Revealed Through Love
Pastor Diane Gordon
Mt Pleasant FUMC
May 21, 2017
Scriptures: 1 Peter 3:13-22 NRSV and John 14:15-23 CEB
††††††††† Have you ever found a stain you just couldnít get out? Godís love is a lot like that.
No matter how far weíve wandered from the fold, Godís love still sticks and we are forever sought after by Godís prevenient grace.
Some might miss that fact and live in fear of God and feeling unworthy of the love, especially if they focus on the Old Testament stories of Godís retribution to the unfaithful, the breakers of rules, and the sinful. It is through the words and work of Jesus that we see the nature of Godís unfailing love revealed. Yes, the commandments are for our own good and the good of our relationships Ė both with God and with others, but few have been faultless when it comes to never breaking any of the 10 Commandments, and STILL, God calls us back into relationship, offering grace to save our souls.
The Spirit is revealed to us when we live in light of the love. We are strengthened by the Spirit to live the way God hopes we will; loving God and neighbor, loving our enemy, doing good, and serving those in need. It doesnít guarantee that we wonít suffer even when doing good, but we will be blessed.
Todayís passage from Johnís gospel is part of the poignant message of Jesus as he impresses upon his followers that he will soon be taken from them, but that they are not being abandoned. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will come to those who believe and never leave them. Jesus is asking them to embrace the love he has lived among them as the goal for their lives.
ďWhoever loves me will keep my word. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.Ē This is a powerful statement from Jesus. Do you love Jesus? Do you keep his word? He tells us that if we do, the Spirit Ė the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will be made manifest to us. Jesus will indwell our hearts and minds and we wonít feel separated or apart from the love. Ever. I want that. We all want that, I hope.
This is what it looks like to be a Christian. This is what a relationship with Jesus becomes. An indwelling of His Spirit. It follows then that this indwelling will shape our thinking, shape our living, and shape our relationships.
Who could have this habitation of heart with God in Christ and still malign another human being? How could we say to the poor, homeless one, ďget a job!Ē when we donít know their story? Donít know their history, or physical and mental state. Donít know what they need to take that next step. This is why our church and many, but not quite enough, volunteers host the ICRH rotating homeless shelter in winter.
Who calls themselves a Christian and thinks we should not feed hungry children just because their parent gets government assistance? Most of us here have no idea how meager that assistance is or how troubled some of those parents are. The stresses cause them health problems. They are not all on drugs or drinkers, as some would assume, but something is going on that causes children to not have enough food to eat and that impedes their growth and ability to think and learn. And if we truly love our country, we will do everything in our power to have a healthy, well-educated populous, because when we donít, we know that things will only get worse, generation after generation.
We must remember that God loves those individuals just as much as he loves us. God doesnít play favorites, even though sometimes it seems like the rich get richer and the poor get kids, as the old saying goes. Godís love is universal. ďAll persons are of sacred worth,Ē says our Methodist Book of Discipline.
If we truly believe this, we will stop our constant measuring and judging and we will live as if that is true for us as well. All persons are of sacred worth and all means all. Persons of faith, persons with no faith, persons of every sexual orientation, persons of every color, persons of every educational level and every economic level are of sacred worth. Every child that has been created is a child of God, for how else could the miracle of birth take place?
The other day Tom and I were watching a movie on Netflix entitled In Defense of Food. In it they showed what was discovered about motherís milk and the indigestible parts. Turns out, that part of Motherís milk coats the babyís intestinal tract and protects it from all but one kind of bacteria, and that bacteria protects the baby from bunches of other things that would kill them. I couldnít help but say a prayer of thanksgiving just then, knowing that God has done this for our benefit. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, indeed!
Today, as we celebrate our high school and college graduates we celebrate their place in our fellowship and the persons they are becoming. They are beloved children of God and we pray that they will continue to love God and live into their baptisms and the gifts birthed into them. We will follow their journey and pray for them.
The world they are going into is a beautiful place, filled with a diversity of life, of people and so many things that we have never experienced ourselves. We will pray for their safety, their health (both mental and physical) and their fulfillment. And all the while, we pray that the God who loves them and has loved them from day 1 will indwell their spirit so that they are never alone and have guidance from above.
We know that the world is a beautiful place, but we also know that the world can be a horrible place. Humans have much to do with the horrible bits. Our sinful nature causes great pain. We have created greedy systems that favor some over the rest. We are poisoning the earth, still, and wasting resources for our own convenience. Our fear and hatred cause wars, and more wars.
How can we, as individuals and as a community of faith, change those horrible parts? We canít, but God can. God has the power to create something new and is creating. What we can do is to participate in Godís new creation by letting the Spirit guide our hearts and minds. What we can do is to be sure we repent of our sinfulness and make room in our hearts and minds for God in Christ Jesus to be at home in us, influencing our future decisions and actions, how we spend our money, and how we spend our time.
God will be revealed through love. As the world seeks proof of God, we can be portals of Godís love. May the mirror reflect to you the face of Jesus and may the love of Christ flow through you and out into the world. Amen.