Building Our Christian Foundation: a sermon series on the basics of Christianity
- Laying the foundation: Scripture, The Word given on Sunday, January 11, 2015
Over Christmas or on birthdays, I expect many discovered Legos or Mega blocks wrapped in the pretty packages. Or maybe it is a set of Lincoln Logs that trigger the imagination of building log cabins, houses, and forts. Kids love to create all kinds of structures with these blocks; and whenever kids begin playing with the pieces, the imaginations take off.
Just ask them to tell you what they are building. The stories show just what is going on in their minds while they pick the pieces up, lock them together and buildings, towns, or even cars, trucks or airplanes appear. Telling the story of what is being built can be as entertaining as simply watching the structures grow, shift, fall and rebuild.
Building Christian faith is very similar. The very foundation of our faith begins with the stories of the Bible. The characters and their stories are the very bricks and mortar that build that foundation of our faith.
The stories can be as entertaining as any high drama found on the television or in the movies. As we listen to the stories, we begin wondering how we would act if we were in those situations. Of course the settings can be very different than what we are experiencing now; but as in all literature, the stories are timeless because the message is the foundation, not the setting.
The verse from I Peter appeared on the opening screen when I clicked on Biblegateway.com, which is my primary source for scripture searches. I did not plan on using it, but I was on the search for today’s scripture and this was Saturday’s verse (January 10, 2015):
But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” —1 Peter 1:15-16 NLT
Those words confirmed the very thought I was gelling into today’s message. The scripture is the direct link to God.
Scripture is the foundation for all Christians as they begin building their faith. Each book is included after very thorough review by theologians and educators. Some might wonder why the Old Testament is included since the New Testament is the story of Christ, but the foundation begins developing with those first words of Genesis:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.[a] 2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
Before everything, God existed. Life is filled with mysteries, and it is easy to get trapped into the arguments concerning whether or not God is real. There is no evidence that science can provide to prove or to disprove that God is real and proof is simply not necessary. The scripture tells us that the “Spirit of God” was the creator, existing before everything.
Being Christian begins with the story shared in the Bible. The United Methodist Church has defined the Bible as “sacred text” and googling what Methodists believe, the website about.com makes this simple statement: “The Bible is considered inerrant and inspired in its original manuscripts, and it contains everything one needs for salvation.”
The Bible and all the stories provide the foundation of Christianity. As John Wesley continued his ministry, he also identified the value of the Bible as the very foundation of Christian faith. He included in his works of piety the study of Scripture. The same about.com website listed among the descriptors of Methodist doctrine this statement: “Close adherence to the teachings of Scripture is essential to the faith because Scripture is the Word of God.”
The opening words of John also makes the definitive statement:
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,[a]
and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.[b]
Scripture tells the story, it provides the lessons, and it speaks to us whenever we read and study it. The church began with the first Apostles that Jesus called to ministry, and the stories from the New Testament share how God wants us to live using the New Law rather than the Old Law found in the Old Testament.
Learning how to live a Christian lifestyle is not easy, but through the words of the Bible, we can. Wesley read and studied the Scripture daily and expected his followers to do so even holding them accountable during class meetings (now referred to as small groups). The essentials of the Methodist beliefs were stated in the website article in very clear words:
- Shun evil and avoid partaking in wicked deeds at all costs,
- Perform kind acts as much as possible, and
- Abide by the edicts of God the Almighty Father.
The scripture provides all the examples, the methods, and the authority needed for us to live by these three simple rules. The hard part is practicing it enough to get it right but most importantly that it becomes habit.
Practice, practice, and practice some more. Laying a foundation takes careful planning, using the best products, and making adjustments as needed in order to erect a building that can withstand all the storms that nature can slam into the outer walls. Creating a Christian foundation for our own lives takes the same care. If we do make the foundation strong, it will last throughout the generations yet to come.
Practice building your foundation. Share the secrets with your family and friends. Shun evil that surrounds you. Practice random and planned acts of kindness. And keep adding to your foundation by reading the scripture. The stronger your foundation, the more you can tell the story to others—whether in modeling the story, telling it in your own words, creating a piece of art, or even singing a song. God’s message is as strong as your Christian foundation.
Dear God, the Word,
Speak to us through the scriptures,
Through the work of others,
Through the visual arts,
Through the melodies of music,
And through the models of faith.
We all want to build strong foundations
Of Christian faith.
Guide us to plan ways
To build our own foundations.
Keep us focused on the process
Of reading and studying scripture.
Then let us share the story
In all the ways that we can
So others may discover the Word
And how it creates a strong foundation
On which to build one’s life
And to bring others to know you, too.