IT GOES ON YOUR SLEEVES
Ephesians 1: 15-23
MATTHEW 5: 43-48
October 11, 2020 – DRESSING FOR SUCCESS PART #3
The word is EPIPHANY and while it is usually described as a noun it can also be used as an adjective as in … I had an EPIPHANY MOMENT. You see, I still cling to the old Webster’s Dictionary that during some past moment of time became the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary … I go to Webster’s for defining moments; growing up we always had a Webster’s Dictionary in the house. The last one I remember had a red jacket covering a dark blue hard cover encompassing this beautiful collection of words and their meanings. I wonder whether younger families always make sure they have a dictionary around the house … but then I also wonder whether the Bible is viewed as an essential ‘go-to’ visible book in most dwelling places these days when books have become passé just as newspapers have been relegated into the trash heaps so that social memes become our source of information or unreliable never heard of links to nowhere become our standing points in arguments we have with those whom we disagree with.
Now, some of you may be wondering where Pastor Dave is going with this morning’s diatribe, which could be defined as a prolonged discourse or as ironic or satirical criticism but believe me I am going to make my point as we take on the third part of my sermon series DRESS for SUCCESS. I will get back to my epiphany moment but after pausing to look in the mirror and to tweak our Spiritual diet these past two weeks hopefully we have all discovered a common ongoing connection, which is why I tossed in that discourse about dictionaries and Bibles and their visibility. If your children do not see a Bible in your home that is valued and visible why should they consider adding a Bible to the apps on their cell phones? If your grandchildren have never ever noticed God’s Word in a book form on a coffee table or kitchen table with book marks or perhaps folded over corners indicating that it is being read … why should they think that anything more than TIK TOK dances should be worth their time. And, I would argue that if we want future generations to have the capacity to contribute thoughtfully and write in more than the 280 characters, which are allowed in a TWEET on TWITTER they need to see a dictionary and know it’s value. LOL … ha I am LMAO OMG
Oh, yes OMG … OH MY GOD, which brings us back to that Epiphany moment that occurred earlier this week. EPIPHANY can mean “a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something or an intuitive grasp of reality through something usually simple and striking” or of course “an appearance or manifestation of a divine being.”
Well, I wish I could say that there was a direct appearance of the holy but once again music was playing combining with a conversation … Neil Young’s haunting song from the Seventies’ lyrics “And, I’m getting old. Keep me searching for a heart of gold. And, I’m getting old.” The conversation was with someone who had told me that they thought their faith was a private matter because when they go out into the world they need to fit in … for the sake of their success. They admitted that the words of Jesus Christ really don’t cross their mind during their waking hours nor do they have time to read the Gospels but they are regular posters to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Not enough time for the Gospels … the words of Jesus Christ don’t cross their minds while they are out in the busy business world … and then the song came KEEP ME SEARCHING FOR A HEART of GOLD and I’m GETTING OLD.
And, Paul writes to the early church in Ephesus, “Since, I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people this is the reason that I don’t stop giving thanks to God for you when I remember you in my prayers.” Church, is there anyone in your circle of friends and family who regularly hears about your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ … do your posts on social media reflect your love for all of God’s people? We have a serious problem with the church in the year 2020 and until we fully understand that we need to be comfortable in wearing our faith right on our sleeves we will never be able to dress for a successful faith walk. KEEP ME SEARCHING FOR A HEART OF GOD … I’m GETTING OLD.
Can you imagine … an individual who proudly declares that they are a Christian … a member of a church … the individual and their family back in the pre-Covid days actually would come to a Sunday morning coffee hour … oops church service together on occasion … can you imagine that person telling a pastor that what matters out in the big old world is fitting in; using the world’s language; and they never find the time for reading God’s Word much less thinking about Jesus’ teaching in their daily lives because it is so so important to fit in church, isn’t it. To be popular with the IN CROWD … to align yourself with friends who would never ever even want to consider loving all of their neighbors much less helping the poor ones with their own personal money or rushing to help the broken on the other side of the road who are not in their group. It is important to fit in with those kind of people … at least in the minds of many church goers.
In week one of this series of conversations I am having with you, I asked you to truthfully examine yourself in the Spiritual mirror. To take some honest moments for self examination. Last week, my challenge to you was focused more on developing yourself into a stronger person of faith and I gave you eight Spiritual Diet tips.
Today though there is a clear question because frankly today is the bridge moment for each of us in our journeys … it’s reflective of so many Scriptural passages… I’d guess that if you flip your Bible open ten times you will find this theme in most of those readings.
