Submitting to Others in Faith

Christ’s Counterculture
Ephesians 5:21-6:9
Matthew Raley (11-25-12)

Our society has changed its view of family relationships. Historically, these relationships were identity-based: “I love you because you are my wife.”  Now they are performance-based: “I love you because you make me happy.”

This change means that we are now autonomous, not submissive. We have come to view submission as a humiliation, a knuckling-under to force. We even see it as a compromise of personhood. It is unsafe. As a result, every relationship that used to be an identity-based bond is now a protective, performance-based contract.

The counterculture that Christ builds is not founded on grand generalizations about “the way things ought to be.” It begins with the display of Christ in the home. It is life founded on a change of attitude toward one another in the household, a softening that works its way from there into the larger community of saints as a testimony of Christ’s grace.

Published in: on November 29, 2012 at 5:57 am  Leave a Comment  

The New Self-Concept

Christ’s Counterculture
Ephesians 5:22-6:9
Matthew Raley (11-18-12)

Today we begin our study of one of the most poorly understood texts in the Bible.

In the context of late-20th century feminism, this household passage became the focus of a debate among believers about the roles of men and women. That debate has so perverted this passage’s teaching that we now spend our energy trying to prove points that Paul does not address at all.

Our job in this short series is to straighten our understanding of Paul’s teaching, and in the process to uncover Christ’s vision for how we can impact our own time. It is a counter-cultural vision, a design for changing the direction of our society. The foundation for this counterculture is the Christian household. And that household is not necessarily intact or free.

I will not completely ignore the debate about the role of men and women. I will note at times where and how it has twisted the passage. But I am not going to focus on it. I think you’ll be able to resolve most of the issues of roles simply by understanding the text as Paul wrote it.

Published in: on November 29, 2012 at 5:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Build a Community of Worshipers

The iGod and the Real God
Colossians 3:16-17
Matthew Raley (11-11-12)

For a consumer, the only question is, “What can I get that will make me happy?” Our society has turned spirituality into yet another consumer item. Going to church, worshiping God, singing, praying, serving – we have turned all these into ways of pleasing ourselves. We’ve come to regard spirituality as a kind of entertainment, an escape from real life – plugging into our iGods to get emotionally recharged.

Our society’s principle is this:  fulfillment comes from inside you. In this series we have seen an alternative route to personal fulfillment:  fulfillment comes from outside of you.  The Christian asks, “What can I do that will glorify God? How can I add luster, brilliance, and glory to his name?” This mindset is incompatible with iGod spirituality.

We don’t need to escape life to find fulfillment. We need to escape consumerism.  In today’s sermon we will review the real God’s route to fulfillment, which we find distilled in today’s two verses.

Published in: on November 11, 2012 at 5:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Express Thanks to God

The iGod and the Real God
Psalm 126
Matthew Raley (11-5-12)

Early in the 6th century BC caravans of Israelites began to ascend the hills of Judah on their way to Jerusalem.  In past centuries, there would have been legions of travelers headed to celebrate the feast of booths.  Bot not this year. The nation had been in exile for 70 years, scattered to Babylon, Egypt, Susa.  Only a remnant had returned, and now that thin population made its way up to Zion to worship.

As they ascended, they sang the hymns we know as Psalms 120-134 – the Psalms of Ascent.  On this occasion they added a new one that reflected the hardships they had endured, Psalm 126.  This psalm is an expression of thanks.

These people did not think of worship the way we often do.  For them, worship was not an escape from life.  There was no escape from hardship for them  – no entertainment industry to keep them distracted.  Worship was engagement with the real God in real life – asserting faith and trust in the midst of the real circumstances in which they actually lived.  They knew a kind of fulfillment that we have lost, the emotional rest that comes from submitting to God.

Today we study gratitude in the worst circumstances.

Published in: on November 8, 2012 at 12:07 am  Leave a Comment