Churches are not microbreweries.

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West coast culture is very laid back, from California U.S.A to Vancouver B.C there is a “Cascadia vibe” a desire to move out of the mainstream.  Coffee bars and micro-breweries have been the brew house of Hipster-ism.

Hipster-ism has developed and moved across the entire face of North America on both sides of the 49th Parallel.   Springing up came micro-breweries.  Old Brick buildings were revamped with rustic wood, sheet metal décor and low lighting.

Hipsters –ism began as a movement to be un-mainstream to seek to be an un-branded sort of cool, sipping on lattes and sleeves of hoppy beer in a relaxed atmosphere hipster-ism has now become mainstream, and become a brand.

But what does this “new brand” have to do with the church?

Let me say first…

I t is true that Christian liberty may allow you to visit a micro-brewery with its sheet metal and rustic wood  and brick walls and imbibe in one of Martin Luther’s favorite beverages .

(He once praised his wife for making the best beer).

Of course that liberty, if you have it, is not to be used to hurt those with a weaker conscience by flaunting that liberty.    That is sin.

Now let me say this…

We ought to take great issue with the Micro-brewery branding of the local church.

Have you seen it?

Churches now beginning as, or moving toward an atmosphere of micro- brewery like funky stylings of décor, low lighting, and it’s all too casual approach to God and His word.

The world has enough Micro- Breweries and gentrified coffee shops.

Our culture has enough of these Hip things we have enough of the Branding and posturing that goes along with self-identification with all things trendy.

What we need in ourselves as those who are Christians and what those need who are not yet Christians is an atmosphere where the intangible reality of the Holy Spirit of God dwells.

In such an environment you may feel both comforted and uncomfortable at the same time.  God is merciful, God is Holy.

God is not Hip. He does not brand himself in the culture of this world.

God is Holy and where the Holy Spirit is who exalts Jesus the Son we find a Kingdom not a Culture.

We find a Kingdom that is not of this world, a Kingdom that Has a King who bestows eternal life to those who turn to Him in genuine faith.   We don’t walk in and order what we want, find a comfortable seat and relax.   If that’s what you want, go to the micro-brewery or the gentrified coffee shop.  But don’t confuse the Kingdom of Heaven with the Culture of the world.

Our Christian liberty is extremely important but our christian liberty can never… ever… lead the way, in either our worship of God  or union with Christ.

If I were an unbeliever  seeking God and decided I would like to really discover this true and living God who created me,  I would be very disappointed to see Him simply another Brand in a culture of over- branded-ness.

Let us never make God out to be a Brand He’s too Good for that, let us not confuse the Culture of the world for the Kingdom of God.

Do not brand your church, instead be a living body of believers repenting of sin and conforming to Christ. Carry the aroma eternity and simply speak the message of salvation through Christ that is of another Kingdom.

 

Stand aside, let God shine.

God employs strange means to reveal His glory and righteousness among mankind.

Certainly the strangest, is that God’s perfect righteousness is reflected through the testimony of unrighteous sinners.

In this world when you want want to espouse the Glory of something,  you use the best models don’t you?       I’ve never seen a toothpaste commercial  declare their Glory by using people with rotten teeth.

Yet In God’s wisdom, He does just the opposite of the toothpaste commercials.  He reveals His Glory through the Gospel and saves sinners who have not just rotten teeth but rotten hearts and He undertakes to make them point to His perfect Glory and righteousness.

No true Christian could ever say  ,“ I am the poster boy or girl of righteousness” God accepts me because  “I am Good”.

in fact the Gospels very clearly illustrate that it is the broken hearted the “sinners” and the “Poor in spirit” who come into proper relationship to God through the redemption that is in Christ.

A Christian can and should say, “ I am a great sinner and God is a great savior”.

We should make it a practice to never stand in the way of God’s light by pretending to be better than we are.    Instead we should be intentionally Stepping aside from taking glory onto ourselves and point to God and behold God who is truly Glorious.

Beware of trying to make people “believe in you” it is a fools venture.

By saying this I mean that God will be seen in our life as we know and trust in Him and as we look to Him and are changing, admitting our weakness and need of Him. There will be fruit of growth toward Christ likeness but only as we trust in Him.

Others as a by-product will see that God is real and will see through us the Glory of God Himself, even though we may appear smaller to those same people because we have stepped out of Hypocrisy into reality.   And the reality is we are not righteous according to God’s standard.

Jesus accuses the Pharisees ( A very proud and good works oriented people) of keeping  people out of the Kingdom and of refusing to enter into the Kingdom themselves!!!”

The Pharisees did everything to be seen by others as being righteous. They actually did do many “good Deeds” but they blocked the way.  Indeed many looked at them and said,  “wow I could never be like those people they are very devout and I could never be accepted”

The Pharisee loved to see this kind of reaction because it made them feel artificially secure in their own Righteousness. The more “self- righteous” they became ,the further they went from God and God’s true Glory was darkened as they stood in the way.

Thus the Charge from Jesus in Matthew 23:13

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”

As soon as we recognize the true Holy Righteousness of God we will not even dare to think of a    “self –righteousness”.

Instead we  see what God has provided in Jesus Christ  for the forgiveness of sins and as we trust only in His righteousness that is given to us by God as a gift through Jesus Christ, God will rightly receive all the Glory due His name as the only righteous one and as a merciful Savior.

It is this relationship based on salvation ,that we both get out of the way and also point to the Way.

If fact we perfectly testify to  the truth that Jesus Christ  declared when He said.  “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father but through me”

And none of us who come this way block the righteousness or glory of God from others sight when we confess that we are sinners saved by grace.

The first outward note of our faith is that we no longer wear a mask before God and it then follows (sometimes slowly) that we no longer wear a mask before men.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Glorious precisely because God Himself is Glorious.

*  “In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

Praise be to Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith.

(*In Christ alone- written by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty)