How long has it been since you’ve moved into a new place? My wife and I moved to the northeast side of Grand Rapids, MI a little over two years ago. We moved into a new place here in the Riverside neighborhood. We’re just around the corner from the church, and it’s part of the reason we came to this other new place for us – Riverside CRC. There can be something refreshing about the feeling of a new place.
A New Place
If Riverside CRC is a new place for you, and you hear Pastor Ben preach, even just a few times, you’ll likely come away with these recurring themes.
- The Problem is Always Eden
- The Culture is Always Rome
All Humanity is Guilty of This
Pastor Ben’s sermon “Kingdom People and Christian Character – A New Place” was no exception to these themes. Eden is always the problem. It’s the moment when humanity chose to be our own gods, instead of following the Lord. Rome is the perennial example of what happens when a culture pursues their own desires; creating gods who are in charge of gratifying those desires.
Everyone Knows God on Some Basic Level
Paul writes in Romans 1:18-25 that God has revealed himself to us through creation, and through our consciences. Externally, the more we learn about creation, the more it points to God the Creator. Internally, we are endowed by our Creator with a sense of right and wrong that is evident in the laws and customs across different cultures, across the millennia.
Everyone Exchanges the Truth About God for a Lie
In our western Christian culture, we don’t actually worship idols do we? Maybe we don’t literally bow down in front of a statue as they did in Rome.
- Mars – war and power
- Mammon – money
- Aphrodite – impure sexuality
But, when we choose to redefine ourselves by our stuff, to praise sex outside of marriage, and intimidate others using violence and bullying, that’s just us acting out Eden and Rome. We try to make a deal with ourselves. We try to gratify our desires, instead of passionately pursuing God.
A New Identity – A New Place
The only answer to that is a new identity – and that starts with a new place.
This is the first step toward Christian Character — it is understanding that by grace through faith in Christ Jesus we have been brought to a new place and given a new identity, that we might find a new direction of heart and mind.
– Pastor Ben
It’s being brought out of the land of sin and death, to new life in Christ. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are something new. It’s a new place that’s right here and right now. You don’t have to move somewhere else to remember that refreshing feeling of starting over in a new place.
Jesus, is the reconciling redeemer whose self-sacrifice saves us from ourselves.