Faith Church

Endoscopic Christianity – Dan Christopher | Sermon from 5/15/2016

Play

I recently had an outpatient procedure on my knee.  My surgery was uneventful as far as I know, except for one thing.  When I was in recovery, a nurse ask me how I was feeling.  “I’m okay” I said, “but I didn’t like the four-letter work the doctor used in surgery.”  “Oh my” the nurse said, “what did he say?.”  “OOPS”.  That didn’t really happen, by the way.  Oops is one of many things you’d never want to hear your surgeon saying in the operating room.  Here are few others, I’d never want to hear when I’m laying on the operating table:

Better save that, we may need it for the autopsy.

Spot! Spot! Come back with that!  Bad Dog!

Hand me that . . . uh . . . that . . . thingie.

You know there’s big money in kideys.  Heck this guys got two of them.

Wait a minute, it this is his spleen, then what’s that?

Anyone see where I left that scalpel?

If I hear any of those things when I’m still awake, I’m outta there!

Seriously though, the things they can do today medically and surgically just amazes me.  I had a torn medial meniscus.  The medial and lateral menisci are two large C-shaped cartilages that are positioned on the top of the tibia bone of the knee.  The knee is the largest joint in the body.  The menisi within the knee joint helps protect the joint from the stresses placed on it from walkingrunning, climbing, and bending.  So it’s kinda funny that mine got damage cause I don’t do ANY of those things.  A torn meniscus occurs because of trauma caused by forceful twisting or hyper-flexing of the knee joint.  Symptoms of a torn meniscus include knee pain, swelling, popping, and giving way.  It had caused me enough aggravation so it was time to have it repaired.  That plus I had a bunch of sick days I hadn’t used and if didn’t use them, I’d lose them.  Just kidding!

My surgeon was able to go into my knee joint and repair the tear so that it wouldn’t get inflamed every time I tried to do something more than walking.  He also cleaned up the joint of some other debris.  The most amazing thing of all, is that this procedure was done through an instrument called an arthroscope.  An arthroscopy is one of the many procedures now performed through a scope and these types of procedures which are collectively called endoscopies.

An endoscopy is any procedure in which your doctor uses specialized instruments to view and operate on the internal organs and vessels of your body. It allows surgeons to view problems within your body without making large incisions.

A surgeon inserts an endoscope through a small incision, or through an opening in the body such as the mouth. An endoscope is a flexible tube with an attached camera that allows your doctor to see. Your doctor can use forceps (tongs) and scissors on the endoscope to operate or remove tissue for biopsy.

Arthroscopy is a way to view and repair the inside of a joint. Your surgeon uses a soft, pencil-thin tube called an arthroscope.  One tube has a tiny video camera, another has a light and a fluid-exchange paths (to insert and extract fluids). The arthroscope, and other small instruments, are inserted into the knee joint through small incisions. From one to about four incisions, but usually three, are usually needed. Fluid is pumped into the joint to expand the space, giving your surgeon better images. The video camera captures the images seen through the arthroscope and displays them on a video monitor.

By the way, that’s NOT my knee in the picture.  I wanted to get a picture of it, but I was anesthetized at the time so I wasn’t able to take a knee selfie.

As I was preparing this information, a couple of jokes came to me.

Q: What did one orthopedic surgeon say to the other orthopedic surgeon during an arthroscopic procedure?

A:  Come to this joint often?

Q:  What did the patient say to the orthopedic surgeon after the knee surgery was over?

A:  Thanks, I “kneeded” that.

Endoscopic procedures are amazing.  They are used on many parts of the body.  Sometimes through an endoscopic procedure, a doctor can repair something that’s wrong inside our body.  Sometimes through an endoscopic procedure, a doctor can take a biopsy of tissue that doesn’t look quite right to help in diagnosing the problem.  But sometimes, with a diagnostic endoscopic procedure, the doctor just goes in to look around and see what’s going on.  Imagine if your knee bone, was like the joint’s receptionist (let’s call her Patella). So Patella’s just hanging out and in comes Arthur, Arthur Scope.  So Patella says, “can I help you find anything?”  And Arthur says, “no thanks, I’m just looking around.”

