Community Group Study Notes
- What does it mean to honor God as Creator? When God is not given his rightful place as Creator, what happens to our belief?
- How can we demonstrate our honor for God as Creator in our current culture? Be specific. What influence could this have on our culture?
- What is one action step that you can take with what you heard in Sunday’s sermon?
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)
God is dead. God remains dead, and we have killed him. At least that's what Friedrich Nietzsche said in 1882, the German philosopher. He said, "God is dead. God remains dead, and we have killed him." Now, whether or not you think that's the case, and you're probably thinking to yourself, "Wasn't Nietzsche an atheist anyway? Why did he even talk about these things?" Well, he was actually talking more about the idea of God, that we have killed the idea of God, because he wasn't a believer in an actual God anyway.
But be that as it may, wherever he comes from, whatever he says in that regard, I think that maybe in our day in age, in western culture, that we have embraced that thought more than we think. You can decide for yourself if you think he's right or if he's not right, but when we look in our cultural context now, in North America, and if you were to look in kind of education generally, the education system generally, maybe what we would find out, if we're not talking about private education or what we do at home with our kids, maybe what we would find out pretty quickly is that we have done our dead level best to sever the idea of God from how we are educated now.
When if we just scrolled back, maybe 100 years or so, if you just pushed back a century, what you would have found out is not only was God easily talked about in the classroom, but actually the content of the curriculum was the study of God and how that interfaces with the world and the disciplines of study that we have. But now, it's not so much that. Now, it seems to be separated out completely where there can actually be no conversation around the integration of the study of God relative to the study of every other discipline.
So in education, we find that thing to be true, that maybe the idea of God is dead or dying, and maybe we are the ones who are killing it. We might find that as well if we look in legislation, because a people is often kind of seeing through the lens of their morality as it relates to the laws that they choose to pass. Now, in some cases, politicians will be fine with using a generic term for God, or they're fine with it being on a coin, or maybe ending a political speech that way, but generally speaking, we can actually look at laws and determine whether those laws have given any consideration to the God of the Bible for the foundation of what they are serving.
And I'll leave it to your imagination as to whether you think that our culture is consistent with that or not so consistent with that. Or maybe socialization, we could look at socialization and realize that what we've done in past tense where God used to be the centerpiece of how we ordered our worlds, now the individual is the centerpiece for how we order our world. And now the individual has the choice as to what's true and what's not. Now the individual is the one who determines what can be true for them as opposed to what is true for everybody else, whether there are things called objective truth or not, they don't know, but they're willing to talk about their truth, their experience, and their feelings as the centerpiece for how everything ought to function.
And so really, what we've done is we've segmented out the idea of God. So I'll leave it to you as to whether you think Nietzsche was on to something and how that relates to even the cultural context that we're in right now, and whether our culture has given evidence of killing the idea of God. But here's what I know, that if a culture decides to kill off the idea of God, it's a bad day for that culture. It's a bad day for that nation. Because I know what God has done in times past with nations who have not honored God as God, is that God has let them go their own way. And by the way, a nation going its own way doesn't turn out exactly how you would hope for it to in terms of human flourishing and the honoring of God.
In fact, when we talk about that idea, I'm reminded that there was a time where Paul and Barnabas were traveling in their many travels, and they were preaching the gospel in a place where they were kind of a Greek persuasion, and while they were preaching the gospel, there was a man who was lame and God, by his own power, through the apostle Paul, raised this man back up to where he was able to walk and to live and to do all of these things, and so the people there started worshiping Paul and Barnabas like they were gods. Except they weren't calling the God of the Bible, they were calling them Zeus and Hermes. And Paul and Barnabas were like, "Hey, hey, hang on."
But I want you to notice what they said at the very end of Acts chapter 14, beginning of verse 15, Paul says, "Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human like you. We're bringing you good news telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God who may the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way." In other words, he's saying, "You're taking the way of going your own way as opposed to honoring God as God." And when nations and cultures go their own way, instead of honoring God as God, it makes for a bad state of affairs.
