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A church as a faith community

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설교일 : 2017.10.29.
설교자 : Rev. Jang
본문말씀 : Acts 9:8~19A

October 29, 2017

 

‘A church as a faith community’

Acts 9:8-19a

 

Rev. Chan Young Jang’s Sermon at the KUMC of Metro Detroit

 

 

1.

I would like to share the contents of a recent bestseller in Korea with the title of ‘Watching’, written by Mr. Sang-Woon Kim. He started as a reporter for MBC to cover politics, economics and international news, then worked as a news anchorman and later as the editorial board chairman, so throughout his professional life he had chased the facts and logics every day. But the recent deaths of his grandmother and his father changed his perspective and made him question his values. Through his meditations, he began to realize the importance of spiritual aspects of our life in addition to the factual and physical aspects.

 

As he began to look at life with ‘objective viewpoint’, he came up with the theory that all of us need the loving and positive gaze of a mother watching her baby, and he called it the ‘Watching’ theory. In the epilogue, he detailed his own painful early days in his career as the motivation to write this book.

 

“About 2 years after I started to work at MBC, one morning I was introduced to our new department chief and I got the impression that he was a very fastidious person and an extreme authoritarian. After one glance at him, I felt uncomfortable. Soon he gave me an assignment; “Make a report on our future projects and improvements. I will give you three days.” I started to work on the report right away by asking questions to the senior members of the department and submitted the report on time. But as soon as he got the report, he glanced at it, then he threw it away and said, “You call this a report? What did you learn for the past 2 years? I knew you were hopeless.” His ill treatment of me continued and my workplace became a living hell to me. He ignored my greetings and never gave me any assignment, as if I didn’t exist. My colleagues were aware of his unfair treatment, but nobody said anything to him and kept their silence toward me.

 

I was utterly alone and aware of being shunned by the chief and colleagues. As soon as I walked into the office, my heart would beat really fast and I would be at a complete loss. One night I had an extreme pain in the stomach and on my lunch hour I rushed to a clinic. After listening to my stressful workplace situation, the doctor gave me a prescription for relieving anxieties. I really wanted to quit the job, but I couldn’t do it, knowing how proud my parents had been of me for getting the job. This situation continued on. As soon I got near my workplace, my heart would race fast and at the sight of him, I would feel pain in my head and heart. I tried to suppress the pain, but did not succeed, and I suffered from depression the whole time I was working there.

 

But, if only I had a friend to whom I could confide, perhaps it would have been less painful or the pain could have been defeated. It is the same with any student being shunned at school. If only he had any true friend in the school, it would not have been so painful. It is the same with all of us in our lives. If only there were one person to whom we could confide, we would find enough strength to change our life again.”

 

In addition to the workplaces, we have experienced somewhat similar situations in our home, in society, or even in a church, and have desperately needed the one person whom we could trust and confide to. Dr. Heinz Kohut, a prominent modern psychoanalyst, says that “Each of us need another person who would reflect our true self like a mirror” in his ‘mirror theory’, which is based on the Bible. He says that we need the people of God who would accept us as we are, and that ‘our life is to be with people and to encounter the right people’.

 

 

2.

To celebrate the 45th anniversary of our church, several pastors have been invited for a festival of God’s Word with the main theme about ‘the role of a church’. Today’s topic is ‘A church as a faith community’. Today happens to be the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, a Catholic monk at the time, nailed his 95 complaints against the Catholic Church’s corruptive practices to the door of Germany’s Wittenberg Castle Church. His main emphasis on ‘Soda fide’ (only faith), ‘Soda scriptura’ (only scripture) and ‘Soda gracia’ (only grace) started the Protestant movement for Reformation.

 

A church, the body of Christ, should be a community for faithful Christians. The early church described in the Acts of the Apostles was not a building and did not have any system, denomination, organization, or job titles. Martin Luther urged the reformation of the Catholic Church that had deteriorated so much from the first church. A church should provide people the opportunities for ‘encounters in Christ’.

 

This brings us to the fundamental requirement for the community of faithful people, which Lord Jesus talked about.

 

Matthew 18:20  “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.”

