Comprehending Incomprehensible Love: Rev John Blazé - John 14:15-21; Acts 17:22-31
Message: Comprehending Incomprehensible Love: Rev John Blazé
John 14:15-21; Acts 17:22-31
God, you have given us your word, and now may the words of my mouth and the thoughts and feelings of our hearts hear your message for us today. Speak to us through your Spirit. We pray this is your precious name. Amen.
A year before last in May about this time of the year we were in Athens. We had the privilege of going up Mars Hill. This was the hill Paul where Paul preached the sermon that we read in Acts. He had been seeing all these gods and the way they were worshipping idols in Athens. He saw this altar with an inscription to an unknown god. And he starts to speak and to tell them about the Lord. But as I stood there and remembered what Paul had done, I found the courage that he had so marvellous. I would never have had that courage when I stood at that same place to speak to the people that were around the way he did.
And yet it is true that today we live in a society that is very much like the society that was in Athens at the time. People had lots of confidence in their own ability, in their own understanding, their ability to debate, their knowledge. Today we have people with great knowledge and confidence in various areas of life and we find that their knowledge of our Lord is not really a knowledge that knows him as their personal God and Saviour. This indeed is something that should concern every one of us, even as it concerned Paul at that time.
I was thinking about today and reading this passage from Acts, so I looked up the statistics. I found that in 2016 in the census in Australia (which we have thought as nominally a Christian nation) more than 30% of the people said they were either agnostic or atheist. Another 9% said they don’t understand religion at all. And only 50-52% said they were Christian. But amongst those who claimed they were Christian, among the Roman Catholics, Protestants and the Orthodox church there are quite a number of people who don’t really hold to the creeds that we as Christians hold. For example: Latter Day Saints, Jehovah witnesses, and many other various sects and groups of people, including nowadays I believe the Uniting Church as a whole with the present Assembly also is virtually a pagan church which worships another god. That might be a bit harsh. But we certainly do not accept the scriptures of the Uniting Church as being holy and being the Word of God. They prefer to intellectualise and talk about unity and diversity and all kinds of ideas and intellecutalising of the scriptures. I don’t think of it as unity in diversity, I believe it is unity in perversity. We are a perverse group of people if we hold to the present Assembly’s ideas of what our faith is. Again maybe I’m being too harsh and critical. But those are the thoughts and feelings I get as I read my bible and I see how people change the interpretation of the bible to suit themselves.
As a nation we are now more interested in other gods. Some of us worship football, maybe our families, our present hobbies, our jobs, our wealth. There are all kinds of idols we have in our society. So it is a very grim situation with the concentration of people who believe in themselves, who worship their own ego. God is themselves. This is greatly disappointing. And yet is should be encouraging. Because if we were like Paul, we’d see a whole field of people who need to hear God’s word. And here we are as His people to proclaim that word, to tell people about this God that they don’t know and need to know so desperately.
Jesus, as he was talking to his apostles and friends just before he departed, he was saying to them: The way he loves and the way we should love too. If we love him, he lives in us. His Spirit will be with us and we will have his Spirit. What a glorious thought, glorious feeling it is to know that our God, and our Lord and our Saviour comes and dwells in our hearts and minds and that we are able to be His people and to have love for each other, to share with one another. As we break bread and drink wine in his name and proclaim that Jesus is Lord, and that the Scriptures are true. We need to be bold in proclaiming that Scripture. How do we do this if we are to do it effectively?
I don’t think I have the courage to stand out in the marketplace and start preaching as Paul did. And yet, I don’t think that would be a very effective way to tell people about Jesus Christ these days. Maybe it would be. I think Jesus gives us a clue as to how to let people know, and that is in forming relationships. He talks about our relationship with him, and with the Spirit, and with God our Father. This is the relationship that we need to impart to others.
Telling people, proclaiming the gospel is a good thing to do, but we need to have the relationships and make the relationships do that.
I have next door neighbours who are Hindu. I love them dearly. And they also respect my Christian faith. I try to build up a relationship with them that some time I might be able to witness about my Lord and Saviour that they might be able to depart from their idols and the foolish gods that they have. They are very devout Hindus and very worshipful of their religious beliefs. Yet it is in some ways, such a waste. I believe we have to build relationships to proclaim God, to proclaim Jesus Christ. To do that we can’t do it in our own strength. But Praise the Lord, He has given us His Spirit, His own advocate to speak for us in the courts of the world, to speak to the world. He is the one who dwells in us and walks in us and empowers us to do this. So, we need to give praise and thanks to Jesus Christ that His Spirit is with us. He’s left His Spirit in us. He’s with us and we can’t be separated from Him or from God our Father. The great and creative God who created all things, who is our Father and the Father of Jesus Christ who’s one with Him and the Spirit.
So, Lord we give praise and thanks for that. Lord, we ask that you be with us now and help us to understand your scriptures to proclaim it by our living and by our conversations and relationships with other people, that they too might not perish but have everlasting life. And it is so worded, if we love them as you love us, if we want to claim your wonderful love, we need to bring them that message. There is no way to God the Father, to the great God our Creator, the only God that there really is, except through our Saviour Jesus Christ. May we constantly live in the knowledge and the understanding, that we might know Him more deeply and more sincerely and proclaim Him with courage, without any kind of shame or fear or embarrassment, for He is a great God. So, Lord we give you praise and thanks. And may your Word go out to the world through us. Help us to proclaim that Jesus is Lord. We pray this in your name. Amen.