See, when I'm using the term honor God, I'm using that term very judiciously. And the reason that I'm using the term honor God is because that term honor from the Greek language, mostly it comes from a word, [foreign 00:06:59], where we could translate it glorify or praise or make much of or magnify. That's kind of where we get this word for honor when we use it in a biblical sense. But when we are choosing not to honor God as God, the nations end up going their own way, and it doesn't end well. You see, when Paul, he was writing to the Church at Rome, he was writing to a church that was really at the epicenter of an empire whose problem was not that they had killed the idea of a God. Their problem was they were forwarding an idea that there were many gods.
It was a different culture context maybe that Paul was writing at this time, but he's still dealing with a culture that is not honoring God as God. In other words, they've created all of these kind of pantheon of little gods, gods for everything so to speak. And Paul says, "This is the kind of way that a culture and a nation goes its own way as opposed to honoring or glorifying God." In fact, Paul begins to unpack in Romans chapter one what a culture that doesn't honor God as God begins to look like. And here's what he says, beginning in 1:18, he says, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who suppress the truth by their wickedness since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them."
Now note this. "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen being understood from what has been made so that people are without excuse. For although they knew," kind of generally speaking, "although they knew God, they neither glorified," there's our word right there, honored," they neither honored him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal human beings and birds and animals and reptiles, therefore God gave them over in their sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading or dishonoring of their bodies with one another. They exchange the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the creator who is forever praised, amen."
You see, here's where Paul is going with his kind of line of argumentation. Paul is saying if you began to read that, and the reason I highlighted some of those pieces for you is that what you saw is Paul talking about a culture that doesn't honor God as God, but in that conversation, he keeps referring to God as creator. Did you see it? You were here right? We were here together. Same place, right? And that's why I highlighted it for you as well so I can make it easy. That's why he kept highlighting this idea of God as creator. Why? Here's why. If you're a note-taker, jot this down. Honoring God is foundationally tied to belief in God as creator. Honoring God is foundationally tied to belief in God as creator.
Now, here's what Paul is getting at. Paul is getting at a culture that dishonors God, is dishonoring God by suggesting that he's not the creator. Because what Paul is arguing is that when we dishonor God as creator, here's what that means. That means that we create other things that are the objects of our worship. It leads to idolatry. Paul is making that argument in Romans chapter one that it ultimately leads to idolatry. And notice what he says in verse number 21, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." That word that they did not give thanks to him, eucharisteo, it's where we get our word Eucharist by the way.
But this, the idea of thankfulness there has embedded within it the idea of worship. In other words, if a people don't worship God as creator, then they will begin to worship other things as ultimate. This is the heartbeat of idolatry. That's why I'm saying to you that Paul's argument here, and you have to kind of track with it to think about it, and hopefully you'll see it as I begin to unpack it a little bit, that Paul's argument here is this. Is that honoring God is actually foundationally tied to our belief in God as creator. That that's really at the core in terms of our belief of ability to honor God.
You see, let's be honest, the very first revelation of God that we have, the very first revelation of God that we have in his word is about God as creator. Right? If I went to page one, Genesis chapter one, verse number one, page one in your Bible, here are the opening lines of the Bible. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." This is foundational to the revelation of who God is. That we need to understand from the outset that God is the creator. Now, whether or not there are good people who love Jesus and love the word who talk about the means in which God has created and the time over which God has created, I'll leave for another day. What can't be argued is that God is the creator.
Period. There is no debating that for those of us who believe. There is no debating God as the creator. It is part of the foundational revelation that we have about God. Interestingly enough, that's the first revelation of God that we have. But when we go to the very end of the Bible, what we find in the book of revelation is that God is being honored for a very specific reason. Listen to what Revelation 4:11 says. "You were worthy our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power. Why? For you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being."
Even at the very end of the revelation of God what we have is God being honored, glorified. Why? Because he created everything. The very first revelation we have, God as creator. You go all the way to the end of the revelation of the word of God, God as creator. And by the way, if you go to the last chapters of the last revelation, chapter 21, chapter 22, you know what you'll find? You'll find that not only is God the creator of everything, he is the re-creator of heaven and earth. This is foundational, ladies and gentlemen, for us to have an understanding of what it means to honor God. And I'm going to show you that soon.
So if that's the case, if honoring God is foundationally tied to God, to our belief as God as creator, why did he do that? Well, the reason that I think we can see that Paul unsurprisingly tied this idea together is because the consequences of the believers who were living in Rome in the church, there were consequences to how they were going to live based upon this belief. In other words, it would affect they way that they behave. It would affect the way that they believe. It would affect the way that they live their lives. And by extension, it should do the same for us. The very same truths should do exactly the same thing for us.
