Identity Theft - Matthew 16:13-20 Rev John Blazé
IDENTITY THEFT - MATTHEW 16:13-20
REV JOHN BLAZÉ
In the last few gospel readings of the lectionary, Jesus is taking his disciples along as he is teaching them how they should be trained as disciples for when he is no longer with them, when he goes to be with his Father.
So now he leaves the area of Galilee and he goes on further away from the crowds that were chasing him around. He'd been feeding all those thousands of people by doing Miracles - healing people, he even walked on the water, and stilled the storm. Crowds followed him all over the place.
He took his disciples away to a gentile place, a place of idol worship in Caesarea, a place dedicated to the worship of Caesar as God. And there he asks his disciples the question as to what people say about him.
They say: Some say you are John the Baptist; some say Elijah the great prophet maybe Jeremiah. All these rumours were going around. So, he says to them: “But whom do you say I am?” That was a very pointed question to find out whether anybody realised the truth of who he was, and that there would be someone to carry on his ministry in the preach his gospel after he was gone.
Peter says: “You are the Christ the son of the Living God.” He's saying to Jesus at that time you are Christ, the one the Messiah were expecting.
And when he says you are the Christ the son of the Living God, he is saying something very important. Is that who he is for each of us? By saying that, he is also saying to Jesus I will follow you. In other words, if Jesus is the son of the Living God if he is the messiah, He has come to make us his own.
And so, in a sense we know by making that confession ourselves, we place ourselves as being among those who are belonging to Jesus Christ.
Our faith makes us part of Him, part of his assembly his church. And so, it is not only who we are but also who's we are.
And I thought deeply about who's we are and who we belong to. And we in Uniting church say we belong to the Uniting church. And whose are we if you belong to the Uniting Church?
That is a question I was pondering.
I belong to Christ first and primarily not to the Uniting Church. I have been ordained as a minister in the Uniting Church. I’ll go back to the 1970s when the discussions as to whether the Uniting church should be formed by the Presbyterian churches and the Congregational Church and the Methodist churches in Australia. There were all kinds of theories and theological ideas floating around our community.
I thought the idea of the Uniting Church was absolutely fantastic. It was wonderful. You see I always thought reading John 17 when Jesus said: “I pray that they may be one Father, even as you and I are one.” That was what I thought was the goal and the real aim that the church should look at being one. Instead of being many denominations we needed to be united in one.
There was joy in being part of a church a new church here in Australia. They were great dreams for the future.
But there were a number of other voices speaking. There was a book called “The sacred mushroom and the cross,” which tried to make out that Jesus was a very sacred mushroom and the disciples hallucinated by eating them and that’s what happened with the cross.
Then along came Bishop John Spong and Bultman demythologizing some of the scriptures
And so, when I finally candidated for the ministry and went into theological College I went in with great expectations. Then I had a dose of Bultman, and liberal theology. I felt myself being sucked into a liberal form of theology. Then postcolonial theology came in.
I found myself at odds with the liberal theology of the Uniting Church in many things.
I have to state that at my ordination there were none of my professors from the Uniting Faculty of theology present from my own denomination. Most of the clergy that came from the University for my ordination Roman Catholic or Anglican. When they all laid their hands on me the Spirit of God come upon me in a very real way. From that time. I knew whose I was and who I belonged to.
We now have identity theft. The identity of the Uniting Church as I understand it has now become pagan. Any Christian body that is biblical and Christ-centered can hardly say the things that they are saying. They say with forked tongues that they accept the basis of Union and some say that they don't all together except the basis of Union. What about the Westminster Confession? What about the Creeds? What about what the Bible tells us?
What about repentance? There seems to be confusion in the Assembly about love, lust, sin,
confession and repentance.
And so, the proclamation in fact removes them not from just us but from the whole of the churches of Christ, that belong to those denominations that believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour - those that go along with the confessions of faith and Creeds.
I find that Uniting Church, that I hoped was going to be the church which could embrace all denominations as one, have pulled away from the rest of the Christian Church. They have formed their own, what I believe is now a very pagan oriented denomination.
I could be a Buddhist and believe the same kind of things that the Uniting Church Assembly seem to be believing. I could be a Hindu and believe the same kind of things.
So, identity has been stolen by the Assembly. Theft is usually something that happens without our knowledge. And it happened very gradually. We didn't notice it.
But when the Assembly passed the resolution on marriage it was a total deviation from what we understand and from the teachings that we have in scripture and from The Words of Christ and Christ himself.
I can't myself have any part of the Assembly of the 15th assembly of the Uniting Church. They have stolen our identity. We are the Uniting Church. We are the true people of the Uniting Church.
They have gone so far now has to start to penalize those of us who don't go along with them. We see our brothers and sisters who are still in ministry under the authority of the assembly and being persecuted for it. It is for us to support them as a true assembly and to be able to minister to them and to the church as a whole.
There are many people in the Uniting Church who are not in agreement with the 15th Assemblies decision. This has been forced upon them, but they don't know where to go and where to look except to Christ himself and therein is a great solution - Jesus Christ the son of the Living God.
As a son of the Living God, he has all authority. He took the title of Son of Man, but he is also Son of God. He is the one to whom all authority has been given not to the Assembly of the Uniting Church or to any other denomination. But the Son of God the Living God he is our Saviour and our Lord.
And so, my dear brothers and sisters I conclude by saying we need to care for each other nurture each other and support each other and stand up for what is correct and right.
And call a spade a spade and call the 15th assembly of the Uniting Church, the day which made a denomination a pagan denomination, and no part of the Uniting Church in Australia as I understand the Uniting Church in Australia to be. Dear brothers and sisters. Let us now belong to each other and love one another and trust the Spirit of God and our wonderful Saviour Jesus Christ to lead us and guide us. Let us pray to God for his strength for he is the Living God who conquers all things in his name.