Friday, 11 March 2011

Scaredy cat....

A sermon review of Acts 4:25-35, preached by Tim Keller.

Basic overview of the sermon:
The book of Acts is an account of the early church. In chapters 3,4 and 5 the early church is being persecuted. The christians meet the threat and carrying out of the threats of death with courage. This courage is one of the reasons why Christianity swept through the Roman empire. In this passage, Peter and John have returned to their church after being imprisoned, telling the people that they hace been threatened, not only with death, but also the removal of your possessions/family/life/love- if they continue to preach Gods word. The people pray that God would make them brave in the face of such a threat. In response, God lets the people know his power by causing the ground to shake, and the people realise that God is the only constant in a world where everything is temporal, and therefore the threat of the removal of possessions/family/life/love is no real threat at all. Keller proposes that threats to things that are temporal, should cause us to turn to our eternal God, and we should no longer be afraid of losing our possessions/family/life/love here on earth.

Now I will be the first to admit I am a terrible listener. The act of sitting and listening to a sermon is difficult for me as my mind wanders and I lose my place and spend time rewinding and relistening etc... I would much rather read a book! However, I have an absolute abundance of listening material at home, thanks to my brother in law who keeps a steady stream coming in for my husband.... and I have found myself seeking out Keller. This sermon proves why- he is a DREAM to listen to. Keller provides clear thoughts in a interesting way, so poor listeners like myself can not just hear the words in an 'in one ear, out the other' sort of way, but in a way I can UNDERSTAND what he is saying. My breif overview of his sermon does not give justice to the amount of information included in this sermon, or the simplicity in which he rolls all that information into one easy to digest parcel.
In terms of what I would call the basics of a good sermon, I believe Keller also keeps the bible text in context, approaching this passage in the context of the book it is written in, and in the context of the bible, providing a therefore trustworthy interpretation of the passage in Acts. His masterful presentation of the gospel, woven into fabric of this sermon also moves the listener to apply the truth of Jesus to our own lives when our lives and possessions are threatened.

Ok, so a dog attack like this wouldn't be soooo bad.
And this is where I found the sermon really hit home for me. I am a big scaredy cat. Ask anyone who knows me well- they will say I am overcautious, overorganised, and possibly neurotic. I'm scared of anything you can imagine. Im scared of dogs, spiders, and heights. I'm scared that I, or someone I love is going to be hurt, sick, or killed. Im scared that my house is going to be broken into or that it will catch on fire in the middle of the night. Im scared that something bad might happen, like a home invasion or an assault. I'm scared if Im not cool enough, or not agreeable enough, I will lose friends. And in response to my fears I do everything to prepare for them. I try not to go for walks on my own too often in case a dog is stray on the street. I wont leave the house until I know everything is turned off and shut. Everyday the last thing I say to my husband before he walks out the door is 'I love you' because Im scared that something will happen to him during the day and that might be the last time I see him. I immunise, insure, pray, prevent, and protect everything in my life as much as possible. Now please dont think Im silly, but as Im writing this, Im scared people are going to think Im a bit of a weirdo for being so scared of everything!
But, as Keller succintly points out in this sermon- EVERYTHING on this earth is temporal. Everything is fading, decaying, changing. That despite my best efforts, all my possessions/family/life/love will be gone. All except God and an eternity in heaven, accessable only through what Christ's death on the cross (see post- what is the gospel).
Keller points out that this story reminds us that my foundation in life should not be in the temporary things of this world, but in the eternal and immortal God, who never changes, never fades and cannot be threatened.
The people in Acts 4 are not like me, they do not pray and ask God to protect the things they threaten to lose- they ask for boldness in the face of such threats. Not that asking God to protect your stuff or your life is wrong- but praying for boldness communicates a realisation that God is the only constant in this world, and therefore temporary things actually do not matter in the light of eternity.
This thought eases my troubled mind. My security is not in my possessions or my marriage- I cant take them with me when I die.  My faith and foundation is in Him, and in the eternal life that I have in heaven through Christ.

And so I will cling to the cross, the truth of Christ, while all around me changes and shakes- because there is no security in temporal things, and only eternal security in God.

Which is all easy to say when I am sitting at home, all warm and comfortable...... was thinking I might go for a walk later... but I might take my husband in case there are dogs.... ;p

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