So I'm going to ask a simple question, and the simple question is this. How can we honor God, creator God, in our culture? Because our culture, if you're like me and you have a tendency to think that we have killed the idea of God, then how then do we honor the creator God in the culture that we live in? Well, here's the first way that I would suggest to you. You honor him with the body he created. You see, all of this is fundamentally tied up in the idea of God as creator. And if we want to honor the creator God in our culture, maybe the first thing we can do is honor him with the body he created.
Now, Paul actually talks about this idea. I'm not talking specifically about don't drink gasoline. That's not what I'm specifically referring to when I'm talking about honoring God with your body, even though don't drink gasoline in case you were confused. It's just a bad idea. Certainly it means keeping up with whatever we have as best we can, all those kinds of things. But Paul's real specific in what he talks about here in terms of how he was communicating that people didn't honor God with their bodies when they didn't honor God as God. He was talking about a culture in which these people lived, and when they didn't honor God as God, they did certain things.
In fact, notice what he says in Romans 1:24. He said, "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading ..." That word by the way, in the Greek language in some of your translations, it may be translated it dishonoring, "For the dishonoring of their bodies with one another. Sexual impurity for the dishonoring of their bodies with one another." You see, Paul was saying a culture that doesn't honor God as God, a culture that doesn't honor the creator God will then do with his creation whatever they choose to do. But God has a purpose for how he's designed who we are and the bodies that we have.
In fact, Paul, when he was writing to the Corinthian Church who was needing of a lot of instruction because they were doing a whole lot of stuff that they shouldn't have done, Paul says this in first Corinthians six, he says, "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually sins against their own body." Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the holy spirit who is in you? Whom you've received from God? You're not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
You see, Paul's making it abundantly clear that for those of us who embrace faith in Jesus Christ and recognize God as God, the creator God, that now we know with what he has created, which is us, our very personhood, our very bodies, that to honor God means we honor him with the bodies that he's created. You see for us, this is really important, particularly in the cultural context that we live in right now. You see, God has a divine design. And God's divine design will stand. God's divine design from the very outset of scripture is that he has created male and female, listen to this, in complementarity, that they complement one another. This is the design of God. That it was not male complementing male, it was not female complementing female. It was male complementing female, period.
And that God has designed humanity to live in a male, female, complementary role in, listen to this, in faithfulness to one another and in covenant to one another under God so that the world can see the faithfulness of Christ to the church, because that's what this thing called marriage is designed to picture. That cannot be pictured in a different way. It is pictured in this singular way. It's how God has designed us. And the reason he's designed us that way is because what it does is it tells the story of who he is, it brings honor to him when we tell that story, and anything, listen to this, anything that we use our bodies sexually for outside of that male, female marriage relationship, the Bible calls unnatural.
In fact, Paul uses that term very specifically. In Romans chapter one, notice what he said, verse 26 and 27, he said, "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lust. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones in the same way that men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error." You see, what Paul is referring to is a culture which this was a Roman culture he was writing into. He's referring to a culture that has an anything goes sexual mentality. And Paul is saying that's what people do when they don't honor God as God, when they don't recognize God as the creator of even our bodies that we then can honor God with. Now, by the way, if you're not married and you're single, this is still for you, just as a heads up. Right? This is still for all of us, whether married or single. You know what we're called to in terms of how we possess our own bodies sexually? We're called to holiness.
This is what the scripture teaches us. When Paul was writing to the Church at Thessalonica, notice what he said in chapter four, he said, "As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more, for you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It's God's will that you should be sanctified," that means to be set apart from sin and set apart to God, "That you should avoid sexual immorality, that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and what?"
Honorable. "Not in passionate lust like the pagans who do not know God, and that in this matter, no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being, but God. The very God who gives you his holy spirit." You see, Paul's trying to help us understand that married or single, that we still have a responsibility to possess our bodies, the bodies that he created. We possess them in a way that honors the creator who have the bodies to us. And we do that in terms of how we possess our bodies, in how we express ourselves sexually.
