This message was shared at Centerville United Methodist Church on Sunday, July 26, 2015. John 14:1-7 was the Scripture reading for the day.
This summer, we are going through a worship series called “Love is a Mix Tape”. Each week, we use Scripture and songs to explore various topics. We’ve used the music of Bob Marley, Mumford & Sons, Johnny Cash, and Coldplay. A little later this morning, we’ll hear a powerful song by Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors.
Last week, we talked about forgiveness and the importance of seeking, receiving and then extending forgiveness. This morning, we will be focusing on the relationship between love and obedience.
In this morning’s passage of Scripture, Jesus begins by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
Now, in order to better understand this, we need know what Jesus had been talking about prior to this statement. Just before this passage, Jesus had made it known that he would be betrayed by one of his disciples, he commanded his followers to love and humbly serve on another, and then predicts Peter’s denial.
This is a lot of heavy stuff Jesus just dropped on his disciples. Can you imagine the weight of that conversation? These disciples had given up everything to follow Jesus and now He says, “Well, I’m out. One of you will betray me. Peter, you’ll deny me.” Ouch! It would be stressful and cause fear and anxiety. And, it’s in this context that Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
In the midst of our stressful, fearful, anxious, troubling moments – those moments where life punches right between our eyes – Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
Let me ask you to think about something this morning…What troubles your heart? I’m not talking about your heart being troubled because Meijer was out of Ben & Jerry’s “Tonight Dough” ice cream. I’m not talking about your heart being troubled because the Cubs and Reds split their series last week. I’m not talking about your heart being troubled because your dad bought a Harley on Wednesday and you’re still riding a Schwinn. I’m not talking about your heart being troubled because you didn’t get that “whatever” you so desperately wanted. What troubles your heart?
Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”, and then provides reasons to place our hope and trust in him.
Jesus calls us to stubbornly trust God. When our hearts are troubled, that is when we need to stubbornly trust God. William Barclay writes, ““There comes a time when we have to believe where we cannot prove and to accept where we cannot understand. If, in the darkest hour, we believe that somehow there is a purpose in life and that that purpose is love, even the unbearable becomes bearable and even in the darkness there is a glimmer of light.” When we stubbornly trust God, the unbearable becomes bearable; we can see that glimmer of light in the darkness.
Jesus proclaims that he is the Way. He is our guide. He leads us. Therefore, we are called to follow His example. Jesus was kind, compassionate, loving, and a grace-filled, hope-filled presence among the overlooked and the outcasts, the marginalized, the most notorious of sinners. He had very little tolerance for the legalistic religious types who perverted the ways of God to their own benefit and to oppress the least among them. So, Jesus is the Way. He is our guide.
Jesus proclaims he is the Truth. Jesus didn’t say, “I’ve taught you the truth.” He said, “I am the truth.” If we want to know what is true, we look to Jesus. “You shall know the truth (Jesus) and the truth (Jesus) shall set you free.”
Jesus proclaims that he is the Life. If we want to find true life, it is found in Jesus. What is the meaning of life? Jesus!
Jesus then proclaims that no one comes to God except through Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life. The way, the truth, and the life of Jesus can be summed up in one word: love! If we are followers of the way, the truth, and the life, we are called to love.
Let us hear these words of hope from John 14:15-21: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever. This Companion is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world can’t receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you. I won’t leave you as orphans. I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
We trust Jesus because we love Jesus. Our love for Jesus should naturally lead us to obedience. If we love Jesus, we will obey. The Holy Spirit is given as the guiding force that gives us the strength, the courage, the ability, and the desire to obey the way, the truth, and the life. It is by loving and obeying Jesus that we find life! Obedience is the evidence of our love.
Let me ask you again, what troubles your heart?
- Hungry children? (33% of children in Wayne County live in poverty – Pal-Item. That 33% too high)
- Broken relationships
- The fact that many of the most marginalized, the most hurting, the most broken and desperate in our world are overlooked, abused, mistreated
- That people do not know the way, the truth and the life? People need Jesus!
Demographic studies report that nearly 80% of the folks in a 5-mile radius of our church don’t participate in a faith community. Many are open to Jesus, but they are turned off by the church. What’s that mean? The harvest is plentiful? Hopefully the workers won’t be few!
If we truly love Jesus, if we truly desire to obey Jesus, we have a responsibility to share Jesus with our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and complete strangers. We have to get out of our comfort zones, get out of our building, and share the love of Christ with the world around us. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples” not “sit around and hope someone shows up!”
We have the greatest hope in the world. We’re being selfish and unfaithful if we hold onto it for ourselves.
As Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors “Live Forever” plays, I’d like you to think of those you know who desperately need the way, the truth, and the life. Who do you know who desperately needs Jesus and His church? Pray for them.
Don’t just think about it. Don’t just pray about it. Do something. Share your faith. Invite someone to church. Jesus said “go and make disciples.” Well, what are we waiting for?