I heard an ad on the radio the other day for some household item like a vacuum or blender or something. And you know what the gist of the ad is don't you? With "the touch of a button, the mess goes away." With the touch of a button, the clothes are clean. With the touch of a button, the channel changes, the food is heated, yes, with the touch of a button, you can even stop your dog from barking. Have you seen the commercial for that device. It emits a high pitched sound that helps your dog learn to stop barking when you want him do.
I started to riff on that and think about all the other aspects of life that might be able to be improved with the touch of a button. With the touch of a button, the traffic light changes. With the touch of a button, the weeds are pulled, the weight is lost, the kids behave, those who get on my nerves are dealt with. What if there was a remote control with a mute button that worked on people. Then when they went on and on and you didn’t want to hear them anymore, you muted them. (mouth words for a while)
We thrive on gadgets, gizmos and apps for our phones that make things easier at…you name it, reading the bible, organizing your calendar, e-mails. I even saw a little device that someone attaches to their iPad so that they can ring up credit card payments. It’s a one inch by one inch magnetic strip credit card reader.
We love those things that make toilsome tasks not. But sometimes, well, a lot of times, toilsome tasks involve people, people that sometimes get on your nerves.
And we do have our “mute” buttons for those people. The buttons aren’t labeled “mute.” They’re labeled, “headphones,” they’re labeled, “busyness,” “caller id” “unsent e-mail” what else do we do to shut people out?
There are a lot of us that at certain points in our lives were people that only God could love. You’ve heard that phrase, “ he had a face that only a mother could love.” Well, I’ve learned, looking back at my life, in retrospect, I’ve been a person that only God could love. Fortunately, there were still others that did as well, anyway.
That’s my point. God didn’t touch a mute button when we cried out for help. At the right time, God sent his Son, personally to save us and pull us out the mire.
Psalm 69:13–14 (NASB95)
13 But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord, at an acceptable time;
O God, in the greatness of Your lovingkindness,
Answer me with Your saving truth.
14 Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink;
May I be delivered from my foes and from the deep waters.
Psalm 40:1–2 (NASB95)
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
John 3:16–17 (NASB95)
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
And so, God did that. He rescued us. He made our lives in order. He made us righteous. That righteousness is continually manifesting itself in the continual change of our hearts, minds and behaviors. And as a result of us continually living more and more in this truth, that we are righteous, the more we recognize how messed up our world is around us. The more we recognize that, the more we want to see it change, the more we want to be a part of the change. This is good. However, because there is sin involved, this isn’t going to happen with the touch of a button, a blog posting, a tweet, an e-mail, or a text. It’s going to involve investment of time, energy and not merely the checking of a box.
This is the part of the sermon where I’m supposed to have a really impacting story of how relational ministry and love has positively affected lives. Those stories are out there and real. But a more relevant question is not how important it is or how powerful it is. The question I have is, oh my goodness, who is up to such a task? What one person can do all that? What one person can love on the unlovable and love on their own family and the friends they already have, etc? Because you know what? Loving on people is draining even when they are lovable. It takes energy to do that and time. Who is up to such a task? And some people would say, “Eric, that’s you and John’s job….that’s one of the reasons we tithe. Hello. You guys went to pastoring school.” And they’d be right to certain degree.
But do the math. There are about hundred people that come to Mosaic. Maybe they don’t come every Sunday but about hundred. What’s a hundred divided by two? That’s a lot of people for John I to pastor, care for check up on, etc. Fortunately, it’s not all that. We saw an example of that the other week when Stephanie’s daughter Opie, was having seizures and all kinds of health situations, members of the church got together at the Chipley’s and prayed for that. Many of us were able to call Kirk and Stephanie and ask how Opie was etc. This is good and this is how things should work. John’s on vacation and I soon will be as well. Does that mean the church stops working, that people are no longer being cared for, prayed for, etc?
I certainly hope not. Let’s see what scripture has to say about that:
Acts 6:1–4 (NASB95)
Choosing of the Seven
1 Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.
2 So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables.
3 “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.
4 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
OK. That is an example of the early church dealt with. That’s what we call descriptive not necessarily prescriptive. Some would site an example like that and say well that’s the way things oughta be with us. Maybe. Maybe with a lot more persecution we’ll become more like the first century church. That means any of you guys who like to sport long hair will have to get a haircut and women who like their hair short will have repent of that as well. Haircuts and extensions are not my point here.
My point here is to ask what was the basis of their decision. Why not just say, “if woman neither works, neither shall she eat?” and then just focus on the ministry of the word.
For that we need prescriptive truth, what does scripture, Jesus prescribe? It’s really simple,
John 13:34–35 (NASB95)
34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 15:12 (NASB95)
Disciples’ Relation to Each Other
12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
John 15:16–17 (NASB95)
16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
17 “This I command you, that you love one another.
Romans 13:8 (NASB95)
8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 (NASB95)
9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
1 Peter 1:22 (NASB95)
22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
1 John 3:10–12 (NASB95)
10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;
Just in case you were wondering what love is
12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.
It’s not that!
Are you seeing a theme here? You’ve heard commercials for movies and they sometimes have the phrase, “the critics agree, two thumbs up.” Well, as far as the love thing goes, “writers of the scripture agree, love one another.” Whose job is that? Right, all of us.
I guess I would just ask you, are you aware of what is going on around you in the lives of those around you? A few weeks ago, John asked you to commit to pray for two people on a regular basis for a few months. I hope you’ve been faithful with that. Let’s up the ante though. Look around you. Do you know what’s going on in the lives of those whom you are praying for? Aside from praying that they are effective in sharing the gospel, what else might they need prayer over, love over?
Is church, this meeting time, another one of your apps like on your phone? Is it something that meets a felt need? Or is it an opportunity to grow more into the nature of Christ?