We Must Go to Others
† In Jesus Name †
May the gifts of the love, the mercy and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ so accompany you in your life that you are aware of those who lack it, and may that lack inspire you to reach out to them with your greatest treasure!
As I tried to come up with a sermon title this week, knowing I was preaching on the gospel I tried to come up with something special, something that would inspire and catch on, a phrase you can’t get out of your mind, encouraging you to walk with Jesus, just as the apostles did,
I couldn’t come up with something, so I figured a great title is found in Jesus’s words,
“We must go on to other towns” or in these days, we can make it simple, “we must go to others.”
The problem using that as the title is that it sounds different than it really means. It sounds like work and obligation that is demanded of us by God. To use Lutheran-speak, it sounds like the law, and therefore it points out where we fall short, where we fail God and deserve to be punished.
But that isn’t at all what Jesus is telling the apostles when he says “We must go to others, and I will preach to them too, for that is why we came.”
We need to hear Jesus, and more than that, we need to understand Him. This isn’t about us being good children of God or good members of the church.
It’s about finding out for ourselves what Paul told the people in Athens, Repeat them with me.
‘In him we live and move and have our being,” Acts 17:28 (NAB)
What did “they” do?
Let’s go back a few verses, as Jesus and the apostles go to Simon Peter’s house. There, Jesus finds Peter’s mum sick, so sick that with a very important guest at her house, she is lying down, burning up with a fever. I mean, think about it, how sick would our ladies here be, if they didn’t get up and be hospitable?
So Jesus heals her, helps her up, and the word spreads.
Next thing you know, there is a crowd at the door and it looks busier that St Jude’s Hospital ER during flu season. People with every kind of illness and disease, people even possessed by demons, all being brought to Jesus.
Mark’s gospel tells you that the entire town turned out to watch these miracles….
But how did they know all this was happening?
Someone, more excited than someone winning the Superbowl had to have told them.
That’s what happens when we begin to realize the depth of God’s grace, the depth of His mercy. When we find out in Him we can live, really live. When we see our souls begin to be healed, we see others who need it, and then rejoicing even more that there is no limit. When the demons that torment us lose their grip. And we are freed from them and the guilt and shame that they try to plague us with disappears.
As we get used to that freedom, we never want to leave His side… so how will people know God’s love? How will they have the blessing of God’s love, the blessing of His mercy and forgiveness revealed to them?
Remember those words
In him we live and move and have our being!
Jesus doesn’t say, “I must” or “you must”
For that is why he came, to give us the knowledge that in Him is everything we are, our life, our breath, what we do, everything we are.
That is what the cross is all about, and all those church words, redemption, justification, reconciliation, renewal, revitalization, all those words picture that in Christ we have died to sin and all that isn’t of God, and our lives, our very being is found in Him. It is why he was born of a virgin, suffered and died, rose from the ascended and sent the Holy Spirit.
So that He could transform us so that He could give us life.
You see that as He doesn’t just say, “I must go to others,” and He doesn’t say “you must go to others.” What does He say, “we must go to others”
We must, Jesus and all those who are with Him must go to others. All those whom He has joined to Himself. We Must Go, We being Jesus and you all and me.
And then He is the one who reveals Himself to them, as He draws them here. And we don’t have to go all that far.
Why He Came
Maybe some of us are called to go to the next country, to go with Bernie to the Sudan, or with Christina to Turkey, but when Jesus says “we must go to others” it could be to our neighbor, who could be from the Sudan, or Guyana or Indonesia or France, or Germany or Switzerland or even someplace really strange – like Boston or Wisconsin.
We live in a transient age when people from every country on the planet save one or two have come to our neighborhoods! We must go, with Jesus, to them, so that He can show them His love. They even come to us sometimes, as they did yesterday. As I pulled up, 16 people were in the parking lot, playing a game called Pokemon go, a few hours later, I went to the bathroom and there were another dozen people. Both times, as we waited for the game to set, they asked me how I heard about the game being live on our campus. I said… uhm, I am the pastor here… and they asked questions about the church and about the school. People as young as a five-year-old, as old as all of us. came here to play a game on their phones,
At least that is why they think they came…
We, you, me and Jesus need to go to them and let Jesus reveal Himself, and the news of His love.
We, you and me and Jesus, need to go to others and let them know about the love and mercy and healing of their hearts and souls. Whether that means going across the parking lot, or across the street, state, country or world. We, Jesus, you and I must go..
Because this is why He came…
And as He goes to others, we simply go with Him, for in Him we live and move and have our being!
Love is, Jesus Is, We are
Not Demanding of our Way
1 Corinthians 13:5
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ so leave you in awe that you walk humbly with Him, rejoicing in His presence!
