jesus at all! Jesus challenged their place in society. They tried to set a trap for him.

"Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. That was the trap. What gave it away? You pay no attention to who they are---that is what gave it away. Jesus Christ cares for all. There is no Jew, slave, free, male, female. It is lawful to pay taxes? The very ones who are trying to trap Jesus Christ is about to be snared in their own words. Jesus Christ says, "whose likeness is this? Tiberius Caesar was on one side and he was on the other as high priest, which was his claim to divinity. Jesus threw a bomb into the trap. Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.

We assume there are two different spheres. There is the church on Sunday sphere and the business the rest of the week sphere. It is not about two spheres of influence. It is about Jesus Christ shattering the beliefs of both. If we do not understand who God is, we will not understand others around us. "...and to God what is God's." We need to share this information with all. As we are in our cars, enjoy the beauty of God's creation. Look at the majesty of creation. All around us there are people of beauty. Jesus Christ knit us together in our mother's wombs. God see us and He is filled with joy. Today we worship to thank God for that.

How many times are we told we are precious in God's eyes? Here among our brothers and sisters we know who we are. We know who Jesus Christ is. None of us here has it figured out. Jesus Christ is not done with us yet. He is healing us of the hurts in our bodies and souls. It is the joy and power of the holy spirit. We belong, not to the world, but to the God who loves us and even adores us.


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