In today’s reading from Matthew as Jesus continues his discussion on the mountainside that overlooks the Sea of Galilee He teaches again with clarity, “You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. BUT I SAY TO YOU”. Now, remember who is speaking this is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, a member of the Holy Trinity, and I hope to all of you because He is to me .. your personal Savior and Lord … Jesus says, “I SAY TO YOU LOVE YOUR ENEMIES and pray for those that harass you SO THAT YOU WILL BE ACTING AS CHILDREN of YOUR FATHER who is in HEAVEN. IF YOU LOVE ONLY THOSE WHO LOVE YOU, what REWARD do you have? Therefore, just as your Heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, SO ALSO YOU MUST BE COMPLETE.” We could go to the Gospel of John where He said His believers, followers, … in essence Christians would be identified by their love of all, too.
Church … this is the one thing you can’t fake. Are you showing your love for all people on your sleeves when you go out into the world. Your love of all .. your love of neighbors … your love of enemies … you don’t have time to not take this on because this is the essence of faith and I can tell you by just glancing at the hate that was again spewed on my FACEBOOK yesterday about a simple meme that mentioned Jesus feeding the poor … that lots of church going people think WORLD first and forget about LOVE OF ALL, KEEP ME SEARCHING FOR A HEART of GOD … frankly I am pretty sure that all too many church going people don’t buy into that LOVE OF ALL THING even though we have to; if we are to be in God’s club; the people going through that narrow gate one day. “Enter through the narrow gate, Jesus taught. “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and may enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Are you living a life is taking you down that narrow road leading to the small gate? If the world looks at you … can they see by what you wear on your sleeves where you are headed or is it hidden away until your sleeping hours?
This is SERIOUS … so for those who are here in church today, I have given each person a love pin and I am challenging each of us to wear this love pin wherever we go … while of course also wearing a mask. I wish I could find a COVID 19 mask that says ‘I love you like God loves you’ because our love for all GOES ON OUR SLEEVES … it need to GO INTO OUR WORDS … it needs to be part of our actions because until it is we cannot ever dress for success in a faith walk with God because we have failed the part of the test that allows us to go further. If you would like a love pin just let the church know and we’ll get you one but you need to commit to wearing it … not on your sleeve but on your shirts and blouses. The truth of your faith walk … goes on your sleeves and needs to be shown to the world whether its across your dining room table, at the office, in a ZOOM meeting, at the grocery store, or on FACEBOOK.
And, this week someone challenged me by saying that they didn’t think it was right for God to put expectations on them … they argued saying that God should just love and not judge. HUH OMG Seriously, this person wanted to play the role of God because they didn’t like that fact that God in Matthew 25 listed some life activities they did not want to accept as requirements. They didn’t like Scripture suggesting that there might not be a happy ending for everyone when life here is finished … They wanted to be rushing down that wide highway with a broad gate opening … one the 1980’s song may have been referencing in HIGHWAY TO HELL. I bet this person wants to bring their politically divisive lawn signs up to their mansion in heaven to make sure everyone knew who mattered most to them. KEEP ME SEARCHING for a HEART of GOLD ,,, and I am getting old.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers.” See, church that is one choice … allowing the essence of who we are go sense God’s call … to see the hope of God’s call, which we also heard the prophet Jeremiah reveal to God’s people, “I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord, they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future willed with hope.” But, if you refuse to see or endorse God’s light then how in the world will we ever fit into God’s framework for our future here that will lead to our eternal life with God.
God’s love through Jesus Christ makes our decision easy and clear but it never erases the element of choice because God decided we each have that. Paul has written, “Watch out for the “dogs.” Watch out for people who do evil things.” Are you watching out or are you placing their banners on your arms and their chants into your vocabulary?
We are taught “Let every living thing praise the Lord! PRAISE THE LORD!” But somehow our noise and our shouts about Jesus Christ cannot be revealed for fear of upsetting people yet we can definitely declare our politics to the world and condemn those who disagree with us never hesitating to consider those we condemn are amongst those God has taught us to love.
But, as we move forward … and I hope you want to dress for success in your faith walk with God as I do … as we move forward today the good news is that the God of Creation loves each one of us but God does not stop with those who are worshiping with a Christian church this morning online or in person .. God loves all. God sent Jesus because of God’s grace and love for all to simplify matters to shine a bright spotlight onto that narrow road with that small gate but God’s decision was to give us the right to choose and Jesus and God sadly, and I am sure they are sad over this truth … sadly they knew more would be headed onto that wide open road of rejection.
Those of us who get it … who understand our hearts need to be aligned with God’s heart .. with Jesus’ heart and full of love for all … we are the people who also get the assignment from Jesus, which by the way comes directly from God … “GO INTO THE WORLD … make disciples!” Wear your faith on your sleeves … showcase love for all without hesitation!
You and I will have th Light to see and experience God’s call, which as Paul writes is “the glorious inheritance amongst believers with power conferred by the energy of God’s powerful strength.” Let God’s love and power energy you today … step out into the world wearing your faith on your sleeve and together let’s change the world for Jesus Christ by proclaiming His message … His truth … His call! PRAISE THE LORD!!