날짜: 2018년 9월 9일
제목: 좋은 소문을 내는 교회
올리브연합감리교회 김배선 목사
20180909 Sunday Worship Sermon (111th Church Anniversary)
1 Thessalonians 1:2-8
“The Church of a Divine Rumors”
Today, we recognize our 111th birthday for our church.
So, I hope we can ponder together what kind of church we want to become as we celebrate our church's anniversary.
There is a saying, "news travels fast."
It means rumors spread quickly.
Whether it is good or bad, rumors travel fast.
I think this is more so nowadays because of various social network services; it is almost impossible to conceal anything anymore.
In addition, it seems rumors spread faster in Hawaii because we are a small community.
Of course there are some rumors about our church.
Some of rumors are positive but some are negative.
And some of them are true, and some are not.
Rumors are only rumors.
But I think it is important that people hear good rumors about our church.
I want Olive Church to become a church with a good rumor for others to hear.
And we should spread the good news as the fragrance of Jesus Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 2:15 Paul said "For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."
Fragrance may be invisible, but it spreads very far and quickly.
When people love a fragrance, they are attracted to it naturally.
As the pleasing fragrance of Christ, we must spread beautiful and divine rumors about our church.
We sometimes search the internet to find the best restaurants out there.
We read reviews, count the number of stars that the establishment received from previous visitors, and find out as much as possible before we visit a restaurant.
I think a church is the same.
If a church is known to be a good church, many people will come to that church.
But if a church is known to have issues, people will be reluctant to visit the church.
Two weeks ago, I visited Virginia with my family to help my daughter start college life.
One of the first things we did was researched churches near the college where my daughter would go.
The closest Korean church was nearby.
However, the church was a church that had recently had a conflict and division.
So there was a negative rumor about that church.
We hesitated to visit the church, and we tried to find another church that had a good reputation.
Similarly, what people hear about a church creates an impression.
Therefore, it is important to have good rumor for the growth of the church.
The scripture that we read today is about the Thessalonian Church.
The Thessalonian church was the good-rumored church; the church was gracious and exemplary in every way.
It was also filled with gratitude and praise.
This is why it was considered by all as the good-rumored church.
The rumor spread throughout the land.
Paul had praised the members of the Thessalonian church for their faith, hope and love for one another.
I would like to take a closer look at the Thessalonian church to find out how and why it was celebrated.
Furthermore, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on ourselves by examining through the Thessalonian Church.
First, the Thessalonian Church demonstrated the work of faith.
For the church to be good-rumored, there must be the work of faith.
Our faith must be revealed in our lives.
The word "work of faith" specifically means that our faith must appear in our lives.
Once we have faith, we must continue to show our faith in our lives.
It is insufficient for us to demonstrate our faith just within the church.
We must show our faithfulness throughout our lives; so, those who do not believe can realize that we are the children of God.
This is “the work of faith.”
How is our faith?
We are all believers within the church.
Then, when we are outside of the church, are we realized as faithful servants of the Lord?
A man worked in a company for many years.
Although many employees worked in the same office for many years, they did not know each other well.
One day, this man decided to start a Christian fellowship meeting in his company.
When he attended the first meeting, he realized that there were many of his co-workers that worked in the same office.
Although they have worked together in the same space for many years, they did not even know that they were Christians.
Why do you think this happened?
Is it because they did not have enough conversations?
No, it isn’t.
It is because they come to church like a believer, but once they leave the church, they live without faith.
If they shortly prayed before having their lunch in the cafeteria or read a Bible verse at their desks, they would have quickly recognized each other as Christians.
The reason, I think, is that they did not want to expose themselves as Christians.
For some reason, they have hidden their faith.
How about you?
Have you ever tried to hide your faith?
Have you ever been ashamed to demonstrate your faith?
Think about this.
Brothers and sisters, the work of faith must be revealed specifically in our lives.
We must show our faith in every step of our lives.
The people of the Thessalonian church had the work of faith.
They never hid their faith.
And they lived by their faith.
At first, they were ridiculed and discriminated; however, they were accepted and praised eventually.
Their work of faith resulted in a divine rumor.
The rumor that spread quickly and changed many in the process.
Our faith isn't something that we only demonstrate within the church; rather, we must manifest our faith in every step of our lives.
This is how we show our work of faith and start a beautiful and divine rumor about our church.
I pray that through our work of faith, a divine rumor will begin about our church.
Secondly, the Thessalonian Church had the patience of hope.
