Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jeremiah 7 and Holy Spirit

I have two things in this post that I would like for us to think about.

First, I preached this past Sunday on Jeremiah's temple sermon as recorded in Jeremiah 7. The basic premise of the text is that the people of Judah are doing some terrible things in their lives. They are incredibly wealthy but they are refusing to help the poor, the widow, and the orphan. They are contributing to a culture of injustice. They are an immoral people but they are still making a regular habit of going to the Temple regularly. We might think that this is a good thing but Jeremiah stands in the doors of the Temple and says that they are just coming in order to gain protection, that they believe that as long as they keep coming to the Temple that God will not punish them. They go to Temple in order to gain immunity, thinking that by doing this that they can have a free pass in all other parts of their lives. I asked a couple questions in my sermon based on the text. First, why do we come to church? Do we come out of a sense of duty or do we come because we think that it will bring us good things in our lives? Or is there a deeper and better reason that we come? Also, I pointed out that we must live authentically in all parts of our lives. This goes with what we talked about in the previous post. If we profess while we are in the Temple or at church to believe in God and pledge to serve him in our lives we have to make sure that we are doing that in all parts of our lives, not just at church but at home, at work, at school, and even when no one else is looking. (Bill Hybels, the Senior Pastor at Willow Creek Church in Chicago, wrote a book awhile back entitled Who You Are When No One's Looking. It's a scary thought for some of us.) The other question I asked in my sermon is who do you look more like when people look at you and see you: do you look more like Jesus or more like the world? Again, I don't always like the answer to that question when I think about my own life.

What are your thoughts about these things?

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The second thing I wanted to ask in this post is completely unrelated to the first thing. I am beginning a new sermon series on the Holy Spirit here at Baker Blvd. What is your experience with the Holy Spirit in your own life? And when I ask that, I mean more in terms of what have you been taught about it in your life? Has it been emphasized? Ignored? What role has it played? I am interested to hear your experiences.

Grace and Peace,

Kent

4 comments:

Alan W said...

Good thoughts Kent. I like your use of scripture on this topic. If I look critically, I "go to church" to spend time with fellow Christians...and oh yeah to worship God as a community. I would say that many fall in this category. Just listen to the conversations that we have before and after church. What percentage of our discussion has something to do with bettering ourselves, encouraging others, or speaking of the wonder of Jesus? From my experience, very few. In fact, lately it seems that I attend to get things done. In the last 3 months, I've sat through an entire service 4 times.

As for for who I look like, that's a complex question for me. I see most things as advancing the Kingdom or struggling with sin, meaning What am I not doing that I should be doing? Or, What am I doing that I should not be doing? To be honest, I'm not sure what separates me from the world outside of not drinking alcohol. I try to approach conflict in a healthy way, maybe that is different. I try to extend grace. But am I separating myself from the world by my actions/decisions that advance the Kingdom? Not much.

As for the Holy Spirit, my schooling has taught me the importance of evidence and being able to measure phenomena...which I think has hurt my understanding of the Holy Spirit. I think I need a refresher course. When younger, it was not talked about. At some point I learned that it intervenes and provides guidance. I've heard it called your conscience, for whatever that is worth. It's been ignored, except when a sermon specifically speaks on the topic.

Kent said...

Alan-

Have you had specific sermons that you remember on the topic? If so approximately how many? I am not expecting you to remember the content but am looking more for how frequently you have heard it preached or taught.

Kent

Alan W said...

Kent,

I think I've been present for 1 series on the Holy Spirit, but I can't remember who or where...I'm leaning towards saying Rodney Ashlock at Westgate CofC. Honestly I don't remember how long or exactly what content.

I think I've heard a handful of single sermons on the Holy Spirit. It seems like John Kimbro has done one. I've heard probably around 5-10 singular sermons ever specifically on the H.S. Take this for what it's worth - it seems like I remember most of them being about putting the Spirit in a box and how we shouldn't do that. I think that is good to preach about, it's more of a commentary on how we think or approach the H.S. We also need more on the why, when, and how the H.S. works.

Alan W said...

Kent,

How has your study on the Holy Spirit been going? Any insights that you are willing to share? I could use some spiritual food on the power of the H.S.