Spirit Led Change: Vision, Experience and the Word

Biblical Text: Text: Acts 11:1-18, John 16:12-15

Change in the church is always a contentious issue. But even Jesus assumed that it would happen. And the book of Acts gives an example of a significant change. What these biblical texts give us is a Spirit Led pattern. This sermon takes Jesus’ words as the basis and Acts as the enaction of those words. Peter’s “ordered argument” is meaningful. It is not that revelation or vision and experience are meaningless. They are quite meaningful and Peter includes both as part of his argument. But his real argument is “remembering the Word of God.” This sermon looks at Peter’s Spirit led example and encourages us to examine our own changing in the same light.

The Advice Generation Gap

There are a lot of religious ghosts in this article.

The article is a short cute story about “kids these days” and how they don’t value the oldsters advice like they used to. The 4th commandment (5th if you go by the Reformed count) is Honor your Father and Mother. Luther’s explanation, like all his explanations, enlarges the domain. Father and Mother are the stand-ins for any authority figure. The trick is of course what does honor mean? Do exactly and everything they say? Or do the Democrats of four years ago with “protest is the highest form of patriotism” have a claim to honor? In either case a certain respect for experience would seem to be needed. And the church, that entity that likens itself to a mother, is in many ways the real oldster on the block. Some of its advice goes back 4000 years.

Now read this clip…

“Age is no longer the qualifier for being the go-to person for advice,” says Jason Dorsey, 32, a cross-generational consultant who helps companies understand Generation Y. “Yes, if I go into a hardware store, I want advice from someone over age 60, because he could build my house with a screwdriver. But if I walk into an Apple store, I want the young person with blue hair and stretched earlobes, because he can talk to my computer.”

In short, “if we want to learn how to tie a tie, change a diaper, mix a drink, or cook a lobster, we can go on YouTube and find a video,” says Mr. Dorsey. “We don’t call mom and dad.” …Now an actuarial analyst in Atlanta, Mr. Borg says he often challenges advice he receives from older people. For instance, they’ve counseled him to buy a house because prices are low. “Older people think renting is throwing away money,” he says. “But I think owning a home is throwing away financial freedom. I couldn’t pick up and move to a new city. I couldn’t go back to Japan to see my old friends. I’d be tied to the house.”

What do Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Borg both have in common? They’ve both replaced mom and dad or lets just say family with something more nebulous or distributed. YouTube and financial freedom. Is that form of freedom really the way to thrive? The church says no, honor your father and mother. And that is the only commandment with a promise – that is will go well with you and you will live a long life.

The advice of the church runs smack into the conceits of 20 – 30 year olds. Now that is always the case. The church is always confronting sin and stubborness. But, this is a generation that does not take advice. Just because the church has been around 2000 years, its teachings have born out time and again, and your parents say its good for you does not mean that the kids will listen. The mode of teaching has to be more experimental. The church does not put down its claim to authority, but it probably needs to wear it very lightly, and make arguments for it where it didn’t in the past testing its own virtue of patience and hope.