This is very important to Paul, it's very important to the New Testament, and I believe it's very important to our understanding of saying something different to the world that wants to foist a narrative upon us. We live in a pornographic culture. When you are living in a pornographic culture, it is because we have failed to honor God as God, honor God as creator God, the one who has given us the vessels, the bodies that we posses, and in so doing, because we honor God as creator God, we possess our bodies in holiness in the way that we express ourselves sexually.
You see, for us, living in a pornographic culture says, "Go ahead and indulge every urge that you have because toss away restraint because you are the centerpiece of your truth. You are the centerpiece of what really is reality for you, so do what you want to do." That is kind of the way that the world says, "If it's natural for you, just do it." But natural for us doesn't always mean good for us. You see, God is the one who has designed human flourishing, and we have to understand that when we live in a pornographic culture, the way that we use our bodies, both in physically and intellectually, emotionally, kind of how we think mentally, you've got to remember, when you're viewing pornographic images, and you think you're doing no harm to anyone, you're wrong about that.
You're believing a lie. You're doing horrific wrong to your own soul first. You're doing terrible wrong if you're in a relationship or you're going to be in a relationship. You're doing wrong by that relationship because you are teaching yourself a false narrative that somehow, "It's okay to use my mind and use other people as an object of my obsessions and my desires and to fulfill my own urges. And I'm okay with disregarding and dishonoring other people's sons and daughters to be able to do that. I'm fine with doing that," which just means we've set aside the idea of God as the creator God and we have made ourselves the center of the universe.
It's not okay. You're hurting yourself. And listen, I say that to you not standing in judgment over you. I say that to you because all of us need to hear what it means to honor God in the lives that we lead. Because if we want to change the narrative in the world that we live in, we've got to be people who live a different story. We've got to live a different story. It means the way that we express ourselves in the church ought to be an expression among family that we treat one another as brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers, not as objects of harassment or sexual predatory kinds of behaviors.
The world is doing enough of that. That should not be the case for those of us who follow Jesus. Because we treat one another like family. It's brothers, sisters, moms, dads, sons, daughters. There's much to say along this line, but I've got a lot to cover today, so you're going to have to stay with me. We're going to keep moving. So how do we honor the creator God in our culture? We honor him with the body he created, but we also honor him with the wealth he created. Why do I even mention this? Well, because of what Paul actually says to us in verse number 25. I want you to notice what it says in Romans 1:25.
It says, "They exchange the truth about God for a lie," and listen to this, "And worshiped and served created things rather than the creator who is forever praised. They worshiped and served created things." Listen, money and possession are created things. And here's what I know about created things. Created things aren't meant to receive honor, they're meant to give it. In other words, we should tell the created things that we possess how those created things ought to demonstrate honor to the one that we honor. Sometimes, what happens is our stuff and our possessions, they're always trying to tell us what to do.
I know they don't talk, so don't get me wrong. I'm not weird, all right? It's not like you open your bill fold, I don't even have my bill fold, that's how ... You open your bill fold, you open your purse, and it's going, "Hey, you need that scarf." I know that's not happening, so everybody take it easy. But here's what I do know. There is a lure of stuff and possessions that wants to run us, wants to give us, tell us what the priorities are instead of us saying, "No, no, no, no. I worship God. I honor God. Therefore you will honor me as I honor God. I'm telling you what to do, you're not telling me."
You see the scripture's really clear that whatever God has entrusted to us, it is for the purposes, ultimately, of honoring God. In fact, let me show you what he says in Proverbs 3:9. Tell me if you got this part. "Honor the Lord with your wealth." Everybody pick that up? Is that really hard for you to get, "With the first fruits of all your crops, honor the Lord with your wealth." Listen to what else it says in Malachi chapter two verse two. "If you don't listen," God says, "and if you do not resolve to honor my name," says the Lord Almighty, "I will send a curse on you and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I've already cursed them because you have not resolved to honor me."
I can't tell you how many times I've had conversations with people who, "Boy, God's really blessed me." Whether it's work, you're making money for the first time, or maybe you're making tons of money now in your life or whatever's happening. "Man, God's really blessed me." Agreed, God has blessed you. Here's the question. What are you going to do with the blessing? Are you going to bless God? Or is it going to become a curse to you? Because now it wants to take over your world. It wants to take over your soul. It wants to put its talons into you and tell you what you're going to do. Which is the case?
