Summary: Text: Year A, 12th Sunday after Pentecost (Josh 24:14-18, John 6:58 – 69) FCF: We must focus on the grateful words of life or else will miss out on the obvious goodness of God. MP: The Gospel is an obvious choice, but there are things that prevent us
The Obvious Choice
Text: Year A, 12th Sunday after Pentecost (Josh 24:14-18, John 6:58 – 69)
FCF: We must focus on the grateful words of life or else will miss out on the obvious goodness of God.
MP: The Gospel is an obvious choice, but there are things that prevent us from making it wisely.
1. Intro: What keeps us from choosing God when he’s so obviously good?
2. Exclusivity (Joshua)
a. 40 years ago…
b. Conditioned to hedge our bets, but love is exclusive (I love my wife AND…)
c. Pearl of Great Price. True Love does not believe in AND
d. the world’s notions of tolerance and pluralism, have no place in love
3. Counter-Culture (John)
a. Love Jesus so exclusively / Lord’s Supper is your susitence
b. iPhone and the Paradox of Choice
c. Dr. Phil (Romans 6.21 – What benefit did you gain from these things?)
4. Too Good to Be True (John)
a. Christ is your last best hope
b. Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others
c. Eph 3.20 – Able to do exceedingly, abundantly
d. Jesus is the Word of life
5. Words of Life
a. Memorize Ps 103:1-5
b. Take a bath / meditate / continue the prayer
c. Come back next week and do Form V!
Lord Jesus, thank you that you have set us free. We know that which you set free is free indeed, and we pray that you would not let us use our freedom to return to slavery. Rather free my mouth to proclaim your life giving Word and free our hearts to hear it. Let us the Truth you have for us, and let the Truth set us free, we pray, in the name of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
They say if you love someone, you should set them free. Around College check-in season, they also say if returns home on its own, better open your checkbook, because you are probably related. Well, this morning, we have two lessons in which God shows how much he loves us by setting us free.
The problem is, too often, we use that freedom to make really bad choices. Once you turn 21, you are free to drink whatever you want – and we all know people for whom that freedom becomes disaster. When I walk into an all-you-can-eat buffet, I’m free to eat whatever I want. Doesn’t mean that I won’t gain each and every pound I deserve, but I am free to indulge.
And most importantly, I am free to either accept or reject the love that Jesus extended to me in being part of His kingdom. Love only exists outside of coercion, and freedom means that some people will reject that love. The question is: ‘Why would you?’ When we learn to focus on His benefits, we find out how amazing it is to be related not to a king, but to The King, not just the one who has the words of life, but the one who first spoke them.
I want to focus this morning on the OT and Gospel lessons, because in both cases, we see people who like us have been set free. They are free to choose God or reject him. And, that freedom carried a risk for God– the same risk you take whenever you set something free. The risk is that the one who has been set free will make a dumb choice. In both cases, otherwise intelligent people turned their backs on God. Some used their freedom to love statues instead of God; others used their freedom to choose to become trapped by their culture instead of embraced by the love of Christ.
It’s a terrible thing to choose slavery to sin over the love that sets us free, and yet people do it every day.
The question I want to focus on is ‘Why?’ Why is it, when faced with such an obvious benefit, people don’t choose God? The answer lies in how we make our decisions. Do you go with our experience, or with love? In Joshua, you see that choosing God will seem exclusive – but love is exclusive; In the Gospel, you see that choosing God is counter-cultural because love is counter-cultural; and finally as a result, you will see why it is that choosing God seems too good to be true because indeed love is too good to be true. The secret to loving God is to retrain our experience into seeing God’s love. .
Joshua - It seems exclusive
Let’s start by looking at Joshua. Let me put you in the context first. 40 years ago, your parents were slaves in Egypt. 40 years ago, God performed a series of miracles to set you free. But 40 years ago, your parents rejected the Promised Land that God had specially prepared for them by being afraid to take what God had put on a silver platter. As a result, for the last 40 years, you have been wandering a literally God-forsaken wilderness, following a pillar of cloud by day and a flame of fire by night. Every morning, God has provided sweet bread called manna, and every time you’ve needed it, there’s been water. Every now and then he’s even given you meat. Your clothes haven’t worn out and your tent has never failed. God has been good.