“Go, Live, & Dispel” Ephesians 1:3-14 July 15.2018
I ran across a story about a guy who was burnt out. He longed for a new spark in his life. It wasn’t that he was unhappy. He loved his wife and kids. He had a good job. He had all the things you would want in life. It’s just that life wasn’t very exciting any more. He wasn’t taking chances any more.
One day while leaving work he was pondering all of this when all of a sudden he heard a small voice say: “John, go to Las Vegas.” He stopped and looked around but didn’t see anybody. So, he ignored it.
The next day as he was leaving work, the same thing happened. John ignored that, too; and the next day, and the next day. But after a week of hearing this little voice say, “John, go to Las Vegas,” John told his wife. At first she laughed but then realized he was serious.
Another week went by. Same thing. Same voice telling him to go to Las Vegas. Two more weeks went by. The voice was getting more and more insistent. So, John and his wife decided it had to be some sort of omen, so they packed their bags and headed to Las Vegas.
They had no clue what to do when they got there. So John asked. The little voice said: “Go to Caesar’s Palace.” So they went to Caesar’s Palace. Then the little voice said, “Go to the roulette table.” When they got there, John asked, “Now what?” The little voice said, “Bet $1000 on Black 22.” So they did. The wheel was spun. And they watched in fascination as the wheel turned and the silver ball landed on Black 22.
Twice more the little voice led them to different winning numbers. John and his wife were getting excited.
Then the little voice said, “Bet everything on Red 23.” John consulted with his wife and they placed their entire life’s savings on Red 23. The wheel spun. Everyone watched with anticipation as the wheel turned and turned and turned. Finally, the little ball landed on Black 34. And the little voice said: “Oops.”
This has been a strange week for me in preparing for today what with the hot weather, the gorgeous days, and the excitement of the World Cup being played. Part of me was excited about thinking about the future, thinking about where God is inviting us to go and what God wants us to be and become as a Church and as Christians.
Looking at today’s lesson from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians it is obvious that Paul is excited about Christianity & the future of the developing church. Written in the original Greek, these twelve verses, 202 words, form one very long and very complex sentence.
It almost seems as if Paul gets a little carried away. In fact, one commentator says, “These verses are like a snowball rolling down the hill, going faster and getting bigger each second.”
As Paul writes about how God has blessed the early church, the first Christians, and the benefits of being a Christian, he finds it difficult to stop; he is excited! For Paul, knowing Jesus Christ was clearly the greatest thing he could ever imagine. And, friends, today it is my hope that God will use this Word to remind us of the marvelous benefits of knowing Jesus, and to help us better realize how great it is to be a Christian. Let’s pray that would happen.
Scripture is timeless. It always gives us a fresh message. And it always challenges us. So what’s the challenge this morning? How do we move into the future? What are we supposed to do now?
Well, basically, we’re called to do what we’ve always been called to do, namely, be faithful and fruitful. Paul says we have a glorious inheritance of redemption. And through this inheritance the mysteries of God continue to be made known to us. As a consequence we’re called to share and live that Word of God for the world.
I believe we’re called to do 3 things Go & Tell, Live It Well and The Dark Dispel.
First, we’re called to Go & Tell others about this great gift that is being offered to all of creation by God through Jesus Christ.
- We’re called to Go and Tell the Good News of God’s redemption and forgiveness.
- We’re called to Go and Tell of the great love God has for us.
- We’re called to Go and Tell of the depth of that love.
- A love that spared no expense, not even the life of God’s own Son, to give us a second chance and to offer us a renewed relationship.
We’re called to Go and Tell of this Wonderful Counselor, this Mighty God, this Prince of Peace and Savior.
We’re called to Go and Tell what God has done and continues to do in our lives. That’s the whole reason for our being here; for us being the Church. We’re not here just to be here.
We have a mission and a need. We’re called to do and we need to Go & Tell.
Secondly, not only are we called to Go & Tell. We’re also called to Live It Well. What I mean is that not only are we called to share the Good News. We’re called to live the Good News as well.
In verse 4 of our reading Paul reminds us that “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.” To me, that simply means that we’re called to Live the Good News so that others may see the love of God through our lives and through our actions.
These actions also include if there is a difference that develops between you and another person. Christians always disagree with other, but it’s how they treat each other during the disagreement that matters.
As an example, a number of years ago you may remember, the governor of Minnesota announced that he believed that religion was a crutch for the week-minded.
But did you know that 68 churches in Minneapolis, mostly Lutheran, took out a full page ad in the Star Tribune listing their addresses and phone numbers under the headline: “Strength Training For the ‘Weak-Minded’. There’s A Workout Location Near You.”
We’re called to Live It Well so that others might be strengthened and led into a redemptive relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
We’re called to Live It Well in even the most trying of circumstances; which many of us are very much aware of. But it becomes somewhat easier if we remember that our ultimate purpose in Living It Well is simply to be able to Go & Tell. We are called to show the world the love of God through Jesus Christ by our love, and through our actions.
We’re called to Go & Tell and to Live it Well, and while caring out these two, we also The Dark Dispel, the 3rd point this morning.
Robert Fulghum in his book It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On tells a wonderful story on himself.
It seems that at the last session of a two-week seminar on the isle of Crete in Greece, the session leader asked the audience, in which Fulghum was participating, “Are there any questions?” Robert Fulghum says that he can’t pass up the opportunity to ask one question and so he asked, “What is the meaning of life?”
The usual laughter followed, and people stirred to go. But then, the organizer Dr. Alexander Papaderos held up his hand and quieted the room and looked at Mr. Fulghum for a long time, asking with his eyes if he was serious and seeing from his eyes that he was responded, “I will answer your question.”
Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into a leather billfold and brought out a very small, round mirror, about the size of a quarter. And what he said went like this: “When I was a small child, during World War 2, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village.
One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.
I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece; this one. And by scratching it on a stone, I made it round.
I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine – in deep holes and crevices and dark closets.
It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.
I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game.
As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but also a metaphor for what I might do with my life.
I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light – truth, understanding, and knowledge – is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.
I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know.
Nevertheless, with what I have, I can reflect light into the dark places of this world – into the black places in the hearts of all people – and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise.
That is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.”
We too are called to shine the light of God’s love in every dark crack, crevice and dark place of this world.
- We’re called to push back the darkness with the light of “Jesus Christ!”
- We’re called to Dispel the Dark.
We have the wonderful blessing of knowing the grace & love of God through Jesus Christ.
- The darkness has gone out of our lives forever.
- But there is still darkness in the world.
- But wherever light comes, darkness runs in terror.
Just as the Gospel of John says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” One tiny candle can push back the dark and the dark will never overcome that light, no matter how small the candle.
We’re called to be light and reflect the True Light, which is the love of God through Jesus Christ so that we can Dispel the Dark that is still in the world.
We don’t know what the future holds. No one ever does. But we know the one who holds the future; the one by whom and for whom the future was created, namely, Jesus.
We are called to trust Jesus. We are called to let him lead us so that we can Go & Tell, Live It Well, and the Dark Dispel.
If we focus on these three basic things there won’t be any little voice saying, “Oops!” in our ear. Instead we will hear the voice of Jesus saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
@Rev. Tim Wolbrecht, July, 2018
Here’s the audio recording of the sermon. TO LISTEN, in the SoundCloud window below, CLICK (or double-Click) the red button with the white arrow pointing to the right. If that does not work, then click on the “Sermon 7-15-18” name of the sermon.