We’re here at the RSL today because of the renovations over there 

Our church building is getting cleaned up a new floor built

As the physical building work is being completed over there

We are going to be thinking about the spiritual building over here

You see God has been building

God has been bringing together a group

Who He’s purposed for this place and this time

God’s building a community, scarily a community characterised by us

This community is shaped and identifiable

By the individuals who comprise it, although we are unique in nature

God building isn’t limited to us here, but communities everywhere

Over the last 2000 years, communities forged together around Jesus

As the physical building work continues for the next few months

We’ll be focusing on the spiritual building that God’s doing

To find God’s purpose for us, we are going to be worked on by God

As we work our way slowly through 1st Timothy

A letter written by the Apostle Paul to his friend Timothy

Timothy was leading a young church in Ephesus,

They were facing tensions about what they were becoming

And how they were getting there

They already existed, like us they weren’t a clean slate

They had practices and values, there was a culture and norms

Paul writes this letter to guide Timothy

On how God’s people should behave and organise themselves.

The letter of 1 Timothy is timely for us

But God’s building this community not us

So it’s essential for us to align our community

With the purpose that God has for us

Aligned so we grow strong and fulfil God’s purpose for us here

Each week as we work our way through this letter

We are going to consider not only what God is building but

How He is building it and why He is building it at all

And sometime we’ll all consider why He is building it this way

God is in the business of building communities around Jesus

It’s a community within a world of other communities

Church isn’t the only community you belong to, well it shouldn’t be

People come together for a whole range of reasons

And each community has foundations that hold people together

Sometimes they’re obvious or even stated, stories or principles

Our family aren’t like that, remember where Grandpa came from

Other times they’re more vague except when you see the contrast

In job interviews, they wouldn’t be a good fit for us

Community is appealing when we have energy and capacity

Having a place to belong and people you know is desirable

Sociologist Hugh Mackay wrote a book called The Art of belonging

It’s a good read, insights into Australian culture and the West at large

He’s not a believer in a god, but someone who grew up in the church

In many ways  he gleans of the good stuff of Christianity

And removes the confrontational or messy bits, he doesn’t like

To develop his own outlook on life 

Mackay sees that community is essential for good living

Hugh Mackay’s hypothesis is

The Good Life: a ‘good life’ is not lived in isolation or in the pursuit of independent goals; a good life is lived at the heart of a thriving community, among people we trust, and within an environment of mutual respect.

The goal according to Mackay is living the good life

The necessary means to achieve that is belonging to a community

The foundations to establish community is trust and respect

Seems fairly reasonable, good things to aim for

Trust and respect aren’t too abstract to demonstrate

Not too extraordinary that only the talented can obtain them

Trust and respect seem realistic foundations to build community

So if that’s the kind of community you want to build

How would you go about doing it?

Well firstly we’ll start to establish what trust and respect looks like

You’d need to describe and demonstrate what it looks like

You’d celebrate it when it’s shown, reward those who exhibit it

You’d correct those who contravene it, punish those who break it

Foundations for any community are forged 

By what’s internally affirmed & validated

The foundations of a community shift or change

When the behaviour is different to the rhetoric

And the big factor that drives our behaviour is why

Ask Junji about Simon Sinek he’s got some interesting thoughts

About how people align themselves around shared values

And how tapping into why builds culture and motivates behaviour

So the why behind Mackay’s community of trust and respect

Is a motive, of living the good life

Community is the means of us living a good life for us and others

So the behaviour we should build is trust and respect

The reason why people build a community

Will eventually shape how and what community is built

Now if we think about the physical building work over there

It’s been many years in the making

Keeping that building rather than selling it

Was decided on the why, we want a place for a church to gather

As we thought about the whole site 

Information was presented about what it could be used for

Possibilities were considered and will continue to be

Decision made based on who we are

Answers needing to be framed by what God’s says about us

God’s purposes must shape God’s people

It’s not about what we want or what’s possible with us

But rather God’s desires and God’s capabilities 

As options came up from selling the site to full development

A whole range of experts provided information to give us scope

The person who knew what information needed to be considered

Who provided the plan of all that’s possible, was the architect

The architect didn’t decide what we should do or why we would do it

But they were given authority to investigate and provide options

They spoke with a delegated authority, similarly to Paul’s we see here Paul, appointed an apostle by the command of God

Directing Timothy about God’s building project in Ephesus

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul’s authority was divinely appointed, widely recognised

He’s now establishing the credentials of Timothy

This letter was public domain not a personal note

Paul is validating Timothy as the designated leader to be listened to

And he’s directing Timothy to the problem that needs to be addressed

3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. 

