Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Called to A living Discipleship: Ephesians 4:20-32 & Matthew 5:13-16

Sermon preached by the Revd Phill Ball at St Martin's Church Walsall on Sunday 11 March 2012.  The video clips are taken from session 7 of the 'Moving On Course' by Robin Gamble and David Banbury.  For further details about this excellent seven week discipleship course go to http://movingoncourse.org.uk/

'He's the salt of the earth.' We say that about somebody who's loving and kind, in a quiet and modest way. 'He may never be great and famous, but he does so much good he's the salt of the earth.'

The poet Shelley described one of his friends as one of those happy souls

Which are the salt of the earth, and without whom this world would smell like what it is - a tomb.
Salt's what makes food interesting, and before modern day refrigeration the only thing that preserves it from going rotten.

Jesus meant something like this when he told us, his followers, that we must be the salt of the earth, as we live our lives of discipleship.

Please note, Not we should be, or should try to be, but we are the salt of the earth! .
We as followers of Christ are called to share our life, to give taste to life, and to save others from losing their saltiness and remaining spirituality rotten.

Lets hear what some new Christians think about who or what is important in their lives.

Does that ring any bells?

Jesus also said we're to be the light of the world, with a goodness shining out of us that will show others the way to live their lives, even without any words being spoken.

People never light a candle and put it under a bowl. That defeats the whole purpose of the light and it would go out.

It would seem ridiculous; especially to people whose only source of light at night was a candle or small lamp. Why light a candle if you are only going to put it out? In the same way, why become a Christian if you only want to be personally “saved” and do not intend on being a light to the world or to make it more palatable for others?

What good does it do to become a Christian if you are going to be like everybody else?
The answer is: Your life would become tasteless and dark, and useless to God’s kingdom.
But if you see your responsibility and privilege to “to live a life that becomes the Gospel,” then your life has meaning and purpose. There is huge value in becoming a Christian, if we live that life and daily strive to be a disciple of Jesus.

The danger in the 21st century Christian discipleship is that it has become so personal. For many it is “all about me and Jesus.”  I “get saved”, I get my ticket to heaven, and then I just sit back and wait till Jesus comes.  I want God’s blessings so my personal life will “work” or be better in some way. I want God to fix my marriage, my finances, my children, my health or I want God to give me protection, but I’m not sure I want to have the responsibility of living for God , and making a difference in the world, in being its Salt and its light! But what good does it do if you are going to have your life lit with the light of God if you are not going to let that light shine into the world’s darkness?

If your life was meant to be like salt in a tasteless world; and you lose your flavour, what good does it do?  If you believe certain things, or become a Christian just so you can feel more comfortable, or Saints forbid, so that you can feel superior to other people, it amounts to nothing.
You are living in darkness and you have lost your saltiness. We are called as Disciples of Christ, to strive to be more like Christ, who was the salt and light in this dark world.

We are called in our daily lives to share his salt and light, with our families, friends, all we meet, even with those who do not share our beliefs, at home ,work, school ,church, on the bus, at the shops; just let Christ’s light shine from us, in our daily lives working for what’s important to Jesus, the Kingdom of God. Jesus is concerned about what our chief concerns in life are.  And he says that our chief concern should be whether we are really salt and light in a dark and flavourless world.

Are we actually seeking the Kingdom?

If we really are seeking Kingdom of God, all the rest will take care of itself. Jesus is again telling us not to live for the kingdom of this world, but for the kingdom of God. As C. S. Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.”

In Romania, 20 years ago , when the country was still in the grip of a communist tyranny. Laszlo Tokes, was the pastor of a church in the Romanian city of Timisoara. He had caught the attention of communist officials, and they began a strategy of suppression. They stationed police officers around his church, machine guns cradled in their arms & They hired thugs to attack him.
Finally, just before Christmas, they decided to send him into exile. But when the police arrived to hustle Pastor Tokes away, they were stopped for around the church stood a wall of Christians.
Christians from around the city- Baptist, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Catholic and others- had joined together to protest. All through the day they held their post. As it grew dark, a young Christian student pulled out a packet of candles, lit one, and passed it to his neighbour. Then he lit another. One by one the burning candles were passed out among the crowd. Soon the darkness of the December night was pierced by the light of hundreds of candles. When Pastor Tokes looked out his window, he saw a sea of faces lit up by a warm glow. He would never erase from his mind the picture of believers from all denominations joining hands in his defence. Two days later, the police finally broke through the crowd and dragged Pastor Tokes away. But that was not the end. The people now streamed to the city square and began a full-scale demonstration against the communist government, that was a catalyst for the beginning of the end for the communist terror of the CeauČ™escu regime, all brought about by united faith, and Christian disciples being light in the darkness of this world.

If like me you don’t achieve all you should every day as you stumble after the example of Christ, be thankful that we receive new Grace every day, on our journey of living faith and living Christian discipleship, then remember this: Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven .So daily pray, confess, be forgiven, then live each new day as a disciple of Christ.

Lets look for a challenge for us all in all our Christian lives as Disciples of Christ; as Robin talks about Saltaire and Titus Salt.

Finally, Brothers and Sisters, as disciples of Christ, living his life; remember; we are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world, lets us share what Jesus has given us, in this flavourless and dark world. Amen.

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