Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17, 2009

Sermon for May 17, 2009
OPC, John 15: 9-17
The commandment of love?


This is all about others and Love this morning. But I was reminded of a story. After a particularly long historically based, rather dry sermon, an older man came up to the minister and said, “that was a nice change. Usually the sermons are all about love and crap like that.”

Well, my hope this morning is that it will not be ‘crap like that’.

I want you to try something with me. I want you to think about someone that you hate! Really. Think about it. Now, for some of you, that was an easy thing to do. For some you might be saying, well I don’t hate anyone. Bull! Think broader if you need to. Think about someone living or dead that you do or could hate. For some right now, you might be picturing me. That is okay.
Now, in that space what feelings are you experiencing? What happened that made you so mad! What would you like to do to that person that you hate so much?
Now, think of the one you love the most. That special person in your life, your parent, spouse, child, lover. How is that feeling different from the one just experienced? How do you show your love to that person? Are there others that you love that much?
Now, just set that aside for now, we will revisit it later in the sermon.

We are talking about love this morning. And it the greatest gift that we can give to other people, and that we can receive from others.

What else does our Gospel lesson tell us this morning?
The central words of this passage are those in which Jesus says that his disciples have not chosen him, but he has chosen them. It was not we who chose God, but God who, in his grace, approached us with a call and an offer made out of his love.
The theologian and commentator William Barkley, commented that “out of this passage we can compile a list of things for which we are chosen and to which we are called.”
i) We are chosen for joy. However hard the Christian way is, it is, both in the travelling and in the goal, the way of joy. There is always a joy in doing the right thing
(ii) We are chosen for love. We are sent out into the world to love one another. Sometimes we live as if we were sent into the world to compete with one another, or to dispute with one another, or even to quarrel with one another. But the Christian is to live in such a way that they show what is meant by loving their fellow person
(iii) Jesus called us to be his friends. He tells his men that he does not call them slaves any more; he calls them friends. Now that is a saying which would be even greater to those who heard it for the first time than it is to us. Doulos (GSN1401), the slave, the servant of God was no title of shame; it was a title of the highest honour. Moses was the doulos (GSN1401) of God (Deut.34:5); so was Joshua (Josh.24:29); so was David (Ps.89:20). It is a title which Paul counted it an honour to use (Tit.1:1); and so did James (Jas.1:1). The greatest men in the past had been proud to be called the douloi (GSN1401), the slaves of God. And Jesus says: "I have something greater for you yet, you are no longer slaves; you are friends." Christ offers an intimacy with God which not even the greatest men knew before he came into the world.
(iv) Jesus did not only choose us for a series of tremendous privileges. He called us to be his partners. The slave could never be a partner. He was defined in Greek law as a living tool. His master never opened his mind to him; the slave simply had to do what he was told without reason and without explanation. But Jesus said: "You are not my slaves; you are my partners. I have told you everything; I have told you what I am trying to do, and why I am trying to do it. I have told you everything which God told me." Jesus has given us the honour of making us partners in his task. He has shared his mind with us, and opened his heart to us. The tremendous choice laid before us is that we can accept or refuse partnership with Christ in the work of leading the world to God.

(v) Jesus chose to be ambassadors. "I have chosen you," he said, "to send you out." He did not choose us to live a life retired from the world, but to represent him in the world. When a knight came to the court of King Arthur, he did not come to spend the rest of his days in knightly feasting and in knightly fellowship there. He came to the king saying: "Send me out on some great task which I can do for chivalry and for you." Jesus chose us, first to come in to him, and then to go out to the world. And that must be the daily pattern and rhythm of our lives.

(vi) Jesus chose us to be advertisements. He chose us to go out to bear fruit, and to bear fruit which will stand the test of time. The way to spread Christianity is to be Christian. The way to bring others into the Christian faith is to show them the fruit of the Christian life. Jesus sends us out, not to argue men into Christianity, still less to threaten them into it, but to attract them into it; so to live that its fruits may be so wonderful that others will desire them for themselves.

(vii) Jesus chose us to be privileged members of the family of God. He chose us so that whatever we ask in his name the Father will give to us.

We are all the chosen ones of Jesus and God. You should feel very special and very proud. Think back the image of that person you love so much and all the feeling around it. Can you believe that the love God has for us all is greater than that? Do you think God hates that person that you hate? God might not like what that person has done, but God still loves them very much. What could change for us if we were able to love the person we hate? What could change in our life and theirs if we were able to just love them? How great would this world become if we were all to treat the ones we hate like the ones we love.

As children of God, as those loved by God, as those believing in God, Jesus told us what to do, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
I love you all. Amen.