The believers of the Thessalonian Church faced many difficulties.
They were persecuted, yet, they kept their faith.
Some ran away from the persecutions.
Some did not have enough courage to have faith in the Lord.
However, there were enough believers that kept their faith through countless hardships.
They were able to keep their faith because they had the patience of hope.
They hoped for Jesus Christ.
They hoped for the Kingdom of God.
Therefore, they could keep their faith under the situation of hardships and afflictions.
Indeed, hope requires patience.
Without patience, nothing can be achieved.
Every farmer hopes for a successful harvest.
To that end, they must patiently wait a whole year.
For students, they must patiently endure many years and put in their best efforts to achieve their goals.
It may take decades of patience to succeed in business.
We know that bigger the hope, the longer we will have to patiently wait.
The hope for the Kingdom of God is the biggest and most significant hope for every Christian.
So, it requires countless years of patience.
If we cannot endure, our hope will be meaningless.
Brothers and sisters, I pray that you can be patient to realize the heavenly hope.
With enough patience, we will fulfill our hope and desire.
The Thessalonian Church had the patience of hope.
That patience allowed them to overcome any afflictions and hardships, and their patience led to a divine rumor.
Just as the Thessalonian church, we must put our hope in heaven.
And I pray that your patience of hope will bring countless blessings.
And through your blessings, I expect a divine rumor will spread.
Thirdly, the Thessalonian Church had the labor of love.
Love requires labor.
In his book, "The Imitation of Christ," Thomas à Kempis wrote, "there is no living in love without pain."
This means love requires labor and pain.
Love without one's labor and sacrifice cannot be called a true love.
We know well the story of “the Good Samaritan.”
He found a man who was robbed and assaulted during his travel.
While two other men, a Levite and a Priest, ignored the man in peril, this good Samaritan provided care by pouring oil on the man's wounds and put him on his donkey to take him to an inn.
There, he paid the Innkeeper asking him to take a good care of this man and promised to pay even more money when he returns to ensure the Innkeeper takes good care of this stranger.
Jesus asked, "Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
Our labor of love leads to an amazing result.
The most important gift that God has given us is love, and our joy grows when we give our love to others, much more than when we receive it from others.
Indeed, love is to sacrifice oneself to serve others.
When you put others before you, that is what you can call a true love.
And such act is the labor of love.
We have learned this labor of love through Jesus Christ.
We all received a new life because Jesus gave up His own life for us.
I pray that you all carry out the labor of love.
To love is to give, this is why it requires labor.
Love without labor can never be a true love.
If you love Jesus Christ, you must labor for the Lord.
If you love the church, you must labor for the church.
I hope that our Olive Church will be known as the church filled with the labor of love.
The Thessalonian Church had the work of faith, patience of hope, and labor of love.
Through these, they became the church that spread a divine rumor.
I would like to share with you one more point which is not mentioned in today's text.
My fourth point is to be a transforming church.
If water doesn't flow, it will go bad.
If a steel is not taken care of, it will rust.
Today's world is changing rapidly.
Many people turned their backs on the church.
Especially younger generations do not even consider coming to the church.
We must understand what these people are thinking, we must figure out what we can do to save the people, we must reflect on what is the mission of our church given by God in this generation.
We must change.
Then, we can become the church that leads the ever changing world.
If the church does not change in this kind of environment, the church will become more and more neglected and it will lose its influence to the world.
I am not talking about changing the essence of the church.
The essence of our church should never change.
Our mission should never change.
However, the methods in which we carry out our mission can be changed.
The church must be able to change in order to gain the people who do not believe in Jesus and those who left the church.
Yes, we must change.
We are gathered here to celebrate our church's 111th anniversary.
Surely, we celebrate the fact of how historic our church is.
But it is meaningless if we stop at just celebrating the history of our church.
It is more important for us how much fruit we bear than how old our church is.
We must be able to answer the call of transformation.
Through everyone here, I expect this divine transformation will take place continually in our church.
Jesus took three disciples and led them up a high mountain where Jesus was transfigured before them and conversed with Moses and Elijah.
The disciples were amazed by this.
They wanted to build shelters for themselves and live there, but Jesus brought them down from the mountain to the world filled with sufferings and problems.
Why do you think Jesus did that?
Jesus did not want his disciples to just sit back and be stagnant.
Jesus did not want his disciples to be unchanged and stubborn.
The church must go into the world and get along with the people, and it must spread the Gospel and bring the people to God.
If not, the church is not fulfilling the divine mission.