Saturday, May 08, 2010

C, Easter 6 - John 14:23-27 "Time Management"

A couple of weeks ago we heard how Christ having been raised from the dead, confronted Peter on the shores of Lake Galilee and asked him three times if he loved him. And when Peter responded in the positive Jesus then commands him to feed and take care of his sheep and his lambs. If you want to recount these events they can be read in John 21.

In the gospel reading today (John 14:23-29), also under the theme of love, Jesus tells his disciples and us loving God reveals itself in our trust and adherence to his Word. Not only will one who loves God hear the word, but they will uphold or keep it.

So what is upholding God’s Word, in order that we can be reassured we are loved by God? How can you be sure your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life? What guarantee do I have I am being included in heaven’s eternity rather than in an endless existence outcast into a never-ending place of darkness and suffering.

The first thing we can observe is our time management regarding our relationship with God. This time management is not what we do for God, lest we become guilty of trying to earn our salvation through what we do! But rather, it comes down to how much time we allow God to do his thing in, with, and through us. So we ask ourselves, “Am I allowing God access into my hearing heart to conform me to his thinking and will?” Another way of saying this is, “Am I being still, actually stopping, to know and let God be God to me?” Alternatively, “Am I so busy in my own mind and life, being god of myself, to let God be God.”

The sin of time is arguably one of the greatest deceptions these days. People are too busy for healthy relationships with each other. And even worse, we’re too busy to give God any access into ourselves. We become so busy embellishing our relationship with ourselves; we have no time for anyone or anything else.

Let me be clear! This is the number one idolatry against God’s First Commandment where “I am the lord my god, and I will have no other gods other than myself!”

If we think this sin is worse out there amongst the pagans, I would encourage you to stop and take check of yourself. This is one of today’s greatest deceptions in God’s children too. We only need to seriously investigate where the glory trail leads to see we all fail in our time management and our time for listening to God and his will.

In Acts 16 we hear a peculiar occurrence as Paul and Timothy are guided by God not to minister in what we would now know as northern Turkey. Rather than go into the Asian provinces of Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, and Bithynia, they passed by and allowed the Triune God to lead them into Macedonia, which today is northern Greece and modern day Macedonia.

Surely the people of these Asia Minor areas needed salvation too! Paul and Timothy very well could have argued this way and gone there. But with a love for God they placed themselves under his will and were lead elsewhere.

Unfortunately today in the church, we act in a way which Paul and Timothy didn’t. We give God’s will a shove and in its place put our desires, seeking to quickly put God in an ever shrinking box rather than giving God time to conform us into him and his will.

This even happens where we get busy for God, because in doing what “I” believe to be God’s work I am not actually allowing God to be busy in me with his faithful way, truth, or life.

Are you so busy doing “so called” godly things to let God be busy with what he needs to address in you? You know! The things you’d rather keep hidden! You and I must answer “yes” because of our sinful self-centredness.

So, should we despair of being Christian and do as those who once sat beside us and abandon faith in God in favour of a faith in other things as do the pagans? Should we give up as a myth having true peace? Indeed, have we the power to find or hold onto the love of God? Furthermore, does God love me even while things seem to be falling to pieces everywhere in my world?

Seeking answers in ourselves will lead us to despair. Looking into ourselves is in fact the problem. You and I have no answers to save ourselves from death. But rather, death comes to each of us because of who we are.

Every part of our being is tainted by sin; our emotions and feelings, our understanding and thoughts, even our will and our godly works. Because we are being bound to death in this life, every part of our earthly being is dying too. We set ourselves up for failure every time we try to love and exist without someone disempowering the deadliness that pulses from our very desires and efforts.

The answer is with God; in allowing him time to do his will in you! He seeks to do his heavenly work of forgiveness in you. This involves digging out the sin, placing it on the cross, and setting you free from its oppression. We all need to give time to God, to stop our headstrong selves, and let God do what God does. So often we acknowledge what God does but don’t actually let him come near to do it. We want God’s love but we don’t let him love us his way, with his truth, nor with his life – given in death, and raised in victory over sin and death.

Jesus, the Son of God, promises to manifest himself and his love in us. In his work he reassures us that his Father is also our Father in heaven. And because he knows we struggle with receiving and giving forgiveness, we so often succumb to temptations, and we continually need to be delivered from every evil under the sun, he sends the Holy Spirit to continually work in us to call, enlighten, and gather us as one holy church into Christ’s heavenly presence.

The Holy Spirit works in us enabling us to love God, to know we are loved by God, and gives us the ability to let the love of God shine in our lives when we uphold and keep his Word. This means placing yourselves under his authority by hearing his Word, repenting in accordance with what the Law shows us we do wrong, and glorifying the work of Jesus on the cross over all things.

So regardless of the testing times we face, we are continually turned to Christ in faith rather than being lead by unfaithful worry and doubt caused by the tests we face.

Give God time to do his work in you; to let the Holy Spirit teach you with the Word of God so the Word of God is empowered in you, so it can cleanse you from all sin and doubt and worry. And so you hold it up with Christlike trust!

Let the Word of God work in you so the Risen Word, Jesus Christ, in all his glory can reassure and remind you he has done enough for your eternal peace. Let God be the God of your time until it is time for him to take you out of time into eternity.

Jesus answers you, "If you love me, keep my word, and my Father will love you, and we will come to you and make our home with you. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:23-27 with my “you” emphasis)