This message was shared at Centerville UMC on Sunday, May 10, 2015. The Scripture used to launch this message came from 2 Timothy 1:1-5. The message began with a short video by the Skit Guys called “I’m Sorry, Mom”. You can view a preview of the video on their website.
After that video, I hope all of us will take the time today to give thanks for our mothers. And, if your mother is still with us, be sure to let her know you love her. So, make that sweet little vegetarian mommy of yours the best salad she’s ever had!
The thing with Mother’s Day is that it can be a joyous celebration. But, for some it can be a painful reminder…a reminder that your mother is no longer with us; a reminder of a painful relationship; another reminder that though you may desperately desire to be, you are not a mother; a reminder of loneliness, hurt, and pain. So, while we celebrate Mother’s Day, we also need to be mindful of the fact that Mother’s Day isn’t all flowers, fancy brunches, and dressed up kids for everyone.
Now, I’m about to make a statement that will blow your mind. What I’m about to say just might knock you out of your pews. What I’m about to say is so deep, so profound, so heavy…I’m not sure if we can handle it.. But, it has to be said. Are you ready to hear it? Okay, here it is:
None of us would be here today if it weren’t for our mothers!
I know, that’s a shocking statement. It just might have made some of you uncomfortable. Of course we all know that we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our mothers (or our fathers for that matter, but they get their own day next month, so that’s enough about fathers). You see, our parents played a pretty big part in our creation. No matter how great or how lousy your relationship with your mother may be (or may have been), you wouldn’t be here without her.
But beyond that, there are some of us here this day that wouldn’t be in worship this morning if it weren’t for our mothers. Whether we were willing participants or dragged kicking and screaming, some of us learned the importance of faith and church from the leading, example, and sometimes the pushing, shoving, and dragging of a faithful mother. Some of us may still be learning from that example too.
So, what’s the underlying theme and motivation for these faithful mothers? One word…LOVE. This morning, we will look at motherly love through the power and example of Gods great love.
We heard a short passage from 2 Timothy that tells the story of how Timothy’s faith was passed down…from his grandmother to his mother, and from the mother to the son. This passage sets a great example.
One of the best things we can do is pray for the children in our families, church, and community. How many mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles are constantly remembering their children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews in prayers? Our prayers for the members of our families are incredibly powerful. We need to be praying for our children. If you don’t have any children, you can be praying for the children you know. (Story of returning to Center Chapel and having people say, “A lot of us were praying for you when you were in high school and college.”)
Timothy’s faith was handed down from his grandmother to his mother and from the mother to the son. The way we live out our faith and the priority we give to it speaks loudly to our children and others around us.
The importance we give to drawing near to God through passionate worship, intentional faith development, extravagant generosity, radical hospitality and risk-taking mission and service communicates so much to those in our lives.
For the adults in the room, we have a great responsibility to live our lives in such a way that others will be drawn to Christ. Our lives should be lived in a way that they add to and enrich the faith of those around us. If participation in church, Sunday school, Bible study isn’t a priority for us, we shouldn’t be surprised when our kids don’t make it a priority.
For the young people in the room, you have a responsibility to live your lives in such a way that others will be drawn to Christ too! In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul encouraged Timothy and said, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” So, young people, you’re not off the hook.
So, we need to ask ourselves, are the people in our lives developing a sincere faith because of our example? What are we handing down to younger generations? What are we passing on to the people around us?
In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
“Love one another as I have loved you.” That’s a great description of motherly love. Some of us have had the great pleasure of having mothers that have lavishly poured out their love on us throughout all the various stages of our lives. I’m positive that our mothers desire is that we would then share and give that same kind of love to those around us. It’s that unconditional love…the kind of love that is love for love’s sake…not a give and take kind of love (I’ll share my love with you if you do “this” for me). It’s the unselfish giving of ourselves for others.
But yet, the love that a mother has for her children doesn’t even begin to measure up to the kind of love that God has for each of us. His love goes above and beyond. And yet, this is the love that Jesus calls us to…a love marked by sacrifice, humility, service, peace, mercy, forgiveness, joy, the list could go on and on and would still fall short in trying to describe the kind of love that Jesus has for us and calls us to have for one another.