The problem in Ephesus had to do with teaching

The teachings content was leading to speculation and distraction

But there was also a problem with the attitude of the teachers

 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

There are teachers in the church who are arrogant in attitude

And ignorant regarding the topic in which they teach

This doesn’t seem to be their intention

They’ve got good motives, teachers, directing people to God

But good intentions don’t negate destructive behaviour

The seriousness of this situation is seen in Paul’s urgency to discuss it

Forget the usual introductions and formalities 

Paul is on the front foot with Timothy about the task at hand

Paul doesn’t pull any punches in his assessment of this teaching

It’s false rather than true, concerned with myth rather than fact

It spirals endlessly rather than reaching conclusions

Now over the centuries and even today

Many criticise Paul for similar and varied issues

Teaching from arrogance rather than humility 

Majoring on the minors, dividing rather than uniting

Make your own conclusions on that hypothesis 

Work your way through openly and diligently with this letter

Paul is calling Timothy to address these actions in Ephesus

Because the teaching threatens the foundation of God’s building in

V5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 

Timothy’s charge to censor was to produce love.

Timothy is going to silence certain persons from teaching

Not as power play or to protect a faction but because of love. 

Now that sounds strange doesn’t it, when we think of love

We think of empowering people to the best version of themselves

Love is usually positive and got to be encouraging

Rarely corrective or discouraging

Well anyone whose had a pet dog, a child or a trainee

Knows that loving words aren’t always positive words

Loving words can be soft or hard, uplifting or deflating

What makes words loving or not, is more determined by

The motive behind them than the content within them

The false teaching has come from hearts that’ve wandered from love

The foundations of the sound teaching is to produce love

Timothy is to carry out his task with love

If love is so central, where will that love come from?

Well the source of love Paul describes is internal

A heart cleansed of sin, a conscience clear of guilt,

and faith devoid of hypocrisy.

These are what the others teachers have departed from

It’s a bit circular, but love is the source, means and goal

So let’s unpack this love described in v5

A pure heart believes and pursues God’s agenda above self

A good conscience is functioning not inactive

Noticing wrongs, aware of intentions, a moral compass that’s used, Sincere faith isn’t showy or superficial but sturdy & reliable

The foundation for God’s community is sound teaching 

What’s built on that foundation is loving hearts and lives

And so the manner in which Timothy should call out false teaching

Is also characterised by love

The goal isn’t that Timothy comes out on top

But that the foundations are firm

So where have these teachers gone wrong?

We start to get some clues of what they’ve replaced love with from v8

8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient,

False teaching can either remove the boundaries or enforce them

It seems that in Ephesus some enforcement is going on by the law

Defining what’s expected, standards of behaviour being enforced

The law is good for producing an outcome, conforming behaviour

Paul suggests that was its very purpose

To draw wandering people back into line

To define what behaviour was outside of God’s intent

To remove ambiguity and provide clarity on God’s way

God’s law was established because humans wander off track

There’s a whole range of ways that wandering is expressed

Paul provides a comprehensive but not exhaustive list from v9

Descriptions of life outside of God’s design

Paul moves from general to specific,

Describing our orientation towards God and interaction with others

We read from v9 the law is for or lawbreakers and rebels,  the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers. 

