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Sunday, June 21, 2015

06142015 2nd Sunday After Trinity - Let us love in deed and truth!

Sermon Audio

June 14, 2015
Let us love in deed and truth!
One of the favorite past times of some in the congregation is to go target shooting.  Matter of fact, two of our members compete in target competitions.  I enjoy target shooting as well with both handguns, rifles and shotguns.  While in college my best friend whose Dad reloaded both shotgun and rifle would invite me over and we would shoot for hours and our sore shoulders would be proof of a good time.  When shooting there would always be a target, whether pie tins, pencils or if we wanted proof the paper targets.  When we would use paper targets they were meant as a means for focus, both for the shooter to concentrate on and for after one was done shooting to see if we could hit what we were aiming at, whether clays with shotgun or orange targets for rifle.  When we would go and get the target it was very clear if we had ‘hit the mark’ or missed.  This was before I wore glasses full-time and I was a pretty good shot.

Unlike target practice, Christians who want to tell what Jesus Christ has done, don’t have a clear ‘target’ when it comes to the opportunity we have to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the main message of love.  Last week we heard clearly three important words, and I repeat them today, because as I said last week, we need to daily hear them.  “God is love”!  Since God is love we have the opportunity to love one another.  But this is a challenge no matter if you are retired mechanic, school teacher, husband or housewife, a farmer, someone who works in an office, a parent or a child.  Loving others is hard work.  So hard of work is ‘love’ that some people don’t even try.  They relegate relationships to things they will do later or only with select people, because it requires ‘work’.

In the church at-large, we are not immune to not wanting to have the ‘talk’.  There have been many times and situations in the history of the church at large and Emmanuel that a ‘talk’ or simple phone call or conversation would have resolved the issue and changed the direction of not only the chat, but ultimately the direction of the church. 

Because of the belief that God is love and doesn’t give us a ‘cognitive recalibration’, Christians at times chose the path of least resistance of not engaging when someone either gossips or spreads a falsehood.  And we the church have paid for this, from the time of Constantine when he legalized Christianity to today.  When we take the path of least resistance or say things in a tone, but are hurtful, we destroy the potential and possibility of having the trust needed between brother’s and sisters in Christ.

What occurs is that the society we live in, therefore says, ‘I want nothing to do with being a Christian’, because Christians are hypocrites, gossips and what occurs is that Christians lose credibility.  Society says, ‘they talk about God and forgiveness, but don’t treat people decently, I want nothing to do with organized religion’.  A recent Barna poll stated that “51% of North American Christians…possess attitudes and actions that are more like the Pharisees than they are like Christ.” [Carey Niewhof “The Top 10 Things Pharisees Say Today”, July 1, 2014]  We cannot dispute polls, but how can we Christians and especially the church respond?  How can we respond and emulate the love of Christ for all of mankind?

First, we can even though the world hates us as John says, still love in deed and truth.  We are called to love as God first loved us and gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  When we love unconditionally and without spreading gossip or heresay we then can place our head on the pillow at night knowing we have loved not just in thought, but clearly in word and deed.

Second, we can tell the truth in love, but without the attitude and tone.  Just as when sworn in at the court when we are called to testify, we can make the pledge to in love for God and our fellow man.  We can keep tone out of our voice.  So easy do we lapse into a tone, that all of us need to talk to the person next to us as if we are talking to Jesus, the author of our faith.  When we do this our conversations, attitudes and tones will be transformed.  And our conversations will be joyous and loving and emulate God’s desire for us to tell the truth in love. 

And finally, we can firmly believe we are following what God is calling us to accomplish for His Glory.  Loving our neighbors as ourselves, loving by leading lives of honor and integrity we honor God more fully and honor Him and the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.  We then both in deed and truth and by our tone can be clearly heard, understood and feel love from and for each other.

When we love each other we then change not only the trajectory of our conversations, we change our relationship and clearly emulate what Jesus Christ showed us on the Cross of Calvary.  In today’s world we need more of this, not just here in Goodland, Kansas, but all around the world.  One example of loving in spite of circumstance was related recently in an article I read.

With recent events in the Middle East and the continued threat of ISIS a story was shared by Jim Denison of the true impact of love by a Christian.  Denison tells of an ISIS fighter who enjoyed killing Christians.  This isn’t any ordinary story, but one that shows how the love of Christians can and does pay eternal dividends.  Denison writes:

“An ISIS fighter who says he "enjoyed killing Christians" has told missionaries that he has been having dreams of a man in white.  The man told him, "You are killing my people."  Before the fighter murdered one Christian, the believer said, "I know you will kill me, but I give to you my Bible."  He killed the Christian, then took his Bible and began to read it.  Jesus appeared to him again, calling him to become a Christian.  Now the man is asking missionaries how he can become a follower of Christ and be discipled.

Muslims the world over are having such dreams of Jesus.  God is miraculously at work around the world”.  [“ISIS Fighter  Who Enjoyed Killing Christians Dreams of Jesus” Jim Denison, June 9, 2015]

God is at work in our world today.  God is at work right here in Goodland and especially here at Emmanuel.  When we ‘love in deed and truth’, God uses us to change people.  God can use each and every one of us to change the world.  Let’s be the agents of change and allow God to use us as His missionaries to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For Jesus Christ message is simple that He came lived among us, died on the Cross and rose from the dead in order that all could have eternal life out of His great love for all of mankind.  Including all of us gathered here today who believe God loves us and we can ‘love in deed and truth.’  AMEN.

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