Love is not
The song we just sang, and have sung each week during Lent is a hard one for me to sing. Simply because it calls me to admit how I feel when I look at what God expects from us when I realize how hard it is to love, to truly love someone else….
When I realize how hard it is for me to love God with everything I am, all of my heart, soul, mind and strength. To love my neighbor as I love myself.
Especially when loving means that I don’t get what I want, that what is in my best interest, what I think is right has to be set aside.
We hear from Paul that love does not demand its way. It is not zealous; it doesn’t put all its energy seeking what it desires, what it wants, even what it needs. Or what it thinks is the right way to go….
And I as read this, the words to that song come to mind…
“my eyes are dry, my faith is old, my heart is hard, my prayers are cold. And I know how I ought to be, alive to you, and dead…. To me.
I would have thought I would be better at this by this time in my life, that I wouldn’t get so riled up when I didn’t get my way, that I wouldn’t be so hurt when what I know is right is denied by bureaucracy or systems that don’t consider the effect they have on people.
There are still times where I want to shake some sense into people……
You know what I mean? What were they thinking? How could they be so blind, so stupid,
and then I read this passage and realize how far I’ve strayed from what God desires….
For even if I am right, even if the way I demand is right, too often in demanding it I will win the battle, but I will lose the war.
Jesus is not
When we consider any aspect of love, it helps to see it in action, and the perfect example is usually Jesus. Okay, it is always Jesus, for only Jesus was perfect enough to love completely, and only Jesus, in that love provides the cure for when we aren’t loving.
In this case, we could look at the times when people begged for mercy, and Jesus went out of his way to provide it, to provide food for those that wouldn’t leave him alone, and followed him out into the wilderness.
Or we can look in the garden, and see Jesus asking the Father for an option to the cross.
38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Matthew 26:38-39 (NLT)
That certainly is not demanding your way!
And it was done so that you and I could know the depth of God’s love for us, for the cup of suffering he took, included the betrayals, the beatings, the cross,
He didn’t demand his way, but as Isaiah prophesied, like a lamb, he was silent.
We are not!
So what about us? How can we whose hearts are dry, whose faith is old, find the strength to love so sacrificially? How can we deny ourselves and take up our cross, and be silent?
On our own, we cannot.
As God guides Paul to write these words, they are there. This is what our confessions talk about as the describe the “New Obedience,” the way we begin to live as we trust and depend on God.
As we explore His love, as we come to realize our need and trust in God’s work, the Holy Spirit teaches us we are loved, and brings us to the point where we can love God and those around us. He shapes us the way an artist draws, guiding our lives as we look to Jesus, as we stand in awe of His love.
The way to love is not just to study the character of Jesus, but to know His love, to look to Him for that love and be amazed, to see the depth of His care for you and those around you, understanding what He promises, and rejoicing and treasuring the hope He gives.
Loving isn’t something that happens easily, but it is something that happens as we know we are loved.
A love that leaves us so at peace, so content, that we simply lay aside everything else to enjoy it, including the way we once so zealously demanded.
That peace is beyond our understanding, but for those who know God’s love, it is our reality, for Christ guards our hearts and minds in that peace. AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
As I went over our passage for Bible Study tonight, II Corinthians 1, the comfort and strength God gives so supported Paul the Apostle. He was convinced of it, as was many in scripture from Job to David, to John on Patmos. here is part of the verses we shall look at
8 …The burdens laid upon us were so great and so heavy that we gave up all hope of staying alive. 9 We felt that the death sentence had been passed on us. But this happened so that we should rely, not on ourselves, but only on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (TEV)
Now, I am one of those who hates being discomforted – even if it’s just pricking my finger to check my blood sugar. But it seems I have to face challenge after challenge these days. Or worse, I have to watch people I care for endure them. That really… well. sucks…
Yet, I’ve learned that as we take on the challenges, whether they are external afflictions like Paul endured in Acts 17 &18, or those endured by those who penned hymns like “It is Well”, “A Mighty Fortress”, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, or “Amazing Grace” ( or anything by Casting Crowns) we find ourselves face to face with God. And that is when these times turn to blessings.
It’s not that God wants us to need Him that desperately, it simply is, He will be there when we need Him. I wish to God that our trials never get that bad (even though some of the stuff I’ve been through recently makes me wonder) but I cannot doubt that He is here, and He will be there…
He is Yahweh – the I AM, and Immanu-EL – the God who is here.
Even if we, in despair, give up all hope, wonder why life is the way it is…
THere is time to be still, and find ourselves praising the God who is with us… for He is with us… and that changes everything. Including us!
- Becoming Like Christ…. How it Happens: (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Patience, Professors, Persevering, and the Plan of God. (justifiedandsinner.com)