 

In other words, when two or three get together in the name of the Lord, such a situation and place is the church, and the early church was like that. Martin Luther wanted the church to be restored to the original form; ‘only faith’, ‘only scripture’ and ‘only grace’. Today’s passage is a great example to show how the grace works in these ‘encounters in Christ’.

 

Today’s encounter is between a leader of orthodox Judaism ‘Saul’ and a disciple of Jesus ‘Ananias’, the meeting of the opposites. Saul is the Hebrew name of Paul who would change the history of Christianity in his later life. We learn how these got to meet each other in today’s passage.

 

Saul was on his way to Damascus to arrest those who were the followers of Lord Jesus, and when he met with Jesus, a light from heaven blinded him.

 

Acts 9:8-9  Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

 

And the scene changes to another part of town and to Ananias who was a disciple of Lord Jesus.

 

Acts 9:10  In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias.

 

In the Bible there is no other information about Ananias. He was a disciple, which means he was with the Lord during His ministry and followed Him. And at that time the word of ‘Christians’ had not been in use yet.

 

Acts 9:11  The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.”

 

If this happened to you, how would you respond to this command? Ananias, the disciple, raised an objection to this command and we understand the reason why he objected. He was aware of Saul’s role when Stephen had been martyred and of Saul’s plan to arrest the believers in Damascus. But the Lord rejected Ananias’ reasonable objection.

 

Acts 9:15  But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.”

 

Ananias must have been quite shocked when he heard this, especially at the Lord’s words about Saul being His chosen instrument. Soon he recovered and was on his way to the house where Saul was staying. Ananias got over the initial shock of hearing Saul to be the chosen instrument of the Lord, perhaps because he was reminded of the Lord saying the same thing to himself. If he, Ananias, could be the instrument of the Lord, why not Saul? He began to see things with the eyes of the Lord, so he was able to obey Lord Jesus’ command.

 

With the heart and eyes of the Lord, Ananias went to see Saul and prayed for him.

 

Acts 9:17  Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

 

3.

We are shocked at what Ananias called Saul: ‘Brother Saul’. The Greek word he used was ‘Adelphos’ which originated from the Hebrew word ‘delphus’ meaning a mother’s womb. This greeting of ‘adelphos’ (brother from the same womb) was first used in the early church and ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ has been in use in the Christian communities ever since.

 

At the time of Ananias, ‘adelphos’ was being used only among siblings from the same mother and here he is using this greeting to the enemy and deadly foe of the church. So, we know that he accepted Saul as a brother in Christ.

 

This is amazing. How could he call Saul as ‘Brother’ (Adelphos)? His own name ‘Ananias’ has the meaning of ‘God is gracious’ and Ananias showed to himself and to Saul how gracious God was by accepting Saul as ‘Brother in Christ’.

 

We are certain Saul must have been really shocked at this greeting. And he must have been genuinely touched by the words of Ananias also, so at that moment, his factual and logical reasoning must have been shattered.

 

Consequently, Saul was reborn as Paul, a true Christian, and everyone including those believers who had been persecuted by him previously began to regard him as a ‘Brother’, and Paul’s worldview was changed also.

 

Let us suppose that if Ananias treated Saul cautiously because of his own prejudices and rumors against him, what would have happened? Saul would have been approached later by another person, but the encounter between Ananias and Saul would not have happened and Ananias may have proven himself to be just a church-goer, not a true disciple of Lord Jesus.

 

After Ananias laid his hand and prayed, this is what happened.

 

Acts 9:18a  Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.

 

Now Saul’s eyes were opened, after something like scales fell from his eyes. The Greek word for the scales is ‘lepis’and it means ‘the scales from fish’. When Ananias placed his hands on Saul, the scales from fish fell out of his eyes and he was able to see again.

 

The Greek word for ‘being able to see again’ is ‘ana-blepo’and it literally means ‘to look up at the sky’. The scales from Saul’s eyes fell and now he was looking up at the sky and at God.

 

Now he was able to look at himself through the eyes of God. Just as Ananias was looking at Saul with the eyes of God, instead of his own prejudiced eyes, Saul was also able to see with the eyes of God, after he was reborn.

 

This shows what happened to Saul afterwards.