It's funny, rarely, really it just hasn't happened in my world that I can recall. Plenty of people have always tried to seek pastoral counseling when they're in a financial crunch. Rarely does anybody say, "Pastor, I've got more than I know what to do with. Would you help me? Would you help me know what to do with this?" That just doesn't ... People just don't do that, generally speaking. Some might, because that's their heart. And truthfully, the people that would, they're already doing it. They're already being generous and those kinds of things. So we have to understand what it means to honor God with the things that he created.
In fact, when Paul was taking a gift to the Church at Jerusalem, and he got an associate to be able to take that money, and listen to how he described doing it. "Once more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering which we administered in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help." Do you know what he said? Basically, we're all giving to help the Church at Jerusalem that's going through a tough time. The reason we're all giving is because we're doing it to honor the Lord himself. Why? Because he's given us everything.
Here's what we talk about. Sometimes when we talk about stewardship or money or those kinds of things, there's kind of a famous phrase and it's this. What we have to get ... We have to get settled the ownership issue. Who owns it all? Do you know how you settle the ownership issue? Settle the creator issue. That's how you settle it. Who made it? Who made you? Who gave you the wherewithal to be able to do all that you're doing? This isn't some contractual deal that you're getting into with God going, "Yeah, God's done a little bit, I've done a whole lot really, so I should really [inaudible 00:31:03]. But God's doing a little bit. I want to thank him but [inaudible 00:31:06]."
You're nothing if God didn't make you. You've got nothing, you are nothing if God didn't make you. God is the creator. He is the creator of all things, and once you settle that issue, you don't even have a conversation about ownership. That conversation's over. God owns everything. He can ask of me what he wills because it's all his. Let me give you a third thing. How can we honor the creator God in our culture? We can honor him in the people he created. We not only honor him in the body that he created and in the wealth that he created, but how about the people that he created?
Paul says really clearly to the Church at Rome, he says, "You can look around pretty much and see people who don't honor God as God. Here's how they turn out." Romans 1:28, "Furthermore, just as they didn't think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind so that they do what ought not to be done. They become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They're full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They're gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful. They invent ways of doing evil. They disobey their parents. They have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things, but they also approve of those who practice them."
Wow. That's what happens when you start careening into a culture that doesn't honor God as God. This is where you have the ability to go. Kind of all of our depravity begins to leak out at that point. But what we've ... And listen, you start getting to that place, and you don't care about other people. Malice, violence, wickedness, envy, dishonoring of parents, you don't care about other people at that point. But that dishonors the Lord. Why? Because he made the people. He's the creator of their lives. And to honor God, we've got to honor people's dignity. Whoever they are and wherever they've come from. Why? Because Genesis chapter one tells us this. "God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female, he created them."
If every person is an image bearer, male and female, if every person is an image bearer, they are inherently ... They inherently have dignity because they bear the image of the creator in their lives. Why do you think James said this in chapter two? James chapter three. Sorry. Maybe that's when I threw it off. "With the tongue, we praise our Lord and father, and with it we curse human beings who have been made in God's likeness." They've been made in God's likeness. Yet we are cursing human beings who've been made in God's likeness. How about Proverbs 14:31. "Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, their creator. But whoever is kind to the needy honors God."
Why? Because they're honoring the fact that God is the one who made these people. And people now are worthy of honor. They are worthy of not being disparaged because God is the creator. Let me give you a fourth thing. How can we honor the creator God in our culture? We honor Jesus, the agent of creation. We honor Jesus, the agent of creation. Now, there's much that I could talk about here. And I'm going to skip a little bit here, but let me move you forward a little bit into the book of Colossians. Because in Colossians chapter one, I want you to notice what it says. Says, "The sun is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation. For in him, all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities. All things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together."
You see, what we have to understand, ladies and gentlemen, is that Jesus is the agent of creation. When Paul is writing in his letter to Rome and he is saying functionally this, that you can't honor God if you don't have a belief in God as the creator. He is also helping us to understand, by his letter Colossae that Jesus himself is the agent of creation and therefore we must honor Jesus because he is the agent of creation. Now, why is that important? Because the father and the son have a culture of honor. Listen in fact to the words that John gives us in chapter five that are really the words of Jesus.
