Summary: A sermon about accepting God's Love.
“The Invitation to Life”
I want you to close your eyes for a moment.
Clear your thoughts.
Now, think about the person you love more than anyone else in the world.
Is it a mother?
Is it a son, a daughter, a friend, a husband, a wife?
What is it that you love about them?
Does what you love about them have anything to do with the love they have shown you?
Now, imagine God loving that person.
Imagine God loving that person so much that God gave His only Son so that that person might have eternal life.
Now I want you to continue to keep your eyes closed.
And I want you to think about the person you dislike more than anyone else in the world.
Is that person a family member?
Is it someone who has physically or emotionally abused you?
Is it someone who bullied you or excluded you as a child?
Is it someone who bullies and excludes you even now?
Is it someone you disagree with politically?
Is it a leader?
Is that person a neighbor, a co-worker?
Who is that person?
What are your feelings toward that person?
What thoughts come to your mind?
Now imagine God loving that person so much that God gave His only Son so that that person might have eternal life.
Open your eyes.
Which scenario was easier to imagine?
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning Jesus makes one of the most extraordinary announcements in all of time:
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.”
It’s easy to assume that God loves the people we love, or the people who seem to be doing good things.
But that’s not what Jesus says.
Jesus says that God loves the whole world—that includes the people we might not be terribly fond of or the people who might not be terribly fond of us.
God has an incredibly deep and unconditional love for the world.
It’s really mind boggling.
We might expect those of us whom God created to reach out to the Creator.
Instead, the Creator reaches out to us—a lost, broken and horribly messed up creation who have rebelled against Him.
And God reaches out to us through Jesus Christ.
The implications of this are massive!!!
It means that God can be found where the Son of God is found.
Think about it, in the space of two chapters in John’s Gospel alone Jesus is found first meeting in the dark of night with a Jewish leader named Nicodemus, a powerful man.
And next, Jesus is found meeting in the noon day sun with a Samaritan woman, a forgotten outsider.
And while Jesus can sometimes be found in the synagogue and in the Temple, He is usually seen in the streets, where He is feeding, healing, teaching, forgiving and loving.
And today, Jesus is still living in the world, through the Holy Spirit, doing the same exact things—but on a much larger scale—through His Church—that’s you, that’s me.
That’s the Pentecostals down the street, the other Methodist Church in East Ridge, the Lutherans, the Church of God!!!
You will find people from all these denominations and more the first and third Wednesdays of each month serving Jesus together in our family Life Center Building through the East Ridge Community Food Pantry.
It’s a miracle really.
When Christian persons come together in our common mission to love God and love neighbor in life changing and tangible ways—the petty differences of denominations and theological disagreements fall away.
It is when Christians are living without vision and purpose that we start throwing rocks instead of handing out bread.
What’s the saying?
“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”
But when we are all working together to do all we can to help a lost, sad, dark and dying world know God loves them, that there is hope, that Jesus died for them—that’s when all the disagreements about doctrine and denominations and who’s in and who’s out become nothing but filthy rags.
Yet, how often does the world hear a different message?
How often does the gospel—which is no gospel at all—sound not like love but like condemnation?!!!
How wrong we get it when we get in the way!!!
Jesus makes it clear, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.”
Jesus’ mission and thus our mission, as well, is not a rejection mission.
It is a rescue mission.
It is the offer of life from above for all who are perishing.
So many of us have been taught that the goal in life is the accumulation of stuff or of prestige or of power.
But this does not bring salvation, nor satisfaction.