The Rev. William Klock: “Recommendations” (2 Corinthians 3:1-11)
It has been a while since I mentioned Fr. Bill Klock’s sermons, and it is a good time to mention one of his latest messages, Recommendations, which is based on 2 Corinthians 3:1-11. In particular I found this portion worth considering for any of us:
Like the Christians of Ephesus who, in Revelation, are described as having lost their first love, the Corinthians had lost sight of the glory of the Holy Spirit’s ministry. It wasn’t that they’d lost the Holy Spirit. That’s impossible. It’s the Spirit who binds us to Jesus, he’s the one who unites us to his life, he’s the one who renews our minds and regenerates our hearts, turning us from everything that is not Jesus and giving us the desire and the faith to take hold of Jesus with both hands. You cannot be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. But the Spirit had become “old hat” for the Corinthians. It’s remarkable considering the miraculous things that we read about going on there in Paul’s first letter to them. Their church had no shortage of the Spirit’s ministry, but they’d let themselves be overwhelmed by the values of the culture around them.
Brothers and Sisters, we need to be on guard in the same way. Our own culture infiltrates the church in many, many way. Our culture is overwhelmingly commercialistic and too often, without even realizing it’s happened, we start building our churches around what amount to sales tactics, as if we’re trying to sell the Gospel. Programs can be good and useful in accomplishing the work of the Church, but most of the time these days they’re seen as sales tools. But God doesn’t give us programs. He gives us his Word. Through the ministry of the Spirit he caused his Word to be written by prophets, apostles, and evangelists so that we can know him and proclaim him to the world. And in Jesus he sent his Word to become flesh—not to give us programs or gimmicks—but to die for our sins and to rise again to unleash life into the world. A Church should never have its identity tied up with programs. A Church is a place where the Word is faithfully preached and the Sacraments faithfully administered. That was the definition the Protestant Reformers developed universally. What constitutes a Church? A Church is a body that preaches the Word and administers the Sacraments. But today it seems many preach everything but the Word and the Sacraments are often side-lined or even sometimes considered optional. As ministers of the Gospel, we—and that’s both you and I—are not called to be flashy, we’re not called to preach the pop-psychology and self-help that our culture obsesses over, we’re not called to be motivational speakers, we’re not called to preach health and wealth even though that’s what people want to hear—we’re called to proclaim that Jesus has died and risen and that he is Lord. And we’re called to back-up that proclamation by living the life of the Spirit, by manifesting the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control that the Spirit bears in our lives. We’re called to be gloriously counter-cultural: being poor in spirit, mourning sin, living in meekness, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, being merciful, and making peace—even when it means rejection and persecution. It’s this Jesus-centred and Spirit-empowered life that manifests the glory of God to the world, that makes us the light of the world and the salt of the earth.
Indeed, we are called to “proclaim that Jesus has died and risen and that He is Lord” – by Word, Sacrament, and our lives. If you’d like to hear this sermon you can do so below. (If you are looking for a church in the Vancouver BC metro area, Living Word REC is certainly worth a look.)