On Sunday, August 27, 2017, we met for the second time in our new facility! (My first time!) We had a new sound system and a beautiful experience of worshiping together.
Pastor Ed Allen preached about Authenticity, laying a priority before we invite the public for real.
His text was Jeremiah 20:7-18, where Jeremiah doesn't hold back in telling what he's feeling. There's a place in the church for real people.
People who aren't in a good place - are at least in good company.
Jeremiah's saying that God has used him and tossed him aside. He was the only person preaching an unpopular message, and he preached it for years - but nothing happened. He looked like an idiot.
How did God's prophet get to this place? Jeremiah was just like us.
When finite people relate to an infinite God, it is inevitable that we will get some things wrong.
We often respond badly to what happens when we do what God wants. God doesn't make a deal that everything will go as we want it to. In the short run, we'll get some challenges even as we do what's right.
When this happens to Jeremiah, he gets very, very honest.
Some of us may have thought we couldn't get upset with God. This is not true! Treating our disappointment as if it's shameful is not the right response. Being upset isn't good or bad - It's inevitable.
Faithfulness is not expressed by denying our disappointment, but by persevering through it.
Jeremiah wants to quit, but he can't. (verse 9)
A genuine encounter with God cannot be denied; it must be expressed.
Faith that can be denied is not genuine.
There's emotional whiplash in verses 11-13 with praise, followed by deep despair in verses 14-18. Jeremiah put these together intentionally. This is authentic faith, not flat and fake.
Faith is messy, hard, and often jerky.
We aren't the kind of people who always smile and pretend. We're also not the kind of people who quit.
Faith isn't a neat ride for others, either.
This is a place for people who are a mess. This is a place for Jeremiah 20, for people who question and doubt and don't have it all together. All of us are sick, and we're all welcome. It's not our job to look good.
Suggestions for Protecting Authenticity:
1) Linger over life's tough questions.
Don't run too quickly to easy answers. Jesus forced people to linger over questions.
2) Press into your emotional pain.
This is the exact opposite response from how we train ourselves. When hurt happens, don't be afraid to ask God why it hurts so much.
3) Listen to your critics.
They're never always right and never always wrong.
4) Express what's real to God's people.
James 5:16 - Talk about the mess and pray for each other! Get yourself prayed for!
Our goal is to be real and to persevere.