Now the thing that probably jumps out for us is homosexuality, 

It’s mentioned a number of times in the bible always in the context

Of behaviour outside of God’s design

It’s behaviour rather than identity, happy to chat more after about that 

And as with the rest of this list, homosexual behaviour,

Alongside other kinds of sexual immorality

Any sex outside of a marriage bond, fantasises found in porn

Or even as Jesus says lust in your heart for another

Sits equally alongside other behaviours listed, lying & oppressing

Murdering or again as Jesus defined anger at another

All of which demonstrate life lived outside of God’s purposes

The very reason, that Paul says God gave the law in the first place

So what’s the problem with the law?

What’s wrong with these teachers affirming God’s law?

If the law is for lawbreakers, and we all fit within that category

Then shouldn’t that be the very thing that needs to be taught?

Shouldn’t these teachers be affirmed rather than silenced?

Well our natural tendency would be to think so

To keep God’s community strong, God’s way needs to be exalted

Surely God’s boundaries being clearly outlined and enforced

Would be the best foundation for the church

Well no, because rather than being a lack of nuance or degree

Focusing on the law is laying completely different foundations 

Resulting in a church different to God’s purpose

What makes this teaching false is its contrast to what’s sound 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

The false doctrines weren’t just a variation of

But in complete opposition to the gospel, the true foundation

The good news about what God had done

The good news that Paul will scatter throughout the letter

The good news about Jesus that God’s building His church on

Timothy was to challenge what this false teaching was founded on

Foundations affirming human effort through compliance with the law

Rather than sound teaching that declare Jesus perfect obedience 

As the foundation that establishes and remains the basis of the church

What does that look like?

How does a community founded on hope in Jesus differ?

Well lets take Hugh Mackay’s community founded on trust & respect

We could even have a deified version too

Trusting others, being trustworthy

Respecting others and being respectable 

For a foundation to be laid there needs to be agreement 

on what trust and respect looks like

Some might think trusting others means allowing them in for a meal, letting your kids play at their house, giving them a spare key, but others might suggest that you’re not really trusting unless

there’s no longer individual possessions but communal living

The problem for a community founded on trust and respect

Is that it’ll be an ever diminishing and homogenous group

As people fail to trust or prove themselves untrustworthy

It easier to respect people we don’t know than those we do

Any community that’s founded on human effort or character

Will either get smaller as it protects what defines them

Or bigger by broadening who’s included that its hardly identifiable

The outcome is either community so exclusive with high pressure

Or so diluted that belonging no longer means anything

Book Club …. Woolworths Rewards

What we all desire is a community that’s accessible and identifiable

Broadly accessible for anyone & clearly identifiable for belonging

Such a community needs foundations apart from those within it

Needs to be built outside of itself, so it can hold those within it

Many people find that in a sport, or a club they’re involved in

Many people have told me my sporting club is my community

Mackay notes the tension between independence & interdependence

And highlights sport as a great forum to balance the two

Of what we bring as individuals and how include those different to

A champion team beats a team of champions

Great local sporting clubs care for all members

Which is fine when everything is working 

But when the bigger issues of life arrive

Often we feel ill equipped to help, or the support superficial

Or people push us out because we’re too difficult 

Failure, conflict or crisis can break communities

That’s why foundations are so important

Paul wants Timothy to protect and promote sound foundations

Declaring the majesty and glory of Jesus,

The one whom we need because the law shows us our failings

Rather than foundations that drive us to try harder

That ranks and rewards human effort, true foundations….

Sound foundations… declare that Jesus is sufficient

Jesus grace is sufficient for our unworthiness

Jesus mercy is sufficient to cover our disobedience

Jesus peace is sufficient to still our insecurities

We need to avoid the danger of elevating obedience to God’s law

As the foundation of who we are, although probably we need to

To be more aware of avoiding the danger of removing God

And placing ourselves as the foundation that others can find hope in

Maybe you like Mackay’s trust and respect as a foundation

Give it a go for your own life, 

Then compare it with giving it a go with Jesus 

Try a month, trusting in Jesus, respecting Jesus as Lord

See how that holds up, we’d love to walk that space with you

As a church founded on the declaration of Jesus

People may find what they were wanting, 

But hopefully they meet who they need

The best conditions for us & others to keep meeting who we need

Is if the church’s foundations remain soundly on hope found in Jesus

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