Sermon: The Cure for Conceit

Have you ever noticed that there’s often a big difference between what we want our reputation to be and what our reputation actually is? It’s true of us as individuals, and it’s also true of the Church. In the first few centuries of the Church’s history, Christians were called atheists. Cannibals. An incestuous cult of “brothers and sisters.” But in the second century, the great Christian apologist Tertullian said that he thought if a pagan were to bump into a group of Christians on the street, he would exclaim, “See how those Christians love one another and how they are ready to die for each other!” You see, there’s a big difference between what Tertullian hoped the Church’s reputation would be and what the Church’s reputation often was to an outside perspective. If you were to approach a stranger on the street today and ask him to describe the Church, what do you think he would say? Do you think he would applaud us for our love for one another and our allegiance to the Gospel? Probably not. What you would probably hear is something like this: the Church is full of hypocrites. Christians do not care about the poor or the sick or the oppressed, only power. All they do is fight amongst themselves about things that don’t matter!