Sixth Sunday after Pentecost – July 21, 2019
Psalm 15 (CEV)
Isaiah 52:7-10 (NRSV)
Matthew 28:16-20 (NRSV)
In Jesus’ time there were various ways in which He made it known that He was the Son of God. He met with a small group of disciples, people who were to imitate Jesus’ life so that the Christian message of God who loves the world could spread wider and wider. This presence in the small group could still be described as the IN-part of IN-UP and OUT.
Another thing Jesus did, was to meet God in times of separation and silence. That’s why He went aside and up to a mountain to speak with God. This can be seen as the UP-part of IN, UP and OUT.
Jesus also met the needs He saw in the world around Him with God’s love, grace, and power, often taking his disciples with Him as He did. He healed the sick, touched the lepers, fed the hungry, and opened blind eyes and deaf ears. And, He proclaimed the Kingdom of God, inviting people to turn from their old ways toward new life. He invited them, and I quote from Matthew 28, to “…go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (end quote). This completes the triangle of IN, UP and OUT, by being the OUT-part.
In the book of Acts, we see how the followers of Jesus did the very same things Jesus had been doing. They had learned from Jesus how to live, minister, and serve like Jesus. And they passed it on.
We still get to pass it on.
Does this still apply today? Are we as Christians relevant at all? Sometimes people make fun of you if you say you’re a Christian and that you go to church. They ask all sorts of questions, uncomfortable questions, just as a way to put you down, not always, but often. The questions range from “are you closed minded, ignorant or hypocritical.” 1) Did you know we are part of one huge galaxy that stretches wider that anyone can imagine? We aren’t all that important.
This and much more, is the way the world looks at the church. There has never been a time when Christians haven’t been questioned. When the church was a patriarchal institution, there were huge complaints that the church is all about male dominance.
Many factors have made the Christian witness difficult. It even made us ashamed to be called Christians. We ducked, and still duck, when folks ask questions in that direction.
In response, the people of the church have ever so often tried to adapt to the current culture so that we don’t look as weird and awkward as some would think we are. That in itself is the only way we can be relevant. It’s the only way others would be attracted to the message that Christ loves the world. However, it can easily draw us away from being true to our message. Talking about our faith openly helps change people’s perceptions. However, we aren’t here to “save the world” as if we are the absolute only ones who have access to the truth.
One day, walking out of my driveway on my walk to work, I noticed a misplaced little pile of dirt on the approach. As I got closer to it, I discovered that this little pile of dirt was moving. It wasn’t dirt at all; it was an unfathomable number of very small ants.
I’ve had my share of run-ins with ants over the years, but I will say this for them: they are industrious little creatures. When I commented to my neighbour about this little pop-up colony, he said, “Darned critters are going to take over the world one day!”
While that might be an exaggeration – I hope it is! – the truth is that we have something to learn from those ants as the church. God calls us to be active. As one old preacher once put it, while we are called to be standing on the promises, we are too often found sitting in the premises. The holy huddle just won’t do anymore; we need to be in our neighbourhoods, engaging with people who are not yet in a relationship with Jesus, modelling for them what it means to love God and love others.
That means being active, though not necessarily busy. Busyness, says Eugene Peterson, is an illness of spirit. Most of us are addicted to being busy. But if we’re busy, that may not leave us time to engage with others as the Lord calls us to. We do well to find a balance, and to maintain it.
How can you be active, but not busy? Present a non-anxious presence to your friends and neighbours. Exude confidence in the God who made you, redeemed you and sustains you. Don’t be afraid to share the good news that Jesus can do for them what He has done for you. And be helpful.
“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
Learn from their ways and become wise!
Though they have no prince
or governor or ruler to make them work,
they labour hard all summer,
gathering food for the winter” (Proverbs 6.6-8, NLT). 2)
Another motivator is the image of God’s conduit, a gushing channel to everyone. Think of God’s love going into this conduit. Think of our lives being the conduits. If we receive God’s love and hold it dear to us, it ends in us. When God’s Spirit opens us up as conduits, then the love of God spreads wider and wider into the whole wide world. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to make us wide open to the needs of a broken world. We are like beggars searching for bread, along with other beggars. When we find the bread, we point the other beggars towards this divine source of abundant life.
1) From “Five tips for defending your faith” on a website “For Christian teens, Christian students, and youth ministries” by the name of fevr.net (https://fervr.net/teen-life/five-tips-for-defending-your-faith)
2) A direct quote from the Presbyterian Church in Canada website, at: https://presbyterian.ca/2016/06/17/consider-the-ant/
Copyright 2019 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
Use back button to return to main page.