Tim Keller’s The Reason for God sermon series ideas.
Speak the Truth in Love
Key Thought: Speak the truth in love-and live it.
Historical Context: James calls for faith in action, which is love in action.
Doubt: The Christian church has (agreed) a long history of oppression and hypocrisy, of disempowering the poor, of being “the opiate of the masses” (Marx).
1. “Has God not chosen the poor?” (James) Word translated as ‘mercy’ means ‘meeting the physical needs of the poor’. Good Samaritan-‘the one who did mercy.’ “Have mercy on us” means “heal me”. MLK Jr.-when he confronted Christian clergymen, did he say “let’s get away from Christianity”?-“Christianity is the opiate of the masses”? No, he said, let’s return, get to the heart of the Christian faith. Two ways of rebelling against God: 1. act like you have no shame and everyone else are squares, 2. look down your nose as a fine, upstanding citizen. Both need God’s grace, but the ones who see it are those who are fed up with themselves, who are not comfortable with where they are at-the poor in spirit. Are you looking down on the squares, do you look the other way or blame the downtrodden when faced with human tragedy, or are you poor in spirit, chosen of God?
2. “Judgment will be w/o mercy for those who have shown no mercy.” That Christians did not become perfect upon conversion (justification) proves only that they still need Him after conversion (sanctification) (church like hospital full of sick people seeking help)-it doesn’t knock down Christianity, but the world’s charge of hypocrisy should knock us down to our knees. Are we numbed to inaction in the face of the real problems of the world, is our faith blind? Are we salt w/ no more taste? Are we lukewarm? Are we getting in arguments that do not reflect God’s love and therefore misrepresent Him to the world (Matthew 21:31)? “Faith without works” (evidence, not means, of salvation) “is dead” (contrast from last week’s v.16). Is your dead faith part of the problem the world has with so-called Christians?
3. “as believers” Speak and live the truth in love. The last point was hard to hear, hard for me to deliver, but don’t lose heart-let God break it, give it to Him, become poor in spirit. Live in God’s grace, connected to the vine, Abba, Father, apart from which we wither. Use what you learn about how to defend your faith in this series to open up dialogue, but use it with love, and let God love through you. Radical reformission. Witness where you are, without being a jerk (say something against “God hates fags”). Talk about CHE and the Faith and Works ministry, etcetera (we are at a prime, down-town location for this). Talk about encouraging eachother to good works in our home groups, getting connected if we haven’t yet. Do you care about what’s going on in the world, get involved to restore and redeem, build the Kingdom? Are you someone the church needs to reach out to?-ask.
Used these sources:
Injustice: Hasn’t Christianity been an instrument for oppression? James 2:1-17
This is covered in RFG ch. 4: The church is responsible for so much
–would be a good place to talk about not treating evangelism like mortal combat…to talk about “radical reformission” and church-planting
Rev. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” for your perusal:
Click to access birmingham.pdf
Group Discussion Questions:
1. Have you felt that maybe Christianity is false because of Christians you knew or know who did not act like “good Christians”? Can a loving God exist and be worthy of worship, even if those who claim to love Him do not love others or come off as self-righteous fanatics?
2. If Christianity is false-if Jesus did not show us that God loves us no matter what-how can a world devoid of the Gospel, of a loving God, be motivated to humble peacemaking? Can love be “always” right if the eternal lacks personhood?
3. What does it mean to you to be a “good Christian”? Do you feel you are less of a hypocrite than some Christians you know and are therefore better than them? What do you think about grace being impossible to deserve, and how should it influence how we relate with others? Would those who know you, say that you extend Christ’s love and forgiveness to them? Do you feel better than others because of your good works?
The Truth…That’s Love? / Gareth Flora