“Turning Dreams into Goals”
Sermon: “Turning Dreams into Goals”
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from August 21, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
Last week. I said that there was a seminary professor that once said that the book of Hebrews, the letter to Hebrews was not written to the Hebrews was not a letter. Well, this part of Hebrews is more what most scholars would consider apocalyptic literature like Ezekiel and Revelation. And we have the writer of Hebrews here is talking about all of these folks in these events through history that the Hebrew people never listened to.
And then it turns around and it talks about what really, they should have been focused on all the way around with focusing on Christ. And you know, in a lot of ways, that's what the church is like today we could, this letter could be to us. Because the church, and I'm talking about capital C, not, you know, This congregation, just this congregation, but the whole church, has spent an awful lot of time focusing on all of these ancient teachings and everything else that tells us well, you know, Moses gave us the 10 commandments, and even Moses wasn’t afraid to go up on mountain Sinai and all of these other things.
There are people that have gotten hung up on this passage because it talks about the host of angels and whether, you know, how that all plays in with it and everything else. And what they miss is the fact that the passage is talking about the fact that we should be focusing on what we learned from Christ's life.
And the Church frequently gets hung up in all of our theological discourse and dogma and our rules and our regulations. And we forget about the fact that we're supposed to be focusing on what we've learned from the way Christ talked, from the way Christ lived, from the instructions that Christ gave us, and the way Christ cared for others.
We forget all of that because we're so tied up in everything else. And of course, that's really the way we are in our day, day to day lives, too. We are so tied up in, well, for many of us tied up so much in making a living that we forget to be living, know how that goes when your schedule is so busy at the end of the day, you sit back and say, what did I accomplish? And you can list off all the tasks and you probably can't list off too much of who you had a conversation with, who you spent time with, or what you did. That really was a benefit other than just getting through the agenda.
We go to work and there's this inbox in this outbox, or depending upon your job, some variety of that, you know, you've got all those tasks that you have to do that day and you work all day and you think you've accomplished things and you go home, and you come back the next day. And there's this whole list of tasks that you have to accomplish. What did you really accomplish? You got through a day at work.
But life isn't measured in what we get through in a day at work. Life isn’t measured for the church in what rules and regulations we have held up life. Isn't measured for Christians in ticking off the boxes of, well, I kept that commandment. I'm not gonna look at this one down here, but I got that one.
That's not the way it works. It's not the way it works. And the writer of Hebrews is trying to tell us this. You know, Jeremiah accepted the call that God put on his life, having absolutely no idea what he was gonna be doing. Just like the rest of the prophets.
And God had him trying to tell people what they needed to be doing in their life, and what did they do with him. They ignored him. Jesus comes along and personifies those teachings and in many ways, we ignore them too.
When in reality, what we should be doing is trying to live our lives as disciples, you know, a disciple is someone that does what the master does. We think of it as somebody that, you know, maybe just goes out and is this mouthpiece for somebody else. But that's not what it is. A disciple is somebody that does what the master does. They live the way the master lives. They eat, sleep, drink, teach, and do what the master did.
And we are called to be disciples. So that means instead of being worried about whether our denomination has it right or not. We should be worried about whether we have it right. Not whether the regulations are right. Not whether the dogma is right. Not whether the book of order is right. But whether we individuals are living as disciples. The writer of Hebrews is talking about all these other people that didn't get it and he says, but since we are receiving the kingdom, we need to be living this way. We need to be living out our lives in such a way that it's an acceptable worship of God.
An acceptable worship of God. Ah, I know acceptable. That means something I don't mind doing! Wrong when we're talking about acceptable worship, we're talking about something that God deems acceptable, not us. Hopefully, it's the same thing, but we know better. We know that sometimes God asks us to do things that maybe aren't so comfortable for us. And we're not sure we want to accept that.
Presbyterian Church USA has had an initiative going now for a few years called Matthew 25 initiative. This congregation is part of that initiative. We signed on back when. There's information in the hallway about it. There are a lot of things in working for the Matthew 25 initiative that are not really comfortable, because some of it makes you hold up a mirror and say, am I living as a disciple of Jesus in this regard?
Am I living in such a way that I am working to end systemic poverty? Am I living in such a way that I am combating racism? Am I living in such a way that I am truly lifting up the helpless in society?
And you know, sometimes that makes it a little uncomfortable because to ask those questions, you have to admit that maybe you're benefiting from all those things. You know, we benefit from not being those that are dealing with systemic poverty. We benefit from not being those that are victims of racism.
And that's not living an acceptable worship of God. It is uncomfortable to be a Christian in today's world because we are called to do things that society tells us aren't in our best interest.
It's not in our best interest. It's not in our best interest to make sure that that person over there gets the same fair shake that I get. It's not in our best interest to make sure that the least among us are taken care of. And the funny thing is about that is that the people that have benefited the most financially… it seems a lot of them are sports stars, right? And they're sports stars from teams that realize that the team is only as strong as their weakest player.
It works in sports. We root them on because of it. But don't make it apply to my life! Don't make it apply to my life. It's what, you mean our society is only as good as the people at the bottom?
That is the same issue that Jesus was facing in his life. That the people at the bottom, you know, he healed a woman who no one else thought was worthy of attention. He healed a paralytic that no one else would go near. He healed the lepers that no one would go near. He reached out to a woman at the well that was ostracized by even her peers, or she wouldn't have been at the well midday.
Jesus reached out and lifted up those that society didn't deem worthy. Society didn't deem them worthy of love and respect. And if we're not reaching out and doing the same thing, then we are not living as disciples. We are not living out an acceptable worship of God in our day-to-day lives. Yes, I know that's not comfortable. It may not even be personally acceptable to you. But if those things aren't personally acceptable, you have to question whether you can call yourself a Christian or not. Because the definition of a Christian is it you are a disciple of Christ.