Summary: Which is more important - the little victories in Spiritual Warfare, or our salvation...
Concordia Lutheran Church
Pentecost 17 September 26, 2009
“Do not rejoice in….rather REJOICE because!!!”
† IN JESUS NAME †
The Quest for Joy
Dear friends in Christ, may God’s grace, mercy and peace, which sustains us in all times, those of triumph, and those of trauma, and those of just challenge, may you enjoy that grace, mercy and peace.
I long to be with you this morning! (and not just because I am bored out of my mind. As you hear these words read to you, you will begin to understand why serving you as your pastor is so important to me.
As I drive home from church, and get off the 91 at Beach Blvd, I still am shocked by the amount of people that you see in the first few blocks. Some are going to be pirates for the evening, or knights and damsels in distress. A little farther on – and you can get soaked at Soak City, or be thrilled by the rides and attractions at the Knotts. I can’t imagine, in those two blocks how much money is spent daily in those two blocks. Never mind the place a few miles away, whose fireworks echo over the area at 9:30 every night. Millions of dollars a week, spent in search of amazement, happiness, some form of joy, that will pass in a few days.
We could catalog all the places the world looks for enjoyment, and note that none of them satisfy. In today’s gospel though, it wasn’t about the joys of the world that Jesus challenged. It was about the joys they had in ministry! Jesus had sent out 70 people – about the number of people we have today, to go into communities with the message of God’s love and presence in their lives.
Imagine me coming into church next Sunday, and each of you brought five friends. Do you think I would be a little happy? Or imagine if I told the school board and teachers that 100 kids enrolled this week, or Tom that they had 20 more Eagle Scouts to do projects here? Or if I told Chuck I needed him to hold my bulletin for 30 baptisms next week.
And Jesus says, “Don’t rejoice in all that…
(pause – count 5- oaklahoma)
No, don’t rejoice in that….
(longer pause – 10 nebraska)
There is something better.
Not that is not good
But it is distracting
You are probably saying – this doesn’t sound right – 100 kids in school and we shouldn’t dance and throw a party? 30 baptisms and we can’t get excited? We can’t rejoice that we are doing God’s work? Hear again what the disciples were talking about,
“The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” Lk 10:17 (ESV)
Imagine you are expecting the Messiah, and you think this miracle worker may be him. He now empowers you to go out and preach, but also to heal, and as you go out, and find people that oppressed and possessed by demons, you are able to free them from such tyranny! Would you be excited? Wow – look what I do, look – God entrusts me with His power!
And perhaps like us, the disciples need to be reigned in, and refocused.
The problem isn’t with the actions, they are good actions. They are even praiseworthy. it’s not with the awe, it’s with it distracts us from God, and His love. We become like children at Christmas, whose attention becomes more and more focused on the gifts, than the givers. It’s would be like me playing guitar with Chris, and being impressed with the corporate music we play, and taking all the credit. Am I part of the compilation? Sure, am I what makes it sound good? Well…
This week, I read a pastor’s letter which explained why he was in the denomination he was in. His words, “ I appreciate our contributions to Biblical scholarship and our liturgical heritage. I especially appreciate the degree of "freedom of thought" which is respected and encouraged in our denomination. I also appreciate the great amount of work we do on behalf of the disadvantaged, and the lead we have taken in ecumenical relationships. The XXX makes me proud to be a XXX.
What’s missing in the statement? Where is the mention of Christ, and proclaiming His salvation? Where is something about being free to share in the incredible blessings of grace? Where is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit? Where is God?
Walking with Christ
You see my friends, the joy is not in doing the work – the joy is in whom you are doing the work with. This will sound like a generalization, but for the guys, think about when your Dad started bringing you into the garage and teaching your to use the power tools there. Or grandpa argued with your dad and took you fishing with the big boys. Or maybe for the ladies, its when you mom, or grandma brought you into the kitchen and helped you make your first cake. While the place is special and what you doing is new and exciting, it’s the relationship that matters most. It’s the love shown, the trust given, the relationship…