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Our face back to God

July 23, 2016

8th Sunday of Holy Trinitygirasol

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

 

Ephesians 5:8-14

The sunflower is one of God’s beautiful creations. It is a beautiful plant and its seeds can be used for many things: grain for bread, cooking oil or even biodiesel.

A man wanted to grow a sunflower. He filled a pot with special soil and planted sunflower seeds inside. He took care of it with awareness and watered it every day. But all the effort was in vain: Nothing happened, no sunflower flourished, not even the smallest sign of an outbreak. What had happened? In short: the man had placed the pots in the dark basement! There the plants lacked the most important substance a plant needs to live: They had no light! For more than one person may strive to grow a flower, but without the light that God sends down from heaven it won’t bloom.

We humans are like these plants; if we want certain things to be fulfilled we need that light that is God’s love. This light is reflected in us through Jesus Christ, who has come from heaven to illuminate and enlighten this world and to make us fully grown human beings in the way God wants us to be. Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world’ (Jn 8:12). There are also many other verses in the Bible that bear witness that God is our light and that he shines through His only begotten Son. Every one of us who flourishes under that divine light will be part of what is called the “children of light”. The light of God’s grace has come into our lives through baptism and continues to shine through the good news of Jesus Christ that forgives sins and gives eternal life. It’s like with the sunflower; though we strive to be children of light, we cannot do it without the light of Christ’s love. And now the apostle Paul writes to us that we should behave the way that corresponds to the children of light, “live as children of light” so we are told at the beginning of our text for today. This is the root for everything else.

What is everything else?
Everything else is those things we are asked to do in the Gospel, the way we have to behave, the change of mentality and attitude, the different mindset and changed feelings we need to have.
That is the practice of Christianity. Is there a practical part of Christianity? of course. But often we are confused and think that Christianity is only a belief, an idea, a philosophy, a tradition, a habit or a legacy. Many think they are Christians or Lutherans because they were born or raised that way and they have never questioned what that means.
I am a pastor because I am a Christian first. While this is my job, my full-time occupation or my profession, or vocation, or calling or whatever we would like to call it, but I am a Christian first.
And the same should happen with each of us, we are Lutherans or members of a certain church, but we are Christians first.

Being a Christian means that I have accepted to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and I have also accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord, that is, someone to whom I owe obedience as a boss and that the Bible is the word I should accept, believe and really fulfill if I consider Him to be my Lord. If I have still doubts about whether I have to believe the word of the Bible or not it is because I still have not accepted it as the word of Christ, and therefore Christ still has not become my Lord, and that means that I still have a step to take in order to be a Christian.

Observance of things, actions, good deeds and good works doesn’t lead to heaven because there is no good person. Neither does any person, rather than another, deserve to go to heaven for their actions (Rom 3:10). If we have the privilege of going to heaven it is only because Jesus Christ wants it. He gives eternal life to those he chooses. Accessing that eternal life is only possible by fulfilling certain conditions. The most important thing is to accept Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior, and consequently, as God and Lord. Everyone can go to heaven but not everyone will. That depends on your decision. For that reason we can say that salvation is free, but as mentioned in previous sermons, it is not cheap; it requires the decision to believe in Christ and accept Him as God and Lord. If we have done it in our lives we already have salvation.

Now there is a second part: the good works, good deeds. After accepting and believing in Christ and accepting that the Bible is His Word, and therein lies His will for our lives, then we have to search in it daily to see what God wants to tell us through it.
Therefore, the Bible is not a requirement, it is a reality. If we are really Christians for the love of God whom we say we have accepted and love, we will go to it with devotion and enthusiasm, seeking what God wants us to do for him. For the immense gratitude that we have been granted eternal life gladly we will want to carry out and do what God asks of us there.

Once, a person talking about reading the Bible, said: -“Pastor, I know the Bible, and I’ve read it all. Every time I’m reading something I realize I have already read this part; I don’t need to read it anymore.” I was sad by that answer. Firstly, because I knew it was not true. I read the Bible daily and have studied it and learn new things every day. And secondly, I was sad because that person was not showing himself as a Christian, in fact, he never went to church, and I never saw him doing the things that the Bible asks. Therefore, belonging to a church and having read the Bible that way does not necessarily make me a Christian nor give me salvation.

That we can achieve all of what the Bible asks of us is another subject. That we can fulfill it perfectly is another matter. Surely we will try every day and we will fail because we are weak and sinful. For this, we are given the act of confession of sin and forgiveness. But, we must keep in our hearts the passionate desire to obey and every day after failure rise again with renewed love for God, wanting to fulfill his will.
We can never know what the will of God is if we don’t read the Bible. So reading the Bible is not a nice habit, but an imperative need.

The Bible is not a requirement but rather a reality that shows that we are children of light.
When we are Christians we become children of light. Just as the sunflower turns to the sun, we turn our faces, our spirits, our will, to Christ and his word and want to do everything possible to fulfill it.
When we turn to God, when we turn our faces to the light of Christ, it is what the Bible calls repentance. There are two kinds of repentance. First and foremost, when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior in our life for the first time and decided to be baptized and become Christian and secondarily other repentances happen every day when we realize that we are not perfect and we cannot fulfill the word of God to perfection.

I recommend for you to read, for example, chapter 4 and 5 of the letter of Paul to the Ephesians this week, and that you read it several times and see what God is telling us this week. Take the Bible as the word of God. That is to say that God wants to talk to us this week with the words of those chapters of Ephesians and that those words are for us, especially here and now. If you do this you will see the closeness and topicality of the word for your life in particular.
Then let us try to put into practice those words and we will see a change in our lives.
Being a Christian is to practice Christianity, in action, works, genuineness, and to that the apostle speaks today when he tells us:

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them”.
Turning our heads to the light like the sunflower means to turn all of our senses back to Christ. The Bible calls this turn repentance, when we confess the dark things to the light of Christ: “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.”
May God give us the clarity of the light in our lives, our families and our church. Amen. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Amen.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. margkahl permalink
    July 23, 2016 11:42 am

    Thank you. Margaret

    >

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