Los Alamos Church of Christ

Connections 2016

The Soup Line – A reminder of our value to God

 

Let’s begin this morning by using our imaginations.  Let’s pretend we all are in a Soup Line.  You know what I am talking about, where homeless people line up for a free meal.  We are all hungry.  The Generous Organization is giving away free soup.  So, we have lined up.  We are waiting until it is our turn to get a bowl of soup. 

 

But there is a problem.  We suspect there is not enough soup for everyone.  At some point, we don’t know when, the Generous Organization will run out of soup.  Everyone left in line will go hungry.  So, we are feeling a bit uneasy about our place in line.  There seems to be a lot of people in front of us.  If we are not close enough to the front of the line when the Generous Organization runs out, we are going to go hungry. 

 

But this Soup Line is a bit strange.  Instead of operating under the old, “first-come-first-serve” law, the Generous Organization requires the recipients to justify their place in line.  Those who deserve the soup go toward the front of the line.  Those who are undeserving are moved to the back of the line.  That way those who are worthy of the soup will have a better chance of getting soup.  Those who are not as deserving, will not waste any soup.  It is a strange Soup Line.

 

To make it even stranger, the line itself gets to determine the deserving criteria.  The line itself decides who gets to move up.  The values, chosen by the line, determine who moves to the front and gets soup and who moves to the back and is goes hungry.  We are standing in line while figuring out who moves up and gets soup and who moves back and may go hungry.  It is a strange Soup Line.

 

So, in our imaginations, we are standing in this weird Soup Line.  We are wondering…  “Who deserves the soup?  Who gets to eat?  What are the criteria?  Who gets to move up?  Who has to move back.”  Most importantly…  Am I going to get any soup?”

 

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Then, in our strange Soup Line, the criteria are announced…

--The rich get to move to the front.  Obviously, because you have lots of money you are more important than those who have little; the rich get to move to the front of the line. 

--Those who are famous, celebrities, movie stars, sports greats, are surely more important than ordinary people.  Ordinary people go to the back… celebrities go to the front.

--The educated are worth more than the dropouts.

--The beautiful are in front of the ugly.

--Athletes move forward.  Clumsies go to the back.

--The healthy are in front of the sick.  

--Whites are in front of all other races.

-- Americans are obviously ahead of all other nationalities. 

 

So, rich celebrities with advanced degrees who are good looking athletes from white America are in the very front of the line.  I think you get the picture of how our line is organized.  We have developed a pecking order of who gets the soup. 

 

Now don’t forget, we are not sure how much soup there is. Those at the end of the line may go hungry. It is a strange soup line.  “Am I going to get any soup?”

 

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What I haven’t told you is what kind of soup the Generous Organization is handing out.  It is no ordinary chicken soup.  It is not good old potato soap.  It’s not even chilled cucumber soup.  We are waiting in line for Worthy Soup.  We are all standing in line to receive our portion of worthiness.  Without it you will be hungry for approval.  Without the Worthy Soup you will be hungry for acceptance.  You will miss out on recognition.  You May even go without… love.  You really want some Worthy Soup. 

 

The question is how far up the line are you?  When the soup runs out will you go hungry?  If you are not important; if you are at the end of the line; you may not get any worthiness at all.  And that would be sad! 

 

Where are you in the Worthy Soup Line? 

 

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You may suspect our imaginary Soup Line is a… metaphor.  Obviously, it is a metaphor of how our culture values people.  We compete for worthiness.  We want to feel important.  We have this craving for significance.  We want to be valued by others.  We want others to think we are worth their attention.  We have an innate need for acceptance.  I know I want a little glory, for me.  Hey, I want somebody to love.

 

So, what do we do?  We mentally form our own little soup lines.  We work it all out in our heads… “I am ahead of all those kind of people.  Certainly, I am worth more than those who have those who voted for...  the other candidate.   I have a master’s degree.  I am a preacher.  I am further up the line than the alien, or the unemployed or those who talk funny or come from a different place or who have committed some crime or who are fans of the Oakland Raiders.”

 

In my own little soup line I can move everyone to the back and attempt to move me to front of my line?  I can manipulate the criteria of who goes to the front of the line, so that I can be first.  I get the first bowl of soup.  “But do I really?  Does my private Soup Line work?  Am I really in someone else’s line?  Whose line am I in?  What if I want to be in your line?  Who decides how much soap I get?  I don’t know.  I just need some soup.”

 

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But there is something sad about our soup lines.  There is something wrong with the Generous Organization’s Soup.  The soup is only… water.  There is nothing to it.  It only quenches the thirst for a moment.  It does not provide any nourishment.  So, the competition continues.  We have to get more.  Surely, if we eat enough soup we will be filled.  We keep thinking if we can be at the front of the line we will get what we desire.  But our soup lines can’t provide any real worthiness because the Generous Organization has none to give.  We can’t give worthiness to each other because we all have empty bowls!  The whole Soup Line thing doesn’t work because the Generous Organization doesn’t have any worthiness to give.  “O no, I may never get any soup no one has any real soup to give.”

