Our church website, like many others, features a section that focuses specifically on what we, as a church, believe (if you want to check it out, here is a link).  I've grown up in church and been exposed to a number of different ones.  My experience has been that, while most churches profess to believe doctrine, many fail to practically emphasize it in the life of the church and what they teach.  In other words, their ecclesiology is not shaped by their theology.  To put it more simply, they don't practice what they teach...or even worse, they don't teach what they claim to believe.  This is a huge problem!

     At the Journey, we recognize that we are far from perfect.  We have our own problems and we can always improve in what we do and how we do it.  We don't have perfect theology, so we continue to seek to learn new things as we endeavor to know God more fully, and to be shaped by what we learn from his word.  However, one of our main goals, as leaders of the church, is to profess AND practice sound doctrine.  We believe this is of paramount importance in the spiritual life and well-being of the church.  Why?

     One reason is because we understand from scripture that it is God's design for us, as his creatures, created in his image (the imago dei), to serve as his representatives here on earth.  This doesn't merely mean that we bear his image in the way that he has communicated some of his attributes to us, such as love, goodness, and kindness (among others).  Rather, it is more than that.  It means that we serve to physically represent God in the created order as he has granted us dominion over it.  We are a reflection of the immaterial God in the material world; and Jesus, as God incarnate, is the perfect man.  It is not insignificant that Christ sits embodied at the right hand of the Father.  He is in all ways the complete union of God and mankind.

     But what is the connection between doctrine and our role as God's image bearers?  Simply this, that God has intended in all ways for us to know him, and not just in a cognitive way, but rather through intimate relationship with him.  Intimacy is built through the sharing of oneself with another.  So that we can live in relationship with him, God has revealed himself to us; and the way that he has chosen to do so is through the scriptures.  The more we engage with God's word, the more we study it and devote ourselves to properly understanding it, the more we are able to fulfill our purpose in reflecting the glory of God in creation.

     Think of it this way.  If you were to show us a picture of you and your parents, we could likely see certain characteristics that you share with them.  Maybe you have some of their features.  Maybe you even look like a carbon copy of one of them.  However, could anyone really learn much about you and your relationship with your parents by simply looking at a picture?  Of course not!

     For many of us, our parents gave us much more than simply our physical appearance.  Their relationship with us, their investment in us, in many ways shaped, for better or for worse, who we are today.  Our relationship with our Heavenly Father is even more foundational to shaping who we are.  For this reason, and so many more, what we know, understand, and believe about God is of the utmost importance in shaping our lives.  This is why doctrine (the truths about God that he reveals to us through scripture) is so important.

     We live in a time and place in history where we have unprecedented access to a wealth of information.  With a few keystrokes, we can mine the depths of the Internet.  Technology has given a voice to anyone with a keyboard and some bandwidth.  The rise of "cheap" information has made us lazy.  When we know everything...in many ways we may actually know nothing at all.  There is likely more bad teaching, bad theology, and false doctrine being consumed than good.  Sadly, this reality has infected the church all the way up to its highest level.  Christians who accept and believe false doctrine become teachers who propagate it.  The repercussions are many, but none is more damaging than the defacing of the imago dei.

     Our job as Christians is to filter all things through the lens of scripture.  We can't do that if we don't ever read and study it.  Likewise, we carry the awesome responsibility of representing the true image of God in the world...not a cheap imitation.  It is our duty as Christ's ambassadors to the world to be shaped and formed by scripture so that we may be "complete and equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:17).  Our thirst for knowledge of the truth about God should be matched only by our desire for fellowship with him.  Jesus taught that what we treasure most will consume our affections and desires (Mathew 6:21).  The question we must answer is what do we treasure most?  If we claim that it's God, then our actions, the way we live that out, should reflect the reality of our profession.

In Grace,
Chris Morris

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Part 41 - Listening & Preaching With Discernment

Questions discussed in this sermon:

1.  Who is Apollos?
2.  How do Priscilla & Aquila help Apollos?
3.  How does this interaction inspire us to do church better?