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The Responsibility of Faith

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The Responsibility of Faith

Intro [short]
John 20:19–23 NRSV
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
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Intro [short]
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Pray
This past week I bought a mountain bike…
]bikepic] This past week I bought a mountain bike…
[talk about getting excited, even testing it out on some walking trails down at Lakeside park…]
Then, thinking I was ready for anything, I went to the Hickory city park where there are actual trails. Difficult trails, well at least for someone like me!
Needless to say, I struggled. Here I was, fit enough to ride a road bike at least 70 miles. Fit enough to feel like I could hang with most people for an hour at least on the road, barely able to keep a walking pace on that trail!
Things got so bad that at the halfway point I was shaking. I was dizzy. I wasn’t thinking clearly. It was going really badly.
[I’ll survive pic] But I survived! And you know what I did the very next day? I went out again. I put myself in that position again. I set myself up to fail, not hoping for the anger or other feelings that come with failure, but instead with the expectation that if I just get back out there. If I just try again. If only I can fail again, eventually I will get it. It will get easier. And as it gets easier, and as I get better at it, you know what, I will probably want to do it more.
You can see this with kids all the time. Whether it is food, or a hobby, or a TV show, whatever - once you get them to do it, they will likely do it again. And the more they eat those foods, the more they do their chores, the more they experience those things and get better at them, the more willing they are to do them on their own in their life.
You see it is all about mastery and comfort in a task. The more we master something the more comfortable it becomes. And the more we understand the need or reason for it. And the more we do that, the more we will do that thing.
But also, conversely, the more we neglect something, or run away from doing it, trying it, or living it out, the harder it becomes. And the more unlikely we are to ever try it.
John 20:19 NRSV
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
It is in that spirit that we meet our disciples in our text today. Locked up. Shutting out the world. Not wanting to try or do anything! Afraid of failure. Afraid of retribution. Afraid of rejection and social stigma. They were afraid to even go outside because they were known for having followed Jesus.
They were afraid to fail God, and afraid to fail themselves and their faith.
But in that failure, Jesus comes into their lives and tells them exactly what they need to hear.
Peace be with you. Right where you are.
But church, you know they are really us, right? We are a people of faith, just like them. We have things that we know we are called to do. But when push comes to shove - when our church has a go and do day, perhaps - we just don’t want to do it. Maybe when our faith is tested in the world, or we are given the opportunity to speak or act for others, we demure. We shy away from the call of Christ, too afraid of failing, too afraid of change.
And even then, Christ speaks to us like He speaks to them. Peace be with you.
John 20:21 NRSV
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you! Whether it is a go and do day, or just another manic monday! God sends us out of these doors and into a world that needs us to be the difference! That needs us to live out the cause of Christ in this world! That needs us to speak up for the oppressed, and the afflicted! That needs us to stop silently allowing life to happen outside of the walls of our faith, and to bring our faith - specifically the love and grace of our Savior - out into the life we have been called to live!
That is what these days are all about really. These are moments when we, as a church, are allowed to leave these walls and practice our faith in God through service to others. These moments are a chance to grow - to be ok with failure. To not have the right words to say to someone we meet at the homeless shelter. To not necessarily be a huge comfort to the widows we will be helping. But to not worry about that! To expect it to be hard, and to expect to fail a little, but to have peace with all of it! To have peace, knowing that it is our Father that guides us, and if we follow, we will grow us and our faith into exactly what someone will need it to be. But we must be willing.
[Receive the Holy Spirit pic] We must be willing to receive it. To live it out. To keep getting on that bike and to do it so much that we become addicted to living out our faith in this world.
In religious terms, our spirit of fear is beaten down and cast aside by the very Spirit of God. Receive the Holy Spirit, Jesus tells us. Be willing to allow yourself to be changed! Be willing to be a follower of Christ - to live out your faith in the world in which you find yourself! Do that, and the world will be changed.
[chuch in OKC] And if you think that these little moments don’t change anything, think again.
This past week, Kyle and I were talking about these moments - these go and do days. And while we were talking, he told me about a church - this church on the screen. A church that ministers in a town of about 600,00 people. It is pastored by the nephew of Larry Mckaw, who some of you might know. He pastored locally in Drexel, and has had a full career of serving the Lord. It turns out, he told his nephew about our go and do days, and now, they are doing it.
So to be as clear as possible, let me just say it simply. This church of several thousand people, touch the lives of more than half a million people, and that started right here.
If anyone ever tells you that these days aren’t for them, or these days aren’t worth it, or in fact, anything negative at all about what we are doing when we live out our faith in this world - you just tell them that from this little spark, grew a fire that ministers to a half million people.
Better yet, you tell them that a single moment with Christ, a little moment of peace offered by His Spirit, it changed the lives of Billions!
But that will never continue if we only do things our way. If we aren’t willing to fail. If we aren’t willing to give God’s Spirit a chance to work on us, and this world, we will always put down those who do, and stay locked in our rooms.
[servingotherspic] But not us. Not on this day. There may come a time with those who claim to follow Christ shut themselves up in their houses - in their safe spaces where Christ can be worshipped but not lived out. But that isn’t this day. And we are not those people. Today, we receive from Christ His Spirit, and then in turn, we follow His commands and take that Spirit out into His world. And I praise God for you, and for your willingness to live out your faith in our world.
[response]
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