February 16, 2020
6th Sunday after Epiphany
1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable and suitable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
Today’s gospel is a hard one to hear, right? I mean it sounds like we are being hit over the head with the law. And even with Jesus saying, you have heard that it was said, but I say to you, it seems that the laws being decreed are even stricter. Not what I’m looking for when wanting to hear the words of Jesus.
But what happens if we, or when we read these as laws of love? As laws that call us into leading and living full lives that nurture relationships and community, that bring God to the forefront of all that we say and do?
Isn’t that who God is calling us to be?
Isn’t that Jesus command and call for each of us really, to live our best lives?
It’s like God created us and said, this isn’t just good, but this is really good, now go, live your best lives! And what happened? We messed up. Time and time again. Yet God comes back in with a word of love and the action of grace and sends us on our way again.
And so here we are…claimed and called to live our best lives. Yet when we think about living our best lives – it’s not just for ourselves, but for the whole world. Let me say that again, it’s not about living our best lives for ourselves, but for the whole dang world. These commands that Jesus declares are to help and guide us into living more fully into God’s love. Which impacts more than our own little lives and homes…but the rest of the world as well.
Our gospel lesson today is that not so gentle reminder that the thoughts we have, the words we speak and the actions we take can have deep and far reaching impacts on those around us not just in our own homes but in our schools, places of work, communities, nation and world.
God wants us and Jesus calls us to live lives of integrity and lives that are not only life giving to others, but life giving to ourselves as well.
Right? God wants us and Jesus calls us to live lives of integrity. Lives that are lived honestly and completely. Lives that when lived are life giving not just to ourselves but to others as well. That how we act and treat others deeply impacts the greater world around us. That we are called to live lives that fulfill God’s call to love and serve, and when that happens, when we do that, not only are our lives, hearts and souls filled, but also the lives of those around us.
And it seems to me that living the fullest, deepest life means completely surrendering to God’s call and law in our lives. What I mean is that we are called to fully live into who God created us and calls us to be. Doing things that do not cause others to stumble, but living and acting in a holy way by doing acts of love and service that truly let Christ’s light shine in all that we say and do.
God’s call is clear. The truth is that we can’t do it. (Not on our own anyway…) Try as we might, when given the opportunity to live our God’s word to choose life, we often fall short.
Am I right? We cut down those around us for having different opinions instead of listening and engaging in dialogue. We don’t build up others around us because we are afraid that they will outshine us. We don’t love others fully because we are afraid that a love that deep and that holy won’t be returned or even accepted. We would rather live in the perceived safety of our own personal space bubbles surrounded by our own stuff so we don’t have to put ourselves in places where we might learn and grown through our interactions with others.
It’s easier to stay comfortable.
But here’s the thing. God is still going to call us, wherever we might be, to draw us out of those safe spaces and into the places where we will learn and grow.
God will still nudge us, some times gently and other times with the force of a mighty wind, into places and conversations where we will be given the space to listen, to speak, to learn and to be God’s presence all within the community of others.
This call for us today is because of God’s great and amazing and unending love for each and every one of us.
God as a loving parent in our lives, wants the best and only the best for us. Right? Wants us to live our best lives! God, as a loving parent truly wants the best for each and every one of us, for each of God’s beloved children.
So, out of this unconditional love, God will continue to call us to live our best lives.
Lives with hope and promise.
Lives that will give life to others.
Lives that will nurture, strengthen and build up community.
Lives that will transform the world as we know it through acts of service and love.
As we heard from Moses in the reading from Deuteronomy, there are options for the future… “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”
We have the opportunity friends, to choose life.
What does that look like for you?
Is it serving on a Wednesday evening by filling college care packages?
Is it helping to provide food for a funeral meal?
Does it look like calling or visiting a friend you haven’t seen in a while?
Is it joining the prayer chain so you can pray for the people of this place as part of your daily devotions?
Is it volunteering at the food pantry?
It will look different for each of us.
But given the opportunity, choose life…
Choose life, friends, so that you and your descendants may live…
Choose life, friends, loving the Lord your God, living out God’s loving call in your lives…
Choose life, friends, so that all may know God’s abundant love, grace and peace in our world.
And now, may the peace which surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.