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Infinitely Important

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Gospel Reading

The Holy Gospel according to Luke, the 10th chapter.
Glory to you, O Lord.
Luke 10:1–11 NRSV
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’
Luke 10:16–20 NRSV
16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon Title Slide

Benediction

Grace and peace to you, the received & sent, from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Sermon

The gospel of Luke and the books of Acts are inextricably connected. They are both written by the same author, Luke, most likely a companion of Paul, and the Acts of the Apostles picks up, basically, where the Gospel of Luke leaves off. Not only that, but these two books make up over 1/4 of the New Testament. In the same way that the content of the two books are inextricably connected, so to are the work of Jesus (portrayed in the gospel of Luke) inextricably connected to the work of the Apostles in Acts.
In the Gospel of Luke, the mission of God, the reconciliation of all creation, is cosmic in nature and the apostles have a role to play in that cosmic conflict. This conflict is in the background of the Gospel and radiates out through Acts as well.
We get quick glimpses of the scope of this cosmic battle as well as the Apostles contribution to the mission in verses like 17-18:
Luke 10:17–18 LEB
17 And the seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 So he said to them, “I saw Satan falling like lightning from heaven.
However, the true role of the apostles in the mission is far scarier than even facing Satan himself for most Christians. The mission is summed up in one word and that word is often the most frightening word a Christian can hear.
Evangelism!!!!!
When I said that word, your blood pressure probably went up 10 points!!!!
hahaha
Maybe even scarier than a Halloween ghost popping out at you shouting “boo!” is a pastor popping out at you shouting “Evangelism!!!” hahaha
But in all seriousness, we often separate out church life from the rest of our lives. As if they are independent of one another. We often look at church and say, “Yeah! church has its role, as long as it doesn’t interfere with those other things in my life that are really important to me.”
Tomorrow, in the Monday Adult Education Bible Study, we are going to take a 1 week break from the book of Revelation and watch a movie… or a play rather… on the conversion of C.S. Lewis from atheism to Christian. It is all in his own words. I found it fascinating and highly entertaining and I hope those that attend will as well.
In that play, a quote of C.S. Lewis struck me in relation to the importance of what Jesus had to say in relation to our lives:
“If the statements of Jesus are false, then Christianity is of no importance. If true, then Christianity is of infinite importance. What it cannot be is moderately important.”
-C.S. Lewis
Either our faith is of no importance or it is of infinite importance. What it cannot be is moderately important.
So if our faith is of infinite importance, and the words of Christ are of infinite importance, then we have a job to do.
Before I get to that, I want to be clear on something. Accepting the reality that your faith is of infinite importance in your life does NOT mean that you cannot go to a hockey game (thank God, because I love hockey), or that you cannot go to a soccer game. It doesn’t mean that you cannot take a Sunday away to get to Green Bay in time for a Packers game.
For your faith to be of infinite importance means that your faith influences your words and actions in every aspect of your life and no matter where you are. If you are at a hockey game, you are a follower of Christ at a hockey game and act appropriately.
If you are at your kids soccer game, you are a follower of Christ at the soccer game and speak and act appropriately.
If you are at a Packers game, at work, at the pub, in the grocery store, sitting in a boat fishing, on the golf course, at the booth where you cast your vote on election day or anywhere you find yourself in this life… while you are there you remember that you are a follower of Christ.
We are a people first called, and then sent. We often view ourselves as being a people harvested, but often we forget that we are called in order to be sent to prepare the harvest.
Yeah, I know some people don’t like the idea of people as being harvested. It has a bit of a vulgar sound to it, but we will look for any excuse to be offended by the words of God and twist them into some context in which we can ignore for the sake of our own need not to have to answer to anyone.
However, we are called to go forward. We are told that what is lacking is laborers.
Luke 10:2 NRSV
2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
We are called to be the laborers. We are called to a participate in the mission in evangelism.... Oooh.... I said that word again… Evangelism.
I know its scary. I got news for you. It is a word that scares me too, if I’m honest. However, as one theologian wrote, what is lacking are laborers who are prepared to go forth in the apostolic spirit described in the text.
It isn’t easy. It is scary.
Luke 10:3 NRSV
3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.
It is scary, but remember that even in the midst of the wolves we are reminded in Isaiah 65.25 that, “The wolf and the lamb shall feed like one...”
This is where we often find ourselves wrapped up in this idea of finding comfort in the fact that our church is a welcoming place. Those who come to us will always be made welcome. This is a place of healing and sanctuary for all people. … once they find us that is...
Even in our new Mission Statement we have the statement that there is no room for hate or bias in this church. I’m very proud of that statement, but how are people to know that this is a place where they are welcomed in all their faults.
Well, along with our new Mission Statement is a new Vision statement that you see on the front of your bulletin...
“Sowing seeds of grace; growing faith in Christ”
We don’t sow seeds in these walls. We sow seeds out there in the world. Here we train people to live out there role in God’s mission. We provide support, respite away from the wolves and strengthen ourselves for the work ahead out there in the midst of the wolves. But the message is for all…
This is why Jesus sends 70. In Genesis 10, there is a listing of 70 nations and bloodlines that compose all people. In that, the number 70 comes to represent all people. Jesus sends 70; not just because there were 70 people volunteering, no church ever had 70 people volunteer for anything, but because it represents that the message that the Kingdom of God has come is for all.
Even those who reject the message are still given the message.
Luke 10:10–11 NRSV
10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’
Even those who reject the message still receive the message. We are not the focus. Our ability is not the focus. The message is the focus. Our job is to deliver the message. Our job is to plant the seed. We cannot make it grow into faith. That is a gift from God alone.
I want to be clear about something. The delivering of this message is not about standing on a street corner asking everyone who passes if they have heard of Christ. Chances are they have heard. What they might not have heard or witnessed is a good example of a Christian life.
What will speak louder about the grace and love of God in Christ than anything else is if we live our lives, in their totality, as if it actually matters. As if we actually believe it ourselves.
“If the statements of Jesus are false, then Christianity is of no importance. If true, then Christianity is of infinite importance. What it cannot be is moderately important.”
-C.S. Lewis
If we treat our faith and the things that Christ said as only moderately important than our lives will wreak of the stench of hypocrisy and people will notice.
Don’t get me wrong. We fail in this all the time even with the best of intentions, but we are also a people of grace. Therefore we must show grace as well. To others in their faults and to ourselves in our own faults .
That message of God, the words of Christ and God’s grace and love for us is infinitely important. That the God that is so beyond us cares about us so much that God became part of this very creation in Christ. That that same being loves you so much… That is not just moderately important. There is no message of greater importance than that.
I beg you… live out that message. Not for your own good, but for your neighbors’ good.
If you live your life in God’s grace and like it is of infinite importance… well, as the saying goes. Actions speak louder than words. Living a life of grace is like shouting the word of God from the mountaintops.
That message… there is something else. There is something beyond the suffering of this world. The love of God is beyond anything you can imagine. In God’s presence we will “drink joy from the fountain of joy” as C.S. Lewis said.
That message is worth shouting and for that message I say:
Thanks be to God and Amen.
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