It is in this context of just going in to look around, that I am using the term “Endoscopic Christian”.  Let’s see if we can figure out how make the diagnosis of whether or not you are an Endoscopic Christian.

If you just go to church to look around but don’t really do anything while you’re there . . . you might be an endoscopic Christian.

If you go to church to look around to see if God’s still there . . . you might be an endoscopic Christian.  I wonder if Jeff Forworthy could do this any better than I’m doing it?

If you go to church to look around to see how many people are there as a sort of guage as to whether everything is okay or not . . . you might be an endoscopic Christian.

If you just go to a church just to shop around for a new place to worship . . . you might be an endoscopic Christian.

If any of those describe you, you may be an endoscopic Christian.

I think it’s okay to just take a look inside the church to see what’s going on, but if you’ve been diagnosed today as an Endoscopic Christian, I think we need to also look at the prognosis and some recommended treatment.

If you’re just going to church when it fits in to your life and most likely NOT every Sunday, and you’re just peeking in and not really participating in anything, then I’m afraid your prognosis is not good.

Revelation 3:15-16 says, 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

The terminology in this verse is describing the “lukewarm” heart attitude of those in the Laodicean church, an attitude manifested by their deeds. They were neither cold nor hot in relation to God, just lukewarm. Different writers have different interpretations of what is meant by hot and cold.  The one that made the most sense to me, relates to seeing both “cold” and “hot” as positive terms. Cold water refreshes, hot water heals, but lukewarm water does neither.  These verses in Revelation are believed to be related to the context of this church and where it was located.  The Laodiceans understood the analogy because their city drinking water came from a spring six miles to the south over an aqueduct, and it arrived disgustingly lukewarm. It was not hot like the nearby hot springs that people bathed in, nor was it refreshingly cold for drinking. It was lukewarm, or not good for anything. In fact, it was nauseating, and that was the Lord’s response to the Laodiceans—they sickened Him.

Like many of you, I like coffee and tea. When it comes to tea, I like it hot but I also like it cold. It’s delicious and refreshing cold and it’s soothing, almost healing when it’s hot! This time of year, I like my tea cold more than I like it hot. But the one way I don’t like tea or coffee is lukewarm. Similarly, Jesus would rather that His people be cold or hot in their deeds, but not apathetic. From the standpoint of their ministry, the church at Laodicea provided neither refreshment nor healing, they could only cause nausea. They were useless to the Lord and His purposes for the church in the world. Jesus is saying, “If you were hot or cold I could do something with you.  But because you are neither, I can do nothing.”

In these verses in Revelation, Jesus makes it clear that many of the people in the Laodicean church were dead in their faith. That does not necessarily mean that there were no true believers there, only that the church as a whole was spiritually uncommitted. Jesus frequently equates deeds, or works, with a person’s true spiritual state. He said, “By their fruit you will recognize them” and “Every good tree bears good fruit” (Matthew 7:16-17) where bearing fruit is symbolism for doing good deeds or things to help other people. Clearly, the deeds of the church referred to in this verse were not in keeping with true salvation because the deeds of the true believer will be “hot,” reflecting the healing nature of a life transformed or “cold” reflecting that refreshing nature like cold water. Both are easily recognizable by the world. But lukewarm implies someone not doing anything in the church or maybe doing deeds without joy, without love and without the fire of the Spirit or you could say just going through the motions.  This could do more harm to the watching world than the deeds done by those who have either that healing or that refreshing way about them as they serve in the church. The lukewarm are those who claim to know God but live during the week as though He doesn’t exist. They may claim to be Christians, but their hearts are unchanged.

The Lord urges us to be earnest in our faith, and to commit ourselves to Him.  Verse 16 says that He will reject a person’s lukewarmness by spitting them out of His mouth.

