Love: You Are an Original Masterpiece

Advent 2017  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Whatever it takes

Have any of you ever prayed a prayer similar to Tommy? I have. For many, their story of salvation is similar. They’ve tried everything they can, tried every thing the world has to offer, and they’ve discovered that they just can’t do it on their own…so they seek God. Now God can really work with people like that. They’re so open to change, they’ve already accepted that they need God. Some of us perhaps had a baby faith, or a high school faith, where we learn how to trust God in the small things in life…and life goes generally well for us. Until it doesn’t. Until we either get too comfortable doing life without needing God, or until something so big and impossible comes along that we find ourselves incapable of trusting God. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve talked about trusting God in change. We’ve talked about trusting God with our Stuff (the difficulties in life), and last week we talked about rooting out the legalistic junk in our Christian walk. This week as you can see in the video, we’re talking about who we are in God, that He wants to strip away the things we’ve added which were not of him.

Treading Water with God

I remember back to the second grade when my parents used to take me to the YMCA in Chicago, when we were living in Hinsdale there. One of the lessons was how to tread water. Does everyone know what that is? Later, when I started flying in the Air Force, we were taught again to tread water. We were taught ways to increase our buoyancy, back in those days I actually needed help increasing buoyancy. The idea is to use technique and training to decrease your energy output, and conserve that energy so that you can survive as long as possible while waiting to be rescued. I’ve been on the other side of this also, serving with the Combat Search & Rescue wing here in Alaska. A man afloat in the water is a complex situation. Even in a perfect case, which we never see in Alaska…even with a perfect swimmer who is uninjured and in perfect shape, the current whisks people where it wants. No matter how perfect your technique is treading water, you’re still at the mercy of the currents. Currents are amazing. Has anyone ever experienced a rip-tide? No matter how hard you swim, you cannot beat a rip tide. The only solution is to swim across it, and get out of it, and then resume your progress towards shore. Some of us have at times, and some of you may be now even, just treading water, waiting to be rescued. Do you remember one of the lines that God says in the video clip, “We can never stay still in this life”, “we’re either moving closer or further away from God” It’s true. Some of us are even fighting against a rip-tide, rather than reaching out to the Savior. Our savior is like the rescue swimmer dangling from a blackhawk, all we have to do is trust him in His chiseling process, and no matter how hard the rip-tide, or how tired we are of treading water, we just need to take His hand and make his ways, ours.

God doesn’t make junk

Psalm 139:13–16 NASB95
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
This week if you are looking for for a passage in the bible to read and study, make your way through the whole of . Other parts of the prayer follow along with the message today. But this part is vital, “YOU are fearfully, and wonderfully made” God doesn’t make junk.
There is a lot going on in that prayer. This week if you are looking for
I’ll give you another example of this from the new testament, in the book of Ephesians, where Paul is writing to the church in Ephusus. Join me in Ephesians Chapter 2 Verse 10
Ephesians 2:10 NASB95
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10
In the language that Paul wrote this letter in, the work used for workmanship was “poiema”. Some of you may recognize that, as our english word, “poem” has it’s roots from this word. Paul is saying that we are literally God’s Poem. We’re created to do Good works as Jesus did, in the plans that God has already pre-destined for us to do. Pretty neat. All we have to do is stop trying to beat the rip current, stop treading water…and trust God to make a change in our hearts and our lives. We need to trust in His sanctification. Woah, big word.
Sanctification. Term meaning being made holy, or purified, it is used broadly of the whole Christian experience, though most theologians prefer to use it in a restricted sense to distinguish it from related terms, such as regeneration, justification, and glorification. Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Sanctification,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1898.
There are spiritual disciplines that we can use to help us focus the process of sanctification. But those are for another sermon. What I want you to be concerned with today, are the extremes in application of these disciplines. I’m concerned with the extremes of Quietism & Pietism.


The term quietism is a system of spiritual minimizing where we acknowledge the fact that we cannot change ourselves, only God can change us…so we do nothing. It’s similar to another form of minimizing we’ve probably all done. Have any of you ever made a mistake, and tried to minimize it? Sure, we all have. Quietism is extreme passivity. Quietism will not accomplish the goal of getting closer to God, nor will it allow Him to make us more like His son, Jesus. In the video, God asked Tommy, “would you rather play “God” or work?” Quietism talks a big game, but involves no work.


