The 3 C’s of a Healthy Church – What We Should Wear to Worship
Romans 13:14 (p. 790) January 15, 2017
From the time I was little I loved wearing a uniform. I played little league and peewee football…I would shoot for hours a day in our driveway pretending to be Jimmy Dan Connor…or Goose Givens or Kyle Macey…I even wore the same droopy socks he wore so I could pull them up at the free throw line before I would dribble 3 times and shoot.
A man named Jack Williams was my basketball coach as I grew up…I’ll never forget in 1971 he bought us new black uniforms with white stripes and shiny satin shorts (and man were they short!) But I’d lay them out the night before with my Chuck Taylor converse tennis shoes so I could be ready to play on Saturday morning…I’ve got a picture…Want to see it?
We won the championship 2 years in a row…This was the second 1972…I have the 1971 ball because they played the championship game on the day I was fighting for my life in the burn unit…after they won they all signed it and gave it to me with “Get Well Soon” written
I love uniforms…I wore them in High School and in College…it was easy to tell whose team you played on…all you had to do was look at the uniforms…What you wore would quickly identify if you played for Southland, Lafayette or Johnson Bible College…uniforms make identifying the players easy…That uniform connects you to the other players on your team.
So, what about the uniform we as Christians should wear that quickly identifies who we play for…what about the uniform we wear that connects us to our teammates?
What should Christians wear to worship the King of Kings and to impact the world?
This sermon is not about proper attire for Church attendance. God doesn’t care as much as we do about dress as long as it’s modest and decent. People love to judge by the outer appearance…God looks at the heart according to 1 Samuel 16:7.
This sermon is about what a Christ centered life should look like, not just on Sunday mornings but every single day.
- GOD’S PEOPLE WEAR THE ARMOR OF LIGHT
When Romans 13:14 tells us to clothe ourselves with Christ and to not think about pleasing the flesh…it starts with the word “rather.” That word means “the opposite.” Like “I’d rather have the porterhouse than the vegetable plate. I’d rather you give me a hug than hit me in the face…I’d rather eat nails than pull for Duke basketball to win.
So what’s the opposite of wearing Christ in our daily lives? Well, Jesus is the “light of the world.” So the opposite of light is darkness…The Apostle Paul says…“put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the Armor of Light”…let us behave decently as in the daytime…and then he lists 6 characteristics of nighttime clothes: carousing, drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension and jealousy.
[As I drove into the office on the morning I wrote this message I listened in the news and there were 9 heroin overdoses in Jessamine County in 24 hours…Officer Grimes said, “We’ve had them in Walmart, Kroger’s parking lot, parking lots at schools… “It’s been everywhere and there’s no real common denominator.”
My heart hurts for these families and for the officers responding…but I believe there is a common denominator…and it’s Satan, the Evil One, the god of this world…the liar, the thief and the murderer.
He would tell us that the pain can be relieved with a pill, a shot, a bottle, a sexual conquest, and it does numb the pain temporarily…but sets us on a path towards death. Instead of hope we find jealousy…we find dissension and war…the connections we have to people are selfish and fragile…much like the prodigal son’s relationships. They last only so long as the money, or the party lasts…and then we find ourselves in the pig sty of despair. And folks, it’s not just the addict…it’s the business man, the housewife, the student, it’s the man or woman who tries to find the spiritual answers for emptiness in temporary things.
No wonder Paul tells us in Romans 13:11-12 “Understand the present time. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is over; the day is almost here.”
Our world is enveloped in darkness and the Evil One tries “to blind the eyes of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor 4:4)
It is time for God’s people to wake up from their church attending slumber and put on the Armor of Light in their daily worship…Only then can the darkness be pierced…Listen to what Paul says is the answer to those blinded and in the dark…
2 CORINTHIANS 4:5-6 (p. 804)
In our text Paul calls it “The Armor of Light.” Folks, you don’t put on armor to go to an aromatherapy session! You put on armor because you’re involved in a battle…you clothe yourself with Christ in your daily lives so you can preach Him and not yourself.
Way too many of God’s people have gone to sleep in their faith and slumber peacefully unaware of the war battling around them for souls…or use the armor of God to fight with other Christians…or refuse to put off the deeds of darkness…and wear the same clothing as the enemy…There are no undercover Christians.
Wake up…the night is almost over and the day of Christ’s return is almost here!
Worship is a lifestyle not a one hour event.
I don’t care if you wear an Armani suit and tie on Sunday mornings, or a t-shirt and jeans…but it is vital that you wear Christ…It’s absolutely essential that you’ve put on the Armor of Light so that you truly can worship Him and fight the darkness…It’s the uniform that clearly identifies whose team we are on…and we’d better play to win because the stakes are eternal.
Let me end with one final challenge from our text…If we are to be connected to Jesus and love others….
- WE HAD BETTER CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK
Verse 14 ends by saying “And do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
I don’t know about you all…but changing the way I think sounds like a tough proposition. Left to my own devices I can think some pretty mean, selfish and hurtful things. The guy who pulls out in front of me is an “idiot.” The woman who calls to complain about my t-shirt is a “pharisee.” I can lay awake in bed thinking about how people have hurt me…or about how I can get even…It’s really easy for me…to think about me. Is that true for you as well? I bet it is…every one of us is trapped in a fallen, sinful body…and our minds are fallen, sinful as well…Selfishness and self centeredness are our spiritual gifts from Adam and Eve.
Every day I find it’s easier to worship me than Him…or it comes more naturally at least. Before Christ it was all I did…and even after my baptism and new birth it’s so easy to slip back into this way of thinking… The struggle is real!
For me to wear Christ in my daily worship…to fight the darkness with the armor of light…3 things have to happen.
- I have to admit I’m powerless to do it on my own…I cannot clean up my own thoughts…I cannot overpower the evil one with my own strength…I have to humble myself before God.
- I have to open my heart to the Holy Spirit’s influence…I am created in God’s image, so are you… “God is Spirit” and we are spiritual beings…or at least I believe that truth…this is what Pal means when he writes to the Romans:
ROMANS 12:1-2 (p. 789)
The verses that proceed that “therefore” instruct me that God is all powerful…all wise…and He has a plan…He has a path for me.
“Therefore” I need to surrender my body…my thoughts…my life to Him in worship every single day…and as I do I will understand His plan and my purpose…His Spirit will transform my mind..He will make it new.
When God’s Word says “To continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling” in Phil. 2:12 it’s not telling us to earn our salvation with works…it’s telling us to surrender daily…it’s our part of transformation…don’t take it for granted…work at it…with fear…with trembling…it’s that important.
- I have to spend time with God in His Word and with prayer.
God’s Word is living and active…It helps me as much on Monday as it does on Sunday. But many of us treat God’s Word as if it’s archaic and obsolete. It’s not…It’s powerful for everything we deal with…it connects us to Him and to others who follow His Word. He speaks to us through His Word…and longs for us to approach His throne in prayer. By the way…we’re told that the Holy Spirit groans for us when we don’t know how to pray…and that Jesus is at the Father’s right hand interceding for us!
Isaiah 53 describes Jesus like this: He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him. Nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” (v. 2)
If you think Jesus put on His good tunic to head into the synagogue…you’d be sorely mistaken…nothing in His appearance…that we should desire Him.
But man did hurting and lost people desire Him…they flocked to Him…they crowded around Him…Why? Because while religious folks worried about appearances…Jesus said,
“Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest…Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart…” (Matt. 11:28)
What connects us…the heart of Jesus and gentleness and humility are some amazing uniforms.