We are told in this passage that people will know we are with Jesus by our….bumper stickers? Listen, if you are going to put Christian bumper stickers on your car, make sure that you drive the speed limit and don’t cut people off!
One of our local police officers shared a story with me earlier in the week. He said he noticed a female driver tailgating another vehicle on 40 near Round Barn Road. Suddenly, the light turned yellow. The first did the right thing, stopping at the light, even though he probably could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. The tailgating woman slammed on the brakes, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection. As she was still in mid-rant, the police officer went and tapped on her window. She looked up with surprise and concern. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger-printed, photographed, and then placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal possessions. He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ bumper sticker, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car!”
So, Jesus didn’t say they will know us by our bumper stickers. Oh, I know, Jesus said they will know us by our t-shirts! That’s it, right? No! Many of the Christian t-shirts in the Christian bookstores are most likely violating all kinds of trademarks and copyright laws.
Did Jesus say they will know us by our words? No. Think about some of our Christian words and how they don’t make sense to those outside the church. Not only do we have words like chancel, narthex, substitutionary atonement, hermeneutics and exegesis, we love to use “code words” for various rooms and classes. When I was growing up, I used to hear announcements like “MYF will meet in the JOY room”. What the heck does that even mean? You want to know why new people don’t participate in MYF in the JOY room? They have no clue what that means! Why can’t we just have classroom numbers and say “The high school youth will meet in room 4, also known as the old folk’s room”? People who haven’t been around for 5, 10, 20, 50 years won’t understand our code words!
Oh, I know, Jesus said they will know us by our songs? No! Let’s be honest, many of our Christian songs leave something to be desired…lyrically, musically. Some of our Christian music is the worst music ever. And, it should be the best. Christian music and art should be the best. Yet, we often settle for mediocre or worse.
It’s not by our bumper stickers, t-shirts, words or songs. It’s by our love.
If you couldn’t speak, if there weren’t t-shirts that said “Jesus Freak” or “Come at me, bro”, how would people know that you’re with Jesus? Do people see God because of the way you love?
If we Christians took seriously the call of Jesus to love one another, this world might be a lot different from what it looks like today. Can you imagine what a world led by and focused on love rather than greed, lust, power, and money would be like? It’s hard to imagine a world free of war, free of hunger, free of pollution, free of injustice, free of hatred, free of judgment…Maybe that’s why love is so important. Maybe love, real love, gives us a glimpse of what God originally intended for us. Maybe love gives us a glimpse of what the Kingdom will be like. Maybe love is the basis to make the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven a reality.
John 14:23-29- This passage starts off with a call to obedience. If we truly love God…If we truly desire to follow Him we will obey His teachings. As children, we’re called to honor and obey our parents. Why? Because they just might have our best interest in mind. As followers of Christ, we’re called to honor and obey Him. Why? Because He does have our best interest in mind. His ways our better than our ways. If we would only be obedient…
It also tells us in this passage that if we are obedient as His followers that He will dwell within us. We’re not on our own here. God’s not only with us, He is making His home deep within us. Why does God give us the Spirit? To teach us. To guide us. To lead us. To remind us.
God’s desire is that we would show our love for Him by following His ways. We have a call from Jesus to love and to obey his ways. We do this by leading lives of passionate worship, intentional faith development, extravagant generosity, radical hospitality, and risk-taking mission and service. We love and obey by making a commitment to grow, give, and go together.
But we’re not out on our own. The Spirit is with us to develop our strength, to lead us to faith, to bring us peace and to help us find freedom from fear.
If people will know that we are Christians by our love, then we have a responsibility to live out lives of love. Are you doing all you can to show love? What are people learning from the way we live? Do people see Jesus in and through us as a result of the way we live, work, play, talk, and set our priorities? What are our lives communicating to the world around us? Love, faith, peace, freedom, or something else?
Max Lucado in his book “Come Thirsty” took some passages of Scripture to put together some thoughts on what it might look like if God wrote us a letter. This is one I really enjoyed: “I throw my arms around you, lavish attention on you, and guard you as the apple of my eye. I rejoice over you with great gladness. My thoughts of you cannot be counted; they outnumber the grains of sand! Nothing can ever separate you from my love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Your fears for today, your worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep my love away.”
This is the kind of love the Father has for us and calls for us to have for one another. Are you living out a life of love?