Pietism is the polar opposite of quietism. Those who use this method are aggressive in their search for morality. People caught up in this sin, are so obsessive about seeking perfection and perfect doctrine, that they end up looking and acting just like pharisees. Some of the only times in the bible where we see Jesus recorded as being mad, involve the pharisees. We talked last week about legalism. The pietist is captured by their dogmatic ways, and similar to those caught in the sins of legalism, they’re so empty inside that they drag others with them.

Quietism & Pietism in the church

We see these attitudes in the church as well. How many people have seen what happens when a church sinks into legalistic rituals and rigid rules based on poorly quoted bible verses, usually taken completely out of context? Sure, we all have. How many have seen what happens when a church chooses to sit back in extreme passivity? In the church, when we see extremes like this, the source always tracks back to leadership style. Whether a restrictive and legalistic council or a burned out pastor. The fruit will start to drop away, and the enemy will start to creep in.

So what do we do?

As I’ve been speaking about these terms, and as you were watching the video, I’m sure many of you are identifying areas of your life where you have either been through, or are going through, or have seen others go through something similar. Some of you may be able to see where some of these extreme attitudes have affected you, whether from the church or from others in your life feeding you lies about God’s ways. I speak a lot of about Good News. Because it is so awesome. Part of the Good News brought by the example of Jesus Christ, is that these ways, are not God’s ways. God’s ways are love.


Does anyone else remember the WWJD, what would jesus do, movement a while back? Like any good movement, we can find ways to pervert it’s meanings…but at the root of the message, the concept of thinking of what Jesus would do in a situation, often helps to combat the temptations of quietism and pietism. Let me give you an example.

The woman at the well

Turn with me to John chapter 4. Jesus was tired. His disciples had gone into the city to buy food, but He was tired. Remember, He was fully man, with all of our fully man frailties and problems. Just like many of us, work isn’t necessarily over when we’re tired. For those in ministry, God doesn’t have a “time clock system”. Jesus was tired, yet he served anyway, with grace and love.
So Jesus is at the well, and he see a woman coming to draw water. This woman, obviously has some life issues, because, she’s sneaking in…when the other women aren’t around. Well Jesus asks the woman for a drink of water, and the woman questions why Jesus would ask this of her. Well the story continues, and Jesus ends up bringing some truth to her life, in a very loving way. This woman is not living a Godly life, and everyone knew it. Most people didn’t want to be around her, and nor did she want to be around them.
Let me tell you what Jesus does not do. He doesn’t judge this woman. He doesn’t ignore her, he doesn’t condemn her, He shares time with her. He shares about His own good news, that He is the messiah who was promised. He speaks with love to her, and He acknowledges her, even in front of others. You see Jesus sees the weak, and the hurting, and those who are captured in their hidden sins, and He loves on them…where they are, with encouragement.
God doesn’t make junk, and that woman mattered. What turned her from her sin, wasn’t the woman who ignored her, or the people who condemned her, or perhaps her friends who tried change her through advice....Jesus brought change, by loving her regardless of her past. Church, we’re called to be this way. We’re called to allow God’s love to change us, not through kicking back and doing nothing…but by going to the well. At odd times. What if we dug a well right here in Skyline? What if we created a place where people could come, and not receive passivism or condemnation, but living water. In my circles, we often refer to that as coffee.
We start that both in the church and in our own lives, by letting God chisel where He wants.

Chiseling where WE want, is control

We don’t control God, He controls us. We don’t hold God up, He holds us up. We’ve listened to voices for far too long, who were not of Him. We’ve allowed a spirit of Quietism and Pietism to exist in our church. I’ve seen them both in this church. Don't worry…you’re in good company, we’re all guilty of this. But we’re going to open our lives, and our church up, to let God change this.

Advent Week 2 LOVE

In this second week of advent, we’re lighting the candle of remembrance which represents LOVE. God’s love. God’s love is perfect, it’s exactly what we need. Last week was HOPE, specifically remembering the prophets which foretold of the messiah, who would come to bring LOVE to the world. I would encourage you this week, if you are struggling to break free of an incorrect model or method of a walk in this world, focus on God’s Love, and Christ’s example of how to apply it. Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God knew everything about you, even before you were born. He loves you. You, are an original masterpiece.

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