Jesus said, "Very truly I tell you the son can do nothing by himself. He can do only what he sees his father doing. Because whatever the father does, the son also does. For the father loves the son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these so that you will be amazed. For just as the father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the father judges no one but has entrusted all judgment to the son that all may honor the son just as they honor the father. Whoever does not honor the son does not honor the father who sent him. Whoever does not honor the son does not honor the father who sent him."
You see, folks, in the world that we live in, having a generic God in our culture is perfectly acceptable to everyone. If you want to talk about a generic God that nobody can define, then everything's fine, and everybody's cool with that, and we can talk about the man upstairs, or the higher power, and we can just define it in real nonchalant terms that nobody really knows what you're talking about. But you start talking about Jesus and everybody goes nuclear.
They just go nuclear on you. "Wait just a minute. You can pray. If you're coming to this political rally, you can pray, and you can say God, but don't be talking about Jesus." Well, let me just suggest something to you. Not to honor the son is not honoring the father.
You are not honoring God in that context because we are not honoring the son. The father loves the son, and the father honors the son, therefore we should. I mean think about it. When the son of God was born in Bethlehem, as soon as he's appearing in a manger, the sky is lighting up with an angelic host saying, "Glory to God in the highest." When the son is beginning his ministry and his cousin is baptizing him, the heavens open and the father says, "This is my son in whom I'm well pleased." Right? When Jesus goes to a cross and he dies for the sin of humanity, God says, "This will not do for him to stay dead. An aging rock cannot hold the rock of ages." And he brings him to life to honor the son.
When Jesus, after his resurrection, ascends in a cloud, that is a picture of honor and glory. And when Jesus returns on a cloud, it is a picture of honor and glory. Because at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory, to the honor of the father. This is what it means to honor the son. Why? Because the father honors the son, therefore we should honor the sun. I went from teaching to preaching in like a five second ... No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no. No, no, no. For me, it's excitement. It's not ever about trying to be a hype machine.
Sometimes in doing this we can become a hype machine. I know how to get a reaction out of people. This is actually excitement about the beauty of who Jesus is. This is excitement about the glory of who Christ is, not about trying to be a hype machine. Hype machine doesn't get you anywhere. Gets you some claps and some yells and stuff and doesn't change anybody's life.
You break a sweat and still sin. That's not what we want to see in the body of Christ. So this is a story that we've got to tell the world. This is a story that we must communicate with our lives and our activities and our actions. This is the kind of story that we want the world to see. What it means to have a culture that honors God. But they've got to see that in us. Now, there's an old testament principle, and it's super simple. I'm going to show it to you real quickly, and it comes out of first Samuel. Do you remember Eli and Samuel.
Eli had a couple of sons, bad guys. Eli fell down on the job of being a father, and his sons were sexually mischievous and they were sexually abusive and they were awful and they were just bad. And God was not happy with Eli because Eli had kind of turned a blind eye, so to speak, in being a dad where he shouldn't have been. And that's part of why God was raising up Samuel because Eli was not going to have offspring that were going to help in that process, and God wanted a prophet for the people of Israel.
And so notice what God said to Eli here in first Samuel two. "Therefore the God of Israel declares, 'I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.' But now the Lord declares, 'Far be it for me, those who honor me I will honor. But those who despise me will be disdained.'" Let me give you a real simple principle. Honor God and he'll honor you. Honor God, and he will honor you. You see, when you look through the whole of scripture, that's what you see. Ask Joseph who got left for dead by his brothers. Do you know what he continued to do? Honor God. And do you know what God did? Honored him.
Ask Daniel, who got carted off into Babylon. Daniel honored God. Even when he was told to do something else, he honored God. And what did God do? God honored him. Ask Ruth. She honored God. God honored her. Ask Esther. She honored God and God honored her. And look at Jesus. He honored the father and the father exalted and honored him. If we honor God, God's going to honor us. Now, let me bring this to kind of a close. From an application standpoint, it might be easy for us to talk about this in a generic way, but let's ask some real questions. What it means to honor God, are there some things that maybe you need to ask the Lord about? Or confess to the Lord? Or seek God's forgiveness on? Or ask God's help and strength on in honoring God specifically?
