The day of my wedding, I attend Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, with my sister, aunt and bridesmaids, since I couldn’t see Alex and Alex couldn’t see me. At the end of the service, Pastor Bryant informed us that his spiritual father, Bishop Walker of Tennessee, would be in town for his pastoral anniversary. He showed us a clip of his most noted sermons as I, being the preacher snob that I am, jumped at the opportunity. This sermon, to say the least, was dynamic, challenging and entertaining. Coming from Acts 17: 16-29, Walker entitled his sermon “I’m too Real to Fake it”.
Here are the sermon’s highlights:
– When your relationship with God gets real, you get irritated by fake Christians. You get tired of foolishness in the Church and with churchfolk.
– What we’ve done doesn’t matter; it’s all about what we’re going to do.
– When you’ve been converted you can’t keep your newness undercover, people will see your new anointing. With conversion comes conviction.
– Being real makes us choose relationship over religion…
o Professional church-goers aren’t serious about developing a relationship with God.
o Do I have to be seen to show out for God? Can I worship alone, or does there have to be large crowd for me to give Him glory?
o God doesn’t care about the length of our prayer, He cares more about our prayer’s strength.
o Pretentiousness makes us powerless!
o Religion makes us rely on our priest instead of the priesthood! Does your relationship with God depend on your pastor?
o Relationship gives us the power to touch our own bodies and be healed. While we should thank God for shepherds, we ought not forget that God can move in our situations with or without a pastor at your bedside.
o Religion makes us chase stuff, but relationship makes stuff chase us!
– Being real changes…
o Our theology: ARE YOU GUILTY OF IGNORANTLY WORSHIPPING AN UNKNOWN GOD? How can you worship something you don’t know? How can you worship something you haven’t experienced?
– We have to move beyond worshipping the God of our parents, of our neighbors, or our pastor… we have to worship our God!
o Our ecclesiology:
– The way we view God is reflectant in the way we view the Church. GOD IS BIGGER THAN THE SANCTUARY!
o Our ideology:
– We are the Church. Wherever we go… God goes. We have to stop being Sunday Christians.
– God doesn’t need us, rather He gives us the opportunity to serve Him as a privilege to us. Don’t let your pretentiousness get in the way of service and blessings.
o Our sociology:
– We have to stop trying to experience God carnally. He doesn’t live in our earthly realm, so we can’t feel Him in an earthly way. Get on God’s level, and you’ll experience Him! o He will fill us once we stop feeling the world.
– When we allow ourselves to be worshipped, we cannot worship God for real. Humility is the only attitude of worship. – You have to enter in worshipping.
Bishop Walker, Bishop Walker…I want to move to Tennessee!!! So much of what he said spoke into my current situation. I am doing this series on worship, because I understand that worship is one of the best forms of communication to God, and I really am working, as I said before, on developing a deep, intimate relationship with God, so I can truly understand His calling on my life. The idea of being “real” with God is something, as a churchgoer, that is not always encouraged. You don’t want people in your business and you don’t want people looking down on you, so being real in worship is sometimes intimidating. It wasn’t until recently that I started to embrace this concept, and the sermons I’ve been hearing these past few months have been serving as confirmation to my conviction (thank you God!). If we want God to work in our real situations, we have to be real with Him! You can’t come to God bougie and want Him to get on your level! As Bishop Walker said, pretentiousness makes us powerless. When we exalt ourselves, we’re not exalting God. By not exalting Him we say we don’t think He has power, but we do. We don’t have enough power to handle life’s challenges on our own, but we can always be victorious when we request the power of God, but to take on His power, we’ve gotta get rid of our own.
Walker’s distinction between religion and relationship was very eye-opening and confirming. For a while, I have been struggling with the idea of being religious over being spiritual. I don’t think God’s plan is for us to abandon the Church, but I do think He wants us to move beyond allowing the Church to affect our relationship with Him. The Church was designed to strengthen our spiritual relationships with God, not break them. When we allow our interactions in the church or the people in the church to effect our relationship with God, we show that our relationship with God is not for real. When you have a real and a strong relationship with God people in the church, even your leaders, will not affect how you see God, how you worship God or what you do for God. This is not to say that you shouldn’t allow people in the church to expose you to different sides of God or to share their testimonies or to challenge you to give God more. This is to say, rather, that the Church is designed to strengthen your relationship, not break it.
Finally, Bishop Walker’s reference to the “unknown God” which Paul references in text is, as Walker so eloquently taught, the historical God which followers of Socrates worshipped after He was martyred. He is refered to as the “unknown God”, because only Socrates experienced God. He then told his followers about Him, but they never experienced Him although they worshipped just as Socrates worshipped. We have to move beyond worshipping a God we don’t know! It’s not difficult to do this. By studying and by praying we learn more and more about God. We learn to identify His voice, we gain His peace, understanding, boldness, direction, wisdom and so much more just by, simply, reading His word and praying for His vision. So, overall I loved this sermon and it left me with the following convictions: 1. What’s number one on my list, relationship or religion? While I do believe or denomination is part of our identity in God, I don’t think it should define our relationship. 2. Am I being pretentious? Have I found the balance between being independent while trusting God and throwing my issues to God while fully submitting to God? 3. Am I worshipping somebody else’s God, or am I worshipping a God that I know? 4. How do I interact with God? Do I try to feel Him in the way I feel human beings or do I pray for an experience in His realm? 5. Am I showcasing the Church, on a daily basis, in a way that Christ would desire me to?