 

Acts 9:18-20  Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

 

 

4.

Almost the same thing happened to Ananias also. His eyes were opened too. After the encounter with Saul, he began to see things with the eyes of God also and experienced an amazing life.

 

Recently, the writings of eleven men of God, Christian leaders including Gordon MacDonald, Bill Hybels, Eugene Peterson, were compiled into a book with a very interesting title; ‘The Road We Must Travel: A Personal Guide for Your Journey’ (The Korean title of the book: They leave their ‘Leader’ rather than their ‘Church’). This book contains many accounts of the spiritual crisis experienced by these leaders, and how they have found their calling in life, at home, at work, in the church, after accepting Lord Jesus. So in my opinion the title of this book should be; They leave their ‘own self’ rather than their ‘church’.

 

In the book, they confess how their avoidance and refusal of the ‘true encounters in Christ’ made the members leave the church, the Lord and their own self. In retrospect, they are asking, “If I were Ananias, would I have gone to look for Saul, pray for him and call him ‘Brother’ no matter what his responses were, while hoping for the Lord to work on him?

 

‘If only there were one person to confide to, my life would have been so different’, said Mr. Sang-Woon Kim. ‘Our life is to be with people and to encounter the right people’, said Dr. Heinz Kohut. Our Lord is showing us the church’s role as a faith community through this encounter of Saul and Ananias in the early days of Christianity.

 

On this Sunday all the Protestant churches in the world are celebrating the 500thanniversary of the Reformation, but a true reformation starts with our own self; when the scales fall off our eyes, we should meet some unlikely person and call him, ‘Adelphos’ (Brother).

 

My beloved congregation, you will realize that all your possessions, your honors, your children and even your spouse will leave you later in your life. All the important things in your life will eventually leave you. Then, you will yearn for the ‘true encounters in Christ’ and regret that you have not had enough of them, as we are created for those encounters.

 

So, I want to urge you to take a look at yourself with the eyes of God. Then with the eyes of God, take a look at others, and that is how the true encounters begin. ‘True encounters in Christ’ like that of Saul and Ananias are real blessings and graces of God bestowed upon us while we live on earth. A church as a faith community provides these encounters. I hope and pray in the name of the Lord that all of you in our church be blessed with these precious encounters in Christ. Amen.

 

Let us sing the closing hymn; “All who yearn for the love of God”


   

총 게시물 423건, 최근 0 건
번호 설교일              제목 본문말씀 설교자
423 2017.12.03  The Life of a Witness John 1:6-15 Rev. Shin
422 2017.12.03  증거자의 삶 요한복음 1:6-15 신태규 목사
421 2017.11.26.  "What will you ask for?" James 1:5-8 Rev. Bae
420 2017.11.26.  무엇을 구할 것인가? 야고보서 1:5-8 배세진 목사
419 2017.11.19.  'Give thanks, my soul' 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rev. Jang
418 2017.11.19.  '감사하라, 내 영혼아' 데살로니가 전서 5:16-18 장찬영 목사
417 2017.11.05.  'Only for the Lord' Romans 14:6-9 Rev. Lee
416 2017.11.05.  오직 주를 위하여 로마서 14:6~9 이훈경 목사
415 2017.10.29.  A church as a faith community Acts 9:8~19A Rev. Jang
414 2017.10.29.  교회창립45주년기념 - ‘신앙 공동체로서의 교회’ 사도행전 9:8~19A 장찬영 목사
413 2017.10.22.  'Blessings to those who are persecuted because of righteousness' Matthew 5:10-12 Rev. Jang
412 2017.10.22.  행복하여라: 의를 위하여 핍박받는 자여 마태복음 5:10~12 장찬영 목사
411 2017.10.15.  The Story of a Father's Wasted Love Luke 15:11-24 Rev. Kwon
410 2017.10.15.  낭비된 아버지의 사랑 이야기 누가복음 15:11~24 권태홍 목사
409 2017.10.08.  Like Father, Like Son Ephesians 2:1-8 Rev. Joseph Kim
 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  다음  맨끝

제목 : The Life of a Witness
설교일 : 2017.12.03
본문말씀 : John 1:6-15
설교자 : Rev. Shin

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