Maybe that's with your body. Maybe you need to learn what it means to honor God with your body and you need to confess some things, you need to get help with some things, you need to be strengthened in some areas. If you're living and possessing your body in a way that is inconsistent with God's design, then maybe you would want to turn your attention back the God who designed you. Get that foundational understanding that this is a body that he's created for honor, for his honor, and to tell the world a different story. I don't know what that may mean.
It may mean in your marriage that sir or ma'am you are choosing to stop it with kind of the false narrative of pornography in your world and in your life. And instead, are concentrating on the reality of what relationships should look like in a way that would honor God in your marriage relationship. Or maybe, you're dating but you've decided to move in together, but you're not really giving the world a picture of what Jesus faithfulness to the church is because you've made no commitments. You're just trying things out. But that's not the picture that Jesus wants. That's not the narrative he's trying to teach the world that we live in.
Or maybe it's honoring God with our wealth. With whatever he's entrusted to us. Have we really settled the creator question? Because when we settle the creator question, the ownership question isn't even a conversation. And we can learn to be people of generosity instead of people who are lorded over by stuff and possessions. Or maybe what it means to honor people. Instead of people being the broken end of your disparaging remarks, particularly in our politically heated world that we live in, where we enter into comment rooms and comment on articles, or we get angry with people at dinner parties or whatever, and we're, just listen, as a matter of course we're just flippantly degrading other human beings.
That doesn't mean we can't call wrong, wrong. It doesn't mean we can't call evil, evil. But we shouldn't be the kind of people who are flippantly and carelessly degrading and dehumanizing other people made in the image of God. Maybe you'd ask the Lord's help in that regard. Or maybe we have been ... We've shied away from actually honoring Jesus because we found a safe spot of just talking about a generic God of our own mindset, that maybe the people around us, they don't cringe about that. It's cool, we can just talk about that. But they mean something totally different than what we mean.
But ultimately, we have to get to a place because the good news of the gospel is fundamentally about the story of Jesus. Because Jesus is God with skin on. He is the express image of the invisible God. And we cannot honor the father if we do not honor the son. So there's probably plenty for all of us to take away from this passage, and here's the reason. We want to as the body of Christ tell a different story to the world that we live in. Because when you tell a different story, you can create a different culture. And we want to see an honor culture where we honor God.
Let's bow our heads together. Prior to our getting up and being dismissed, if you're here and you maybe are someone who has never come to a place of responding to Jesus in faith, that you've never surrendered your life to him and found the forgiveness of your sins and new life in him, just like so many of the people were talking about in their baptism stories, how Christ has changed their life. If that's never been the case for you, then I would encourage you in just a few minutes, when we dismiss, I would really love it if you would just come by the fireside room. It's really clearly marked. It's right in the atrium out there. Just across the atrium.
Let me tell you what's going on in there. There's some pastors and some other friends that are in there who would love to talk to you for a minute and pray with you about what it means to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. I'm not just talking about you know who he is, you've heard about him, or that you've come to church a few times. I'm talking about that you know him and you've received the transforming power that he can give in a life. Because that's where our story begins. God loves you and he wants to know you. And he wants to make you more like Jesus because that's what's good for the world and that's what's good for you.
And so if you've never come to that place, then when we dismiss in a moment, I hope you'll come by the fireside room and speak to someone. Let them talk to you for a moment and maybe show you in the Bible what it means to begin a journey with Jesus. Father, for all of us under the sound of my voice and for the one whose voice is speaking, I pray that you would speak clearly to our hearts and you would help us to recognize what it means to honor you, God in all that we are, in all that we have, in all that we do. That how we possess our bodies, that how we possess our stuff, that how we choose to speak to people that are made in your image and how we choose to confess and acknowledge Jesus will go a long way in establishing in our hearts honoring you, God.
And I pray that we would be that people because right or wrong, good or bad, we live in a culture that has separated out and is endeavoring to kill the idea of God. God is not dead. You are alive and you have demonstrated that by your activity in the world, by the ascending of your son, and by your movement in the hearts of people. May we be a people that demonstrates that to a world as we honor you in ways that are consistent with how you've revealed yourself to be honored. Because to change a culture, we're going to have to change the narrative, and that will begin at the house of God. Help us to be those kinds of people we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.