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Fake Good News => Fake Christians

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Sermon for the seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

How do you feel about the Church today?
There’s a lot of disillusionment about it and with good reason.

There are churches which like to “reinterpret” Holy Scripture to make it say what they want it to say.

There are churches which preach the words of Holy Scripture but don’t actually live out those words.
There are churches in which people are hurt more than in any other area of Society.

We are all sickened by the actions of some priests of God who are living lives of dissolution, decadence and who have abused and even still abusing people in their care.

Trouble is, this is nothing new.

[PAUSE]

The Old Testament introduces us to Phinehas and Hophni, sons of the priest Eli. What do we know of them?

Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. And the priests' custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.

Even before Our Lord’s Incarnation, we see priests in the act of embezzlement and defrauding the Lord Himself! Yet, the prophet Samuel who is trained in the priesthood by Eli, is a major figure in the life of the Church. The priesthood is not evil just because some priests behave appallingly, and it’s important to get this right. Christopher Hitchens refused to believe in God because he thought that Christians are so horrible to each other and everyone else.

Our conduct as Christians does matter in this world. It is our behaviour that may have prevented Christopher Hitchens from seeing God, but then perhaps he wasn’t all that willing to see Him in the first place! The point is: our behaviour didn’t help! Our behaviour can put people off finding Our Lord and that is surely a terrible thing to have on one’s conscience.

[PAUSE]

This is important. We say in the Creed that we believe One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and that is part of our faith. What we are not saying is that we believe the Church of Today is the Church in its entirety, but rather that we believe the WHOLE Church; we believe the Church that God has separated out for Himself to preach His Gospel; we believe the Church that is true to the faith of the Apostles and the grace that they have received at the hands of Christ Himself. And we believe that this Church is ONE.
One? With so many splinters, sects and schisms?

[PAUSE]

St Paul is very clear:
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

There is indeed One Church because there is One Lord Jesus Christ. While there are so many divisions over doctrine, we must remember that we cannot say meaningfully that “Jesus Christ is Lord” without the Holy Spirit’s assistance. While the Spirit may blow where He will, He is consistent because He will not confuse the children of God.
If we want to hear the Holy Ghost and recognise His work in us, then we need to listen to the whole Church, especially before all the divisions really started. The faith does not change. The Gospel does not change. The Gospel the Church preached in the first century is the Gospel that it preaches now.

And the Devil hates that and so he sows discord, dissension and distrust.

[PAUSE]

If we are one body, then our every action affects that one body. Our sins affect the whole Church!

But that’s not the end of it. Our repentance also affects the whole Church. That’s why the angels in Heaven rejoice over each and every one of us who repents from the heart.

It is important for us Christians to work at being holy rather wanting to be called holy. And this is such hard work.

Our priests may be sinners just like us, but good priests will always present you with the Gospel that the Church has universally preached by remembering the voice of God Who called them to be priests.

 Likewise, in seeking to bring our lives in line with Our Lord Jesus Christ, we will help people see Him better in us. We have to be authentic Christians, not fake ones. 

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