Series: Wings of Transformation
Pastor Diane Gordon
Mt Pleasant FUMC
April 2, 2017
Scriptures: Romans 8: 6-11 CEB and Luke 11: 1-45 CEB
Every human being who responds to Godís grace and opens their heart to the work of the Holy Spirit can have new life and peace. Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, we too can be transformed to new life that is powered by the Holy Spirit.
Our desire for eternal reward, heaven, is not something we can earn ourselves, no matter how ďniceĒ we are. We need Jesusí work on the cross and the gift of Godís grace to bring us home. Accepting that gift takes a change of heart, humbling ourselves before God in confession of our brokenness and acknowledgement of faith in Godís power as displayed in Christ Jesus. When you live in that faith, Godís Spirit lives in you and you belong to Christ.
While we Methodists believe that Godís grace is offered to all people, we know from experience that not everyone responds to Godís invitation. The number of people today who claim no religion, no faith, or no belief in God is evidence. I struggle to understand those that see this life as all there is, when faith tells me that what I see in creation is no accident. The varieties of life and beauty of nature give evidence of a power beyond our ability to fully comprehend. The presence of Jesus on earth, able to heal and restore people to life the way he did, glimpsed for us the reality, power and presence of God.
When we give our hearts over to the love of Christ we experience something others donít. When we give our hearts over to the love of Christ we have the PEACE that passes understanding, even in the midst of lifeís storms. With that peace comes the strength to keep going, day by day. With that peace comes the ability to hang in there.
In the early church, the peace of Christ was the blessing passed from person to person. When greeting one another, and even when greeting someone new, Christians would say, ďMay the peace of Christ be with youĒ or more simply ďPeace be with you.Ē You knew you were greeting fellow believer when their response was ďAnd also with you.Ē This was the sign that you are among friends; that if you had need of anything, all you had to do was ask, or if you saw a need you could be trusted to help. The spirit of the living Christ was alive in their fellowship. The fruit of the Spirit could be seen in their relationships and His Spirit grew stronger as their faith grew.
When we give our hearts over to the love of Christ we have HOPE for outcomes in life that far surpass our imagination. We may not be able to see the path ahead more than the next step, but we trust that God goes before us. When we have placed our faith in Christ we have reason to believe that death is not the end and we have nothing to fear. Our lifeís journey will have twists and turns, but we know that God has great things in store for those who believe.
When we give our hearts over to the love of Christ we learn to LOVE those who donít love us; we experience a growing desire for the wellbeing of all. We display mutual respect, even when we see the world differently than the other, because we know that every person has significance to God. This includes people of different races, nationalities, religions, economic classes, educational levels, generations, sexual preference, gender identity, or political persuasion. All are significant to God.
Jesus taught that we are not to judge, and if we did, the measure of judgment we used would be the measure given to us in the final accounting. If our hearts cannot see fit to offer grace and forgiveness to another, then we will reap the same reward.
Itís easy to love those who love us. Itís easy to get along with people just like ourselves, but we were commissioned to go into all the world, mingling with strangers and those far removed from our comfort zones, to share the love of Christ with them with the goal of making new disciples of Jesus.
None of us would have the courage to do this without holiness of heart and life, without the peace of Christ, hope of eternal life and love for all firmly grounded within. This holiness is not self-righteousness, but humble, intentional devotion to Godís way of being. It takes mindfulness and the rejection of temptation and evil; making no room in our lives for sins like greed, pornography, adultery, hatred, anger, violence, pride, or worship of idols like wealth and power.
While temptation to sin is powerful, the Holy Spirit is more powerful and ready to help us. God is ready and waiting. All we have to do is ask. Transformation awaits and resurrection to new life is available to all.
May the peace of Christ be with you. (And also with you.) Amen.