 

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Wait.  Something else is wrong.  Our strange Soup Line metaphor is broken.  There is plenty of worthiness to go around.  There is no need for a line.  There is no need to work to get to the front. There is an unlimited amount of worthiness to share.  No one should be hungry.  There is no need of a Soup Line, at all!  There is real, nutritious glory ready to be granted to anyone who asks.  That changes everything.  I would like to advocate, there is plenty of worthiness to go around.  All the worthiness, we could ever consume, is available in… God’s Soup.  God’s soup is unlimited.  God’s Soup feeds our true hunger.  God’s Soup satisfies our desire to be worthy.  There isn’t any need for a soup line, at all.  Whoopee there is enough soup for everyone! 

 

Listen to Ephesians 2:1-10 with Soup Lines in mind.

 

ESV Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 

 

You were dead…  We were hungry for value.  We lived in the line attempting to gratify ourselves… doing whatever we could to move up the line.  That is what our Soup Line Metaphor was attempting to do; gratify the cravings of our selfish desires.

 

ESV Ephesians 2:4-5  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved!

 

But because of God’s great love for us… we were taken out of the line by being loved.  We know we are loved by God.  That takes us out of every Soup line and moves us into the grace of God.  We don’t need human Soup Lines.

 

ESV Ephesians 2:6-7 …and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 

And God raised us up…  God gives us the value.  I am valued by the creator of the universe!  The One who is all valuable, has valued me.  We need no more significance than to be made alive with Christ. 

 

And seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus… There is no greater glory than to be sitting on a throne with Christ.  Use your imaginations again to see yourself on a throne beside the big throne of Christ.  We are not standing in a line with our empty bowls begging for recognition.  We are sitting on a throne beside Christ Jesus!  That is how God sees us.  We are kings on thrones.  If we could see ourselves as God sees us we would never stand in a Soup Line again.  You are a Prince.  She is a Princess.  We can sit on thrones….

 

Being shown the immeasurable riches of his grace.  That’s what I want.  I want to be the object of God’s grace! I am going to get incomparable riches throughout the coming ages!

 

ESV Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

It is the gift of God… not something we have to earn.  God’s grace is not something we have to deserve.    We don’t have to move up the line to receive God’s gift.  God’s Soup is not something we deserve.  We don’t have to be rich celebrities with advanced degrees who are good looking athletes from white America who voted for the correct person.

 

ESV Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

For we are God’s workmanship…  God, the ultimate craftsman, has made us to be who he intends us to be.  God doesn’t make junk.  God only creates master pieces.  You are God’s master piece.  You are designed by God to do specific, good works; he had in mind, when he made you.  You are valuable because you are made to do His will!

 

In Christ.  In the body of Christ.  Within the church we have all the Soup we need.  Within the body of Christ we walk together in his value!

 

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Wow.  I don’t have to stand in the Soup Line.  All the worthiness I could ever want I have in Christ.  I am alive… that’s a good thing.  I am on a throne… that’s an amazing thing.  I receive God’s grace… constantly.  I am God’s master piece… for all the ages. There is no need for any of our culture’s empty recognition.  I have prestige from God!

 

The good news is… there is plenty to around for everyone!  In faith, step up and get a generous portion of God’s Soup!  By faith we accept this grace.  In baptism we are drowned in the grace of God and come up a new creation.  We come out of the new birth to sit on the throne as God’s Masterpiece.  Wow.  Don’t you want some of God’s Soup?

 

Eating deeply of God’s Soup changes who I am.

--Eating God’s Soup changes my need to compete for my spot in the line.  I don’t have to prove that I am better than you.  I don’t compete in lines ever again.

--Eating God’s Soup changes how I feel towards others.  I no longer need to get ahead of you.  I can sympathize with you.  Instead of competing against you, we can share our connection in God. 

--Eating God’s Soup diminishes my pride.  It is all God’s Soup.  Pride and jealousy start to vanish.

--Eating God’s Soup weakens my need for the world’s approval.  I am filled up with God’s approval.  I no longer hunger and thirst for their acceptance.

--Eating God’s Soup allows me to show mercy.  Hey, I am not in line.  I can be merciful.

--Eating God’s Soup keeps my heart pure.  I don’t have to pretend.  I don’t need to lie.  I don’t need to get ahead.  My motives are pure.

--Eating God’s Soup lets me live in peace, because I don’t have to win, anymore.

--Eating God’s Soup strengthens me when I’m ridiculed.  What do I care that you tease me.  God loves me.  Hey, I am sitting on a throne with Christ, and you are teasing me. 

--Eating God’s Soup places me in a community of people who help me stay connected...

 

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Throughout this year we have been doing Connections.  In our connecting to our LORD I wanted to remind you of your value.  In order to connect to our God we must understand our value to Him.   I wanted to make a brief stop at the Soup Line to remind us that God loves us.  God accepts us.  God lifts us up.  We are His workmanship.  We are tight with God.  In this recognition we connect to Him!  In the body of Christ we have all the glory we need for all the ages.

 

 

Tim Stidham

November 13, 2016

Los Alamos Church of Christ