If any of this is hitting home, there is a treatment for someone with this diagnosis and with this poor prognosis.  If you’re an Endoscopic Christian, ergo a lukewarm Christian, there is hope.  Our God is gracious and long-suffering. He will always welcome back even the most lukewarm Christian who recognizes their error and comes back to Him.

There have been times in my life when I was endoscopic Christian.  Just going to church when it was convenient to peek in and see what was going on but not really engaging in my faith.  That changed a few years ago when I had a God moment.  (Describe God’s call to speak for Him).

Since then, I have been pursuing what the United Methodist denomination calls a Certified Lay Minister or CLM.  I am now finished with my course of study and am expecting to get my certification at annual conference in June.  After that, I may be assigned to another church in the district.  So if you suddently notice that I’m not hear anymore, please understand that I didn’t get mad an anyone, there was not big fight or big issue that drove me away.  I’m simply trying to honor the call that God place on my life.

Maybe God is calling you too.  Do you hear Him?  Or is it like your cell phone when you don’t have a strong enough signal to receive God’s call?  Maybe you’re trying to pretend you don’t hear His call, like when your spouse or your parents ask you to do something and you just don’t think you want to do it, or at least not right now.  Do you hear Him?  Or are you trying to avoid thinking about it, because who knows what could change.  I believe God is calling each and every one of us to do something.  Maybe you answered the call when you volunteered to help with Serving our Seniors a couple of weeks ago or to help with vacation Bible school.  But maybe that’s just the beginning.

1 Peter 2: 9-10 says, 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

God called many people to be prophets and teachers and leaders in the Old Testament.  God called John the Baptist to prepare the way before Jesus came.  Jesus, God’s Son, called the disciples to follow Him.  Many more have been called since the time of Jesus.  Each of those past believers kept the faith and passed it on so that we today, in our generation, could also know about God.  We are now the next generation to carry the torch.  It is our responsibility to act on this faith that was passed on to us by previous generations of Christians.

I didn’t preach this message today because I believe that Faith church is like the church in Laodicea.  I see many people involved in many different good works that are going on here all the time.  But I think there are times in our faith, perhaps for many different reasons, when we step back from our involvement or maybe you’re new and you just haven’t stepped up yet, and you just come on a Sunday when you’re up for it and just look around but don’t really do anything.

As I look back over my life, I can tell you that the times I was most engaged in my church and in my faith, were the times I was happiest and the times I was most content with my life overall.

Getting back to our analogy about endoscopies and Christianity, endoscopic procedures are certainly amazing.  But to conclude today, let’s extend our thinking of endoscopic Christianity just a little bit more.  Suppose we think of God as the surgeon, He is even more amazing than a surgeon performing an endoscopic procedure.  Because God can look inside each of us without a scope.  Jeremiah 17:10 says, “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”  If God were to do His version of an endoscopic procedure on you today, would He find a disease or injury that needs to be treated?  Would He find something that doesn’t look quite right that needs a spiritual biopsy to find out what’s going on?  Or if He looked in, would He find that everything is really okay?  God knows the answers to those questions . . . and I think each of us knows the answers too.

If you’ve been self-diagnosed today as an Endoscopic Christian, please don’t let pride, or stubbornness, or an unforgiving heart, or anything stop you from recognizing that God might be trying to call you for something great.  Will you listen to His call, or will you leave as one is who is lukewarm, not really caring about much of anything?  Let us pray.

References

What Is an Endoscopy?  Healthline:  http://www.healthline.com/health/endoscopy#Overview1

Knee Arthroscopy.  HealthyPages.org:  http://www.healthpages.org/surgical-care/knee-arthroscopy/

Why did Jesus speak so strongly against lukewarm faith?  GotQuestions.org:  http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-lukewarm-faith.html

Sunday Morning

8:15 am: Traditional Worship Service with Nursery
10:45 am: Contemporary Worship Service with Nursery and Children’s Church

512 Hughes Street Bellefonte, PA 16823

Contact Us